Monday, 14 February 2011

interview with a dog trainer: Claudia Fugazza

This month the interview with a dog trainer is a bit different...Is goes like this ...As a child she grew up and lived along with the dogs in a family who taught her the respect and love for animals. She have the passion for wolves and she's studying their behavior.
She is competitive in rally-oberdience and agility, even at a good level and have passion for dogs that has led her to ever deepen knowledge on their behavior and training techniques.Claudia Fugazza use a training technique based on social learning: it's called "DO AS I DO" and it is based on the fine social skills of dogs with humans.
Have a good reading :)

A bit of questions before the interview "warm up questions"
Is better to work with the dogs or with the owners ?
I like working with both: making their relationship special is the best
What was your first car ?
An old Wolksvagen Golf, always full of my dog's hairs
Your favorite day of the week ?

I think it's better that we pass to the real interview
Could you tell our readers a little about yourself 
I have always loved dogs and I was born in a dog-lover family.
As I grew up, I discovered I had a very deep interest in the study of dogs' and wolves' behaviour.
That's why I changed my life: before being a dog trainer I was a lawyer.

How did you get started in dog training?
I started with my first cecoslovakian wolfdog, many years ago, reading books about dogs and going to some courses.
Then I wanted to try agility, and with my second cecoslovakian wolfdog I went to some good agility courses.
To become a dog trainer I studied dog training at Pisa University: I have a bachelor degree and two master degrees, all on dogs.
Now I work in my dog school: Happy Dog School in Como (Italy)
Can you explain us why you have all this love for wolves?
It is something that began when I was a child: at my father's house in the mountains I met a wolf and... it was love at first sight!
Since then wolves are part of my life.

What training techniques do you use when training your dogs?
I often use a training technique based on social learning: it's called "DO AS I DO" and it is based on the fine social skills of dogs with humans.
I teach dogs to imitate their owner's actions, so the owner can teach to his dog new behaviours using this ability.
Tell us all about your program.
I've been for some times at the Ethology Department of Budapest University to make some research plans on social learning in dogs and I will develop this research in Italy.
My aim is to teach the DO AS I DO training technique all over Italy: I really think it's time to understand that dogs have some very smart cognitive abilities and using the traditional training techinques based only on association is not enough.

Explain in what way goes a day's work at the happy dog school.
At Happy Dog School we have classes every day.
We have both individual lessons and groups and in the evening we usually have agility classes.
Dogs and owners come to learn how to communicate with each other, to have fun together and to solve behavioural problems.

What courses can be found at the happy dog school?
We have agility classes, social learning (do as I do), rally-obedience and, during the summer, we also have swimming classes in our swimming pool.

Does the happydog school also organize seminars or competitions?
During the weekend we often organize competitions and seminar.
Every year, in summer we also organize a TRIATHLON competition: last year the sports were: swimming, agility and do as I do.
This is really fun for dogs and owners!

What are the three most common reasons dog owners come to you?
Most of them have behavioural problems to solve.
Some others are interested in social learning and some others, during summertime, come to teach to their dog to swim in the swimming-pool in my dog school

Could you explain a little more about puppy socialization and why it is so important?
The socialization period is a sort of "positive window" that the puppy has open on the world from about 3 weeks to 12/14 weeks that helps him to get used to everything: people, other dogs, city streets, cars, other animals etc.
During this period for the puppy it's very easy to learn what is his normal environment.
That's why it is very important for the owner to pay attention to the experiences the puppy has to do in his socialization period: puppy classes, nice walks in the street, play with other gentle dogs, meet different kind of people etc.

What new projects are you working on?
I'm working on a very big research plan on social learning in dogs.
I'm writing a book about social learning as a training technique!
...and I will need help from dogs and owners that are interested in it :-)

please visit :

all the photos are a courtesy of Claudia Fugazza and Happy dog school

Happy Dog School - Dog training
social learning: cognitive training based on the dog'sability to imitate human actions
In this video: India - Czechoslovakian wolf dog - ClaudiaFugazza and engaged in a session of "do as I do" India mimics three different behaviors
by ClaudiaFugazza

training techniques based on imitating
Here the dog (India) must discriminate between two different behaviors on the sameobject (the cone), based on the imitation of what I do and playing my actions.
by ClaudiaFugazza

technical training based on cognitive ability of dogs to imitate humans
This video India to imitate a sequence of two actions: stand on the table and turn onitself
by ClaudiaFugazza


Sally Marchant said...

Claudia is coming to the UK to demonstrate this fascinating technique in August 2014

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