Raising Canine

Archive for Behavior

Online Dog Training Courses

Raising Canine was the first business in the industry to start offering online dog training courses to professional dog and animal trainers. We led the way, starting back in 2005 with great speakers like Jean Donaldson, Dr. Lore Haug, and Dr. Ian Dunbar presenting for us. Although there are many training courses for dogs being provided today, Raising Canine prides ourselves on being the first, and going through the growing pains of educating people on exactly what on-line education was and how to use it! Looking back, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. I remember doing “telecourses” over the phone on a conference call provider, and recording the courses with my little digital recorder hooked up to my phone with a complex system of cords and phone hook-ups—which was itself cutting edge technology!

Fourteen years later, we’re still going strong and have evolved, along with technology, using the great webinar platforms available to record great, current information which helps dog trainers, paraprofessionals, and owners stay abreast of current information. We still have great speakers, some who’ve been around since the beginning, like Dr. Lore Haug, and others who are new to our “stable” of speakers like Michael Shikashio and Barbara Davis.

Although many of you attend Raising Canine’s live webinars, it’s a bit of an open secret that most of those courses are recorded and become online dog training courses, available on-demand. This means that you are able to watch these valuable webinars at your leisure. If you work a regular job or train during the day, you can still listen to these courses as you’re driving from appointment to appointment, during your lunch hour, or on the weekend, during your spare time.

These courses are relatively short—most lasting for just 1½ hours, but still packed with great information—inexpensive, and very convenient. Most qualify for continuing education units (CEUs), for those of you who are certified. There are also many courses for novice trainers, paraprofessionals, and owners.

It’s also very simple to access these online dog training courses. Just go to our website, www.raisingcanine.com and on the home page, you have several options. The first is the drop-down menu “Webinars” which gives you all the education options Raising Canine offers. Below that, in the middle of the page, are various icons, including one for on-demand webinars and one for upcoming live webinars. Finally, over to the right is a search button. This search button allows you to search for webinars by name, speaker, topic, or CEUs.

We also offer other types of dog training videos, usually longer in length and more in-depth. You can find those under the drop down menu, as well.

So, don’t feel you have to be available for the live webinar to avail yourself of our great educational opportunities. If you sign up for an upcoming live webinar and are unable to attend, within a day or two after the live webinar is presented, you’ll get an e-mail with the access info for the recorded version. No more excuses! Listen, learn, improve, and have fun debating concepts with your trainer friends.

To find our great webinars, go to www.raisingcanine.com/education and start learning!

Positive Dog Training: Is Extinction Effective?

As positive dog training experts, when we get called in to help owners with their dogs, it’s almost always to get rid of behavior that has already been happening and is now a big enough problem they’ve decided to call for help. This can include anything from jumping up to aggression. Of course, the problem with behaviors that have been happening for a while is that they’ve got a solid history of reinforcement behind them, making them much harder to deal with.

Many trainers recommend extinction for annoying behaviors that require reinforcement from the owners, such as jumping up and barking. But just how effective is extinction? Theoretically, it works great. Simply withhold the reinforcement that has previously maintained the behavior. Simple, right?

Not so much, in practice. Owners have to be “on guard” at all times to avoid accidentally reinforcing the behavior. If they accidentally reinforce the behavior, it’ll come back stronger than ever, which often makes them think the behavior is getting worse. It’s very hard to ignore an annoying behavior—and I speak from experience!

I once tried to extinguish my dog’s scratching-at-the-door-to-be-let-in behavior. What a disaster. I’d do really well for a while, then something would happen—I’d be on the phone, talking to someone, doing something—and I’d end up letting him in. And most importantly, I totally understood the science behind extinction—I knew about extinction bursts, spontaneous recovery, resurgence, the importance of consistency, and on, and on, and on. I knew what I needed to know and I still couldn’t do it.

That experience made me start thinking about owners trying to extinguish behavior. If it was that hard for me, how hard must it be for an owner who doesn’t have the depth of knowledge I have, or even just the normal desire to modify behavior that most positive dog training experts have? Probably close to impossible for them. So, that was my turning point in moving from using extinction to straight differential reinforcement with great timing.

Now, having said all that, it’s still very important for trainers to understand extinction because extinction affects behavior in more subtle ways – such as when we raise criteria. So, extinction isn’t all bad – just not a great way for owners to modify behavior.

Dog Training Course: First Meeting Body Language


This is a video I have from when I boarded dogs in my home. I specialized in reactive dogs, so had lots of good opportunities to observe interesting body language. Although this dog training course isn’t about dog training for aggressive dogs, it is some great body language between two reactive dogs meeting for the first time, and what to look for. And, it illustrates the importance of early dog socialization.


In this dog training course video a new dog, Zoe (brindle), is being introduced to my dog, Jimmy Joe (English Springer Spaniel) and a regular boarder, Pete (solid black). These are two separate dog training course videos and the dogs are introduced separately. What’s interesting to watch is the difference in the behavior of Jimmy Joe and Pete. Just a little background on the two dogs.


Jimmy Joe went with me to run the Animal Haven sanctuary in upstate New York when he was 7 months old. This was a sanctuary for dogs that were un-adoptable (i.e., aggressive). So, at a young age, he learned some very good dog skills and maintained those skills throughout his life (Jimmy Joe passed about two years ago at age 16). Jimmy Joe was my adult in puppy class and my test dog in reactive dog classes until I decided to retire him – and I never could find a dog with his skills to replace him.


Pete, on the other hand, was a mess! Although he was an interesting mess. He was extremely reactive except with people he knew well, such as his owner and myself. When first introducing him to dogs, I had to really be on top of him as the slightest misstep on the new dog’s part could turn into a fight. In the video, you’ll hear me asking him to back off periodically, just to diffuse the situation. However, once he got to know the dog, he was great. Pete was one of those dogs that could get the most aloof dog to play – and I’ve seen him in action. However, those first meetings were always an exercise in staying on top of things, for me.


SPOILER ALERT: I’m going to describe what’s happening in these dog training videos – not necessarily every single thing, but a lot. If you’d like to watch the video first, and see what you notice, do that before reading the paragraph before the video, as that’s the paragraph describing the behaviors.


So, in this first video, you’ll see a baseline for Zoe. She’s exploring the yard and there are no other dogs out. She’s cautious – her tail is down, but not tucked, she walks pretty gingerly, but it won’t be long before she feels comfortable in this space on her own.



In the second video, I introduce her to Jimmy Joe. Watch how he handles her. Initially, he approaches appropriately (i.e., not head on), is a little pushy, but moves up to her head and then backs off quickly, allowing Zoe some space. Notice that Zoe freezes while Jimmy Joe investigates, also has some piloerection and does a lot of displacement behaviors (sniffing, etc.). Then, she moves into the middle of the yard at a good pace, tail high, etc., and investigates. Jimmy Joe does another quick butt sniff, but moves off quickly, and as soon as he does, Zoe’s tail relaxes. Then Jimmy Joe does a quick pass by – this is not by accident; he’s inviting Zoe to interact with him, but is not being pushy. Notice that Zoe is not bothered by this pass by, and actually walks over to the part of the yard Jimmy Joe is in (this is a big yard, and she has lots of options). Jimmy Joe continues to give Zoe opportunity without being pushy. Notice when she goes over to the fence, Jimmy Joe takes the opportunity to sniff and, it’s hard to tell, but it doesn’t look like Zoe lowers her tail (or at least not much).



And then comes Pete! What a different story this is. Throughout this video, keep an eye out for Pete’s piloerection –you can see it better at some angles than others, but it’s always there unless he shakes off – throughout the video, Pete cuts Zoe off and invades her space.. Also, Zoe has some piloerection, so watch for that. So Pete comes out of the house and goes directly, head on, into Zoe’s space. He’s standing tall and stiff with a high, stiff tail wag, walks very slowly and gingerly, and you can see some piloerection close to his tail. Zoe stands very still (as she did initially with Jimmy Joe) and gets a few sniffs of her own in. Pete is very persistent and pushy, so I call him off to give the situation a little breather. Notice that when Pete gives Zoe some space, she does not follow him as she did with Jimmy Joe. Pete takes a little break but is back very quickly with his nose in Zoe’s butt, then walking stiff-legged around her head, with Zoe turning away from him. And, more of the same. Toward the end of the video, Zoe heads toward the fence, but Pete’s right on her, not giving her any breathing room, at all. After I stopped videoing, this continued for a bit, but eventually Pete was satisfied and everything went back to normal.



Raising Canine has a large selection of webinars. To find the dog training course that’s right for you, click here: