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Building Confidence In Your Dog

So you both can worry less and enjoy life more.

Force-Free Dog Training In Waco, Texas and McLennan County!

Check Out Some Of Our Confident Hounds!

✨ TRAINING MINDSET TIP ✨

Think more "Yes!" and less "NO".

It's really easy for us to call out all the things that we don't like, but a lot harder to acknowledge all the things our dogs (and kids...and spouses...and ourselves!) do throughout the day that are awesome. Because of this, most clients reply to our request for their training goals with a list of negatively-worded statements like: "Don't jump on guests" and "Stop pulling on the leash".

This gives us a clear picture of what the dog is doing "wrong", but very little information about what they would prefer their dog do INSTEAD. So we have them paint a picture of what their dog could do in those moments to get a "Yes!" from them. How about: "Greets guests in a standing position" or "Walks close enough to me that the leash is loose"?

Take any problem you're having and rephrase it as the solution. Presto! Now you know what behaviors to look for and can reward them more easily. Practice this mindset and you'll surprise yourself with how many opportunities you have each day to say "YES!".
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⚠️ Prioritize Socialization Over Manners ⚠️
🐶 Laika is a 16 week old Cockapoo puppy. We have been working with her family since the week before they brought her home. During that time we have done very little "basic manners" training. Why? Because it can wait. You know what can't wait? SOCIALIZATION.
🪟 Your puppy has a prime socialization window up until ~16 weeks (max). During this time, they are more open-minded and optimistic about new people, places, object, situations, etc. That window is your critical time to lay a foundation of belief that the human world is safe and fun.
🧀 We do this by pairing every experience possible with a positive thing, such as a tasty piece of food. See a vacuum? Here's some cheese. Hear a garbage truck? Have some bacon.
👩‍🏫 It can be so tempting to teach your puppy sit, stay, come, etc when they first come home. But guess what? They can learn 2+2=4 at any age with relative ease. What's more tricky is trying to teach an adolescent or adult dog to FEEL confident in their daily life.
🥰 So let those first 8 weeks be about building a bond, creating a routine, and forming positive associations with things your pup is likely to encounter often in their daily life.
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On this day every year we remember our first dog, Artemis. Today is the 2nd anniversary of her passing away at the early age of 5 from an aggressive, terminal cancer. She went from a healthy athlete who could pick up any training skill to gone from our lives within 6 months.

Somehow it feels like just yesterday she was with us and also like another lifetime. Not a single day has passed where we don't turn to each other and say, "I miss her, she was the best dog."

Artemis' struggles with fear and anxiety led us down the path to learning about dog training and opening The Confident Hound. Her silhouette is immortalized in our logo and what she taught us is present with every client we work with. Her legacy will be every dog and pet parent who we help gain confidence so they can enjoy their time together.

Last year we wrote the story of the hound that started it all. The blog post can be found through our bio link if you'd like to meet our soul dog.
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Can Dogs Get Jealous?. My quick thoughts on what we know about the emotion of jealousy among dogs and how I interpret common scenarios where a dog's behavior is labeled jealousy. I reference a comic by @nathanwpylestrangeplanet where two dogs both swarm a human for affection. ...

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✨ QUESTIONS SKILLED DOG TRAINERS ASK THEMSELVES ✨

A pinch of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That's why preventing unwanted behaviors before they happen is a major step in all of our training plans.

The more you rehearse a bad habit, the better you get at it. The better you get at it, the harder that habit is to break. Isn't it easier to stop stress-snacking if you ensure those temptations never enter your house? The same goes for your dog.

In dog training this can look like:
1️⃣ Restricting a counter-surfing dog's access to the kitchen when you're not around.
2️⃣ Detoxing a reactive dog from their triggers by taking a couple weeks off from neighborhood walks.
3️⃣ Putting your enthusiastic greeter of a dog behind a baby gate while guests enter the home.

Why swim upstream trying to change a habit? Make it easy on yourself an invest in the prevention piece of the puzzle. Sometimes prevention is SO powerful that we don't need to do any formal training!
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🇺🇸 Wishing you a safe and stress-free Independence Day!
🎆 As the owners of a dog who panics during fireworks, we understand first-hand how this holiday can be something to dread. If you haven't already done so today, here are a few quick tips to get through tonight:
1) Get your dog out for some nice decompressing exercise or activity, whether it be a swim in the pool, playing fetch, or a long sniffy walk. For our dog, a sniffy car ride is exactly what fills his emotional cup.
2) Prepare some enrichment activities now to give your dog tonight, such as a frozen Kong, a puzzle toy, or a long-lasting, digestible chew.
3) Embrace white noise and music. Though classical music and reggae are often our first choice for soothing options, some 80s rock will drown out the booms better and can be a net positive.
4) Talk to your neighbors. Let them know your dog doesn't do well with the noises. They might offer up to take their show elsewhere or cut back shooting off the louder ones. Our neighbors very sweetly stopped by today to let us know they'll only be doing some small ones and the specific timeframe when they're doing it. This alone helps so much so we can align our plans for our dog!
5) MOST IMPORTANTLY: Comfort. Your. Dog. Do not believe the myth that comforting your dog will make their fear worse. No one LIKES to be afraid or feel like WW3 is happening outside, so I assure you they have no desire to feel this way again. Tell them how brave they're being and give them some snuggles and pets if they want them.

🌧️ And if all else fails, pray for rain! 😂
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✨ TRAINING SUCCESS TIP ✨

We start every training game by giving the dog a FREE treat. This rewards your dog just for showing up to class and gives them a heads up that you'll be their teacher for the next few minutes.

This is an especially helpful trick for multi-trainer families. When switching from working with one person to another, it helps the dog know who they should give their attention to next.

Wouldn't it be nice if your employer greeted you each morning with a nice beverage? What a great way to start your day!
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✨ TRAINING MINDSET TIP ✨

Slow is smooth. Smooth is fast.

I have to credit my husband for introducing me to this saying from his time in the Marine Corps. We say this phrase to every client, especially those with dogs who are learning to overcome fear or anxiety.

If you take too big of a step, you'll end up 5 steps back. Moreover, each setback adds frustration and insecurity to the learning process. In the long run, you spend more time by rushing.

But if you start slow and increase the difficulty in small increments, then you'll find you can make exponential progress later. Example: Don't be afraid to start loose leash walking practice as 1 treat per 1 step. This speed of learning makes behaviors more durable in the face of distraction.

You wouldn't want a contractor rushing through building the foundation on your house. Approach each new training exercise with your dog the same way.
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✨ QUESTIONS SKILLED DOG TRAINERS ASK THEMSELVES ✨

One of my favorite moments is when a client starts thinking like a dog trainer. They go from being a passenger on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride to a confident racecar driver when it comes to modifying their dog's behavior.

One of the ways to make that shift is to ask yourself questions like this one. When my dog isn't responding to training as well as they were before, I ask myself: How can I make this easier for my dog?

We want them to get the right answer, so don't be afraid to go back a step and give them a hint!
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Help Your Reactive Dog With A Decompression Walk. These are highlights from our first decompression walk with client dog Oso. Oso pulls strongly on leash and is dog reactive. So we swapped his stressful, rushed neighborhood walks for a leisurely, solo sniffari at the Waco Dam.

Check out @cognitive_canine, @dogminded, and @fromdusktilldog for more information on how to get started with decompression walks and how beneficial they are for your dog!

#theconfidenthound #canineenrichment #decompressionwalk #letthemsniff #reactivedog #positivereinforcement #positivedogtraining #dogtraining #puppytraining #dogtrainingtips #dogadvice #dogbehavior #dogmom #dogsofinstagram #pupsofinstagram #wacotexas #waco #wacotx #dogsofwaco
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✨ TRAINING SUCCESS TIP ✨

Do you want your dog to make faster, smoother progress? Then make training a DAILY habit and keep sessions short!

We only train with dogs for 2-3 minutes at a time. Their brain can get tired if you keep going after that. Plus, this makes it easier to fit training into your busy schedule EVERY DAY.

So instead of making your dog cram for the test the night before your next session, give them a quick pop quiz every day!
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✨ EXERCISE TIP ✨
🐕‍🦺 We love seeing owners taking their dog on a daily neighborhood walk, but not all dogs enjoy that...and that's okay! If you own a reactive dog, we encourage you to think outside of the box when when it comes to physical exercise.
🐶 That's what we're doing for bull terrier client Lula who is highly reactive to anything that moves - we're talking people, dogs, skateboards, cars, all of it! But she definitely needs a physical exercise outlet, so we started backyard agility training today and she loved it!
🥎 Our first dog Artemis preferred to play fetch for her physical outlet, which allowed her walks to be more about mental exercise. Do what works for your dog and what they enjoy. Check out our list of suggestions in the post!
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✨RECALL TRAINING TIP✨

🗣️ If you've ever found yourself talking to someone for a whole minute only to realize they're weren't paying attention, you learn to say their name first in the future. (🙋🏻‍♀️Apologies to my husband for every time he talks to me without me realizing 😬)

🐕Well if you want a dog who reliably comes when called, the same principle applies! Your recall cue (e.g., "Here!") is PRECIOUS. In the beginning phases of training, don't waste it on a dog who isn't even looking in your direction...especially in distracting environments. Make your practice count by choosing your moments carefully.

👀 In this video, Cooper is distracted by the FedEx man as well as snuffling for treats. Saying "Here!" over and over again would just teach Cooper to tune out that important word. Instead, Mike waits for Cooper to disengage from what he's doing, then says his name. Once Mike is sure he's got Cooper's attention, he follows it up with a quick "Here!". Then pays handsomely for this difficult skill with some yummy chicken.

😯 Do this double cue method enough and eventually you may have a dog who can recall to you from out of sight!
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🧘🏻‍♀️Everyone wants their dog to settle down and relax, but have you actually taken a moment to TEACH your dog how? Relaxation is truly a skill, so there's a reason this is one of our most commonly taught behaviors.
🐶 If you want your dog to have this skill, pick a mat or bed to practice with. Reward your dog with a treat for any interaction with the "place" to start. Once they're reliably getting on the mat, cue them to lay down and reward again.
🗣️ Keep practicing until they do the whole process seamlessly, then give it a name! Ella's cue is "Go To Your Place", but our dog Ace knows this game as "Chill Out". You can really get creative with this cue!
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About The Confident Hound

Our mission is to build confidence in dogs and their humans so they can make the most of their precious time together.

We have approximately 8 to 15 short years with our dogs. Things like stress, anxiety, fear, frustration and insecurity can take a toll on health and happiness, shortening that time and diminishing your memories together. We want you both to worry less, so you can spend that time enjoying life instead. You both deserve peace of mind, to feel in control, and to have predictability and harmony in your home. We can help make this a reality. We are passionate about helping dogs feel confident in their environment, which in turn helps owners feel confident in their dog and strengthens the human-animal bond. We achieve this through force-free, positive reinforcement-based training methods.

Your Trainers

Lisa Corcoran, VSA-CDT

Lisa is a lifelong lover of dogs, learning new things, and solving puzzles. Her background is in Psychology (B.S., Virginia Tech; M.A., Catholic University of America) and she currently works in the veteran mental health research field. Lisa is a graduate with distinction of the prestigious Victoria Stilwell Academy for Dog Training & Behavior and has been granted official status as a VSA-Certified Dog Trainer (VSA-CDT). Since 2017, Lisa has volunteered weekly at shelters and rescues to rehabilitate dogs looking for good homes.

These experiences help Lisa understand why both her canine and human clients do what they do. Lisa’s detail-oriented nature helps her to identify the cause of your dog’s behavior problems, and her creativity leads to a solution that works for both you and your dog. If you’re looking for a total dog nerd, Lisa is the trainer for you.

Mike Corcoran, CSB-D

Having grown up with dogs that displayed fearful and aggressive behaviors, Mike made it his mission to specialize in helping dogs like these be more confident and content in their surroundings.

Mike’s educational background is in Computer Science (B.S., Mary Washington College; M.S., George Mason University), which gives him a unique perspective of dog behavior problems as being similar to bugs in computer software. Combined with his experience as a rifleman in the United States Marine Corps, where he learned that true leadership doesn’t rely on using fear or punishment, Mike brings a systems-based approach to dog training.

Mike is a Certified Shelter Dog Behavior Consultant (CSB-D) through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC) and recently completed Michael Shikashio’s Aggression in Dogs course.

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