Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Stress or Crate Issues?

Just chatted with a client and thought I would remind you all to be sure that if your dog is having trouble being crate trained, be sure what is actually causing the barking and crying in the crate. If indeed it's the crate, you will find that even if the crate is right by your chair while you sit and read a book or watch t.v., he'll be making tons of noises in it. If, when you put him in there he simply whines a bit, but doesn't go over the top like you get when you leave, guess what....he's not unhappy in his crate - he's just unhappy when YOU are not there.

Folks don't often take the time to separate this out, and assume it's the crate the dog is having trouble with. So they get the idea "let's just leave him out" when they leave the house and when they come home they find a stressed dog who chewed up or destroyed something or defecated in the house, etc. A dog who has separation anxiety will not feel better being lose in your house when you are not there because it's all about you and being without you.

This is the same dog that doesn't let you out of his/her sight if possible. That, if you're outside in the yard, or go to get the mail, barks, whines and cries until you get back into the house. Remember, there is a difference in wanting to be out with you, versus needing to be out with you because of anxiety. My dogs will often complain if I leave them inside, but will very quickly say, "ok, she needs her alone time" and go laydown in the house and wait. A needy dog won't settle down until you do get back in.

So, as you work on your crate issues, be sure to talk to your vet or trainer about being sure what you're addressing, and that indeed the right issue is being addressed!

We can talk about how to work with these issues later, but just wanted to to "get that out there"!

Take care all!
Deb, Corky the yorky, Everee the border collie and Eli the bloodhound

Monday, April 19, 2010

Ask Questions!

It's spring and lots of folks are calling about getting their dog into my classes. It's always interesting to see who are actually doing homework on the their potential training school, and who is just "shopping".

Remember, price doesn't dictate what you'll get. Every so often I get a caller asking for price only, and then when I tell them they thank me and hang up. Dog training is not like buying a car. We're not all the same, and you do get what you pay for.

With that said, be sure to ask more than just "how much". Yes, I agree, we're all on a budget here, so asking beyond what the cost is will help you decide if you're getting more for your money with one school vs. another. Here are some good questions to ask when looking for a dog training school to fit your style!

1. What training method do you use at your school? My response to that is "I train with my brain, not my brawn". Folks will tell you they use positive training techniques because they give a cookie here or there during training. Be sure you're comfortable with what they're doing.

2. What training collars do you allow in your school? Hopefully they say any and all, and that the dog dictates what will work, not us. There are many useful tools out there now beyond the prong and slip collars. Find a school that wants to work with your dog's needs, not against it!

3. How many dogs are you a class? Depending on the size of the ring (not the school) will depict how many dogs can be in a class. I take up to 12 in our large ring. And to be honest, even if I had more room, I wouldn't take more. I have an assistant for each class to help the trainer, but too many dogs in a class means you don't get the attention you and your pup need, plus it's just so much more distraction!

4. Is the school handicapped accessible? Ok, so this is an odd question, but think on it. The schools that are concerned about the comfort of their students will have access to those who need it. My school has a ramp up to the door and the bathroom is handicapped accessible with a large door and hand grips.

5. Do you give handouts or workbooks with class? Getting it in writing is important and helpful.

6. Can my partner and I both train the dog? Believe it or not, there are still schools out there that say the dog must have just one trainer throughout the class. This seems silly to me since the dog is living with both partners, and now just one is being educated. I always say it saves on relationships when the "trainer" tells the partner they're doing it wrong vs. the partner saying it!

And of course, always go and watch a class before you sign up. Look to be sure that the space is comfortable, that the folks training are having fun, that there isn't too much "mayhem" going on! Be sure before you sign!

So, bottom line, do your homework before you choose a school. This is an important step for you and your dog and you want it to fit the both of you!

Enjoy the lovely spring we're having!

Deb, Corky, Everee and Eli

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Even Trainers are Human!

Ok, so thought I would remind you all that 9 out of 10 times dogs make mistakes because of their humans! Last Friday my husband and I went to our usual Friday "date", which is an early movie. We left the house about 11:30 a.m. When we got home 2 1/2 hours later, Corky's crate (my yorky), which was left in the front of the house because his owner was too lazy to move it into the garage, was sitting in front our door, with a dog in it! The dog was Corky!!

Come to find out we had accidently left Corky outside in our back yard (which is fenced). My neighbor says she heard a dog barking for about an hour, but assumed it was the neighbor's dog on the other side of her because often that dog barks. Well, it was Corky, yelling to be let in! When that didn't work he decided to go under the gate (of which we usually have a log to block so he can't get out when I'm in the front yard working!) to try the front door. When that didn't work he went on a small walk about the neighborhood, so three of my neighbors say. Only like 1/2 block away, but nevertheless - out! Luckily for me the neighbors got together - all six of them - in my front yard, discussing whether or not this WAS Corky! In the end, one very wise neighbor said, "well, even if it isn't him, let's put him in that box thing, and Deb will know what to do with him if he's not!". Thank goodness I'm in good standing with my neighbors!

Moral of the story - always take a headcount before you leave, even if you have just one dog! Corky usually goes up to my bedroom when we leave, so I very seldom see him anyway, but this reminded me, you can't assume! Especially when there is more than one person letting dogs out in the household. And, because he's such a house dog I don't have any tags on him, just a collar (he is microchipped however).

So did he run away? Good news is no, but he could have easily been picked up and driven away by someone who thought they had found a cute small dog for the taking. Lucky me, my guy stayed close and my neighors thought they knew who he was!

Human error - it will "bite" us every time! Just glad he's where he should be - snoring up in my bed as I type!

Deb and Corky the yorky