BetCo June/July 2017 Newsletter

Hello ,

We have just the right class for your dog! Trick Dog - Beginner! Teaching tricks is a very creative way to teach your dog to focus, you can show off all the tricks later and you can even get titles for your dog just by attending the class! Hurry up, class starts June 8!

Check out this and other classes below in the class section! We do have room for you in some of the June classes starting soon! 

Would you like to try different sports in one class? We have a Sports Sampler class coming up in July.

Monthly Training Tip at the end of this newsletter:
Loose Leash Walking
If the story doesn't show below, please click on 'view in browser' at the top of this email. 

Short overview of our upcoming events and classes (more details are further below):

1) Upcoming Events:

The Better Companion has added some special events again this year (by popular request) that you might want to add to your calendar now:

- K9 Nose Work Seminars on June 16, 17 + 18
- Feisty Fido Workshop on Saturday, August 19
Shy Dog Workshop on Sunday, August 20

- Responsible Dog Ownership-Day on Saturday, September 9 - celebrating 15 years of BetCo!!!
Open for vendor registration now!

Read more about these events below!

2) Behavior classes:

Every month: Grade School P
ractice manners in an increasingly distracting environment. Your dog will amaze you!

June: Junior High and Rally College (Monday evenings). Junior High is for all Grade School graduates, Rally College (and obedience-based dog sport) follows after Junior High.

July: CGC Prep-class (Wednesdays). Improve your dog's manners in public through games and role play. Prepare your dog for the Canine Good Citizen(R)-test offered in September by BetCo. 

3) Sports classes:

June: Trick Dog Beginner (Thursday evenings). Earn a title for your dog while at class! Now also an AKC title. 

July: Sports Sampler! (Saturdays) Not sure which sport is for you? Try three sports in one class! 

JulyAgility classes (Saturdays). Can't commit to the full session but want to continue? Ask us about our punch card option!

July: K9 Nose Work®
 (Sundays). A fun game for indoors and outside! 

All clickable links in this newsletter are in PURPLE.

Enjoy life with your better companion,


1) Upcoming events:

K9 Nose Work Seminars

Dates: June 16, 17 and 18, 2017
Time: all-day, TBA

At this time all three workshops have filled, but we still take registrations for the wait lists.

Three days with one of the founders of K9 Nose Work, Ron Gaunt! Come to one, two or all three days to learn from the best and to understand this sport and your dog even better than before. Each day has a different topic and might be suitable for different levels of dogs, but they're all three valuable in just listening and observing. Auditing (come without your dog) is recommended  for as many days as you can come to! 

Is this workshop for you? Yes!!! No matter if you're brand-new and just interested to learn about this sport, have already started a dog or are already trialing at any level, this is a great workshop for anybody who wants to know more about K9 Nose Work. 

Is your dog a candidate? The three days are staggered for dogs of any level, starting with beginner dogs on the first day. Beginner means having no or a little experience in K9 Nose Work. The second day will be "Skill Building", and the third day is "Hide Placement for Handlers and Instructors". Both days will be for dogs that are already on odor. 

We're in the process of finalizing the details for this workshop. As soon as we know how many dogs we can accept per workshop and what to charge, we'll add this to our EVENTS page. Check back frequently or email us to be put on our Nose Work emailing list. We'll announce there when we're ready to take sign-ups!

Feisty Fido Workshop: 

This one-day workshop is offered once a year.

Date: Saturday, August 19, 2017
Time: 10 AM - 5 PM (1/2-1 hour lunch break)

Is your dog a candidate? This workshop is for dogs that lunge and bark at other dogs when they see them, either out of fear or frustration. They can sound pretty vicious or be rather quiet about it, but they don't know how to behave socially correctly towards other dogs. Often they have specific dog friends they get along fine with, but might still bark at all, some or only specific other dogs. This workshop is also an excellent practice opportunity for reactive dogs after a private lesson. 

Is this workshop for you? In this workshop we'll explain and practice exercises that will help your dog to cope better with the sight of other dogs. We won't allow direct contact between any dogs and they won't have an opportunity to play. We'll keep a good distance at all times to keep the exercises successful. If the situation is set up correctly, your dog should learn to focus more on you than on the other dog and accept the presence of another dog. We'll also practice what to do in emergency situations that would usually put your dog over threshold. 

You can also decide to come without your dog and learn by observing the other dog/handler teams. We'll have 6 working spots (handlers with their dogs) and 6 auditing spots (people without their dog or extra people of the family)

Shy Dog Workshop:

This 4-hour workshop is offered once a year.

Date: Sunday, August 20, 2017
Time: 2 - 6 PM

Is your dog a candidate? Would you like your dog to warm up to strangers, or even family members, faster? Then this is for you! This workshop is for dogs that are timid and insecure around people, mostly strangers. They prefer to keep their distance from people and when asked to come closer, they get nervous and often rather want to go further away. Some will bark at a stranger that is too close. Dogs should be okay in a strange environment and not too stressed to eat treats when brought into the building. This workshop is also an excellent practice opportunity for shy dogs after a private lesson. 

Is this workshop for you? In this workshop we'll explain and practice exercises that will help your dog to overcome their fear of people and talk about common mistakes that can make it worse. If you have a family member or friend who you'd like to be better accepted by your dog, this workshop is for you! Have a caretaker that needs to be able to handle your dog while you're gone? We often don't get to the dog actually being touched or patted by strangers, but being more curious and thinking more positive about strangers rather than being afraid of them. As you use these exercises at home, you'll see continuous improvement! 

You can also decide to come without your dog and learn lots by observing all the other dog/handler teams. We'll have 6 working spots (handlers with their dogs) and 6 auditing spots (people without their dog)

Responsible Dog Ownership-Day

Celebrating our 15-year anniversary!!! Save the date! Mark your calendar!

Date: Saturday, September 9, 2017
Time: 10 AM - 4 PM 

Call for vendors and demos! Free booth space, indoors and outside! Contact us to reserve your booth space! Have something you'd like to show? Tell us about your demo for either 15-20 or 30-40 minutes. 

2) Sports classes:

Trick Dog (Thursday evenings): 

Earn a real title for your dog while at class! Our instructor Ella-Kate can most likely sign your dog off as a Novice Trick Dog by the end of this class. She's an official Trick Dog instructor with Do More With Your Dog (DMWYD) and the American Kennel Club (AKC). 

1) June/July class: Trick Dog 1 - Novice starts Thursday, June 8, break on July 6, ends July 20. 

Agility classes (Saturdays): 

1) July/August classes start Saturday, July 8th, no breaks, end August 12th. 
2) September/October classes start Saturday, September 16th, end October 21st. 

Early sign-up "Agility Level Unknown": Sign up for a class before you know which level you'll need to join. We can reserve you a spot in the level you're currently in AND in the next higher level until you and your instructor have decided which class suits you better. By signing up early, you avoid the worry of ending up on a wait list!

Punch card option: To repeat a level when you already know you'd miss two or more of the sessions. We'll always try to fill a class with full class payments first, then any spots still available (if any) can be used on a punch card basis. You can purchase a credit for a single 1-hr session for $35 or a punch card with three credits (for three 1-hr sessions) for $90. Your credits will be good for three years. 

K9 Nose Work® (Sundays and Tuesdays): 

A fun dog sport and game for indoors and outside! No prerequisite (only our regular health requirements), dogs of any age, size, fitness and temperament level, even timid or mildly dog-reactive dogs can join this sport! 

1) July/August Sunday classesK9 NW® Beginners and K9 NW® Intro to Odor  

Sports Sampler! (Saturdays): 

Not sure which sport is for you? Try three sports in one class! In this round we offer two weeks each of Treibball, Trick Dog and Freestyle! 

1) July/August class: Sports Sampler starts July 8, no break, ends August 12. The time for this class might still change, with 10 AM being the earliest option. 

3) Manners classes

Starting your dog: 

Puppy 1 - Preschool: for 
Puppies 2-5 months old; followed by Puppy 2 - Kindergarten
Foundation Class: for dogs 6 months and older.
The first week of these two classes only is without your dog, to give the handler/owner a head start! All other classes start with the dog. 
Package Deals: bundle two or more classes for a great discount! You learn valuable lessons and your dog gets the best possible start. Get your package first, then use the purchased class credit to sign up for a specific class. 

Classes start every month, switching dates and times each month to accommodate your schedule as best we can! We offer Sunday afternoon, Monday morning, and Monday, Wednesday and Thursday evening classes. 

The missing link: Grade School

For all Puppy 2 - Kindergarten and Foundation Class graduates
Grade School applies all the learned techniques from P1, P2 and FC to valuable exercises, improving your handling skills and your dog's behavior through more practice with controlled but increasing distractions. After Grade School you're ready to venture on into different obedience directions: Junior High, CGC-Prep Class or CLASS-BA Course. 

Classes start every month, switching between Sunday afternoons, Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. We have one last Monday morning class starting om June 5th, after that all weekday class are held in the evenings. 

1) April/May class: Monday evenings, starts April 3, no break, ends May 8. 
2) April/May/June class: Sunday afternoon, starts April 30, break on May 28, ends June 11.
3) May/June class: Wednesday evenings, starts May 10, no break, ends June 14.

Beyond the basics: Keep going with obedience and manners
Junior High School takes you into the specific skills of the obedience needed for the sport of Rally: Teach your dog to "Finish", "Front", "Swing" or "Get In", increase hind end awareness through some trick training. Also learn how to manage and conquer emergency situations out on your walks, like a loose dog coming towards you and practice manners while meeting other people with their dogs on leash. 

CLASS-BA (Canine Life And Social Skills®- Bachelor of Arts) practices in-home and in-public manners. The focus is also on feeding less treats and using less talking when asking for duration, like loose leash walking and stays. This is a great way to "proof" your dog's obedience skills, or you can join this class just for good practice and to get ideas on how to apply the exercises to increase the structure for your dog at home and in public. It's also a good class for potential therapy dog teams. We also offer an evaluation after the end of class to test your and your dog's skills - a chance to earn a bachelor's degree through the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers)!

CGC-Prep Class practices manners in public through games and role-play, to prepare you and your dog for the Canine Good Citizen®-test. You can join the class with or without this test in mind. The test is usually held in September, the weekend after our Responsible Dog Ownership-Day. You might find other test sites in Alaska on the AKC's web page

1) June/July Monday class: Junior High and Rally College, start June 5, break on July 3, end July 17.
2) July/August Wednesday class: CGC-Prep Class, starts July 12, no break, ends August 16.
3) Aug/Sep Thursday classCLASS-BA Course, starts April 13, no break, ends May 18.

Here's what one of our clients had to say after taking Puppy 1 - Preschool:
"[The greatest benefit from this class is] to learn positive training at the moment of activity. [I liked most about the training program the] target training [and] puppy playtime. [The most interesting exercise of the whole course was] loose lead training, learning to distract instead of discipline. [I like] being able to recall the puppy with target training" Brian & Alicia with Reagan, Puppy 1 - Preschool

Read more testimonies HERE!

Monthly Training Tip:

Loose Leash Walking  

I wrote about this topic before, but this is always a struggle for a lot of people and maybe I can help you with some more valuable tips and information. 

Some quick principles of learning 

In a nutshell, a behavior will occur less often because the outcome was unpleasant (punishment), or more often because the outcome was pleasant (reward). For example if a wolf tries to cross a river and almost gets swept away, he might avoid that same area for future river crossings. If a squirrel finds lots of delicious seeds after climbing into a bird feeder, it might repeat that behavior not only at this feeder, but at other feeders as well. 

Punishment: If a dog finds the pressure or pain on its throat unpleasant enough, it might stop the pulling. That will happen when using a prong collar. When using a choke chain, it sometimes causes enough discomfort for the dog to avoid the feeling in the future, and sometimes it doesn't work at all. Then probably the pleasant outcome of the pulling overrides the unpleasant experience. So in order to suppress and stop the pulling, the outcome needs to be unpleasant enough to override all the joys of pulling and the dog often needs to be reminded of that unpleasant outcome, sometimes just by the presence of the equipment. This method is called 'correction-based training' and basically suppresses the dog's desires. 

Intermittent reinforcement: Sometimes a behavior isn't rewarded every single time, e.g. some of the bird feeders the squirrel is checking on might be empty. After enough non-rewards the behavior could be extinct, e.g. the squirrel stops checking bird feeders. But with just a few rewarded attempts thrown in between, the behavior becomes stronger, and harder to extinct. 

This principle is very important to understand, because it fits our leash pullers so well! A few successful attempts to pull somewhere will make the behavior of pulling way harder to extinct!

Reducing unwanted behavior without using punishment

So it seems obvious that in order to reduce unwanted behaviors we have to apply an unpleasant outcome, unpleasant enough to really leave an impression and make an impact. Prong collars and shock (e-)collars will do that in correction-based training.

So what can we do if we choose NOT to use punishment?

1) AVOID the wrong behavior from happening through management.

2) Reward for the opposite behavior, non-pulling!

Management is very important in reward-based training, and brings us one step ahead of correction-based training. Instead of waiting for the dog to show the unwanted behavior and then correcting it, like with a quick jerk on the leash, we set the dog up for success and avoid the pulling overall. How? By using specific equipment that takes the power out of the dog without punishing the dog. 

To avoid any future pulling instantly, use a head halter or front clip harness. We have Gentle Leaders® and Freedom Harnesses® always in stock, because we believe in these products!

Now off to a rewardable behavior!

Teaching our dogs other rewardable behaviors like to focus on us and to ignore the environment are helpful tools to a dog that won't pull. A dog that's more interested in you instead of the dog across the street won't pull towards that dog. So don't wait for a slack leash to reward, help your dog to focus on a task like looking at you, turning with you or sitting next to you and reward these moments! Have treats on you while you're trying to master the loose leash walk, to progress faster. 

Set your dog up for success, not for failure. Start in a less distracting environment, in the house, then in your yard, and then in your neighborhood without distractions, before trying to walk by other dogs and going in public. Start with short distances, maybe even only 20 feet, up and down your driveway. 

Reward your dog with the biggest reward of all of them: moving forward when s/he doesn't pull! Treats are helpful to reward specific moments like checking back in with you, turning with you, looking at you, ... Moving forward is the basic reward for non-pulling. Consequently, you can't move forward if your dog pulls, because that would reward the unwanted behavior! If your dog pulls, you'll 'punish' that unwanted behavior by taking a step (or two) backwards (gently, not abruptly).

Why is my dog still pulling? The answer is also: Rewards! Our dogs are often rewarded for pulling without us knowing about it! The simplest explanation is: if they got one inch forward with pulling, they got what they wanted - closer! No matter where they wanted to go, if they're pulling towards it, they're rewarded with every inch they get there. Most common examples are when our students come and their dog pulls towards the building or when a dog pulls towards its buddy to say 'hi'. 

Turn that picture around and reward your dog for NOT-PULLING by going forward. Consistency is the key, and it will take time, so either you come 15-20 minutes earlier to get from your car to the building or you might be late for class - unless you're using a non-pull device and your dog doesn't pull with that at all.

If it doesn't work - your dog still pulls

Ask yourself where your dog still might get unintentionally rewarded for its pulling: Are you allowing exceptions like 'oh this is your buddy, that's fine' or 'I understand you're excited'? Are you sometimes to lazy to use the anti-pull device (head halter, front clip harness)? Is your dog allowed to pull forward while using the anti-pull device, because it's not disturbing and shoulder killing anymore? 

The anti-pull device will not take over the teaching for you, it just takes the power out of the dog to allow for training without losing a shoulder and saves the dog's trachea from collapsing.

Other questions to ask yourself: Am I expecting too much? Is my dog getting enough exercise at other times? Could I allow my dog more leash in some areas to allow sniffing and 'being a dog', and limit the areas where I expect my dog to walk patiently next to me? Walking with us is for a dog slower than their own natural speed, which would be an effortless trot. Could you maybe bicycle with your dog at least in the summer? 

Depending on your dog's age (not suitable for puppies) you can also add a little workload to your walks by adding a backpack or having your dog pull a sled or cart. While I owned an adult stray dog from Greece that couldn't be trusted on a walk off-leash, I invented a lot of different exercises for my leash-dog, including pulling a tire without rim on our walks through the woods.

Where to get more practice

1) Life! Whenever you have your dog on leash, it's practice time!

Use short distances like car-house; garage-gate; kitchen-porch door and practice. Decide if you're ready to train hard on these short distances and maybe not use an anti-pull device or if you don't have time to practice that intense, then at least take the time to use the anti-pull device first, even for the shortest distance of leash-use. 

Consistency, consistency, consistency!

2) Any of our classes will be helpful towards loose leash walking, but some are specifically helpful:

- Grade School: We practice all the skills you learned in either Puppy 1 + 2 or Foundation Class, including leash walking. We also practice focus and other bonding exercises that will be supportive.

- CGC-Prep Class: This class aims towards a Canine Good Citizen®, which is a program through the AKC (American Kennel Club). The AKC has developed the CGC®-test, which evaluates a handler/dog team in 10 everyday situations. We'll offer the test separately after the class is finished. 

- CLASS-BA Course: Practicing Canine Life And Social Skills® as laid out by the APDT (Association of Professional Dog Trainers) also includes focus and loose leash walking. Here we improve our skills and reduce the treat feeding during the exercises.

- Junior High: Lots of leash walking in patterns, adding the focus into the walking, which turns it into heeling. 

- Trick Dog or Freestyle: Lots of games to help keep your dog's attention and fun for your dog to adore you even more!
Enjoy the Journey of Dog Training!

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The Better Companion, LLC, 1400 Regine Ave, Wasilla, AK 99654, United States

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