GLEN ROCK, NJ - A local veterinarian and dog trainer teamed-up last weekend to offer behavioral and health tips to 25 residents during a free seminar hosted by The Glen Rock NJ Dog Park.
Veterinarian Dr. Dennis Sepulveda, who has an office at 196 Rock Road, spoke during the second half of the forum after he handed-out literature about pet first aid and leptospirosis, a possible deadly issue for pets caused by infection with leptospira bacteria which can be found worldwide in soil and water. It can be picked up by a pet simply drinking infected stagnant water or even drinking from a stream or river.
Dorice Stancher, a “relationship-based compassionate” dog trainer in her long-time business “Canines Can Do”, offered tips to Glen Rock dog owners during the visit to the library on Feb. 9.
“My method of training is very science based,” Stancher said. “We need to change our behavior to work with our dogs. And, the training should never hurt the dog.”
Armed with a myriad of tools, collars and toys, Stancher’s tips were free-flowing as those in attendance occasionally ‘oohed’ and ‘aahed’ in approval, hearing ideas they said they had not thought of themselves.
“Poochie bells on doors to the outside work well,” Stancher said, suggesting a little peanut butter on the bell which teaches the doggie to ring it when the pup wants to go out. The peanut butter also keeps them from being afraid of the bell.
She spoke mainly about puppies or newly-adopted dogs and how to change what’s around the dog to get the wanted behavior.
“You want to catch them as many times doing good things as you do when they’re being naughty,” she said. “That way you can correct the bad behavior and reinforce that good behavior.”
Simple commands and an upbeat voice can work with treats at first. Weaning them off treats is desired so they do not gain weight. But Stancher said she likes to use treats as her “currency.”
“Treats always have to be earned,” Stancher said. “Even if it’s just a little circle, a little turn. The dog performs, I pay them with a treat, thus the currency idea.”
As a long-time obedience trainer, Stancher said her creedo is “do no harm.”
Chewing and biting, usually a puppy issue, can be corrected with various tools.
Stancher passed around a loose 12”x12” rug that was hand-weaved in which a dog could dig for treats.
“Use this to substitute with something other than you shoes or your hands to chew on,” she suggested.
Stancher uses time outs in her training. The time out can be done with the rug mentioned above or a toy where the pup can find a treat. That calms them down and directs their thinking elsewhere.
She also spoke about dog aggression, an issue when your dog begins to bark and pull like they want to go after another dog.
“You need to get their attention, get them to look at you,” Stancher said, which is a time treats can come in handy. The pup learns that if they focus on you, they will get a treat. While that’s going on, the other dog passes by and the distraction is gone.
Stanchers suggests using games for separation anxiety, as well.
“When you leave, you can use a 12-cup muffin tin, hide treats under tennis balls that fit in nicely without being tight,” she said.
Stancher uses clicker training, too, which distracts the dog and gets them to focus on you.
And when it comes to walks, collars are as individual as dogs. She is opposed to the ones that sit just on the neck and passed around several harness-type collars.
She doesn’t like the metal-pronged collars either.
“I’ve seen dogs with holes in their neck from owners pulling and the dogs pulling,” she said.
The “Freedom Harness”, made in Suffern, NY, can be custom ordered to fit the dog.