Archive for the ‘work your dog’ Category

Taking responsibility for our pets

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I have learned by my dogs and then, while surfing, I see that Cesar Millan is also thinking these thoughts. I like what he’s written here about how living with dogs teaches us how to have a healthy and mutual relationship. So often people view their problems with their dogs as their dog’s problems! My number one goal in working with these people is helping them see their dog’s needs as valid and necessary to attend to.

We decide to take on a dog as a pet and companion and therefore we (whether consciously or not) also take on the responsibility for meeting all their needs – for exercise, stimulation, work, friendship, play, food, shelter, all of it. And it doesn’t matter whether you work full time or don’t have the money – this is irrelevant to the responsibility of stewardship. Just as we are responsible for taking care of the people we bring into this world, we are also responsible to the animals we bring into our homes. And, yes, those of us who take this seriously are often ridiculed by those who don’t have pets or who don’t take this responsibility seriously. I have actually said these words, “No, I can’t ____ because I have to get home and take care of the dogs/puppies/bird.”  We have to prioritize our responsibilities to the animals in our care. And when we do, suddenly their behavior improves and our connection with them deepens. Amazing, huh?

What Our Dogs Can Teach Us – Cesar Millan

Cesar Milan - How To Raise the Perfect DogWhen humans bring a dog into their lives, they are most often looking for a companion; what they may not realize is that they are getting a teacher as well.

One of the most valuable lessons my dogs have taught me is how to have a healthy relationship. In any relationship – human-canine, human-human, human-pachyderm you cannot have the bond you are looking for unless you fulfill the others’ needs. If you’re not giving your dog what he requires, he’ll let you know by chewing your shoes, jumping up on your guests, pulling on the walk, or one of many other behavior problems. It’s not malicious. He’s just finding another way to meet the needs programmed in him by Mother Nature. In order to fulfill one another, we need to look outside ourselves and really understand what the other needs and how their psychology works. That’s the foundation for a balanced, healthy relationship with any species.

But that’s not all dogs have to teach us. They educate us about the value of consistency. If you apply Exercise, Discipline, then Affection every day without fail, your dog will reward you with loyal companionship. And they show us how to live life to the fullest by being ba lanced and celebrating every moment.

Through my pack, I have experience birth, life, and death, and they have shared fundamental lessons about going through this natural life cycle. How do they pass from one phase to the next? How do they stay together all their lives as a family? They have taught me to value the simplicity of life itself. They intensify every moment that I am with them. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Stay calm and assertive!
Cesar Millan

Amber the escape artist

I have just learned that Amber (formerly Chloe), our foster mama prior to Daisy, has an interesting story to tell…I heard from her new owner, R-, that she is a bit of an escape artist. 5 days after her spay surgery, she was left alone as usual during the day but decided that she wanted to get out. She jumped the gate keeping her in her room in the house, OPENED a door to a bedroom, torn through a screen and JUMPED out a two story window!!! The story has a happy ending, though.

Amber with sad eyesAmber chose her escape route well and landed on some bushes and was found running around the neighborhood by a neighbor. R- was understandable shaken but a vet check put her mind at ease, no harm was done. SO R- and I had a discussion about separation anxiety and I reiterated my belief that crating a dog, especially an adult dog, for under 5 hours at a time (Amber is alone for three hours, has an afternoon walk with a dog walker and is alone again for another three) IF she is given adequate exercise (a LONG walk) before and after is not cruel but in fact helpful for anxious dogs. Whew. I hope this helps and I’m sure R- would appreciate our support!! I feel certain that she will tackle this problem but it sure puts puppy mouthing into perspective doesn’t it??!! Yikes. Hang in there R-.

Creating a good dog walking experience

Ahh, nothing better than walking a dog on a lovely spring day. How about we all go together? What? Can’t? The dog “doesn’t like other dogs? People either? The dog’s leashes will get all tangled up and cause a minor disaster? eh, too much work, you’re right, let’s just skip it and let them out back.

So SAD! There is a sense of peacefulness that comes from walking with a group of dogs that can’t be matched. Dogs are pack animals, meaning they like to be with other dogs. Some of them just don’t know that or have forgotten. We are sort of pack animals too, we like to be together. So getting your dog to have nice leash manners is a skill that helps you both fulfill this urge to be together with your own kind in a productive, peaceful way.

Ok, so what are “nice” leash manners? Nice means: no pulling, no tripping me up, no tripping anyone else up, no growling or snapping at other beings, no incessant stopping to sniff every little thing, no lunging after the neighbor’s cat or the neighborhood rabbit or squirrel or deer or elephant (I don’t know where you live), no barking at anything, and generally enjoying being together.

Placement has a lot to do with fostering “nice” manners. A dog in front is a dog in charge and if that dog has anything other than a laid back, pacifist sort of personality they shouldn’t be in charge. Most dogs, nearly every single dog I’ve ever seen are much happier with you in charge of the walk. Really, much HAPPIER. Don’t confuse excitement – that frantic panting jumping barking energy for happiness. A happy dog is a calm dog that looks content. A hyper dog isn’t happy, he’s crazy. We don’t want crazy people leading us nor do we want crazy dogs leading us.

6wk puppy graduation

6-week Puppy Class graduation walk

So, keep your dog at your side. Draw an invisible line from your knees out to either side of you and that is the line the dog should stay behind at all times. Walking like this gives a dog a job, a sense of purpose. Try it yourself…when you’re out walking with a friend try to keep yourself behind their invisible line. It takes mindfulness of what you are doing and that is what we are after with out dogs. It is a mental. challenge.

Now, doing this can be difficult. A dog who is used to leading isn’t going to give up that position instantly. Mostly because they have been conditioned to walk there – it is what they know. You have to show them a new way. If you’re consistent, soon that will be what they know. To keep them at your side you have to shorten the length of leash between you and your dog. For that reason, I always suggest using a simple nylon, one ply, 1/2 inch leash no longer than 4 feet. And I suggest tying a knot in the leash where your hand should fall. That way you always know if you’re holding the leash in the right spot. People who train with me always get their leashes tied. It’s just my thing.

(more…)

Spring is a great time to walk your dog

Spring is in the air – finally! It has been a long, cold winter here in Northern Illinois but the cold seems to be letting go. As the temperatures go up, everyone wants to get outside and for dog lovers that means walking your dog! I thought it would be a good time to remind everyone of what proper dog walking consists.

In my opinion, a good dog walk is one where both dog and owner are working as a team, both are getting what they need, both are satisfied with the walk, and both feel relaxed and happy while they are doing it. A good walk leaves you with the feeling, “AH, that felt good!” and a sense of looking forward to the next time you get to walk.

Now, ask yourself, how often do your walks feel like that?

Most people struggle with the walk; either their dog pulls relentlessly, acts unpredictably or aggressively, zig zags all over the place, or stops to sniff every little thing. Most people end up feeling stressed out by their walks. Add to that the guilt many people feel about not walking their dogs enough or walking them too short a time and you end up with an unpleasant experience and a mild sense of dread when the next nice day comes along.

Sound familiar?

(more…)