Exercising your dog - join our dog sports classes!
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BetCo Nov/Dec 2019 Newsletter
From Halloween to Christmas!

Hello ,

Dog ancestry - I have been curious about my Alaskan Husky Lucena since I got her 2 years ago and now decided to order a DNA test! Check out the picture below and tell us what you think will come out!

The Alaskan Husky is not a recognized breed in this DNA-test, so anything is possible! Mushers have not only bred Alaskan Huskies among each other, but worked on improving the breed by adding other purebred dogs to their lines. I want to see what breeds have been added more recently, traceable by the DNA-test back to her great-grandparents!

Send us your guess on Facebook or via email! We will reveal the results in our next newsletter and on our Facebook page - so stay tuned!

In the meantime, check out our schedule and keep your dog busy - through manners or sports classes, play times or daycare!

Need a Christmas gift for your dog or your friend's dog? Call us about our gift coupon options!!! Choose any amount or give a full class!

We wish you all a great start into winter and a peaceful holiday season! Happy Halloween, a wonderful Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to you all, two- and four-legged friends!

Important news and reads in this issue:

1) Sports Classes Starting In November - Agility And Nose Work

There's still room in our K9 Nose Work® and Agility Beginner classes - sign up now! All higher level classes - just sign up for the level you want to join and we'll make it happen!

2) Treibball Practice in December moved to 5:00 PM

For all dogs that have completed our Treibball Beginner and at least one Treibball Intermediate class, let's push on!

3) Upcoming Manners Classes

We are continuing our Monday daytime classes with Puppy 2 and Foundation Class offered in November and Puppy 1 and Grade School in January.

All classes above are also offered each month on evenings or Sundays as well.

4) Monthly Feature: Exercising Our Dogs

Unwanted behaviors like jumping up on people, mouthing, pulling on leash, or overall unruliness are often hard to turn around.

The most logical approach is to catch the wrong behavior as it happens and to communicate to the dog that we DON'T want that. "Stop It", "No!" and other more physical remedies have been used, but often aren't successful. Read below why, and how exercising your dog can help.

All clickable links in this newsletter are in PURPLE.

Enjoy life with your better companion,


Lucena, Claudia's Alaskan Husky. Have mushers bred something else into their lines more recently? A DNA-test will reveal her ancestry. Join our guessing post on Facebook or email us what you think!
1) Sports Classes Starting In November

Agility classes are in full swing again, and we'll continue training throughout the winter with our instructor Claudia. You'll start with a Puppy/Beginner class for dogs older than 6 months. Depending on the age and confidence of your dog, this class may be repeated to strengthen the basics. Then your dog will continue with our Skills class, for which we have three different curriculums. Your dog should be about one year or older for this class, for the bone structure to be ready for the different exercises. Most dogs take the Skills class 2-3 times before moving on to our Sequencing class, for which we again have three different curriculums.

When you and your dog are ready (as early as after 3 classes or any time later) you can join our agility practice group, with practices held either at Sirius Ranch (the local trial venue) or at our facility, if Sirius isn't available. How do you know if your dog is ready to move on to the next level? Best is to ask your instructor! The progression is faster for confident dogs that are not too speedy and have good obedience basics and focus on the handler. For everybody we have a German saying: "The journey IS the goal!" So no matter how fast or steady you and your dog progress, it's the JOURNEY OF DOG TRAINING we all enjoy so much!

Agility Classes - all levels: starting Saturday, November 16th

K9 Nose Work® classes are a great outlet for any dog! No obedience needed, this sport is great for shy or confident dogs, big or small, young or old, exuberant or laid back. And because all dogs work only one-at-a-time, they can even be a little dog reactive. Contact our office if you aren't sure your dog qualifies for this sport, and an instructor will get back to you shortly. These classes are taught by Deb Frost,CNWI (Certified Nose Work Instructor).

What does Nose Work do? Teaching your dog to search (first for food, later for specific odors); it provides an energy outlet and mental stimulation without the arousal level of other dog sports, keeping your dog focused and balanced. Your dog learns to channel their energy into a search, to ignore outside stimuli and to team up with you, the handler. You as the handler will learn to read your dog better and to better understand your dog's world; how they experience it through scents and winds. This sport can easily be copied and practiced at home, giving you opportunities to tire out your dog in between classes without needing extra space or special equipment.

K9 Nose Work® classes - Beginner and Intro to Odor: starting Sunday, November 10th

2) Treibball Practice in December moved to 5:00 PM

While our current Treibball-Intermediate Class is held on Thursdays at 7:30 PM, we will move the following practice to earlier in the day at 5:00 PM.

This might give other graduates from earlier Treibball classes the opportunity to join up, who couldn't commit to the late time! Sign-up is open for anybody who graduated from at least one Treibball Intermediate class. You should receive a weekly email about our practices already. If you haven't received anything but would like to be included, please contact us!

Treibball Practice now: Thursdays at 7:30 PM (joining our TB-Intermediate Class)
Treibball Practice starting December 5th: Thursdays at 5:00 PM

3) Upcoming Manners Classes

Classes that start every month:

Puppy 1 - Preschool
Puppy 2 - Kindergarten
Foundation Class
Grade School

Click HERE for the full schedule. The classes start on different days of the week and different times of the day, so pick the one that fits you best!

Puppy 1 - Preschool graduates discount option: if you didn't purchase a Puppy School package, you can still save by purchasing the Advanced Puppy Package, including Puppy 2 and Grade School.

November classes:

We still have room in most of our November classes starting Sunday, 11/03/2019 and Monday, 11/04/2019. The link will bring you to a list of available classes, including December.

Foundation Class is offered as a Daytime or Evening Class - your choice! There's still room in both classes.
Mondays, starting November 4th, 11:15 AM - 12:15 PM or
Mondays, starting November 4th, 6:45 - 7:45 PM.

Puppy 1 - Preschool:
Sundays, starting November 3rd, 2:30 PM.

Puppy 2 - Kindergarten has room in the evening class - the daytime class has already filled.
Mondays, starting November 4th, 8:00 - 9:00 PM.

Grade School for P2 and FC graduates has a couple openings on Sunday afternoon!
Sundays, starting November 3rd, 3:45 - 4:45 PM.

CLASS-BA Course for all Grade School graduates! Conveniently on a Sunday, starting November 3rd, 2019 and running 1:15 - 2:15 PM. This class focuses on improving your dog's basic manners while reducing the use of treats and improving the dog's response to your cues.

4) Monthly Feature:

Exercising Our Dogs

People come with their dogs to our group classes not only to improve the dog's overall manners, but to stop some unwanted behaviors they have developed. The most common unwanted behaviors I see are jumping up on people, mouthing, pulling on leash and other forms of unruliness.

Shouldn't we stop a behavior by interrupting and punishing it? Interruption will stop the behavior for the moment, but without a significant punishment as a consequence AFTER their behavior, the dogs won't learn not to START the behavior again in the future. If the punishment isn't strong enough, mild aversives like telling the dog "Stop!" or "No!" or pushing the dog away will have the contrary effect: the dog sees them as attention - a form of reward! A strong punishment can effect the trust relationship of our dogs to us and is not part of our training philosophy.

We teach our students the concepts of positive reinforcement training, but how can reward-based training STOP unwanted behaviors? The goal of our approach is to be one step ahead: AVOID the wrong behavior in the first place! This means to change OUR behavior into being more pro-active, anticipating the wrong behavior and helping the dog to successfully show a different, INCOMPATIBLE behavior, which now can be rewarded! Learn more about this concept in our manners classes!

I also always raise the question "How do you exercise your dog?" I feel we do have some unique circumstances here in Alaska and the Mat-Su Valley, that influence a dog's energy level. Lack of socialization due to our rural settings, not enough close-by (walking distance) parks while property sizes shrink dramatically and our long winters with darkness, rain, cold and ice keep us and our dogs from wanting to go outside and play. A lot of dogs that show unwanted behaviors are either under-exercised or over-exercised (is that possible? Yes!), contributing to their unruliness.

Here are some ideas on how to exercise your dog, including the benefits and sometimes disadvantages of them. I'm sure this list is not complete, but hopefully giving you more feasible ideas for your dog.

Leash walks: Often underestimated as a valid exercise, this is a great way to add stimulation and mental exercise to your dog's life. Dogs that only live on the property often lack stimulation, even if they can play with other family dogs or their owners. A good leash walk with mental stimulation includes letting the dog sniff the ground and maybe even as a bonus adding a romp in a field on a long line.

A variety of leash walking can be to let your dog pull something with a harness, like a small tire or a log. Maybe your dog can bring home some logs for the fire place?

Faster outings away from home
: This includes jogging, bicycling, carting, skijoring, mushing, horseback riding and anything else that allows you to speed up and maybe even let your dog pull in a special pull-harness. Now even a shorter distance and/or time becomes more exhausting for your dog! Most of these activities can be done on leash, either using a specific anti-pull device (like for jogging) or a specific pull-harness to allow for a more strenuous exercise for your adult dog. There are devices developed for safe, hands-free dog hook-up on the bicycle or scooter and we stock anti-pull and pull harnesses like the Buggy harness for your dog at our facility.

Off-leash walks: I understand that this is not for everyone. Having your dog off-leash away from home is always a higher risk, no matter how well-trained your dog is. If you are willing to take your dog for off-leash hikes, it's a great way to exercise, and you may even meet other dogs for additional stimulation and play.

Dog parks: Something to enjoy with caution! You don't know anything about the dogs' vaccination and worm status and there are some situations I recommend to just walk away from: The very confident player, more on the provocative/ bullying side who is too scary for your dog, with owners not paying any attention or saying "Let them figure it out", and the owners that come to "socialize" their reactive, under-socialized dogs. I do go to dog parks with my dog, but observe very carefully to ensure my dog enjoys the meetings and doesn't get overwhelmed or scared. I also watch for my dog not scaring other dogs too much and will call away or "handicap" my dog where needed.

Dog play at The Better Companion: If your dog likes group play or could benefit from it in any way (learning to like it), then our Open Play Times or Doggy Daycare are a great opportunity! If you want to learn more about what is acceptable play behavior, hone your observation skills and where and how to intervene, then come to our Open Play Times! A lot of our Open Play Time clients are now more confident in visiting a dog park, knowing how to intervene or when to call it quit and leave. If you prefer leaving your dog with us to get tired while you can focus on other things, drop your dog off at our daycare. Our daycare attendants will give your dog breaks as needed to avoid over-arousal. Reservation is required for both.

Dog-dog play: Not all dogs can handle group play with several other rambunctious dogs in a medium-sized confined area. That is okay! Maybe your dog would enjoy some one-on-one play? Having a play partner for your dog is an awesome outlet! That could be another dog of the family or a friend's dog, with whom you meet for play dates. The more different play dates, the better! If you own multiple dogs and they play a lot with each other, here's what to watch for: Make sure they change roles evenly and help the dog with less play drive/ intensity to get enough breaks. Also make sure that your family dogs get to do activities with YOU while separated from each other. That ensures more bonding with the humans of the family and no unhealthy dependence on each other, leading to separation anxiety from the play mate.

Playing fetch: This can provide excellent and fast physical exhaustion in your yard if your dog likes it, BUT comes with a small warning. If your dog likes playing fetch too much, chances are you develop a "fetchaholic". Those dogs will crash physically, but stay mentally aroused and become high drive dogs. As soon as the physical exhaustion is over, they are again mentally aroused about their possible next fetch game. If you want a high drive dog, this is your game. But if you prefer a calm dog, decrease fetch significantly and replace with low-arousal activities.  

Search games: The best low-arousal activity for dogs! Tracking, searching hidden food, toys or people, or taking it to the next level and joining the fast-growing sport of Canine Scent/ Nose Work. Hold your dog back when throwing his toy or ball into the grass, woods or snow, and then release your dog to search for it! Practice self-control by teaching "Stay" while hiding the search item.

Organized dog sports: There is a variety of different dog sports available in Alaska, the Mat-Su and at The Better Companion. We offer year-round classes in Agility and Nose Work, and more irregularly Treibball, Trick Dog and Rally.

For our dogs, obedience and manners can also be a game, practiced in our Junior High, CGC (Canine Good Citizen)-Prep and CLASS (Canine Life And Social Skills)-Course. Other sports available here in South-Central Alaska are Barn-Hunt, Hunting, Tracking, Herding, Dock Diving, ...

Other activities: Swimming, chewing on designated chew-toys, going for a car ride, camping, visiting friends with or without dogs, going to the store (some stores and banks allow dogs inside), ... These can all be helpful in providing exercise and mental stimulation. Whatever keeps your dog from sleeping is already an exercise of some sort! :-)

Over-exercising your dog: According to an article in the Whole Dog Journal by Catherine Ashe, DVM, dogs sleep an average of 48-58% of the time, which translates to about 12-14 hours of sleep each day. Other experts talk about 17 hours and puppies could need up to 20 hours of sleep each day, according to research. These numbers could change up or down, depending on breed, age and size of the dog.

Sometimes we feel we need to give our working dog breed, like a herding or hunting dog, constant exercise all day, every day. These dogs are bred to have the stamina to work all-day, but they're also bred to wait for their job calmly and quietly! A good Border Collie can rest in the truck for several days before rounding up sheep for hours, and a good hunting dog can stay calmly behind the blind for hours before running out to quarter, flush or retrieve.

Dogs easily learn to demand more and more exercise, which equals more and more attention. If we give into that demand too often, because we understand that their breed is a high energy breed, they'll want more and more and become high drive, high arousal, attention-seeking "adrenaline-junkies".

While good exercise for these working breed dogs is important, it is as important to teach them quiet time by having clear "off-times". The best off-time happens in their kennel, where you don't have to supervise them while they're learning to rest. As they get better in resting, they'll be able to rest without being kenneled.

How do you exercise your dog(s)? We will start a post on our Facebook page shortly about exercising our dogs, asking you to post a picture of how you exercise your dog in the comments. If you'd like us to post it for you, just email us your picture with the comment you want to add.

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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