This is what we do…

Educating dog owners how we can work paw-in-hand with dogs in a respectful and positive way.

Clarification: “The difference between a dog trainer and a dog behaviourist is, a dog trainer is like a teacher, and a dog behaviourist is like a counsellor”. This being said, it doesn’t make either one of us more superior than the other, but being focus on what we are train to know and what we are good at. As dog behaviourist, we do not teach agility, search and rescue, etc… we will always refer to a dog trainer. Like wise, our friends who are trainers will refer behavioural cases to us. It’s about complimenting both profession and not going against.

Thanks to Temasek Polytechnic students from Mass Communications course who film this short documentary clip about our job here in Singapore. Great job done!

Paw-in-Hand Workshop 2014

Paw in Hand workshop is for everyone who loves dogs and wants to understand more about dogs.

Simply click here to reserve your slot. Slots are limited!
(if unable to click on ‘here’, copy link:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1LGTTe-u5QQaHZy8KP-gkBQCZgJB53RYIJazmDCFAejQ/viewform )

Paw-in-Hand Workshop 2014-A&PFor more enquiries, drop us an email.

Date of workshop: 28th – 30th March 2014
Workshop fee: S$280.00
Includes: Notes, Starter Package, Meals & Certificate of Participation
Location: 28th March @ Ang Mo Kio (Kawaii Pets Shop), 29th & 30th March @ Sengkang

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Time-Out!

I believe many owners have heard of and maybe even used this form of discipline on their dogs. It is called the “time-out” corner. As smart as it sounds, it is actually not
if the owner is not taught the right way of doing it.

A few of my clients were previously taught to discipline their dog by putting them in a time-out corner or room. Time-out originates from sports such as ice hockey or basketball. In such sports, the time-out box allows the player to cool down before getting back into the game, hence a similar idea was conceived for dog training.

Every trainer or behaviourist has our own methods and philosophy to help
owners with their dog’s behaviour. However, what is often missing is the understanding and psychology of how the time-out is going to work for the dog.
I am not a firm advocator of time-out because eventually, the time-out corner becomes a punishment corner for the dog if the owner fails to follow through with rewarding the right behaviour.Kerb-0001

A mistake I have often observed with this practice is, for example; Sam (owner) walks over to Buggy (his dog) because Buggy has been barking non-stop at Sam’s guest. Sam takes Buggy to his time-out corner which is a playpen. Sam closes the playpen and walks over to entertain his guest. At this point, Buggy has stopped barking because he is in his time-out area. After a couple of minutes, Sam walks over to Buggy’s playpen and invites Buggy to come out. The moment he comes out, Buggy runs all over the place excitedly and starts barking again. The cycle repeats and eventually, Buggy is left in the playpen until the guest leaves.

Do you think Buggy understood that he was not supposed to bark when a guest is present? Or did Buggy get to reflect long and hard enough in his time-out corner to learn that barking at guests is an inappropriate behaviour? No, Buggy did not get the message! All he got was a punishment which did not lead to a reward when he behaved. He was not rewarded for his calm behaviour before being let out of the playpen, that is supposed to be his calm and secure corner, now gets negatively associated with being punished. A follow-through with the discipline that you want to enforce is very important. After the follow through, as equally important is the reward for the right behaviour.

The right thing to do would be; use a sound to get Buggy away from the door. Lead Buggy to his resting area and reward him for staying calm. Give him a stay command. Then confidently turn and walk towards the door and attend to your guest. If Buggy gets up, repeat the process. He will soon begin to understand that he gets a fair treatment for being in the best behaviour, and he gets rewarded for it. Of course, this is just one out of several methods to help Buggy associate the right behaviour positively.Kerb 0002

To set the perception right, I prefer to call that time-out corner as “the dog’s sanctuary” instead. Your dog should relate that “sanctuary” as an area where it finds comfort and rest, with a very positive association. Some dogs like mine, relate that area with sleeping and chilling the whole day. Other dogs relate to that area as lots of food. Once your dog is able to associate the area positively, it will be a walk
in the park asking your dog to go to that area.

For instance, with my dog Vogue; each time my wife and I reach home, Vogue will run to the kitchen (due to the layout of our house, she has a very comfortable space
in the kitchen), hop onto her bed and sit. She will then wait for us to put our stuff down before she comes out again calmly. We have helped her associate her bed as a safe and positive place to be, rather than being at the door.

It takes consistency and patience to help a dog associate a right behaviour with the right discipline. Give yourself a realistic timeline to successfully help your dog the right way, and don’t rush it. Even if it takes 2-3 months, that is still better in the long run than rushing it and doing everything wrongly.

by Ezra Koh

*No dogs was harm in the process of taking the pictures. The dog is a good actor when there’s treats 😉 (he is an obedient dog)

Chuck, the Prey Obsessor

Hi this is Lynnette here and I just wanted to leave a testimonial about Soubhik.

I volunteer with SOSD (Save Our Street Dogs) and have had the opportunity to work with Soubhik on a couple of occasions with a couple of the SOSD dogs with behavioural issues.

One of which was a JRT, Chuck, that had been abandoned (previous owner probably didn’t know how to train the little guy). The dog is now with a fosterer who might potentially adopt him.
Chuck
Chuck would show aggression toward other dogs (even cats) and when he is in that fixated zone, the fosterers are unable to control him. They can’t even distract him or pull him away from his “target” and have been bitten more than a couple of times. Chuck has also bitten a few dogs in the process.

Soubhik did a house call at the fosterers’ home and spent some time to assess Chuck in the home and on his walk. He then explained why Chuck -was behaving the way he was – he was insecure and full of frustration. He needed a strong leader to show him the way, and a proper channel to release his energy. Soubhik broke down the process from being in the home, to putting him on leash, to walking out the door, to finally approaching other dogs/cats – and demonstrated how without having to say much, your body language can tell the dog so much. When we went downstairs and Chuck approached a neighbour’s dog, Soubhik demonstrated how to allow Chuck to approach the dog without aggression. And it was perfect! Chuck did not bite the dog!
Chuck 2
I found Soubhik’s methods very useful, simple and effective for any pet owner to master. I believe a good trainer is not just one that can handle a dog himself, but one that is able to coach and teach the dog owner to be able to handle their dog. I have definitely gained much from Soubhik and will be applying them on my own dogs!

**Emailed by Lynnette herself. No editing involved.

Doorbell Obsession…

Ding Dong….. Woof woof woof woof woof woof…..

DoorbellHaving problems with your dog barking non-stop when the doorbell rings or when guest arrives? Here are 3 methods that we suggest you can try. However, always remember that you are helping your dog to associate positively to different / strange sounds in the house. Therefore, this will take time and consistency. We do not condone physical & hysterical practices such as caning, rolling newspapers, tennis rackets, spanking, kicking, pushing hard, shouting your lungs out, or banging your room doors down to get your dog’s attention. We want your dog to learn calmness and associate that doorbell, door knocking and guest entering the house are positive experience.

IMG_1536

Method 1: The Delicious Bell!
When doorbell rings or when guest arrives knocking on the door and your dog starts to bark non-stop, whether your dog shows signs of fear towards the sound or guest or whether your dog shows over-excitement – use a food lure. Something that your dog cannot resist. Something that’s so heavenly to your dog that your dog rather follows the food and not the doorbell or the guest. Use that to lure your dog to his/her resting area yet door is still visible to your dog and you. Lure your dog into a sit – down position will be the best, but we’ll start with the sit first. At this point, do not let your dog have the food/treat yet. Continue with the lure, then invite the guest in. Once your guest have entered your house, your dog can have the food/treat. Immediately, but calmly take out another food/treat and lure your dog to the guest (you can get your guest to sit or stand) and reward him/her with the food/treat. Following that, give a food/treat to your guest and ask your guest to lure your dog into a sit position and then feed him/her. You can repeat the exercise with your guest giving your dog food/treats as many times. What we want to achieve is for your dog to understand that the sound of doorbell or the sound of door knocking presents a reward with the right behaviour. After which, we will also achieve to help your dog understand that as long as you, the owner allows the guest to enter the house, your dog gets a reward for following your response to the guest by being calm. (By Ezra Koh)

Method 2: My Owner is the Doorbell!
Have one universal command for your dog to stop what they are doing and follow you – whether it’s attention to other dogs, squirrels, food in the ground or people at the door. When the bell rings, go to your dog, use the command from the hallway and walk away from the door. Whether to the kitchen, or to your room. If your dog follows you to the kitchen, reward your dog with a treat and have your dog wait while you answer the door. If your dog walks back to bark at the door, do it again – go to your dog, use the command from the hallway and walk away from the door. Before this exercise becomes possible, you can simply ring the bell and knock on the door every time you walk through the doorway or when you come back home. Now they hear the door bell it’s not such a big deal. (By Soubhik Banerjee)

Method 3: My Dog Warns!
After your dog barks twice or thrice when the doorbell rings, say “OK” firmly to stop/acknowledge your dog. If your dog stops barking, reward your dog immediately and ensure that your dog stops barking after that. If your dog continues, follow method 1 or 2, but after your dog barks twice or thrice. This is when you want your dog to warn your of strangers or when there’s someone at the door. (By Jeremy Lim)

Note: These methods work with consistency and a lot of practice, but it goes a long way. Of course you can only start using this methods if your dog do not present defensive behaviour or guarding behaviour at the door or to guest. If they do, consult a professional.

This article is put together by our team of dog behaviourist!