Flash Dog Training's Shadow Program

Shadowing a reputable professional through their day-to-day routine as they practice their craft is a great way to learn a trade. When that craft is training dogs in a home-based environment, it's great insight to what this “lifestyle” is like. It’s not just about the repetition of teaching the dog obedience, you are watching the ins and outs of what it’s like living with dogs that have behavioral issues and what the process looks like to resolving them. 

We have had shadows work with us for a weekend, week, month and even 3 month period. The length of stay is fully customizable and we will meet you where you are at experience wise and hit on topics you would like to learn. The other part of the program is showing you our system and the core of our philosophies and techniques. Stories will be shared and swapped over meals after the dogs are done for the day. We have housing options available and we encourage you to bring a dog. We have even had people shadow along while their dog was in our board and train program.

Amanda is our current shadow student at our Denver location. Amanda has worked at a training and boarding facility, as a vet assistant, and she currently works as a staff manager at a pet resort. She began shadowing with Flash in early November. Here is what Amanda says about why she’s shadowing to grow her skill set:

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

 “In my experience in animal care so far, I found dog training to be the most rewarding job. The reason I feel so strongly about balanced training is because I've witnessed the results. I believe it is the most effective way to communicate with our dogs and e collars are the most life-changing tools. Since moving to Colorado in June, I struggled to find dog trainers with similar goals, techniques and values as me. It was also important to me to find a trainer who genuinely wanted to help me grow as a dog trainer. I knew of Kerry from a past job in New York, but didn’t have the courage to reach out to a stranger until I needed approval to join a local dog trainers Facebook group and she happened to be an admin. I researched Flash, watched practically every video on Instagram, and read every Facebook post. Everything I read or saw resonated with me. I’m most interested in behavior modification and seeing Kerry’s phenomenal results working with any behavioral issue showed that she had a lot of experience and knowledge to offer. I also wanted more experience with the e collar because I’d like to educate more dog owners on the benefits of e collar training. I love how Flash prioritizes the intricate conditioning process of the e collar and how all of their dogs are happy and upbeat working on the tool.”

We are so pleased to see the benefit of the value our students received in our program and how they apply their knowledge afterwords. If you're looking to get into dog training as a career, shadowing is a great way to see if the industry is right for you. It is fantastic for owners who really want an intensive amount of coaching for themselves, rather than just taking lessons. We also have other dog training professionals shadow us who are looking to add more training tools to their tool belt. Wherever you're at in your career or if you are thinking about making dog training your career, we can customize a shadow program for you.

We are looking forward to having students join us at our new location in Bend, Oregon this coming year. We will still be taking shadows at our Denver location with our trainer Breanna. If you are interested in shadowing please contact Kerry@flashdogtrianing.com for program details and rates.

 

Taking the Bite Out of Bark Collars

The bark collar is a tool that doesn’t get enough credibility or exposure when dog trainers talk about all the tools in their training belt. Years ago before I knew anything about bark collars, intuitively I thought that if you put a bark collar on a barking dog and they got corrected, it would make them more anxious and frantic. What bark collars do is actually the stark opposite of that.

When dogs bark continuously they adrenalize themselves, essentially working up into a frenzy. That frenzy can lead to very dangerous behaviors, like breaking out of kennels, lighting up at other dogs or even attacking other dogs. Also, the barking leads to pacing, whining, stress panting, dilated pupils, hyperactivity and a general “cracked out” state of mind of full blown stress. If the dog cannot bark, the stress is exponentially reduced. They stay in a healthier state of mind where they are more likely to take food in crate training exercises and actually rest in the kennel. This keeps the environment much safer, as well as calm and peaceful.

Before putting a bark collar on a dog there are a few things you should know. Proper fit and placement are essential. Read the directions. Don’t just slap it on the dog. In a perfect world we like to condition dogs to the E collar first. What this means is we like to familiarize the dog to working with the stimulation in a hands-on training context. However, sometimes dogs come in so out of control that we have to put a bark collar on them day one. This is how we do that: we set the collar to the automatic setting, not a number on the dial. We only use collars that have an automatic setting. What happens is when the dog barks, they will receive the lowest level stimulation correction. If they bark again it will go up one level higher, increasing the level with each bark. This way the dogs can learn the cause and effect of the tool without being flooded by a high level correction off the bat. 

Bark collars are not only essential for maintaining a calm environment so dogs around the barking dog are not stressed, but for safety. I have to emphasize that again. I have had dogs come in, going hysterical barking in a kennel, biting at the door, throwing themselves from side to side, trying to bend the door with their head and/or trying to chew their way out. As soon as they cannot bark, the next time I check on them they’re laying there peacefully, looking like an angel. I’m serious. Worst case scenario the dog will be panting, but more often than not, the majority of dogs will be laying calmly without any signs of stress. This is how relevant bark collars are to stopping that toxic surge of adrenaline in unstable dogs. Typically, after only a few days, we don’t even need the bark collar anymore. Because of all the structure the dog is receiving in training, they quickly morph into a more balanced state.

Like anything else the tool has to be introduced properly and it cannot be abused. It should not be left on for extended periods of time and dogs with different fur and skin issues will have different needs for contact points.

Bark collars are beneficial in many other contexts outside of using them in a board and train program. Do you own a dog that incessantly barks when you leave the house whether it is crated or not? Can you not have your dog outside in the yard for more than 30 seconds without him barking like crazy and disturbing the neighbors? A dog is much more likely to make good choices when they can not spiral down an adrenaline rabbit hole by barking.

Bark collars are not a replacement for training. They are a tool just like all the other tools that we use when working with dogs. But if an owner  doesn’t have time to exercise their dog that day, using a bark collar to keep their dog quiet at times is far more humane in my opinion, than letting a dog bark his head off constantly with pupils the size of quarters.

Again, a bark collar isn’t a permanent solution to your dog’s barking. This tool helps a dog become more stable because of EVERYTHING ELSE we are putting into the dog training-wise. They help keep the dog far away from unhealthy, aroused states of mind. Dogs learn to settle faster and even dogs that are not crate trained will learn to not only accept, but enjoy the peace and comfort of being in a kennel with the help of a bark collar.

Like any other tool in the world, it can be used correctly or incorrectly, humanely or inhumanely. When used properly the bark collar is an incredible tool that can facilitate relaxation even in the most stressed and excitable dogs.

Consult a balanced trainer in your area to help teach you appropriate contexts for using a bark collar to help your dog.

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With the tools that Kerry gave us, we now take her out and about all the time with the confidence that we are in control…

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Our experience with Flash Dog Training has completely changed our lives. Up until Pepper went through 4 weeks of board and train with Kerry, we had lost hope in fixing some of her behavioral issues and we were actually changing our lives to cater to her instability. We were no longer going on hikes, taking her out in public, etc. because she simply could not handle herself around strangers, dogs, or people riding bicycles. Leading up to our decision to contact Kerry, we had tried extensive positive reinforcement training as well as rounds of different medications and nothing was working. After using balanced training with Kerry, it became clear to us that Pepper needed stronger leaders to guide her through life and the tools Kerry gave us enabled us to be that for her. We were finally able to effectively communicate with Pepper in a way where she actually listened to us as opposed to taking matters into her own hands. 

Before Pepper’s board and train, the sight of a person riding a bicycle would cause her to completely shut down. She was so fearful that she would go into hiding and not even her favorite toys or the most delicious food could bring her out. While this issue is so severe that it will always be a work in progress, she can finally see a bike pass by with little to no reaction! Pepper’s extreme excitement and demanding attitude when seeing another dog used to be so uncontrollable that we would avoid hiking and taking her out into public. Now she can walk by other dogs (even ones that are reacting to her) will little to no reaction. Her fear of strangers has always been an issue for us because her reactions were so unpredictable that we wouldn’t dare take her out in public with the fear that she could react and we wouldn’t have any control of the situation. With the tools that Kerry gave us, we now take her out and about all the time with the confidence that we are in control. We are now finally able to proactively work on socializing Pepper with strangers without the fear that something could go terribly wrong.

All in all, Pepper’s training with Kerry has been worth every penny. Our only regret is that we wish we would have gone to her sooner. 


Janna and Ben

Erie, Colorado




Stubborn? Not Your Dog

Why are people so quick to call dogs stubborn? Stubborn implies that the dog understands what is wanted by the human and then refuses to comply. As a trainer, I know that dogs are rarely stubborn. They truly don’t understand what is being asked of them because they’ve never been properly taught. If one of my dogs blows off a command, it’s likely because there is a competing motivator in the environment, not because they are being willfully defiant. Just because a dog will sit for a hand lure with a treat, does not mean that they understand sit while riding in the car. When the dog refuses to comply with the sit while riding in the car, he is not being stubborn; he doesn’t understand. He has never truly practiced that behavior in that context with a handler that is going to ensure success by using the correct and precise timing of reinforcement. Why do we presume dogs are just going to “get it?”

Trainers know that it takes hundreds if not thousands of repetitions for certain behaviors before the dog truly understands what the word-cue means. Additionally, the average dog owner can be incredibly inconsistent when it comes to the cues they give the dog and is typically not the best at follow through either. Trainers know not to expect a behavior when a dog is in the learning phase. It will take quite a while before that behavior becomes reliable in different environments and for different handlers. 

You control all of your dog’s resources. You are literally the hand that feeds, so how and when you choose to feed your dog will directly impact how willing your dog is to LEARN a behavior and also perform it reliably around distractions. If you are not using food to your advantage, it's likely your dog has little to no motivation because they’re used to getting everything for free. With intentional feeding, you can create an awesome boost in their motivation and engagement.

Dogs will forever be living in a world they will never understand; a man-made confusing world where they don’t speak the language. Engage your dog with empathy and ask yourself if you have actually taken the time to not only teach the command, but generalize it to different environments for reliability. For example, does your dog understand a release cue? If not, you can’t expect him to hold a down- stay if he doesn’t understand that the command has a beginning and an end. Also, ask yourself if you have the knowledge to really teach the dog by communicating in their language. Remember, dogs are a non-verbal species, so you cannot rely on verbal commands until he has been taught the sound’s meaning and context. If you want more reliability and confidence in your dog’s behaviors, seek help from a professional so you can understand how dogs learn and the importance timing, consistency and motivation in training. Your dog isn’t being stubborn or defiant, he just hasn’t been taught with the proper communication. 

Is a Dog's Comfort Zone Really That Comfortable?

"Your comfort zone will kill you"

I couldn't agree more. Only after breaking out of your comfort zone, patterns or dependent habits can you truly grow. 

Dogs practice behaviors that produce rewards as well as behaviors that relieve stress. They may practice aggression BECAUSE it's a release of stress. It becomes comfortable to do so. 
It becomes comfortable to just act the way you act, and use your old mechanisms to deal with the things that bother you in life. Even though it may not look like it, a dog's "comfort zone" can be really uncomfortable: barking, whining, reactivity, restlessness, hyperactivity etc. Only once we help them cope with the same stressors via a different approach have we helped them out of their comfort zone. #deepthoughts

Half of Dog Training is Doing Nothing

 Dogs don't know how to do nothing. They're really bad at it and they need our help at making them feel like it is a comfortable option. Let's be real, left to their own devices dogs will make really, really crappy decisions. Even if they are well trained, in the absence of the owner they can make really poor choices. Most dogs do not know how to self soothe in any way. Crate training, place command and obedience commands with duration, teach dogs to control their impulses, regulate their adrenaline, and feel comfortable doing nothing... even when the world around them is doing all kinds of stuff.

Duration work is not something you do all day every day. That would be pretty boring and really unfair. It's a skill just like any other that should be practiced, but not over-used.

Milling around the house is a pet peeve of mine and falls into the category of the rehearsed behavior of a dog that does not know how to relax. Milling does not lead to chilling. Tether training is a wonderful option to teach a dog to self soothe that does not involve any actual commands. Tie your dog up to a strong fixture in your house and go about your morning or evening routine. Expect that there will be protest or tantrums. Never leave the house or go upstairs to take a shower with a dog tethered. You don't need to keep constant eyes on the dog, but you need to be there to check in. Turn on the radio and do the dishes. When your dog stops fussing and actually lays down to rest, go ahead and release him. Rinse and repeat and you will have a dog that knows how to self soothe within seconds and actually enjoys doing so.

Anxiety in Pet Dogs and CBD

Anxiety is probably the biggest emotional issue in pet dogs today. They are anxious for so many reasons: they are not performing job/tasks for what they were bred for, we shower them with unearned affection, we allow too much freedom and not enough structure, we are completely confusing to dogs with our constant talking/fawning over them. Pet dogs live in a world-wind of confusion.

Hampton a current board and train student, has lashed out aggressively in many ways. But his barking/biting/lunging is not his "problem" his problem is his anxiety. His anxiety is what's making him lash out. You can treat the symptom for example: I can correct him for lunging at other dogs, but I'm not treating the root of his problem. When he doesn't feel anxious and his world is more structured, he's not going to have to display that aggressive behavior to alleviate his anxiety. If you change how a dog FEELS, you automatically change how they ACT.

Dogs can calm down so much more easily than people think that they can. It's actually pretty cool to teach a dog to relax on cue. Most dogs within a couple of weeks can self-soothe and shut off. Hampton is a dog that just will not stop whining, no matter what. He is the exact type of dog where I like to use CBD as a tool to help teach relaxation.

CBD is the non-psycho active ingredient in cannabis that acts as Mother Nature's muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety pill. There are no harmful side effects and it is 100% natural. What is most amazing about CBD is the dog needs less of it overtime, not more like a pharmaceutical. It just helps them "get there". Hampton's real issues are outside of the home, and CBD will definitely help him on walks too. It helps a dog self regulate and not be so hyper-reactive to the environment. It keeps them focused and poised and they can go about their daily routine with no problem. Dogs do not act "drugged" on CBD. They may get a little sleepy, but they can function completely normally. It also increases appetite for fearful dogs or dogs that will not take food in the presence of triggers. I can't say enough good things about CBD. It is my go-to training aid for anxious dogs in conjunction with duration exercises like "place". His family will be able to dose him as needed when they take him out on adventures. It will just take the edge off, making him more manageable and mentally collected.