Training

Levels Obedience

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Our Levels Obedience training program is structured unlike any other in the Flathead Valley! Scroll to the next section down to learn more about our positive reinforcement methods and curriculum.

Nosework

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Built on the same skills as drug detection, search and rescue, and bomb detection work, this super fun set of classes will blow your dog's mind! If your dog has a nose, he can succeed at this game. Learn more by scrolling down two sections.

Therapy Work

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If you are interested in preparing your dog to visit nursing homes, hospitals, schools, etc, we can help get you going the right direction. Please scroll to the bottom of the page for details!

Levels Obedience

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About Clicker Training

"Clicker Training is an animal training method based on behavioral psychology that relies on marking desirable behavior and rewarding it. Desirable behavior is usually marked by using a "clicker", a mechanical device that makes a short, distinct "click" sound which tells the animal exactly when they're doing the right thing. This clear form of communication, combined with positive reinforcement, is an effective, safe, and humane way to teach any animal any behavior that it is physically and mentally capable of doing."

Thanks to www.clickertraining.com for that great definition! Want more details? Click on over to the site!

Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Credentials

Will is one of just three Karen Pryor Certified Training Partners (KPA-CTP) in Montana. What's that mean, you ask? It means he has undergone extensive training with the premiere clicker training academy in the world. Yes, the WORLD.

The comprehensive program from which he graduated (with High Honors, BTW), offers an in-depth curriculum that teaches both the science and the practice of dog training in particular and animal training in general, client teaching, and canine behavior problem-solving. This program is based on the most up-to-date behavior science and modern training and teaching practices. 

What that means for you is that you will have an instructor who understands the science behind the method and can teach you that knowledge so that you can successfully communicate with your dog. If he runs into a snag, he has a rich library of resources to which he can turn to help figure out how to help you. 

Will is also very active in earning Continuing Education Credits. He is currently working through a (surprise, surprise!) Nosework course. He also attends the yearly Clicker Expo for up-to-date information, seminars, and products.

Training dogs is Will's full-time career.  He dedicates countless hours to honing his skills and expanding his knowledge. Talk to him for just five minutes, and you'll hear the passion.

Why choose a KPA-CTP?

Curriculum

Our Levels Training Program has four basic levels:


Level 1 is much more about handler skills and learning the science of positive reinforcement training than it is about what your pup can do. All dogs and all handlers, of any age, skill set, or experience, must start in Level 1.


After working through Level 2, you will have a well-behaved pet dog.


Level 3 completion will have you and your dog ready to participate in any dog activity you choose, such as Conformation, Rally, Obedience, Agility, Treibball, Search & Rescue, and pretty much any other fun sport/activity you can think of!


When you and your pup pass through Level 4, you will both be ready to take the AKC Canine Good Citizen test. IF your dog has the appropriate temperament, at this point you will both also have the skills to become a registered therapy team. If this interests you, please ask us for more details.

If you are in need of and interested in training your own service dog, he or she will be ready to begin the service curriculum after completing Level 4. 

Schedule

Levels classes are held up to six times per week both during the day and in the evening. Once you are enrolled, you will be emailed a monthly schedule so you can plan accordingly. If there is an unscheduled change, you will be notified by email.

Program Structure

We are unique here at CMK in that our training program is structured like a gym membership: you pay for two, four, or six months of membership and then attend as many classes as often as you choose during that time period. Got held up late a work on Tuesday? No problem, join a class on Wednesday and keep your momentum going! You never know who will show up for class - an old friend or a few new ones, which is fantastic for building doggie social skills with different breeds and personalities.

Fees will be run on an authorized credit card the first of each month of your membership. 


FAQs

How long will it take to get to Level _?

That all depends on you - how often you attend class, how much time you put into training between classes, your ability to communicate with your dog, etc. Just like getting fit at a gym - it's all on you and your commitment to the change.


Is my dog too old to learn?

The cool thing is, no dog is actually too old to learn new tricks. In fact, sometimes older dogs need to learn new things in order to be dealt with safely regarding health issues.


Is my dog too young to learn?

No! Your puppy has been soaking up information like a sponge since the moment of birth. The younger you start, the better, especially with large breed puppies. It's much easier to teach a 30 lb 4 month old Saint Bernard to walk on a loose leash than it is to teach a 140 lb, one year old Saint Bernard to not drag you across the parking lot.


Will I be stuck carrying around a clicker and treats forever?

Nope! You will teach your dog using an audible marker and a reward, then wean him off as the new skill becomes a learned behavior.


I have a couple of very specific behaviors I want to address. Can I do just those things?

Our method of training is all about communication. Once you learn the basics of positive reinforcement communication, you can apply what you know to specific behaviors you either want to change or learn. We can help you with those steps.


Do you board and train?

No. We teach you to teach your dog desirable behaviors rather than teaching him ourselves. We have found that dogs are much more successful that way.


Do you have more questions about our training program? Give us a call or shoot us an email!


Contact Us
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Nosework

What Is Nosework?

Nosework (also called K9 Nose Work, Fun Nose Work, Scent Work, Search Work, and Detection) is a sport for pet dogs and their people. The activity is an offshoot of the training that professional scent detection dogs receive (think: bomb detection, drug detection, search & rescue dogs). Elements of the training are used in Nosework, but for recreational purposes only.

Nosework encourages your dog to use its natural hunting drive and unique talent for picking up scents and locating the source. Nosework training teaches your dog to search for, find, and indicate on known odors, wherever you decide to hide them.

Target odors introduced in training are the following:

Birch (“Sweet Birch” aka Betula Lenta)

Anise (“Aniseed” aka Pimpinella Anisum variety – NOT Star Anise, Illicium Verum)

Clove (“Clove Bud” aka Eugenia Caryophylatta or Syzgium Aromaticum)

Some titling organizations use different or additional odors. We can add additional odors at a later date if you would like to compete in one of those organizations.


Nosework is NOT an obedience-based activity. Instead, it works with your dog's natural instinct to hunt and track scents. There are few commands given during the activity, and no attention to the owner is required while the dog is working. Your dog has the keys to the car and is in the driver’s seat. You are just along for the ride.


Nosework is NOT a socializing activity for your dog. It is a time to learn and a time to work. Many dogs who participate in Nosework are aggressive, reactive, nervous or shy. 

The Classes

We offer Nosework classes in two progressive levels. Due to space and setup time, each level meets once a week for six weeks.


Shed Hunting class is also available for those who love an excuse to tromp through the woods with a best friend!

 

Please contact us for pricing and scheduling. 

Contact us

Therapy Work

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First, Definitions

Before we begin talking about therapy dogs, let's make sure we are on the same page of basic definitions. 


SERVICE DOG

Performs particular tasks for a person who cannot perform those tasks on his or her own

Full rights of public access

Focuses on one person only - the handler

Highly trained in obedience, i.e. will never urinate indoors, bark at distractions (other than trained warning signals), or seek attention from others

Full-time working dog, not a pet


THERAPY DOG

Ministers to multiple people at facilities such as nursing homes, rehab centers, schools, etc

High standard of obedience and behavior

Must be invited into facility by facility director/administration

NO rights of public access

Pet with a part-time job


EMOTIONAL SUPPORT DOG: 

Focuses on one person only

NO rights to public access other than housing and transportation

May or may not have any obedience training

Pet prescribed by mental health professional

definition details from the ada

Next, What Makes a Good Therapy Dog?

According to Intermountain Therapy Animals (link provided below), dogs suitable for therapy work display the following characteristics, among others:

  • Demonstrate behavior that is reliable, controllable, predictable 
  • Actively solicit interactions with people 
  • Relax in moments of sustained eye contact
  • More people-oriented than animal-oriented
  • Enjoy being petted, touched and hugged
  • Generally calm

If your dog displays the characteristics in the following list, therapy work is probably not a good activity for him or her:

  •  Too energetic or rambunctious
  • In poor health, obese, or difficult to groom
  • Unpredictable behavior, i.e. sweet one moment, aggressive the next
  • Fearful or shy
  • Demonstrates excitable/nervous urination

Learn More from intermountain therapy animals

Last, Here's How to Get Going

If, after reading through both the ADA definitions and information on the ITA web site, you are still interested, give us a call. We can help you by evaluating you and your dog and working with you on training certain skills needed for testing. When it comes near certification time, we also offer Testing Prep classes, where we do dry runs to practice the actual test.


Also, follow our local therapy dog group's Facebook page, Flathead Area Therapy Dogs, for up to date information about meetings, facility needs, and more.

Flathead area therapy dogs

Training Testimonials

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We Love Lucy

My relationship with Will and Andrea Brunz started because I wanted to give my puppy Lucy some socialization a couple times a week. In the daycare program, I never feared that Lucy would be placed in a group of dogs that were “out of her league”, even as a 4 month old puppy. Will and Andrea are so skilled at determining the best level and type of interactions for the dogs placed in their care. I would pick Lucy up from daycare and she would be relaxed and tired from a day of playing. Because of our positive experience with daycare, Lucy and I started  Will’s “Levels” training program. Our progress has been a steady and fun journey that my dog and I enjoy together. We are learning how to communicate with each other and are planning on continuing through the Levels program with the goal of becoming a Licensed Therapy Dog team. To strengthen our communication skills and our ability to work as a team, as well as keeping Lucy’s brain engaged and sharp, Lucy and I have taken Will’s Nosework classes and enjoy solving the nosework puzzles. I never knew interacting with my dog could be so rewarding.

Everything we have experienced through Columbia Mountain Kennels supports a happy, healthy, ever-growing relationship between dog and owner. I have complete trust in the care and service Will and Andrea provide and cannot recommend them highly enough.

Sincerely,

LeAnn Speakman and Lucy

Right On, Remmie

Nosework - is that a workout for your dog? It sure was for Remmie and is a great experience at that. I thought I would try a class for fun and we both got so much more than fun learning the skill of Nosework. Remmie's confidence bolstered and it actually had a calming effect on her overall being. She is not really obedience "trained", but this experience helped her focus on given tasks and what was asked of her. Nosework is an exciting activity for us to share in and so easy to learn! Will's training is positive, hands on, broken down into small, doable steps and super easy to follow. Even if you aren't interested in competition, Nosework will enhance your relationship with your pack mate. Love it, love it!

Renee Sinclair and Remmie