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Wednesday, July 30, 2008
So I went to the doggie daycare after full time work. Usually we have the same dogs come in but yesterday, to my surprise, we had two new dogs arrive. Both dog breeds I had never had the chance to interact with. One was a Samoyed and the other a Rottie. I instantly fell in love with the Rottie. His personality was amazing and loved playing with the others. We walked a bit and his focus was right on me, checking in to see where we were going to walk next. It was a pleasure to be with him.
The Samoyed on the other hand was scared of the new place. Whining and pacing around most of the time. The Samoyed was left in a separate area away from the other dogs since the owners did not want their dog to interact with the others. "Why the heck would you not want your dog to interact with the others?" They must have been scared the others would bully her around. Either that or they were afraid her nice brilliant white coat would get dirty. Anyway, she was great despite being a bit stressed. The Samoyed actually did all right sniffing at the other dogs as they were being picked up.
So with 4 more days to go, and 4 more days of wedding stress, the two new dogs helped me get through the night. The wedding stress has brought out the best in Neilynne and I, since it really gives us insight on how we will handle future problems. So far, the wedding stress has been containable. Of course, with every new stress I won't be relying on doggie daycare to save me....but hey ...it sure helps.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
We let our dog loose in the school yard as me and Neilynne played a recall game with Shy. She was great for the first couple times and then she started to wander off towards the soccer field. Me and Neilynne were both inexperienced at the time and Shy's recall was weak especially with distractions. Our dog started to walk towards the sidewalk, oblivious to our calls. Perhaps it was a game now as we started to slowly pick up pace. With tension in our voices, our recalls became stressful yelling. "Shy! Get back her now! Stop!!!" Before we knew it Shy was on the street! Recall, what recall? We sure weren't doing a good job of that one. Shy ended up in the intersection, our hearts racing as the thought of a car hitting her was evident. Luckily the cars could see what was going on and they slowed down and Shy crossed the road and stopped. We were so angry with Shy. Really we should have been angry with ourselves.
Looking back now, I can say a strong recall is necessary for any dog. We were really naive to let her off leash at that young age too in such an open area. It was a really bad mistake that could have cost us. Here's a video of Neilynne training the recall command with some distractions. Shy's finish around to the side of the body needs a lot of work but if we just look at the recall, she has improved a lot. Bottom line, the recall command for your dog is one of great importance in the house or outdoors.
Friday, July 25, 2008
If you really want to see freestyling at it's best look up Carolyn Scott, freestyling champion, and her dog Rookie. Unfortunately on a sad note, Rookie passed away last week. I cannot imagine what that would be like. One day I will have to experience it too. Carolyn has been on several shows dancing away with Rookie. It's really amazing how Rookie and Carolyn move in sync. Rookie can go backwards, forwards, spin away, shuffle, high step with his front paws...it's amazing. I don't know how popular dog freestyling is in Canada but it sure looks like fun!
Enjoy the video as there will be more to come!
Monday, July 21, 2008
Better Food for Dogs talks about commercial dog foods vs home made meals for dogs. It also includes recipes for our canine friends and they will love you for it. I found it very interesting since I always watch Shy, eat the same premium dry food day in day out. Doesn't she get bored of it? It's like me eating pizza everyday, and I love pizza, but I'd get bored of it no doubt. No wonder she sits with those puppy dog eyes looking for scraps from us. I would definitely recommend this book since it really opens your eyes to the nutritional needs of our dogs, how commercial dog foods may lack essential nutrients for the sake of lowered production costs, and how home made meals for dogs may improve the health of your dog.
Dog nutrition is still a very new subject. How many of us actually make home cooked meals for your dogs? I know I don't. I always thought the traditional dry kibble is good enough. It should have everything the dog needs. One important topic Better Food for Dog discusses is what dogs should not eat. Although dogs can eat many of the foods we do, there are several that will be toxic for our dogs. Here is a list of toxic foods your dog should never ingest taken from the book.
1. Anythings onions including onion powder.
2. Chocolate. Dogs cannot metabolize the chemical theobromine very well.
4. Alcohol. They are not to be your drinking buddy.
5. Macadamia nuts. Mmmmm...so good for us but no good for dogs.
6. Grapes and raisins which includes juices and wines with them.
7. Leaves and stems from tomatoes.
8. Rhubarb leaves.
10. Pits and seeds from fruits. Includes: apricot, apple, plum, peach and some cherries.
11. Bitter almonds.
12. Moldy or spoiled food. This is common sense.
Of course there are other harmful ingredients that may be toxic for your dogs. I would visit the National Animal Poison Control Center www.aspca.org/apcc to be sure.
So Better Food for Dogs was an interesting book and at the back there are recipes included to try out. If you are really thinking of changing your dog's diet to a home prepared one, have a look at the book and see what it says. Consult your veterinarian or a professional dog nutritionist as well use common sense and do your research.
Saturday, July 19, 2008
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
Monday, July 14, 2008
So I was on a mini mission to see how many dogs I could find in Mount Tremblant. Seeing that many of the hotel resorts did not allow pets I figured I would be disappointed in my quest for dogs in Mount Tremblant. To my surprise there were a handful of dogs! Actually I saw many people come up to the owners and have a good chat about their dogs and their stories.
At one time during our trip, an owner and what looked to be like a white poodle mix rode the elevator with us 5 guys. Of course I stood beside the dog and looked at it. Stuck my hand out and the dog instantly started licking at my hand. "What a friendly dog", I thought. "Shy would probably go nuts if she saw you." She would got nuts even if it was the cutest puppy in the world.
During the trip the boys decided to play "Spot that Asian" and accumulated points for every asian they saw in Mount Tremblant. The boys were real good at picking out the Asians as they called out, "Two there, and I see one there. I got 45 now." I was fed up 'cause I was more focused on getting good pictures the whole trip. So I said, "If I see a Boxer, then I win guys." Sure enough during our bike hike I spotted one and called "I WIN! I WIN!" I cried out like I had just won the lottery. Then I said, "All right, I get 10 points then 'cause the face looked like a Boxer but it did not have the typical markings of a boxer." We laughed and just played on.
The trip ended with a dip in the pool, many jokes and a fun card game over some drinks. Mount Tremblant was a good relaxing weekend and a well deserved one. I'm sure the dogs in Mount Tremblant enjoyed it as much as we did, maybe even more
Thursday, July 10, 2008
I tell a lot of our clients, "It's not only about training your dog, it's about training yourself too." When I got into teaching dog obedience, I was naive. I thought it was about training our four legged friends. In fact, it was about training our two legged friends. There are no stupid owners when they take their dog to our classes. I can think of a couple of reasons why taking your dog to a class is a smart choice.
1. It promotes the human to canine bond.
2. Puppies get the chance to socialize and learn how to play with other puppies. (i.e bite inhibition especially for bigger dogs)
3. An obvious one, you will have a better behaved dog.
4. Reinforces your puppy recalls in a distracted environment for the safety of your dog.
5. You will be educated about your dog and provide a foundation for advanced manners.
There are a lot more but those come to mind. We never provided our puppy with the chance to learn or see the outside world often enough. When the terrible twos hit, I decided I needed to learn about our dog and it's bad behaviours. When reflecting back, it has been the driving force in my work with dogs. Truth be told, I was the "real" stupid owner back then, not my client today.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
Oh yes, I definitely wanted to show you guys the barking min pin we have. She's a great min pin and we love her to death but it's tough to take the barking min pin out on regular walks. Lack of socialization during the critical window of socialization is partly the factor. The lack of socialization caused her to become shy and unsure of new or different environments. Mind you she has gotten much much better and she makes a wonderful dog when inside the house. Our barking min pin gets stressed at the sight of dogs, trucks, bicycles, skateboarders and a lot of others things. What do your dogs bark at?
In this clip, she barks at a german shephard as Neilynne tries to calm her down. The barking min pin just won't stop. Her focus is right on the german shephard and we can't get her to focus back on us.
How do we change such behaviour? It's a difficult question to answer. I leave it to the experts. I would only venture to say that a controlled environment is needed with a well behaved dog. Possibly flooding the barking min pin with positive associations to the other dog. Have the min pin approach and walk past the other dog while the other dog is in a down stay. That way the min pin is not stationary while a big creature is coming towards them causing a flight or fight response. If the min pin barks, ignore it, you have approached too close. Try again and you should be able to work at a successful distance where the dog doesn't bark. Reward behaviour that your want!
As a first time owner, Shy has been the dog that has taught me everything about dogs. She has been our "mistakes" dog. I've made many errors with her but at the same time, I have learned so much and made the corrections necessary. This barking min pin, the one that goes crazy at the slightest things, is still a beloved family member, and I thank her.
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Thursday, July 3, 2008
What's frustrating as a trainer is to see your clients not getting the basic obedience when you're in the advance class. Ok you might be saying the dogs are in a room with other dogs and new smells, but they should be able to do a sit. Most of the time it's just lack of practice and not taking the time to do the work. Training is fun and it doesn't have to be frustrating.
Let's face it. It's not easy to raise a puppy. You might think you don't have to do much but you really have to be there every step of way. Many things can go wrong and I have experienced the repercussions of it. Once things go wrong, it's even more difficult to reverse the negative effects.
I love seeing people take their dogs to the puppy classes but I hate to see them not doing the work. The one command where I can tell if people have been doing the work with their dogs is the WAIT and STAY commands. It takes a lot of mental energy for a puppy to perform a WAIT and STAY because of distractions. It also takes a lot of baby steps to get a good WAIT or STAY. Often it is just expecting too much from our dogs in too little time.
The most frustrating part of being a trainer is not the dog at all. It's training the owner that thinks he knows more than you. That's frustrating. Or thinks your ways are wrong. Seriously, if you knew more than me in this subject, you wouldn't be in our class in the first place and pay us. And if you do know more than me, you really don't have to be a jerk about it.
Being a trainer has taught me a lot. Most of the time, it's about educating the owners. The techniques are simple, but changing the minds of people is difficult. Correcting people when they are wrong on subtle details is difficult and you really have to know how to deal with various types of people in this field. Despite the frustrations as a trainer it is still fun, fulfilling and rewarding. Don't you think so?
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
The first time I saw the alpha roll was on television. At first, I was amazed at how the dog submitted and was calm. The dog was miraculously cured. The program would often have a counter as to how long the trainer spent fixing the problem. "Hmmm...momma told me not to always believe what I see on TV," I thought to myself but it was too good to be true so I had to try it. Like many new owners, I thought it was easy, and so I could do it too, and my problems would be fixed. Wrong.
You should never have to alpha roll your dog because you don't need to. On contrary to what researchers observed, it is now believed the roll was performed by wolves with the intent to kill. Not because they wanted to show discipline. In fact, the alpha rarely fights, or gets into squabbles. The alpha is confident and knows it's on top. It is the less dominant, middle ranks, that may be insecure or unsure of their rank. Therefore they fight. The alpha roll, is actually a voluntary act that a submissive dog will perform. It is not forced upon. I was disciplining a Bouvier one time and I had just touched the bottom of her collar and immediately she rolled over and exposed her belly. I didn't say a word. It was all voluntary.
To be alpha doesn't mean you have to be bossy or show dominance until your dog submits. Control the resources. Control when your dog gets food, treats or toys. There's no free lunch. Make them do something before they get something. We make our dog sit before they get a meal. It's simple, easy, and you will be viewed as a leader because you control the essentials. Training is about having your dog respect you. Respect doesn't come with force. That is why I would never recommend the alpha roll. It is also why I am much more skeptical of the tv shows that claim they have changed the dog's behaviour. That topic is for another time.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Canada day went by fast. Nothing eventful happened today. Nothing exciting to report with dogs today. So the min pin and my family were just chilling on Canada Day. It's probably the 2nd time Shy has come over to my parent's house. Only the second time because my family doesn't like dogs! What!?!? I know. How can they not like dogs when I LOVE dogs?
Actually I think they do like dogs, they're just keeping it a secret. My dad walked Shy today and my mom kept asking me questions about the dog. So I think they have some interest. My brother only likes Shy when she's calm and quiet. He would freak if min pins got any bigger.
Shy was good in the house. She mainly chilled on the rugs as you can see from the pics and I let her out in the backyard to run around. Other than that, we were just chilling on this uneventful Canada Day.