Pre-class Resources for prospective students
A. Learn what your dog is trying to tell you
Help your dog by learning to read canine body language.
1. Fun, 5-minute overview video:
2. 3 1/2 minute video on recognizing relaxed vs uncomfortable dogs:
3. This website has free downloadable infographics that illustrate the meaning of facial expressions and other signs of stress:
4. Deep dive: These two videos thoroughly illustrate dog-human and dog-dog communication. Highly recommended for all students, but especially if you need to work on growling/barking issues.
5. This video demonstrates safe play and problematic interactions
B. Kids and dogs safe together
This link has a section of fun videos for kids, starring kids that explain how to be safe with dogs (scroll about halfway down). It also has posters to download:
We recommend a harness for walking, and a coupler to link the harness to the collar as a backup in case your dog wriggles out of the harness (it can happen so fast you don't even see it happen).
The most ergonomically correct harnesses have a strap that passes between the front legs and nothing crossing the chest.
The diagram below, from an article by a myotherapist, shows optimum fit. Click on the image to read the full article
Some recommended options for large dogs are shown below
The Balance Harness is the most adjustable. It comes in a version that goes on over the head, and a version that buckles at the neck. It is made by Blue-9 but available through many online retailers.
The Freedom Harness is a little bulkier than the Balance Harness. It has a lined girth strap, which might be more comfortable for dogs with little fur on their bellies. It is not as adjustable as the Balance harness so it's not always possible to get ideal position above the shoulder blades.
It is manufactured by 2 Hounds Design and also is available through many online retailers.
You can buy an inexpensive safety cord from Bold Lead Designs, or make one, if you're handy, from a snap clip and length of nylon cord. The photo shows the safety cord looped onto the base of the leash's snap clip. You snap the leash to the harness and the safety cord to the collar, so if your dog wriggles out of the harness (it happens before you know it's happening), your dog is still attached to the leash via the collar. If you're in Lexington, I keep some on hand and can arrange for you to pick one up for $6 plus tax.
We advise any non-retractable leash that is comfortable for your hands. 4-6 feet is a good length for class.
You may want a longer line for sniffy walks and for practicing "come" outdoors. I use the Basic Brahma long line from Bold Lead Designs. It's made of a smooth synthetic material that is comfortable to hold. They also make a lighter weight version for tiny dogs. Mine is 15 feet long but you might find 10 feet easier to handle.
A treat pouch is advisable for training out and about. You can buy one designed for training that clips to your belt or comes with a waist strap, or you can use a fanny pack or carpenter's apron.
You are encouraged to use a clicker if you wish, but it's not required.
D. Getting started with interactive food toys for beneficial meal delivery
This link explains the whys and how-tos of serving most of your dog's meals in a way that provides a fun, achievable challenge:
E. Video Logistics for Zoom sessions
1. Getting started with Zoom conferences
This 8 1/2 minute video thoroughly explains how to set up and use Zoom
Or you can read zoom's help section article by clicking this link:
2. Stands for your devices
Phone holder made from an empty toilet paper roll
You can buy an adaptor sized to hold your phone or tablet on a conventional tripod you already own, or you can get one already attached to a lightweight, flexible tripod (These products are available from Amazon and other dealers):
You can improvise! I've seen people use shoes, shallow bowls, and hinged eyeglass cases, for example.
IMPORTANT! Make sure your Zoom app is up to date to ensure smooth performance.
If you like tweaking settings for best performance, check out this article by my colleague Laura Van Arendonk Baugh: