Seasons Greetings fellow bloggers and dog lovers!

Mari(rt) and her friend Bayleigh who visitedPAX-my one year old White Shep pup(yep white parents lol)Queenie(15 years)I really have to apologize as I just suck as a blogger…if anyone has tips for me to be able to figure how to blog more often…please advise. I would like to wish everyone a belated Merry Christmas or whatever holiday you celebrate. People have said they enjoy my posts so I am going to really try in 2015!

My old lab cross Queenie will be 15 years young on the 4th and I have a young dog now who just turned one! My heart still mourns my Archie…but alas…two dogs is never enough when you have a big animal loving heart. So we added another dog(3 now) and with 4 cats and a husband sheesh…I should get a goat and a horse:)

Happy New Year all! Be safe and prosper with good health and wealth in 2015!

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Archie (RIP December 2013)

Archie (RIP December 2013)

What a crazy, sweet boy and a wonderful Therapy dog. We will miss him so much. Archie was a character! He wasn’t an easy dog(Walker Coonhound) but he was easy to love! I had never owned a Hound before I met Archie 7 years ago. He looked like a giant, overweight beagle but there was something about the way he was just sitting back in the back of the cage at the shelter with that look on his face as if to say I am not going to get up and come and see you because no one likes me anyway. I thought wow, have to give this boy a chance(he was quiet too and all the others were barking). I had gone there because my older lab cross was broken hearted and sat at the end of the driveway waiting with my other dog’s bone in front of her for two weeks. (read my article on do dogs have emotions) So she needed a playmate.

On the way to the car the shelter worker said don’t be fooled by this calm demeanor, he is a wild boy! Sure enough he was, he was pushy(and big 95 lbs) knocking everything and everyone in sight down. He liked to run and the very first day he got away from me and I had to go chase him in the car. He also jumped right up on the table completely and tried to steal our food. The first storm we had I thought he would go through the window.

Oh my I thought, is this dog too much for me? But I looked at him and thought he is the sweetest ever he just needs someone like me to teach him. You see Archie lived in Louisiana(he clearly wasn’t treated very nice there) and had tested positive for Erlichea and Heartworm(which funny thing the rescue organization said he didn’t). Archie lived through Hurricane Katrina and somehow managed to survive. He was alone for a year after that and had to fight other dogs etc. am sure for his meager food. He ended up with no teeth(only his fangs) because often all they had was wood to chew on. He had a fracture in his chest and testicles were knocked inside.

This boy had so many things wrong physically and emotionally could I handle it? You betcha! We set out doing behaviour modification to help him cope with his fear of storms, obedience was next, teaching him some much needed manners(we like our food and he wasn’t having it). Next was exercise and lots of it (hounds can run for six hours straight and never tire so not the dog for everyone especially city dwellers) We got his weight down, fixed his health problems and then I saw such love in this boys eyes it was incredible. He had lots of it to give so I decided to share that love. I had him Evaluated for work as a Therapy dog and he loved it(although I had a hard time keeping Mr. Food motivated boy from licking the floors at the seniors facilities we visited). He made so many friends and loved being hugged by all!

When the grandkids came along I thought oh boy, he will knock them over, he is such a clumsy fella, but nope, he just adored them and they were the only humans he ever kissed(real male dogs don’t kiss he told me once). He was always gentle around them and our cats, careful not to step on them.

We found out that Archie sadly had heart disease this summer and would not require medication but a watchful eye. My vet and I were both stunned to see on the X-Rays that he was full of buckshot in his back. Clearly someone shot him in the back in Louisiana as well. Boy talk about cat’s having nine lives…this boy had 12 as a dog! We thought we would have so much more time with him….he seemed fine that day no different, a walk breakfast and then supper. He then always walked himself into his crate at promptly 7 pm and went to sleep. This time he was restless didn’t lay down and kept going outside where he would just stand there. I began to think…(trained in Pet First Aid) something was terribly wrong and then he started to cough. I knew it was either bloat or his heart and then I felt his heart and knew.

When we got to the Emergency vet(Christmas Holidays) he told me what I already knew. We stayed with him, while he got his relaxing shot and until his final breath. It was the right thing to do, he brought us so much joy in our family, we couldn’t let him down because it was hard on us. This is the hardest part of owning a pet, letting them go. Farewell my friend until we meet again.

I apologize for not being a regular blogger but I knew I had to write this and it was too painful(I am crying now as I write this), it took awhile. RIP Archie! The Crazy Coonhound who hated our Canadian Winters but loved us to bits!

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Tips while training your dog!

Find a trainer who will introduce your dog to various other things they may encounter in daily life such as cats, other dogs, children or stationary objects, noisy objects

Train your dog in various places! Here my dog is doing a down stay after meeting a horse for the first time(Please don’t try off leash techniques unless your dog is advanced trained like this one)

Some important things to remember while training your dog:
1.) Train them in places other than your backyard or on your street(if I had a nickel for every time I heard in class-“she does it perfect at home”)
2.) Train them on various surfaces such as the sand at the beach, rocks, grass, gravel, pavement
3.) There is no room for Anger and Frustration while training, dogs don’t understand humans, they want you to you to show them what to do! Anger and Frustration will only lead to a fearful dog. Raising a hand to a dog or smacking on the nose will only serve to create a hand shy dog that may eventually bite someone out of fear.
4.) Always remember you are responsible legally for your dog’s behaviour, so if your dog bites someone or another dog, be prepared for legal action and bills.
5.) So don’t blame them, train them and if you don’t know how, seek out professional help!
6.) Remember Practice makes perfect! You will get out of your dog what you put into training!
7.) Ask questions of your trainer(or heck even ask me on my blog)No questions are silly, people often think they are and then realize that half the room says oh yeh my dog does that too!
8.) Involve the whole family in training,(the dog is part of your family) or at least teach them what you learn at school so everyone is giving the same commands/training the same way. Dogs will get confused with conflicting methods.
9.) For crying out loud stop repeating yourself because Fido tunes you out after the first “Sit” command so saying “Sit, Sit, Sit” is futile! (I know you are looking around feeling guilty right now?) Dogs just need you to show them in a humane way how to sit(this does not include hanging them on gentle leader until their neck torques to get them to sit or whacking their butts into a sit). Please train humanely! It is the only way to achieve a happy, healthy dog.
10.) Plan to practice during your walks(people may think you look odd, but not any odder than they look with their dog dragging them down the street). At least two half hour walks a day are recommended for fairly active dog.

So think about the above and decide if you want to look odd for awhile training your dog on the street or have your dog yanking you over snow banks or into the streets! People often say to me, your methods are so simple yet humane and effective how come I didn’t think of this? I suppose it is the same reason that I don’t know how to fix a toilet. It is simple to my plumber but not to me. My school name stands for the following and I practice what I preach:

P-ersistance
E-xercise
P-raise
P-ride

If you can’t follow through with training a dog or exercising twice per day then consider day care/dog walker to help out and you do the training and show the walker what you are doing. Don’t even dream of showing up at Dog school telling me you practiced all week!I know you practiced an hour before you came in! You can make up all the excuses in the book but here is the thing you got the dog, so put the effort in now, much easier than chasing them down the street, picking up at the pound, wiping out when he chases something. Another option is a board and train which often trainers will offer if you are really that busy. But you must follow through at home as well after.

There really isn’t a magic cure, just know that you have to do the above to have a well trained dog. People whose dog’s are sitting yapping in the car at the grocery store are doing that because they have never been socialized and can’t stand to have their owner away from them. (you think oh he loves to go for a car ride and isn’t that adorable he is yipping for me). No it isn’t grow up! He is extemely anxiety ridden because you left him. As he ages this could cause heart palpitations etc. So please if your dog is one of those, leave him home, he doesn’t like car rides that much! You are the one who wants him there!

What do I mean by the dog not being socialized properly? Running around at the dog park? Stay tuned for part two another day please, click follow! I am tired! Thanks for reading! Happy training!

Posted in Training Tidbits | 3 Comments

How do you pick the right dog for your family?

I get so tired of seeing shelters full of unwanted dogs who have done nothing wrong except be in a home where noone seemed to care to train or care for them. We see it over and over, many dogs that end up at shelters because they have run away or are even returned because the owner didn’t find they fit in well with their family. How can this problem be fixed?

Simple…do your homework before you get a dog. Before we buy a stationary item like a car or a new fridge we are looking in catalogues and on the net for weeks before buying but yet often go and see a dog in a shelter with sad eyes and take him home on the spot.

Here are a few things to consider:

1.) Often pets that are in vogue such as purse sized chihuahas may not be a good fit for your family(research the breed) Don’t get a dog because everyone else has one.

2.) Research a breeder-they should be willing for you to come to their house and their dogs should be raised with them or housed in a clean, safe area outside of the house. Be very wary of internet puppy mills-if it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is!

If they offer to meet you somewhere forget it! You need to see how these animals are raised and meet the mother or both if possible. Most breeders will have questionaires for you, bring it filled out. Ask them questions ie: Are their pups registered? How long have they been breeding? What type of family do they recommend for this dog? How much exercise do they need? Do they have a return policy for their pups? Spay/neuter requirements?

3.) Consider your work schedule. If you are unable to be home all day and noone else is at home, reconsider getting a puppy. They require proper bonding time, and no longer than four hours in a crate to be well adjusted and house trained. Then when you get home you are tired and the pup has just sprung into action, yay my humans are home. Are you prepared for this? You will be in for a whole host of undesirable behaviours if you let this puppy alone too much without being trained.

4.) Ask a trainer in your area for assistance in choosing a pet for your home. Most will oblige and even come with you to test the dog’s temperament for a small fee. (or ask a friend with lots of dog experience)

5.) If you are a senior who doesn’t exercise much, realize that  dogs need exercise! Without adequate exercise and guidance these dogs will bark out of frustration or eliminate in the house. Consider an older dog perhaps or a smaller breed dog that is already house trained and not overly active.

6.) Ask your local shelter if you can take a dog on a trial. This is a good way to see how he fits in with your house(other pets/children etc) and if anyone is allergic. Do not bring a dog right in front of your cats/other pets right away the first day. This could be disasterous!

7.) Realize before you get a dog how big they are going to be people!!! If you get a mastiff or great dane and then six months later realize he is too big, um whose fault is that? You didn’t do your homework!

8.) You have to be prepared to walk the dog each day, rain or shine. Letting a dog out in the yard to do his business and play but he will soon tire of being there alone. Go play ball with him, take him for a walk and socialize him with other people and dogs. (be wary of dog parks because not all dogs get along and many owners pay no attention even though they know their dog has the propensity to be aggressive). Always have your dog on a long line leash if you do go!

9.)Think about the cost of a lifetime commitment for this animal, food, vet bills, training before you get him!

10.) Do take proper obedience  training classes, just existing with a dog is no fun and tying him up outside will only create a high strung, understimulated, barking dog! Training will bond you and your dog together and will be the best money you ever spend!

11.) After considering all of these things and you want to get a dog but are busy, consider doggy day care/dog walker for him or pay a neighbour to come and walk your dog and let them out to use washroom.

12.) Remember they are not mindreaders and if they fail to meet your expectations, it is because you did not teach them! Very rarely are there dogs that really have something wrong physically/mentally that is genetic and can’t be fixed.

Thank you for letting me rant about this and hopefully will save a family from getting a dog that doesn’t suit their lifestyle!

Above all remember they will love you no matter what, so treat them with respect and kindness always! Teach your children how to love and respect them as well. Rough children and a playful dog can create a nippy guy who then gets blamed for biting a child. Harsh words, heavy hands only serve to create a fearful dog!

Happy Thanksgiving all!  Remember to keep your dog away from rich turkey fixings! They can cause alot of stomach upset.

 

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Does your dog have emotions?

I studied human emotions while in university(psychology major) but often wondered about dog emotions! Do they feel joy? Do they feel sadness? Do they feel excitement? Fear? Is it what you are interpreting their behaviour is,  with your human brain?

As for anxiety is it truly that they are feeling anxious or is it a learned response from the stimulus and/or your response to the behaviour?

What about sadness? Example: They just chewed up your shoes and you are upset. They sit with their heads down, looking at you with those sad eyes. I am so sorry, I will never do it again. “Awe ” you say, he truly is sorry. Wellllll…me thinks not, he has just learned that in the past you or someone got angry at him for chewing up a boot! He is in fact feeling fear, not sadness. But we know it makes us all feel better to think that they are sorry, so run with it:)

I do think that dogs feel anxiety in certain situations without a pre-curser stimuli or memory to base it on. Example: When my dog was a therapy dog, and they would experience that  a room their favorite patient was in is now vacant, the dog would become visibly antsy. But was the dog actually feeling anxious because the patient was not there and they wanted to find them or because they could smell that patient had died and it caused an emotional response they were not familiar with?

My one therapy dog would become a ferocious licking machine with only a few patients. Why? Was it that they liked them better? Did he feel joy upon seeing them? No again it was because this particular dog of mine could smell when someone had cancer. (he was a non licker/kisser for anyone else). It wasn’t an emotional response at all but a scientific one. (there is another topic again)

How many of us have seen people with small dogs in their arms wearing a dress? Someone reaches to pet them and they get snarled at. Oh sorry she is just feeling upset because she doesn’t want you touching her dress.  She is a very  anxious dog! Is it because she really is an anxious dog or is it just an emotional response to the situation? Most likely  just undersocialized  because she has never had people pet her, never allowed to be a dog with all four feet on the floor? So is it anxiety or another emotion then? How about fear that another human is reaching for me or my human?

So watch your dog’s responses to things in the next while and ask yourself if you are placing your human emotions on their responses/behaviours.

I think it is an interesting topic, one that is debated in the dog world as much as human psychology. I am just offering my two cents as I am entitled to my opinions as well but it doesn’t mean I am correct. Perhaps I am just trying to evoke an emotional response from you?

And as an endnote if you do volunteer with a therapy dog…we want them to enjoy it as much as we do right? Well here is the thing. They often do not enjoy volunteering! Perhaps they are getting older or in pain. You won’t see their response as a sad face, or sulking in the corner. Pulling you towards the door does not mean they have to pee(most of the time) or that they can’t wait to go see Fred down the hall who gives him treats. Remember we just discovered that often what we interpret as an emotion is oft a response to something else.

The signs to watch for are when someone pets them and they shake it off or turn their head away. This means they are not enjoying it and heading for the door means they want to go home. Constantly laying down, licking their lips can also be signs that they wish to retire!

Hope you enjoyed this post and hope it makes sense(am a bit tired) and I look forward to your thoughts and experiences with what your dog shows as emotions and how you interpret them.  Examples only please lets not get into Skinner/Freudian debates about who is right or wrong.

Kat and her dogs~

 

 

 

 

 

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How you should choose a Dog trainer!

I recently came across some websites and blogs that depict specific types of training offered.  Does giving training a title make it the best? I am talking of buzz words like Balanced Training or Positive. (not endorsing/criticizing either just using a title) Wow that should get people’s attention right?  Most people with a dog want to get the best bang for their buck and honestly may not know whom to choose.

Now please understand that I am not advocating one method of training over another. What i am suggesting is to  ask questions of a prospective trainer. How long have they been working with dogs, where were they trained?

Do not let a trainer belittle you or your dog in class(this is not good). Enjoy your training! Enjoy a positive relationship with your dog and love him/her as well as your trainer. Nor should you feel uncomfortable with a teaching. If you are, ask the trainer to explain why we are doing this after class.

Ask your prospective trainer if you can come and watch a beginner and an advanced class. If they are worth a grain of salt they will say yes!

Do you want to go to a place that says one thing such as  they are all positive and then tell you to pin your dog down etc.?

Do not close your mind to methods of training but ask questions of the clients(not just the trainer)… their success etc.

Do your research if you have a reactive dog, how will they treat that dog in class? Will you be banished to private classes?

Ask your trainer what experiences they have and how they were trained. A warning sign is one who does not list their experiences/training only their methods or not even that, just postings from other experts.

Finally, seek a trainer who will teach you to teach your dog fairly, intelligently and who understands  methods of training, tools and how they should be used. One who will encourage you and your dog and help to solidify the training your dog is going to get. In other words once the class is over, what can they expect from their dog?

Finally remember all of what you read on the internet is not real or fact. It is like someone who goes to the doctor and he says well you have elevated something or other and you search on the internet and find 100 different diagnosis that match your symptoms. I had a client who used to email me at least five articles a night saying should we try this or shouldn’t we be doing that? I said the above and also said it seems like you are not understanding that I have your dog in front of me and those people are giving educated guesses on miscellaneous topics with no way of knowing how they fit the real world.

There are just as many discrepancies, opinions, methods in the dog training world on the net too! Don’t buy it all! See with your own eyes, ask questions!

And above all love your dog and don’t get frustrated! You and he should be learning a wealth of information in your dog classes!

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Results from Coconut Oil in my dog’s diet

Hi Folks:

Well I have to tell you, I gave almost a teaspoon for each dog that weighs about 70-80 lbs each and the results have been quite unexpected. This coming from someone who has always used olive oil for their coats or bought food with Omega 3s!

It seems my friend Amanda was bang on with this one! My old girl with the long shaggy black coat who scratched the entire summer away(Ihate giving meds) stopped itching within two days and her coat is nice and shiny! I also gave to my golden who is in the picture and she always had rather coarse golden hair and it is now nice and soft and my old hound with short hair has stopped shedding!

I have another friend who swears by it for putting on the wrinkles on her face and many other uses.

I can only speak about dogs as I have not tried it on my wrinkles(I would need to buy a one gallon jar). So let me know how it works for you please!!

Until we meet again(yes still working on the house)

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Dogs and house remodelling

I have been feeling very sorry for myself and hubby thinking, how we should be enjoying our backyard at our age rather than working our behinds off again on yet another room. (more to be done still). Then I realized today about my poor animals. One cat can’t seem to figure out his food is in the sunroom and circles from the front door to the back door. I have shown it to him several times. (I know what you are thinking and yes my other cats are smarter). Two of my dogs are whining out in the pen(to keep them safe). All of the noise in their main house is making them nervous as I can imagine they are worried something will fall on their dog food bags or crush their bowls!

The other one stared at me for fifteen minutes with this look in her eye, like you owe me that ice cream you are eating! I could not take a nap today with this noise.
Ok so I am assigning my human emotions to a dog and it is just plain wrong. Perhaps I should buy them a house that is already done so they can live out their golden years in peace and quiet.

Oops that was my Emotions and thoughts again! Wish me luck!

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My first attempt to blog about dogs

This is my first attempt at blogging but we hope to announce great tips along the way as well as events. Please keep it nice on my page, nasties will be removed!(and remember I have three big dogs)(just kidding)

Your dog is part of your family. Dog training should be made to be fun and all family members encouraged to participate! It should not be viewed as a chore. We don’t expect our children to understand and know what a potty is before we start training so how can you expect a puppy to? An older dog that is rescued may have never been taught manners. You can’t get frustrated with that. Patience is needed while training dogs as well as time commitment. Training once a week an hour before class just doesn’t cut it. During training phases, you have to practice every day, sometimes twice a day and always praise compliance. Your dog wants to work for you, he just needs you to show him kindly what to do.

People always say they are too rushed for time to train their dog. I say well everyone watches a few hours of tv a night usually, why not take an hour for your dog? Why not unwind after work and yack to your dog about your boss, he doesn’t care, he is getting exercise. Why not get up half hour early and get some fresh air? Both are great for your well being as well as your dog.

But here is the real kicker…perhaps before people consider getting a dog they should consider their lifestyle. A crated dog all day is eager for human attention and then you get home and are too busy for him! Totally unfair!

Thanks for reading!

Posted in ABOUT ME AND THE DOGS | 5 Comments