Check out for your free gift.

Subscribe in a reader

Thursday, March 31, 2011

How To Use a Dog Harness

White Huskies
I often am asked “why does my dog pull on the leash”.   I can easily say fifty percent of the time that person is using a harness.  Harness’s have been designed for big dogs, little dogs, power breeds, you name it.  You can get working harness’s and bedazzled harness’s.  What they don’t realize is the history behind a harness.

The dog harness was developed for one reason and one reason pull.  Think about it.  Have you ever seen sled dogs on tv?  Have you ever seen a group of hounds hunting on tv?  The next time you see it, pay attention to what they are wearing.  Nine times out of ten, it’s a harness. 
Fuzzy Harness

Harness’s were developed for dogs to pull in sports and tracking. 

If you've ever seen blood hounds on tv, they look like they are about to explode once they've got the scent.  You'll notice the owner doesn't let them go until they are going nuts.  The harness increases the motivation to hunt that fox down!  By having a device hold you back when you want to take off, it increases that stamina and need to track down.  That is why the harness was developed for tracking.

Some of those sports include sledding, skijoring, bikejoring, carting, roller-blading and weight pulling.  Pulling is great for the right breed of dog because it develops muscle that normally wouldn’t be strong resulting in excellent condition.  It is very effective in reducing the risks of hip dysplasia, which is very common among many breeds.

These sports are great bonding opportunities for you and your dog.  It provides essential exercise that will keep your agile dog healthy and tired, in a good way.
Just remember, if your dog is pulling you on the walk, get something to go around Fido’s neck like a slip lead.  That way you can better control your dog on the walk.

Below are some amazing informational links to history, how to get started, and more.


Off season Skijor Training with your Bicycle

Getting started in Bikejoring or Scootering


Canicross - where your dog takes you for a run



Questions Most Frequently Asked Of A Dog Musher

Sled Dog History and Overview


Skijoring: XC Skiing with a Privileged Dog

Skijor Now

Dog Scootering

Dog Scootering

Paw Trekker

Weight Pull

International Weight Pull Association


Intro to CARTING

Carting With Your Dog


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Stop your dog from digging!

Dogs dig for many reasons so you should really try to figure out why.  If your dog is digging in a shaded area or near a water source then he is probably just hot!  Just like pigs cool off in the mud, dogs will cool off in the dirt.  You need to make him a dog house in an area that is always shaded.  If Fido is digging in only one or two spots consistently, then you might want to thank your dog because it looks like you have small animals under your lawn like a mole.  He must be digging after them when they come out of there hole.  If the digging is in multiple spots with no consistency then your dog is digging for fun and/or is bored!  This means that there is no way for you to be able to tell where Fido is going to dig. 

Start out by going to Costco and by a giant tub of cayenne pepper.  Liberally apply it in all of his favorite digging spots as well as mixing it a little in the loose dirt areas.  If he likes to dig under the fence line, make sure you put it all the way around.  If this doesn’t do it, make a combined effort with the pepper and add moth balls just under the surface of normal digging spots, around plants, etc.

If that still doesn’t do it you are going to have to collect Fido’s feces for a few days and mix it in with the soil filling where he likes to dig most and has made soft holes.  They don’t like the smell of there own poo so this should work, but it is a short term solution unless you want to bury poo forever.

This idea is best when used at the beginning of a weekend where you can devote the weekend to training your pooch, two weekends are best.  With the combined efforts above, buy some balloons and blow them up enough to where they will be loud when popped.  When Fido starts to dig (and you must be outside keeping an eye on him during training) pop the balloon.  Timing is everything so it needs to be right when he starts to paw the ground.  It is then very important that you look very stern as if you were scolding a child that way you look like you don’t approve of his digging along with the balloon.  The reason for this is so he can’t sense any kind of positive energy from you.  It needs to be a calm, authoritative energy.  Try not to let him see the balloon by keeping it behind your back.  Dogs have amazing hearing so popping it behind your back will be fine, just remember timing is key!  It needs to be right when he starts to paw the ground.  Make sure the dog thinks it came from no-where specific.  You can’t associate it with you.  He needs to think it magically happens when he is digging.  When you don’t have a balloon, mimic the sound by clapping your hands only once.  It is important that the sound isn’t repeated and that you don’t make any noise either.  Just the stern stance and the abrupt sound. 

What to do after you make the sound with hands or balloon-you then calmly walk over to were he was digging, standing over it facing him.  In a way you are claiming that spot as your own.  Puppies pick up on this but they will still try to get to the spot because they test and test.  That is what they do, so if he tries to paw under your feet you block him.  Try not to lean over and instead use your leg/foot to block.  This may take many tries. When he goes to a different spot or waits till you move you just repeat the entire process over and over.   

Another great idea is the idea of a designated dig box.  This is very necessary if the breed your dealing with is a terrier breed.  They are designed to be Earth-bound dogs and dig.  There are many terrier breeds that dig no matter what because it is the nature of there breed so your best bet is to teach them where they can dig.  The best version is a wooden box that blends in nicely with the yard.  Fill it with mostly sand and soil if you like.  Bury some of his bones, treats, toys in it to encourage him to dig there.  When you catch him digging in another spot you do as stated earlier, claiming the area he was digging and when he finally gives up, lays down, or just goes somewhere else you encourage him over to his own box every time. 

The important thing is to do ALL of these things consistently every time in order. 
Pepper/moth balls/feces
Popping Balloon/Hand Clap from behind/side without him seeing
Standing over the spot he was digging and wait for him to be completely submissive or disinterested in that particular spot
Have him go to the sand box with love and encouragement

The hardest part of all of this will be to be patient and consistent.  Also, you can’t let the dog outside unsupervised.  I know this could be the most difficult part, but if you do and he starts digging where he wants you are undoing the work you have previously done.  To accomplish this task it could take months and if you give him too much freedom too soon he will revert back to it and you will have taken a few steps backward in training.  It happens though, so be prepared.  For every step you take backward, you can take two forward.  It just takes a little more work.  You can also put chicken wire under ground around your garden as well as the fence row if that is where he predominantly digs.  Just make sure the wire is facing outward so it doesn't cut Fido's pause.

If you get frustrated, aggravated, tense, etc., while working with him just take him back inside for a break.  I suggest taking a book outside, work materials, etc.  along with your balloons :)  and spending as much time outside with him as possible over the course of a weekend.  If you can’t do that, spend 15 to 20 minute intervals, 3-5 of them on Sat. and Sun. going outside and watching for him to dig.  During the week, try to work on it 15 minutes a day.  Even if he picks up quickly, don’t slack off.  The first couple of weeks will be the most important.

Friday, March 25, 2011

How to Prevent Pet Obesity

According to APOP, the Association of Pet Obesity Prevention, an estimated 54% of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese.  That's approximately 93 million US dogs and cats that need to get moving!

Simply put, this makes me sad.  We live in a world where nutrition and exercise is taking a back seat.  Obesity in adults, kids and pets is rising rapidly.  I’m not going to lecture on eating right and exercising, but it is definitely relevant.  The trend seems to have happened like this.  First, our health slowly took a back seat, then our children pick up our bad habits and now the pets in the home are getting overweight.

I know it’s difficult to find the time to run with our dogs, but it is our responsibility.  Most breeds need quite a bit of exercise and stimulation.  They need to run, not just walk, and they need challenges to overcome to tire them out physically and mentally in order to be healthy.  Cats can even be encouraged to exercise more with toys and games.  The one key ingredient these animals are missing is you.  You can always hire a dog runner, not just a walker, but someone who can do short bursts of running with your pet to actually drain his energy.  Also, it needs to be someone who knows about breeds and pet first aid to make sure your dog is in good hands.  The benefits of exercise are endless and practically the same for dogs and cats as humans.   The most important being the fact that it helps prevent extra weight.  Extra fat puts your loved ones at greater risk for cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory problems, joint and skeletal disorders, and early death.  Regular activity tones muscles, builds strong bones, improves circulation, and lifts spirits by increasing ‘feel good’ chemical levels in the body.  Dogs are not okay being in a yard all day because he doesn’t run laps as you might think.  He waits for you to get home for stimulation.  Fit dogs, just like fit humans, feel better and sleep better. This makes happier people and pets with fewer medical expenses.

The next step is the food they eat.  Every animal is different just like people.  For example, some dogs benefit from being fed scrambled eggs and others can’t handle it because there stomach is too sensitive.  Think about this when choosing your dog and cat food.  Is your pet getting enough nutrients?  Is your pet food too high in fat?   Does your pet need a supplement?   All these questions can be answered by a vet.  I also suggest cutting out people food for a while and looking into organic and/or low fat treats.  Get treats that are very soft and squishy so you can break them up into tiny pieces.  Trust me, your pet doesn't care how big the treat is, just that he gets one.  This way your pet doesn't feel deprived and you can still fulfill your urge to give it to him because he deserves it on cuteness alone.  I understand how it is.  Sometimes when I'm cooking, all it takes is a cute little turn of the head and before even thinking about it I'm feeding my dogs part of my dinner.  But it is a bad habit.  Even if it's their favorite food.  Everything is there favorite!  I once knew a woman who gave her cat chocolate milk everyday even though it made the cat ill.  She said she couldn't help it because it was Fluffy's favorite.  Please don't be that person.  Next time you feel the urge to feed Fido from the table, grab a squeaky toy or yarn ball and toss it for them to play with.  You should feel better thinking about the fact that they will live longer and happier lives, bringing you more companionship by being a healthy weight.

It seems there are always things happening to keep us from going outside to run our dogs.  That shouldn't stop you from other activities that can stimulate your pet.  Cats are easy, cut back on their food and extra treats then swing something fuzzy around till they are bored.  There are even tricks you can teach your cat, just google it to learn how.

Dogs are more involved.  They still need their exercise as you do, so take turns on the treadmill when the weather is bad outside.  Do intervals with your pet.  For example, start with a warm up and to two minutes running hard or at an incline with one minute of rest.  Hop off and put the pooch on for a bit while you do twenty crunches, twenty jumping jacks, push ups, squats, etc.  Then hop back on the treadmill for two or three more intervals.  You hop off and repeat the floor routine while Fido is jogging.  Repeat as many times as you like and this is just to give you an idea to think outside of the box.  If you want to watch a television show then put the treadmill next to the couch and watch it while Fido works out.  Make sure he is always supervised.  Some dogs quickly take to it and others need encouragement and guidance.  There are many dog games you can play in the house to drain energy like the 'find it' game.  You can also work on obedience in the house.  Teaching something new or refining skills in the house where its a controlled environment is perfect.  This way your pet will have less distractions and can't run while practicing off leash techniques.  Always be looking for ways to exercise your pet in your area.  There are always hikes, marathons with dogs, agility classes and more to look for.

After reading this article I can trust that you have been influenced and will spend more time exercising your pet.  Take care of you, your family and your canine kids.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Safely Exercise Your Dog in the Rain

Walking your dog is necessary every day for a healthy pet, but what do you do when the rain is relentless?
Many people treat their house dogs as delicate, easily damaged objects. But even the most pampered dog shares a genetic inheritance with the wolf.  Dogs large and small are sturdy enough to walk in the rain.

Working, sporting, and herding dogs are made to handle the water.  They are all purpose outdoor dogs and many love water and could care less about the rain.

Dogs that dislike the rain just don’t understand that it can be fun.  Jog with your dog and encourage him to jump around and give him treats so the rain is associated with fun.

Cold temperatures can be a bigger issue with some short-haired breeds like Dobermans, older or weaker dogs.  If this is the case, put a sweater on the dog with a rain coat over it.  This will be sufficient enough for a brisk walk or jog outside to drain some energy.

If it is really pouring outside, it is necessary to put a rain coat on the dog, especially if you are going to be outside a long time, or don’t have time to blow dry your dog.  Rain coats for dogs can range from 10 dollars to 60 dollars.  See which one is right for you. 

If you have a small short haired dog, a sweater with rain coat are necessary for long walks.

If the dog is small with long hair, you must have the rain coat and be prepared to blow dry him most of the way dry because most small breeds will get sick if they are soaked to the skin for a long period of time because they get cold easy.

Make sure you have an umbrella.  This will minimize the dampness.  There are even little umbrellas attached to leashes if you really love to spoil your pooch.

Stay under trees, and buildings as much as possible to block some of the wind and rain.

Storms are not safe for you or your dog.  Stay inside till the lightening passes.

If it is icy cold rain or snow, consider trying water proof boots for your pet.  They are not completely necessary for brief trips outside, but if you have a small dog, short haired dog, or a dog that is going to be outside for an extended period of time, you might consider them for your pooch.

Now don’t forget about yourself.  You should have water proof shoes and jacket at the very least.  Have something for your ears for the cool air and wind.  When you have an umbrella the pop-up button ones are the easiest to use when having to handle your dog(s) at the same time.

Just be smart about it.  Your pooch can probably handle more than you think, but always check his behavior when he has dried off.  Also, check his feet to make sure the dampness doesn’t dry out his pads and makes them crack.  It doesn’t happen often, but can, so if you are concerned always check them.

Last resort...purchase a treadmill and play inside games with him.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Dog walking tips/How to walk your dog

How to Walk Your Dog | Dog Walking Tips

Taking your dog for a walk is a piece of cake right?  In a perfect world he calmly walks by your side or slightly behind you barely paying attention to other animals and people.  Unfortunately, this is usually far from the truth.  No matter where we walk our dogs we need to teach them manners and respect.  That way the walks are pleasant instead of stressful.  Here are some tips to keep in mind when walking your dog(s).

  • When you reach for the leashes your dog(s) must remain calm.  The leash is a treat meaning you get to go outside.  In this way it is a reward.  Your dog shouldn’t get the reward until it is calm.  Even if Fido starts to wiggle around as you go to clip the leash on, you stand back up straight till they can keep calm the entire time.
  • You are the alpha dog-pack leader.  This means you leave out the door first.  Your dog(s) must sit in front of the door, with it open, not moving.  When you go through the door and say okay, that is when Fido is allowed to follow you.  This starts the walk on a nice calm note!  If you let an excited dog exit your house into the even more exciting outdoors you will not have control of your dog.
  •  Fido must walk beside or behind you.  There is no pulling on the leash.  If he pulls you give pops of the leash to control him.  Pulling will only increase his need to pull back.  That is why there must be strong, quick corrections.  If Fido is too wound up, or if you have a puppy that is really testing you, stop and make them sit.  When they are calm and the focus is back on you, go again.  This may need to be repeated many times.
  •  Fido is not allowed to jump on anyone or anything.  When meeting another animal, child, etc. Fido can sniff and hesitate.  If there is any more interest then that have him sit and wait for the dog/child/bike/etc. to pass by or come say hi. 
  • Many dogs love to chase things that are really moving like runners, skateboarders and such.  Sometimes it is simply for fun and stimulation and it is their instinct to chase moving objects.  That is where the leash is handy.  You have control of your dog.  You can speed up your pace to help avoidance, use a treat for a distraction, or simply make Fido sit and wait till he is calm again to move on.  Above all stay calm and don’t get frustrated because that will make him anxious.
  • When there is another animal on the street lose you must unleash your inner pack leader and claim your space.  Block your dog with your body and hold your hand out at the oncoming dog.  The body language is this is my dog and my space so scram!
  • When your dog is afraid of something like a loud truck or someone hammering a roof, have your dog stand in one spot and wait till he sits on his own or till his ears and tail are relaxed.  There instinct is to run and go the opposite direction or bark at what is scaring them.  You don’t want your dog to be afraid of everything so you must force him to face his fear.  This could take time so be patient.
  • When entering the home it should be the same as leaving.  Enter calmly and the leash comes off calmly.
The most important thing you can do is stay patient and consistent.  If you give an inch a dog will take a foot.  That is because they are extremely smart and it is their nature to find out where they belong in your family pack.
One of the best leads to use when walking your dog 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dog Rescue in Japan

Dogs are truly remarkable.  This video shows a dog sticking by his hurt pal.  I researched the dogs and found out that the one moving around is in a shelter and the sick one went to a vet for help after this journalist made this video. 

My dog is mourning the loss of another dog

Other pets in the house can be greatly affected by the loss of a pack mate.  If you can, you should let the other dogs of the house sniff the pack mate that passed away.  This will let them know they are dead and they won't be as likely to look for them everywhere.

If your dog is showing signs of depression, don't love on him while he is in this state.  Get treats or toys out to snap him out of it and when he shows the least bit of interest you reward that!  Give him more attention then usual, like more exercise and playtime.  Cuddling on the couch doesn't count.  It needs to be physical activity where the mind and body is stimulated.

Try changing things up a bit.  Go to new parks and blocks when exercising your dog.  That way there are no memories in that environment associated with the other dog.  You can also do this in the house by getting new dog beds and toys and getting rid of the old ones.  Change the routine more by walking differently, maybe jogging, new treats, and find playmates in the neighborhood.

As far as leaving your dog when you go to work, if he is now alone, it will be very different than he is used to.  Try leaving for short periods of time like around the block.  When you come back in see what his state of mind is.  Is he depressed in the corner?  Is he showing over excitement?  Or is he normal?

If he is showing signs of depression when left alone, higher a dog walker to come and play and walk him in the middle of the day.  If he is over excited it is because he isn't getting any stimulation during the day anymore.  You will need to spend more time with him exercising before you leave as well as when you get home.  Also, you need a dog walker or at least a neighbor to visit with him for a while.  Start working with him on more obedience to stimulate his mind more.  Also, look into getting toys that role and drop treats out, or putting peanut butter in kongs for him to lick out.  This will increase activity while you are gone.

Do not look into getting a new pooch until the family is emotionally stable again.
How to deal with the loss of a dog.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How to deal with the loss of a dog.

Losing a loved one is extremely difficult to deal with.  Dogs become members of our family so it is typical for you to feel intense pain, devastation, and even depression.  You might even be showing signs of guilt and denial.  Just remember, you have a right to feel anger and grief.  You must face your feelings because only then can you work through them.  Talk to people, open up, write about it, do whatever you must to express what you are feeling.

I've been asked, 'should I get another dog right away'?  My first response is no because you need to wait till you have dealt with your feelings before you bring someone else into the family.  What often happens is you think a new dog will 'replace' the old one.  They never do though.  They will have a different personality, different needs, and needs to be treated as a new member of a strong pack-not a new member of a weak, vulnerable, grieving pack.

Dogs often take a significant place in our lives.  They can represent a child, a spouse to come home to, a sibling, etc.  That is often why it is so hard when we lose them.  You will need to understand that everyone will not necessarily understand how you feel.  To you it is no different then losing a human friend, but not everyone feels that way.  Make sure you don't let that make the grieving process harder.  Find that person who feels the same about their pet as you did yours and express yourself to them.

Finally, try to get as much closure as possible.  Don't be afraid to talk to your vet extensively.  They understand because they deal with this on a regular basis so make sure you ask all the questions you can think of so you don't wonder later.  You can even revisit that vet to ask questions after your pet has passed.  They should be happy to pull out their chart and answer everything they can.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The end of Puppy Mills?

031011Pups.jpgI was thrilled the other day when I ran across a news item demonstrating that perhaps when they are truly inspired, Democrats and Republicans are able to actually put their differences aside and work together in a bipartisan manner.
With the huge loophole still remaining in the United States' law concerning the Federal oversight of large-scale commercial dog breeders, puppy mills continue to churn out litter after litter. And even though these facilities selling stock to pet stores and puppy brokers must be inspected by and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture, for some unknown reason, unfortunately puppy mills are not required to be licensed to sell puppies directly to the public.
On March 1, to once and for all remedy this senseless inequity, Representatives Sam Farr,(D-CA), Don Young (R-AK), Jim Gerlach,(R-PA) and Lois Capps (D-CA) introduced and sponsored H.R.835, The Puppy Uniform Protection and Safety Act (PUPS). And while the PUPS Act has been introduced before in prior Congressional sessions, even though the law's intent is crucial to the well being of countless number of innocent dogs, it has never gone anywhere. Fortunately this gives the PUPS Act another chance to finally be put into law.

Bringing all commercial dog breeders in the United States under federal supervision, the PUPS act would require breeders to be licensed and inspected. This includes those who annually sell dogs directly to the public, including dogs sold over the Internet.

Additionally all dog breeders licensed under the Federal Animal Welfare Act would be required to exercise every dog daily, allowing the dogs a chance to run, without the use of a treadmill or any similar mechanical device, which is a much needed humane mandate that PUPS Act provides. Of course, this would greatly improve the quality of the lives of dogs by giving them the opportunity for time out of their cages, in which many of these dogs are kept endlessly in confinement by many commercial dog breeders.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if puppy mills became a thing of the past? But you can help make this dream a reality. Join me by taking action today. Our support is needed to facilitate the passage of the PUPS act. For your convenience, the ASPCA has provided a link to email your representative asking them to support and co-sponsor H.R.835.
Visit the ASPCA Advocacy Center to take immediate action.  It will say email your house representative, but further down the page it actually has the email written for you to support PUPS Act and all you have to do is give your information and press send.  Took me only 60 seconds!

This post is from  It's a great blog for information and I strongly agree with the PUPS act and was glad I stumbled upon this post.  It is a wonderful goal because I often run into situations where the owners have gotten a pup too young or simply bred wrong and are having many health and behavioral issues.  As HUMANS we must be responsible and do proper research in order to not buy from pet stores and unregistered breeders to help stop puppy mills.  If you want to save a pup go to shelters and take your time choosing a dog for your family, or go to a reputable/registered breeder.  When they give you a list of references-call them.  Do your homework, it will make all the difference in the world!
I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Outside Dog Game

Now this is an easy one your dog will love!  It's a healthy way to stimulate your dog's senses.  Slice up a banana really fine for small dogs, thicker for big dogs and freeze it!  The banana won't freeze solid so it doesn't hurt their teeth.  With your dog watching you and on a stay, hide the chips everywhere in the back yard.  Give your dog permission to 'find it'.  He will be sniffing around for a long time!  The next thing you can do is hide them without your dog seeing and then tell him to 'find it'.  If you have played this game before or the inside game I've talked about, this is more challenging for him.  It's a great way to keep your dog occupied and stimulated for a while-not to mention healthy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Stop Dog Jumping

Do you love that feeling when you come in the door and your dog jumps up to greet you?  Well, unfortunately you are encouraging bad behavior.  If you are aggravated that your dog jumps on other people or on you when you don’t want him to, this could be a common cause, and it can lead to separation anxiety.  Whether your dog is ten or a hundred pounds, I’m sure you don’t want him to jump up when he wants.  If you love it when you come home but not the rest of the time, your dog gets mixed signals and doesn’t distinguish the difference. 

Here is an idea you can start working with.  Start teaching your dog that if he is calm, then he gets praise.  Don’t reward excitement and you probably are without realizing it.  Even pushing your dog off of you can come off like a fun game to play to him.  You need to claim your space, so start coming in the door ignoring Fido.  Now, he’s still going to jump, maybe even more so at first.  As soon as he does, use a treat and let him smell it.   You then try and force him into a sit position by putting the treat in front of his nose and moving it back along his head.  If he doesn’t know how to sit yet you will probably have to push his rear-end down as well.  When he starts to sit say “sit” and reward him when he is sitting.  Timing is key!  Don’t repeat the sit many times either, one time is enough.  Do not praise him vocally either or get excited when he does it because this will excite him again and defeat the purpose.  He needs to understand that this ‘new thing’ is the norm, not anything special. 

Repeat this about 10 times a day for a few days, coming in the door and having him sit.  He will start to anticipate the treat soon and when he does make him wait for it a little longer, then even longer, then don’t wait at all.  You need to mix it up for a couple of days.  Stay consistent by keeping treats in your car so you can come in from work or the store and do the same thing.  You should then mix it up by not always treating him, just have him sit, pause, then you walk away without a sound.  If he continues to jump when you move away, simply disagree with it.  This should be with a sound that isn’t a human word, a staccato sound like an abrupt ‘ah’ with your hand out to let him know that your body is yours, not his.  Claim your space!  Use whatever sound you like.  The cesar milan sound is popular like a ‘schht’.  If he is relentless, you need to take a deep breath and stand a little more authoritative like your lecturing your kids.  Also, put a leash on him so when he jumps you can do the noise with a slight pop of the leash down and to the side.  Now, it’s important not to turn around right away. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tips on Choosing a Dog Trainer

It’s hard to find time for dog training and exercise even though it should be a part of our everyday routine.  Families are often pulled apart because of the behavior of their dog. A trainer not only has to help the dog but also help the family understand what is required to get everyone on the same page.  If you are looking to add a new member to the family, puppy training is a great way to get off to a good start.
A trainer must be able to pull out different training techniques  depending on the dog and family.  This is where it can get tricky.   Trainers must identify the personality and drive of the dog to determine  the best method.  A good trainer concentrates on success, not a specific approach to teaching your dog.

Things to ask a potential trainer: 

  • How long have they been training dogs?
  • Are they affiliated with any organizations? 
Now, take this answer with a grain of salt.  Many organizations I've found have you fill out a form, pay a yearly fee, and you are an official certified member.  It looks more reputable and that is why people do it-as well as the fact it helps them out in the search engines when people are looking for 'licensed' trainers.  I know this because I have used many to help build my business.  When people do pay for this though, it shows an obvious interest in the field so don't disregard it, just make sure you understand it doesn't mean they automatically know what they are doing.
My place of choice is the IACP.  They are highly respected in the dog world.  Just make sure you look for 'Professional Members', not an affiliate member when it comes to training.  It's a higher level of experience-over 5 years.
  • What issues have they come across that they couldn't fix and what did they do about it?
This happens more then you think and they should say that they contacted someone they knew in the field who could fix it!
  • What could you do for me in my situation with Fido
  • What methods do you use?-
The trainer needs to be a good fit for you and your family so you need to know there tactics for disciplining animals.
  • After the training for 'x' amount of time what kind of relationship will we have?
You want to make sure that they will guide you through any issues you are having after training with them.  Customer service is very important in these situations and you want to make sure they will be there to answer any of your questions after training.
  • They should ask you many questions about your pooch too-Habits, incidents, specific situations, triggers, etc.

Just remember no trainer can guarantee a dog will behave correctly the rest of his life, but you want someone who will guarantee there ongoing support and advice.  These are just some of the questions you can ask.  A good trainer will understand that often pets are our family and respect the fact you are thorough.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slip Lead

Today I ran into a man at the groomer picking up his 10 1b very active pooch.  He had a slip lead and wasn't happy about it.  He was trying to find a harness and didn't buy one.  On his way out he was grumbling a little about the slip lead and I said it's my favorite lead to use!  He disagreed saying he was afraid he was choking the dog.   Well, he was honestly.  The dog was pulling and the owner was letting him!  Any leash whether it's attached to a collar, chain, or a slip lead should always remain loose.  If there is tension on the leash it heightens any emotions the dog is feeling, and in this case that feeling was 'GO'.   A leash should be loose except when giving a light correction/pop to redirect the dogs attention and let him know what you want him to do.  In this case the leash needed to be corrected in a back or side motion towards the owner.  Then the dog needs to wait to walk till your ready to walk.  Now this may take several attempts till the dog understands, then many more while your walking to keep the dog beside you and not in front of you.  It's important to correct patiently and calmly.  Any frustration

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dog Games

It's important to have games to play with your dog, especially if there's bad weather outside and you can't exercise them.  This game is great for dogs big and small.  It also teaches obedience, and self control.  First off you need small treats and the biggest room in the house/apartment.  Show Fido the treat but don't give it to him.  Put Fido on a 'stay' or 'wait' command and let him see you put the treat somewhere in the room.  Take one step away and say 'Find It' while encouraging him to come to you and get the treat.  Next time you do this take a couple steps away.  Repeat as many times as needed for the dog to understand 'find it'.  You can then come all the way back to your dog or on the opposite side of the room as the treat and say 'find it'.

Fido will probably need some help at first, but will pick up fast because it involves food!  Make sure you mix it up though, moving around to different places.  Gradually venture into other rooms and eventually hiding the treat where Fido can't see and has to actually find it.  When first trying it in another room though, don't advance too fast.  You should still say 'find it' next to the treat again and working your way through all the rooms!  This is a great command for your dog to learn and a fun indoor activity for stimulation when there's bad weather.  Eventually you can use objects for the find it and go outside where it is really difficult because of all the smells!