Reflection of Positivity

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

Napoleon and I, after a short training session

With all of the emotional challenges I have faced recently, I have to keep focusing on the positives. I focus on how much good I do, and I also face the grim truth: We can’t save them all. But, the ones we are able to save will live on with better lives. I have to think positively.

So, this week’s blog is about my successes this year with my business and personal gains. At the beginning of the year, I had set goals.  Goals I had to accomplish in order to make a huge life change. To take a leap of faith, to make the jump. It all comes down to that decision.

My biggest goal was to get my certification. I have been talking to the owner of K9 Lifeline for quite some time (starting over a year ago) about taking her certification course. At the time, it was around $3,000 and 2 weeks long. Well, that means I needed the money, and I also needed 10 days of PTO. It takes a full month for me to earn 1 day. So, that was 10 months of absolutely no sick days, no vacations, and no ½ days for my own personal sanity. I started saving up my time last year around November. I had a few days saved, so if I didn’t take a day off for Christmas or any other holiday, or get sick, or have an emergency, I could take the course in July.

I had the time, but the Difficult Dog Workshop was in June, and I JUST HAD to go. Which cost me 3 days. That’s 3 more months of no sick days or vacation. I can do it, I know I can. That means I can take my certification in October, and to play it safe, let’s plan on November.

Then, I found out the eTouch Workshop was coming in October with another very reputable trainer. Ok, that’s another 2 days. Which means I’m looking at Dec/Jan. Ah man… at this rate, I’ll never get it. And I’ll never take a vacation!

Then I heard from another trainer that the course is a little cheaper, and is only 6 days, instead of 10, but I get the same amount of material. WHAT?!  Really?! I can take it now! So, the plan is in motion, and I hope to get my certification at the end of August! YAY!

Pack Walk 6/28/13

Pack Walk 6/28/13 (Click to enlarge)

I have also started doing my pack walks. This wasn’t a requirement, but it is a success, and I’m proud I have been able to organize this event. Every time I do them, they get a little easier, I gain a little more confidence, and more people show up for them!

I am now offering a nutritional workshop (hopefully twice a year) because so many clients have been interested in what is the best dog food or I’m interested in raw, I’m just feeding chicken, is that ok? I want to educate and help people do what is right for their dog. Wow, another big event, planned. Hook. Line. Sinker.

I have attended a few nutritional workshops, watched online seminars, increased my training network and made some awesome friends as well. I have read so many books, it sometimes feels I’m reading the same things over and over again. But, if I attend a seminar, read a book, or meet with new people at a workshop, and I learn ONE new thing, it was completely worth it. If I learn a lot, that knowledge is invaluable because I will build on that and learn more new things and become an even better trainer.

I have been asked to help during my trainer friend’s Saturday Socials, and I feel I am becoming more and more confident each week.  This was huge for me, because eventually, I want to run these. I have run a small social in my backyard with 11 dogs (specifically picked out who would be able to come) and I was pretty confident (but so nervous too!). I am more confident and assertive when I am by myself because I sometimes feel I am such a baby in this field, so when I am around someone with more experience, I tend to freeze up a little or my heart starts pounding. I have only been ‘on my own’ training for 2 years. I worked at Petsmart and did simple sit/stay training with my dogs in high school, but not like this.  I will someday be as awesome as these trainers. I can do it, and I am well on my way!

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

Mowgli was here for boarding for a weekend

I have started boarding in my own home. This was a scary move, but overall, I really enjoy it. The dogs are kept safe, get plenty of attention and stimulation and are in a loving environment. And I get to experience what handling more dogs feels like in a safe way. I try to only board dogs I know for this reason. Sometimes, I board dogs I haven’t met before, and it can go either way. I had a crazy dog I boarded in the beginning that was a disaster, but right now, I’m boarding 2 that I had never before. Both are sweethearts, and I’m happy to have them! I get to practice some of my own techniques, I get to practice reading dogs I don’t know, and I get to practice walking multiple dogs at the same time. Sometimes this is a huge challenge because I’ll be walking 4 dogs at once, and only one knows how to walk on a leash nicely. So, we take an hour to go around the block. But that’s just it – I get to practice!

I have actually started making money, and even though I won’t show a profit this year (which is actually a good thing for taxes, of course), I will next year. This year, I attended 2 workshops (so far, and plan to attend another) and my certification course, which weren’t cheap. So, I made money, and then spent it all on workshops.

I have plans in the making to get a better ‘dog car’ as mine is really taking a beating with all the dogs coming and going in it. This may not happen next year, but the year after. In the meantime, I need to find a way to keep my seats intact! Even Napoleon’s kennel won’t fit in my backseat.

We have plans about our location for when I get more serious about doing this. Either having a facility on my own lot, or leasing/purchasing a facility in the future. This is WAY in the future, just a dream right now, but it’s something.

The biggest success, if you can call it that, would be the decision the family and I had to make about their dog, Ryder. You can follow his whole story here. He was a very special Merle Great Dane who had an unpredictable streak. He could be loving on you and playing, and then turn and bite someone. Unfortunately, these are some of the hardest dogs to work with because you can’t find a trigger. We thought it was men, hats, uniforms, etc – but, he wouldn’t go after the same person twice, or the same hat, and if you switched the hat with another person, he would be fine. 95% of the time, he was manageable and just needed training. The other 5% of the time, he was unpredictable and could seriously hurt someone. He was hard to adopt out, and we didn’t find the right home. So, we made the decision to euthanize him. We didn’t come to this decision lightly and it was months of talking about options. I won’t get into everything again, but this was the right thing. I cried pretty much the whole week, I was emotionally exhausted, I didn’t want to talk about it anymore, I wanted a miracle to show up on my doorstep and be the perfect place for him, or I wanted Best Friends to take him. Neither happened. But now, I am at peace with this decision and I am still sad of the outcome – it won’t ever be a ‘happy ending’. But, I know he is running free and will be happy now, without having to worry about anything. I had to make this decision and it has made me a better trainer. This was a turning point in my career. I’m sad it had to be him, but I’m happy he is free and healthy now.

Most of all, I can’t ‘count’ how much I have learned this year, but I have really taken an initiative on learning as much as I can, and sacrificing so much to do this. I have also learned so much about myself, and I feel more complete because of what I have accomplished.  I don’t have the constant stress feeling of ‘Am I doing this right?’ or ‘I’m going to fail, what if I fail?’ feelings. If I fail, I get up and try again. If I get bit or kicked in the teeth, I put a band-aid on and try again. I won’t let other trainers, dogs, people, or my mistakes stop me from continuing on. I will learn from them and be a better trainer for them. I’m happy to take constructive criticism and coaching, but please – no need to be an asshat about it. I want to learn, and I can admit I don’t know everything.

I work in the dog industry, a bite is bound to happen. Not that I want it to, but just like working in construction, it’s inevitable. It’s not if, it’s when.

I’m happy, and I see an end to these 100 hour workweeks. I see a light, and I’m excited to see what happens. Scared, but excited.

I can do this.

His story comes to an end

Hard decisions make us the people we are. We want to be the one to make the hard decisions and take charge of a difficult situation. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, we want to be the person who is being taken care of, instead of the decision maker.

You see, when you become a trainer, it’s not all about playing with puppies and teaching Sit/Stays. You have to work through the hard issues too. Hard issues like euthanasia of a difficult dog. Hard issues like the possibility of having an aggressive or dangerous, unpredictable dog in the presence of a child. Specifically a very large dog who is unpredictable.

You can work as hard as you can, but it’s not enough. Again, now is one of those times. I did everything I knew how to do and exhausted every resource. I made all the recommendations, and the family followed through with all the homework. They really did everything, too. But it comes down to how much progress has been done and how much more needs to be accomplished. It’s more than what I can do, it’s more than what the family could do. Even if he went with the best trainer in the world, I believe the outcome may have been the same. There was a ‘right’ family out there for him, but either it wasn’t the right time, they weren’t experienced enough yet, or they didn’t hear my cries for help. Either way, the decision has been made and the end has come. I also can’t think like that anymore – there is always something else to do. That’s a pet owner’s way of thinking, and I will torture myself thinking ‘What if?’. Thinking as a trainer, I exhausted all resources and didn’t come to this decision lightly.

The question needs to be asked, “Can you trust this dog to make the right decision?”. The answer was No. It has been no for the last 8 months, and I don’t see this changing. With dogs like this, you have to constantly be on your guard and be ready in case things go bad. The one time you let your guard down will be the one time something might happen. This dog was fine 95% of the time, but in those small moments when he wasn’t, bites have happened. A dog that gives no warning is the most dangerous kind of dog. A dog that is unpredictable makes this situation even worse. Even though he is sweet 95% of the time… the moment you let your guard down is when something will happen. This dog was not a monster, but sweet and confused. The product of a hard puppy-hood and negligence and malnutrition. He was a great dog.

It’s exhausting, and you don’t see an end. A decision needs to be made. Can you rehome the dog? Can you adopt them out? Is euthanasia the only option? How do you find the right home? What are the conditions of adopting out an unpredictable, dominant, possibly aggressive dog? What about liability? Is that a life for the family? Why should they have to do this? What kind of quality is that kind of life for a dog? And what if, at some point, he does finally get to be a decent dog? How much time will this senior dane have left? How much time will he get to enjoy his hard-earned freedom? How many people are willing to take on a project senior Great Dane who is likely to bite again? These were all things that we discussed. These were all valid points, and unfortunately, the answer was that in the most ideal family, and with the best training, he would still be a project dog and once the training was ‘done’ (because training is never ‘done’), he wouldn’t have much time left in his short life.

That’s always something to think about. At some point, you need to weigh the cost and quality of life for the animal. Euthanasia is a better alternative, and this way, he can be happy.

Sometimes, that means euthanasia is the best option. Weighing this option is never an easy topic. It’s never easy to think about or discuss, especially with a dog that isn’t yours. How do you even bring up this topic? What if you get attached and you don’t want to accept it yourself?

I have always been of the opinion that euthanasia was an unnecessary option. It was a ‘lazy’ option for people who didn’t want to fix the problem. But after seeing some of the best trainers in the United States have to make the same decisions, my opinion was swayed. I still want to do everything else to not have to make this decision, and I thought that when I had to discuss with a client, it wouldn’t be this dog. It wouldn’t be this client, and it would be years later in my training. But after exploring every angle, talking to the best trainers, and discussing options with the family, I am confident this is the right decision. Even though it hurts and feels like I’m being ripped apart. I know in my heart this is right.

What happens when you have to have this discussion, not only with a client, but with a friend? I handled it in a way that I knew how. I thought about how, if a trainer told me this was the best option for MY dog, how would I want to be told? These are my friends, and I love this dog. But that doesn’t mean it made it any easier. In fact, this made it harder. Part of the job – the hardest part. This is the part where trainers get judged the most, and where second guessing makes this decision even harder.

I’m trying to turn this around and think in a positive light. This will make me a better trainer. I’m sure I will have this same discussion again in the future. If I want to work with difficult dogs, which I do – this is not the last time I will discus euthanasia. I can do it, and I will learn how to better handle these situations. I can learn from this experience and I can learn from everything this dog had to teach me. I won’t forget anything, and I won’t tarnish his memory by making the same mistakes again. I will remember this dog and all the work the family did, the dog did, and how much I put into him. It’s not anyone’s fault it didn’t work out. I will get better, and just like Albert, I will learn from Ryder. To see all of Ryder’s progress, see his notes here.

I love you, kid.

R.I.P. Ryder
2010-2013

Taken on 7/24/13

Taken on 7/24/13

MemorialStone1

A Few Thoughts

So, I have some catching up to do. My life has gone to the dogs, and that’s a good thing! I have been working tirelessly to make the change, and every day I’m a little closer!

First order of business, I hosted another pack walk and it was very successful. I believe I had around 20-28 dogs. Some people came late, some left early, and some joined in while we were walking. So, getting a hard count was a little difficult. This time was better than my first walk, as I was trying to keep everyone together as a group. The dogs benefit the most from having everyone in a pack, not spread out. I’m getting better at this, but it’s going to take some time.

I LOVE the benefits of pack walks and I enjoy getting everyone together to host them. It’s a great way to safely socialize and a great gateway to doing full blown socials while I’m learning more about dog behavior and getting used to reading every single little subtle sign. It’s exhausting, and I feel I miss a lot. But that takes experience. No book or seminar will teach me everything – I have to get out there and do it. At a safe pace of course. I’m not about to take on a really nasty behavioral problem just because I need the experience.

Here’s a video of the walk. If you follow through my comments, you’ll see how every person and dog’s behavior smooths out near the end of the walk. There were a few dogs who needed additional help (The German Shepherd for one), but for the most part, the dogs’ calmed down pretty well.

Secondly, I have started helping with Wasatch Canine Camp’s socials. How awesome is that? (HUGE SWELLING HAPPY FEELING!) However, I feel like I’m miles behind the trainer and her skillset (won’t mention names for privacy), and I have so much to learn. She has also been doing this a lot longer than I have. But I won’t give up, and I’m trying very hard to not feel down when I realize this. I just focus on the good things – like how much progress I have made within the last year, and where I will be at the end of this year. Someday, maybe I will have a facility. It’s a dream right now, but maybe if I work hard enough, I can get there.

The hard part about socials is that you can’t really talk to people while you are there. I’m still in ‘spectator’ mode instead of ‘presenter’ mode. I have to watch every single dog and every interaction to make sure it is appropriate interactions between people and dogs. I feel like I have to be in every place at once, and sometimes I feel like I can’t keep up. At K9 Lifeline, the instructor (again, I won’t say names) said you’ll get a feel for when things are about to happen before they actually do. Like when the energy changes in a particular part of the room/area. I haven’t felt that yet. Will I get there? I feel like I have to be in all places at once, and I don’t think this class can be taught with just one person. Well, the size of the class matters, of course. On average, the class is about 30-40 dogs. I don’t know if I would be comfortable taking that much responsibility yet. Maybe someday – just not yet.  I’m not scared, just… I don’t know enough and I feel I’m a ‘baby’ in this field. It’s comforting to know I have more experienced trainers watching my back while I’m learning, but giving me enough room to grow and to make mistakes. I really look up to these women, and I hope someday I can be as successful as them.

Napoleon

Napoleon, waking me up in the morning

Something else I have noticed is that I find myself being passive around more experienced trainers. Not as assertive as I normally am or I shut down, in one particular person’s case. Like to the point where I can’t speak – I can hardly breathe and I end up having a panic attack.  This affects my performance, the way the animals see me, and I’m not as strong of a leader as I need to be. I have started working on this and I mentally prepare myself before going to class or to an event where more qualified people will gather. One step at a time – I have started asking questions about social, asking about behavior I have missed, and I’m beginning to analyze every dog I see. Sometimes I wish I could turn that off, but other times I’m proud I see so much more than the average dog owner. At first, I was ashamed I needed to ask any questions. But then, I realized that everyone has to start somewhere, and to be the best I can be, I have to stop worrying about what people think about me. I need to buck up and ask. I was always worried someone would say, “Well, you are a trainer, you should know that!” or “You call yourself a trainer, but you can’t handle [insert something here]?” I haven’t received that reaction at all – what do I have to be anxious about? …A trainer asked me that about a dog once – and now I’m asking that same question to myself. What do I have to be worried/anxious/scared about? I’m over it.

I want to turn off the auto-dog-evaluations when I’m out with friends, at parks, or when someone says ‘Your dog is so perfect! He loves people and is just happy’. I want to say: “My dog is not happy nor is he perfect by any means. He’s over adrenalized and he isn’t in the right state of mind, and makes bad decisions. He can’t learn anything in this state of mind, and when you are baby talking him and loving on him, you are reinforcing this behavior and undoing work I have done for the past 8 months. I have been working with him about calming down around people, other dogs, and distractions. He was doing well, and now I have to undo all the un-training you just did.”

Ok that’s really harsh and I haven’t ever said that to anyone, but at the same time, it’s true. My dog is high energy, and with the combination of the wrong state of mind (over excited), he can’t learn anything. I have put him into a calm state of mind before any training, or he won’t learn anything. No, he’s not perfect. He really isn’t, but he is a gem. He’s my rock, and I wouldn’t trade him for the world. Not that we were talking about that – but I am constantly looking at dogs, the people handling them, and how they are reacting. Napoleon can get amped up so quickly, so we purchased an eCollar to manage his mindset. It was really made a difference, though I haven’t received any formal training on it yet.

Any who, I think this is a long enough post for today, so I’ll end here. Next time, I am going to post about Ryder, my training challenge right now. I had him again this week, and I really had to take my time with him on most everything.  He’s a bit of a handful when he is being naughty!

And just to show... here's the obedience class I was enrolled in.

And just to show… here’s the obedience class I was enrolled in. (Click for larger image!)

Difficult Dog Workshop

Difficult-dog-training-utah-county-k9-lifelineLast week, I had the opportunity to attend a difficult dog training workshop hosted by K9 Lifeline. Heather Beck and her staff taught us how to handle aggression, stubbornness, and over-adrenalized behavior.

Of all the things we talked about (which was a lot, it was a 4 day workshop), there was one particular thing I wanted to highlight that has changed the way I train. It was completely life changing.

See, when I started out, I was positive techniques only. Now, I realize that if I want to work with truly difficult dogs, I need to adjust the way I train. Happy go lucky dogs benefit from positive techniques, but they also learn to be over-adrenalized and can’t learn to calm themselves down. So, you also introduce another problem with using only positive techniques.

Now, one of the major things I learned that I need to work on is adjusting how I feel when working with a difficult dog. I preach patience, patience, patience, but I wasn’t practicing unconditional patience with the dog I brought to the workshop. After the instructor pointed out I was tense, I realized … I was! And I found myself frustrated as well because I felt like we weren’t getting anywhere. So, I adjusted my attitude and instead of thinking, “I’m going to stand here and wait until you realize we aren’t going anywhere until you give up.” to “Let me show you what I want, and we’ll go from there. Whenever you get amped up, we stop and I apply pressure. Once you calm down, the pressure goes away. I’ll wait so we can set you up to succeed. We’ll take as long as you need.” I learned to have unconditional patience, and I also realized that when we are training, I can’t stop until we make it a good note.

dog-training-utah-county-newfoundland-difficult-dogLast night, I was training a 6 month old Newfoundland puppy. We have been training for a few weeks, but I saw aggression yesterday while we were training. We haven’t seen this before from him. This is the ‘fight’ stage, and we need to work him through it (carefully so no one gets hurt). We were practicing working with the Halti with the family, and I was having the younger kids work with him to learn how to use the pressure appropriately. Well, one of the kids didn’t want to be there (we’ll call him Kid B), he didn’t want to train, and it seemed he didn’t like the dog either. So, as soon as he took the leash, he was a bit heavier with the corrections, and the dog turned on him and started nipping, jumping, growling, and barking at him. So, I corrected the child, and we worked the puppy through it. He eventually calmed down, and then we did another round with me, then mom, then then Kid A, and then back to Kid B. The dog again, got aggressive, so I took the leash because I was worried the kid would actually get hurt (this is now a 70 lb puppy who is biting, not nipping anymore). I corrected him softly with just pressure from the Halti, and he took a good 15 minutes to calm down. I got bit a few times on the hand, but then he jumped to bite towards my stomach. No blood, just bruises, but that surprised me. I’m applying what I learned at the difficult dog workshop, and we didn’t give up until the dog was calmed down and on a positive note. We can’t stop when he’s being aggressive because he will learn that’s what he needs to do to get people to do what he wants.

So, I assigned the family to have just the older kids (2 more kids who weren’t here for today’s training) and mom work with him for now since he does bite hard and is fighting so much. This is the first step of learning a few technique. FIGHT – and that’s exactly what he’s doing. So, we need to work him through it.  I checked how I felt while working with him. I was concentrating on not getting mauled, and I was working on my feelings. I’m not scared of getting bit, it’s going to happen at some point. I want to avoid it, but I’m not scared. I felt… calm, relaxed, but focused. I was concentrating on focusing that energy towards him.  He did eventually calm down and we could end the training on a good note and kennel him to process everything he learned.

So, just a few days after I learned how to calm my own mind, I’m learning how to do this with my clients’ dogs, and I saw success. Even though I was late to my next appointment, I wasn’t ending until I saw him relax and calm down and accept what I was trying to teach him. I didn’t give up, and I was focused on being calm and working him through it.

Productive Weekend

PupsWell, even though I didn’t get a lot of down time this weekend, I had a blast! I hired my friend’s son to come out and help with some yard work, had some adult drinks, and had plenty of puppy play time on Saturday and Sunday!

Raven

Friday, after I came home from training, I got all caught up on paperwork, brushed the kitties, and then headed to bed early. I had an early start the next day. Even though there was no social class on Saturday, I had a ton of yard work to do. Winter cleanup always hits me hard, and I just can’t seem to catch up. So, I hired a teenager to come do the dirty work. My friend brought her 2 furkids over to play with Napoleon, and we ended up helping and digging out a dead pine tree out of my yard. We were fabulous!

PlaydateWe worked for four and a ½ hours, and ended the day getting about 75% of the yard done, a nice sunburn, and some tired pooches. I was really happy to make a new friend, and get to know her and her son a little better. We’ll have to have a BBQ or go up to the creek to have the dogs play a bit sometime. It was really fun.

On Sunday, they came back to help me finish the yard, and have our furkids play again. I had another friend come over with her Newfie puppy and it was like a small dog park in my yard for about an hour. Well, as I have mentioned previously, I have a problem with my dog mounting. Saturday, we pretty much took care of the problem, but Sunday – he started mounting the puppy in full force.

NapoleonBeau

I try to catch this before it happens, but sometimes, he is pretty quick. I can catch it about 80-90% of the time before he actually does the mount. When he does successfully jump on the other dog, I have tried saying his name sternly/loudly to get his attention, spray bottle/vinegar to the face, pet convincer, pulling him off and then tethering him for ‘calm down’ time, tethering him to me, and completely separating him from the other dog (having him kenneled or put somewhere else – out of eyesight. I have started kneeing him hard in the chest when I catch up right before he mounts. All of these things sometimes work, but are not 100% reliable. If he is really adrenalized, he stares at me and does it anyway. I don’t feel this is a leadership issue, as we don’t have any of the other problems with challenging, pulling on the leash, not listening, jumping, etc. He is a high energy, over-adrenalized dog. I can put all of this problems into that one category, and I have enlisted the help of another trainer on this problem, as what I know isn’t working. We start an obedience course that will also cover this problem on Saturday.

Playdate2I think my last option to handle this behavior is an eCollar. We have tried everything else, and this is one behavior I have yet to be able to curb. So, we’ll be working on this in full force. I will be purchasing a Tri Tronic bark collar  soon.  I will need to speak to my local trainer about which one is right for my needs with Napoleon, but I’m excited to try a new approach with him. I will need to learn more about the eCollar in the meantime. As soon as I take my Certification program from K9 Lifeline, I will be Certified in eTouch (using eCollars and the like). I don’t feel comfortable teaching this to clients until then. I want to make sure I know what I’m talking about before I go and introduce a new tool.

Anyway, we finished up the lawn, had a great weekend with some puppies, and at the end of the day on Sunday, I finished it off by watching some Scrubs. My second favorite show. My first favorite is Grey’s Anatomy.

How did you spend your weekend?Chaco

Temp Foster Puppy

GunnerI had a rare opportunity to foster a puppy for a few days until his new foster mom came to pick him up. I had him for only Saturday morning to Sunday night, but all the same, it was a real great opportunity. At the same time, I had volunteered to help out a friend and babysit his new dog for 4 days. Which means, I would have a house full of dogs for a few days. I’m all good with that!

The puppy: a young 2-3 month old (I was told 3 months, but his size seemed like he should be younger than that) male border collie/lab mix. He was such a cute little guy, who was GREAT at all his training! I had spent some time with him before this weekend, so I knew a bit of his background. I worked with him previously, and he responded to training very quickly. By the time the foster mom came to pick him up, he had learned a few more things:

photo (1)

-He had almost stopped nipping completely
-Knew proper social cues when playing with other dogs
-Was introduced to cats, and he did great!
-Had only 1 accident, and that was my fault, anyway. I didn’t get there in time.
-Didn’t whine/bark in the crate anymore
-Wasn’t picking up inappropriate objects in the house anymore
-Was comfortable with being held in any way
-Jumping up was dramatically reduced
-While tethered/left to be by himself for a minute, he was lying down quietly learning to be independent.

I miss that little guy. SO CUTE! If I only had enough time to foster him, I would have! L

However, I was (and still am) also babysitting another furbaby. My friend’s new dog, an English Pointer. Such a cool dog! Now, I’ll tell you all about him on Thursday, as he is with us until Wednesday night. Stay tuned!


I really should just get my boarder’s license! I baby-sit so often, but I LOVE IT!

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Good Day

Had a pretty good day so far. It all starts by how I wake up. I woke up a few minutes before my alarm this morning, and got ready for my doggie social class. I was going to a different class today, as the dog I normally take was neutered on Thursday. He’s not ready to up and around yet. Class went well, BIG CLASS today. I LOVE big classes!

Me and NapoleonThere were 3 Great Danes in class today, and Napoleon made friends with one of them. They played the whole time, and made the ache of getting a dane come back. A lady in my neighborhood is going to be having Dane puppies in May, and I’m interested, but not quite sold yet. I don’t have a lot of information yet. I have a ton of questions to ask, and I want to make sure I get a healthy puppy. I don’t so much care about show lines or whatever, but I just want to make sure mom and dad are healthy.

I was able to talk to the head trainer about some concerns I have been having with Napoleon and the crating. He is crate-trained, because he knows the command, goes in no problem, and lays down immediately.

It was a nice day today, so my husband and I took our motorcycle out and have lunch. It was a great day, and I love having a mini-date when we can. We came home, and then worked on my website.When we are gone, I have nanny-cammed him before, and he is perfect. Just goes to sleep, or chews on his bone. But if we are home, he whines, and has a high-pitched migraine-inducing bark. …nonstop! I have waited for hours before.  All the techniques I have used with other dogs-not working for my boy! So, my trainer recommended I try out a bark collar. I haven’t used one before, but this will be good. I’ll get to learn how to use one on my own boy, and learn the proper way to use it. The goal is to eventually not use it all. I will be giving this a try.

It’s finished! Yay! Pawsitive Dog Training. I’m pretty happy with the outcome, and I can happily say I am very proud of my work. Finally finished, and I’m happy with the logo my friend made for me. I’ve been through countless logos, including another one my coworker made for me for free. None of them were… simple enough, or didn’t fit my business model. I found one I can use for anything, and that’s exactly what I have been looking for.

So, now, I’m off to play some video games, and drink more coffee. Yum! Have a great weekend, all!

House Training for puppies and Adult Dogs

potty-training-dogsThe most common questions I get from new puppy owners are about potty training. So, I thought I would make an article about it.

Tips to Remember:

Hagen-Dogit-Puppy-Potty-Training-Kit

Puppy Pads – Big No-No!

DON’T use puppy pads or any other paper training. This is teaching the dog it is still ok to go in the house.  Crate training is a better alternative.
DON’T expect too much too soon. Puppies take a few months to be reliable in the house. Puppies have very little control over their bladder until they are over 6 months old.
-If you bring the dog outside, and it doesn’t’ eliminate, even though it is showing signs of needing to go, take him/her back inside, and crate for 10-15 minutes. Then, take him out to the same place again.
DON’T assume that because your dog didn’t go outside, that he won’t go inside. Make sure to supervise your dog AT ALL TIMES at least for the first year they are in the house.

DO keep your dog on a leash EVERY TIME they are outside. Walk outside with your dog, wait patiently in the area you want them to eliminate, and then praise calmly when they are done. THEN, let the dog of the leash (if in a fenced area) to play for a few minutes. You want to teach the ‘fun outside playtime’ is a reward for relieving itself rather than ending the fun when the puppy does his business outside.
-As soon as your dog starts to eliminate in the house, quickly move the dog outside, and then praise if she/he continues to go when they are outside.
DON’T let your dog see you clean up a mess in the house. This gives them the idea you will always be there to clean it up.
REMEMBER: House training incidents are the human’s mistake, not the dog’s. NEVER get angry or upset with your dog for having accidents in the house.

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Containment

papillon_in_crate_s

Your dog will not eliminate in places where he/she is not allowed to go. Using a crate is an excellent way to quickly housetrain.  Does will generally not go to the bathroom where they sleep.   MAKE SURE your dog is safely confined when you cannot watch them 100% of the time. This is CRUCIAL to their success while they are in training.

You can also use the Umbilical Cord Method’.

Connect a 6 foot leash to yourself (belt, pants, etc) and have it connected it to you wherever you go. Your dog should be hooked up on the leash, and be following you everywhere.

Instead of waiting for potty signals from the dog, take the dog outside every hour. Use the verbal cue “Want to go outside?” in a happy tone when you get to the door. ALWAYS USE THE SAME DOOR IN THE BEGINNING.

When the dog eliminates, praise calmly, but enthusiastically.

Whenever the dog is not in the crate, he should be attached to you. If be begins to eliminate in your presence, correct him with a loud ‘eh-eh!’ to distract him. As soon as you have his attention, lead him outside. Then praise when he does go outside.

1st Milestone:
10 days with no accidents – disconnect leash, and limit freedom. Dog needs to stay in the same room (within visual distance). 100% SUPERVISION IS STILL CRUCIAL. Continue this step for 30 days.

2nd Milestone:
30 days no accidents – you can allow more freedom. Confine to the dog to 1 room + an additional room. DO NOT give freedom to the entire house. He can be alone in these 2 rooms for a short period of time. Be sure to crate if you leave the house, even for a few minutes. Continue to take out every hour, and continue to praise when he goes outside. Continue this for 30 days.

Final Milestone:
NO accidents for 60 days: He can now be given free reign of the house. But still should be crated when you leave the house.

If there are accidents during the training, go back a step and start there. If there is another accident after you already took a step back, take another step back and try again.

Scheduling

Dog BowlHaving a consistent schedule for food, water, walks, and elimination will help your dog learn the patterns, and decrease the time it takes for them to learn to not go in the house. Here are some tips on building a schedule:

DO NOT leave food and water all day. Have mealtimes. I recommend (and this varies depending on situation, what food they are on, etc.) feeding twice a day. Once a day is fine as well, if they are eating dry kibble. But either way – have a mealtime. Give them 15 minutes to eat, and then take the rest away.  You can better predict when your dog needs to go to the bathroom based on when they ate/drank last.

WATER: This is tricky for some, because you don’t think about it. When potty training, personally, I also limit the water intake. I offer it with food, always. I offer it at times throughout the day, at least until potty training is a bit more reliable. Eventually, you will want to offer water all day.

-Puppies tend to eliminate a few minutes before or after drinking water or eating. Their elimination schedule looks something like this:
-When they first wake up in the morning.
-After playing, or something during playtime.
-After a nap.
-Right after drinking, and/or eating.
-Sometimes before eating.
-After chewing on a bone or toy.
-If he hasn’t been out for an hour or two.
-Puppies are still developing bladder control, so be patient with them!! It’s not their fault, they are still learning!
-This process works for adult dogs, too!

Praise

Always praise calmly, but enthusiastically when your dog eliminates outside in the correct place. This will ‘mark’ or teach the behavior, and they will want to earn the reward (praise) next time.

-Make sure to praise right when your dog is going. NOT when they come inside. Otherwise, they think they are being praised for coming inside with you. This is a good thing too, but not relevant for house training.

In case of an accident

Now, when you dog does go on your favorite rug, or on the couch, understand they did it for one reason. To pee!  Dogs aren’t capable of feeling “mad” or “vengeful”, they aren’t doing it “in spite of” you. With the exceptions of territorial urine marking, illness, or (rarely) separation distress syndrome, dogs go to the bathroom in the house for one reason: they have never been properly housetrained by the owner.

Training

NEVER use treats as a reward for potty training, as this can cause some confusion when you wean them
off the treats. They won’t understand why they aren’t getting them anymore.
NEVER yell or hit your dog for eliminating in the incorrect place.
NEVER rub your dog’s nose in it either. Punishment doesn’t help training. All it does it teach the dog your presence is a dangerous thing.

So, how do you correct them if they start going in the house?
If they start to go in the house, make an ‘eh-eh!’ sound or clap your hands to distract them. As soon as you have their attention, scoop them up, put on a leash, and then run outside. When your dog finishes, praise calmly, but enthusiastically.

If you want to teach your dog to go in a certain area of the yard, use a verbal cue, like ‘Go Potty!’, ‘Get Busy’, etc. Say this as soon as he starts eliminating so he can associate those words with going to the bathroom.

CSR372OriginalSO_FamilyShot_REVCarpet Cleaners

You want to make sure you get a cleaner that actually removes the odor enzymes as well as the stain. If it smells like the last time they eliminated, they will want to go in the same place over and over again.
DON’T use any cleaning supplies that have ammonia in them, as ammonia acts like an attractor, and your dog will want to mark it again.

I recommend:
-Simple Solution
-Nature’s Miracle
-Woolite Pet & Oxygen

010279110775C***NOTE: Many people also ask about using a bell on the door. This is also easily trainable, but requires additional consistency, and you have to make sure you use the dog’s paws or nose on the bell EVERY TIME you ask ‘Do you want to go outside?’ to teach the dog this means the same thing as the verbal cue.