Puppy Wonder Weeks – Part 1

At what age should you start training your puppy? As a trainer, I get this question all the time, especially from those with new puppies. The simple answer is “training should start the moment you first meet your puppy” and training should continue until you and your dog(s) are living happily ever after. When training starts from the get-go, you set the foundation of your pup’s life by developing all the layers of their insanely awesome personalities. Early training ultimately effects their health and happiness. And, when puppy dogs are healthy and happy, so are their human moms and dads.

Puppy Socialization

The critical socialization period for puppies is 4-12 weeks. Before 4 weeks, puppies sleep around the clock – with occasional bouts of arousal to consume nourishment. Puppies typically stay with their biological doggy moms and litter-mates until they are 7-8 weeks old, so early puppy handling should be provided by other caretakers.

The last month of their critical socialization period (weeks 8-12) is the prime time for your pup to get accustomed to other humans and animals (dogs, cats, birds, sheep, hamsters, etc.). This short window of opportunity is why puppy socialization should start the moment you meet your puppy.

The Wonder Weeks

The second half of puppy’s socialization period (8-12 weeks) are the Wonder Weeks. These weeks represent the ideal time to start puppy training. The foundation of your puppy’s personality is molded and developed at this early age. The importance of early socialization is why puppies typically meet their new families around 8 weeks and why you are in the training process the second you meet your little pup. If you have the great fortune to acquire your puppy before 13 weeks old – you will significantly shape your puppy’s personality, for better or worse. Early puppy training will have a significant positive influence on your puppy’s life.

Puppy Training Skills

Young puppies (less than 5-months) are taught foundation skills that include potty training, manners (e.g., jumping, barking, whining, mouthing, biting, growling, snarling), basic obedience and socialization. Other than the foundation obedience skills of LOOK and COME, young puppy training focuses more on potty training, manners and socialization. While older puppies (5+ months) also need manners and socialization skills, they are at the ideal age to learn more advanced obedience plus leash skills. 

Coming soon …. Puppy Wonder Weeks – Part 2: Training options for young puppies.

If you would like to learn more about training your puppy, we would love to help you. Please give us a call.

Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville. Please follow us on Instagram @LuckyDogTrainingAVL and @KyloRenPup. Please contact us for more information at TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call us at 828-423-9635.

Curb the Chaos

During these unprecedented times in our lives, we are faced with unimaginable challenges, to no fault of our own. To overcome these challenges, we must dig deep and find the strength and courage to move forward.

Humans are social creatures, so “social” or “physical” distancing is difficult and feels abnormal. However, physical distancing is necessary as we fight this highly contagious coronavirus. As we take necessary precautions and physically distance from each other, we should not lose connection with each other. And we should not lose connection with ourselves.

To stay connected with others, we are encouraged to use technology. (If they could, our social doggy friends would definitely use technology to bark with their buddies.) To stay connected with ourselves, we are reminded to focus on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual well-being. We need to remain strong and stick together, even though we cannot touch each other.

We had the great fortune to hear Dr. Sue Varna, CBT Psychiatry, speak about mental health during times of crisis. Below is a link to Dr. Varna’s explanation of the “4-Ms” in mental health: mindfulness, movement, mastery and meaningful engagement.

MSNBC – Dr Sue Varna

In the spirit of the 4-Ms of mental health, we will focus on calming the chaos in our lives during these uncertain times. Our goal is to provide feel-good stories through all types of online resources, all of which can be shared with your loved ones, especially your pups.

We have so much at our fingertips. And while our fingertips are prohibited from touching others, all-hands-on dog petting and loving are highly encouraged. If you have the great fortune to have a beloved pup, you are blessed to have your very own mental health therapy dog right at your fingertips. And if you don’t, now might be the best time to adopt. Dogs save lives.

~ For the Love of Dogs ~

Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville. Please follow us on Instagram @TrainingLuckyDogs and @KyloRenPup. Please contact us for more information at TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call us at 828-423-9635.

Insight in 2020

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2020. The start of a new year is a time for reflections and resolutions. Why? Many want to make a fresh start and possibly change for the better, in some way or other. They want to improve themselves, often times seeking good health and happiness. BTW, we highly encourage including your pup in the quest for better health and happiness (see Source of Motivation below).

Hindsight is 20/20

New year resolutions often fail, which is curious. The human species is ego-centric in nature, so this should be an easy task. However, resolutions are not easy to keep. In fact, most fail at or even totally forget their resolutions. Why? The small, baby steps needed to successfully achieve a specific goal are often not part of the plan. A successful strategy is always based on taking small, baby steps.

Hindsight Foresight Insight

Successful achievement of goals requires a combination of hindsight, foresight and insight. Success is achieved when we learn from the past (Hindsight) to plan for the future (Foresight) and develop the right strategies to take appropriate action now (Insight). We live in the present – the Now. Insight is our ability to connect our past lessons to our future dreams and develop the best plan of action – a strategy for success.

Hindsight – Lessons from the Past

Hindsight is the ability to understand something only after it has occurred. You know the old adage – Hindsight is 20/20. It allows us to not only recognize past mistakes, but also learn from these mistakes. Hindsight is the ability to recognize and learn from past mistakes. Remember, mistakes are not failures; they are opportunities for growth. Recognizing and learning from mistakes allows for better decision-making strategies in the future.

Foresight – Plans for the Future

Foresight is the ability to correctly predict what will happen in the future. Foresight allows for developing plans of action needed to achieve certain goals. Hindsight allows for recognizing and understanding obstacles. It also allows for plans to overcome any future obstacles to success.

Insight – Actions in the Present

Insight is the ability to recognize and understand all the small steps needed to achieve a big goal. It allows us to piece everything together (past failures and triumphs) to successfully achieve a desired goal. Insight recognizes the small, baby steps that are the foundation to a viable plan of action.

Plan of Action – Baby Steps

Do you want to be a happier, healthier you in 2020? Do you want shed extra pounds? Build strength? Increase your cardio endurance? If so, start with little baby steps to get started and stay motivated. Break down your workout routines into something that is attainable. Recognize the baby steps you can take to be successful each and every day.

Example of Baby Step Approach

If you want to increase your cardio endurance, don’t expect to run 3-miles on the first day, especially if you do not run at all. That is a recipe for certain failure. Instead, start with small increments (baby steps) to ensure your success. For example, start with a 5-minute walk/run. You should be successful on day one and know that you can easily increase your endurance over 5 minutes. Maybe add an additional minute each day to push yourself. Use a workout app to track your progress. Continue increasing your time walking/running until you reach your own personal limit.

Recipe for Success

By using baby steps, you will allow yourself to succeed. Maybe the most you can ever do is a 15-minute cardio walk each day. If so, focus on your daily successes! At the end of the year, you can look at the big picture. Your 15-minute workout will result in exercising for over 90 hours in the 2020! That is a huge accomplishment for someone who wasn’t working out at all. And, just imagine if you exercise walk more than 15-minutes a day. Great success!

Source of Motivation

If you need some outside motivation to keep you going day after day, look no farther than your faithful doggy companion. They love and benefit from your daily, 15-minute workouts. They will be healthier and happier! Maybe that is your ultimate goal, but your dog makes your walks/runs incredibly unpleasant. They have no leash skills and yank you every which way. If so, we would love to help you turn your leash-pulling dog into your best workout partner ever. And, your dog will become an outstanding source of motivation to keep you healthier and happier each and every year.

Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author and certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville. Please follow us on Instagram @TrainingLuckyDogs and @KyloRenPup. Please contact us for more information at TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call us at 828-423-9635.

 

Happy & Healthy New Year

It’s that time again! Time for our annual New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us make promises at the beginning of each new year to change and/or improve our lives to be healthier and happier. We start off with the best intentions and stay committed to those resolutions for days, weeks, maybe even months. But in the end, many of us fall short.

Continue reading

Board & Train Holiday Vacation

The holidays are upon us! Schedules are crazy and filled with a myriad of festive activities. You are immersed in the hustle and bustle, trying to create the perfect holiday experience for you and your loved ones. Does this perfect experience include your fur babies too? Or do you hide your pups away when guest arrive? Do you need to leave your pups behind while you travel far and wide? What to do with your dog over the holidays can be a serious dilemma.

The Lucky Dogs

Some dogs are able to go anywhere with their humans and easily adapt to new situations. They are friendly to people and keep out of the way. They have great manners and understand personal space. They do not bark incessantly, jump on people or make a mess. You are relaxed because your dog does great in social situations. If this describes your dog, you are very lucky indeed!

The Not So Lucky Dogs

Unfortunately, not everyone is so lucky. Many dogs are not great in social situations, which is extremely stressful to the dogs, but more so to their humans. Often, dogs are hidden away in another part of the house until the guests depart. This can work for a short duration, but can get tedious and unmanageable for longer-term house guests.

Some dogs spend holidays at boarding kennels, while others are left home alone with arrangements for brief, daily sitter visits. These are not ideal solutions for any dogs. Young dogs get bored and develop bad behaviors. Separation anxiety can develop or get worse. Owners often feel guilty leaving their dogs in less than ideal situations, which could impact the enjoyment of their vacation trip. Needless to say, all of the cases are extremely stressful for everyone.

Board & Train Holiday Vacation

Our board and train programs are ideal for holidays and vacation travels. While you are away on your travels, your pup lives and trains with us in North Asheville. We are not a kennel facility with cement runs and lonely hours. Your dog lives with us. They learn and play with our Muttley Crew of trained therapy dogs. Their days are filled with fun, educational activities. Our B&T Holiday Vacations are ideal for young dogs, older dogs and brand new puppies.

Training with Love & Affection

Our goal is for your dog to listen to you without the need of e-collars or tons of treats. We focus on what dogs really want – your love, attention and affection. You and your dog form a unique partnership, so we customize your training program to fit your personal needs. We use dog training tools best suited to each individual situation. The ultimate reward we offer our lovable dogs is the love and affection they so enjoy – and so do we! Petting and verbal praise are extremely high value treats!

Gifts That Keep On Giving

Imagine your dog as the dog of your dreams. Our board and train holiday vacation will get you on the road to that dream dog quickly and playfully. When your dog’s holiday vacation with us ends, the fun doesn’t stop. We teach you how to have fun with your dog as you continue the training process through our program.

Dog Training is a PROCESS

Our B&T program includes private sessions and weekly group sessions at no extra cost. Private Sessions allow you and your dog to practice the skills they learned during their B&T stay that are needed for a stress-free home life. During private sessions, you and your dog work one-on-one with a trainer to practice training skills. Weekly group sessions are attended by multiple client dogs. You and your dog learn to work as a team around other dog teams in public setting  (including those with squirrels). Group sessions are great opportunities to practice new training skills in high distraction situations that are part of life.

Schedule Your Holiday Vacation Today

Call us (828-423-9635) to learn more. Our space is very limited because we give your pup our full attention. We can help your dog become the Dog of Your Dreams so next time, your dog will be one of the lucky ones. If they can be there, next time they will be there. We want your dogs to learn to be part of your holiday festivities without any stress. We train dogs to be Lucky Dogs!

Kathryn R. Gubista, PhD is an evolutionary biologist, college biology instructor, former zookeeper, author, certified professional dog trainer with Lucky Dog Training Asheville and has over 30 years of dog training and human teaching experience. Please contact us for more information at TrainingLuckyDogs@gmail.com or call us at 828-423-9635.

Canine Good Citizen

What is a Canine Good Citizen? Is your dog a Canine Good Citizen? Every domestic dog, from family pet to working dog, should be good citizens of the community. At the very least, dogs should not make an unnecessary fuss of any kind, especially in public places. They should be quiet and not invade the space of others. They should exhibit self-control and stay “out of trouble”. They should be friendly to all others. Dogs should always be next to their human partners or under their watchful eyes. This is the image of a Canine Good Citizen. Continue reading

Science of Dog Training Video

Evolutionary Approach to Dog Training

To truly understand dogs and how to train them, it is important to think outside the Skinner Box. Of course, a clear understanding and proper applications of Learning Theory is fundamental to sound dog training. However, psychology is NOT the only scientific field that applies to dog training. Far from it. Continue reading

Science of Dog Training

As a scientist, I find myself in the curious culture that revolves around pet dogs. I hear “science-based dog training” and am mystified by the context it’s used. The term “science”, which is a very broad, all-encompassing term, has been misappropriated to represent a very narrow training approach. In the pet dog training culture, “science-based dog training” is synonymous with “positive reinforcement training”. This is not accurate in so many ways and creates confusion and frustration for everyone, especially for our sweet little dogs. Continue reading

The Dog Walk Challenge

New Year’s Resolutions

Once again, we find ourselves at that time of year. We pay homage and bid a sweet adieu to the past year, and simultaneously, ring in the new year with hopeful anticipation that our lives will get better. What happened in the past is now fact and cannot be changed, be it good or bad. What we can change is our future course. We have the power to determine and change our futures. We make New Year’s promises to change our lives, but almost always find these new-found resolutions fail miserably. Why? Because we plan for the future but forget to live in the NOW. Continue reading

Happy Holidays!

Happiest of Holidays!

Wishing everyone the Happiest of Holidays! We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful area that welcomes so many dog-friendly lifestyles. Walking, hiking, biking and swimming with our dogs is just a sample of all the fun ways to enjoy life each and every day, including the holidays, with our faithful companions.

Please give your puppy dogs an extra hug for us! Continue reading