Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Out and About at the Beach: Dog behavior and proper etiquette

I received a request from a writer for the AKC regarding "tips for taking your dog to the beach". I applaud them for publishing such great information. I say, the more responsible dog guardians are, the more places we will be allowed to bring our beloved four legged friends - We have so many wonderful beaches here in Ventura, Oxnard, Santa Barbara, Summerland, Carpinteria etc... it would be great to keep those places dog friendly!

Some general guidelines that can help promote a safe and happy time with your dog out at a beach or park are:
  • Use leashes if they are required, and it is stated as such. If it’s an off-leash place, keep your dog off-leash as well. Leashes can cause frustration, fear responses, and even fights. If you aren’t able to take your dog off leash, don’t bring them – Unless you’re sitting stationary “camped” in one place and you’re managing their environment. 
  • Clean up after your pet. Carry proper elimination bags with you. 
  • Bring your dog to public places if they are healthy. If your dog is sick or injured, ask your vet what the best form of exercise should be.
  • Monitor your dog and their behavior. Getting caught up socializing with friends can result in your dog wandering off on their own, or getting into an altercation. 
  • Spay or neuter your dog. Unaltered dogs tend to wander more, listen less, and are often targeted more often by other dogs. Plus, they don’t have much common sense when it comes to reproducing. The last thing you want is to come home with a pregnant dog, or be the owner of the expectant father. 
  • Learn to recognize dog play versus bully behavior. Is your dog being asked to play? Targeted by a bully? Is your own dog wanting to play? Or being a bully themselves? 
  • Be careful of humans wanting to say hello to your dog, or your dog wanting to go say hello to others. This goes double for younger kids. Not all dogs do well with kids – either afraid, or wanting to play. 
  • Bring dog friendly snacks and plenty of water to fulfill those doggy biological needs. 
  • Make sure your dog is up to date on all legally required vaccinations, and that they are licensed.
  • Make sure you and your dog are up to speed with those much needed behaviors you learned in your manners classes. This includes: coming when called, "leave it", loose leash walking, greeting politely, and dropping things when asked to (rocks are fun to pick up and chew on). If you need help with those, you can attend one of our classes where we teach all of these behaviors. 
  • If your dog enjoys going in the water, make sure they know how to swim. 
Again, I'd like to emphasize, the more responsible dog guardians are, the more places we will be allowed to bring them. Please don't be that one person that ruins it for the rest of us! 

For additional information on training services for you and your dog, please contact us

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Pet First Aid & CPR Course Coming March 8th

Ninety-two percent of dogs and cats will experience an emergency during their life-time. Do you know what to do to help your four-legged friend? My friend Denise Fleck of Sunny-Dog INK knows what to do, and she wants to share it with you!

Her PET FIRST-AID & CPR CLASS will be offered at Veterinary Medical & Surgical Group (2199 Sperry Avenue – Ventura 93003) on Sunday, March 8th, 2009 from 10:00am – 3:00pm. 

Cost is $55 per person with a portion of the proceeds benefitting The Humane Society of Ventura County. Fee includes class tuition, handbook, certificate and wallet card for each student. 

Skills are taught through lecture, demonstration and hands-on practice. 
Techniques include:
  • Muzzling and Safe Approach of a sick or injured animal
  • How to Find Your Pet’s Pulse, Respiration, Capillary Refill Time & Hydration
  • Rescue Breathing & CPR
  • Bandaging & Splinting Techniques
  • How to handle Snake Bites, Bee Stings, Tick Removal
  • How to Administer Medications 
  • Using the items in your Pet First-Aid Kit
Conditions covered include:
  • Bloat
  • Burns
  • Choking
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Drowning
  • Electric Shock
  • Frostbite
  • Heat Stroke
  • Poisoning
  • Seizures

Denise will also cover such topics as:
  • The importance of developing a GOOD RELATIONSHIP with your VETERINARIAN
  • How to take a more active role in your dog or cat's health & care
  • Ten Situations that require IMMEDIATE Veterinary Care
  • An Introduction to Disaster Preparedness
Hopefully you'll never need to use these fine skills, but it will be great to have them handy, just in case!!! Be prepared! 

Saturday, February 7, 2009

House Training Issues: why do our dogs use the inside of our homes to eliminate?

Poncho and I have both been receiving questions regarding dogs - both puppy and adult- and house-training issues. Poncho answered one question more in-depth for our Noozhawk column, but I thought I'd address it myself.

As we all know, or you'll soon learn, dogs aren't known to generalize behaviors we want - this includes "knowing" the proper place to go potty. Sure, they've learned where to go where they live, but often times when you take them to a new location, they need to be re-taught. And, sometimes you need to re-teach those skills in even where they live. 

House-training basics should be instilled whenever a dog goes to a new place. Meaning, take the dog where you want him or her to eliminate, wait until they do just that, then reward them - using a yummy treat, petting, praise, and allowing them either freedom off the leash or getting to go inside the house/building etc... With consistency, the dog will learn that the trend of going outside is the better choice.

I have my students use this approach whenever they bring their dog to my Inquisitive Canine studio for classes or socials. Their dog is to go potty outside, and the reward is a treat and getting to come in for class. The first couple of times take a little longer (this is why I ask folks to arrive early), but once the dog "gets it", they're more likely to get their business done so they can come in for class. It's nice to see pooches that excited about going to school.

One other topic I'll mention regarding house-training is "texture" or "substrate" of the type of surface where a dog will usually eliminate. If they're used to a specific surface, then it changes, they might be "confused" and not "go potty" immediately. Take for instance wet grass vs dry. It's been raining out here (finally), so getting dogs out into the rain to potty may be a whole new experience for them - you might need to get out the treats, leash (to manage them from wandering off exploring other things) and take them outside yourself. Using some of your basic house-training techniques will help set them up for success - and help prevent you having to clean up.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Dog Behavior and Exercise: a look at before and after

My friend Emilia just emailed me a great photo of her dog Nellie. They were in my Manners Class this last Autumn, along with Nellie's dad Nick. Nellie is an absolute sweetheart! Friendly as can be, totally outgoing, motivated to learn, pays attention in class! Her mom and dad have always said she has lots of energy, and that sometimes it's hard to deal with, as you can see from this picture... You can also check out her energy level on my "chewing illegal items" post. 

Well they went on a little getaway where Nellie was able to run like the wind forever and a day... and when she got home she could barely chew her dinner let alone get into mischief. This is living proof why our domestic dogs need more exercise than they often receive. As I often say in my classes and privates: A tired dog is a happy dog, and a happier owner! A picture's worth a thousand words... and proof of how good a run-around session really is!  

Adaptation: Dogs have this trainer beat!

"Adaptations are structures or behaviors that enhance a specific function, causing organisms to become better at surviving and reproducing. They are produced by a combination of the continuous production of small, random changes in traits, followed by natural selection of the variants best-suited for their environment" - from the works of Charles Darwin. 

Okay, so it's another heat spell here in Ventura - at least by my standards. Hot and dry! I swear, California is now the new Arizona! One reason I relocated to Ventura was because of the fog and cool beach weather that seemed to exist most of the year...sure a few hot days in the summertime, but not for more than three days at a times... I'm not a big fan of the heat - and it seems that the "hot and dry" is now the norm. Ugh! I thought it was a phase...but I guess it's more about global warming...?

Adaptation, schmadaptation! I say to Chuck: FORGET IT! This animal is not motivated to adapt to the heat... Maybe it's because of my genetics (family heritage is irish/russian - talk about cooler weather)... And since I'm not passing my genetics along there might not be a reason for me to adapt or become more "fit". And hey, you lived in the UK! Where it rarely gets above the mid-70's! I could easily adapt to that! 

Anyway, why do I bring this up? Besides wanting to complain about the heat? Think about how our inquisitive canine friends have had to adapt. Not just domestication, but going from one home to another... sometimes more than one home. Sure there is a settling in period, but that usually lasts a few weeks to a few months... unlike me adapting to the heat - uh, never? 

Some of my great students in my manners classes and privates have new dogs in their lives... some from breeders, some from shelters...In either case, both humans and dogs will need to adapt to their new relationship and new living situation. And I'm sure they'll be able to do it much faster than I will ever be able to adapt to the heat!