A Book?

I recently bought a book at a well known national bookstore.  It is about dogs and behavior and training.  I am about halfway thru reading this book.  I have learned nothing so far.  I wonder why I buy books about dogs.  I have read quite a few of them and always hope to learn something new and innovative.  But it never happens.  I am usually disappointed by the same old methods rehashed over and over.  I wonder if the average person reading these books is learning from them.  In that case I guess they are helpfull to the everyday dog owner. 

  If I were to write a dog training book I think I would cause a great controversy.  Maybe I’m just being conceited though, I doubt anyone would read my book.  I would write a book about how I train.  When I train I don’t use just one method, I have one way that I pretty much stick to but I vary it depending on the dog and how they progress.  The controversial part would be when the “normal” methods don’t work.  For instance, I use hot dogs in the beginning of training to teach basic positions.  But what happens when you have a dog that will not eat hot dogs?  Or any type of treat for that matter?  Well I will have them skip a meal before training.  Then when it comes time for their lesson they are hungry and are more willing to work for the treats.  Some people would balk at this or say it is cruel.  I don’t think so.  I skip meals all the time, and there are lots of people who fast themselves and their dogs 1 day a week.  But to put it in writing in a dog training book would probably be blasphmy to some people.  I could write a whole chapter on it.  I think people only want to hear the “nice” training methods though.  I ran a group class last summer and had to tell the owners not to feed breakfast to their dogs on the day of class.  Again some people just can’t do it and say “oh but I just gave them a little bit”.  Then they wonder why their dog won’t pay attention during class. 

 Honestly if I wrote a book I would have trouble holding back.  I would probably be called mean and horrible for putting in writing what trainers are doing everyday.  I guess I will just keep reading other people’s books for now.  🙂

24/7

I work in an industry that is 365/24/7.  I know this and really most of the time I am just fine with it.  I have had jobs in the past that require long mandatory hours on weekends and holidays.  Being in the pet industry means that no matter what I want to do, I have to make sure the dogs are taken care of first and foremost.

This basically means I do all my personal errands at night.  Grocery shopping included.  Sometimes this is frustrating because Lowes and Sam’s Club are only open so late.  If I want to have dinner with a friend it has to be after 8pm and then I have to be home by 10-11pm to put the dogs in for the night.  I will admit I don’t get out much.  I work every holiday, and weekends.  I’m up at 7am and work untill dark, then put the dogs to bed.

Now here is the part that makes me slightly mad.  I live on the property where my kennel is.  Some people seem to think that this means they can stop by or come pick up their dog whenever they want.  I am a very lienent person.  I let my one daycare dog go home at 7:30 almost everynight.  Some people just must think that I never eat, bathe or sleep though and my whole existence is just to wait around for them to show up.  I have had clients ask if they can pick their dog up at 10 pm before.  Really??  Are they just taking advantage?  Do they lack common sense?  I know they love their dogs and just want them home.  But really I need some personal time too.

My first year in business I probably would have let someone pick a dog up at 10pm.  But no more.  People need to respect boundries, I am putting my foot down more and more often.  And I don’t feel the need to explain either.  At one time I felt like I needed an excuse to say no.  Not anymore.  I have set hours and they need to adhere to them.  Admittedly I still make a few exceptions for long standing clients or if there is an emergency.  Sometimes I just get extremely frustrated with people though.

I have come to accept that it is part of the path I have choosen.  But I think from now on if I give a dog a bath expecting it to go home within the next few hours and then I get a txt msg asking if the dog can stay 2 more nights, they are gonna get charged for the bath.  Normally a bath is given to the dogs free of charge before they go home.  But I am not going to bathe a dog 3 times in a week and have the pick up constantly get pushed back.

And just because you know I’m here on Thanksgiving or Christmas and I say I’m closed, don’t get upset.  Feel free to board somewhere else.

Upset Tummy

Some people may wonder why their dog might get an upset stomach when they bring them to a kennel for boarding or training.  There are lots of reasons that this can happen.  Some of them are unavoidable and some you can help prevent.

At Aim High K9 we require that dogs coming in bring their own food.  Switching foods quickly can very easily give your dog an upset stomach.  When you bring your dog to the kennel bring them the same food they have been eating at home.  Some people want to bring special treats or snacks for their dog when they leave them at the kennel.  Sometimes this is because they feel bad about leaving them and want to compensate for that.  But special treats are just like changing the dog food.  If it is not something they regularly get at home then it can and will upset their stomachs.

One thing that you mostly cannot avoid is the change in water when you bring your dog to a kennel.  Although I have had clients bring cases of bottled water for their dogs to drink while they are being boarded.   Some dogs stomachs are so sensitive that the change from city or well water can upset them.  One thing you want to make sure of is that the kennel provides fresh water daily to the dogs.  Water that sits for more than 24 hours can get dirty and have germs and bugs in it.  This can also easily upset a dogs digestion if they drink that water.

Stress and Anxiety can also upset your dog.  If they have never been to a kennel before they can become stressed just by being away from home.  It may be nothing that the kennel or their staff does.  Just the simple fact of not being in their comfort zone will upset some dogs.  We always recommend people have a boarding kennel that they take their dog to even when they may be in town.  That way the dog can get to know the place and have less stress if something comes up and they need to be boarded.

Some kennels will require a negative stool sample before your dog can be boarded with them.  At Aim High K9 we do not require a stool sample before boarding.  We realize that you can have a stool sample taken by your vet a week, month or day before coming in for boarding.  And since then you could have walked your dog in the park, gone to the dog park, had a play date with the neighbors dogs, or just gone for your daily walk and picked up something within 24 hours of coming into the kennel.   A yearly stool sample is good for your dogs general health but it will not necessarily keep them from getting sick.

If your dog comes home from the kennel and has some loose stool, please don’t jump to conclusions and immediately blame the kennel.  Give them a day or so to relax and get back to normal.  If you see blood or the loose stool continues for more than a few days then a trip to the vet may be called for.

What does your dog eat??

This is not your everyday “make sure you know what’s in your dog’s food” type of blog.  I run a boarding and training kennel.  People bring their dogs in and leave them with me to take care of for a weekend or a week or even a month at a time.

Lately I have seen a few surprising things within the first 24 hours a dog is here with us.  Let me say our kennels are chain link and have wood floors and the building is concrete block.  Dogs are allowed in the yard to run and play.  In the yard we have your normal grass, sticks and other natural vegitation.

What we don’t have are:

Pink plastic

Blue fluffy stuff

Plastic baggies

Assorted fabric swatches

Dryer sheets

Rainbow colored unidentifiable stuff

Zip ties

 

And yet I have found all of these things in the yard, located within dog poo.

Funny as it may seem, it’s not really.  People are not paying attention to what their dogs are doing at home.  And obviously they are eating foreign objects.  The danger is these things can become stuck in the dogs digestive tract and cause a blockage.  Luckily it seems things are passing through, but please keep an eye on your dogs!!!

 

 

Multi dog families

Living in a family with more than one dog can sometimes be a challenge.  Either getting 2 dogs at once or introducing a new dog into a family of already existing dogs.  Sometimes a new puppy is great and lots of fun when it is young.  But as it gets older it can start to challenge other dogs in the family to establish its place in the pack.  Deciding about how to work with all the dogs can be tricky.  Do you train the puppy? Do you train all the dogs together?  Most people will choose to train just the younger of the dogs.  In most cases this will work out because you can get control of the dog to make it stop harassing the older dog.

Getting 2 dogs at once is a big decision, either puppies or older dogs.  With puppies they can keep each other company, but can also be twice the trouble.  Training for both dogs in this situation is essential.  That way you can set rules in your house and have all dogs follow them.  When training 2 or more dogs from the same family we initially work with them on a one on one basis.  Once they understand commands then we start working with them around each other.  Even for an experienced trainer working multiple dogs at the same time can be confusing sometimes!!  We can train the dogs to stay on a place together, or on separate places across the room from each other.  With multiple dogs one of the hardest things to work on is heeling.  At Aim High K9 we ask the owner if they would like for the dogs to heel on the same side or have one on each side.  Personally I like to have the dogs heel on the same side together.

Trying to work with all the dogs in the house can be difficult.  Sometimes it is best to work with them one at a time and then work with them together.  Within the family everyone has to follow the same rules for all of the dogs.  It is not fair to allow one dog on the furniture or to sleep on the bed and not allow the others.  It is also not fair to have one person in the family not follow the rules with the dogs.  For instance saying it is ok for them to jump and they don’t mind it.  What will happen will be confusing for the dogs because sometimes they can jump and then other times they will get corrected for it.  Try not to play favorites among the dogs, I know this can be difficult, but it must be done.  Sometimes you will have squabbles among the dogs.  In general these are normal and they will work things out among themselves.  If you must intervene then don’t praise or punish them, be neutral and just make them stop.  You don’t know why they were arguing or what started it, so you might inadvertently praise the wrong dog.

Some people have chosen to have dogs live together that do not get along.  This is a personal choice and one that must not be made lightly.  But with control and management it can be done.  Other people cannot or will not live under constant vigil of making sure all the dogs are being controlled at all times.  It can be a stressful situation at times.

Whatever you choose or no matter how many dogs you have in your house.  Training is a must and will make everyone’s lives much happier 🙂

I had an idea….

A while back I had an idea about a piece of dog training equipment.  Turns out it must have been a good idea because a company is now manfacturing it.  LOL  guess the jokes on me for not thinking I could actually come up with something good enough to produce.

While I am taking care of the dogs during the day I think of a lot of things.  Sometimes I daydream about winning the lottery and starting a rescue or building a brand new facility.  And apparently sometimes I come up with some good ideas.  Mostly about dogs and dog training.  It’s amazing what you can think up while picking up dog poo 🙂

Moral of the story is if you have an idea and a dream, go chase it!!!

Invisible fence among other types

Occasionally I have clients ask me about invisible fencing for their dogs.  Usually this comes up when we are talking about training and the off leash recall.  You may need an off leash recall even though you have a fenced in yard, whether you have an invisible fence or a physical fence of some sort.  You can train a dog to do a recall in your yard if they like playing the “catch me if you can” game when it’s time to come inside.  The issue comes up with invisible fences because people think if they have one then the collar for the recall will interfere with the fence.  I have never had this happen.  More than likely if they are trained and they get to close to the fence, they may just come running back to you.

Even having clients with invisible fencing I am still not a big fan of them.  I feel that it gives people a false sense of security with their dogs.  I have told quite a few people that an invisible fence is just not the same as a physical one.  The truth of the matter is that your dog could leave your yard.  They can chase a squirrel, or go after another dog that they see outside the yard.  And then once they leave the yard, they cannot come back in without getting shocked again.  So then that makes them stay out of the yard!

The other factor that people don’t think about with an invisible fence is that another dog can come into your yard and get into a fight with your dog if you are not outside with them.  I never recommend leaving a dog outside unattended, no matter what type of fence you have.  You just never know what could happen when you are not looking or paying attention.

I once had a client with a Rottweiler that was starting to become aggressive towards young men.  The client did not know why this behavior was happening suddenly.  She actually set up a camera in her yard to see what was happening during the day while she was gone.  She had an invisible fence and the dog had always done great with it and never left the yard.  When she watched the footage from the camera this is what she saw.  The boys that lived next door were coming up to the fence line and teasing the dog.  Throwing rocks and sticks at it and sometimes crossing the line and running back getting the dog to chase them.  The client ended up putting up a privacy fence between the yards.  Having the invisible fence made her feel like her dog was safe while she was gone.  Even now with the privacy fence she no longer leaves her Rottweiler outside when she leaves.

With an invisible fence your dog is limited to your yard or just one certain area.  With an off leash recall you can take your dog off your property and still have a reliable come command if needed.  🙂

Group Class

At Aim High K9 we now offer group classes for our clients.  Teaching group classes is a very different dynamic.  We have small classes of 4-5 dogs per class. Within the group you have an assortment of dogs with varying degrees of training.  In our Basic obedience class we have one dog that has been through a class before and knows commands but only performs them when she wants to.  We also have a young dog ( under 1 year ) who has gotten a good foundation started by her owner.  She is a very large dog and her owner wants to have very good control over her as she gets older.  In addition we  have an older dog who is good with his male owner but does not listen as well to his female owner.  So the female is going through the class so she can handle him too.  And then there is the over exuberant dog who just wants to run up and play with everyone.  She happens to be an American Bulldog and unfortunately is very strong and quite a handfull.  Other people don’t always interpret her joy as being playful.

In a group class you can get a lot accomplished in a short hour session.  Some dogs will excel and do everything right then and there.  And some are not so comfortable in the class and can only do a little bit .  Our over exuberant dog was too worked up during class. The owners had trouble with her, she wouldn’t take any food, and she just wanted to investigate the other dogs.   We ended up having them watch the other dogs work and then after class we did some one on one work with her.  When they get home though we have given the owners the methods to use in training so they can work with them at home during the week.

In our first class this week we went over how to teach the commands sit, down and place.  By the end of the 4 weeks the goal is to have the dogs performing all of the commands around distractions.  We will also teach heeling, off and come during the course of the class.  We try and have fun in the class and get a lot of information across to the clients.  Having a good dynamic is important.  I actually told one person that if you don’t feel ridiculous then you are not doing it right.

For some people attending a class is a fun way to spend some time with their dogs and their friends.  Our second class of the day is a group of friends and their dogs.  They all know each other and we have a lot of fun during the class joking around and still teaching the dogs new things.  The dogs in the second class are a little more advanced and know commands already.  This allows us to move through the commands faster, and start adding distractions.  The goals for everyone are still the same no matter what class they are in.  To be able to communicate with their dogs and have fun with them.

As our classes progress I will give updates on how it is going.  Any problems that pop up or issues that the dogs have within the class will be discussed openly.

Traveling with your dog: Rest area Etiquette

I have posted this article that I wrote before on my facebook page.  Thought it would be a good blog post too.  Enjoy!!

I travel quite a bit and usually have one or more dogs with me.  On long trips we stop every couple of hours at rest areas for breaks.  This is not an article about finding dog friendly hotels or resorts, this is about how to act at a rest area with your dog.  Making the stop overall easy for you and your dog.

First make sure when you are traveling stick to your dogs normal feeding schedule as closely as possible.  This way you will not upset their routine and potty breaks can be predicted fairly easily.

When you get to the rest area park near the appointed doggy break area.  If there is not one that is labeled then at least park at the end of the rest area, away from other cars.  When you are going to get out of the car, most likely your dog is excited and wants to get out fast.  It’s a good idea to put the leash on your dog while still in the car.  Also make sure your collar is tight enough that they cannot slip out of it.  I have seen people at the back door of their car trying to keep their dog from bolting out and running while they frantically try and put the leash on.  Put the leash on in the car and if you have someone traveling with you have them hold it while you get out of the car and go to the back door to get the dog out.  When you do get your dog out of the car keep them on leash.  Flexi leashes are great for rest areas.  Your dog can get up to 30 feet away from you but you still have them under control.  Even if your dog has great obedience and will always come when called when you are in a public place you should keep the leash on for safety.  If you see a dog running loose at the rest area it is best not to get your dog out of the car untill the other dog is safely back with its owner.  If you can help catch the dog, just make sure the owner knows you are helping.

When walking your dog in the rest area keep them away from other dogs.  Your dog may be friendly but others may not be. Some people think all dogs are social with other dogs.  Don’t be afraid to say to someone to please stay away from your dog.  This is for the safety of you and the other person and dog.  Having another dog run up to you and your dog can be scary and stressful to your dog.  Even if you have a friendly social dog some people are afraid of dogs and will get scared even when a small dog runs up to them.

Carry clean up bags with you and make sure you use them.   Some rest areas will provide them for you. Try to walk your dog away from picnic areas where people may be eating.  Keep an eye out for sharp objects or broken glass when you are walking your dog.  Never tie your dog out at a rest area while you go to use the restroom.  They can get loose and run into traffic or even possibly bite some other traveler.  Or someone could decide they have been abandoned and take them thinking they are rescuing them.

Unless your dog is a service dog do not bring them into the buildings at the rest area.  Again this is for safety and health reasons.

When you plan on traveling with your dog make sure they are current on all their shots and have tags on them.  Rest areas can be full of germs that your dog can pick up just walking around sniffing.  Do not let your dog eat anything that they find at the rest area.

Try to make the rest area an easy stop for you when you get back to the car carry some treats to give your dog. This way getting back in the car is fun for your dog.

My dog is trained, Now what?

So you have gotten your dog obedience trained.  What do you do now?  Many people get their dogs trained and then seem to forget that they can apply the training in many different ways.  Sure now you can go for your regular walks without getting your shoulder ripped out when you pass by another dog walking. And your dog does not obsessively jump on you and your family.  But what about all those other commands??  At Aim High K9 we added a place command to our basic package.  We believe the place is an extremely useful command.  The place is simply a bed, blanket, or cot that you point to and tell them “place” .  They are to remain there untill you release them from the place.    So here are a few times you can use your place command to really get the best out of it.

1. When you are preparing dinner, have them on a place across the kitchen

2. When you are cleaning the house put them on their place.

3.  When company comes over.

4.  When having a large family dinner.

5.  When changing the baby.

6.  When the doorbell rings and it’s the UPS guy.

7.  When traveling or staying at a friends house or hotel.

8.  When doing laundry.

9.  When watching tv.

10.  When another dog is visiting.

11.  If your dog likes to chew on things when you are not paying attention, you can put them on a place in the same room as you with a toy they can chew.

Another command that seems to be under utilized is the come command.  We teach dogs either an on leash come command or an off leash recall.  Lots of dogs will do well with an on leash command and transition to an off leash come.  But some are a little more stubborn and need the extra insurance of a solid off leash recall.  There are the obvious times you can use the recall.  If you don’t have a fenced in yard you can use it, or if you like to take your dog to the park or out hiking.  But there are other times that a come command can be very useful.

1.  Say you use a crate for your dog and you have a routine in the morning when getting ready for work.  Your dog learns your routine and knows when it is time to get in the crate before you leave.  Instead of chasing them around the house or trying to lure them into the crate with treats you can use your recall to just call them to you while you are standing outside their crate.

2.  If you have a dog that likes to counter surf and you are in the living room and they go into the kitchen while you are watching a movie.  You think they may be trying to get into something.  You can use your recall to call them back into the room with you to keep them from getting into trouble.  Then you can put them on a place 🙂

3.  If you travel with your dog and friends or family do not have a fenced in yard your dog can still have the freedom to run and play in a strange place.

4.  When the doorbell rings unexpectadly and your dog runs to the door barking.  They have done their job of letting the person on the other side of the door know a dog lives here.  You can instead of going to the door and trying to open it with your dog right there. Or trying to pull them away from the door you can recall them to you and then put them in a stay or on a place.

5.  If your dog likes to take things from around the house and play “catch me if you can” while they have something in their mouth you can use the recall to get them to come to you and then drop whatever it is they have before they destroy it or get hurt.

6.  If you enjoy going to the dog park and letting your dog run and exercise with other dogs, but when it is time to go home they are still running and playing you can use the recall to get them back to you to put their leash on.

These are just a few examples of ways you can use some obedience in your everyday life.  Overall having your dog trained makes it easier to get along with them and communicate with them.  Now you can enjoy time with your dog!!

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