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January 2012

 Happy New Year!

I hope this newsletter finds you all happy and healthy in 2012!  In getting ready for the holidays, recovering from the holidays and getting year end together, I am way behind with this letter. 

I am happy to report that, in general, the dogs are LOVING the snow!  There are a couple hold outs that definitely preferred the mild winter we had until last week, but for the most part the dogs love racing through the snow and chasing snowballs.  I love seeing them come back inside covered in snow.  When you pick up, if your dog is still wet please don’t hesitate to use towels out of the Do It Yourself bath to give him or her a quick rub down.We do have a few changes for 2012.  Lindsey has finished her run with the Hound Huddle and is back in school full time for one last semester before starting her career as a lab technician.  We hope to see her back for the occasional visit—just as we enjoyed seeing Sara and Matt over break!  We look forward to introducing her replacement soon.  We have the field narrowed down to a few excellent candidates who are now being interviewed by the dogs.  It is the most important part of the interview process here and is going well so far.In closing I thought I would share a few numbers from 2011: 

  • We averaged 616 visits from dogs per month. 
  • In December we averaged 26 dogs on Mondays, 27 on Tuesdays, 31 on Wednesdays, 30 on Thursdays and 36 on Fridays.

These numbers are about one-half of the numbers you can expect at larger dog daycares in Madison, with the same number of staff.  In addition to smaller numbers, we always have staff in with the dogs.  Your dog’s time at the Hound Huddle is well monitored playtime.  Every day your dog visits us is a night you should have a happily tired dog at home!As always, please let me know if you have any questions or comments.  We hope to improve every year, and your input is always appreciated.


Becky Mittelsteadt


Product of the Month:  Hound Huddle Calendars

The Product of the Month for January is our Hound Huddle calendar for 2012! These calendars are full of pictures of our furry friends enjoying their days at daycare. Rachel designed the entire calendar from pictures she took while playing with the dogs. It also includes some fun pictures from a few of our special events, including our Halloween Howl. Be sure to check it out the next time you bring your dog to daycare; you might see a familiar face or two on a few of the pages!


Dog of the Month: Rio

Our dog of the month for January is an adorable little corgi mix named Rio! Rio was adopted from a humane society when he was a year old, and outside of daycare he likes to travel to the barn where his owner keeps her horse. Though he may be a little jealous of his larger sibling getting all the attention once in a while, he patiently waits for his owner to be done riding so they can go home and spend time together. At daycare he is a champion cuddler and often loves to play fetch, and sometimes starts the occasional soccer games with our larger plastic toys and a few of his dog friends. He may have short little legs, but he can keep up with some of the fastest dogs in daycare!


Did you know?

There are two separate corgi breeds—the Pembroke Welsh Corgi and the Cardigan Welsh Corgi. Though the breeds look very similar, they have completely different ancestors! The Pembroke was developed from breeds such as the Schipperke and the Samoyed, and they have more pointed ears, shorter legs, and a docked or bobbed tail. The Cardigan is descended from the dachshund family and they have a long tail, longer legs, and have a larger variety of coat colors than the Pembroke. The two breeds both were bred to herd cattle; their short stature allows for them to nip at the lower parts of the legs of the cattle to keep the herd moving.


Training Classes

Classes begin early next month! We are offering fun new courses this training session, so be sure to check out their descriptions below!

Puppy  Pre-School

7:30-8:30 p.m.  Thursdays, February 2 thru March 8, 2012 —with Dan Antolec

A six-week course with instruction on socializing a puppy including supervised off-leash play in class. There is also instruction on several obedience commands using positive reinforcement, nutrition and toys, understanding canine body communication and other topics. A written training guide and DVD are included. Please bring a hungry dog, a 4 to 6 foot leash, and great training treats to class. The first class with be owners only.  Puppies will attend the next five classes.  Cost is $90.

Beginner Obedience

6:15-7:15p.m. Tuesdays, February 7 thru March 13, 2012 with Scott Lindner

For dogs age 6 months and older. Classes will re-enforce basic manners and commands. Dogs will learn the command “stay” as well as to focus with lots of distractions using traditional training methods. In this class we learn to "heel" with our dogs and have plenty of question and answer time. Cost is $90.

Canine Good Citizen

7:30-8:30 p.m.  Tuesdays, February 7 thru March 13, 2012 —with Scott Lindner

This is an opportunity to build on basic obedience skills focused on good manners in the home and in the community.  Here you and your dog will develop the skills required for the AKC Canine Good Citizen certification.  The first five classes involve instruction and practice, with testing in class six.  Passing the test qualifies for AKC certification.  Cost is $90.

Pet Manners 2

6:15-7:15 p.m.  Wednesdays, February 8 thru March 14, 2012 – with Renee Grittner

For graduates of Pet Manners 1 or Puppy Pre-School. Continue honing your dog’s manners and obedience skills using familiar positive methods. As with Pet Manners 1 and puppy class, lots of fun games will be used to keep the atmosphere light-hearted and fun. We will begin to build duration and introduce distractions into previously learned exercises. Please bring a hungry dog, lots of small tasty treats, a 4 to 6 foot leather or nylon leash (no flexi or chain leashes please!) an open mind and a positive attitude!  A clicker and tug toy is optional. Cost is $90.


7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, February 8 thru March 14, 2012 – with Renee Grittner

For graduates of Pet Manners 2 or Intermediate Obedience, or upon approval of instructor.  Teach your dog the fun and exciting sport of Rally-Obedience! Rally is a fun, competitive sport in which dog and handler navigate a preset course using common obedience skills. Many maneuvers will hone your dogs heeling in a fun, ever changing way. Dogs should have a good understanding of sit, down and heel. Please bring a hungry dog, lots of small tasty treats, a 4 to 6 foot leather or nylon leash (no flexi or chain leashes please!) an open mind and a positive attitude!  Cost is $90.

Pet Manners 1

 2:30-3:30 p.m. Saturdays, February 11 thru March 17, 2012 – with Renee Grittner

This class is for dogs 4 months or older who have not previously had an obedience class, or dogs that need a refresher. Pet Manners 1 uses dog friendly positive reinforcement methods to help you build a positive relationship with your pooch. Topics of interest are loose leash walking, sit, down, heel, recalls, and the beginning of stay. This class uses lots of fun interactive games to teach dogs and humans how to work together. Basic learning theory will be taught throughout this class. Please bring a hungry dog, lots of small tasty treats, a 4 to 6 foot leather or nylon leash (no flexi or chain leashes please) an open mind and a positive attitude! Optional is a clicker and a tug toy.  Cost is $90.


Trick of the Month with Renee

Equipment needed:

  • A verbal marker such as the word “yes!”
  • Small tasty treats.
  • A vertical surface with which to help limit your dog’s option.           
  • Good traction, such as an area rug or yoga mat.

Set up:

To make the correct choice easier for your dog you will want to set up your training area so that you leave little choice but to jump over your arm. The best way to accomplish this is to sit very close to a wall (a hallway would be great!), back of a couch or upended table.  You will train one arm per session and not attempt to combine arms until the dog understands how to jump each arm independently. Additional information:A video will be posted shortly with demonstration of all steps at www.youtube.com/upbeattreat


  • Sit on the floor with the arm nearest your vertical surface extended out and your palm flat on the surface.  Turn your head to look at the arm you want your dog to go over. Once we add the second arm, the change of your head position will be the cue to go to the next arm.
  • Start very low, even on the ground.  Use a verbal marker for any interest in moving towards your arm and then progress to requiring a full 4 paws over your arm. Be sure not to move too far too fast. At first it will be easier for you if your dog is jumping from your back to your front.  Ideally you allow your dog to choose to walk across your arm without the use of a lure, however, if your dog is having a hard time understanding, it is ok to use a lure once or twice to give them the general idea of what is wanted.
  • You will have two reward locations; one directly in front of you on the floor, the other directly behind you on the floor. The reason for rewarding low is to encourage the dog to jump while looking at the ground. This encourages proper jumping and is safer for your dog. 
  • When your dog jumps from your front to your back, reach your arm behind you to reward.
  • Since jumping is strenuous and something most dogs do not do on a regular basis progress slowly with adding height.  Keep your sessions short! Resist the urge to train your dog for 10 or 15 minutes. Five repetitions at a time is plenty. Take a break and play tug or something interactive before returning to work on jumping over your arm. This allows both of you a little mental break, and makes training more fun for both of you. 
  • When your dog understands how to go back and forth you can move to a random reward schedule. A random reward schedule is where your dog will have to give a random number of performances before earning a reward. For example, if my dog was used to being rewarded for every performance I would first require two before a reward, then I would go back to every performance for a short time, then back to two.  Perhaps my next session I would require 3 before a reward and then 1 and then 2 and then 1 and then 3 so on and so forth. The dog should not be able to predict when they will receive that reward, only that if they keep trying it will come.  Don’t always make things harder for your dog. You would not want to reward for 1 then 2 then 3 then 4. That is discouraging. Sometimes you will need to throw in a surprise reward by making things easier. This is often referred to as ping-ponging.
  • Once your random reward schedule is in place, you can begin to create distance between yourself and your vertical surface. Keep your palm positioned as if it were pressed against the wall.
  • Since you have now changed the criteria (moving away from the wall) you should for a short time go back to rewarding every performance.
  • Once you have a good distance from the wall, you can add in the second arm.  Once your dog completes a jump of an arm, lower that arm to the ground, extend the other arm and turn your head. Your dog should follow your cues to the second arm.

Happy training!

Renee @ Upbeat Treat Dog Training (http://www.upbeattreat.com)


Dan’s Dog Den

Are You a Leader for Your Dog?

When I became a supervisor in my previous career, I attended a training academy, various seminars, studied books and otherwise worked to develop the skills necessary for the job.  In pursuit of those skills I encountered the recurring theme of leadership.  It seemed that every author or instructor promoted the development of leadership skills among supervisors and managers.  I must say that I met many peers who professed to be leaders, yet they only fulfilled the role of management by means of intimidation, coercion and forced compliance.  I once asked one of them “If you are busy “leading” your people and you stop to look behind you only to realize that nobody is following, are you still a leader?

Now that I am studying and practicing the skills necessary for teaching dog training, its seems to me that good pet owners make good pet trainers and are good stewards, teachers and leaders.  So what exactly is leadership?  Turning to my (old) Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary I read the following definition: lead-er-ship n. 1: the office or position of a leader 2: the quality of a leader: capacity to lead.

Uh, gee thanks for that eloquent elucidation Mr. Webster.

Perhaps I can take a stab at it and draw upon my training and experience by describing some qualities and behaviors of leadership that apply equally well to supervising humans and dogs.  A leader must be a clear and effective communicator.  Most conflicts and confusion stem from poor communication, rather than intentional stubbornness or refusal to work.  If you want your dog to give you a specific behavior, such as sitting at the door when you welcome a visitor, have you clearly communicated that to your dog?  Really?

When I observe well-meaning dog owners having trouble getting the behavior they desire from their dogs, it is usually due to unclear training cues such as using a variety of words or phrases, instead of a concise prompt like “Sit”.  Body language, tone of voice and the actual oral cue word or sound are equally important.  If your dog feels confused by your poor communication then it will tell you so in the only way it knows how, through canine body language.  Rather than assume the dog “knows” what you want and is just being “stubborn” or “defiant”, consider the likelihood that your message was not clear.  Excessive repetition of a cue is another miscommunication, as it teaches the dog to ignore the extraneous noise and can lead to accidentally rewarding a behavior that is not intended, or even associated with the repeated blather of commands.  If my dog was next to me and I spoke the words of this paragraph out loud, how would he know whether anything I said was directed at him?  Since he does not speak English he would naturally tune out most of my words, if not all of them.Consider how this would sound if you were a dog in the presence of your owner?  “Sit?  C’mon, SIT boy.  SIT!  SIT!  SIT DOWN!  If you finally did put your doggie butt on the floor after such an angry exhortation, it may be to signal appeasement intended to calm your owner down, rather than any response to a training cue or comprehension of what all the words meant.  I observed a very similar scenario in a training class one night, and as soon as the trainer turned away from the dog, it popped back up to a standing position.  It appeared very likely that the dog was merely using calming signals to stop the tirade.

Another example of good leadership is the setting of reasonable and attainable goals, and providing the means or resources necessary for the dog to reach those goals.  If you want your dog to walk nicely beside you in public places but find your dog pulling on the leash in all directions, sniffing here, rushing there, barking and lunging excitedly at every squirrel, passing car or falling leaf…perhaps you are expecting too much of your dog.  Have you laid the groundwork for such a challenging set of circumstances?  The first thing one must do is work to develop a good relationship with a dog, and reward the dog for paying closer attention to us than the other things in the environment.  In other words, a dog must find greater value in us than in the things around us.The walk through the neighborhood requires a close working relationship between the person and dog, teaching good leash manners, learning how to interrupt undesirable behavior and redirect the dog to desirable behavior, and then rewarding the new behavior.  Have you taught your dog the “Leave it” skill?  Have you practiced each of the aforementioned skills in a quiet environment first, and then gradually adding duration, distance and distraction in order to “proof” your dog?  Each individual behavior or skill needs to be broken down into small steps, each taught and rewarded, until the entire behavior is understood by the dog.  Then the set of individual skills can be strung together in the public setting.  To use an analogy, if you just toss your pup into the deep end of the pool without first teaching him how to swim, how can you expect a good outcome?

Leaders are also consistent in applying rules and in providing rewards.  If you permit your cute little puppy tojump up on you for six months and then punish it when it has grown into adolescence, how is the dog to know what is expected of it?  What will be the likely dog behavior if one family member permits jumping up and another member punishes it?  What about feeding scraps from the table, or letting your pooch on the furniture?  Do the household rules remain consistent so your dog knows what is expected, or do they change depending upon circumstances that are beyond the dog’s control or prediction?  Who’s in charge, anyway?

Being a good leader for your dog means using clear communication to explain what you expect, providing sound training in the skills and behaviors that you want your dog to exhibit, and consistently incorporating them into daily life.  This gives your dog the stability and predictability that animals value, so they look to you for direction and access to valued resources.  When dogs fail to behave as we want them to, 90% of the failure is due to poor communication or training by us.  Blaming a confused or poorly trained dog for being “stubborn” or trying to “dominate” the dog-human relationship prevents a dog owner from improving the situation, because the root of the problem is not addressed or even acknowledged.  Dogs are keen observers and are quick to engage in whatever behaviors work for them in their quest for reinforcement.  Rather than see that as confrontational, listen to what your dog is telling you and consider what motivates your dog. 

The key to achieving the daily good manners most dog owners seek is to be clear, consistent, and to reward the behaviors you favor.  If you don’t take a leadership role with your dog and just leave it up to your poor pooch to figure out how to behave in a world subject to human rules, then don’t blame the dog for unsatisfactory results.  Dogs do not understand our language, and they do not learn in the same manner that humans do.  When they make mistakes, don’t blame the dog for being “dumb” or “challenging” you.  Instead, listen to what they are telling you by their confusion and find a better way to communicate what you want them to do.  Keep your training cues clear and brief and say them as if you mean it, with consequence.  To quote Becky Schultz, who submitted this advice on page 214 of “Top Tips from Top Trainers”, “Never let your dog practice it wrong - - because he’ll get very good at it!”

In my career I supervised numerous people, one of whom was regarded by other managers as a trouble-maker, a complainer, a difficult employee and so on.  They chose to blame the employee, rather than listen and understand that the employee was confused by unrealistic expectations, lack of training and resources, and inconsistency among managers.  Punishing that employee for his “stubbornness” only made him fight back, much like the opposition reflex in dogs.  I enjoyed working with that employee until the day I retired and sought his input at all times, making him a partner instead of an adversary.  More than anyone I ever worked with, he always gave me the most honest feedback…just like my dogs do today.  By listening to him I was able to see what was wrong within the organization and change the things I could, so we both achieved our goals and worked together as a team.  He was, in fact, the best partner I ever had and one of the greatest assets in the organization.  Just last year he was publicly honored by some of his previous detractors, for outstanding performance in an emergency.  It did not surprise me in the least.

These days I consider my dogs as my teammates and partners.  Whenever I encounter a challenge or a “problem” I look to them for insight and consider what they are telling me by their confusion or lack of performance.   Whenever we are with our dogs, we are teaching them.  Whatever they learn from us are those things that we reinforce.  If you want consistently good behavior and a polite pooch, be a good leader.  You will both be happier in the long run.(Canine sports such as Agility and Rally are great ways to improve your communication and partnership with your dog, and they are great fun too!)

Dan Antolec 



Past Newsletters

December 2011 * November 2011 * October 2011 * September 2011 * August 2011 * July 2011 * June 2011 * May 2011 * April 2011 * March 2011 * February 2011

January 2011 * December 2010

Hound Huddle · 1145 Park St · Oregon, WI · 608.835.6622 · 608.835.2662 f

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