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Field Trip!
Written by FFTW Member Cheri Burger, CPDT-KA
Owner of Dog Lady Family Dog Training
Image Copyright Cheri Burger
When I was in elementary school, the yearly field trip was one of the highlights of the school year (behind Christmas, spring break and the last day of school, of course). The BEST field trip was in the sixth grade though. Every sixth grade class would climb on buses at dawn and go to Washington DC for the day. (I lived in south central Pennsylvania growing up). It was the same field trip for every sixth grade the whole time I was in elementary school, and it was the highlight of my grade school career!

Why are field trips so much fun?  It is a break from the same ol’, same ol’. New sights, new adventures, something different than sitting at our desks looking at the same teacher day after day.  Vacations are exciting because we get to experience something new and different (and maybe get away from the frozen tundra).

Our dogs too, like to experience new sights and smells. Taking the same walk, twice a day, every day, gets a bit stale for them too. They know every mailbox, fire hydrant, bush and tree. They have smelled all the pee-mail from Rover, Fido, Ginger and Rex over and over, day after day. Ho Hum. You are most likely bored with the daily trip around the block yourself.

Go on a field trip!  It doesn’t have to be far away to be new and exciting for your dog!  I take my dogs to a neighborhood less than a mile away. The neighborhood has sidewalks, and mine doesn’t, so it is a different experience for my dogs.  Living in the Lake Country area, we go to downtown Pewaukee, Hartland and Delafield for new experiences. Walking around Lake Fowler in Oconomowoc is a terrific walk, and we experience a more urban environment. In the suburbs waiting for the light to turn green isn’t part of our routine, but it is when we walk in a city. I have met my sister who lives closer to Milwaukee and we walk our dogs together through Lake Park near Lake Michigan. Very different for my dogs, and for me!

The new environment is so very enriching for dogs. My dogs right now are both sound asleep after an hour of walking in a new place. It isn’t just the physical exercise, but the mental stimulation of something new that has them tired out. It also helps them learn that new stuff isn’t scary. Walking through Oconomowoc once, my dog Kobe was taken aback by a banner outside a garden center. We stopped while he looked at it, screwed up his courage and approached it for a sniff then walked on by. He didn’t give it a second glance again.

If your dog has never ever been away from your quiet neighborhood, please be smart about their first field trip. Going to the Madison Farmers Market probably wouldn’t be a good first trip, since it is pretty busy and has soooo much going on. Start with a different quiet neighborhood, that you scout out ahead of time so you are aware of how busy it is, cars and people-wise. Are there any dogs loose in yards that could cause trouble? Being prepared is very important, especially if you have a fearful dog.

I also use field trips as training opportunities. My dogs and I step off the sidewalk to let folks pass by, using the encounter to reinforce sitting nicely at my side. I especially work on this when other dogs come past.  We see squirrels running up the tree and I work on positive interrupters so I can get my dogs back focused on me. We wait at the corners and watch traffic go by. All great training while having an enjoyable time!

So fill up your treat pouch, stuff your pockets full of pooh bags, leash up your dog and get in the car and take a field trip!  You will be so glad you did.

Cheri Burger, CPDT-KA is the owner of Dog Lady Family Dog Training. She has membership in the Pet Professional Guild, the Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin, the Association of Professional Dog Trainers, and is an Official Mentor Trainer with CATCH Canine Trainers Academy.

Product Praise: Combo Leash
This month's Product Praise comes from FFTW Member, Kathy Wolff.

"The combo leash is the perfect blend of freedom and function. I recommend them to my students because they can have their choice of 4 or 6 ft lengths to accommodate loose leash walking. When you need an added level of guidance during the learning curve of training a behavior, or just to quickly remove your dog from an uncomfortable situation, the attached street handle gives you the ability to do this safely.
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Upcoming Education Opportunities
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Deciphering canine body language

Saturday, December 20th from 10:30am - 12:00pm
Harmony Pet Care - Waukesha

CLICK HERE for event details!

Presentation by:
Laura Holder, co-founder of Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin and owner of Connecting With Dogs
(FFTW Business Member)
Dreaming of Calm:
Help for over-reactive dogs
Monday, December 29th from 7:00 - 8:30pm

Harmony Pet Care - Waukesha

CLICK HERE for event details!

Presentation by:
Laura Holder, co-founder of Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin and owner of Connecting With Dogs
(FFTW Business Member)
Reiki Presentation
Saturday, January 10th (2015)

Humane Animal Welfare Society - Waukesha

CLICK HERE for event details!

Presentation by:
Manette Kohler, DVM (FFTW Individual Member)
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Copyright © 2014 Force Free Trainers of Wisconsin. 
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Information and advice provided in this newsletter is general in nature and should not be relied upon to solve any particular situation. For all issues with your companion animals, please seek the services of a competent and qualified professional.  The authors and publishers shall have neither liability nor responsibility for any loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused by the information in this newsletter.

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