Dog Training While in Quarantine

We are in a very unique situation. Because of the Coronavirus, millions of Americans are staying at home in isolation and quarantine. We’re not supposed to be out and about–nonessential activities are canceled. This also means that classes at Frontier K9 have been canceled.

But that shouldn’t mean that your dog’s progress in his training should be put on hold. In fact, now you should have more time to focus on building your relationship with your canine best friend, so it’s the perfect time to improve on that.

I’d like to share some ideas to help you with continuing your training while at home:

– Practice some K9 fitness by following our instructions on using the balance disc
Work on your dog’s sits and downs in two positions: heel (right at your side, almost touching) and directly in front. Note: Make sure they are sitting “pretty” which means nice and square and not rocked on one hip.
Practice your dog’s stays: See if you can increase the distance that you can step away from your dog while he’s in a stay (either sit or down). Remember to take steps slowly backwards. Then, increase the difficulty by walking a circle around your dog or going around the corner of the room so he doesn’t see you. Remember to praise him for his stays and don’t linger on this skill for very long.
Get some fresh air and take your dog for a walk (as long as you practice social distancing). Keep your dog close to you, and work on him walking in a relaxed manner.
– Teach him basic tricks: Asking for his paw for a handshake, or a nose touch to your hand. Remember to praise and treat as soon as he does what you ask!

And always remember to reach out to Erin for more ideas or if you have a question. We can do FaceTime conference calls just to catch up and see how you and your dog is progressing while we’re on this break.


Socializing – Why is it so important?

Have you ever watched or noticed how dogs act when they are out for a walk with their owners? Or how they behave when taken to a doggy daycare or at the farmers market? Are they walking along with their heads up, tails wagging at people? Do they have their head hung down, tail tucked between their legs and looked scared to death? Today I hope to tell you how you can help your pup be the first one and not the second.

Today’s society has made it easier for us to enjoy time with our dogs. Breweries, wineries, restaurants and farmer’s markets all make it much easier for our best friend to enjoy some of the things we do. But there are certain things you need to make sure that happen for your pet before you them into a situation that could be overwhelming for them. It is our responsibility as dog owners to make sure our dogs are properly trained and socialized before taking them out into society. Unfortunately, approximately 1 in 4 to 5 dogs have behavior issues due to poor socialization. This is why we must start them out as puppies, or as soon as your adopted dog has relaxed and settled in. The first 3 months of a puppy’s life is the most important time for socialization.

When you bring your puppy home, the breeder should have already started the most important steps of socialization. They should have been handled from birth and learned to accept touching of all their parts including their tails, legs, ears and feet. If you notice your puppy still has some issues with that, start doing it right away. You can do it while watching tv or while reading a book. There is one time that it is important to make an effort everyday to touch them and mess with them. A lot of dogs have food aggression, it’s also one of the main behavioral issues rescued/adopted dogs have. When you mess with your puppy while they are eating this will help food aggression later on down the road.

A puppy needs to be exposed to as many places, people, animals and situations as possible. Now, this should not be started until your puppy has had its puppy vaccinations. Speak to your veterinarian as to when they feel it is appropriate for you to take your puppy out and about, especially pet stores. There are diseases that a puppy needs vaccinations from to protect to them, mainly Parvo. When you do take them out and about, you are going to need to reassure him or her. The world is a scary place for pups and older dogs, that haven’t been exposed to crowds and lots of loud noises. Make sure that your time out and about with the puppy includes car rides as well. That can be one of the most feared things your puppy will be exposed to.

Let your puppy with a number of different games and toys. Different types of surfaces is another thing to make sure you expose him to. Some dogs don’t want to walk on certain types of surfaces because they are unsure or it feels weird to them. I had a client bring their 1 year old Great Dane to me not only for obedience training but also because he wouldn’t walk on grass. For whatever reason, he just avoided grass while on walks as much as possible. But with training, patience, time and reassurance he now has no issues walking on the grass. Be sure to also let your puppy explore and investigate their environment. Let them learn their new home and feel safe and comfortable.

There is nothing better than being able to take your dog with whenever and wherever you go. Hopefully these tools will help make your puppy or older dog, feel more confident in themselves and you. Cheers to a more fun spring and summer (and the rest of their lives) with your dog!!!

Retractable vs Standard Leashes

This is a question I hear so often. Not just from clients but from friends and family. So I thought I’d share my answer and reasons behind it here for all of you as well.

There are many reasons why I tell all of my clients to get a regular lead. What do I mean by that? Simple, a leash that is not a retractable one, doesn’t have part of it is a bungee. Just a regular 6 foot lead made out of leather, nylon or another type of material and has a snap on one end. The main reason I don’t recommend a retractable leash is..SAFETY.

A retractable leash has a few flaws that can cause safety issues and some can be life altering for you, your dog or someone else and their dog. Retractable leashes are just that, retractable. That is until that part of the leash doesn’t work anymore. When that happens you lose all, or what little you had, control of your dog. Your dog is now anywhere from 8′ – 10′ away from you on a little, thin cord. Do you have good enough obedience with your dog to be able to call them back to you? What if another dog comes walking by or scarier yet, charges your dog? If your dog goes to run away from you or a situation they are going to break that cord especially if they are a medium or large breed dog. Then the situation spins completely out of control. Another mechanism on the retractable leash that can fail is the lock button. This is how you’re supposed to be able to lock how far your dog is allowed away from you. Again, if this breaks you’re looking at again no control of your dog.

But besides the safety of your dog which is very important, we have your safety to be concerned with. I have seen numerous injuries on owners and handlers from these leashes. One of the biggest things is the leash getting wrapped around your legs and causing you to fall. But one of the injuries I’ve seen most is burns. People have gotten nylon burns on their ankles from the leash being wrapped around their legs and the dog pulling on the leash and running it across their ankles/legs. Believe me, no kind of nylon burn feels good.

So why do I always recommend a “normal” leash? Simple…control and safety. When you have a normal 6′ – 8′ leash, whether it’s made of leather or other materials, you have more control of your dog which also equals safety.

A normal leash doesn’t have any give in it, meaning no bungee type material in it, which now you have control of not only your dog but also something to help guide your dog. You’re able to reinforce obedience commands, direction and pace/speed. If you’re on a walk and another dog is approaching you from the opposite way with their owner you’re going to be able to keep your dog closer to you so that there is a less chance of dog vs dog aggression. There is less chance of the leash being wrapped around you causing you injury. Now this isn’t to say that if you have a nylon leash and don’t hold your leash properly that you won’t get it a nylon burn. But this topic will be covered in a later blog. But the chance of anyone or any dog getting harmed on walks or runs are much less on a leash that gives you more control than on one that you have very little to no control.

In closing, the decision is always up to the owner or handler. Unless you’re going to a class or activity that requires you to have a non-retractable leash. But I hope that this gives you something to think about when choosing a leash for your best friend. Like I said in the beginning, it’s all about safety and control.

Training Tip: Using the Balance Disc at Home

Winter is a hard season for dogs: too cold to spend time outside, sometimes walks aren’t an option with the freezing temperatures or salt on the walks and it’s just dark and dreary outside. So, what can you do to burn off some energy and get your dog thinking in a constructive manner?

I prefer to do some canine fitness exercises to help build muscle and also increase my dogs’ body awareness. Note: If you are not familiar with using products such as the ones below, please work with me or do your homework prior to introducing these tools to your dog.

The most basic canine fitness tool you can use, and the most easily available, is the balance disc.

If you’ve worked with me one-on-one, you know I like to use a balance disc in a lot of different ways. One way is to use as a marker for them to go to. Another is to introduce uneven footing to start on their body awareness. You can purchase any type of balance disc online, it doesn’t have to be a brand name. The purple one we use was purchased off of Amazon, and humans can use it as well!

When introducing the balance disc to your dog, let them make the first move. As soon as they place a paw on the balance disc, immediately reward so they understand that was a right move. Slowly, they’ll start to put both front feet on the balance disc–reward!

With the front paws on the balance disc, you can ask your dog to sit–but they must keep their front paws stable on the disc. This can be a hard maneuver to learn, so give your dog time. And don’t forget to reward, reward, reward!

Next, move to the hind paws on the balance disc. Let them start with placing one back paw on the disc–reward! If you can get both hind feet on the disc, reward! Then you can work on your dog sitting on the disc, while keeping his hind feet flat on the top.

There are lots of other exercises you can do with the balance disc, once you’ve mastered these key steps. Schedule a lesson with Erin or Megan to learn more!

FitBone and Ramp
These two products are available from FitPaws.

You can move up to other FitPaws equipment, such as the wedge or the FitBone. Again, before moving forward to these, make sure you’re educated in how to use them properly to build your dog’s fitness.

We’ll cover more in later training tips and in class!

FK9’s Referral Program

BIG NEWS! We’re ready to grow and we want you to help us! So, we are starting the Frontier K9 Referral Program!

How does it work? Easy!

Share your experience with Frontier K9 Training with your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers. Share our business card or contact information and make sure they say that they heard about Frontier K9 Training from you.

If your referral signs up to be a new client, you will receive a free lesson!

If you have any questions, reach out to Erin for more details.

Gift Idea: The Gift of Training

Christmas is the biggest gift giving holiday of the year, and it always seems to be one of the hardest times to show how much you care about a person.

One of the best types of presents you can give, or receive, is one of experiences or lessons. Which is why I am always looking for ways to help encourage relationships between human beings and humans and their dogs. Giving the gift of basic obedience lessons or the opportunity to try new things like scentwork or agility is a great way to gift your favorite dog lover in the family.

This year, Frontier K9 is offering the ability to purchase gift certificates! I’m really excited about this opportunity, because it is a gift to show that you care, but you want to make sure the right choice is made for the dog and owner. Our gift certificates can be purchased in quantities of $20 – $150, and the receiver of the certificate can use it towards any lesson option Frontier K9 Training offers!

If you’re interested in learning more about the gift certificate program, feel free to reach out to me. They’re simple and fast, ready for you to give almost instantly.

Merry Christmas!

Frontier K9 Treat Bags

One of the best ways to make sure you’re able to treat your dog quickly while doing your training sessions, it’s important to have a treat bag at hand, full of your pup’s favorite treats! Treat bags are excellent for training. You can easily put your treats in them and attach it to your pants so you don’t have to carry a handful of rewards and possibly cause confusion in your training sessions.

Frontier K9 Training Treat Bags

That’s why we’re excited to offer these treat bags, complete with our Frontier K9 Training logo. The bags are very durable, waterproof, and feature a hard plastic clip for your belt or pocket!

If you don’t use food as a reward, you can also put a ball in it you want.

We are offering these for $5.00 each and can be sent anywhere. If you’d like to get one just send us a message and we will get it to you!

Westfield Barktoberfest

If you’re in Central Indiana in late October, I invite you to attend Westfield’s Barktoberfest! It’s a free event where you can bring your furry friends, dress them up in your unique Halloween costume and have some fun.

Frontier K9 will also have a booth there! I have lived in Westfield all my life, and it is the first time I will have a booth at an event, so I’m excited to have it at this event. I’m looking forward to meeting new people and their pups and sharing my excitement for happy relationships.

We’ll also be offering a giveaway in conjunction with All Wooled Up! All Wooled Up is a local artisan who uses all natural wool and fibers to create needle felted portraits of your best friend. You can check out her stuff on her website and Facebook. (Disclaimer: She’s also my mom! 🙂 )

So, please join us!!

When: October 26, 11 am – 3 pm
Where: Asa Bales Park (211 N Union St., Westfield, IN 46074)
Proceeds: All proceeds from this event will be donatd to the Humane Society for Hamilton County
More info:

Meet Erin

Hi everyone and welcome to Frontier K9! Thank you for taking the time to find my website. I thought I’d introduce myself and give a little background for anyone who doesn’t know me.

My name is Erin Dean and I’m definitely a dog lover. I am a fifth generation dog handler, with a long line of professional breeders, handlers, trainers and judges in my family background. For the first few years of my life, I grew up at dog shows, training schools and yes in a kennel. My parents owned Frontier Kennels which is the reason I chose the name of Frontier K9, and my grandparents owned Sun Dance Kennels. I grew up mostly around Golden Retrievers, German Shepherds, Silky Terriers and English Cockers. But working in my grandma’s kennel and as a vet assistant, I have been exposed to a multitude of breeds. I’ve owned Golden’s, German Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, a Bloodhound, Spinone Italiano, and most recently Belgian Malinois. I was a police K-9 handler for 12 years and started out in Search and Recovery before that. I trained both of my partners myself with the help of some great trainers and handlers.

I firmly believe that obedience is the foundation of everything you do with your best friend. It doesn’t matter if it’s just going for runs, doing Schutzhund, scent work, agility or dock diving. You have to have a good foundation of trust and obedience to make your team be a team. I believe in positive reinforcement and that learning for the dog and the handler/owner should be fun and a game. My goal is to make you and your dog a team and show you just how great your best friend can be.

Please feel free to contact me either here, text, phone call, email or messenger. I look forward to helping you and your best friend be better together!