Updated: Aug 1, 2018
As dog lovers we know better than anyone that it can be difficult to start training our furry friends, or to even know where to start – I mean, how could you possibly scold something that cute?!
Time and time again I have been guilty of watching my dog behave badly and then praising them for how adorable they looked while doing it. Those are not my proudest moments. That is why we wanted to make the training process a little bit easier by providing treats that are not only as healthy and delicious as our classic Northern Biscuits, but are bite-sized and perfect for training as well!
Our Minis are designed to help even the most stubborn dogs come around to learning and loving as proper training is bound to help them achieve! Using treats as a part of dog training has proven to be much more effective in teaching dogs better behaviours as it not only leads the dogs to trust humans and come out of their shell but it makes the effort that a dog puts into learning and working with you worth it! To get a better idea of the work that goes into training and the payoff that it can have on your home, we spoke to our friend Matthew at Pet to Pal Dog Training to get some more information on the benefits of training your dog!
Northern: How did you know dog training was right for you when you first started?
Matthew: I’ve always loved dogs. My dog, a golden lab named Titan, was such an inspiration for me. As I started training him, while I was 15, I loved seeing him start to understand new behaviours and challenges. It’s a very rewarding process. At the time I was also volunteering at the local shelter, walking the dogs there, and working with them when possible. During high school I thought I wanted to go into K9 policing, but realized I loved working with the dogs way more than I ever wanted to enforce the law. So I went the dog route! I started studying, worked at local pet stores, doggy day cares, I got certified in K9 Handling and Law Enforcement as well as certification in Animal Behaviour College while doing an apprenticeship down in San Diego, California where Titan and I drove down and lived for a few months while studying.
N: Tell us about your own dog and your work training him. Was it a natural bond from the beginning?
M: I got Titan, my Labrador Retriever when I was 15. My family didn’t want a dog at the time. My sister was deathly afraid and parents didn’t want the extra work associated with it. Because I wasn’t old enough to adopt a dog on my own, my aunt helped me find a breeder and we went behind my family’s back to buy him. He was very much my dog, not necessarily the “family pet.”
I remember my sister crying the whole ride home, scared of puppy Titan. My parents were thinking “what just happened, what did we get into?”
I started working with him immediately. He was crate trained. House trained in a few weeks or less. My family all came on board fairly quickly. Titan is very food motivated, which made training a lot easier. Keeping in mind I wasn’t a trainer at the time, just a 15-year-old kid. Titan has been a literal angel. My sister is now in love with dogs and wants a farm with multiple dogs. My grandmother, who wouldn’t come over because she is also incredibly terrified of all dogs, fell in love with him. She still won’t go near any other dog but Titan is so gentle and calm that he has this ability to win over even the most afraid or nervous people. His energy, his ability to read a situation and adjust has been incredible. He is my best friend and my partner in crime. We went on our road trip to California together, he’s adapted to all sorts of change and new situations and never flinched or complained at all. He just turned 10 years old in June and is still in great spirits, healthy and living a great quality of life. He now joins me at clients whenever we need a distraction dog or a calm role model. I couldn’t even picture my life without him.
N: What is one common misconception that dog owners have about training their dogs?
M: I think one misconception is that too many people want “instant gratification” whereas dog training is very much a process. We tend to get impatient, or frustrated. But we have to remember that our dogs don’t speak English - or any of our languages. They don’t know what we want or expect from them. It’s important to communicate as clearly and consistently as possible. To learn to “speak dog” a bit. If we are just correcting them and getting upset without giving them clear alternative behaviours that pay off for them, training can take a lot longer than it needs to.
N: In what ways is dog training important for both the owner and the dog?
M: Dog training is super important! For the owner - having a well-trained dog leads to a stronger relationship with our furry friend. Allowing us to give them more trust and leeway. Allowing us to have a dog that is more well-adjusted and less maintenance in the long run. A dog that is well trained generally knows how to react to situations and what they should/shouldn’t be doing in any given environment. This leads to reducing our dogs’ anxiety and building their confidence. A well-adjusted dog leads to happy owners!
And for the dog, giving them “something to do” or a specific job or task in situations allows them to understand how to react and what to do/not to do more readily. They eventually require less instruction from us as they are more capable of making correct decisions. Also, training is a great brain game for your dog! It is a wonderful “Rubik’s cube/Sudoku/charades” game! This leads to your dog burning energy in a more productive, constructive way. Your dog is learning from the second they get to your home. Whether owners think they are “doing training” or not, our dog is absolutely absorbing what is allowed and what’s not allowed. Dogs are creatures of structure and habit. Training sets them up for success from the very beginning.
N: What is one piece of advice you would give to new dog owners when it comes to training their dogs?
M: I would suggest finding what your dog is motivated by! Most dogs are generally food motivated. Meaning they’re born, and that’s what they want, is to eat/earn food. But not every dog likes to eat the same things. Just like humans, dogs have favourite flavours,
and get sick of certain recipes and tastes. So finding what really motivates your dog is very important. Using a “high value reward” when training will help get better results quicker. Northern Biscuit Bakery has a ton of great, high quality treats! Different flavours like Peanut Butter Banana, Canadian Bacon, Pumpkin Pie, Salmon and blueberry, etc. Also with plenty of options including being locally made, low calorie, wheat free, their new Mini Biscuits are excellent for puppy training as well. I’ve got very good results and clients and their pups seem to love using them.
N: What is the most rewarding thing about working as a dog trainer?
M: The part that is most rewarding to me is helping dogs and owners mutually understand each other. Having the owners understand what their dogs are trying to tell them through their body language, and helping the dogs understand more clearly what is expected of them. Nothing feels better than when a family is at its wits end, frustrated, and I’m able to help improve the living situation and quality of life for both animal and humans. Setting them up for years of success and enjoyment together. I also love seeing dogs have their “lightbulb moment.” Walking into a house and working with a dog that has no idea what we’re trying to teach it and seeing it slowly learn and figure it out by the end of the hour is very rewarding. As well as the fact that my job allows me to meet tons of new and awesome people and getting to interact with many dogs in my local community is such a treat to me!
I think Matthew’s words could convince just about anybody of the importance of training. While it may take time and patience, the reward is more than worth the work that both you and your dog put in to teaching and learning new and better behaviours. So why not give it a try with our Northern Biscuit Mini treats! In their brand new packaging, not only are the cookies themselves tasty and healthy for your pups – only 3 calories per biscuit - but you can now get even MORE bang for your buck with our move from boxes to bags. This change means that our Minis are now in compostable packaging so that they can make both your puppies as well as our planet happy! Not only that, but we added a bigger window in the Minis bags to see even more of the product that you are buying and to ensure you are getting the best quality treats for your pup. Have we piqued your interest in training yet? How about when I tell you that our Minis come in all the same flavours that your dogs know and love like Pumpkin Pie, Canadian Bacon and Peanut Crunch? It’s time to make training fun for both you and your dog. So go to NorthernBiscuit.ca to pick up Northern Biscuit Minis and to try them out with your dog while you train! It will make the payoff of the work you and your dog put into improving their behaviour and building good habits that much sweeter! And make sure to go to http://www.pettopal.com/about.html to get in touch with Matthew at Pet to Pal Dog Training if you are in the Vaughan, Ontario area for all of your training needs!
Have fun and Happy Training!
PS. Tag a friend on our social media post about this blog to be entered to win some of our Minis for free! And for a BONUS chance at winning, answer this question along with tagging your friend:
What is your dog’s favourite Northern Biscuit flavour? Good luck!