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1125 Winnipeg Street
Regina, SK, S4R 1J5
Canada

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Stop F*cking Settling

Shayla Hagel

Stop f*cking settling. 

That’s what you’re doing with your dogs behaviour. You’re settling with the leash pulling/reactivity, the hyperactivity when going out in public or having guests over, the anxiety/fear of new places/people/dogs. 

You’re settling with lack of household manners, horrible greeting manners, shitty listening skills. 

You’re accepting your dogs destructive behaviour of your property/belongings. Their lack of respect of personal space. Their inability to accommodate YOU for once. 

You’re settling for a spoiled dog. 

What’s the definition of spoiled? Rotten, gone bad. No longer good. 

Why? Why are you settling for all that? 

Because you can’t or don’t want to admit you don’t have all the answers. You think that’s just the way it has to be. You don’t want to make the hard choices, do the work or make the time. You don’t want to invest mentally, emotionally or financially in the solutions. 

Or maybe you’ve been told lies. Lies from “professional” dog trainers who told you that your dogs behaviours are who your dog is. You can’t change that. 

Or you can only change those behaviours you don’t like using treats, toys and praise. 

You can’t ever tell your dog “no” in any sort of way cause that’ll ruin your relationship with them. 

Or if you do need to correct your dogs behaviour the dog must not know that the correction came from you. 

🗯NEWS FLASH: your relationship with your dog already sucks so those are all LIES! 🗯

Maybe you tried the advice given from the cookie pushing dog trainer and maybe got some skills like sit or down, while there’s a cookie in your hand and no distractions 🙄 and tried to implement their type of “corrections” or deescalating of behaviours with little to no results. 

You’ve just been looking in all the wrong places for solutions. 

But in the meantime you’re still dealing with the consequences of a spoiled dog. 

You don’t get to include your dog in your everyday life. You have to accommodate your dog and their needs, wants, whenever and whatever they may be. 

Most of the time the words coming from your mouth is meaningless to your dog. There’s no real communication and understanding going on. You’re two different species living under the same roof trying to coexist peacefully and it’s not working out. 

So you call us. We get on the phone with you. We listen to your concerns and pains. We tell you there’s real solutions to your problems. 

We can help you and your dog learn to communicate and understand each other. We can get you guys living peacefully under one roof AND get you out in the real world with a socially responsible canine that is a pleasure to take out. 

And we won’t lie to you. We tell you the truth. We take the time to show and guide you through the behaviours you want from your dog and tell you how to fairly and appropriately address unwanted behaviours. 

We tell you there’s going to be work involved. You’ll have to get off your butt and move. You’ll have to get out of your comfort zone of home and go explore your community. You’ll have to attend group sessions where distractions are increased. 

Mentally you’re going to learn more than you ever have. You’re going to learn more than your dog. Let’s face it a dog already knows how to dog, sometimes we just have to remind them but it’s mostly the humans that don’t understand dog culture and language. That’s what we need to teach you. 

There’s going to be things you’ll have to do that you might not emotionally be comfortable with like maybe no longer treating your dog like a human child. You’ll have to stop letting it crawl all over you and giving you wet, sloppy, slobbery kisses all over your face. 

You’ll have to man up and advocate for your dog in situations where you might be hesitant because you’re too much of a people pleaser. 

You’ll have to put your dogs feelings/emotions ahead of your own. You’ll have to learn to understand a different perspective-which is that of your dogs. You're going to learn to value what they have to teach you. 

You will have to pay for your knowledge. Our knowledge didn’t come cheap, or easy. We trudged through the mess of trial and error with our own dogs. We screwed up multiple times-trying to find the right answers to our questions in group classes, online, all while our dogs endured the brunt of those failed training attempts. 

Our relationships with our dogs has suffered. The difference is we didn't give up, we buckled down, we bought in, we decided to look outside of our part of the world for answers. We travelled hours upon hours using money from our own pockets to learn from the best of the best to be able to do and have what we have with our dogs now. 

The money, time, mental work, pushed us out of our comfort zones, we went through the emotions. Learned from experience. Did the hard work. So we could help owners avoid the same mistakes we did. Save you money, save you time, precious time you could spend enjoying your dog, rather then googling how to train him. Sometimes people come back to us saying the cost of training is too much, but the cost of not training is much higher. You can sacrifice money, or you can sacrifice time, precious, fleeting, time. 

Truthfully though, if you believe that our training(or any) isn't worth the money, you won’t truly benefit from our services anyways. Your dog, you, will ultimately suffer because of your lack of understanding about what it really takes to build a communicative, trusting and respectful relationship with another species.

But if you’re an owner who believes in their dog and their potential, if you believe in yourself and value your own happiness. If you want to embrace what your relationship can really be like. You can and want to incorporate your dog into your everyday life without embarrassment or problems. You’re willing to put in the time and effort to help you and your dog get to a better place-together. You will benefit from our services, you will see results, and we want to help owners like YOU! 

You love your dog, we love your dog, we love dedicated dog owners. We want to teach you all we know and have you join us in our continued growth in everything dog, but that starts with you making the choice to stop hesitating on getting the help you and your dog deserves. 

Stop f*cking settling. Start training. 

Flooring Factors for a Dog Daycare & Training Facility

izzie keyes

Flooring & Dog's

Decisions, decisions.. It’s no surprise that one of the most commonly discussed topics in kennel, daycare, and boarding groups is flooring. For industry professionals who always have safety, cleanliness and cost top of mind, choosing flooring can be a difficult and daunting decision. But it boils down to a few main factors, to help you understand our decision process a little better, here's the main factors we considered. 

Functionality.

It doesn’t just come down to your favourite colour when choosing flooring for high traffic dog areas, there’s several factors to consider such as; ease of cleaning. No daycare or kennel operator wants to spend hours just trying to make things look clean (whether they truly are.. We’ll discuss in a moment) so the Flooring needs to be simple/easy to clean, free of cracks and relatively non textured. It should be a non porous, or waterproof surface to prevent any urine absorption, bacteria development between seems, and prevent excrement from soaking into bare concrete below. Yes concrete is a porous surface if not sealed, so even with near immediate cleaning, smells can develop.

epoxy floor coating 

epoxy floor coating 

This leaves you a few options like; epoxy with regular reapplication(seen above), or cement sealing/polishing. With costs ranging anywhere from 3-15k depending on the square footage required, these options are costly, require regular reapplication, and also sacrifice some safety properties because of their slippery/smooth surface texture. While this may appeal to a boarding facility with dogs in smaller runs, moving at slower speeds. It is a concern to dog daycare owners, or trainers, who can have high speed play, and lots of high impact activity, which leads us to.. 

Non Slip.

Whether your a pet professional, or just a great owner, you know how unsettling watching your dog slip and slide around on flooring can be(especially those of us with aging pups.) While proper nail care can do wonders to prevent this issue as much as possible- regardless of flooring type. There will still be dogs who struggle with their footing on smooth surfaces, and at high speeds, this can lead to soft tissue damage and even spinal injuries. This is why many dog sports require a non slip, impact absorbing surface for their canine athlete participants to run/jump on, such as turf, foam matting, grass and loosely compacted dirt/sand mixtures. As a daycare owner, and a dog owner, I would never want a dog to incur a life changing injury such as; a broken leg, by simply playing/running with friends on a slick surface. Non-slip was of utmost importance to us when selecting the flooring for our new facility.

Sanitary; Antimicrobial, Non Porous. 

It’s one thing to consider functionality, or safety properties of a new floor, but is it really, truly, “cleanable?” When it comes to “non slip” matting, believe me when I say, they're not all created equal. Depending on your facility's use, an ultra plush and cushioned surface may be the ideal option(agility, flyball) to reduce or minimize injuries.

tuff spun rolled matting

tuff spun rolled matting

However the more plush you go in flooring, the more porous it becomes. Meaning a nail, a dropped chair, could end up puncturing the flooring, leaving it open to bacteria to seep right in to the surface, and not just at seems. So with trained, well manicured dogs, attentive owners, with proper indoor footwear, it can be a great option for “training only” facilities, although I've heard the tape used to 'seam' them together can be slick at high speeds. As such these products are less functional for a multi-use pet care provider (daycare, training, boarding combination) because no matter how well trained or supervised the dogs are, potty accidents happen, so it’s important they have the least impact on the flooring as possible. 

Cost.

Regardless of which flooring type you decide on, cost is going to be a factor. Horse stall matting is another commonly used flooring for dog facilities, because of its non porous properties and impact absorbing thickness, it is a great and durable choice for 1500lb horses, or gyms that regularly drop 300+lb weights on it daily. Depending on your size of space, it can be a fairly cheap option, and the pre cut sizes can make it easy to install in smaller spaces. BUT this flooring is unbelievably heavy, and difficult to move, if your making any attempt at cleaning underneath. Especially horse stall matting usually being 4x6, or 5x7’ mats at 3/4” thick.

textured horse stall mat

textured horse stall mat

Some stall mat options are smooth but many are textured(as seen above), which can lead to some difficulty when cleaning up messes. So unless they’re being installed permananently and being sealed to create one solid surface, they’re not exactly ideal. Especially when you consider the amount of joints/seams potentially required to cover a larger space with small rectangles, so true sealing can be difficult. This flooring type while durable and ECOFRIENDLY, still requires routine and specialized care taken to ensure the surface remains sealed, and is not damaged from harsh cleaners (as they can degrade the seaming between mats) Expensive, but it can be a worthwhile, long lasting, and durable option if installed and maintained properly. 

So what did we choose for Flooring at the new facility?! 

In the front areas we opted for a thick, durable LVP(luxury vinyl plank) flooring on top of subfloor, to ensure even warmer toes. This floor does not sacrifice style, for safety, like a laminate or linoleum might. It is not only attractive, antimicrobial, and easy to clean, it has a slightly textured surface to help prevent any wipe outs. It can withstand the wear and tear of dog nails, and is easily pulled up in a damaged area, with a new piece glued right back in. It is a waterproof surface when fully glued, that can handle even the occasional potty accident. 

Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring, nearly identical to ours

Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring, nearly identical to ours

For our main daycare area and training space, where the dogs will spend most of their time, we opted to invest in a premium rolled rubber flooring. Similar to horse stall matting, but in large rolls for minimal seams, much more commonly seen in gym/recreational facilities. Secured to the floor and glued at the seams, creating a waterproof, non slip surface for dogs to learn and play on. As we elaborated on earlier with the horse stall matting, this flooring is the best compromise between safety and sanitation for our type of use. We don’t want to install a new floor every year, or retape seams every month, and we certainly don’t want to harbour any dangerous bacteria or smell within or under our flooring. We wanted a long lasting, durable and eco friendly product. 

Not our facility, but shows installed rolled rubber matting

Not our facility, but shows installed rolled rubber matting

Only the best for our TBP family!

So whether your a well meaning dog owner, a facility owner, or otherwise, always do research and talk to as many suppliers as possible to ensure you don't make any costly/naive mistakes when it comes to your flooring, don't be afraid to ask what might seem like stupid questions-you have a right to educate yourself! As an owner researching pet care facilities, be sure to ask about their flooring choices, their maintenance practices, and when touring any facility be sure to your eyes to spot any concerns, but don't forget to use your nose.. If you smell something funky.. It could very well be the floor! (& all the cooties living inside and under it! yuck) 

We'd be happy to give you a tour of our facility and explain how much thought we put into the health and safety of your pet. Our new facility at 1125 Winnipeg St will open in January, so come by and take a look! We can't wait to show you why there's no better place for your dog to learn and play. 

Izzie Keyes, Owner/Trainer,

The Balanced Pack, Regina, SK

Crate Training - An Essential Life Skill

izzie keyes

Crate Training - An Essential Life Skill

In this article I will discuss the benefits of crate training for your dogs mental health. Share tips and tricks I've learned over the years and a simple step-by-step guide to crate training the average dog. Let's get started!

Why Bother?

A lot of people I talk to struggle to see the benefit in crate training their dog. Thankfully, that's mostly due to the fact that their dog can be left home alone without issue, well, other then maybe the occasional trash raid. I say thankfully, because I hope this means, there aren't a large number of dogs in my area dealing with extreme separation anxiety, the kind that leads to destruction of property and even self inflicted injury. Most family dogs are content to snooze on the sofa or mind their business in your absence. Although that in itself is a thing to celebrate, it could also be a contributing factor to some less severe, perhaps less obvious behavior issues. Some that could likely be solved with better management through crate training.

Dog's who although seem content in your absence(they don't leave messes, destroy furniture or overall raise concern to their behavior in your absence.) May still be practicing behaviors that have manifested into other areas of your life together. For example, the dog who sits at home peacefully.. Until that mailman shows up! The dog is alerted to the mailperson approaching the house and barks. Mailperson leaves, dog watches them walk away. Dog learns barking makes people go away. They have now created a fun new game for themselves while your gone- Bark at people approaching the house! Your mailman has just started a pattern of training your dog to bark at people arriving at the house. Depending on your dogs personality this could create a pattern of excitement, anxiety, fear, or just simply helping make them more and more aware/wary of noises. How does this transfer back to your presence? Again, depending on your dogs response to the mail person you may now notice a dog who focuses a lot, on looking for things out the window. Your dog may have attempted the same pattern he learned-bark at things to make them go away, out on your walks. If you have a dog who is already prey driven looking for squirrels on walks, they'll be hunting even harder now, after all that window time observing and building their frustration about not being able to get to them. 

                                              Where's that darn... Why I oughtaa...

                                              Where's that darn... Why I oughtaa...

Behaviors that may have manifested due to excess freedom in your absence: 

  • Barking at things out the window-dog's, people, kids. Window fixation-hunting for prey animals. As your dog perfects his stalking skills, these can certainly be seen in owners presence as well.

  • Alert Barking - Especially notable in condo's/apartments. Tenants random schedules coming/going, noises. All can create a dog overly on guard to any noise. Especially if they have freedom of the house to run, jump, bark and work themselves up higher.

  • Barking at people/dogs on walks, or guests.

  • Bathroom accidents, if they have the freedom to do as they please, that'll make a hard pattern to break them of- doing what they please, whenever they please.

  • Over all listening skills may suffer- He's used to making his own games and rules. They may offer great thought before performing a task that was once no problem- Not coming in from outside/getting off furniture, over all lack of respect to your commands.

Crate training your dog and creating a crate schedule so to speak. Helps create structure in your dogs life, instructions to follow, a purpose. Being left to their own devices and being given no guidance on what to do with their time (sleep, eat a bone) leaves a dog ample opportunity to train himself. They're just not going to be behaviors you'll look forward to coming home to, or hearing about from neighbors. They can't watch TV or read a book after all, eventually they'll get bored.. Set your dog up for success by crating them. Give them one simple task to focus on in your absence, relaxing.

Before you Start - Things to Remember

  1. A crate should be a safe and inviting place, avoid any negative associations with the crate by staying calm, cool and collected when putting them inside. Avoid using it for "time outs" after an offending incident. Unless you are capable of keeping a level head. 

  2. Your presence while they're in the crate is an important part of training. If every time they go inside the crate-you leave. Before long they'll associate the crate with you leaving. Which can lead to separation anxiety, etc. The crate is no big deal. Throw them in while you cook, clean, watch TV. It will help them develop coping skills and will reinforce that going in the crate is no big deal and doesn't only happen when you leave.

  3. When crating your dog before you leave for an extended period of time. Especially during the training process. Consider providing them with a marrow bone, or KONG toy, so to keep their minds preoccupied while you're gone. Chewing a bone also encourages calm behavior, simply because they must lay down to gnaw a bone properly. Helping them right to sleep after they've completed.

  4. Do not let your dog out of the kennel right after you've come home, or when they are excited. You are rewarding the state of mind their in, by releasing them in that mindset. Go put things away, check the mail, take your time and release them once they've calmed down, or ideally once they've completely settled. Why? By saying okay, you can come out when you're like this, you reward the behavior you like, making it more likely and quicker to occur in the future. Set them up for success!

Crate Training Steps

Whether your dog is 8 weeks or 8 years, this is the procedure.

You will need: your dogs daily meal rations, yes you're training for their supper, a clicker(not required but helpful) and a collar/leash attached to your dog.

  1. Step 1: With your dogs breakfast in hand and dog with their leash attached. Approach the crate, throw their kibble into the crate. Wait. Let them investigate on their own, once they move towards/inside - mark that moment by saying "Yes! :)" or clicking and throw more food inside/or out, depending on your dogs interest level. Repeat several times until your dog is looking to/moving towards the crate for a reward.

  2. Now that your dog associates the crate with magical food appearing and they're offering us interaction with it In hopes of more food appearing. We can start waiting for them to move towards/in on their own. *Important: we are not throwing food lures in anymore* We are raising our criteria. When your dog enters/paw in/etc, mark with a "Yes! :D" and throw the reward into the kennel. Repeat several times, once your dog is consistently offering to enter the crate on their own, eating their reward inside and then exiting out to repeat the process fairly consistently. Move to step 3.

  3. Now that we can easily predict that and when our dog is going to go in the kennel, we can start naming the behavior. I call this "Kennel." Some say 'house, box, crate' it doesn't really matter, but it should be 1 word while we start. Not  "go to your .. Kennel." So as our dog is entering the kennel and they're at the point where you know they're committed, the feet are going in, say your cue "Kennel" and then when your dog is in, mark Yes! Like you have been before. Repeat the process several times, over several days.

  4. Now our dog knows what the kennel is, 'knows' the command, and associates the physical box with pleasant things. We can start closing the door. Although hopefully you've been just moving it around throughout the process, a little movement from it shouldn't matter much. So we start closing the door, dog stays in place, we mark Yes! Throw food in, open the door. We are making an association of door closing=good things! Rinse and repeat. Start locking the latch. Moving away 5 feet, backing up, opening a door, etc. and moving back to the crate fairly quickly-in the beginning, to keep Rewarding the dog and marking their completion of the exercise with Yes! Before coming back to reward. We're telling them, if you're in there and I do this, this, this, this, you're fine, good things will come, I like what you're doing in there. If the dog noses to try and push through at any stage in closing the door, stop, asses, and either move back a step or interrupt immediately with a verbal NO, use your leg against the crate door to 'block' that attempt and push the door back into their space-with authority. This can startle some-which is the desired outcome. It also makes them more respectful to the door itself, because woah, it just came flying at me! To build up duration, continue your moving around, leaving the room, and when you return to feed good behavior mark it with 'Good' and continue the walking around, walking to the door gestures.

When we use 'Good' and reward, it means keep doing what you're doing, when we say 'Yes' we are using it as terminal marker, meaning good job, you're off the clock here's your paycheck. Try to avoid adding emotion ex: "good girl! who's a good boy." Keep them very simple, clear, marker words!*

Now we don't need to formally train this step as much, if you've been casually putting them in there throughout the day for short periods while you're around-and have been able to drop a kibble or treat in when they're behaving calmly and quietly, helping you to move on to a more random reinforcement schedule. But training the process of closing the door, can be helpful for some dogs, especially those with known mild  SA. As we start this step we can also easily mark the 'wrong' behavior (pawing, whining, etc) with a quick verbal NO, or PC(Pet corrector) so our dog clearly understands what gets him rewards, and what does not. Ie: Making a bunch of noise in the box is not allowed and no you may not try and practice bad behaviors.

If your dog struggles with this stage, implement a structured KONG/Raw bone schedule for times when you MUST leave your dog alone, and crated. This will greatly help counter condition their negative associations with the crate and you leaving.** it's not just getting a yummy bone that encourages better behavior in the crate, but the simple fact that dogs must lay down to chew bones/raw hides/Kong's. Laying down is much calmer habit to get into then sitting, circling, etc. With high value items like these, you have guaranteed time that your dog will be engaged in it and not thinking about being in a crate, let alone where you went! When they've finished a couple hours later, they're ready for calm rest. They have been mentally engaged in an activity/practicing their down, for such a lengthy time, they happily nod off to sleep. **

If you follow these steps and advice, you'll have a happy adjusted dog in no time. If you are still struggling, or dealing with a more serious crate related issue. Please, don't hesitate to contact us right away.

Happy Training!

 

Izzie Keyes, Owner/Trainer

The Balanced Pack - Dog Training & Daycare

Regina, SK