Good advice did come for free

Click. Click. Click click. This was the background soundtrack when Pedadoggy had the pleasure of attending ‘The Modern Pet Dog’ seminar in Narrabeen last night. The furry clients of Canine Kindergarten had been dispatched off to their homes and a seminar set up replaced the usual array of dog toys and beds.

The range of topics, focusing on positive approaches and outcomes, covered the typical questions people have about how to get the best out of their companion dogs.

Here’s are the highlights of what was covered.

Amy Smith – Sound Proof Puppy Training

Amy has launched a new app that helps puppies build a tolerance to all the types of noises they’ll come across in their lives and to be calm and confident around these. There’s a large range of sounds on the app that you can play on your device of choice. The tool can also help for older dogs with existing fears.

Amy’s top tips:

  • Start playing the sounds at a low volume while the dog is doing something it enjoys, such as playing or eating.
  • Build up their ability to tolerate the sound slowly and over a few sessions (remembering how sensitive their hearing is) by gradually increasing the volume over time. You’re looking for a dog that is calm when the sound is played, in the video of puppies being played the sound of a thunderstorm, they acted like they didn’t even notice it was there.

Barbara Hodel – Goodog Positive Dog Training

Barbara’s view on socialisation is that “just because we can doesn’t mean we should”. We expect dogs to just slot into our lives without either giving them the tools they need to cope or considering whether they actually want to go to places, which can be quite stressful, such as dog parks.

barbara presentationBarbara’s top tips:

  • Whether you have a puppy or an older dog, make every new experience a good experience (though if you do have a puppy you should be ensuring it meets at least 100 people by the time it turns 12 weeks old and taking it out with you wherever possible). Reward for calm and do this ongoing, no matter how old your dog is.
  • Tricks are a great way to show dogs that experiencing new things have good outcomes for them.
  • Any type of punishment is quickly generalised to whatever was happening at the time and those impacts take a long time to get rid of. Therefore always choose to reward for good behaviour or ignore or interrupt what you don’t want and ask for something you do, then reward that instead.

Louise Colombari – Pittwater Animal Hospital

With her experience as a vet nurse and dog trainer, Louise was well placed to talk to us about children and dogs. She named all the good reasons why it’s great to grow up with pets, for example kids being more physically active when they have a dog. However, she gave the sobering statistic that 10,440 people a year present to emergency rooms in Australian hospitals from dog bite injuries, of which children 0-9 years are most at risk, with the highest rate of dog-related injury those aged 0-4 years. We need to educate adults, kids and dogs.

Louise’s top tips on what we need to teach kids:

  • When dogs are eating or sleeping, do not interrupt / approach or play near the dog
  • Dogs don’t like getting hugs and kisses. If you must kiss a dog, kiss your hand then rub it down the dog from collar to tail.
  • Same goes for pats on the head. Don’t approach front on and pat from collar to tail.
  • Never approach a dog that does not have an owner. Always ask an owner if you may pat their dog.
  • If kids are standing up and feeling threatened by a dog, teach them to be a tree by standing still, folding their hands under their arms and looking to the sky. If on the ground, be a rock by tucking in their hands and face and rolling into a tight ball. The dog will think they are boring (versus when running and screaming) and leave them alone.

Louise showed us some great videos for kids (how to kiss a dog / I speak doggie) that helps them learn how to be appropriate and safe with dogs. Check it out at:

Maxine Fernandez – Canine Kindergarten

The free clickers we were given created the soundtrack to Maxine’s talk on how to use clickers effectively in training.

Maxine’s top tips for clicker success:

  • Before you start, make sure you “charge” the clicker first – click, treat, click, treat 10 times, so the dog associates something positive with the sound of the clicker.
  • It’s good for both teaching new behaviours and sharpening up old ones.
  • The clicker exists as an event marker – tells them immediately that what they did in that precise moment was right and that the reward is coming (whether that be food or a toy).

It was great to see such high calibre trainers who have a passion for the positive approach share their knowledge for free with the community. This was the first in an ongoing series of events that are planned. If you are interesting in finding out more or attending future events, please get in touch with Barbara at

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