BetCo Mar/Apr 2018 Newsletter

Hello ,

Important news and reads in this issue:

1) Canine First Aid class at BetCo on February 25th!

2) Pet Partners Therapy Animal Handler Course in Anchorage on March 17th

3) Upcoming Classes

4) Monthly Training Tip: Exercising your dog - finding the balance

Are there good or bad ways to exercise your dog? Is it possible to exercise too much? Probably not this winter! How can we give our dogs enough exercise despite the weather throwing us curve balls? Read more below!

All clickable links in this newsletter are in PURPLE.

Enjoy life with your better companion,


Doggy yoga! Unfortunately not very tiring, since it doesn't stimulate muscle or brain activity. Still fun to watch! I'll post this and more of Luce's yoga poses on The Better Companion's Facebook page soon!
1) Canine First Aid class at BetCo on February 25th!

We're happy to announce that we could secure Canine 1st Aid and CPR instructor Trish Houser from Smiling Dogs Alaska for this one-day workshop at our facility!

Sunday, February 25th, 10 AM - 5 PM

From their web page:
Would you know what to do if your dog…Choked on a piece of food? Ate something poisonous? Severely cut his paw? Collapsed and his heart stopped? Was hit by a car? Lost an eyeball in a dog fight?

Dogsafe® Canine First Aid 101

A comprehensive full day course designed to teach responsible dog owners and dog professionals the knowledge and skills to respond to a sick or injured dog until veterinary care is available, and to help you determine if veterinary care is required. The topics are covered in-depth so that students have a thorough understanding of the principles of canine first aid. Since this is a very comprehensive course, we need your full attention and dogs do not come to class.

Better Companion clients: contact us and we'll give you a special discount code just for you to enter at checkout and save $25!
2) Pet Partners Therapy Animal Handler Course in Anchorage on March 17th

This program is a volunteer program that trains only the handler. It screens and registers volunteers and their pets for visiting animal programs in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, schools and other facilities. This handlers only-workshop is one of the requirements for the program.

Saturday, March 17th, 10 AM - 6 PM - not at BetCo!!!
This workshop is held in Anchorage at the Providence Alaska Medical Center.

You'll need to create an online volunteer account with Pet Partners to sign up for the course and mail in your payment to secure your spot.

Our office can email you the flyer with Indemnity Form, which contains all the information and web links, the address to send checks to and contact info for our Alaskan instructors and evaluators, if you have any further questions.
3) Upcoming Classes

Classes that start every month:

Puppy 1 - Preschool, Puppy 2 - Kindergarten, Foundation Class, Grade School;
Click HERE for the full schedule.

March classes:

K9 Nose Work® - Beginners starts Sunday, March 11 and has a few openings! Already a Beginner graduate? Then join K9 Nose Work® - Intro to Odor, starting the same day! Even if your Beginner graduation was quite a while ago, if your dog was ready to advance back then, s/he still is!

Junior High for Grade School graduates starts Wednesday, March 14. The focus of this class is on adding and practicing more behaviors that are useful for great manners in public, like heeling, finish, front and leave it. We'll also discuss and practice emergency situations on your walk, like encountering wild animals or loose, unsupervised dogs. By the way, we'll improve the dog's hind end awareness and trick repertoire.

Agility classes of all levels start Saturday, March 17. This will be the last round of classes before a summer break. We'll continue with agility classes again in September! As we're trying to be as flexible as possible to accommodate everybody, we might double up a class or combine classes instead of canceling them. This could impact the times of other agility classes before and after. The earlier we know that you want to join us, the better!

April classes:

Rally Practices could be back on Thursdays, starting April 12!!! We changed the time to 7:30 PM, to offer Rally Practices for our Rally College graduates and anybody who's already trialing in Rally. The instructor (with the help of the students it'll be faster) will set up a course challenge, then after walking the course together the students will take turns to run the course with their dogs. Dogs will wait for their turn either in the car, the waiting area or in a crate that can be set up either in the waiting area or maybe even inside the arena, depending on space available

Trick Dog - Novice is back! This class starts also on Thursday, April 12, at 5 PM. This is a great way to connect with your dog, learn how to make even obedience more fun, increase your dog's attention and find out how to train that trick you always wanted your dog to learn. You'll by the way get signed off throughout the class for the tricks you show and can earn a Novice Trick Dog Title just by attending this class! Repeaters of this class can work on their next level of Trick Dog. The titles can then be requested from Do More With Your Dog and/or the AKC.  

Preview for May and beyond:

K9 Nose Work® - Elements in May! (For NW-Intro to Odor graduates)
CGC-Prep School in May!

Here's what some of our clients had to say after taking Junior High :
"[The greatest benefit was that it] keeps us motivated to continue training ... "

"He now knows "go to your spot" and his recall has improved greatly. Loose leash walking is still a working progress but we're getting there!"

"[My husband] forgot she (the dog) was out when he was bringing the horse in. She started to run toward the horse barking, but he said Stay and she stayed!"

'This class covered a huge amount of material. A little like getting a drink from a fire hose ... You get what you need but not all of it. I may take this course a second time to get more of it."

Read more testimonies HERE!
4) Monthly Training Tip:

Exercising your dog - finding the balance

I always talk at classes about the balance between mental and physical exercise. That IS important and can't be overlooked. But there's also a balance between not enough and too much exercise, mentally as well as physically.

We know that certain breeds have different exercise requirements. A sled dog from an active racing kennel, a Border Collie or a field Labrador (bred for field work) will need more exercise than a Pekingese, Pug or Mastiff. But even though many breeds are bred to have strength and stamina, they also need to learn how to rest. An Iditarod sled dog needs to learn to rest in checkpoints, even when he's not tired yet; a Border Collie should be able to stay in the car or at the shepherd's feet all day when there's no sheep to herd, and a Labrador used for hunting needs to calmly wait in the hide-out for hours before he can run out to retrieve the game - if he even gets to go.

These dogs have learned to rest, knowing and trusting that the day will come again soon on which they will get to work. That's a good balance!

Most dog breeds as they're existing today have developed in order to fulfill certain 'job requirements', from hunting to herding to protection and anything in between. Very few breeds were developed to just be 'pets', like the pekingese to be carried around in the emperor's sleeve.

In order to be good at their 'job', dogs need to show some ambition, getting excited or 'aroused' about what they do. The sled dog will howl and cry to get to run, the hunting dog will jump wildly to get to run after the game and the Border Collie will quickly figure out which behavior will get his handler to release him to find the sheep.

That arousal is what we often find undesirable in our dogs, looking at it as uncontrollable behavior and lack of manners.

How do we manage that arousal? By having the right balance between offering our dogs an outlet for their genetically defined behaviors and teaching them appropriate behaviors during 'off-times'.

Does that mean we need to allow a hunting dog to hunt and a herding dog to herd? Not necessarily. But we should try to find an activity that stimulates the brain and the muscles in a similar way.

For a hunting dog, retrieving a ball is far from using his brains to find the bird or game. It's running, but actually causes too much arousal (catch a moving object = prey) rather than stimulating the brain (mark where the duck dropped, then run to that area and sniff out the exact location). If you have a dog that is often nervous and aroused, reduce your fetch games and replace them with search games! You could give your dog a 'job' with the sport of K9 Nose Work to expand their stimulation in a healthy way.

For a herding dog, it's not all about running after the sheep, but also about listening to you. They learn a lot of different commands and execute them at great distance. The Down will become one of the most important commands for a Border Collie, but also turns towards a specific direction in the distance and sending them to a specific flock of sheep you choose. You can work with your dog just on distance control during an off-leash walk without any sheep, and maybe turn that into another sport like Agility or Treibball.

For a dog originally bred for protection, they'll need to first and foremost be good companions to your family and to guests of your family. Teaching them obedience to the higher levels like Rally or even Freestyle would give them a purpose for everyday life, whereas protection only happens as a rare occasion. If they don't have a 'job', they could easily decide to protect you from everything around you, from visitors, guests, workers, and even by-passers and dogs in the neighborhood. I think it's important to first teach them to be friendly. The protection will be there if the dog has it genetically inherited, but you'll have better control.

There are still a lot of other breeds that don't fit into these three categories. Dogs that in general love to play with other dogs can get too much of that going to a daycare every day during the week. They're spending their day in a high arousal level environment, which some dogs handle just fine and retreat for relaxation multiple times throughout the day. Other dogs will get more and more aroused, and have a hard time to settle in that environment. They become 'adrenaline junkies', as soon as they see a dog anywhere, in the hopes and expectations of getting to play again. It;s important to balance that with meeting dogs, NOT getting to play and still being able to 'function'.

For all dogs, giving them a purpose, a 'job', will help them being able to relax in between bouts of activity.  For indoors, while the weather is uncooperative, you'll find an unlimited amount of great 'rainy day-suggestions' online and on YouTube for teaching tricks and playing games with your dog. We offer a Trick Dog class to give you ideas and show you how to teach tricks to your dog, coming up in April!

But it's also important to sometimes just allow them to be dogs and to enjoy life without needing to focus and concentrate. Some dogs will enjoy that in form of running, others in playing with other dogs or sniffing away through the woods.

If you have only time for one activity per day, try to balance your week with days when your dog can just be a dog (on or off-leash, e.g. daycare or an off-leash hike), days when your dog has a 'job' (e.g. a dog sport or practicing obedience in public) and maybe one day of only relaxation, staying at home and playing short 3 minute-games, refining your obedience or other tricks and going for a leisurely leash-walk or even only potty breaks in the yard. If you have time for several activities per day, mix them up! Don't play fetch three times a day - replace two of the activities with something else, e.g. a leash walk or a search game.

The more different activities you can offer your dog throughout the week, especially off your property, the more balanced your dog will become.

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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