Get To Know Our New Trainer And Some Dog Park Etiquette, Too

If you’re a doctor or a dentist or a mechanic, people probably ask you for free advice just about everywhere you go. “You’re a doctor? Like an MD? Great cause I’ve got this thing on my knee. Take a look!”

Same goes for dog trainers. As soon as someone learns you have multiple certifications and work with dogs, the personal inquiries start flying. “How do I keep my dog from chewing?” “What’s the best flea and tick medicine?” “Should I dog-proof my Volkswagen?”

In keeping with that great tradition, we’re going to introduce you to our new trainer, Laura Pieczynski, and then we’re going to hit her up with questions about taking our dogs to the dog park.

Ready? Great. First, meet Laura.

Laura started by training her own dogs. The basics like sit, stay and earning the AKC Canine Good Citizen Certification. (It’s the Eagle Scout badge of dog training, nbd.)

From there, she went to work for a large, unnamed chain pet store and went through their formal program to become a certified trainer. Training training, if you will.

But she didn’t rest there. Before joining The Watering Bowl’s storied Butt Sniffers Academy, Laura earned certifications to evaluate for AKC Canine Good Citizen, Urban Canine, Community Canine and Trick Dog. She is also in the process of becoming a UKC S.P.O.T. Evaluator and studying to take the CCPDT test this September.

“I believe that whatever training techniques I use, it should be a decision made by both the owner and myself.”

-Laura Piecynski

And she has dealt with a range of lifestyles and relationships through her years of experience. She recently helped a Special School District Teacher gain AKC CGC certification for her miniature golden doodle to be in class to develop friendships with her students.

Another success story comes from an assisted living center.

As a puppy, Odie was in danger of eviction. He was prone to jumping and inadvertently scratching the residents of the center. But of course, Odie also provided unlimited joy to her owner who would’ve been devastated to see him go.

Within weeks Odie’s jumping was eliminated, and the center was more than happy to keep him around.

Laura notes, “There is a change that happens between an owner and dog during the training process, and I am always amazed by what is possible.”

That’s all great Laura. You’ve helped other people and dogs with their specific needs. But lets get back to how you can help the rest of us through a series of opportunistic questions on our part.

What is the best way for my dog to meet a new friend if we are on a leash? 

If there is no previous experience of leash aggression, keep the dogs on a loose leash, and let them sniff each other. End to nose is best, muzzle to muzzle can be uncertain. If you’re unsure, walk together for a bit. Try again. Know your dog’s body language and give breaks once in a while, even if they seem to be getting along. Better to end on a positive note rather than end their play because of a negative interaction.

Ah yes, the old sniff test. What about when a friend brings a dog over to my house for the first time?

Know both dogs’ temperament, and adjust your plan for introducing them accordingly. As a general rule, have it be outside on neutral territory. If they appear friendly towards each other, progress into your yard and home, still keeping an eye on body language.

Speaking of neutral territory, what should I watch for with my dog at the dog park?

Generally don’t bring treats or toys, as dogs can become possessive and resource guard. As you enter the dog park, be mindful of dogs crowding the entrance, and stay calm. Always keep an eye on your dog and enjoy watching them play.

That’s great. How can I tell when play is getting too rough between my dog and another dog? How should we handle it if that happens?

Know your dog’s play style and watch for changes. Common signs and signals that play is becoming too rough include: a dog’s hackles going up, the tail becoming stiff and straight, a dominating posture, one dog is consistently putting a paw or leg over the other’s shoulders, the body freezing up and eyes staring or giving a side eye glance, the upper lips or flews are quivering and snarling. It’s best to keep a watchful eye when dogs are playing to be able to step in between them if play escalates.

Also, help the dogs take regular breaks and have them sit or down, redirect toward something calm and have them chill once in a while. This keeps the buildup of excited energy at a manageable level.

Thanks Laura. We’re thrilled to have you at The Watering Bowl.

Laura is training dogs at Butt Sniffers Academy which is located at our Dog Grove location and is more than ready to help you and your dog develop a deeper, mutually beneficial relationship through obedience and play.