Dog Training for Squamish Active Outdoor Lifestyle
It’s your playground. It’s your home. And it’s not hard to see why it’s known as the Outdoor Recreation Capital of Canada. And if we were to wager a bet, it likely has the highest number of dogs per capita too!! But can you blame us?
It’s only natural that in such a beautiful place with a variety of activity options that we’d want to share it with our furever friend. But maybe you’ve recently adopted a puppy or rescued a dog – and you’re trying to seamlessly bring them into your outdoor activities. Which worked perfectly…until one day it didn’t anymore.
Your puppy no longer follows close by. She has suddenly developed a will of her own and worse, has darted off dangerously a few times!
Your rescue dog has likely had some past traumas but his inappropriate coping behaviour is potentially unsafe on the trails and embarrassing too!
Your dreams of a canine cycling companion are crushed.
The big question that stumps people when they’re in this situation is quite obvious:
Where do you start?
Is there a perfect recipe or a magic button to train them into your active lifestyle?
We’re here to help!
Learn the Basics
First and foremost, your fearful dog has to feel safe and your excitable dog needs to remain in a thoughtful state. True behaviour change doesn’t happen otherwise. This means that you must be aware of your dog’s body language, understand his primary motivators, and be honest about their current level of training (that last one is a big one!)
Make sure you choose wisely which situations you put your dog into. It’s important to remember that learning is always happening, and sometimes a single-trial learning moment can be very powerful when it pays off for a dog.
Picture this scenario. Your dog sees a bike. He lunges towards it and gets pumped with adrenalin! Or worse, he gets a chance to chase it at full blast! His memory cannot be erased. This is the best game ever and worth keeping an eye out for the next opportunity! Training to be attentive to YOU instead of the bike can take many repetitions and rewards to trump that excitement.
Every Dog is Different
For the fearful dog, a short leash is scary, and they can quickly learn that the best defence is a good offence. Especially if they continually get ambushed or forced to interact with well-intentioned but scary people or “friendly” off-leash dogs.
For new rescue dogs, it might mean a few weeks of decompression and only taking them to quieter locations at quiet times of the day.
For puppies, you still need to socialize them but only to people who won’t kibosh your polite greeting program. Or worse, scare them!
For those rowdy adolescents, it might mean giving them a little bit less freedom unless you are in a secure environment away from an overwhelming amount of temptations…
Train. Don’t complain.
Take the time for fun activities that focus on teaching your dog skills. This can be a variety of commands, from sit to come or jump through my arms to stay; it’s all tricks to them! Super-size the reinforcements (aka. T-R-E-A-T-S) so that your dog thinks engaging with you is more worthwhile than the chance to pester the passing poodle… or bike! Or hiker. Or squirrel. The list goes on.
Take your dog on learning centric outings and actively connect with them. Gamification makes learning more fun for the learner so that they’re likely to want to play your games next time (or as the Humans would say, ‘respond to our commands’).
Be Safe and Smart
Similar to a Test Pilot, don’t expose your dog to situations that are beyond their level of coping or beyond their level of training until they are ready. You don’t want them to fail and crash. Setting your dog up for success is the best approach.
In the End, it’s all up to YOU!
What’s your plan today for training? How will you know if you’re making progress? Will YOU change what you do so that your dog stays in the “Think and Learn Zone” and can be successful and learn desirable behaviour?