Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Holiday Safety Reminders

As the holidays approach, it's always a good idea to keep your pets' safety in mind.

Things to remember:

1. ALL cooked poultry bones are dangerous (can be fatal) for dogs and cats. Be sure to throw out bones in a container that your animals absolutely cannot get into.

2. If you're like me and already decorating for Christmas, choose your decorations wisely. Old-fashioned string tinsel can be dangerous (or fatal) for dogs and cats. Glass ornaments should be hung HIGH on the tree, so tails and wiggle-butts don't knock them down and break them.

3. Some dogs will think your Christmas tree is a new toilet, just for them. Be sure to supervise pets around the Christmas tree, and never leave them unattended with the tree/presents.

4. Poinsettias are TOXIC...buy the fake ones! You can use them again next year.

5. Be sure to keep lights and extensions cords not only out of tripping range, but also out of CHEWING range.

6. Watch out for small pieces from toys...a trip to the emergency room to remove collectible Luke Skywalker's mini light-saber from your dog's stomach doesn't make for a happy holiday!

7. Supervision is the best way to keep your pets safe around the Holidays.

Here's wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving!

That's it from this end of the leash.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Aesop's Fables pt. 1

We all know the story of the tortoise and the hare. The hare is obviously much faster than the tortoise, so he's guaranteed to win the race. Ah, but that rabbit is so sure of himself, he wastes most of his time dilly-dallying while the slow tortoise plods on methodically. Finally, the rabbit is so far behind he can never catch up. In the end, the patience and perseverence of the methodical tortoise win out.

So, what does it have to do with you and your dogs?

Actually, this classic fable applies to dog training quite a bit, as it turns out.

Too often, I hear owners asking how long it will take to train their dogs. Our world and our way of life have become full of short-cuts. We're always looking for the fast results. Our cars are faster, our computers are faster, even our fast-food is faster!

Unfortunately, the only fast way to train a dog is...
... as slowly as possible.

What do I mean by that? Well, dogs aren't computers or cars. They learn just like you and I - with practice and repetition. They often don't pick up on a new concept the first time you try it, or even the second, third, or tenth time! But with continued practice, they DO learn.

There are no shortcuts in good dog training. Now, I'll admit: There are types of training and equipment (bribery, e-collars) that may initially appear to make learning go faster, but even with these methods or new types of equipment, a good learning foundation must be established.

If you want lasting, reliable results, you have to set a clear goal and exercise consistency and discipline to reach that goal. All the fancy equipment or special treats in the world won't win the race in the long run.

That's it from this end of the leash.

Questions? Visit Jennifer at http://www.k9counselor.com

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lessons in walking multiple dogs

The whippets and I spent the weekend in Pueblo, CO at the Southern Colorado Kennel Club show. The weather held out okay for us, and the whips had a fabulous time running around in my parents' backyard. They thought crunching the leaves, and chasing squirrels was pretty cool.

This was the first time I've taken all four dogs at once to the same show. To say the least, it was a bit daunting. I felt a little like the 'Dog Whisperer' as I trotted 4 dogs at once into and out of the Sate Fair Grounds Events Center.

A lot of my clients have 2 or 3 dogs, and often express the troubles they have walking everyone together. Well, while I'm quite adept at walking 3 dogs at once, adding a fourth really changed the picture! The experience was a lesson in teaching 4 dogs to work together on cue.

This brought to my attention a few new tricks that I will be putting together for the 'Three Dog Night" classes I teach. The 'Three Dog Night' class is designed to help owners learn to work more than one dog at a time...and as I said, my experience with working FOUR whippets at once was quite new. It helped me to relate to issues you all may be having in the world when walking 2 or 3 dogs.

I also got the opportunity to reconnect with Paula Mitchell, my cousin and mentor in the dog training world. If it weren't for Paula, Front Range K9 Academy wouldn't exist today. Paula and her 9 year old son, Alex wrangled wippets ringside for me, and were on stand-by in case any of the dogs needed to enter the ring at the same time. Alex has picked up his mom's knack at dog handling, and he and Lizzie looked great doing down-and-backs and free-stacking.

In the show ring, we faired alright. There was a HUGE turnout of whippets - 35 in all - so this ended up being a pretty big show.

Here are our results:

Sat. 11/08/08:

Jet: 1st Place, Am. Bred Dogs
Penelope: 1st Place, Am Bred Bitches
Lizzie: 4th Place, Open Bitches

Sun. 11/09/08:

Timmy: 1st Place, Am. Bred Dogs
Lizzie: 1st Place, Am. Bred Bitches
Penelope: 4th Place, Open Bitches

Well, that's it from this end of the leash.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Personal Triumphs

I mostly want this blog to be about general dog training tips, ideas, and observations I make on a day-to-day basis as a dog trainer.

But once in a while, I have to share a personal triumph.

Siobhan the wonder collie accompanied me today on a 'real-world' training excursion. Because I was working primarily with a client's dog, she spent a good deal of time in the car...with my banana that is intended to be my dinner on my drive home...and with a 40 pound bag of dog food in the front seat...and with a baggie with dog treats on the dashboard.

Several times during the dog training visit, I was not only out of her sight range, but also out of her scent and hearing range...inside of several houses, one a block away from where she and the car were parked.

When the training was over and I was on my way back to the car, I realized I'd left a loose, very food-motivated dog alone for over 30 minutes in a car full of various foods. To say the least, I was expecting the worst.

She delivered the best. She was waiting patiently in the driver's seat (if you've never seen a collie sitting the driver's seat, looking like a chaffeur, you haven't seen anything). She hadn't touched the bag of fresh dog food. Or the banana. Or even the baggie with dog treats.

Any of you who knows how very much Siobhan looooooves food, understands that this was a great day in history.

That's it from this end of the leash.