Conscious Dog Parenting
What is Canine High School’s Mission?
Canine High School’s goal is to provide accurate and up-to-date information about dog training and to educate our community on the humane treatment of animals while using force-free dog training techniques and scientific evidence-based methods. In today’s world we are bombarded with advice and contradictory information about how to train our dogs online, on TV, everywhere. It can be overwhelming, so our mission is to make the jargon and science of dog training easily accessible and easy to understand, and to teach you the most effective, educated, and ethical options available. We want everyone in our community to be able to practice and maintain what we teach easily.
Our team specializes in practical real-world solutions for all levels of training, from puppy training and enrichment, to socialization and aggression. Our programs are designed to be fun and engaging for both dogs and their owners. We designed them in a step-by-step format that takes a puppy from Elementary School all the way to High School, and includes options for all types of dogs like Athletics and Vocational education. Each school program is paired with AKC Certification and Title exam preparation within each school curriculum, including the popular AKC CGC Certification.
We want you to walk away with a tangible and attainable achievement that will open doors for you and your dog in the future. Everything that you will learn in our programs with your puppy, will bond you further and will set your puppy up for success as an adult. We know your mission is to have that well-adjusted, polite, confident dog that you can bring to dinner on 2nd Street, shopping at the mall, for a beach day or a walk through Downtown. Our mission is to help you achieve your goals for your dog!
Carlos F Morales - CPDT-KA
Carlos is head trainer at Canine High School in Long Beach CA, a force-free Puppy School and Dog School. He is responsible for creating the School's Dog Training System, Curriculum and Philosophy. In addition to educating his canine students and their human parents, he runs a teaching school that offers apprenticeship and internship programs for aspiring professional dog trainers. He is a Certified Mentor Trainer for several dog training schools and holds certifications with the AKC and the CCPDT. He lives in a little house by the beach with his human, his three dogs GoGo, Kiba, Choji and a sassy cat, Habibti.
"Educate our community on the humane treatment of animals while using force-free dog training techniques"
What is Conscious Dog Parenting?
Conscious parenting understands that both dog parents and dogs are living beings with feelings and emotions.
As dog parents we have baggage, we bring with us our own childhood and how we were raised to think about and treat dogs. We bring to our dogs the beliefs we’ve been taught and the beliefs we wish to practice. We have good days, we have bad days. We are flawed. Our dogs are flawed too. They have good days and bad days. They pick up on energy in a room and they know when someone is upset with them. They react to things, sometimes badly and as dog parents we can help them learn and navigate a better response.
The conscious dog parent concept embraces the opportunity for relationship and life tool building for dogs. Conscious dog parents focus on building relationships with their dogs, and they teach their dogs how to give consent, have agency over their own lives, and make choices for themselves. Conscious dog parents allow natural social processing for dogs except when it affects their dog’s health or well-being, when they step in by holding force-free limits to establish the dog’s own healthy boundaries.
Before any action, conscious dog parents pause to see if they are reacting from fear, or making a choice based on being present. And will prioritize the use of force-free training methods that are based on positive reinforcement and mutual respect.
Consent is mutual respect
Whether we look at this concept from a moral or ethological perspective, consenting to be touched, picked up, or most importantly, to having social interactions is key for a dog’s ability to process that experience and interaction. When we recognize a boundary for our dog and yield, we offer them the opportunity to make choices and feel safe. Dogs communicate their consent through their body language. It is important to learn how to read a dog's body language so that you can respect their boundaries
What happens when consent is not given?
When a dog does not consent to an interaction, behaviorally speaking, they are not able to regulate their emotions and be well-adjusted to that experience or interaction. This is when phobias, aversions, fears and reactions are developed. Repeated exposure to high-stress situations can reinforce phobias, aversions, fears, and reactions, and the dog may learn to expect these emotions
Agency is free will for dogs to make their own decisions
Agency allows a dog to do the necessary social processing to make decisions on the experience or interaction. When a dog thinks: ‘This dog is scary, do I find a safe place or bark to ward them off’? - and before the dog can make a decision, we interrupt their process with commands or soothing words and take away their ability to emotionally regulate themselves from the situation or experience.
Dogs may need more time than we do to process their emotions. Creating a safe space for them to self-regulate emotionally helps them to become more confident and adaptable. Allowing dogs to make their own decisions is important for their emotional well-being. It helps them to feel confident and in control of their own lives
Choice is essential for Dignity and Learning
Choice is essential for learning obedience and strengthening the bond between human and dog. Training can be about giving a dog the opportunity to choose to do what is asked, rather than forcing or intimidating them. When a dog makes a choice on their own that has a positive outcome, they are more likely to repeat that choice in the future. When a dog repeatedly chooses to do what is asked, they remember this choice and feel good about themselves. This facilitates learning.
Verbal queue: Safe Space
Hand signal: Point Backwards
Frequency: 5 minutes a day for a month, then decrease to occasional refreshers
Dog walks back behind you, sits, lays down and allows you to turn your back to face the front. This will allow your dog to create distance from any stimulus that triggers a fight or flight response. They will be able to feel safe and have some agency over the situation, and choose their comfort level. They will watch from behind you and process the experience without being forced into an interaction that they cannot handle. The action of disengaging and reengaging multiple times allows the dog to complete social processing and make a choice about their association to that stimulus.
1. Toss a treat behind you and point backwards so your pup walks back behind you. Repeat several times until your pup is looking up at you and expecting you to throw the treat back to find it
2. Add verbal cue ‘Safe Place’ and hand signal and begin to use hand cue before throwing the treat back
3. When our pup is walking back when you give verbal queue and hand signal, before you throw the treat, say ‘yes’ as soon as they turn around to return to you, shape a silent sit
4. Once the sit is solid, at least 2 feet behind you, start to shape a silent lay-down and reward
5. Turn your body to face the front, giving your back to your dog, If your dog stays, say ‘yes’ and reward, continue to say ‘yes’ and reward multiple times after you turn your back to your pup if they stay in place to increase duration
6. Repeat this process, slowly, enough times that your dog will learn the routine and gradually stop reinforcing each part until you only have to reinforce the target behavior: Safe Place