Dogs Love to Play!

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Play is fundamental to a positive quality of life for a dog.

Typically when we think about play and dogs we think of dogs playing with other dogs.

Playing with members of your own specie is important. 

Dogs, as canines, benefit from being with and playing harmoniously with other dogs. To be able to do this successfully, dogs need to be socialized and introduced to other dogs at a young age. Dogs who react to other dogs may not have been socialized. Slowly introducing dogs to other dogs who are dog socialized can be of help. If you have a dog who is comfortable with other dogs, it would be helpful to keep those  play opportunities happening. Scheduling play dates or visiting well supervised dog parks or Doggie day care programs can be positive for many dogs. Not all dogs are comfortable around other dogs or in highly social environments with many dogs. It is important to know your dog and respect your dogs comfort level in all these situations. 

Dogs can be bonded and have best friends to play with!

Dogs are overall social beings. They relate to other dogs and to humans feelings. My dogs, Jazz and Jive, are very bonded to each other. They are with each other all the time and are unhappy when they are separated for too long. They are also competitive with each other. When they play with each other it is the mouth play that dogs do. It is fun for me to watch how they play and how playing builds the bond they share. Your dog may not have a live in dog partner but perhaps a relative or neighbor has a dog whom your dog loves to play with. Setting play dates for them is a good thing to do. 

Dogs can also bond with humans and enjoy playing with them.

I spend a lot of time playing with my two dogs. We do 10 to 15 minutes of nose work almost every day. The primary reason I began this sport with both dogs was because you can do it in the house and the backyard just for fun! The dogs love it and it heightens their sniff and search abilities. We spend time playing catch in the backyard as well as a modified version in the house. Spending time with dogs having fun together is a great way to build the relationship and bond. Teaching dogs basic obedience behaviors is most successful when it is fun for both the pet parent and the dog. Using positive training techniques can make any training feel more like a fun game for dogs, When pet parent/dog interactions are positive, the impact on the relationship is positive as well! 

Dogs need toys to call their own!

I believe every dog deserves their own toy box or at least basket for their very own toys. Dogs need chew toys, plush toys, fun toys they enjoy playing with. My dogs take a soft toy out with them every time they go outside. Other breeds do this as well. I think it is a fun thing for them to do but I do not want to be bringing those toys in everyday so I have trained them to bring the toys in when they come in. They view this as one of their jobs and they love doing it. I have one dog who loves to mouth toys like a kneading motion with his mouth. This is soothing for him and relaxes him. Giving dogs a large choice of toys will give them ownership over things belong to them and gives them less opportunity to find your things to chew or get into. 

Dogs also need mental stimulation through mental play

Challenging the mind to find that treat under the tennis ball is a fun way for dogs to use both their minds and physical abilities. You can also get actual puzzles for dogs to keep their minds alert. Mental exercise is just as important as physical exercise for our dogs. Searching for hidden treats works well. There are lots of games that employ the use of mind and body for dogs. 

Play for dogs is essential to a good quality of life.
Enjoy playing with your dog!

WOOFS & SMILES!

Who is Smarter - Dogs or Cats?

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The longtime question: Who is smarter: Dog or Cat?

As long as I can remember this question has been posed. Most cat pet parents will tell you their cat is smarter than a dog and most dog pet parents will tell you their dog is smarter than a cat. 

There is a recent study that states both dogs and cats are equally smart. 

There tends to be more research done on dogs so having a study now that indicates both dogs and cats have similar "smarts" is a good thing. However, I don't suspect a cat pet parent or a dog pet parent need a study to tell them how smart their cat or dog is.  

The study showed cats (like dogs) respond to the facial expressions and physical gestures of humans.

For me this indicates cats are as sentient as dogs. That both dogs and cats can relate to our feelings and express their own feelings. If you live with a dog and a cat or even two or more dogs or cats you will also notice them expressing feelings to one another. One of the most endearing qualities of a dog or cat is their ability to relate to our emotions and to express their own emotions. Even more remarkable is their ability to express empathy for humans as well as each other.

Have you ever been very sad and perhaps crying when your dog or cat approach you to comfort you in some way? 

That demonstrates empathy. We see many species of animals demonstrate empathy for each other all the time. That they empathize with humans is especially remarkable.

Episodic memory is related to introspection, and according to the lead study author, it could be that cats “may enjoy actively recalling memories of their experience like humans”. Dogs have also been proven to have episodic memory. 

This kind of recall and memory contributes to building relationships among other things. This allows humans to build a bond and long term relationship with a dog or a cat. We know our dog or cat sniff us to learn about who we are. They know our smell and now we know they relate to our facial expressions and physical gestures and those experiences can become episodic memories. This all contributes to building a relationship. The love between a dog and a human parent  or a cat and their human parent is a remarkable thing to observe and see in action. 

When any relationship is built on love and respect the relationship develops a deep and trustworthy bond. 

If you are so fortunate to share this kind of a bond with your dog or your cat, consider yourself a super pet parent. May you experience many years of enjoyment together!

WOOFS & SMILES!

FEBRUARY - A MONTH FOR DOGS

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Valentines Day is just around the corner. A time for love and chocolate and flowers.

Make sure your dog does not get into the chocolate because chocolate is toxic for dogs, but he can have lots of love.

Everyone gets Valentine treats on this fun holiday and it is only fair our dogs get in on the treat action. Here is a recipe for treats for your dog that is easy and healthy for dogs to eat

No Bake Dog Treats; 3/4c peanut butter, 1/4tsp cinnamon, 1/4c water, 1-1/4c oats

Mix all four ingredients together and roll into ball shaped cookies. Your dog will love you for it. Make sure the peanut butter does not have xylitol in it. Xylitol is an artificial sweetener that is making it's way into more and more foods and it is VERY TOXIC for our dogs. Also if you think the cinnamon would bother your dog just omit it. Jazz and Jive love these treats and I am betting your dog will too.


There are an abundance of healthy dog treats for our dogs; just make sure the ingredients are safe for your dog to eat.

 Because this is also Pet Dental Month it is important to brush our dogs teeth especially after sweet treats.

Brushing your dogs teeth once a day is sufficient for most dogs to keep their teeth clean and breath smelling good. Bad breath is always a sign something is wrong in the dogs mouth. It could be gum disease or a problem with a tooth. Dental issues can become a systemic problem for a dog creating serious health issues. Eating can become painful due to a sore mouth. Always have your vet check your dog's mouth for anything needing to be treated medically. Then when you get the green light from your vet begin brushing those pearly whites every day. Your dog is the benefactor of this discipline and he will have a healthy and pain free mouth thanks to this preventative measure. 

Get started on brushing your dogs teeth daily...you will save costs on dental procedures and eliminate unnecessary pain for your dog. 
 
HAPPY TOOTH BRUSHING AND HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!

WOOF & SMILES

ARE YOU A PET PARENT?

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Pet parents embrace dogs as members of their family!

Pet parents love their dogs dearly and want the best for them. When I go to homes of pet parents I see evidence of this all over the house. For example during the holiday season, I might see a stocking hung next to all the stockings with a pet's name. There may be gifts wrapped under the tree for the four pawed family member. Other holidays may also celebrate our pets throughout the year. The one event that gets a lot of attention for our pet is often their birthday. I know Jazz and Jive get a gift and a special treat on their birthday. Pets can be equally recognized along with other family members in celebrating their birthday. 

Our day to day life experience includes our dogs. 

Dogs need routine veterinary care like an annual wellness exam and other preventive medical measures determined by you and your veterinarian. Remember, you, the pet parent are the medical advocate and voice for your dog. Your dog is unable to speak for him/her self, 

When we think of family, we think about the dog as well. But from a dog's perspective family is truly everything. A human family for a dog is their entire world of security and love. Dogs depend on us to be their pet parent and provide them with the basic needs. Actually, spending time with our dogs is truly the greatest gift we can give them. 

Dogs need us to provide food, water, shelter and medical care just as any other family member needs. 

Our dogs also need mental and physical stimulation. We send human children to school to learn how to live any thrive in our society. We bring our dog to training classes and socialize them to other dogs and socialize them to humans so they can live comfortably and even thrive in our society. 

All family members need to be able to live together with respect for each others differences and similarities. Respecting the differences allows us to enjoy the similarities. We respect boundaries and personal space for each other. Introducing expectations for responsible behavior is a family norm for all family members including our dogs. To do this successfully our dogs need basic obedience training. This is their right and it is our responsibility to provide them with this training,

Dogs are a canine specie and are different than the human specie in many ways. Respecting a dog's need to be a dog is important. 

Dogs are canine living with human. Dogs don't speak human. We need to learn to read our dogs body language and behavior just as they read our voice tone and body language to know what we are saying. Dogs also share similarities with us. Dogs are sentient beings which means they experience feelings. They feel sad, happy, frightened to mention a few emotions they share with us.

Dogs depend totally on humans for their survival. Dogs left to fend for themselves don't do well as seen world wide. 

As pet parents it is our responsibility to love and care for our dogs as we do all other family members. For most of us that is a pleasure because our beloved dogs give us so much constant love and ask for so little in return. 

I hope your time building your bond with your dog is filled with joy and love.

WOOFS & SMILES!

Click on "Comments" if you would like to make a comment. We encourage you to Bark at Us! 

DOGS NEED A JOB

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Dogs are smart feeling beings. 

They feel pain, joy, fear, love and many other feelings. The average dog is as bright linguistically as a 2 year old human child. Dogs use their brain, body and instincts. Dogs have an ability to smell that far surpasses our ability to smell. They sniff out bombs, drugs, diseases and more. If we watch our dogs at work we see them rescuing people from fires, avalanches, crashes, tragedies like 9-11 and the list goes on. They work with our police, military, farmers and ranchers. They are service dogs for persons with physical and invisible disabilities. They bring comfort as pet assisted therapy dogs to our elderly, children and many others.

Dogs will defend their human at any cost and sometimes to their own death. 

Dogs basically want to be with us and please us. When we step back and look at all the skills our dogs have and their ability to do so many things it is impressive. 

Actually, we bred different breeds of dogs to assist us as humans in many of our activities. 

Farmers need dogs to help them herd their animals as do ranchers. Rescue dogs work the oceans and lands to find lost humans. Our service dogs sniff out diseases, even Cancer, and work to bring abilities to persons who have disabilities. Dogs hunt and fish with us. Dogs compete with us in sports designed for dogs.

Dogs participate with humans everyday in routine and other activities. 

So it only makes sense to give our dogs a job to utilize all their natural talents and abilities.

Your family pet may not be a police canine or a rescue dog, but dogs can only sleep so much and every dog needs a job. The most basic job for every dog is that of training. Teaching your dog basic obedience behaviors and requesting those behaviors from your dog every day will not only result in good manners for your dog but will also lay a foundation of behaviors for your dog that you can build on. Now you have a dog who can learn tricks. That is also a fun job for a dog who has to use his brain and his body to learn new behaviors.

A dog who is trained and has basic obedience good manners is a fun dog to live with. 

You now are able to consider a canine sport with your dog or pet assisted therapy work. Don't be overwhelmed by the thought of either of these options.

A dog with basic training in obedience is ready for the next job. The important thing is to find a job that is fun for both of you.

We do pet assisted therapy and the sport of  K9 Nose Work. It took us a while to figure out these were the jobs for my dogs and it took a while to get the training to do them. The important thing is we had fun working together. If it isn't fun for both of you it may not be the job for you.  

Meaningful jobs can also be daily activities you schedule and make into quality time with your dog.

Going for walks is a wonderful daily routine your dog will look forward to. Quality play time with the Frisbee and other dogs is another opportunity your dog could look forward to.

You can make jobs out of activities your dog does all the time.

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For example, every time Jazz and Jive go outside they have to bring a stuffed toy with them. Many breeds like to do this. I did not want to bring toys in all day so when they come back from their time outside I have trained them to go out and get their toy and bring it back into the house.

I want to emphasize how important it is to use positive training techniques in all the training you do with your dog.

These are all jobs for our dogs. They are jobs our dogs look forward too and get meaning from.

Keeping dogs challenged mentally and physically is a necessary and good thing for our dogs. Not to mention the benefits for us as well. We are active and spending quality time with our dog building trust and loyalty in our long lasting relationship together. I think that is awesome! 

Happy Job Hunting! 

WOOFS & SMILES!

RECIPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS

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LOVE OVER HATE!

In my lifetime I have never known a time of such division in or country.

I firmly believe the goal is to divide us so much that HATE dominates everything we do. 

This makes us vulnerable as a country and shakes the foundation of our republic and constitution. I am not here to address the political aspects of this but I do wish to address the division.

With the Thanksgiving holiday approaching, it is important to approach family and friends who may differ from our beliefs and values with  compassion and even love. 

If we we focus on the basic human needs for love and compassion we could create a caring environment. We will be confronting hate with love. 

Whether that behavior is shared by all, is not in our control. What we can control is our personal reaction to any given situation. 

If you have a dog as a member of your family, you have a fabulous mentor for this very goal. 

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So let's follow our dogs example and have a loving holiday. 

KINDNESS MATTERS!

WOOFS & SMILES!

HOLIDAY TIPS & TREATS FOR DOGS

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The holidays are just around the corner. We begin with Halloween and move on to Thanksgiving and all the celebrated religious holidays. There are food and people and festive activities that can be a concern for our dogs. All we have to do is remember our dogs are there and think about them in all our festive celebrations. 

1) Keep treats and food out of reach. There is an abundance of good food and candy this time of year. It is important to know what human foods dogs can have and what human foods are harmful for them. Chocolate is not good for dogs and xylitol (an artificial sweetener) is in gum and mints and even some peanut butter and can be very toxic for our dogs. Dogs are very smart and good at getting to a source of food they are interested in. Make sure everything is put up high and out of their reach.

If you have small children who are sorting and enjoying their Halloween candy you may want to put your dog in a crate or another room for a short period of time.
 

Also glow sticks can be problematic for our dogs. Dogs are curious and can bite into the glow sticks releasing the fluid. Even though they are labeled nontoxic, it is best to keep them out of reach for our dogs. Also supervise your dog and don't let him get into the pumpkins. Small amount of real pumpkin is very good for dogs but eating pumpkin chunks from a whole pumpkin could cause intestinal blockage and that can be very painful for your dog. 
 

2) Costumes are not for all dogs. Even though it is fun to think about dressing your dog up in a festive costume, you may want to consider how your dog feels about this. Most dogs truly do not like wearing human clothes. Small dogs are often dressed in human clothes rather routinely. For some dogs a coat is necessary to keep them warm when outside. Even my dogs wear a coat on very cold days in the winter.

Clothes can be restrictive for a dog and get in the way of their normal activity. Clothes can also be a hazard. Loose strings and decorative bobbles can easily get swallowed or create other safety concerns for a dog.

My dogs will wear a small decorative collar around their neck like in the picture of them. But it is on for a picture and then removed. I once made the mistake of letting the dogs outside with festive collars on and the end result was shredded and torn collars that could have been harmful to the dogs. 
 

3) House decorations inside and outside can be a concern. Keep dogs away from pumpkins (especially one with candles burning) and cornstalks and poinsettia plants. Any decoration that can be eaten and played with could be a safety concern for dogs.

Remember to keep an eye out for dogs and children together and always supervise them.

This time of year can be exciting and fast movements and loud voices can be difficult for dogs. Keep everyone safe, especially when excitement levels are high.  
 

4) Dogs engaged in activities can be fun. When all the children are coming to the door on Halloween it is fun to see the costumes and chat with them. They often approach the door with loud voices announcing "Trick or Treat". Dogs as a rule react to these high pitched voices and all the human activity. My dogs are excited to see the children and settle very quickly. However, we have a child gate at the door between the children and the dogs. After a while the dogs rest in their crate or another room until the activity subsides.

If your dog is not reliable in these situations you will want to keep him away from the door.

When there is a lot of activity opening gifts on other holidays I give my dogs a chew that lasts a long time to occupy them when the humans are busy exchanging gifts. Remember to be mindful of your dog and make sure they too are safe and taken care of during all the holiday excitement. Letting them participate at a level they can enjoy is best for everyone. 
 

5) Make sure your dog has proper ID. Taking your dog with you going trick or treating may not be the best thing to do for your dogs benefit. The constant noise and many costumes can be a concern for your dog. Leaving him at home in a room with toys and quiet music may be the best choice. If you'er dog is with you or at home it is important to make sure he has proper ID.

If a dog runs away from a loud noise that may startle him, you may have a lost dog who can only be returned if he is wearing proper ID.

A tag with current information on how to contact you is important. If you have moved or changed your phone number make sure to change it on the dogs tag. A microchip ID is the best because it won't fall off like a tag can. Actually, I have both on my dogs and it feels more reassuring for me. 
 

Holidays are a very special time. Dogs are members of our family and we want everyone human and canine to have a wonderful holiday time together. Just being aware and respectful of our dogs needs will make the experience successful for everyone!

  
WOOFS & SMILES!

DOGS HAVE PERSONALITY!

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Every Dog Has A Unique Personality! No Two Dogs Are Alike!

We know dogs are sentient beings, meaning they have feelings. But do dogs also have personalities? 

I have found several researchers who have actually researched this question. Research on dog personality identified several dimensions to their personalities.  Here are some:

  1. Reactivity (approach or avoidance of new objects, increased activity in novel situations)
  2. Fearfulness (shaking, avoiding novel situations)
  3. Activity
  4. Sociability (initiating friendly interactions with people and other dogs)
  5. Responsiveness to Training (working with people, learning quickly)
  6. Submissiveness
  7. Aggression

A basic fact: Dogs do have a personality, and it can be described in very specific terms, just like those of humans. 

These traits even have their equivalents in human personalities. For instance, reactivity and fearfulness are features of human openness to experience, Submissiveness and aggression are components of human agreeableness, sociability is a manifestation of extraversion-introversion in humans. 

That is the research aspect. I also know any pet parent will tell me all about their dogs personality. If you have more than one dog like I do, you are able to see the different personality between the multiple dogs. It has also been determined that genetics also have influence on personality for dogs. 

Considering all these facts and pet parent observations, let's discuss dogs personality in lay persons terms. 
 

  • Confident Dog -  this is the dog who (if socialized well) loves people and other dogs. This is the dog who is comfortable in his surroundings and may be a bit of a challenge in training. This dog knows what he wants to do and will attempt tcommunicate this to you. Respecting this dogs confidence will help a pet parent enjoy being with this dog versus developing power struggles over who is the boss. 

 

  • Shy Dog - This is the dog who may physically move back from new people or other dogs. This is a dog who is timid about his environment and may even shake and demonstrate discomfort with new situations. This dog is sensitive to loud noises and harsh sounds. It’s important to give a shy/timid dog plenty of opportunities to succeed to help boost his self confidence, and daily exercise to stimulate his mind.

 

  • Easy Going Dog - This dog is laid back and greets new situations and people with positive energy. This is a happy dog. This dog can be fun to train and always seems up for an adventure. Spending time training and playing with this dog will be fun for him and his pet parent. 

 

  • Adaptable Dog - This dog is eager to please and that makes him a candidate for being fun to train. This is a dog that can adapt to change in his environment. This dog is often co-operative and affectionate and  may also be a candidate to be a Therapy dog. 


 Enjoying our dogs unique personality is important. Accepting or dog as he is, is just as important. Trying to make a dog behave differently than their personality dictates is not going to be successful. No one wants to be in a relationship where the goal is to change who they basically are. 


Getting to know our dogs personality and enjoying this unique quality is part of our journey getting to know each other.     
 
 DOGS HAVE PERSONALITY!   

WOOFS & SMILES!

A DOGS WISDOM

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I felt compelled to address the reality we are living in this newsletter. As a country we are experiencing pain and loss that feels overwhelming for many of us. Our country is divided on many issues. Having discussions about race, gun control, gender and other differences can be difficult. Yet if there is a positive to the negative we are experiencing it is the many people coming together to help each other. The human spirit is admirable.

In addition to our human brothers and sisters we can also look to our dogs for comfort and even wisdom at times like this. Dogs bring insight to cope with the potential stress of the unknown. Our dogs are always there for us and even more importantly, they carry a wisdom they live by and are willing to share with us. 

LISTEN - Dogs are wonderful listeners. They don't speak the human language but they always look like they know exactly what we are saying...even if they don't. ;-) Listening more is always productive. We can learn to listen with an open mind. Being open to ideas different than our own can help our world become bigger and sometimes better. Listening for the truth helps us make better choices.   

BE IN THE MOMENT - no one is better at being in the moment than our dogs. They don't worry about what will happen or about what has been. They live in the present constantly. It is not possible for humans to live in the present like our dogs but we can work to become better at it. Focusing on what is happening now helps us experience the moment and this can mean fewer regrets and more joy in our life. Sort of like our dogs. ;-) The now can also be challenging. Being grounded in the present can help us deal with challenges more effectively and with a sense of calm. Our dogs can coach us on being in the moment. Dogs do not think or behave like victims. They share their resilience and forgiveness with humans even when it may seem unwarranted. 

AUTHENTICITY - Dogs don't care how much money we make or how we look or what we are wearing or what kind of a car we drive. Dogs look into or eyes and see our soul. They want to be with their pet parent all the time. Dogs do not care about the material things we sometimes put a lot of value on. Being authentic comes naturally to a dog. I love the quote "Be yourself because everyone else is taken." Self acceptance and love of self contributes to self confidence and self esteem. Our dogs accept us for who we are at all times. Let's follow their lead. Accepting ourself and others for who they are is a great beginning to have a discussion with those who may agree or even disagree with our point of veiw. 

COMPASSION -  Looking into our dogs eyes just makes us feel better. Our dogs are always there for us no matter what. They never judge us. As humans, it is so easy to judge and it is so hard to be judged. Dogs want to be with us and console and comfort us if we appear to need it. They tune into our feelings and seem to know when we are sad or upset or happy. Dogs have a natural empathy and compassion for humans that is notable and appreciated by those of us who love them. We can learn a lot about empathy and compassion from our dogs. We need empathy and compassion now more than ever.

HUMOR - I have observed my dogs to have a brilliant sense of humor. They make me laugh everyday. Dogs have a natural curiosity for life and explore everything they can. Dogs seem to know the necessity of play and exercise and play with a robust joy. We may need to be reminded of the importance and positive impact humor and play have on our life. Our dogs can teach us much about humor and play. Dogs support us during our grief and help us experience the benefits of humor. 

Dogs can teach us so many more things like forgiveness, loyalty, unconditional love, to always greet those you love, enjoy the journey, and the importance of a good nap. Dogs have the ability to bring people together. Dogs live from a place of love. As we look to our dogs for life lessons let's also express gratitude for their presence in our life and note that the little things are often the most important things in life. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

TRUST YOUR DOG!

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What does it mean to trust your dog?

Trust works both ways. As pet parents it is important for us to give our dogs reason to trust us. We do that by respecting them as the sentient being they are. Relating to our dogs as beings who feel, means we will only touch them with loving touch. No physical abuse of any kind will be expressed toward them. Basic kindness and respect is essential to establishing trust. 

We need to give our dogs reason to trust us.

Relating to our dogs as sentient beings can allow us to see the world from our dogs perspective. Empathy toward our dogs and attempting to understand how they feel about what is happening is a great way to build trust. Learn as much as you can about canine body language. Our dogs are talking to us all the time with their faces, tails, posture, ears, eyes and every part of their body. Getting on the floor with them helps us think about what it is like to walk on four legs; what it is like to have paws and not digit fingers. See the world as your dogs does and you will be amazed at how trust will build between the two of you.

It is very important we are always there for them when they need us. Making sure they are fed, provided shelter and given the exercise and love they need as well as the medical care when necessary. Meeting our dogs basic needs is something our dogs can trust and depend on us to provide. 

Dogs like routine. My dogs let me know it is time to feed them. After they eat they routinely go outside. Dogs develop routines and adapt to living as a member of our family. They come to trust us to always be there for them consistently and positively. Repeated loving trustworthy behaviors we extend to our dogs builds trust. 

Being fair is important. When a dog does what you ask it is only fair to reinforce that behavior and not tease or withhold the treat or reinforcement. Teasing our dogs and making fun of them is not fair to them. Negative behavior does not build trust. Punishment does not build trust. Deep and binding trust develops over time spent together being kind, fair, respectful and protective of our dogs. 

The bottom line is being there for our dogs builds trust. Dogs are also very intuitive. They know which humans like dogs and those who don't. They know who is kind and who is not. They know when their needs are being met on a regular basis.

Be your dogs advocate. Dogs cannot speak for themselves. 
They depend on us to know them well enough that we can describe any physical or emotional differences to the vet. We need to be there to protect them from toddlers being toddlers and pulling and pinching them and more. We need to protect them from other dogs and all situations that could jeopardize our dogs safety. This advocacy builds trust.

It is impossible to build trust if yo don't spend time together. Spending time with your dog engaging in activity together will allow both of you to get to know each other and build trust and a partnership. You will also have fun. Being with your dog just feels good. 

Another aspect of trust is the pet parent learning to truly trust their dog.

When I began Nose work training with my dogs I had to address this aspect of trust. In nose work you learn to read your dog's body language and learn what he does when looking for the hide in the search. The dog has to find odor hidden in a tin and it is often not visible. The dogs nose will find the hide. The handler needs to trust their dog has the ability to find the hide. When the handler over thinks this and tries to guide the search, usually the hide is not found. Learning to trust your dog is better at this then you are is a leap of "trust" for many pet parents/handlers. Dogs are better at this. The ability of their noses far surpass ours.

This experience has allowed me to trust my dogs more in other day to day situations. When my dogs resist doing something I listen to them even more now. Pressuring them to do something because I think they should and not listening to them does not build trust. If my dog does not want to go outside, does not to want to eat something, or resists anything at all, I check out possible reasons for this resistance. Jazz was resisting eating and it took me a while to figure out he was reluctant to eat because the food was too cold. He is older and likes his food warmer. Since I have been warming his food he eats with a robust enthusiasm.

Trusting our dogs know what they need and know what they are doing is the other part of the trust equation.   
 
Trust Your Dog!   

WOOFS & SMILES!

HOW MUCH IS THAT DOGGIE?

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How much does it cost to have a dog become a member of our family? 

We love our dogs very much and it seems we will do everything we can for them. But sometimes what we want or need to do for or dogs costs money we don't have. When this happens it is heartbreaking. Dogs do cost money. I have seen people surrender a dog because they can no longer afford to feed their dog or perhaps cannot afford the medical care their dog needs. Sometimes these situations are unavoidable.

Life happens to all of us and who is to say hardship could descend upon you and force you to have to find a way to care for your dog that does NOT include you anymore. 

This does happen to people who truly love their dog. There are some steps we can take to be preventive regarding the cost of having a dog in your life. 
  
First let's look at the estimated cost of bringing a dog into your family. 

The following is an excerpt from Petfinder's THE ADOPTED DOG BIBLE.This chart will give you a rough idea of how big a finnancial commitment you should plan on. These costs are estimates based on a survey of pet parents around the country-some may be higher or lower depending on where you live and the dog you adopt.

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Not many of us truly think of the cost in the bigger picture. We may think to get food and a leash and collar to being our new family member home. There is so much more to consider as this chart indicates. 

There are two options that could help with unexpected expenses like surgeries, cancer treatments and other serious health issues. 

1) Health insurance is becoming more available and proving to be very helpful when needed. There are various insurance policies. Seeking recommendations from other pet parents who have had experience with a specific insurance company can be most helpful.

2) Setting an amount of money aside only to be used for veterinary emergencies can also be helpful. You could make sure this money is left alone and it will be there when you need it for your dog. 

Thinking of our dogs as members of our family and treating them like a family member means being able to meet the costs involved in keeping them safe and healthy.  

Here's to a long and healthy life for your beloved dog.   

WOOFS & SMILES!

 

CELEBRATING OUR DOGS!

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How may of you celebrate your dog's birthday? 

I am sure many of you do. I see dog's birthday celebrations posted on Facebook all the time. We are excited to celebrate our dogs special day, recognizing when they came into the world. Sometimes we may not know the exact date but we come up with one that works as well. The important thing is our dog has a birth date to grow in years by. 

I see birthday celebrations involving swimming, ice cream, toys, and other physical exercise like walking, playing fetch, hiking, and many other fun things for pet parents to do with their dogs. And who doesn't love presents. I know my dogs love a new toy any time for any reason. On their birthday they get to pick one out at the pet store. They may not fully understand the birthday focus but I know they feel extra special. 

Remembering our dogs birthday and celebrating with them is fun for our dogs.  

Of course everyday is a celebration of life for everyone we love and our dogs are included on that list. Dogs have a joyful zest for life. It is contagious when you are with them to feel that exuberance. Dogs keep us in the moment. Being in that moment with them is a celebration of life all it's own, so enjoy every moment you can with your dog. Celebrate the new learnings like successful potty training or basic obedience behaviors mastered like sit, stay or come. New tricks like shake, or roll over. Or maybe that ribbon they earned in a canine sport or activity. Our dogs are very smart and love to please us. Keep them growing and learning and celebrate them along the way. 

Celebrating life also celebrates life ending. When our dogs are getting ready to leave we can also celebrate them. I have seen pet parents create the most impressive bucket lists for their dogs and they make sure every item on the list is met. Things from running on the beach to an ice cream cone are just a couple of many fun unique things I have seen on these loving lists.

Some people take that last walk together and let their dog off leash to sniff where ever they want. They spend the day with their dog and invite the veterinarian to their home to spend the final minutes with their dog in the familiar and safe environment of their home. 

Many of us keep ashes or return our beloved dogs' ashes to a place they loved like their backyard. 

Bringing our dogs into our family and saying good-bye to them are both big responsibilities we have as pet parents. 

Dogs need us most of all when they leave. Always be there for your dog, especially at the end of life.
  
Life with a dog is the best! Life with your dog is amazing! 

WOOFS & SMILES!

THE GIFT OF TIME

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Because TIME is so valuable it is one of the greatest gifts we can give to anyone, but especially to our dogs. 

If you have embraced a dog as a member of your family, you know how much your dog loves being with you. You are his whole life. Everything in a dogs world revolves around the pet parent they are bonded with. We have our jobs, friends and so much to keep us busy in our daily lives. Our dogs have us. They look forward to every opportunity to be with us. 

We can build special moments into our day as intentional time with our dogs. For example:

  • When you leave the house tell your dog where you are going and how long you will be gone. Give him/her a little low calorie treat. Make the leaving matter a fact but special for your dog.
  • When you come home celebrate being home with your dog. He/she has been waiting for your return and is greeting you with joyful enthusiasm. Share the same feelings with your dog and share how happy you are to see him/her. 
  • I work from home and every 3-4 hours I take a break and spend time with my dogs. They may need to go outside or we may play a little ball or other play time activities for a short while. If you work out of the home you can do this on week-ends and when you are home. 
  • Relaxing in the evening is a great time to snuggle with your dog. If your dog is not a snuggler, acknowledging him/her with words and petting may work well. 
  • Intentionally schedule play time with your dog. This can be a few minutes or as long as you have time to spend together. Running in the yard, playing fetch or ball or the game "find it" in the house on rainy days are great options. Your dog may have a favorite toy they love to play with and may share with you like a tug toy. 
  • You may pursue a canine sport together.This will give you class time, practice time, and possibly competition time together. It is a great way to build your bond and relationship not to mention getting got know a lot about each other. 
  • Going for walks is a wonderful way to spend time together. This is a win win because you both get important physical exercise.
  • Dogs need mental exercise as well. Have some puzzles handy for your dogs to do. My dogs know where theirs are and will tell me when they want to play the puzzle games by nudging the box they are in. 
  • Taking your dog with you on errands can be fun for both of you. Remember to have your dog secured in the car safely and never leave a dog in a car in warm weather.  
  • Preparing your dogs meals and telling them this is the time for them to eat can be a fun time for both of you as well. You can be creative. ;-)
  • Saying good-night is a sweet thing to do. Most dogs have rituals before going down for the night. Saying good-night can be one of them you share.  

I talk to my dogs a lot. We don't speak the same language but we get to know each others body language and can anticipate each others needs when the bond and relationship is strong.

Spending time with our dogs allows us to get to know each other and that makes being together more enjoyable.  

Time with our dogs is the best gift we can give them! 

WOOFS & SMILES!

The Power of Touch

  We love hugging our dogs but do they love being hugged?   Touch is very powerful. We communicate love with touch. We can also communicate abuse and hate and anger with our touch. Dogs are not meant to be hit or abused. A commitment to the use of positive training techniques will encourage positive touch. There is no need to hit or shock or demean a dog to teach them a behavior. Dogs want to please us and they want to live in peace and calm in our human world. Shaping their behavior with positive training techniques like food and praise and positive touch results in learned behaviors and a dog who looks forward to learning. The pet parent also looks forward to the learning experience and trust and a bond are reinforced.   Every dog is a unique being. Every dog has different preferences for being touched. A recent study found dogs really don't like to be hugged but prefer to be petted and given positive verbal praise. Food actually came in behind praise and being petted. However, combining food with praise or positive touch was also preferred by the dogs in the study. But that can certainly vary from dog to dog.  For example my girl Jive, loves to be pet and loves to cuddle. She will let almost anyone pet her and snuggle with her for hours. Jazz, my boy is very different. Jazz will lay on the floor next to me and lick a toy of his. He will do this for a long period of time. If I get up to move to another room he will move with me. Jazz has favorite spots he likes to have petted. He loves having his hips pet and will back into people he likes so they will pet his hip area. He also enjoys brief hugs and even a kiss on his head once or twice during a day...but only from me. It is very important to know who can pet your dog and where your dog likes to be touched. Your dog will communicate this to you.     Spending time with your dog touching and petting them will accomplish a few things.     Touching our dogs helps us get to know our dogs body.  You may find a lump or bump that appears to be new since the last time you spent time petting your dog. If there is anything your vet may need to see you may find it early and thus it can be treated sooner.   Children love to hug dogs.  It is important to supervise children with our dogs at all times. Children can get very excited and hug a dog too much and too hard and too long. This can make a dog very anxious and even frightened. A dog relies on the pet parent to supervise and look out for them. Be there for your dog and the child. Preventing a negative consequence is the best outcome for everyone....but especially the dog who ultimately pays the price.      Loving touch is soothing and relaxing for both you and your dog.  Positive touch builds trust in your relationship with your dog. Pet parents experience a relaxed state and in some instances even lowered blood pressure. A positive perk!   Positive touch communicates love and respect.  For some dogs touch is not comfortable. A dog like this will need patience and time to feel comfortable with touch.    Every dog has different preferences when it comes to being touched.  Part of the relationship with a dog is learning what these preferences are by spending time with our dog. Time is a great gift to share with each other.   Touch is essential to love. Petting your dog lovingly will bring joy to your relationship. Your dog will love you for it.     WOOFS & SMILES!

We love hugging our dogs but do they love being hugged?

Touch is very powerful. We communicate love with touch. We can also communicate abuse and hate and anger with our touch. Dogs are not meant to be hit or abused. A commitment to the use of positive training techniques will encourage positive touch. There is no need to hit or shock or demean a dog to teach them a behavior. Dogs want to please us and they want to live in peace and calm in our human world. Shaping their behavior with positive training techniques like food and praise and positive touch results in learned behaviors and a dog who looks forward to learning. The pet parent also looks forward to the learning experience and trust and a bond are reinforced. 

Every dog is a unique being. Every dog has different preferences for being touched. A recent study found dogs really don't like to be hugged but prefer to be petted and given positive verbal praise. Food actually came in behind praise and being petted. However, combining food with praise or positive touch was also preferred by the dogs in the study. But that can certainly vary from dog to dog.

For example my girl Jive, loves to be pet and loves to cuddle. She will let almost anyone pet her and snuggle with her for hours. Jazz, my boy is very different. Jazz will lay on the floor next to me and lick a toy of his. He will do this for a long period of time. If I get up to move to another room he will move with me. Jazz has favorite spots he likes to have petted. He loves having his hips pet and will back into people he likes so they will pet his hip area. He also enjoys brief hugs and even a kiss on his head once or twice during a day...but only from me. It is very important to know who can pet your dog and where your dog likes to be touched. Your dog will communicate this to you.  

Spending time with your dog touching and petting them will accomplish a few things. 

Touching our dogs helps us get to know our dogs body. You may find a lump or bump that appears to be new since the last time you spent time petting your dog. If there is anything your vet may need to see you may find it early and thus it can be treated sooner.

Children love to hug dogs. It is important to supervise children with our dogs at all times. Children can get very excited and hug a dog too much and too hard and too long. This can make a dog very anxious and even frightened. A dog relies on the pet parent to supervise and look out for them. Be there for your dog and the child. Preventing a negative consequence is the best outcome for everyone....but especially the dog who ultimately pays the price.   

Loving touch is soothing and relaxing for both you and your dog. Positive touch builds trust in your relationship with your dog. Pet parents experience a relaxed state and in some instances even lowered blood pressure. A positive perk!

Positive touch communicates love and respect. For some dogs touch is not comfortable. A dog like this will need patience and time to feel comfortable with touch. 

Every dog has different preferences when it comes to being touched. Part of the relationship with a dog is learning what these preferences are by spending time with our dog. Time is a great gift to share with each other.

Touch is essential to love. Petting your dog lovingly will bring joy to your relationship. Your dog will love you for it. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

Socialization - Why is it so Important?

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What is socialization and why is it so important? 

Socialization is preparing our dogs to greet new experiences with calm and confidence. It is teaching our dogs to be social with other dogs and other people. With puppies we have a window of time from three weeks to around sixteen weeks when they are most comfortable accepting new experiences. After that it becomes more difficult. If you bring an older dog into your life who has not been socialized, you will need to be very patient and comitted to helping your dog successfully greet new experiences. Going about it slowly with a lot of love will help your dog trust you and perhaps trust some of the new experiences. In some instances you may have to protect your dog from experiences he/she has been unable to embrace. Doing your best with your dogs best interest will provide the best possible outcome. Inviting the help of a professional trainer may also be an option. 

Socialization is (like training) a life long experience.

Truly a dog can have a new experience  every day of his life. A socialized dog can greet these new experiences with calm and confidence. Sometimes dogs are more comfortable with people and not comfortable with other dogs. Sometimes a dog is comfortable with other dogs and not with people.

It is important to socialize dogs to other dogs and to people.  

When a puppy or a dog of any age joins your family, you can invite friends and neighbors over to meet your dog and welcome and celebrate your new family member. This way your dog or puppy will have a chance to meet people with beards, wearing bright colors, glasses, hats, high voices, lower voices, tall, short, and many more new experiences. Taking your dog on walks or to scheduled play dates or even a well supervised dog park can give your dog opportunities to meet other dogs. These events need to occur as often as possible. I took my dogs to meet persons in uniforms. I asked kids with skateboards to let my dog sniff the skate board. Any time I asked someone to engage my dog in a socialization opportunity, they were always more than happy to do so. 

Socialization is helping our dogs become familiar with the environment they live in.

It is a way to make their world bigger and more interesting. Socializing our dogs helps reduce any anxiety they feel about being in a new situation. The more opportunities our dogs have to successfully master a new experience builds their confidence and when they have the next new experience they can face it with more confidence and less anxiety. Over time the result is a more confident and more relaxed dog. 

I am always taken aback a bit every time some one comments on how "calm" my dogs are. 

I am mot sure why I have that reaction. Perhaps it is because I live with my dogs and experience their calm demeanor every day. It does seem whenever someone meets my dogs they comment on how calm they are. I truly believe that is a result of the socialization and the training they have experienced, which by the way continues to this day. As I said, training and socialization are life long. 

A dog who is trained and socialized is truly a joy to live with. May you and your dog/s know much joy in your life together. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

MUTUAL RESPECT

They say respect is earned. This is true for pet parents and their dogs for sure. All relationships require a foundation of trust and respect to flourish and grow. This is especially true when two entirely different species make up the relationship. Canines and humans are different species who also enjoy some similarities.

Understanding and respecting these differences as well as similarities is important. 

Canine Specie
Anatomy
Dogs walk on four feet and anatomically have very different digestive tracts from humans. Dogs have a keen sense of smell that far surpasses the human olfactory abilities. Dogs can sniff out bombs, drugs, bedbugs, diseases, and any treat no matter how well it may be hidden. These are only some of the many things dogs can locate with their sense of smell. Dogs hearing is also very keen. A dogs anatomy is different from a humans but we share some diseases like cancer. Dogs need routine medical/veterinary care. Dogs also need physical exercise to maintain over all heath.

Language
Dogs bark and use their entire body language to communicate with us and each other. Movement of their ears, tail, mouth, eyes and posture all have meaning for different reasons. Dogs can learn and understand an average of 30-40 words (sometimes more) in the human language. 

Intelligent
Dogs are as bright intellectually as a 2-3 year old human toddler and need mental exercise as well as physical exercise to maintain a healthy state of mind and body.  

Sentient
Dogs are sentient beings. This means dogs have feelings. They feel love, fear, pain and sadness and many more feelings. Dogs express these feelings with their body language. Dogs communicate with each other with barks and touch and also through their eyes. They also communicate with their humans in much the same way.

Human Specie

We walk on two legs and have a more complicated anatomy than dogs. We are responsible for taking care of our dogs. They need us to take them to the veterinarian and to provide them with food and water and most of all love. Dogs are very dependent on us. Respecting this dependency and not abusing it is a wonderful thing. We already have our dogs attention and do not need to impose any dominance on them. This is a level of respect that promotes a positive bond.

We need to speak to our dogs often. Tell them where we are going and when we will be back. Look into their eyes and share our thoughts about them, and they will look back into our eyes and do the same. Looking into each others eyes stimulates the hormone oxytocin which is often called the "love" hormone. Learning our dogs body language and what it means is part of communicating with them.
As communication grows so does respect for each other because we now understand each other more. 

Our dogs are intelligent and as we embrace this about them this too creates a mutual respect. Making sure they have mental stimulation with toys they need to work to find a treat or treat hides they can find are fun ways to offer mental exercise for our dogs. Canine sports and fun games like fetch are also excellent mental exercise.  When we view them as the intelligent beings they are we find ourselves  enjoying being with them even more and see clearly the need to provide them with mental exercise.

Thinking of our dogs as sentient beings is very important and helpful to our mutual relationship. When you perceive your dog as feeling lonely when you are gone you may tell him you will miss him and when you will be back. You may even leave soft music on in the background to drown out natural sounds that may cause them to react. Recognizing they feel happy is a wonderful feeling to share with them. Your happy tone of voice tells them you are happy to see him and be with him. Understanding your dogs emotions and sharing them together is an automatic level of respect that develops between the two of you. 

Love and respect build the foundation for a life long relationship of happiness for you and your dog.

WOOFS & SMILES!

What Do I Feed My Dog?

What do I feed my dog?
One of the most confusing and potentially challenging issues a pet parent faces is what to feed their dog. There are so many different recommendations. There are so many different diets. There are so many different foods. A pet parent often does not know where to begin. 

These are the basic diets/food to select from:

1 - Dry food (kibble)
2- Wet food (usually in a can)
3- Raw diet (protein based with meat and poultry)
4- Vegetarian Diet (plant based protein)
5- Any combination of the above

What the experts suggest         
The current argument seems to be between the raw meat based protein diet and the vegetarian plant protein based diet. I am not a nutritional expert. I follow people who I think are. The holistic veterinarians and nutritionists I follow suggest dogs are definite carnivores and a meat based raw diet is the best food for our dogs. I am a vegetarian and I feed my dogs a raw meat based diet. I also supplement the raw with fruits, vegetables, sardines, and many other healthy foods dogs can safely have. Grains and carbohydrates are not healthy for our dogs to eat in a daily diet.

The two things dogs definitely need in their diet are:
Balance & Variety.  


VARIETY
If we feed our dogs the same dry kibble day after day it would be similar to if we ate (for example) the same breakfast cereal every day for every meal. Eventually our immune system would begin rejecting the cereal and we would experience some physical symptoms. The same thing happens to our dogs and the symptoms for them are often itchy skin as an allergic reaction. Variety is very important for our dogs. Dogs need protein, fresh veggies and fruit and fish like sardines and other foods that are healthy for them to eat. A wide variety is important. Variety keeps the immune system happy and keeps dogs interested in eating not to mention other health benefits like strong bones and internal organ vitality which are signs of good health.  

BALANCE

We are what we eat and that applies to our dogs as well. Obesity is the number one health issue for humans and the number one health issue for dogs. Balance in a dogs diet is essential. Rotating protein and vegetables and fruit will keep a healthy balance in your dogs diet. It is important to feed foods that will provide the mineral and vitamin supplements a dog needs. Balance is best obtained with a variety of foods and a rotation of those foods. In my book "Being A Super Pet Parent" I provide a list of all the foods dogs can have and a list of all the foods dogs should NOT have. 

What diet is best for my dog?
Of the diets available to select from, I think a combination may work well. I personally cannot afford to feed my two dogs a total raw diet. Since I prefer to purchase the ready packaged raw food that comes with all the mineral and supplements already in it, that can get expensive. So I supplement the raw with fruits, veggies, fish and other health foods for them that I may have available. I give them their health supplements mixed with some pumpkin after their morning meal. I avoid junk treats and make homemade treats. There are also healthy treats you can purchase ready made that are good for them. 

The diet you select for your dog will be a result of how much money you can spend, how well you know your dog and how informed you are about the food choices. I encourage you to be informed and read all the labels on the food packages. Research or read the work of nutritionists in the dog world like Steve Brown
Introduce new foods to your dog gradually. Your dog will let you know the foods he likes and the foods he does not care for. Keep food fresh and rotate the foods. 

A healthy diet will promote a healthy dog who can live a robust life by your side. 

Let food be the medicine and medicine be the food.  - HIPPOCRATES

WOOFS & SMILES!

COULD YOUR DOG BE A THERAPY DOG?

Do you ever think your dog would make a good therapy dog? Many of the people I know and talk with say yes to that question. We love our dogs so much and often we think how nice it would be to share that love with others. We want other people to feel what we feel when we are with our dog and we truly think our dog could help people feel better if they are in a nursing home or in the hospital as just two examples of where therapy dogs visit people.

If we think about dogs providing therapy in the broadest terms I believe all dogs who are loved give that love back to their pet parents and that in itself is therapeutic.

Research has shown a hormone called oxytocin is shared between our dog and us when we experience those hugs and loving gazes into each others eyes. This hormone exchange highlights the warm feeling of being loved. This happens to us at home living with our dog and this exchange also occurs in the pet assisted therapy experience between the dog and whom ever they are visiting. This experience contributes to the success of pet assisted therapy work.

Even though all dogs can share love with us not all dogs are necessarily suited to be pet assisted therapy dogs. Dogs who are not comfortable with new people or new environments would be more stressed doing this work. Temperament is important but so is training.

If you have the perfect dog for doing pet assisted therapy work but your dog has no basic obedience training...this needs to be addressed before doing anything else. 

For a dog to become registered with any pet assisted therapy organization, basic obedience training is a must for the dog to pursue the additional training needed to qualify to do pet assisted therapy work. The training involves class work for the handler and the dog. A dog needs to demonstrate an ability to tolerate loud noises like equipment and elevators as well as new and different people of any age. 

Here are some considerations for pursuing pet assisted therapy work:

1) There are a few organizations available for you and your dog to work with. Pet Partners is one. Inter Mountain Therapy is another. There may be even more. Find one that fits your values and is accommodating for you to work with.

2) There is a cost for the initial training and the ongoing renewal training which varies a bit with each organization. This also involves a clearance from a health standpoint from your vet initially and with each follow up renewal. This is also a cost.

3) You may need to purchase some basic equipment like a short working leash for your dog and a bag to hold the treats and other items like a water dish etc. for the time you are both on the job. Sometimes the organization you trained with has a scarf or other items you may wish to purchase.

4) There is a commitment of time from you. Organizations who rely on volunteers need volunteers to be reliable. Being reliable and professional is important as you are representing the organization you trained with and are representing pet assisted therapy with your conduct. 

5) I find it important to do therapy work with a business or non-profit organization that has a volunteer program in place and specifically a pet assisted therapy volunteer program in place. This can cover possible liability concerns and just makes it easier because the expectations and guidelines are already in place. Things like where to be and where not to be in the facility. Where to enter and exit. Where your dog can go to the bathroom and other specifics to the facility you are visiting.

You could also be the one who helps develop a volunteer pet assisted therapy program where one is needed. That would be awesome!

There are benefits to doing pet assisted therapy work:

1) You feel good seeing the joy your dog brings to other people. You may visit a nursing home or a hospice. You and your dog may need to try a couple different settings before you find one that feels ideal for the two of you. 

2) Your dog develops confidence and experience with new situations and new people. He also enjoys the interaction with the people you are visiting.

3) The bond with you and your dog grows. Your time working together builds respect and appreciation between the two of you. You enjoy being together and learn more about each other in the process. Together you become a solid team which is great experience for both you and your dog.

4) You will quickly learn the staff in the facility need their therapy time with your dog almost as much (if not more sometimes) than the clients you are visiting. You will develop relationships with the staff that will become memorable as well as those with the clients.

I have been doing pet assisted therapy work with Jazz and JIve for almost ten years. We began in Children's Hospital and now are working with children in a trauma pre-school setting. It seems children are our calling. When we are on our walks if a young child is walking or a smaller child is in a stroller, both Jazz and JIve seem to think they need to meet the child. It is not always appropriate for that to happen but when it does the dogs and the child are delighted. 

If you decide to join the world of pet assisted therapy with your loving dog i know you will both benefit and enjoy the journey together. 

WOOFS & SMILES!

ALPHA IS A MYTH

The Alpha concept as we know it today has been promoted with the understanding that wolves have an Alpha wolf who fights off other wolves and is the leader of the pack. And that because dogs are decedents of the wolf the dog also has an "Alpha" drive that must be overcome by the human.

This theory has been proven wrong scientifically from research by Dr. L David Mech who studied wolves for 13 years in Northern Canada. There are other scientists who have studied wolves with similar results.

Dr. Mech determined wolves lived together in family groups and that there was NO ALPA wolf who fought off other wolves. 

Dr. Mech states there is a natural dominance from parents to children in wolves. This is not unlike the natural dominance that exists with dogs and even humans. Many of us can relate to the natural respect we show to our parents and we see mother dogs discipline their puppies all the time. The puppies have an instinctive respect for this discipline toward their mother.

Temple Grandin takes this a step further and determines what dogs need are parents and not pack leaders. Being a pet parent using positive training techniques is the best way to develop a bond and long lasting relationship with your dog.

Another aspect to the Alpha theory is that we have to "dominate" our dogs or prove to our dogs that we are in charge. We are Alpha and they are not!

This is so unnecessary. We already have our dogs attention big time! Dogs are the one specie that has almost entirely turned their dependence over to the human.

Dogs depend on humans for love, shelter, food, water, medical care, safety and companionship. 

When these needs are not met for dogs we see the consequences on a global level. When dogs don't have shelter we see them struggle to find protection from the elements. They become homeless and struggle to find food. When they become injured or sick they often don't get the medical care they need and may not survive. They certainly don't feel safe and are not happy. Their life is perilous and frightening. Dogs know humans will protect them and take care of them and most of all love them. There is no need to impose dominating behaviors on our dogs to get their attention. There is a dependence in place that makes the human/dog relationship natural to develop. 

The Alpha Concept can easily equate to the use of more negative training techniques. 

These kinds of training techniques can achieve quick results but do so often through fear and intimidation. Using positive training techniques is being a positive pet parent and will result in long term learned behavior for your dog and a positive bond and relationship for the two of you.  

You do not have to be the "Alpha" in your relationship with your dog. Being the pet parent and building your relationship together based on mutual love and respect will bring both you and your dog years of happiness together.  

WOOFS & SMILES!

WALKING THE DOG

Walking a dog seems like an easy enough thing to do. It certainly is something we see pet parents do often if not daily. I would like to talk about Why, When, What we need and How to walk our dogs.


WHY
Why do we walk our dog?  Most pet parents will tell you they walk their dog because they believe their dog needs the exercise and this is true. All dogs, even small dogs, need to get up and move. Walking is an excellent way to build muscle tone for dogs. Obesity is one of the biggest medical concerns for dogs and for humans. Walking your dog will give both you and your dog beneficial exercise. 

Some people say because they have a big backyard for their dogs to run in, they don't consider walking their dogs essential. I have a big yard for my dogs to run in. My dogs can run faster when they are playing together in the back yard than they can on a walk. However, taking my dogs for a walk makes their world bigger. There are new places to sniff, new dogs and people to meet and squirrels and rabbits and so much more to see on a walk. If you have a nature trail or fun place to walk it makes the experience even more fun for both of you. Backyards do not replace the need for a good walk. 

WHEN
When is the best time to walk your dog? It is important to keep the weather and temperature in mind when you go walking with your best friend. On hot days remember dogs sweat differently than we do. They sweat by panting from their mouth and through the paw pads of their feet. With fewer sweat glands, they do not have the ability to sweat like we do so they are in much more danger of heat exhaustion. If your dog is older it is especially important to consider the temperature when walking. Always take fresh cold water with you on longer walks. If your dog finds a shady spot and sits or lies down there, he may be telling you he needs to rest for a few minutes. A young healthy dog could be your running partner but remember the need for hydration for your dog as well as yourself. Even a younger and healthy dog may be at risk running in very hot temperatures. On warm weather days, it is best to walk in earlier mornings when it is cooler or at dusk when the sun has gone down. 

In colder weather dogs have needs as well. Some times it is thought because they have a coat over their entire body they do not need anything else to help keep them warm. This is not the case. On very cold days I have coats my dogs wear. Some times snow booties are also a must to keep the paws not just warm but protected from salt treatments and other chemicals used on ice and snow. On colder days it is helpful to walk at noon time when the sun is warmer. Time of day is not at much a consideration in colder weather, but do wear a coat and or booties if warranted for your dog. 

WHAT
What do you need to walk your dog? There are different equipment for different dogs. I recommend a six foot leash. I do not recommend the flexi or retractable lead. Jerking with the retractable lead can cause discomfort and even medical issues for your dog. Letting your dog wander off on the full length of a retractable lead means you cannot reach your dog if you need to in a hurry. If another dog is coming your way and you do not have control of your dog that is just not a good situation. The pet parent can also get hurt with the retractable lead snapping on their hands or fingers. A six foot lead allows your dog space to sniff and keeps him close to you. Your dog senses your energy and feelings through the lead when you are in closer proximity to each other as well.

There is also the use of a collar (which all dogs need to have with proper ID tags) but also a harness can be helpful. Not all dogs are the same. My dogs are very strong and can pull me easily. I use a walking harness that clips to the leash at the front of their chest. This allows me to have control of their bodies and they do not feel a tug and pull sensation like they would if the leash clipped to the harness on their back. I don't want to teach my dogs to pull when I am walking them so this works well for us. It is important to find the leash and collar or harness that work best for you and your dog. Your trainer or your vet can help you.  

HOW
How do you get your dog to walk and not pull? This is the most common challenge when we begin walking our dogs. Dogs need to learn how to walk on a leash. A young puppy has a lot of energy and drive to play and run. The only way you can walk most dogs on a leash is to rain them. I support only positive training techniques to do this. You will need an abundance of low calorie healthy treats when you begin this training. You will also need an abundance of patience. Contacting a trainer who employs positive training techniques is very helpful to get you started. Once you have mastered the art of walking with your dog, you will enjoy many walks together. Your walks will be a pleasure for both of you.

A big plus to walking your dog is that you spend time together and that helps build the bond between you. Be  informed, be safe and have fun together!

WOOFS & SMILES!