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WOOFS! Training Class Basics

Written by Laura Sharkey Monday, 08 August 2011 00:00

WOOFS! number one priority in our basic class is something we call Voluntary Attention (VA). Simply put, voluntary attention is the ability of the dog to pay attention to it's handler in a distracting environment without the owner using the leash or constantly cueing to the dog to look at them. The idea is that we make it so reinforcing for the dog to pay attention to the owner that they do so voluntarily and with duration.

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The Truth About Being the Pack Leader

Written by Laura Sharkey Monday, 08 August 2011 00:00

I learned something last week when I was visiting Wolf Park in Indiana.

Wolf packs donʼt have pack leaders. Thatʼs right. NO pack leader.

As it turns out, the concept of the pack leader was a mistake. A mistake made many years ago by people studying a group of unrelated captive wolves that were placed together in an enclosure. The fighting and aggression that ensued became the basis of the “Alpha Wolf / Leader of the Pack” theory. The problem? This was an artificially created situation that would never have occurred in the wild. The conclusions taken from this study had nothing at all to do with how wolves actually behave.

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Leading Without Intimidation

Written by Laura Sharkey Monday, 08 August 2011 00:00

In my last post I promised to tell you how to be an effective leader without resorting to dominance and intimidation. Quite honestly, Iʼll probably offend some people here, but intimidating animals and using physical dominance is for Neanderthals. And thatʼs probably an insult to Neanderthals.

Letʼs examine the facts. Iʼm talking specifically about dogs here but this really applies to all other animals that humans care for and keep as pets. And that is my first point. We are humans. Um, that does give us a bit of an advantage. I mean large frontal lobe, cerebral cortex, ability to reason, think ahead, plan, control resources. I could go on. Not to diminish the intelligence of my canine companions, but we are at somewhat of an intellectual advantage here. Of course we are the leader.

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Is your dog running your life?

Written by Laura Sharkey Monday, 03 May 2010 08:40

Let’s talk about schedules. Is your dog on YOUR schedule or are you on your DOGS schedule?

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The Why and Why Not of The Dog Park

Written by Laura Sharkey Friday, 02 April 2010 04:10

So I have been talking a lot about puppy socialization and exercise, and how to accomplish those intertwined goals. Both are critical for the health and well being of your pup and the exercise part can be essential for your sanity!

The dog park seems to be the go-to answer for a lot of people, and in general I am a fan of some dog parks, however if you have a young pup, you may want to finish reading before you leash up and head out.

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Week 1 Is In The Books

Written by Laura Sharkey Thursday, 25 March 2010 09:20

Monday night classes started this week. It is always exciting to get in a new group of dogs to start to work with. Both puppy and adult classes went VERY well and I am lucky to have such great groups of pups and owners. What was most impressive was that everyone was clicking and treating right away! There is always so much info to give out on night one but we got through the basics and I felt like everyone was very successful. Looking forward to getting into a rhythm and getting a lot done!


Back To Work

Written by Laura Sharkey Monday, 22 March 2010 13:32

So it’s been a while since I posted anything here. Last I wrote, Vixen’s puppies had arrived and the holiday season was upon us. And then things went south. Five out of seven of the puppies died within their first two weeks. For about a week, we lost one puppy every day or so. There was nothing the vets could do and we just waited to see if any pups would be spared. In the end, one red female (Blitzen) and one black male (Donner) made it through the illness. I am happy to say they grew up well and went to their new adopted homes this past week.

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Puppies Have Arrived

Written by Laura Sharkey Thursday, 10 December 2009 06:00

Just a short note to let everyone know that Vixen delivered 7 healthy pups today at WOOFS! Shirlington campus. There were 4 girls and 3 boys, delivered in that order. She started delivery around 10 am and was finished and nursing by 3 pm. Not surprisingly, she is a perfect mom, attentive and sweet with all the pups. Click “read more” for puppy pics. More to come later!!



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At WOOFS! we use only positive reinforcement training methods grounded in the latest canine behavioral science. This dog-friendly approach is endorsed by the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviorists, the ASPCA, and every other reputable animal organization in the country.

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