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Monthly Archives: April 2012

A Tired Dog Is A Good Dog

     Almost everyone who has owned a young dog understands the seemingly unlimited energy they posses. This energy can be very fun and rewarding when expressed appropriately. However, if it is not expelled it could mean big trouble for both the dog and owner. I always tell people that the energy and drive is going to be used, and if the owner does not direct it the dog will and I promise they won’t like the way Fido exercises by himself. Pent up energy can lead to numerous behavioral problems, and many of them are easily written off as a different issue all together.

These behavior problems include: Jumping, chewing, destroying your belongings, digging, barking, getting into the trash, running away or bolting, playing keep away from you with your stuff, nipping, and biting.

      This list is only some of the issues that may arise, and some of them are sure to occur if you do not exercise your dog. There are many ways to exercise your effectively and today I am going to address what I refer to as the three spheres of exercise, their affects on behavior, and how to effectively address each. These three spheres of exercise are:

  1. Physical exercise: It is no secret that dogs need a lot of physical exercise. This allows them to get their blood flowing, run, play, and drain the pure energy that they have. It is imperative that dogs get to run and play daily! While walks around the neighborhood are very important, they do not do a whole lot to drain all that pent up energy. How many times have you finished a nice long walk just to have your dog be ready to go again ten minutes later? Physical exercise means running and playing, get them breathing hard and wear them out.
  2. Mental exercise: Many people overlook the fact that dogs need to be challenged mentally as well. Their body may be tired, but if their mind is still fresh they will still get in trouble. Satisfy this by teaching tricks and practicing them daily. Interactive toys that make them think such as dog puzzles and hidden treat toys are a great way to strain their brain without taking all of your time. Remember that mental exercise can make up for physical exercise in times of inclement weather or when you just have too much going on to adequately run them.
  3. Drive exercise: This is one of the most overlooked aspects of a well rounded exercise routine, but in fairness may be one of the more difficult to accomplish. Most dogs, even mixed breeds, have certain drives characteristics that fuel who they are. Herding breeds like to coral and chase things, terriers like to dig and “kill” things, retrievers like to retrieve, and so on. Allowing your dog to practice these behaviors will satisfy the need to do them randomly. Ease this by providing a sand box for your terrier to dig up hidden toys, this will help with digging  in other inappropriate areas. Or make sure you play a nice long, fun game of fetch with you lab or retriever a couple times a week.

      The good news is that if done correctly, you can kill at least two, and sometimes three, birds with one stone. Playing games that address all of these three exercise needs will ensure your pet is healthy and happy, and will help alleviate those behavior problems brought about by boredom. Now, this is the real world and many of us have families and busy lives. A great way to ensure your dog gets the exercise they need and deserve is to plan ahead. When you know your not going to have time to wear Fido out try planning a day for him at day camp, and have a tired well behaved dog when you pick him up. An alternative is to take advantage of the numerous dog parks we have aroundKnoxville. Nothing will wear a dog out like letting them run and play with friends that can really keep up.

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What Can Remote Trainers Teach Anyway?

 

     Using a remote trainer can be intimidating. Many people feel uncomfortable because they are unsure of exactly what to do, but with a little practice and guidance, anyone can learn to use a remote training collar correctly and efficiently. When I first started, it even took me a few days to get comfortable but now it is practically second nature! Some people believe remote trainers are used only to correct bad behaviors such as digging in the trash or chewing, but there are actually several good behaviors you can teach and encourage with a remote trainer. The systems can really enhance your relationship with your pet.

 

  1. “Sit”: This easy behavior can be taught very quickly, and you can add an implied “stay” so you do not have to teach a separate command. Simply, tell your dog to sit while pushing the button. Remember, the static level should be on a setting that gets your dog’s attention but does not scare them. With a treat in your other hand, move towards your dog and hold it just above his nose. As his nose rises, his tail drops. When his seat hits the ground, stop pushing the button. Repeat a few times with a treat, and then remove the reward so he only listens to the communication from the remote. See? Now your pet can sit.
  2. “Bed”:  This is a great thing to teach, because it gives your dog a specific place to go and stay. It comes in really handy when you have guests coming into your home or the pizza delivery guy is at the door. While pushing the button, with your dog on a leash, lead him to his bed and say “bed” or whatever command you would like (others include place, home, etc.). When he is on the designated spot, stop administering the stimulation. Back away from the spot and watch your pet’s reaction. If he steps away from the bed, move back towards him while again pushing the button, and repeat the command until he returns. Soon he will understand where you want him during that command.
  3. Voiceless “come”: Have you ever been in a dog park or open field with your four legged friend running around have a ball, but when it was time to call him back you find yourself yelling to no avail? Using the vibration or beep function on a remote trainer gives you the ability to teach your dog to come back to you without having to say a word. This is something that all of my clients love! You can easily teach this after you have taught the sit command. Simply ask your dog to sit and, while he is on a leash, back away from him. When you are a few feet away, call him to you while pushing the vibration or tone button. When he gets to you, stop the noise or stimulation and repeat. He will quickly understand that noise or sensation means to join you wherever you are.
  4. Off leash “heel”: One of the most common problems I encounter is a dog, who has no leash manners. Instead of being drug around or even pulled to the ground, your can use a remote collar to stop pulling altogether. While, you have a dog on a leash, push the static button and pull him to your side to walk where you want him. Instruct him to “heel,” and – as he does as you ask – remove the stimulation. If he begins to pull again, return to the stimulation to encourage him to behave. Your dog will quickly understand what you are asking of him.

 

With these commands you can have a well behaved dog, and all of them can be taught in a few weeks. Remember to be patient and relaxed during your training seasons. Treat your pet often and of course give them lots of love to keep it fun for them. In no time, you will see the improvement in your pet’s behavior and the relationship you share.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Dining with your dog

     Last week we touched on basic dog park etiquette, and as we continue to progress through Spring and into Summer, there are other areas of dog etiquette that should be addressed. This week we will touch on dog-friendly restaurant etiquette.. While dining with your pets remember these following etiquette tips to ensure a great experience for all involved.

  1. Keep your dog under control: No one wants to eat around a dog that is constantly barking, trying to steal food, or causing a scene. To prevent this try putting him in a down stay or sit stay and reward with a treat for prolonged obedience. If your dog is uncontrollable then perhaps go through some training with Fido and reevaluate his abilities afterward.
  2. Do not feed other dogs: As much as they may look at you and beg, you should not feed another dog your food. It is impossible to tell what allergies the dog may have, or worse yet, if they have food aggression, it could start fights between dogs. If you cannot resist the urge, the best thing to do is to ask the owner if their dog can have whatever you are offering and make sure other dogs are far enough away.
  3. Ensure accommodations for you dog: Remember that your dog can heat up quickly, and while the restaurant provides for you, they probably do not have dog bowls. Make sure you have something available to offer water to your dog. If you are going to be on the patio for a while, it is not a bad idea to look for the most shaded area to allow Fido an escape from direct sunlight.
  4. Do not use extendable leashes: Many people walk their dogs with retractable or extendable leashes. These leashes can malfunction and prevent you from being able to control where your dog goes. The release buttons on these leashes are also very easy to accidentally hit and before you know it Fido can be two or three tables over helping themselves to someone’s lunch.
  5. Take your dog on a bathroom walk: Nobody wants a meal to be entertained by a show involving dog’s bathroom habits. The best way to ensure that your dog will not disturb you or others is to make extra time for a bathroom walk. While accidents do happen, a pre-lunch walk will help reduce them. As always, if an accident does occur, it is your responsibility to clean it up immediately.

      Following these simple etiquette procedures ensures everyone can enjoy and share restaurant patios with our four-legged friends. Having lunch with your dog can be a great way to socialize them and allows them get practice being in public. As responsible dog parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that we only create good environments at dog-friendly restaurants to avoid having the privilege revoked. Lets all work together to show that not only can dogs and humans can dine together publicly, but that it can be a fun and rewarding experience as well. There are many restaurants that allow dogs to share in the dining experience on the patios, and you can find a list of these restaurants in Knoxvilleat http://petfriendliestcommunity.com/Content/BusinessDirectory/Default.aspx?ind=5&zip=0. The Most Pet Friendliest Community initiative has made great strides to allow this to happen so please show your appreciation by patronizing these establishments

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

Don’t be “that guy” at the dog park!

     This time of the year is welcomed with open arms, and Spring also signals the kickoff ofDogParkseason! Dog parks are great ways to get out and let our furry friends socialize, play, and really stretch their legs. It is good for us too, as we get to spend some quality relaxation time outside in the sun before it gets sweltering hot and all we want to do is find a lake or the closest A/C. Take advantage of this perfect weather and the great dog parks that are around, and do so often! To ensure you and your dog have the best experience possible it is important that some basic dog park etiquette is followed. Today, I am going to share some basic etiquette that will benefit all involved.

  1. DRESS APPROPRIATELY: Dogs go to the park to play and burn off some of that wild energy. Because of this it should be common knowledge that you will probably get jumped on by at least one or two dogs who may be wet or muddy. A good general rule of thumb is – if you wouldn’t do yard work in the clothes you’re wearing, you shouldn’t wear them in a dog park.

2.  Prevent obsessive jumping: It is expected that a dog may jump up on someone once or twice, and while in a perfect world this would not happen, it still does. Proper dog park etiquette would be giving a simple apology followed by ensuring your dog does not jump up again. If you have an obsessive jumper, some simple training should take care of the problem.

3.   It’s a dog park, not a picnic park:  bringing outside food of any kind into a dog park is only asking for trouble. If you plan on eating while at the dog park make sure you do so outside. Food not only draws a lot of unwanted attention, it can also start massive fights among the dogs.

4.   Prevent rushing that entrance gate: This is a major problem at dog parks and creates very tense situations that often end in fights. Many parks have more than one entrance, and park goers should choose an entrance that is least populated. This is not always possible though, so it is the responsibility of the dog owners in the park to prevent their dog from rushing the gate.

5.   Don’t be a bully: Playing with other dogs should be fun and exciting, but all too often dogs start to bully others. This can lead to large fights with many dogs due to a pack mentality, not to mention altercations between parents. If you notice your dog starting to get too aggressive and bullying other dogs, simply get control over him and make him sit in time out with you for a few moments until he calms down again. Bullying is easy to spot because it consists of one dog aggressively playing and the other desperately trying to get away. Do not let your dog be a bully, and everyone will have a good time.

 

     These simple guidelines will ensure a good time is had by all and promote a fun bonding experience between dogs and parents alike. I also want to remind you that dogs under 16 weeks of age should never be in a dog park. While socialization is important, large playing dogs could easily accidentally hurt a young puppy and do more harm than good during socialization, not to mention the health risks of not being fully vaccinated. The dog park is a great resource that is just begging to be used. Now go have fun and keep everyone safe.

     On a separate note, I will be hosting training demos at various Knoxvilledog parks in April. The first of which will be held at PetSafeVillageDogParkon April 14th at 2:30. I will be happy to answer questions and give advice. If you have any stories, suggestions, comments, or questions, please leave comments.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Uncategorized