Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A vet visit and it's points to ponder

Today I took Jack in to get his heartworm/lyme test done. The scale tells me he has a couple of pounds of winter weight to lose. (don't we all) But he did fine as always. I expect no less of course.
And from that visit here are today's "points to ponder":
I don't let my dogs greet other dogs in the waiting room of a vets office. Frankly, I am always surprised at how many people do. First there are some pets waiting that may be contagious. If you are counting on the owner to warn you of that fact then think again. Either it doesn't occur to them or they do not know their pet is contagious because they are WAITING to see the vet. See how that works? (It's a waiting room people!)
Some pets also get very stressed at a vets office and because of that may be on edge. This can affect their behavior negatively. Add to that the fact that many people don't do doggy greetings properly. Letting them greet face to face and keeping the leash tight is a recipe for disaster. (it changes a dogs natural body language and can look like an aggressive stance to another dog who may lash out in "the best defence is a good offence" reaction) Loose leashes are important so they can sniff each others back end. Hey I don't make the rules, this is how DOGS greet remember. Some people get embarrassed by this and interfere causing issues.
So my professional tip is, don't do it. And if you are going to anyway then ASK the owner if their dog is friendly with other dogs, if their pet is there because it is sick or is itchy. (itchy pets sometimes have fleas-do you want those hitchhikers?) It is good manners to ask before approaching any dog but I think it is extra important in a vets office.
It isn't just dog people either. Many species come through and I have seen cat people guilty of similar stuff too. (Which never goes well, cats are much less likely to want to say hello to a strange cat BTW.) And for all you cat people: We KNOW you love showing off your cat but PLEASE for the LOVE OF GOD use a carrier!!! There are many types and they are MUCH safer than a leash or wrapping them in a towel because they love to be held. We do not appreciate having to move all the dog food to retrieve a cat that escapes your arms no matter how cute or adorable they are. There are also dogs that eat cats in our waiting room sometimes and not all of them are under the control of their owner. We are behind the counter and may not be able to help you get your cat out of that dogs jaws in time. You have been warned.
But again, let me repeat, there are better places to socialize your dogs to keep them healthy.
And now for our photo portion of today's post. Jack and I took a walk on the local boardwalk after the vet visit. I LOVE it there. It is a beautiful place to walk. And it was a cold chilly day which is always Jack's favorite. The drizzle stopped so we even stayed dry. I happened to have my camera with me so I got a few nice pics. (Because my dog is GORGEOUS!! Just saying.) I wish my camera had that setting where it took a 5 second burst of multiple shots tho. I really think getting just the right shot would be way easier with that.
I have been trying for months to get a good shot of this art piece (below) with the dogs. The sun is always in the wrong place. A cloudy day was helpful but it would look better if the trees had some leaves. I think I need to get closer and try a different angle too.

Hopefully I'll get some good pics of the dogs with it eventually. Practice makes perfect right?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

It was so beautiful out that I took some video.

First a cute one of the prison pups Jack and Patty playing. More video and photos of them can be seen on their facebook site. (It's a pain to upload to YouTube to post here sometimes.) They are slated to graduate the program on Tuesday.

And one of me and Jack heeling. Now as a disclaimer this was our FIRST heeling practice in I don't know how long. Obviously working with a small fast dog has affected my speed and my lack of awareness of his larger body around the cones. (bad handler!)

I know I need to work on a few things but he is so gorgeous I thought I would share it anyway. I'm just glad to see he looks happy while working. Snicker away.

I also took Jenny out for some tracking practice. She did ok on the second two tracks. The first was what my son would call an "epic fail". All my fault of course. And that's all I'm gonna say about that!

For my troubles I was rewarded with an embedded tick on my back that my daughter had to pull off. Thankfully I had one of these babies on hand:

They work like a charm. Simply slide the hole over the tick and slide it up to the v shape (keeping the key next to the skin) and pull gently but steadily. The whole tick comes out. No fuss, no muss. It even tells you which side up on the key itself. I keep it on my key ring and have used it on a dog as well with the same excellent result.

It's been a very busy weekend. Lots of clients and lots of dog stuff in general. Oh and I saw "The Backup Plan" last night with my daughter. (I know, a J Lo movie. Yes I am ashamed. In my defense the guy that is in it used to play a vampire on a show I watched. I loved him in that. He was less than exciting in this movie aside from when his shirt was off.) CM also had a cameo which I was not thrilled about. (and out of place considering his real life audience vs the scene audience) I probably wouldn't have gone had I known that ahead of time. The boston terrier in it was an adorable scene stealer though so that helped make up for it. A little.

Netflix sent "Hachi" so I will be watching that soon. I've heard they did a good job with it. I've already run into someone that recognised Jack's breed due to the movie on one of our walks. Hopefully the movie going directly to DVD helps diffuse any over breeding that can happen after a movie with a specific breed is released. Time will tell I guess. Fingers cross for akita (and shiba) rescue this next year.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sometimes a little vacation is in order

Those that follow me on facebook ( ) already know that I was away for a couple days with my husband. No kids, no dogs, no special location. I think everyone needs some time away now and then to relax and re-group. We took a trip to Portland for some much needed R&R. We got to sleep in, eat out, and have no timetable to follow. It was most excellent. I even finished a book I had recently started. (Non-dog related for a change.)

On my first morning I looked out our hotel window and saw this:
It is a group of police officers and their K9's. Needless to say I was very excited. I love watching working dogs do their thing. They were practicing some basic obedience exercises. I saw a guy carrying bite work sleeves inside and noticed they were taking turns going into one of the buildings. I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence. They may have also been doing drug training inside as well. Or they may have been testing due to the variety of departments that were there. I got to see them everyday that we stayed at the hotel.

Of course I did have to go over for a closer look one day. Like moth to a flame as my husband said. There were lots of German Shepherds and Malinois. You could hear the barking as soon as you stepped out of the hotel.
I also got to hit Fetch since it was just down the street from us. I had a great visit with Jessica who runs SOME Pit! who I had previously met at our own Loyal Biscuit store. She is awesome and it is always fun talking to fellow dog lovers. (some call us obsessed but what do they know? VBG) They had some wooden obedience dumbbells so I picked up a new one for Jenny that is more her size than the one I had. I've been practicing with a metal dumbbell but I think she'll find the wooden one more comfortable.
When we returned I got to try out the new dog wash myself for Jack. After a few days in the kennel he needed a bath. It was awesome to be able to wash him as soon as we got home. Jenny is small enough to do in the tub thankfully. (A big thanks to everyone at Perry Greene Kennel for taking such great care of them both. It is nice having someone you can trust take care of your dogs so you can truly relax while away.)
Heidi was kind enough to snap a few pics of Jack soaking me when he shook. That big fluffy coat sure does hold a lot of water! I had to remove my glasses after this photo.

The wash area is awesome and Jack came out smelling and looking great. I am in LOVE with the blow dryer. It made him nice and fluffy. We finished the bath off with a nice walk and headed home.
Back to the real world tomorrow. It sure was nice while it lasted.

Friday, April 16, 2010

It's finally here!

The self serve dog wash at The Loyal Biscuit Co. has arrived!

I popped in after work yesterday to grab some food and took a quick peek.

Coincidentally Nani and Tomo were there trying it out.

I think mom may have been having more fun than Nani but she took it all in stride.

Tomo was happy to rest after his bath while waiting for his sister to be finished. I am very excited to try it out with Jack. He loves going to his groomer (and still will when I need him to look his best) but I will love having another option that will be kinder on my back than my own tub, and nicer for him than the outdoor hose and cold water.

Check out this link for more information. I hope I am never in need of the "emergency" bath visit.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Monday, April 12, 2010

English lessons - points to ponder

One of the downsides to my other job at the vet is listening to owners yell at their dogs regularly. This most commonly happens when it is time to get on the scale. First they yell at them if they balk about stepping on it, then they yell at the dog to sit when clearly the dog has never practiced that particular exercise outside of their own home, if at all. People either lack patience or expect to much of their dogs in a stressful environment. (BTW it is not necessary to sit on the scale, simply standing still on it also works for our purposes of getting a reading.)

It occurred to me that when we teach children to speak we do it over a specific amount of time. No one expects a toddler to understand many words until they reach a certain age. Even then we are patient and understand they may not be able to communicate clearly nor understand what we are saying to them. Yet with our puppies, we expect that they should catch on almost immediately. People are always amazed when I explain that their dog might not know the meaning of a word, like sit, until we teach it to them over time.

Here is a simple test for your dog to see if they understand the word sit. Say the word (our verbal cue) without moving your body or your hand. Do they respond? Sit down in a chair and ask them to sit, do they? Lie down on the floor and say the word sit. What does your dog do? If they do not sit in each situation it may be because they do not really know the word. They may be sitting in response to an inadvertent body cue instead. To a dog standing may be part of their sit cue!

People need to understand that English (or whatever language we happen to speak) is not a dogs first language. Body language is how they communicate with each other. Sometimes they use vocalizations as well. Either as a way to vent energy, frustration, and excitement or as a distance increasing behavior. (Example- Barking with or without a lunge may mean "go away from me!") But for all dogs their body is their first communication. That is why our body language is so important during training. They are paying attention to that foremost.

Why aren't we as patient with our dogs as we are with our children? Dogs can only learn what are actually teaching them after all. They are also learning with every interaction from us which is why consistancy is so important. If we don't do the groundwork for each exercise, how can we expect them to know what we want in a distracting or stressful place? That hardly seems fair to me.

The next time you ask your dog to do something and they don't respond, ask yourself, do they really understand what it is you want them to do? Think about it. You may be surprised at the answer.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The new look

I need to take a new photo of Jack and Jenny for my blog header. I didn't have the heart to crop Missy out of the current one. It just seemed wrong. It was hard enough knowing it was time to make the change. Until I get one of the two of them together that I like this is the new look. It happens to be one of my all time favorite photos. I need to make a few more changes, like updating my blog role, but this was all I had time for today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I don't have time for this!

It is no secret that I'm not really a show person. Aside from stewarding a bunch of shows over the years, I made only two appearances in the ring with my frenchie. It was sort of fun in a poke myself in the eyeball kinda way. I did like spending time with my dog and watching everyone else show. And I didn't have nerves in the ring, I just didn't get much of a kick out of it. So I didn't really care about going back. My focus in training as a trainer has always been on house manners and basic obedience for the average dog, and behavior modification when needed to deal with problem behaviors. I get my kicks out of helping people learn how to communicate and understand their dogs better. That is where I feel I excel.

Since getting more into clicker training, I find myself fascinated by teaching the more complex behaviors. Many of those are seen in the show ring. That coupled with the Rally class Jenny and I took recently has me re-thinking this whole competition thing. Enough that I got Jenny's PAL with AKC and Jack and Jenny listed with APDT "just in case". I picked up a flyer for an upcoming match next month that will have Rally run throughs. I just may go.

Unfortunately I was signed up to do a fabulous seminar with Pam Dennison on training for the obedience ring that I had to cancel. First a change of date then a change of venue all worked against me this go round. I am trying not to dwell but I am pretty bummed about it. When it comes to some of the "show moves" I feel a bit behind in training (after years of ignoring them) so I could have really used the class.

So since I can't make the class I will be trying as much as possible to step up my practicing of ring obedience work. (Reality check, I have 2 jobs, 2 kids, a husband and 2 dogs so my spare time is pretty much non-existent. I post this in HOPES having my readers will be what helps keep me on track. I mean, if I say it out loud I have to do it right?? Yeah, wish me luck with that.) It is odd to have been in the training game this long and only now have started to catch the show bug. Of course some of that may be due to the fact that there is Rally now too. Regular show obedience didn't do it for me but I find Rally much more natural and fun.

In the spirit of all that, today I took some video so I could self critique. Here they are:

I can see that I need to back up in training and focus on teaching Jenny the proper heel position. She seems confused at times. In her defense this was her first "outside" formal heeling session. She was usually much better in class. But it is good that I can see it. I also noticed I need to sometimes walk faster, talk to her more and stop bending over so far to see where she is. And figure out what to do with my hands. It's a pretty long list. Well at least I always remember to step off with my left foot!

I was going to do some Rally practice but the wind was such that no amount of clothespins would keep the signs on their holders.

Check out this trainer. I am in LOVE with her stuff. She has a bunch of videos on YouTube. It is pretty amazing stuff. I love how clear she is.

Now if we could just get her a TV show.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

There's a BAT in my toolbox!!

Warning!! Behavior geek post ahead!! (And useful for anyone with a reactive dog so read on!)

Recently a dog trainer friend of mine attended a seminar on Behavior Adjustment Training, a.k.a BAT for short. She posted a very favorable review on her blog and mentioned that the seminar giver, Grisha Stewart, had a DVD for sale on the technique. It is for dogs that are both aggressive and/or reactive to dogs, people and situations. Well I bought the video and have become a convert. The principals are sound and the techniques are positive.

Here is some information on BAT straight from the creator:

Don't miss the handout for precise directions:

And I am in love with the cartoon explanation: It doesn't get much clearer than that!

Of course practice is the key to teaching your dog to change their behavior for the long term. The more repetitions you do, the quicker your dog will learn to settle down and be less reactive. There are no magic shortcuts in behavior modification.

The link to purchase the very affordable (I love that part!) DVD is on the above site for those interested.

Here is a clip of BAT in action from YouTube. But read the links for a much more in depth explanation. The video is good but might not be clear enough for some to be able to put into use.

Surf around her blog site for even more posts about BAT. This is just the basic info to get you addicted, um I mean started. I know I am happy to add this technique to my own trainers toolbox. I hope others find it useful as well. Train on!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Prison puppies learn some Rally O

First I have to give a HUGE thank you to Jean Donaldson and Gail Tamases Fisher. Both are fabulous dog trainers and authors of some really ground breaking and wonderful dog training books. They, along with Kristy and Charlene of, are responsible for donating some amazing books to the K-9 Corrections program. I am overwhelmed by their generosity. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!!! A small program like ours can use all the help and support we can get. Those books will join our growing training library.

And now on to the photo portion of my post. Check out the new ears on our pups.

They are still teething so the ears are doing all sorts of interesting things. One minute they are up, the next down, and sometimes even off to the sides. It's very cute. They both now weigh 13 pounds.

I thought trying some Rally on the program would be fun as well as a great way to practice the basics. The handlers are doing very well with everything I am throwing at them. They were very excited to get the new books. (I LOVE addicting new converts to dog training!)

You can really see the German Shepherd influence with this "growing puppy" ear set in Jack. Tho he is marked and acts very Jack Russell (Parson's Russell) like in many ways. He is high energy and high drive which makes for interesting sessions. They are supposed to be GSD/Husky mixes but one has to wonder if there is anything else lurking in the woodpile.
Patty is a bit more laid back. Getting her to move is a challenge some days. It is fascinating to see the differences in them considering they are litter mates. It will be interesting to see if her ears come all the way up too.

For those interested in applying to adopt them contact They should be available sometime the end of April.