Kai (Hawaiian for “ocean) is a 4.5 year old Australian Cattle Dog/Miniature Schnauzer/German Shepherd mix (or, as her moms Kate and Marsha call her, an Australian Shepauzer).
How did your dog come to be a part of your family?After our last dog passed, we decided to adopt an adult rescue. Kai was transported to Second City Canine Rescue from a no- kill shelter in Oklahoma, where she had lived for four years after having a litter. The litter was adopted, but she never had a forever home. We couldn’t resist her ears and her story.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? Gain better communication and bonding with Kai. She has mild anxiety from living in a shelter for so long and we’d love to be able to have her know how to relax and just be a dog, as well as to get along with our two kittens.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? How to work with Kai from where she’s at. The positive reinforcement techniques are great. Kai is super treat motivated and a great learner, and it’s wonderful to see how she catches on.
What is Kai’s favorite part of class? Kai loves receiving treats. But, perhaps more than that, she loves all the wonderfully loving attention from the trainers.
Meet Cass. This 18-month-old Newfoundland is a recent Focus graduate. Cass is named after an English movie character named after Cassius Clay, and at 150 pounds, he lives up to his name! His parents Ashley and Andrew share his story with us.
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? We searched for over a year for the right type of dog to add to our family, which already included two cats. Rescue? Lab? Mix? Saint? Pyr? Finally, after a ton of time and research, we settled on a Newfoundland.The temperament was a perfect fit for us, and we could not be happier with our choice.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? We hope to achieve the ability to get Cass to seamlessly focus on us on walks and in public when he sees other dogs, because in Cass’ world, every dog is his best bud. He loves everyone and every dog, and wants to play. We hope to pass CGC and therapy dog tests soon, and Focus will really help!
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? Already, the first level of Focus has helped with long term down stays. This is something Cass struggled with previously, so we are really excited about this.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? Cass is a social butterfly. Going to class is his favorite thing! He also LOVES our trainer Sarah.
Meet Fledge. This 6-month-old Pointer/Hound mix is attending Puppy Grade School. Named after a character in CS Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Fledge is very vocal. In fact, his mom Laurel says it sometimes sounds as if he is talking. She shared his story with us.
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? I met Fledge at the Hinsdale Humane Society. He was one of a 10 puppy litter that was rescued from a high kill shelter.I wanted a dog to be outgoing, active, intelligent, willing to learn. Plus, it was love at first sight, when he put his paws on my knees and looked into my eyes. Fledge fit the bill. I brought him home the next day.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? Fledge is extremely active and channeling that activity and shaping him into a well-behaved dog is challenging me as an owner/trainer. What I have learned in class, I am integrating into our daily routine. I view training as daily, and on-going for a lifetime. There are so many things that you can teach and do with your dog.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? Learning all about puppyhood and puppy management. It has been 14 years since my last puppy, and the emphasis on positive training and management has so greatly improved.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? According to Fledge, it is greeting and interacting with his classmates. Next to that, it’s the food!
Meet Simon, a rescue from PAWS Chicago. His mom Jackie said when she saw those teeth, she knew he had to be hers. Simon now uses those teeth to eviscerate small stuffed animals. He runs around with them, and then finds a way to rip it apart and pull out all the fluff! Here’s more about Simon from Jackie:
What are you hoping to achieve by training? We have been working hard since I adopted him in January. Basic training, but also reactivity to other dogs. Through class and lots of work on down time, he has gotten better and better! I love seeing improvements, both big and small, and have seen a lot lately! I love to see his confidence build up, and his anxiety drop.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? It’s amazing to see his nosework! Although his underbite is adorable, I feel that it stops him from using his natural instinct to find with his nose. I am so happy to see that he loves to do it, and is quite successful at it!
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? Everyone probably says this, but it’s the treats. He is picky, so not just any treat will do. I save the special ones for training purposes, and he works really hard for them!
Meet McCormick, or “Mac”. This Bernese Mountain Dog is the offspring of Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Show last year. His mom Selina says that’s as close as she’ll ever get to fame, but we think they have a pretty amazing story to share:
I’ve enjoyed learning about the signs of stress to watch for in your dog because it’s so important for me to know when Mac is feeling stressed-out in his therapy work. I have also found it valuable to learn how to set Mac up to be successful instead of just hoping for the best!”
Golden Retriever Heather is a graduate of All Puppy, Progressive Puppy, Middle Management, Intro to Agility, Goldens rule, Recall and Leash Manners, K9 Nose Work, Canine Good Citizen (she passed her AKC CGC test at under 2 years of age) and Field Trip. Wow, that’s quite a resume of AnimalSense classes! It’s even all the more impressive when you know that her dad wears hearing aids and her mom has been fighting cancer since 2012. Even so, they have only had to make up one night in all of Heather’s classes.
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? We met Heather’s litter when they were just three days old. Steve picked up the smallest one, and it licked his finger and went to sleep in his hands. She picked us!
What are you hoping to achieve by training? We have had dogs all of our lives, but never a large dog. We started training Heather at 12 weeks old, as we did not want her pulling us nor hurting anyone. We soon found out that puppy class was not about obedience for Heather, but rather a class of understanding and learning for us. Each new class is a new learning experience for us and a new adventure for Heather. From here, we plan on working with Heather to enter into therapy work.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far?
By natural instinct a dog can sense and react to your feelings. This can become your strongest connection with your dog. If you want your dog to succeed you have to believe in them, and they in return will be more confident and do well. You must try to be as patient and positive as the trainers at school and practice every day what you have learned.
7-month-old Husky/Poodle mix (seriously!)
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? We’d been looking for a dog for a while, going to shelters etc. We happened on the website of a breeder who lived on a farm in Southern Kentucky. We traveled down for a meet-and-greet and he was irresistible…we knew this was THE dog.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? A well-trained dog-family is a happy dog-family.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far?
“Treats” are your secret weapon.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? The endless supply of treats, of course!
Give us one (or more) fun facts about your dog. He is named after our favorite character in the book “Watership Down.” He was also the 5th born in the litter and the 5th (and last) sold. So the name seemed perfect.
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? We found a family-owned business in Oswego specializing in smaller, non-shedding dogs.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? A family member who is well-adjusted to people and animals of all sizes (it would be great to avoid the small barking dog stigma as well).
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? Being able to bounce ideas off of our trainer, Greg, and other classmates has been invaluable. It is great to have an hour a week to discuss puppies with an expert and others going through what we are.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? New smells and sounds; the other dogs.
Give us one (or more) fun facts about your dog. He’s a little guy with a big name. He doesn’t bark yet – hopefully that will last! He loves to cuddle.
1-year-old mixed breed
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? On a hot Sunday last summer, we decided to stop by the Wright Way Animal Rescue in Niles, IL for a little air conditioning respite and, of course, to look at their puppies. We had no intention of actually bringing one home, but in order to play with the puppies, the rescue requires you to fill out some paperwork – which we did. Just after filling out the paperwork, we noticed a little brown body all by himself in a crate to the side of the desk and when he turned around he had the sweetest, saddest little look on his face which was an unexpected black compared with the rest of his body. We asked to see him and when the staff handed him over he wrapped his front paws around my neck and buried his face in my shoulder. We were allowed to let him out in a little pen but he went from hugging me around the neck to climbing up on Ben to hug him too! So needless to say we left with our own little personal hugging puppy and he has been a wonderful and silly part of our lives ever since!
What are you hoping to achieve by training? Kingston is a “party puppy”. He wants to be involved in everything social and exciting. We love to have him with us when we travel to see our families but we wanted to make sure that we could control him and find outlets for his mental energy since he can be a bit much for non-dog lovers. We hope to increase his trust in us and build a strong relationship with him so he is willing to follow our commands.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? The most valuable thing we’ve learned in class is how to make Kingston work for things: breakfast/dinner, treats, toys, and going outside. Now when he wants something, he sits down instead of jumping, barking or biting (most of the time, practice makes perfect!). Another valuable thing we learned in class is the “Find It” game! Kingston now loves to use his nose and burn up his mental energy!
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? Since he’s a busy body always ready to please, Kingston’s favorite part of class is practicing new challenges. He loves to work and figure out what we’re asking him to do. He also finds it very entertaining when we jog in place or around him and he is expected to stay seated – his tail wags like crazy!
Give us one (or more) fun facts about your dog. We have been working with Kingston to stop his barking for attention by ignoring him. Recently he understood that barking is not working to get him the things he wants so, although he hasn’t stopped barking during some activities, he now barks soundlessly! He still moves his mouth and ears as if he’s barking normally but he doesn’t let any sound out. We are pleased and tickled with this new turn of events and we don’t mind silent barking at all!
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? After we got married, we knew we wanted to get a Beagle puppy. After a long search, we finally found Disco through a breeder in Oklahoma. Within 3 days, he was on a plane to meet us! He came to us at 10-weeks-old and has been a part of our family ever since!
What are you hoping to achieve by training? We hope that Disco will be able to listen, respond and focus to us on a consistent basis. Being a Beagle, his nose is always to the ground trying to follow a scent so learning how to rein him in and learn some tricks of the trade has been really helpful!
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? The most valuable thing that I have learned so far is to make Disco sit for increments of time to stay. He has really progressed with this and we have noticed that it helps in many different situations. We are amazed with how he exhibits the learned behaviors without being asked.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? The treats! Really, he has done well with the structure of the class itself. We move at a good pace, constantly reinforcing the skills in varied ways and it is a very non-threatening environment.
2 1/2-year-old Lab Pitt mix
How did your dog come to be a part of your family? We were looking for a new member of our family. We visited Wright Way Rescue in Niles and took her home a couple days later. Of course, she was the cutest dog there and the most affectionate.
What are you hoping to achieve by training? I love the training and so does Lovey! I train to fulfill Lovey’s need to work, to bond and build on our relationship, and to mentally and physically challenge her.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? Relaxation Protocol without a doubt. When Lovey is having what we call a puppy moment or is stressed, we immediately go into relaxation protocol mode. It works every time. I would suggest a training class to every dog owner. I’ve also learned to relax and let her be a dog. I’m still working on that.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? Treats, treats and more treats!
7-month-old Pembroke Welsh Corgi
What do you hope to achieve by training? Owyn has some issues with handling, especially near his rear end. Though we’re working on this, my ultimate goal is to get him into Agility or Treibball. I think they’d be fun for us both and give him a chance to put his brain and athleticism to good use.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned in class so far? Calming signals! Learning to read canine body language from my dog and other dogs we meet has helped me understand what’s going on in a situation before it ever escalates to something unpleasant.
What’s your dog’s favorite part of class? I’d say treats, but I think he really does seem to get a lot out of figuring things out. Tricks like automatic sit or attention that he has to do without me telling him engage a lot of the skills he has–and when he figures out what he’s supposed to do to get the treats? He’s really good at doing it. (And the treats are pretty good, too.)