This past Sunday, April 28th, Dog's World Walking headed an amazing community clean up of Liberty Village. I saw that there was a project from the City of Toronto called "Clean Toronto Together" where a company (or person) selects a city park, and commits to cleaning it up during a dedicated weekend! I thought this would be a great idea for Dog's World Walking, so I signed up to clean Liberty Village Park. But, quickly decided that we could do so much more - and turned it into a neighbourhood clean up instead.
Liberty Village has given me everything. I moved here 6 years ago, drawn to all the glorious green space, making it a very dog friendly area. And about 1.5 years after that I started my business, it felt like a dream come true. And really, it was. Liberty Village is my home. Liberty Village is my office. Liberty Village is my life. The least that I could do is help clean it up a little, because after all - Liberty Village has been really good to me.
It was amazing to see the community come together. So many small and large businesses donated amazing prizes & incentives to help bring the community out. We were even lucky enough to connect with the Friends of Liberty Village Park - who invited our local St. Felix Respite Centre to come join us. Not only did they come (with a whole crew of volunteers) but they provided a demo on what to do if we come across a needle.
What I would love for everyone to take away from this is - to make change, don't complain. Instead - TAKE ACTION! Lead by example. Show that taking care of your neighbourhood and working as a community is fun, cool, and easy! Rather than the snide comments about all the dog poo, do something about it. I didn't pressure anyone to pick up poo or garbage, I didn't bring people together by complaining - I brought people together with a shared goal! By leading by example. Imagine once a week (or even once every other week.. or once a month), when we took our dogs for one of their walks that we brought along latex gloves & a garbage bag and picked up garbage along our way? If we all did this every once in a while, imagine the difference we could make? Kind of exciting.
Thanks to everyone who came out.
Remember - it's a dog's world, we're just cleaning up in it!
This week I had to say goodbye to 2 very special dogs, Bentley and Buddha, as they move across the country to start a new chapter in their lives! I have had to say goodbye to many dogs, and they all really hurt. But this one hurt me extra, because I really had to work hard so Bentley and Buddha would learn to trust me, and because of that we have a very special bond. We have a million memories that we have made together over the almost 3 years that I've walked them, but I wanted to talk about how we built our relationship - and how integral they were in teaching me about consent based training, and making me the dog walker I am today.
I saw this and was immediately interested. Of course, I love a challenge - but I had recently completed the Dog*Tec course to become a certified dog walker, and thus had been equipped with the power of knowledge on how to approach fearful dogs. I told her I would love to meet them, and bring tons of food!
Also LOL I am a doritos girl through and through, I love what I love.
What I knew about dealing with fearful dogs:
That being said, I had never really worked with fearful dogs - and this was a brand new experience and I didn't want to let Bentley and Buddha down.
I met with Bentley and Buddha (and their humans) a few times. While there both their parents and myself fed the pups. I did the famous "treat & retreat" method - and their parents encouraged them letting them know they were safe! I was even able to go on a walk with them, but their parents had to help me getting them leashed and ready. After a few sessions like this, I thought we could try a real deal walk!
I got a key, and one day I went to pick up B&B - we were expecting Bentley to be scared, but Buddha bean was REALLY scared. I entered, and took down the baby gate & she was so scared she had a little poopie come out. Bentley was willing to take treats, but Buddha absolutely would not. Because Buddha was so scared, Bentley, although curious, wasn't trusting enough to let me near him. So I left a goodbye present of a bunch of treats, and left them. I said OK I hear you! Bye!
Their parents, being the amazing people they are, were willing to set up a few more sessions where I came by with them present. Here we did more treat/retreat & eventually I could even leash them up!
It took time, patience, and trust. Not just teaching Bentley and Buddha to trust me, but having trust in the process. Believing in the power of positive reinforcement. But we got there! And had almost 3 years filled with fun walks, and so much love. I am going to miss them so much.
Um also, PS - what says "i trust you" more than letting me put feather BOAs and heart shaped sun glasses on them?
Hello dog people! As promised, I am giving part 2 of the Dog Training Basics today - a post on CLICKER TRAINING! I did a post all about Positive Reinforcement to give the first set of basics, now I will follow it up with a post on Clicker Training! A very mysterious subject to some.
What Is a Clicker?
A Clicker is a small handheld plastic toy, with a push button. When you push it makes a distinct "click" noise. There are several types of clickers, but I use button clickers. See the picture below:
What is a Clicker used for in Dog Training?
This is the important part, and the part that quite honestly most people don't understand or know about. Even some students who use a clicker don't really understand WHY they are using it. As with all things, if you understand the WHY - you will have a better outcome.
To be technical: A clicker is used to MARK a behaviour that our dog exhibits. Indicating to them that they have done something that we liked, and that reinforcement is on it's way.
To use an analogy: Think of a clicker as a snapshot of the behaviour you like, capturing in time the EXACT moment that your dog did something right. When you ask for a SIT, and your dog's butt hits the floor - you want to capture that exact moment. So you click for butt on floor. Now the dog has a clear picture of what exactly they did right, and what the reinforcement they are receiving is for.
Can you train using positive reinforcement without a clicker?
Of course! But the results won't be as sharp, and likely won't happen as fast.
Using again the example of teaching our dog to sit.
Without a clicker:
- Ask dog to sit
- Dog sits
- We fumble around and grab a treat, and hand it to the dog (time passes)
- Dog gets treat
While we fumble around to get and deliver the treat, sooooo many things could have happened. The dog could have stood up. The dog could have seen a fly. The dog may have tilted his head. Any number of things could happen in between the time the dog sat & the time the dog ate the treat. This leaves a very confusing window open for the dogs. The dog gets the treat, but it isn't really clear what they are getting the treat for. Was it for standing up? Was it for my adorable head tilt? Was it because I saw a fly? IDK! It may only be one second, which doesn't seem like a lot to us - but seriously in the world of dog so many things can happen within that one second.
With a Clicker
- Ask dog to sit
- Dog sits
- We CLICK the second dog's butt touches the ground
- Now we have time to fumble around, grab our treat, and deliver it
- Dog eats treat, and has a clear picture of exactly what they did to earn this reinforcement
A clicker is a bridge. It allows us that time to be human and fumble around, while still allowing our dogs to understand exactly what the treat is for! It is a communication tool to use with your dog, to help them receive feedback and understand what is working and what isn't.
This, of course, is clicker training at it's most basic. But soon we will elaborate on more complex topics such as shaping!
Are there any behaviours you would like to teach your dog using a clicker? If so, leave a comment & we might write a step by step blog post on HOW-TO!