BetCo News Sep/Oct 2018

Hello ,

Important news and reads in this issue:

1) Sports Class - Treibball August 23rd!

2) Event For All: Doggy Day - Saturday, September 8!

3) Upcoming Behavior Classes

4) Sports Classes September and October

5) Monthly Training Tip: Anti-Pull Training Aids - to use or not to use and what to use

A diverse topic even under dog trainers! You'll hear different recommendations from different trainers, even if they follow the same training philosophy. Here's my opinion. Read more below.

All clickable links in this newsletter are in PURPLE.

Enjoy life with your better companion,


Aussie/Husky-Mix Sally pushing an exercise ball towards her handler at a Treibball demonstration at the State Fair.
1) Sports Class - Treibball August 23rd!

In Treibball dogs learn to move away from their handlers to push a designated ball back to the handler. They learn the self-control of NOT to push a ball and to work as a team with their handler even at a distance. Instructor: Ella-Kate.

Treibball Beginner: Thursdays, starting August 23
Original class at 7:30 PM, overflow class at 6:15 PM!

More sports classes for September and October below!!!

2) Event For All: Doggy Day - Saturday, September 8!

This is our Open House and Customer Appreciation Day!

Activities run from 10:00 AM until 4:00 PM.

Get free hot dogs and a ticket for one of our many door prizes!!! Bring your whole family, including your friendly dog(s)!

Visit our vendors and check out their special offers just for you! Get a doggy nail trim from Pampered Paws ($5), microchip your dog (or cat) through the AK Dog and Cat Rescue ($30), or just try the manners games with your dog towards the end of the day (see schedule below)!

We’ll have veterinary clinics represented as well as breed clubs and rescue organizations, other pet related services and dog-related arts and crafts. Check out their specials of the day!

Watch our demos of different dog sports and activities, a demo about dog first aid and massage and learn about Eastern veterinary medicine and acupuncture at our feature presentation. See timeline below for details!

Meet different dog breeds! We’ll be highlighting lots of different breeds, the  well-known and the lesser known, like the Boxer, Chow Chow, French Bulldog, Alaskan Klee Kai, Dachshund and maybe your dog! …

Timeline for Saturday, September 8th, 10am - 4pm

10 AM - 4 PM: Activities ongoing throughout the day every hour:
·     Door prize drawings
·     Meet the Breed

10:30 AM:
Demo: Canine First Aid and Massage Therapy - by Smiling Dog AK

11:30 AM: Demo: Search and Rescue with dogs - by AK Solstice Search & Rescue

12:30 PM: Demo: Agility - by students of The Better Companion

1:15 PM: Presentation: Eastern Veterinary Medicine and Acupuncture - by Susitna Holistic Veterinary Services

2:30 PM: Demo: Nose Work - by students of The Better Companion

3:30 PM: Activity for All: Manners Games - brought to you by The Better Companion

4:00 PM: Festivities wind down - get that last hot dog! Buy that doggy coat you’ve been eyeing all day! Thank you for coming!!

3) Upcoming Behavior 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!

August classes:

CLASS-BA is for students at any level beyond Grade School! In this class we work on duration of behaviors while reducing cues and treats to a minimum. All behaviors will be relevant for home and public, therefore many exercises will be role play or activity games. A fun class for everybody!

CLASS-BA: Wednesdays, starting August 29, at 6:15 - 7:15 PM

September classes:

Agility and Nose Work start this month! See under Sports Classes!

October classes:

Trick Dog - Beginner is a fun class to show off your tricks, learn new tricks and get signed off for the Trick Dog Novice level with AKC and Do-More-With-Your-Dog while being in class!

Trick Dog - Beginner: Thursdays, starting October 11, at 6:15 - 7:15 PM


Here's what some of our clients had to say after taking CLASS-BA

Before the C.L.A.S.S.-B.A. class, my Shih Tzu "Tucker" would not sit/stay at doorways (my fault - I never taught it to him). Now, he will "stop" until I give the release command at least 90% of the time. He also used to be scared of hula hoops. Now they are just fine.

The most interesting single exercise for me was the "Do you REALLY know "Sit"? We also like the "Hide & Seek" game.

I think the greatest benefit I derived from the class was continued interaction with my "puppies" and the concept of trying to give them only 1 command!

What I like most about the program is the concept - training for real life situations. We really appreciate the different levels of training; "BA", "MA" & "PhD". We hope to get that PhD someday! Having the syllabus available at the beginning was most helpful. We (the doggy community) appreciate you becoming a teacher and evaluator of C.L.A.S.S. The whole program seems well thought out and presented in a very sequential order.

Jane Ann & Tucker - C.L.A.S.S.-B.A.

Read more testimonies HERE!
4) Sports Classes

Back to School and we're starting up our doggy physical education in Agility and Nose Work in September, after our Doggy Day celebration! Treibball will continue in October with a Treibball Intermediate class. Having been asked about this from several clients, we'll offer another Trick Dog Beginner class in October as well.


Agility Classes

Choose Agility Beginner + Puppy for all dogs 6 months or older wanting to start this sport or to refresh the basics. We'd like to have your dog take one of our basic obedience classes first. Contact us if you have any questions on this! This class focuses on introducing all the different obstacles used in Agility competitions.

Agility Skills is for dogs that have graduated from Agility Beginners. This class has three different curriculums and we recommend repeating at this level before moving on to Agility Sequencing. You'll be introduced to handler tactics like front and rear crosses, while your dog learns to work more independently and away from you.

Agility Sequencing puts your and your dog's skills together on short sequences of 4-8 obstacles. We'll work on fun and control while applying what you learned in the previous classes.

Agility Practices (AP) are for teams that have graduated from Sequencing and want to try their performance at a full course, if possible at the trial venue on a full 100' x 100' field or otherwise in a smaller scale at BetCo. We'll hold practices at Sirius Ranch at their indoors arena, switching between a standard course using all of the obstacles and a jumpers course using only jumps, weaves and tunnels. There'll be a different course set up each week. At BetCo we'll have the opportunity to practice specific NADAC courses like Tunnelers, Hoopers or Touch 'N Go.

Agility Practice N/O (Novice/Open) is for dogs after Sequencing class and teams preparing for their first trials. We'll divide the course in several sequences and work on the specific challenges of the course that week. If level of the team and time allows, we'll run the full course once as well.

Agility Practice E/E (Elite/Excellent) is for dogs already trialing at any level. We'll run full courses and add practice of specific challenges within that course.

For the Practices you can purchase a punch card and only sign up for the weeks you want to join. Please note that we have different punch cards for practices at BetCo and for practices at Sirius Ranch!

Nose Work Classes

K9 Nose Work® Beginner class focuses on channeling our dogs' constant use of their nose into finding something specific we want them to find. We introduce them to the different search environments and set-ups, build their confidence and their drive to stay on task. This sport burns energy while using the dog's deepest instincts, increases the dog's attention span and helps them to stay on focus despite distractions. At the beginner level the dog will learn to find food. Odors will only be introduced at the last week.

K9 Nose Work® - Intro to Odor shifts the dog's attention from finding food to finding a specific odor. We start with birch oils and at the same time change the settings of the search area. Each week will introduce new challenges to improve the skills of dogs and handlers.

K9 Nose Work® - Elements is for our Nose Work Intro to Odor graduates. Teams will be introduced to the four elements of a Nose Work trial: Containers, Interior, Exterior and Vehicles. This class can only be offered spring through fall. Odor graduates can already participate in Nose Work Practice during the winter while they're waiting for an Elements class to be offered in the spring.

All Agility Classes and Practices: Saturdays, starting September 15, 2018

All Nose Work Classes: Sundays, starting September 9, 2018


Trick Dog - Beginner is a fun class to show off your tricks, learn new tricks and get signed off for the Trick Dog Novice level with AKC and Do-More-With-Your-Dog while being in class!

Treibball - Intermediate is what our TB-Beginner graduates from the spring have been waiting for! Sign up now before the next generation of Treibball Beginner graduates fills your spot!

Trick Dog - Beginner: Thursdays, starting October 11, at 6:15 - 7:15 PM

Treibball - Intermediate: Thursdays, starting October 11, at 7:30-8:30 PM

4) Monthly Training Tip:

Anti-Pull Training Aids - to use or not to use and what to use

Every dog trainer and instructor will give you a different answer to this, even if they use the same training methodology otherwise.

My fundamental thoughts on training Loose Leash Walking:

1) The handler of the dog should not only BE SAFE, but FEEL safe when they walk the dog. Whatever tool it takes to give the handler the necessary confidence, is a necessary tool.

Often dog owners aren't aware of what options of anti-pull devices they have though, and what the differences are between these options. If you can feel safe without hurting or threatening the dog to hurt them, then I believe that's the route to go. I'll discuss the differences below.

2) Handler and dog need to be safe even if the
environment changes. Slippery surface and sudden distractions are common here in Alaska and the team needs to be prepared for that ahead of time. Even though the change only happens occasionally or even just maybe, the dog needs to wear the equipment to make the walk safe. Just like when we wear a seat belt!

3) Proper training to walk WITH the handler on a loose leash is always necessary, even with any anti-pull device. Training is easier with proper equipment, because it's more likely that the handler is more consistent in the training - the anti-pull device aiding in consistency.

4) It's the handler's choice to work more with the dog to finally fade out the anti-pull device or to keep using it. Not every dog owner wants to be a dog trainer! For larger and heavier dogs it might be safer to keep using that training aid.

5) In Alaska it's hard to keep a dog trained for all occasions, because some distractions only happen rarely. That includes seeing a moose or a dog that doesn't leave its property on a daily base or doesn't meet many dogs or people off property.

6) Different tools for different occasions could be the best solution. As the environment, our willingness to work with our dog and our allotted time to spend training the dog change throughout the day, so could the equipment. I used to have a rescue dog that I couldn't ever trust off-leash, due to the stray nature of the dog. Even as a dog trainer, I opted to use a pulling harness to go up a mountain path, a front-clip harness for regular and downhill walkways and a Gentle Leader® head halter for high traffic areas. In between and as the dog got older I clipped the leash to the collar as well, making sure she wouldn't pull and choke herself.

The tools and how they work:

- I have one rule for consistency, no matter what equipment I use on the dog and between the dog and me. That could be a short leash, a long line or a retractable leash. That rule is that my leash arm should dangle down along my side and not be brought up by the dog's pulling. This rule will be easier to maintain with specific training aids and harder when only using a flat buckle collar.

- Prong collar: Once the dog pulled and felt the prongs in its neck, the dog will try to avoid that feeling in the future. Works instantly, technique is based on correcting the wrong behavior through punishment, followed by the fear of punishment. Handler doesn't need to do anything. I don't recommend them, but feel that they're a better solution than a choke collar. For some large breeds like mastiffs with a short nose there aren't many other options to keep a walk safe.

- Choke collar (usually chain, sometimes round leather or fabric): Also based on correcting the wrong behavior through punishment. Should (if at all) only be used in traditional obedience when the dog walks clearly on one side, otherwise the chain might close and not open up by itself again. Handler needs to give clear signals by exactly timed, abruptly jerking on the leash and releasing instantly, otherwise the dog will keep pulling and choking, which can cause damage to the trachea, throat and neck area. Eventually the dog learns to avoid a leash jerk by being in the correct position.

- Harness with thin straps through the dog's axles (arm pits): Causing pain/ discomfort to the soft tissue in the arm pits. If it doesn't cause enough pain or discomfort, the dog will just lean into it. Supposed to work without handler input.

- Different collars have been invented to try to keep the collar off the trachea and throat area up high behind the ears with more or less success. The training method is still the same: handler will give jerks to correct the wrong behavior. Timing is very crucial and the dog will learn to walk next to the handler to avoid punishment.

- Harnesses that cinch around the chest: Some can cinch very tight and hurt the dog, some cinches can move towards the soft belly area and hurt the dog. The Freedom Harness® has a soft and wide strap around the chest that can only cinch to a certain degree through a martingale. The goal is to have the dog feel like they're held tight. This works for few dogs. No action by the handler required.

- Harness with a front clip: The leash clipped in the front of the dog will pull the dog gently sideways and discourage pulling forward. Some trainers don't like it because it pulls the dog off balance. The handler is not required to do anything, and as long as there's no harsh pulling back, I don't see the loss of balance as an issue. The best brands available here in Alaska are the Freedom® Harness and the Easy Walk® Harness. Other harnesses might be modified into a front clip, if they have a ring in the front to clip the leash into.

- Head Halter: This has been the biggest invention since dog training has changed to more reward-based techniques. Mimicking the halter of a horse, the head halter will move the control over the dog further up front towards the nose, away from the neck. This gives the handler more power over the dog without actually punishing the dog for pulling. It becomes easier to interrupt the dog gently from behaving wrong, which can besides pulling also be barking and jumping.

The handler should not use corrections like leash jerks when using a head halter, as it can cause a whip lash in the dog, especially if the dog suddenly pulls. The head halter should not be used together with a retractable leash or track line, as the dog could run the whole distance and hit the end too hard. The head halter works best if the handler had instructions on how to use it for training.

Dogs need to be discouraged from a constant leaning into the halter and handlers need to learn not to keep a tight lead at all times, as the dogs might still develop too much strength and a constant tight lead can cause abrasions on the nose, especially in breeds with a thin or sensitive skin in that area.

We recommend and use the head halters a lot in our classes, and teach students how to use them for the biggest benefits. We use the Gentle Leader® head halters, which need exact fitting. Our instructors and daycare supervisors can help fitting the Gentle Leader head halter. I can see where a head halter bought at a store could end up not being the right tool for a dog. We prefer the head halter over a prong or choke collar.

Over the years I have seen clients successfully mastering loose leash walking to whichever degree they were comfortable:

Some needed a prong collar to control their dogs successfully, and couldn't convert to a head halter as the only other choice, because of the head form or skin sensitivity. They had dogs too big to control or trust them on a regular collar.

Some started out with a harness or head halter, then later switched to collar only, after working a lot with their dog and the dog getting more mature.

Some started out trying with a regular collar only, and later tried out a harness or head halter, being much happier. They'd switch between the different types of equipment depending on the situation.

Some keep using the head halter throughout the dog's life, and both, handler and dog are happy with it.  

In some families only certain family members use the head halter, while others work with a regular collar. The dog walkers can happily control the dog using a head halter.

I personally switch between regular collar, Freedom Harness and Gentle Leader, depending on the situation. I also use a pull harness, specifically encouraging my dog to pull.

Final statement:

I believe it's every dog owners personal decision of what equipment they want to use and if they want to try to fade that equipment or not. We dog trainers can make educated recommendations that we think fit the situation, but we're not living our client's life and therefore can't make the decision for them.

And now go take your dog out for a stroll - it's time for mine to get out!

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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