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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!


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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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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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!

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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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🐕‍🦺 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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🗣️ 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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because your #mindsetmatters
Don't take your dog's behavior personally.
This was probably the biggest mindset shift that I've undergone. I went from being frustrated, offended, and embarrassed by my dog's behavior to feeling more in control of our future and having more clarity in our training.
Easier said than done, right? Well here are some facts that helped me think differently:
1️⃣ Dogs lack morality, which means they actually NEVER 'know what they did was wrong'.
2️⃣ Dogs do what works. They don't waste their time on behaviors that aren't useful in achieving their goal.
3️⃣ I'm the one with the bigger brain and who took on the responsibility of caring for this dog. It's up to me to figure out how I can help my dog succeed.
Take this mindset challenge one day at a time. The next time your dog pees on your bed, chews on your shoe, or doesn't come when called, try asking these two questions:
❓What's an explanation for this behavior that isn't personal?
❓What change can I make so it doesn't happen again?

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⭐ DOG TRAINING TIP: Use the S.M.A.R.T method 25-50 times per day.
🐶 What did your dog learn from you yesterday? Did they learn that jumping gets your attention? That barking gets you to feed them?
⚠️ Our dogs are VERY observant, so be careful! You may unintentionally teach your dog that behaviors you don't like are effective at getting the dog what it needs.
🤝 But there's good news! It also means that you have endless opportunities each day to build patterns you are both happy with.
🧠 The most efficient way to train your dog is to keep your 👀 open and capture any moment of behavior that you like. That's why it's called S.M.A.R.T. method...
👏 It's that simple! See your dog standing to greet a guest? Mark it with a "Good Girl!" and feed her a piece of food. See your dog sitting by their bowl quietly? Mark it with a "Good Boy!" and give your dog a few pieces of food in his bowl.
🍪 Set aside little jars of treats around the house so you always have rewards in reach for this method.

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🗝️ Our key to a successful "Come!" when called 🗝️

I know a dog is more likely to come when called when they do it enthusiastically, like Gilligan here! BUT, in order to get enthusiasm from your dog, YOU have to be enthusiastic first!

Here's how you can do that:
👏 Use YOUR BODY to entice your dog over by clapping your hands, slapping your thighs, or tapping your feet.
🗣️ Use YOUR VOICE by making pleasant sounds like kissy noises, clicking your tongue, and cheering your dog toward you.
🏃 Use MOVEMENT by going halfway towards your dog then running backwards to encourage them to chase you.
🥩 Use HIGH-VALUE FOOD to give your dog a big payday for a behavior that you value highly.

👉 REMEMBER: If you want your dog to come when called, YOU have to be WORTH coming to!

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☀️ On Saturdays mornings, we prep for a big day of training sessions by prepping our food rewards.
🍗 Ace is certainly tall enough that he could jump on the counter and surf for some chicken easily. But instead he chooses to lay down nearby.
🚫 This is a reminder that training is NOT about punishing "bad" behavior - anyone can do that!
🧰 Training is about building *new* behaviors that you and your dog both love. Only rewards can BUILD behavior and Ace knows laying down will always pay!💲

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🐕‍🦺 It's 41° at 8 AM in Central Texas and we honestly wouldn't rather be anywhere but on a walk with our dog.
🧠 Since there isn't much going on at this time of day, that makes this an optimal time for both training and decompression.
🚫 One of the biggest mistakes we see is trying to train your dog in the real-life situations where the unwanted behavior is occurring. We've been there: Trying to train the dog on GAME DAY instead of building those skills during an intentional SCRIMMAGE. If your dog is not responding to the training, that means it's too hard. Always make it as easy and boring as you can to start and then slowly work up to the big game.
🧥 Thanks to @woofcultr for this great sweatshirt. Ace has come a long way with his stranger-danger training. He happily notices people around him, but would still prefer they keep their distance. This sweatshirt helps us focus on training and keep the strangers at bay.

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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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