Friday, December 6, 2013

Basic Manners Classes Starting Soon

Basic Manners Dog Training Classes 
Starting in January 2014
Lahaina, Kihei, & Kahului

This is a beginner class for dogs and their owners.  Dogs of all ages are welcome to join, provided they are up-to-date on Parvo and Distemper shots.  This is a 6-week class, one hour per week.  Each week you will learn something new to practice with your dog.  Basic Manners Dog Training is taught using positive reinforcement methods, combined with energy balance.

Cost for the class:  $150 CASH
Basic Manners Class includes:

*Marker Words
*No Reward Marker
*Come when called
*Watch Me/ Look
*Loose Leash Walking 
*Impulse Control 
*Sit & Auto-sit
*Drop It
*Leave It

Please contact Athena @808-463-4684 or email to register.
Classes will be available Thursday or Friday, morning and afternoon.

Please let us know your name, phone number, email address, what day/ time works best for you, your location, & name, breed, and age of dog.

Athena Angelic, is an Animal Behavior Certified Dog Trainer, has been certified in pet first aid and CPR through the American Red Cross, and is a full member of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.  Such Good Dogs specializes in training companion dogs, or family dogs, using positive reinforcement methods, combined with energy balance.  Such Good Dogs offers many different types of training programs, in-home dog boarding, dog adventures, and dog bootcamp.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Breed of the Month--Irish Setter

Irish Setter

Color:  Rich chestnut red with no trace of black, may have white markings.
Height:  Males:  23-27 inches/  Females:  21.5-25 inches
Weight:  Males:  70-75 lbs/  Females:  60-65 lbs
Life Span:  11-15 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Arthritis, canine leukocyte adhesion deficiency (CLAD), bloat, hip dysplasia, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), osteosarcoma, progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and von Willebrand disease.

Coat:  Straight, flat, with feathering, moderate length.
Country of Origin:  Ireland

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.
Also see our previous post on Sporting Breeds.

The exact origins of the Irish Setter are not known, but the breed is believed to be developed from pointers, setters, and spaniels.  These dogs have a highly developed sense of smell and were bred to locate birds and hold their position instead of chasing.  The unique abilities of this breed made it highly sought after in the 18th century for hunting and tracking.  The magnificent color of the dog's coat gained it popularity in the show ring in the 19th century.  The Irish Red Setter Club was formed in 1882 in Ireland.  The Irish Setter was brought to the United States in the late 1800s and the breeds popularity again grew.  A few years later, an overwhelming demand for Irish Setter puppies decreased its breed popularity.  US breeders took that opportunity to recover the breeds better traits and reemphasize its qualities as a field and show dog.

The Irish Setter is an intelligent, loving, and enthusiastic companion.  Admired by many for his beauty and grace, the Irish Setter has an upbeat happy-go-lucky personality and makes friends easily.

The Irish Setter is a very high energy breed and requires lots of daily exercise.  This breed needs at least two good hour long walks per day, plus plenty of other time to run, hunt, and explore.  This is a breed for a high energy, active person.  This breed excels at agility, obedience, hunting tests, and even pet therapy.

The beautiful red coat of the Irish Setter requires regular brushing.  Show dogs must be professional groomed.  Special care should be noted in taking care of his long ears that may become infected if not kept clean.

The Irish Setter is eager to please, but his enthusiasm can make long sessions difficult.  Short, positive, reward-based training sessions are recommended.  This breed is very intelligent but extra care must often be taken to keep his attention.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Trainer Tips--Barking Dogs

This month's Trainer Tip is being based on something that has touched us close to home recently…barking dogs.

As a dog trainer, a dog owner, and fellow neighbor, I would just like to say that a barking dog is NOT ACCEPTABLE!  That being said, let me elaborate…

Being in a neighborhood with lots of dogs, an apartment building with lots of dogs, and a dog owner myself, I fully understand that dogs can and will bark sometimes.  It is to be expected, it happens.  Many times owners do not know their dog has been barking if he only barks when they are away.  Other times, owners are fully aware and do not care.


Sure, we don't mind a little bark here and there, but there are limits to what is acceptable and what is not.

Acceptable Barking:
*If your dog barks once or twice when you first leave the house or come home, I would consider this acceptable.
*If your dog barks 2-3 times throughout the day for less than a minute.
*If your dog barks at someone that has knocked on your door or come onto your property (not just walking by on the sidewalk).

Unacceptable Barking:
*Allowing your dog to bark whenever, wherever, for whatever reason and as long as they feel like is absolutely unacceptable behavior, not only on the dog's part, but more so on the owner.  As the owner of your pets, you are 100% responsible for their actions.  Allowing your dog to continue to bark and bark is absolutely unacceptable and incredibly rude to the people around you.

*Getting defensive when a neighbor complains about your dog barking is not acceptable.  If a neighbor has taken the time to come and talk to you in a nice and respectful way about the disruption your dog's barking has caused, it is your responsibility to not only listen to their concerns, but to do something about it!
*If your dog repeatedly barks when let into the yard or tied outside.  If you know your dog is going to bark when you leave him outside alone, do NOT leave him outside alone.  Take the time to do some training and take responsibility for your barking dog.  The longer you let a dog engage in nuisance or boredom barking, the harder it will be to train them out of it.

*Excuses.  I'm sorry but there is absolutely no excuse for allowing your dog to continually bark and disrupt the people around you…NO EXCUSE!

Why do dogs bark?
Generally speaking, dogs bark and use other vocalizations to communicate, not only with each other, but with us.  It is our job as their owners to discover what they are trying to communicate.  Many barking problems stem from the dog trying to communicate something that the owner is not getting.

On-going/ Excessive Barking/ Nuisance Barking:
This is the type of barking that dogs build a habit of over long periods of time.  Most of this type of barking comes from lack of something else.  For example, lack of physical or mental activity, lack of socialization, or lack of leadership from the owner.  This type of barking will generally have a pattern to it; a similar series of barks that repeats over and over…and over…and over.  This type of barking is unacceptable and should be immediately addressed.

Barking as a Greeting/ Communication:
Often times dogs will bark at another dog or owner upon their return home as a way of saying hello.  Our dog, Caravaggio, does a sort of quiet howl/talking when we come home.  It's very cute.  This type of barking is acceptable in small doses.
(These 2 puppies are a good example of communication barking between dogs.)

Some dogs will howl along with odd noises like a passing siren or strange high-pitched sounds (like in a song or on TV).  These random howls are acceptable.
Other dogs will howl when left alone.  This howl is generally a sign of distress in the dog, usually from being left alone.  Many dogs suffer from separation anxiety and this type of howling or the nuisance barking listed above can be symptoms of that.  Separation Anxiety can be a very difficult problem to deal with and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Separation Anxiety:
Some simple things you can do to help with separation anxiety include:

*exercise your pet before leaving (a tired dog is a good dog)
*give your pet plenty of things to keep him occupied (a Kong filled with yummy treats
and penut butter, a tasty bone, and/or several types of interactive toys)
*do not make a big deal about leaving and returning
(do not kiss your dog goodbye and tell him how much you will miss him,
this makes it harder for a dog with separation anxiety,
upon returning, ignore your dog until he calms down, 
then reward with calm love and praise.)
Dogs with separation anxiety often get themselves into trouble when left with nothing else to do.  That's why it is so important to do the things listed above, otherwise you may come home to a disaster (example above left).

Generally speaking, a dog that excessively barks is either exhibiting separation anxiety or boredom.  Either way, if your dog is excessively barking, it is your duty as the owner to take responsibility and take action to correct the problem.  Most barking problems can be solved with some simple training and exercise (both mental and physical).  But it is important to recognize exactly why your dog is excessively barking to determine the correct path.  Some dogs may bark to communicate some other problem they may be having, such as a physical (food, water, shelter) or emotional (excited, anxious, or nervous) need.  No matter the reason for the barking, something should be done about it.

Don't become the neighbor everyone hates because you can't control your dog's barking.  Take action!  Be responsible!  Train your dog to be a respectful member of your community.  Your neighbors will thank you for it!

Try this other SGDs blogs for more help:
Choosing an Anti-Bark dog collar.

Also check out an article by Victoria Stilwell, Barking.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Open enrollment for Dog Training Review

I will be opening my final class of the current Basic Manners dog training session for review.
Wednesday November 6th from 5-6p.m.

Anyone who has taken my Basic Manners Level One class or an equivalent in private lessons (or taken with another trainer) may attend.  If you are interested in possible future training and would like to see what a dog training class is like, observation is FREE.

There will be a $25 participation fee for the one hour review class.  You will be joining the current class on their last session and will be incorporated into the class.

Your dog should be familiar with the following to attend this review session:
Food lure
Look/ Watch Me
Stand/ Up
Come when called
Loose Leash Walking
Drop It
Leave It

Your dog must be current on Distemper & Parvo shots.
(Please exercise your dog before the review hour.)
If you are interested in attending this review, please contact Such Good Dogs.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Breed of the Month--Great Pyrenees

Great Pyrenees

Color:  White, white with gray, reddish-brown, badger, tan markings.
Height:  Males:  27-32 inches/  Females: 25-29.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  110 lbs minimum/ Females:  88 lbs minimum
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Bloat, hip dysplasia, degenerative myelopathy, elbow dysplasia, osteosarcoma, factor XI deficiency, progressive retinal atrophy, and skin problems.

Coat:  Double coat, weather-resistant.  Dense, woolly, ding undercoat.  Long, thick, flat outercoat.
Country of Origin:  France

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards or more information.

Separating Spain and France, the Pyrenees mountain inhabitants earn their living by tending flocks of sheep, cows, and other livestock.  Although the exact origin of the breed is unknown, the Great Pyrenees dogs have worked protecting livestock in this area for centuries.  This gentle giant is completely reliable with his flock or herd, and is ever sure-footed in the mountains.  Many Great Pyrenees pups are raised within their flock or herd from puppyhood.

The Great Pyrenees is devoted to his family, gentle, and trustworthy.  Bred to be suspicious of strangers, it is vitally important that this breed is properly socialized at a young age and throughout his life.  

I had the pleasure of having a Great Pyrenees neighbor.  She was one of the most gentle and loving dogs I have ever met and got along well with everyone, from adults to children, and other animals.  I feel blessed having known such a fabulous dog.

The breed's desire to patrol his territory may sometimes get the best of him; it is therefore important that the breed be kept on leash or in a fenced area during exercise.  Although the Great Pyrenees is a very large breed, he does not require excessive exercise.  Two to three good walks per day will satisfy his exercise needs.  It is most helpful to find some sort of "job" for this breed to do.  He will be well satisfied to guard the property or family.

The Great Pyrenees's coat will require almost daily brushing.  The coat was designed to protect this breed in all types of weather, and should never be shaved.  The hair around the toes should be occasionally trimmed and extra care must be taken to keep his face clean and wiped free of drool.  

If training the Great Pyrenees for guarding or herding, training will be easy.  In other aspects of training, the Great Pyrenees can be stubborn and requires a persistent and patient trainer.  This breed will not respond to harsh training methods.  Positive reinforcement training is best.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Trainer Tips--Dog Parks...Friend or Foe?

Dog Parks...Friend or Foe?

As a dog trainer, people often ask me many questions about training and different dog situations.  One that often gets asked is how I feel about dog parks.  In response to this question, I'm writing this month's Trainer Tips about dog parks.

If you're a fan of this blog, you know I often write about socialization and how important it is to properly socialize your dog.  Proper socialization does include introducing your dog to as many new situations, new people, and new dogs as possible.  However, all of these things should be done in a proper environment and at the dog's pace (see previous post).  Let me be perfectly clear, it is your job to be the leader in your home and elsewhere.  That means it is YOUR job to protect your dog from potentially dangerous situations and YOUR job to keep your dog from being the one that creates any such situation.  (See previous post on Leadership.)  Keep watch of other dogs and notice their Body Language to gage potential threats.

So how do dog parks fit in?

Generally speaking, I do NOT recommend taking your dog to a dog park on a regular basis.  The reason I say this is because dog parks are very chaotic environments with little or no rules.  Most people who bring their dogs to the park on a regular basis make the dog park the only regular exercise their dog gets, and generally have little to no control over their pet.  This is very bad!  A dog should actually be exercised BEFORE being taken to a dog park.  Why?  Well because when a dog is full of energy and excitement, they are more likely to engage in bad behaviors, especially if they are simply set free to do whatever they want in an chaotic environment with unstable dogs.  A huge part of my training program focuses on what I call Energy Balance.  If you have ever been to a dog park, you know that the energy and atmosphere of the park is chaotic and crazy.  This is NOT an environment I recommend.  Because the environment of the dog park is so chaotic, dogs can and will easily pick up bad behaviors. Further more, many dog owners that take their dogs to the dog park should NOT be around other dogs.


There is an unofficial dog park in Honokowai that many people go to (including several friends and clients of mine).  I have also been to this dog park with my two dogs on a few occasions to check it out.    I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS DOG PARK!  This dog park has had several instances of red flag warnings.  There is an owner that takes her dog to this park on a regular basis that should never be there.  Her dog has attacked at least two dogs that I know of, and bitten at least one owner when going for a third dog.  This owner picked up her little dog to get it away from the oncoming attack and the dog attacking jumped up and bit the woman's arm instead.  This woman had to have several stitches.  This same dog (who is not a very large dog) tried going after one of my dogs as well, Caravaggio.  Lucky for me, my dogs are both trained very well and will not engage in a fight unless absolutely necessary.  So this little attack dog kept lunging at Caravaggio for at least an hour one day.  Caravaggio did exactly what he was taught and moved away from the dog when it tried to attack and let me deal with the situation.  Funny enough I left the park with my two dogs for about 15 minutes and returned.  Upon our return this same dog came running and jumped up on my car trying to get at the dogs through the window.  Ridiculous!  The owner, of course, had no control.
This is just one example of a bad apple at the dog park.

Dora getting trampled at the Honokowai dog park.

There is also a high likelihood that your dog will pick up bad habits at a dog park.  Some examples of common bad behaviors dogs easily pick up at the dog park include:  barking, digging, toy possession, aggression, and not listening to the owner.  My best client and the dog I'm most proud of training is named Dora.  She is now about a year and a half.  I have been training with her and her owner since she was about 5 months old.  Dora and her owner made amazing progress and she has turned out to be a great dog.  However, about 6 months ago, her owner started taking her to the dog park mentioned above.  Since then Dora has picked up several bad habits that we must now address and train her out of.  She was also recently attacked (2 weeks ago), and received several puncture wounds on her back foot.
Here's a good example of a dog that should not be at the dog park.
As you can see, the owner has no control.

My other dog, Nekita, was also attacked at a dog park a few years back.  She was so severally attacked and injured at the time, that she became dog aggressive for a short while after the attack.  We had to put in some extra time and training to get her back to her usual self.

Another little-known danger is poison.  There have been various news reports over the last several years about people who do not like dogs leaving poison or toys laced with poison at dog parks.  I recently saw a story like this where a dog picked up a toy left at the dog park that someone had poisoned and passed away only an hour later.  People leave all kinds of toys at dog parks and most dogs will go up to a toy and pick it up without hesitation.  Although this danger is less likely to happen than others, it is still a possibility.

I do not share these things to scare you, but to make you realize just what you may be getting yourself into when attending a dog park.  This is not to say that all dog parks are bad all the time.  In fact I do believe that a dog park CAN be a fun place for you to socialize your dog.  The thing is, you have to really be aware of what's going on around you.  Don't become the owner that just brings your dog to the park every day and lets them do whatever they want!  If you are interested in attending a dog park, do your homework.  Go there without your dog once first at the busiest time (usually in the afternoon after work), and see what the environment is really like.  If you don't like what you see, don't return with your dog.  You can also try going to the dog park at less popular times.  At these times, the dog park will not only be safer for both you and your dog, but more conducive to training and socialization for your dog.

Try the dog park when there is only one or two other dogs around.  This environment is much less hectic and better for your dog.  This will also allow you to easily assess the situation and meet other dogs and owners.  (Below:  Wicket & mom playing at the dog park at a quiet time.


Overall, if you do end up taking your dog to a dog park, please be aware of what is going on around you.  Watch your dog at all times and keep them away from any potentially harmful dogs or situations.  Also beware of toys.  MANY dogs are possessive over toys, especially around large amounts of other dogs.  Two dogs going after the same toy can easily trigger a bad situation if one or both dogs are not properly trained and socialized.  The time Nekita got attacked in a dog park was because another dog wanted her ball.  When she got to the ball first, the other dog attacked her.  I have seen this same thing happen multiple times at the dog park.  Even if you don't bring your dog's toys, there is always someone who does.

The last reason I do not recommend dog parks is the lazy factor.  In my experience, most people who regularly bring their dogs to the dog park do so because they refuse to put any energy into exercising their dogs.  The best exercise for a dog is proper walk or hike.  And when I say proper, I mean walking on a leash properly, not pulling the owner everywhere.  The owner should be in charge of the walk or hike, NOT the dog.  A proper walk is the best exercise because the dog is not only getting the physical exercise they require, but mental activity as well.  A good owner will properly physically AND mentally exercise their dog.  Most people who bring their dogs to the dog park every day have not put in the time and effort to train their dogs on how to walk on a leash, and therefore take the lazy way out...the dog park.

There are so many activities we can do with our dogs, that I don't even need to take my dogs to such a place.  Go for a walk, go for a hike, go swimming, play fetch.  There are so many other forms of activities that are much healthier for both you and your dog.  So stop being the lazy owner that does nothing with your dog and get out on a new adventure!  You're dog will thank you!
Plus, its fun and even easier to make friends with other dogs at these activities!

Caravaggio, Dora, & Nekita swimming.

Kana & Nekita relaxing on the beach.

Kahiko & Dora hanging out after a hike.

Caravaggio & Jack at the beach playing fetch.

Still need a way to make some new doggie friends?  A great way to meet new dogs and new owners is to take a dog training class or activity.  In every class I have taught, at lease someone makes a new friend that they keep in contact with even after the class is over.  Such Good Dogs also offers socialization hours, where you and your dog can meet new dogs that are properly trained in a healthy environment.

Kuma watching Mocha & Kengie say hello
in their first Basic Manners Class.

Splash & Eku became fast friends.

Budi'i & Henry playing after our class.

Monday, October 14, 2013


We recently had a guest dog with us, Jack, a 10-year-old black lab.  Although Jack is a very sweet boy and great with other dogs, he reminded me how important training really is.  This dog had ZERO leash skills and was extremely pushy around doors and with food.  In the two weeks he spent with us, I significantly improved his leash skills (at least he wasn't dragging me around any more), and taught him patience and to respect the leader, which of course is me.  His behavior improved greatly during his stay.  Below are some picture of the fun stuff we did.


Jack's favorite activity is fetching a ball.

He's a little out of shape, so he had to lay to drink after playing fetch.

Lazy, but happy.

Caravaggio & Jack playing fetch at the beach
with new friend, 4-year-old Jason.

It's true, labs love to swim!

Jack & Caravaggio shaking off.

Many people I train are often concerned about taking away the "natural dog" behaviors.  Sometimes people believe that giving dogs rules and boundaries takes away from them just being a dog.  To that I have only this to say, look at the pictures these dogs look happy?  There are rules, boundaries, and limitations for every single dog that comes into my house, but my dogs (and guest dogs) are very happy.

Caravaggio, Nekita, & Jack enjoying sunset with us after a hike.

Happy Jack.

I think he had a good time :)

Basic Manners Class #2

I'm very excited to have started a new Basic Manners class on the West Side recently.  Although I always enjoy classes, having an especially large class can be extra fun.  This class has 7 dogs in it and everyone is very excited to be here.  I always love helping people who are ready and willing to put in the work.  Hopefully I will be able to see just how hard they've all been working at this week's class.

Below are some pictures from week two of this Basic Manners class.  This is the first time all the dogs get to meet each other, so the energy and excitement of week two is high.
(I was happy my friend was able to stop and take some awesome pictures for me as well.
Thanks Megs!)

Athena describing the first lesson for the day.

Class participants.

Athena working with Keani & mom Barbara
on Loose Leash Walking.

Athena working with Kengie & mom Sanchi.

Athena showing lab, Kuma, how to walk on a leash
with family watching how its done.

Kuma watching Mocha & Kengie say hello.

Hanging out after class.