Thursday, December 11, 2014

Be the Change to make the Change!

You've all heard the saying "to make change you must be the change" or something along that line.  Well, believe it or not, it also is true for dog training!  In my class, over and over again, I am telling my students to do this, or that.  I take their dogs and let them see that when I do "this" the dog gets it.  In order to work with another living thing, there are understandings that need to be in place.  A dog can only be as good as his handler, plain and simple.  Of course that is barring some heavy behavioral issues of which we need to address outsid of an obedience class.

People often say "my dog flunked obedience school". Oh contrare my friend, it wasn' the dog!  Could be many reasons why folks don't do well in class.   It could be they are not understanding what the trainer is telling them to do - in that case it is up to you to question the trainer!  Never leave your class not "sure" of what you are suppose to be practicing or doing that week.  Talk the trainer after class if need be.    Another reason is they just couldn't do what was being asked because it wasn't comfortable for them to do "that" to their dog.  That's OK, but guess what, if indeed you had done your homework on this training facility by coming to watch a class, talking to folks who have been there before, you woud have known what their philosophy is before hand and kept looking for a school that was a better fit for you.  Yep, again, it's us!   Lastly there are the folks that think they know more than the trainer.  They are the ones that don't listen to suggestions, and then get frustrated when "their way" isn't working, but instead of owning it, blame the program.  That's a tough one for sure, for all parties involved, including the dog.  I am all for a student to say to me, I am going to do it this way because.....why?  Because then I can respond to them about the why's and wherefores of our way, and how his way may not work.  It's important to have conversations with your trainer.  If indeed you and your trainer can't see eye to eye, then a parting of the ways is the best.  You won't get your money back from your class, but you will have learned a life lesson, which is priceless. 

When you do find the perfect class, learn to change.  Your ways may have worked with your last dog, but this one needs something different.  Change is good and will make your relationship with your dog so much better!  Learning to come at your dog with new ideas on training will turn your training from boring to fun!  So be the change and have fun with them their pups!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Dog Walkers, the do's and don'ts!

I love the fact that there are dog walkers.  For folks who work long hours and don't want to leave their dog unattended for 9-10 hours, it's a great break for the pups and certainly enjoyable.  However, there are some things to keep in mind when you hire a dog walker.

Other than the usual background checks, i.e., calling other clients, checking with the Better Business Bureau, asking your vet if they have heard of this particular dog walker, et.  there is more to consider.

Be sure the dog walker you hire understands and can walk the dog they way YOU want him/her walked. In otherwords, if you normally walk your dog in a nice heel alongside you, require your dog walker to do the same, especially if they are walking your dog on the city streets and sidewalks.  If there are places that you don't require them to heel, like the park, let your walker know that as well.  Let your dogwalker know that he should not let your dog stop and pee on every mail box post or bush in someone's yard.  Be sure your dog walker understands how your dog will react when he sees another dog or person and how you handle it if they are excited, etc. 

The more information you can give to your dog walker, the better prepared they are to take him out and about in public.  You, not the dog walker, will be responsible for anything that may happen on the walk as this is your dog. 

There is a person in the area I live that must do some inhome boarding as I've seen her walking various dogs around.  She always has them on a flexi (yuck!), the flexi is always extended to it's max so the dog can go anywhere it wants, including yards to poop (yep, seen that).  The dogs actually walk down the middle of the road and I've seen her have to try to "haul" in a dog before the car runs them over.  So this person, meaning well and probably takes great care of them in the house, is doing more harm than good for this dog.  Now these dogs are learning to pull, to do their business in other folks yards, and no street smarts. 

So take your time finding that perfect person.  They are out there! 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Don't Blame the Trainer!

Often I hear folks tell me their dogs' were "ruined" by a trainer, who used approaches that were not comfortable for either the dog or their human.  I agree whole heartedly that certain dog training approaches may or may not work for each individual dog and person.  But what I don't agree with (and here is where I will put on my flame suite!) is the owner blaming the trainer completely.  Remember folks, you are your dog's voice and only advocate.  If YOU don't speak up, he certainly can't, except in behavior that could be construed as aggressive or fearful.  When you working with someone, it's your responsbility to know what kind of trainer you have hired.  It's also your responsbility to stop this person from doing something you are not comfortable with.  I know, I know, folks always say "well, I trusted him, he was the expert not me".  But it doesn't take experience to know that what is happening to your dog (or might happen) isn't right for him.  You know your dog better than anyone else, and as a trainer I actually trust that you'll be able to tell me if you think he can or can't handle something.  If you say he can't, we'll come up with a way that he can!   You, not the trainer, have your dog's lead in your hands.  Be sure before your trainer takes your dog that you know what is going to be happening.  I love to take student dogs for demo.  I'll ask the owner if I can, and let them know I won't be harming their dog in anyway and what we'll be doing.  The owner has the right to say no, although I usually get the leash tossed at me before I even get through my schpeel!  It's always fun to see your dog out with the trainer learning!

So do your homework before you hire someone or pay for a class.  As them to explain the Why's and Wherefores of an exercise if you're not comfortable with it.  Sometimes I will push your dog harder than you will, and it's good that I do.  Folks will always say "I can't believe he did that"!!  So be your dog's advocate, be sure you know what your trainer will be doing before you start classes and enjoy being with your dog!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Dangers of a tied out Dog

A dog that is tied up outside is a dog at risk.  Restraining a dog from being able to do it's natural instinct of flight or fight will always result in a problem.  Dog's don't do well on tie-outs, plain and simple.  It's not natural for them and it will always play with their brain, and for some in not such a good way.  Yes, your dog may seem ok on it, watching the world go by in the front yard.  But your dg is VERY aware of his/her limitations, which include just how far he can go on his lead.  Space within that circle is all his to take care of as he sees fit.  Most often we hear of dogs that when approached on a tie out will be calm until you step inside his circle.  Then the trouble can insue.  It could be just a lunge and bark, or a full blown bite.  In the dog's brain he knows he can't run away, and since his world has shrunk to just this circle, he will defend it and himself with whatever means he thinks he should.  The other backfire of this is that often the dog will take to resource guarding inside the house as well, over toys, bones, beds, etc.  He practices "claiming" his space every minute of the day he is tied out, and is very good at barking at things as they walk by. 

Does this happen to every dog?  Of course not, just like people dogs have different coping skills.  But know that being tied out for time anylonger than 20 minutes is just plain hard for a dog.  They will accept it, but will not truly like it.  A fence yard it the safest place for your dog.  He can run and play without the worries of someone coming into his space.  Invisible fences are ok, but I like to see them looped so the dog cannot get from the back yard to the front yard unless he goes out with you.  Never want to "loose sight" of your dog in your yard, so keeping them in one area or the other is much safer! 

Enjoy those pups!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Please don't let it be Cancer

Cancer.  The scariest word in our vocabularly whether you're applying to human or animals.  We just went through our own cancer scare with Eli our 4 yr old Bloodhound.

It started a year ago when my husband Michael found a small lump in Eli's neck.  He rushed him into the vet who, after examining it and Eli said it wasn't anything to worry about.  Over the months is started to very slowly get bigger.  About six weeks ago with yet another vet appointment for this, our doc says it could be a tooth that is causing in infection.  Thus the enlarged lymphnode.  So, we set the boy up for a dental, with a possibility of removing the lymphnode.  On the table they discovered indeed a tooth was very unhappy and removed it.  We thought it was over.

Nope, 2 plus weeks into is recovery and the lymphnode is getting bigger, quickly.  It's now the size of a large egg and another one alongside it has started to enlarge.  We talk to the vet and he suggests we remove it and send it in to pathology for examination.  So on Monday 9/15/14 we take the boy in for surgery.  They remove it, and tell us it will be 4-5 days before we get an answer.  In the meantime the boy is feeling great.  Evidently that huge thing in his neck was one of the reasons he wasn't eating well (he had lost about six pounds in the last month or so).  He was definitely happier than I had seen him for a while and he began eating every piece of kibble or treat we gave him!  Clearly this couldn't be cancer, right?

As we waited, although my gut and heart was saying it wasn't cancer (which would be lymphoma).  But my head kept getting in the way with little whispers of all the signs that didn't look good.  This was particularly hard on my husband, who Eli owns.  Back five years ago we lost our first bloodhound Gabriel to bone cancer at this exact age.  Michael was beside himself, as was I.  The wait is unbelievably long and hard. 

On Wed, on day 3 of the wait Michael gets a call on his cell phone from the vet.  He wasn't able to answer it, but rather saw he had a message.  He waited 2 hours before finally retrieving it.  The vet started right out with  IT'S NOT CANCER!  There aren't words (and I'm pretty good with them!) that can possibly describe the relief, happiness and gratefullness that we felt with those three words.  The cause of the lympnode erruption is a bad infection somewhere.  They are doing more tests to see what kind of bacteria is in this lymponode.  I'm leaning towards an inner ear infection that has been sitting there for a while.  He doesn't have any ear infection symptoms but his eyes are always very wheepy (more so the last six months to the point we're constantly cleaning them).  Much easier to chase down this diagnosis than the other.

Having heard the "C" word applied to a dog of mine twice now, I not only can sympathize, but also have empathy for those going through this.   Be sure you reach out to friends who understand your love of this dog.  Who won't tell you "get over it, it's just a dog"!  And hang on.  We were very fortunate to have this kind of ending to this journey.  Not all do.  But folks who are stewards of their animal friends know how hard it is.  I thought I would just keep this quiet and not say anything until we knew what the outcome was.  It ate me up.  When I finally shared it with a few close friends they listened, shared my pain and fear and hugged me.  It was just what I needed.   My words of advice is don't try to go through this alone.  It makes the pain and fear worse.  Friends who understand can give you more than any thing else out there!

So hug them there animal friends of yours!  And remember, this is a journey you are on with your dog.   Embrace each moment, good and bad.  Journey's always do come to an end, but what's inbetween is priceless! 

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Everee's Nightly Fun

Ok, so I'm the dog trainer, right?  So why did it take me 2 years to figure out this problem and turn it around!  Here goes.

Our nightly ritual at the house for bedtime is that I usually go to bed first.  The dogs get their late evening "snack", then upstairs we go.  Cosby the young-un sleeps in his crate up there, and will run directly into it.  Everee and Eli each have their own beds on the floor in our room.  The problem was when it was time to go up Everee would race up ahead of all of us, barking the whole time, get into the room and continue to bark, and then "herd" Eli into his side of the room (and sometimes not so nice).  Eli got so he would go into our room through our bathroom.  I tried squirting her with water, but this only worked once I was up there.  She still ran up like a crazy dog barking and amping up.  I went ahead of the boys, so I came up behind her - she still was barking like a crazy dog.  This went on, like I said for two years!  So last week I decided to try one more thing.  The bottom of our stairs is gates (yes the 16 month basset boy still tries to sneak up!), so when we get to the gate I backed her up (body talk) and told her to wait.  I went up the stairs FIRST.  When I got nearly to the top I release her and although she races up, there is NO BARKING!  She goes into the room with a much lower energy level and is not bothering Eli, but rather learning to sit on her bed first, because whoever gets to their bed first gets the little piece of cookie I have first. (everyone does get one, no worries!).  This new approach is clearly telling her I am in control.  I'm using my obedience like I tell everyone to do (daah, took me long enough!) and I'm "allowing" her to come up instead of her barging up.  It's working!  I am much happier (as is Eli!) that we can now go upstairs like normal screaming!  So, moral of the story is don't forget to use your obedience when things like this come up!    As I always tell folks, be proactive instead of reactive.  Clearly, with  my first tries I was being reactive.  Proactive always wins! 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Fearful Reactive Dog

So we all know that most reactive dogs (those that bark non-stop at your guests when they come in, never really warm up to them, bark at other dogs/people on walks) are truly fearful dogs.  These are the dogs that need our guidance on how to behave correctly.  Reactive dogs often get all the wrong training because folks are only responding when the dog is doing something wrong and not respondin, or giving guidance when they don't.  This goes with our style of training at AllBreed as well...don't tell the dog what he's doing wrong, but always tell him when he's doing it right!  With a reactive dog this is really important.  Being protactive vs. reactive as a trainer will help out your fearful dog in heaps and bounds! 

So consider this scenario from the dog's point of view.  You are a fearful dog, your confidence level isn't very high.  Someone comes to the door.  First they ring or knock, which you then begin to bark.  Your owner makes some noises which sounds like they are chiming in with with you, but you don't stop.  Then this person comes into the house.  Your owner is again making some noises, but they are not directed at you.  You continue to bark because now you are really afraid.  To you it feels like you'll be taking this situation on by yourself as your person isn't telling you what you can do.  You have no choice but to continue to protect yourself and be very leary of this person in your house.

The scenario can go on and on of course.  But, when you aren't helping a dog through a situation where you know they will be reactive, you are in essence abandoning your dog to his own wiles.  Without you telling him what he can safely do, he is making the choices, and they're never good.  When I hear that a dog is acting up at the door I always ask, what you ARE doing?  Usually the answer is "well, I'm telling him to be quiet, or I'm telling him it's ok".  Neither of these will work.  Always remember that your obedience will help pave the way to a calmer dog.  A note on the door letting your company know that you are training the dog and please don't ring the doorbell, and also be patient, you will let them in will go a long way in getting yourself and your dog ready for this.  A leash by the door along with treats is a must.  From there, with your dog on a leash, you will be able to keep him next to you.  Have him sit next to you while your company comes in, all the while giving him treats, telling him good sit/stay and if he tries to get up, fixing it.  Yep, you can still talk to your guests (multi-tasking is awesome!).  This sets the tone.  I do not let a dog go up to someone on his own, I always go with until I know he's comfortable with who's in the house, etc.  Then the leash can come off, but again ONLY if you are sure he's settled.  For some dogs, in the early stages of this training, the leash stays on the entire time and he's following where you go, laying down at your feet in a down/stay when you're relaxing and chatting.  Letting him know you have control will allow your fearful dog to relax.  And a relaxed dog is a happy dog!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Finding Time for the Dog

It always amazes me when folks tell me they haven't done training with their dog because they don't have the time.  I know we live in a crazy busy world, and when you add kids on top of it craziness doubles!  Often I hear "well I can't train the dog, the kids are so busy right now!".  Yep, I get it, but I like to gently remind folks that when you brought your dog into your house, you made a commitment, not a "well when we have time we'll work with you".  The dog that gets put on the back burner per se is the dog that probably needs the work the most.  He's the guy that is happy and fun, but is lacking in manners and obedience, thus he doesn't get to go to the baseball or football games to watch his kid.  He stays at home.  He is the dog that gets put away when company comes because he's too excited.  He is the dog that starts to act out because he's frustrated and bored.

So folks, when you bring a dog into your life...bring him in!!!  Give him what he needs, food, love, a roof over his head and training!  If your life is too busy, wait to bring a dog into your family.   When time allows, then do so.  People often forget that dogs will require some of your time.  Be sure you have it to give and then go for it!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Rules at Home!

Folks often forget that whatever you allow your dog to do/be at home will show itself out in public (or when company comes over!).  As a trainer I hear how good a dog can be in class, but at home is still acting up some.  This tells me the dog respects the rules we have in class, along with the leash, but at home all those rules are out the window!  Look at your dog with wide open eyes - could you do a reality show where your dog's activities would be on national t.v. and be happy with it?  Well, alot of us say no to that, so no worries if you do too!  However, why should your rules be different at home than out in public?  Yes, at home the dog can relax, be himself, etc.  But being himself does not mean he ges to run the show in the house.  It doesn't mean you get to run like a crazy dog around my living room using my couch and chairs as trampolines!  It doesn't mean barking at every little thing that goes by our house.  It doesn't mean you steal any thing that takes your fancy and run off with it. 

Rules and structure - been lots of my own blogs on it.  It's important - it tells the dog from the get-go that this house is under control and so are you!  Great thing is you can use your obedience to help.  I want folks to use their obedience every single day, at least 4-5 times (which isn't much!) where you are telling the dog to down stay, come, or wait at a door before going out on a walk.  All done on home turf!  Get your dog used to the rules, and of course the consequences.  If I have a dog that decides to do crazy loops around the house, the leash comes out and you're put in a down stay at my feet for 10 minutes.  If I don't have time for that, it's a time out in your crate, and when you come out you better be calmer.  Let's face it, we all want our dogs to enjoy themselves with us, but not at the cost of my furniture, my belongings or myself!

So think on how that dog would fare in a reality show!  I know that if we did one around my basset boy Cosby, it would be very entertaining.  He is just enough naughty (like launching himself at me when I'm in my chair to get into my lap - comes at me from a dead run!!) to keep us all laughing, but he is constantly reminded that I ALLOW the naughty, he isn't entitled to it!  Like my mother used to say when I would go out on a date (waaay back in the day!).. "Don't do anything that you wouldn't want printed in the morning paper!"   As always, love them dogs up!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Never Assume!

So I was at a garage sale today.  It was a rather large one with a good number of folks walking around. One of the owners let's out a very pretty female boxer.  No leash, she just lets her out.  The dog stops and looks at all the people.  Her little boxer stub tail is FLAT against her body.  She sniffs around, carefully would go up to a person when they weren't looking to smell a shoe then back peddle out.  Her human is not paying any attention to this.  The only time she looked for her dog was when the dog went across the ally to pee in the neighbor's yard.  She calls her back and says, "oh, you had to go pee", of which of course I had to pipe up loudly and say, "ya, in someone elses yard!".  No response from Human.  In the meantime this very uncomfortable dog was then surrounded by a family with kids.  Her body language is "help"!  She is trying to be friendly, but she's low to the ground, turning quickly around, and if (and I say IF) her human had any sense she would have gotten her out of there.  Moral of the story.  Never think that just because you have a friendly dog that 1) they will be friendly in a situation with a mass of strangers and 2) that your dog won't bite someone in fear, or because they were surprised.  What would have been the right way to handle this was Human would have had her on leash and then let folks pet her.  On her own, this little boxer was worried.  I felt bad for her knowing she was doing the best she could.  Someone said "wow, I've never seen such a calm boxer before"...of which of course I said, "she's not calm, she's reserved."   Ah, yes, forever trying to be politically correct!! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Obedience helps behavior!

As I spoke with a couple folks today I was reminded how important it is to have a baseline of obedience instilled in your pup.  I often get the question of how to stop barking, or pulling, or jumping up on people.  My first question is always, have you taken an obedience class, and if yes, the response it what can you dog do reliably for you. If the answer is no, we talk getting into a class asap!  Dogs that don't get into the "habit" of working with you won't stop barking just because you say so.  Teaching a dog to do small things for you on a regular basis, like sitting, doing a quick down, a short stay, a consistent recall.  These are ways to get into your dog's brain.  To set his computer on "respond" when you ask something instead of "why?".  Obedience helps in so many little ways that often folks don't even realize.  Having that bond of knowing your dog will listen to you means that when you have a problem arise, i.e., a barking issue, when you go to start mending it, he'll understand what's being asked of him.  So keep your dog on his toes, asking small tasks of him during the course of a day.  Let him know how brilliant he is when he responds and enjoy that wagging tail! 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Fun Summer Backyard!

So often I have folks complaining to me that their dog doesn't want to spend much time outside in the backyard alone.  Well of course there are a few reasons, one big one is you aren't there, you are inside, so where does the dog want to be?  With you of course!  However, that said, it might be time to take a look at your backyard from a dog's point of view.  How much fun is it really out there.  If you were to put a child in a backyard with no playset or play area, they wouldn't last long!  Why do kids love to go to the park and play?  Because of all the interesting things there.  Can we make a more pleasurable backyard for our dogs without ruining it's look?  Of course!!!

First always have a water supply.  There are many beautiful ways to do this, while keeping the water fresh.  Take a peek at your local Fleet Farms, Home Depots, etc. to find one.
Shade:  Seems like a no brainer, but your pup needs it! 
Fence:  Of course!!!!
Dog Safe garden area:  Dogs love to explore - be sure the Dog Garden plants are safe for them!
Mulch:  Mulch is soft on the paws and doesn't hold the heat
Play Place:  This is where you and your dog can go and play fetch, find it, even obedience practice!!!
Their Place: I love the pic of the dog house - having a place that your dog likes to be that gets them off the ground a bit, and some shade is a great idea!
Dogs love to explore - if you have the area to put in some paths, go for it!

I keep a toy box outside during the summer.  It has safe chews, balls, and more!  Yep, before you mow you have to do a toy hunt, but it's great for the dogs to puruse through when they're out there alone.

Hide treats!  A great hunt and find exercise is just what the dog ordered!  Take three Kongs, stuff them up.  Show them to your dog.  Then while the dog is watching (but not allowed to follow you!) "hide" them behind trees, under a bush, etc.  Yes, he'll see you, but remember, he has three to find!  He'll be able to hunt them down, eat them and go for more.  A nice relaxing "game" for him.

And of course YOU are the best to have outside with them.  They love it when we're all together, don't they!  So think about making your backyard a bit more fun for your dog.  Just being outside can be boring, so jazz it up a bit and put your thinking caps on!  You'll figure out what your individual dog needs to be entertained and happy back there for some time!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The joy of Walking with your Dog

Hey, I'm baaack!  Time to get blogging again! 

Let's talk walks.  Most people look at them as a necessary thing because it gives their dogs "exercise"  You see folks letting their dogs go anywhere they want ahead of them while they talk or text on their cell phones.  Imagine you were on a walk with someone.  You really like this person and love spending time with them.  You get to go out with them and the entire time you are with them they totally ignore you except to now and then tell you to stop doing something.   I think (IMHO of course!) that we have actually trained our dogs to ignore us on a walk.  By not interacting, reacting, or be pro-active with our dogs on a walk we teach them to effectively ignore us and do whatever they want.  Now I'm not saying you have to have a nonstop conversation with your dog, but imagine your pup's surprise when you go out if 1) you insist they walk on your side  2) you carry small treats for them when they give a nice look or "check in" 3) YOU find things for them to go investigate instead of letting them drag you from tree to tree (or worse, mail box to mail box!).  I do chatter at my dog when we walk.  I stop at least once or twice on our walk to just crouch down and give them some loving, a little kiss or some nice petting.  There are times we are just walking together quitely, enjoy the air, moving at a comfortable but consistent pace and just "being" together.   When you come in from a walk with your dog you should feel like you just spent some quality time with them versus you "there, we got that done"!!  So enjoy those walks - don't be invisible to your dog!