Dogs, inside/out

 Looks inside, that’s where the important stuff is.

Looks inside, that’s where the important stuff is.

Dog - a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties.

Okay, so a dog is a dog is a dog, right? Wrong; each dog is very individual. This fact is very obvious, no more so than when I perform a temperament test. As most of you know, temperament testing is a service that I offer. This is when I get to see who is who in a litter; and it has nothing to do with the way they look. Not surprisingly though, is that most people choose their dog by the color or exterior image; caring little to what’s inside that little bundle of joy.

I am a huge believer of matching dog to their most appropriate family. That does not just mean color, breed or mix of breeds. I believe that when looking for a puppy you should ask yourself a lot of questions before bringing one home.

  • What is your life like?

  • What does your day to day look like?

  • Do you want to have a huge horse like dog in your house or would you prefer a tiny little guy running around?

  • Do you want a high energy dog who wants to run marathons?

  • Or would you prefer that they simply lay on the couch all day?

  • Are you interested in training a lot or would you rather not?

  • Are there small children in your life?

This is a very small list, I could go on and on with more questions. And these are all before even considering an individual puppy. First you need to figure out what you want to live with and the only thing with regards to living and canine exterior is fur.

  • Do you care if there are tumble weeds rolling around your house?

  • What about little needle hairs that weave their way into everything?

  • Or would you prefer no hair around?

These three questions are the only things that matter as far as exterior. Of course if you live in frigid or very hot temperatures; that should factor in somewhat, although it doesn’t seem to for most folks.

It is a very human trait that we want what we find beautiful. But choosing a dog for it’s exterior can go very wrong and sadly it often does. “I want the one with the patch over his left eye, he’s so cute.” What if that puppy is a fearful, lazy little guy and you plan on a very social and active lifestyle with him? Life may end up a struggle for the both of you.

“I have to have the little white one, she’s adorable.” That white demur looking little girl could be a nightmare on four paws. She may have more energy than you know what to do with. She may be a one person dog and you have a family of seven who all want her to be their new best friend.

I have chosen to live with Standard Poodles. I love their intelligence level, the fact that they do not shed, their athletic ability and their ability to do just about anything. That said “do anything” is a blanket statement; not all are going to do the things that I want to do. My one and only stipulation as far as exterior color is no black; and that is simply because we live in Southern California and are so active outdoors, they get too hot. What I look for in a dog is all on the inside, the heart and soul of a dog.

Wouldn’t it be nice if humans could look inside of other humans and see who they were instead of focusing on the exterior? Same goes for dogs, it is what’s inside that is important. So often a dog goes unmatched with a perfect guardian because of exterior. “I want pure black, not the one with a white paw” I’ve heard; even after knowing that the white paw dog is what these folks are looking for.

Everyone has choices in life and that goes with choosing dogs as well. I ADORE DOGS!!!!! I think you all know that. But what I love is what’s inside. Of course I can and do appreciate beauty; but more than exterior beauty, I love a beautiful heart and soul. And that my friends is what is so great about dogs. No matter what a canine looks like, most are amazing and beautiful on the inside.

Your new best friend could be that one brown puppy in the sea of whites that you came to pick from. Look inside, you will find amazing beauty.

Dog warmth and safety - Ruffwear review

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The sun is not up yet on this Monday morning and I have a very tired girl snuggled up beside me. In fact she is snuggled so tightly that I’m having a difficult time typing, typical. Elsa is spent this morning because we enjoyed the weekend in the mountains. Just over an hour from our home in Southern California and we were enjoying the cold and snow.

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Elsa has her own travel bag which was filled with Ruffwear gear. She’s already worn her travel harness around town but the trip to the mountain would be the big test for her new Load Up harness. I packed up her Hi & Light and Front Range harnesses as well. The Hi & Light would be used under her new Vert coat and when the temperatures went up she wore her Front Range harness alone. We are a Ruffwear family.

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Load Up harness

This harness has substance. Simply putting it on Elsa made me feel like she was safe. One of the things that I love about all of the Ruffwear harnesses is the similarity in them. Elsa wears a medium in harnesses and coats.

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The difference with the Load Up harness is that the hook up clasps are safety tested hardware. I have hooked her up directly to the seat belt and with a safety carabiner (20 kN (4,496 lbf) rating). Not the kind of 2.99 carabiner you can buy at the cash for your keys.

For the trip up to the mountains, Elsa was strapped in the back. There is a seat belt that hangs in the back of my husbands vehicle, like mine. If the seat belts lock up during braking; so does the back seat belt, making it a great safe place to hook up. It also enabled Elsa to move about in the back.

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When hooking to the back seat; you simply put the seat belt through the loop on the harness. This helps to keep the dog in place, nice and secure. It would be a great piece of equipment for those dogs who like to bound around in the car as well as safety.


The harness is easy to put on and hook up. We went from her traveling harness to walking harness in a matter of minutes. When Elsa was jumping out for a quick pee, it was easy to loop her leash through Load Up harness attachment.

Vert Coat

Out of 13 different types of canine coats available from Ruffwear, I chose the Vert. Living in Southern California we don’t have a big need for warmth. That is until we head up to the mountains. What we deal with mostly is rain so the Vert was the choice for us. The Vert coat is waterproof and windproof while still breathable. Elsa has a nice thick 1” of fur in the fall and winter which is a wonderful insulation underneath the Vert coat.

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The coat is put on over the head and then attached on each side. It’s really easy to put on and take off; just like the harnesses.

The coat has a waterproof exterior with a thin fleece lining inside. I was blown away at the quality when I first unwrapped and fit it for Elsa. I love that I can still use her Hi & Light harness underneath as it has an opening portal where the hook up is. The two hooks on the side are hidden between layers so that the waterproofing goes way down the sides of her body.

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The jacket seemed to be made for Elsa; you couldn’t get a better fit . The Vert coat goes right to the base of her tail so she was covered completely. It also has elastic leg loops to keep the coat secure in high wind. But even when they were not used the coat stayed in place for us.

For our trip we used the Hi & Light harness under her coat for walking. The Front Range harness when we went into Bass Pro shop. I like that I can hook it up front in a crowd; and it was so crowded just a few weeks before the holidays. We used the Load Up Harness when traveling and the Vert coat to keep Miss Elsa warm. A big 4 paws up for all of our Ruffwear gear, plus a tail. I love it and highly recommend.

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Give the gift of warmth and safety to the canine/s in your life.

Christmas gift for dogs

 Elsa’s pre-Christmas gift which is her absolute favorite and biggest stuffed toy so far.

Elsa’s pre-Christmas gift which is her absolute favorite and biggest stuffed toy so far.

Are you shopping for your canine? A family member’s or friend’s canine? I’m done my canine Christmas shopping for the season. In fact the dogs were all done before one single human gift was purchased. Every canine member of our family is getting a new stuffed toy. Each toy is selected specifically for the individual dog. Size and texture are factored in when selection is done. It’s very scientific (just kidding).

But what past the toy is there to buy the canines in your life? I like things that are useful. A life jacket for that paddle boarding dog. A safety car harness for the dog/s in your life. How about a new walking harness and/or leash? A new dog bed is a great idea for those who use them and are out of the destructo age. ;)

If you live in a climate where it gets chilly or downright cold; how about a nice warm or weather resistant coat? Elsa has a couple of warm coats but she is in need of a waterproof one. We deal mostly with rain although it does get pretty darned cold here in the morning. If I’m putting on gloves to keep my hands warm I think she might need a coat. She lets me know if she is feeling the cold by the amount of shaking she does. Not the trembling kind of shaking but the fluffing her coat up shaking. When our dogs shake their fill their fur with air which helps to keep them warm.

How about some dog training? I have actually been given as a Christmas gift. That is my dog training package, my me personally. LOL ;) Imagine a frustrated guardian opening an envelope that says “help is on the way?” A gift for both the human and the dog which will help to grow their relationship through understanding…priceless.

Another great gift idea for the dogs in your life are homemade cookies. Of course the healthier the better. How about a whole cookie club? You can give the gift of the cookie club to the canine guardian in your life which results in a lot of gifts for their dog.

Healthy treats are a wonderful idea but make sure that the dog receiving the is use to getting different types of treats. We don’t want any upset tummies around the Holidays.

Whatever you plan to gift the dogs in your life, think about the dog itself. Some gift ideas are geared solely around the guardian which I’m not a fan of. Something that both a dog and human can enjoy is the best. Of course when we give our dogs something that they enjoy, it brings us much joy; a win, win scenario.

A dog by my side

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Elsa and I are just back from our morning walk. Between 6:00 and 6:30am we head out to enjoy the cool air and quiet time. It is our peaceful time before the day begins. Life can be hectic and with the holidays around the corner, hectic can be an understatement. Our walk often unfolds like this; sniffing around, ball tossing, then more sniffing, more ball and then we make our way to the car to head home.

This is Elsa’s time, I’m out there for her. But…being out there for her is also for me. I get ready, bundle up and head out in the cold (cold for California, I know what you’re all thinking) for her but the fallout bonus is most definitely for me. Making Elsa happy makes me happy; I consider it to be a serious part of my job as a good canine guardian.

As she goes from bush to bush, inhaling information from the dogs who have passed before us; she is completely immersed in being a dog. Her brain is very canine; mine is a typical human one, so this is my time to think; to let my mind wander and ponder. There is much to contemplate, days gone by, today and what’s around the corner. Elsa’s walk is my think time.

Between our mulling time are the connected team moments. Chuck it, I’m a very experienced and reliable tosser for her; if I do say so myself. In actuality I throw like a girl (about as bad as it gets) but put a chuck-it in my hand and stand back. The chuck-it allows Elsa to get in some serious power training and energy burn. I compare it to when I hit the gym. I love working out and so does Elsa.

Life is all about moments; those little moments that make you happy. My chilly mornings with Elsa are some of my most happy times. When I look back at the dogs who have now left my life; I often smile at the little moments we shared. It could have been at a park, a walk in the woods or just sitting watching the waves crash on the shore. These are some of the moments that can impact us the most. The moments with a dog by our side. Is there anything better?

Have a great one, I’m off to the gym.

Change in dog behavior

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Canine behavior is an intricate thing. It is imperative as a canine guardian that you get to know your individual puppy or dog. Each dog is different so how your dog responds to a stimulus will be different compared to how my dog responds.

This past weekend my husband and I took Elsa out for a good hard run. When we got back she was exhibiting some strange behaviors. What can sometimes be a normal occasional leg kicking thing became strange when it was happening over and over. Elsa was donkey kicking her left back leg and chewing at her foot. She was kicking her foot drastically as if something was stuck on it. Several times I went over her foot; feeling between her toes, her ankle and around each nail bed. I could find nothing. Something was definitely bothering her.

My husband and I sat watching her; trying to figure out what was going on. Could it be a bee sting I wondered? I ran and got a Benedryl just in case. If it wasn’t a bee sting, the meds would just make her sleepy and I wasn’t taking any chances. Looking closely into her eyes it did look like her pupils were dilated a bit. Watching is so important when you are trying to figure out a change in behavior. I was witness to her anaphylactic response to a bee sting years ago and didn’t want to see it again.

I got a wet cloth and prepared to clean her foot. It was bothering her so I was very careful. I gently held her foot and dabbed the cloth on the bottom of it. Her response to this was a huge and high donkey kick which landed just above my eye. It happened so fast and landed hard. She stood there watching me. I hadn’t anticipated a kick in the eye. I went back to watching.

We changed our plans for the day; she was not being left alone until I saw that she was going to be okay. So off we went to the car wash, storage unit and then home for a nap as her benedryl kicked in. After waking from her nap she was a new woman, she was fine. I don’t know if she indeed got a bee sting, perhaps twisted a toe or what but she is now fine.

A change in behavior is always worth noting. Dogs don’t just change for nothing. Of course there can be changes that happen over time but when it is sudden it is important. There could have been many different things that caused her to be making sudden and drastic donkey kicking motions. The important thing is that she’s fine now. Super happy and her normal self. I’m super happy too.

I LOVE DOGS

 A wolf in poodle clothing.

A wolf in poodle clothing.

I love dogs! I always have and I always will. Throughout my life with dogs, I’ve met many. From the tiniest little chihuahua with a huge personalty and confidence to the giant but unsure Irish Wolfhound. I love them. To me a dog is far more than what we see on the outside; so much more lies just beneath the surface. I have loved dogs for as long as I can remember. As a youngster I was drawn to them; even though I came from a very non dog family, dogs were my passion from the start.

My love of dog stretches to Wolves as well, I love them too. Of course I am a huge animal lover; I simply love them all. But it is the dog that has captured and retained my heart. Canis lupus familiaris, the dog is an amazing animal. I could quite literally watch them interact 24/7. I love watching them as they communicate with one another and with humans. The canine/human connection fascinates me.

Our relationship with dogs can be as different and individual as our dogs themselves. What we get out is what we put in. Acquire a dog and put it in the yard with little to no interaction; you are going to miss out on the amazing connection between human and dog. Long, long ago, we brought dogs into our world. Since then our relationship has evolved into something magical; that is, if we put the work into it.

When I look at a dog and see what they bring to us on a daily basis, the truly are amazing. Sometimes I think “wow, we live with these creatures in our home.” The beginning of a dog by my side was out of a win, win relationship. From the moment that wolves entered into our human world, our connection has evolved. Wolves were very self sufficient and over time as they became our dogs; they also became reliant on us.

Just the other day I was tossing Elsa’s ball for her. As she went in for the catch she miscalculated and hit the ball over the fence with her muzzle. This has happened many times before and she knows that I will get it. She stood on one side of the fence; vigilantly keeping watch on her ball as I made my way across the field. Could she have gotten the ball herself? Most definitely. I have taught her not to go clamoring over or under fences to retrieve her ball; it isn’t safe for her to do so. So we not only do for our dogs; we also protect them from danger.

We have brought dogs into our family to live by our side. They have reciprocated by allowing us to be their pack. Understanding where our dogs came from and who they once were helps to create a more symbiotic relationship. If we think of our dogs as little furry people then we do an injustice to our relationship; leaving much to be desired for the dog itself. Our dogs were once wolves; they have now been truly domesticated and live in our homes. The essential thing to remember about our dogs is that they are dogs, not humans.

And that my friends is what makes them so amazing, simply by being dogs.

Self centered human

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Have you ever met someone that you thought was a good person; only to find out down the road that they are very far from being good. Some people think they are wonderful yet exhibit behaviors that others would never consider. Self centered humans do things that show their true and horrible colors. Those who take, take, take without a second thought to the wake of destruction that they leave in their path. They don’t care who they hurt as long as they themselves are happy.

Sadly, I’ve met many of these folks and I wish I hadn’t. These hideous people have many different agendas. Greed, a sense of entitlement and the me complex all come from being self-absorbed, self-obsessed, self-seeking, self-interested, self-serving. Self, self, self.

Self:  a person's nature, character, etc.:

Good people make mistakes but those who continue and continue to tromp upon others to reach their own personal goal are not good. We have a choice who we deal with and create relationships with in our life. Those people who think about just themselves can be easily weeded out by us. It is all up to us.

Puppy Millers would fit into the self centered category. Do they care about the dogs they breed? No, they do not. They do not care about the adults they have stuffed in cages, the puppies who are going to new homes or those people who are buying their puppies. All they care about is the money that puppy buyers put into their hands. They are some of the worst.

There are good and bad all around us.

There will always be good and bad people. Choosing to deal with those who do good for others; put others before themselves and always strive to do better are those who I like to have in my day to day. The people who step on top of and over other folks to get where they or what they want, not so much. I don’t want them in my life.

When dealing with dogs, choose the best. Choose the breeder, rescuer, Veterinarian, kennel, dog sitter and trainer ;) who really cares. I’ve met people in all of these above walks of life who should never be doing what they do. In fact my poor old Tilley and I were asked to never return to a Veterinarian when I asked to be with her while she had her blood drawn. Does this sound right to you? Didn’t think so. The same Veterinarian was the one who completely misread here blood work; thinking that a high white cell count was nothing to worry about. After going to another Vet and handing over her blood results he quickly saw a big problem.

Many of these unscrupulous types have a huge fear of being found out. They are very secretive about everything they do; keeping their “public image” as intact as they can for as long as they can. But the truth has a way of coming out and when it does it spreads like wildfire.

I have seen many of these scenarios play out and the path of lies and deceit that unfold can be unbelievable. It is almost unimaginable to know what some people will do to others, be it animal or other human.

Life is filled with good and bad. With research we can sift through and find the ones that we want to deal with, no matter what type of dealing that is.

Honesty is the core of someone great.

No human is perfect, but if they are honest, there in lies the best part.

I remember making a call to a rescue group years ago. I asked if I could come to see a particular dog that they had at their facility. They did everything in their power to persuade me not to come. Even so much as telling me they could drive the dog to me. Honest? I think not.

Another call I made to a rescue of Giant sized dogs several years back uncovered some big time lies after much digging.

Research is important; not funding or supporting unscrupulous, self centered people is important when we want to do what is right. It is the base of why you should never buy from a pet store. Do we want to support those who subject dogs to horrendous cruelty? Nope.

The world is filled with good and bad. Thankfully the good outweigh the bad. Meeting, dealing and getting to know those great ones is what makes this world of ours a great place. Toss the bad.

I feel blessed to have met so many amazing and wonderful people in my life. :)

Walking your dog-walking 101

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As Elsa and I rounded the corner we came across a group of women walking about 30 feet in front of us. One of them had a red miniature poodle with them but the other women were dogless. They were chatting about working out and were deep in conversation. The woman with the poodle was oblivious to what was going on with her dog, pretty typical. She was walking and talking away to her friends and never once glanced down to see what her dog was doing.

What was her dog doing? Trying to get away from her. The little poodle was trying to escape the constant yanking on his neck. With every swing of her arm she inflicted a pretty good yank. The more she swung and yanked the more the dog tried to avoid it; pulling to the very end of his leash in his attempts to avoid the yanks. Of course the harder he pulled the more severe his yanks were; it’s physics.

I often see dogs straining and ducking, trying to get away from their swinging leash. Sometimes it’s the hook on the leash that is hitting them in the face; other times it is just the leash, and in this case it was the constant tugging.

Many, many years ago I learned to still my leash hand; the hand that is holding the leash is kept motionless. Sitting quietly by my side, maybe tucked into the belt of my pouch or bent up over my chest, the leash hand lays dormant, inflicting nothing for Elsa to avoid.

There are times when guardians become so oblivious to their dogs pulling that they themselves are oblivious to their yanking. Every time their dog pulls at the end of the leash they yank. Much of the time they don’t even know that they are doing it; and it becomes a vicious circle of behaviors.

Is your dog enjoying their leash walk? Do you look down every once in a while to see how they are doing? Are you aware of how you are walking? Are you also aware how your walking is impacting how your dog is walking? Sometimes we just need someone else to tell us what is going on. Many guardians don’t take a big interest in how they are walking, just that they are out walking their dog. But there is a good way to walk and many bad ways to walk.

What is your leash hand doing?

Next time you are out somewhere with your dog, look around; do you see people causing their dog to move away from them? Now, how do you walk your dog?

Need help? Call me.

Service dog in the making

 Sheppelley, service dog in the making.

Sheppelley, service dog in the making.

I was excited to see her again. It had been 5 months since I first looked into those dreamy eyes. Just a week ago I spoke to this gorgeous girls breeder about seeing some of the puppies that I had temperament tested back in May and she told me about Sheppeley and Lindsey.

In April I had contacted Craig and Laura of Poodle Store about their beautiful puppies. We chatted back and forth about health and temperament testing and they asked me to come and temperament test their litter in May. I was thrilled, temperament testing is my favorite part of being a dog trainer. Spending a couple of hours with 7 week old puppies is never a bad thing. So in May I head to their home to test 9 seven week old puppies.

I love temperament testing; it is such a fascinating and enlightening test. Each puppy is brought out alone to a stranger (me) in an environment that they have never been before. They are put through a number of tests to see who they are and what sort of family they would best thrive in. After doing the whole litter I exclaimed “really nice litter.” Of course when I’m testing a litter I usually fall for one or two of the puppies myself. In this litter I had a favorite in the the girls and the boys. But the little brown and white girl with the beautiful eyes really stole my heart.

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Now I found myself meeting Sheppeley (Claire when I first met her), the little girl who had stolen my heart so many months before. It was at Sheppeley’s new home where I met her human; the one who chose her to be her service dog. Sitting down in their backyard, I watched. And what I was witnessing was pure magic. I have never seen such a devoted 7 month old. She watched her guardian like a dog much older than her age; and had a calm about her that made me wish I had brought her home with me when I met her.

After meeting Lindsey and seeing the amazing connection they have at only five months into their relationship; I was happy that I had not brought her home with me. Here is where she was meant to be and I have never observed such a kismet moment.

Lindsey is a phenomenal woman. At 26 years of age she has been diagnosed with Dissociative Disorder, Social Phobia, Bipolar and Rheumatoid arthritis. Sheppeley will be Lindsey’s psychological service dog; and the human/canine team are already extraordinary to watch. It is almost unbelievable to see Sheppeley at work at only 7 months old. Her job is all about watching her charge and learning to sit still.

As I listened and watched, Lindsey told me about her search for a service dog. At every turn she was brought to the Standard Poodle. Once she’d decided on the breed she searched for a breeder and was turned away many times because of her list of diagnosis. That is until she found Craig and Laura. She explained her situation fully to them and not only did they not turn her away; but they offered to pick her up and bring her to see the litter on a day when she was having severe driving phobia. They helped her pick out the right dog for her and have continued to stay in touch. Great folks going above and beyond.

Lindsey and I sat and talked for an hour and a half. Sheppeley was so well behaved for the entirety of our discussion. She had one little puppy moment of wanting to eat a leaf but other than that she was watching Lindsey and responding to anything she thought she might need to alert.

Sheppeley is learning her life tasks which will include:

  • finding exits in a building for Lindsey.

  • forward momentum pull, to ground Lindsey and get her moving.

  • physical support.

  • DPT - deep pressure therapy. DPT involves a dog using its weight and sometimes warmth to mitigate a psychiatric symptom, often either as a calming strategy or to minimize disengagement from the world. ... Large dogs can be trained to provide DPT by lying on the person's lap or chest when the handler is sitting or lying down. (taken from psychdogpartners.org)

  • cover, standing in front of Lindsey to get her needed space.

  • block, standing behind Lindsey to get her needed space.

  • corner check, checking areas where Lindsey feels insecure or paranoid about going in. Sheppeley will check it out before Lindsey goes in.

  • alerting Lindsey to her mood changes and anxiety.

  • bring Lindsey her medications.

Lindsey

Lindsey is a naturally amazing dog trainer. Not only does she need a service dog to help support her but she is training Sheppelley herself. Lindsey credits her earlier years with horses plus her good friend and dog trainer Charlie Ridge for producing her intuitiveness in training. Charlie’s unconditional support has given Lindsey her true passion for dog training and that passion emanates from her.

As we sat and talked, Lindsey’s attention never left her duty to Sheppelley. She is quick to give feedback and get Sheppelley on the right tract. After about an hour of watching them work together I said “you are always in trainer mode.” “Yep” she replied. So for now while Sheppelley is in training; if Lindsey is hit with anxiety or a mood change, she needs to be working through it while teaching Sheppelley, which is a huge challenge.

Lindsey told me that she was overwhelmed when she first brought Sheppelley home by the sheer magnitude of what lay head. She has since set to task for what needs to be done; knowing that in the near future she will benefit from her hard work and dedication. She has a lot of work ahead of her and has already run into some obstacles. She told me that because she is not in a wheelchair or visibly handicapped she has been judged about having a service dog. Especially now because there are so many fraudulent service dogs out there in public. But her attitude is to take the high road and try to educate when she can. I know I learned a great deal from her and much appreciate her candor in telling her story.

Being that I have lived with Standard Poodles for over 33 year I was curious about Sheppelley’s grooming. When I asked Lindsey about Sheppelley not looking “poodley” she stated that because she knows she may be judged for needing a service dog; she wants Sheppelley to look as much like a “working dog” as she can. Although from where I sat there was no doubt that they are working and extremely serious.

service dog

Sheppelley

Sheppelley is an extraordinary little lady. At seven weeks of age when I first locked eyes with her, I knew that she was special. She was a little pistol with something extra. She had that something that you can’t put a finger on, but know that it is there. At 7 month old now she is incredible and her dedication to her human, fascinating.

When I temperament tested this little girl; her eye contact was what drew me in. I love eye contact and she offered an abundance of it. She came readily and was very happy to meet me, a big plus. Sheppelley had little startle visually and offered more eye contact during the restraint test. Aside from a nice temperament test; she had that something extra that made me think she was going to be a very special dog for someone. I was not wrong.

Sheppelley will have a big job to do and I know that she is up for it. Seeing her sit and watch Lindsey’s every move at just 7 months of age gave me a glimpse of what she is capable of. Sheppelley’s natural ability to watch and respond to her humans needs are impressive to watch. It seems like she was born to do this job and is very happy doing it.

When Sheppelley is working she wears her Service Jacket. When she is not required to work she has it off and can do as she pleases. Her jacket specifies that she is in training and that you should not touch her. This is very important as she goes through her training and learning to pay strict attention to Lindsey. Sheppelley is well on her way to becoming a phenomenal service dogs, thanks to Lindsey’s need for her and natural talent for training.

Sheppelley will not only help Lindsey once she is trained; but already helps by simply being Sheppelley. Her need for around the clock canine daily care gives Lindsey a job that needs doing. Lindsey states that her life is fulfilled with Sheppelley in it. The two are quite clearly unstoppable and will make a mark on this world of ours.

Sheppelley is already alerting about 15 times a day for Lindsey. She is learning what needs to be alerted on and what doesn’t. Their partnership and connection is new but intense. I have rarely seen such a bond between new guardian and puppy at this age.

I want to thank Lindsey for sharing her story with me and Sheppelley for being the missing piece of the puzzle in Lindsey’s life. I would also like to thank Craig and Laura from Poodlestore for being wonderful breeders and humans. I feel honored to have met all these wonderful humans and Sheppelley.

You can follow Lindsey and Sheppelley on instagram at Simply_Sheppelley

Psychiatric Service Dog partners

Anything Pawsable

Children and dogs

 Elsa adores her babies but I am hovering over ever interaction.

Elsa adores her babies but I am hovering over ever interaction.

Just the other day I sat through a horrible YouTube. I had to force myself to watch it because it was something that I knew I did not want to see. The video was of a baby and a dog, a large dog. Another dog trainer had posted it with many appropriate warnings about content so I knew it was going to be bad. Sometimes you need to see things. I am a big believer that if we always look away; there are lessons that are never learned. Of course I did not need a lesson from the video but wanted to watch the signals that the dog was giving.

The video was of a child approaching the family dog. I’m not sure if it was the Mother or Grandmother’s dog or who was videoing. The child approached the dog on the floor and immediately signaled that it did not want to interact. It got worse as the child climbed up on the dog and the dog snapped, right in the child’s face and the video ended. The entire interaction gave me chills but sadly many people would see nothing wrong with the dogs behavior. Many people don’t read dogs well.

The dog gave lots of clear communication but the adult in attendance recognized none of it. The person videoing the interaction saw the dog as friendly. There are literally hundreds if not thousands of inappropriate interactions between children and dogs on the web. I can barely contain myself when I see them pop up on Facebook and read all the “awww so cute” comments. Some are cute but most are pushing dogs to defend themselves.

As a Grizzle bear style Mom and Grandma (Gabby) I am all about safety between dogs and children. Of course if a dog bites a child, the dog receives the blame. Often the dog is not to blame but the adult in charge who should be blamed. Yes it is wonderful when a dog loves children. I think it is the best thing in the world, because it is the biggest worry (for me at least). But even when dogs love children, they have limits; and dogs do not communicate the way that we do.

When we fail to supervise and control interactions between dogs and children, we fail both. It is our job to protect our children and our dogs. If you don’t referee interactions, you force your dog to defend themselves in a way that dogs do.

Dogs are dogs. They are animals with huge teeth and strong jaws that do not speak English. If they feel threatened they will react like a dog.

Most dogs give lots of warning but some give none. We tend to squelch growling from our dogs; feeling that it is in someway bad. A growl is a warning and an insight about how your dog is feeling. Without it you are blind. Without understanding body language, you are handicapped.

Children can and do weird and very inappropriate behaviors towards dogs. They are wise enough to understand a dog’s warning. It is our job as adults to protect children, all children with regards to our dog. It is also our job to protect our dog from everything. Our dogs should NEVER feel the need to protect themselves from a child. That is never going to go well.

When we protect our dogs from unwanted interactions we release them from being defensive. No one wants a dog to defend itself from unwanted child advances, no one. Safety first, should always be the rule around children and dogs. NEVER, EVER allow children to crawl on your dog.

Children and dogs can be a wonderful thing; but they can also be a horrible thing when left alone. Most bites received by children can be avoided. Dogs are not people, they are dogs and will act appropriately. Thinking that all dogs should quietly tolerate whatever a child dishes out is extremely unfair and foolish. Our dogs deserve more as do our children.

ALWAYS, ALWAYS SUPERVISE.

Living with dogs

 Elsa and Luna coexist. It is important to understand their communications.

Elsa and Luna coexist. It is important to understand their communications.

I am constantly asked what I do. My licence plate says Justdogs so when people see it or I give them my email address they always ask “what do you do with dogs?” My typical answer is “I’m a dog trainer,” but if they really want to chat about dogs then I elaborate to photographer, writer, blogger, webinar creator, baker for dogs, temperament testing, online courses…etc. etc. But what I really do is “life with dogs.”

My Just dogs with Sherri mission statement is:

To bring humans and canines into a symbiotic relationship.  Where each thrive with the presence of the other.  Alone they are just man and just dog; together they complete the perfection of a "canine lifestyle."

Life with dogs should be amazing but it isn’t always. The relationship can take a beating when we don’t understand one another. Humans understanding dogs is the first step to creating an amazing connection. When we understand our dogs; then they will be able to understand us.

Let’s face it, humans often forget that dogs are not furry humans. Sadly many of the biggest issues when living with dogs is the fact that we treat them like humans. We put human emotions on our dogs and assume that they communicate as we do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dogs are dogs and to think of them as furry humans is a disservice to them. In many ways dogs are far superior than us; especially in the communication department. But if we don’t now how they communicate then we don’t “get them.” So many people have no idea what their dog is saying or trying to communicate. Humans often misread information given by their dog and there in lies the biggest issue.

Dogs have a lot to say. It’s funny because just the other day as my husband and I were walking Elsa and one of our Grand-dogs, I thought about the fact that our dogs never say anything. My husband and I were chatting away as we walked, Elsa and Luna said nothing. That is, they didn’t say any words but they were constantly communicating. Our dogs often have a great deal more to say than we do, but are we listening? Watching?

Understanding how our dogs communicate is all about watching. They are master body language communicators. But much of their communications go unnoticed because they are so tiny and fleeting that we miss them. I often hear from guardians that they have no idea what happened when there dog seems to have a behavior issue. This can be because we regularly miss what they are saying. Some folks haven’t a clue what their dog is saying ever.

Living with dogs can and should be amazing. But, living with dogs can be stressful, frustrating and regretful. If we don’t take the time to learn about the dog or dogs that we are living with, then there will be fallout. Finding out how your dog communicates, understands and learns will lead to a much better relationship, bottom line.

We expect so much from our dogs. Sadly many of us don’t really understand how dogs work. Many people tell me “I’ve lived with dogs all my life,” meaning that they know dogs. But if you’ve never taken the time to really learn about canine communication; it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived with them. You simply may not have been understanding them the entire time.

Admittedly I don’t know much about cats. I don’t live with cats so it doesn’t really matter that I don’t “get them.” If I was interested in them then I might do some research; but I’m not a big cat person so I stick to dogs. I believe if you are going to live with an animal; you should know as much as you can about them.

Our biggest problem is us. We humans tend to think like humans and put those thoughts on other animals. It is the easiest for us to not have to learn about other animals but it is most definitely not the best. Truly learning about the animals that we live with means putting our human ways aside for a while. If we are going to have dogs in our homes with us; then we should learn about them and how they work, right?

I love dogs, they are amazing creatures. There is nothing like a canine/human connection at it’s bet.

A dog's neck

canine neck

The canine neck is complex; holding in it a mosaic of bones, muscles, nerves, veins and more.

Elsa and I were at the bottom of the final hill before ending our Monday morning exercise together. As we looked up and prepared for our big push up the hill; a dog caught my eye. To the right of the hill and down the path was a dog who was being naughty. He was leaping frantically on his owner; grabbing and shaking his leash. I watched for a moment as any dog trainer would.

Two woman were walking what looked to be a juvenile Shepherd/Husky mix. Not knowing how to control his outburst of behavior; the woman on the other end of the leash yanked. The dog was wearing a choke collar. I could literally hear the chain as she yanked and yanked. She’d had it and was obviously grasping to control him. Sadly his neck was taking a beating for his behavior.

After his outburst of exuberant behavior she yanked in attempt to get him under control. She yanked his every movement. She was not tolerating him even looking around now and yanked his every head turn. I shuddered at the thought of what his neck was having to endure. We just don’t consider our dog’s necks near enough. Often after a good assessment, I would step in and say something but the dog and two women were a good distance off. After the yanking ended, Elsa and I moved on.

I am a big harness fan. Although I started training using the conventional choke collar; it is all there was way back when I was 13 years old. That is a very long time ago (43 years to be exact) and we are must smarter now, right?

dog neck

Being that I have been involved with 3 serious rear end collisions I am hyper vigilant about neck issues. My neck is bad pretty much all the time; some days worse than others but a constant issue for me. The way many people yank their dogs around by the neck is very disturbing. I know that it does not come from ill intent but a lack of knowledge. We just don’t think about our actions much of the time.

After trying with no success to yank her dog into control; the person on the other end of the leash was stressed and frustrated. This lead her to just yank on her dog out of anger. And this “anger” is where I see much of the problem with being attached to our dog’s necks. We try to stop our dog’s actions by yanking on them. The whole yank method of training is based around stopping behavior by yanking on our dogs. Sadly it can require more and more yanking to achieve the smallest amount of success.

Many canine neck regions are being damaged by constant yanking. It is often a knee jerk response; where we aren’t even thinking about what we are doing. I see folks walking their dog and talking on their phone inflict some almighty yanks when they aren’t even looking at their dog. The dog is lagging, maybe relieving themselves or just sniffing and they receive the yank.

We need to consider our dog’s necks. Just because they have a neck does not mean that we should throw a chain, collar or rope around it and yank them into behaving. It boggles my mind that yank type training is still out there. But the sad part is that many people just do it because. That’s just what people think that we should do.

The neck is a complicated myriad of components that is hidden under a coat of many different colors and textures. There are long thin, short stocky, near non existent to the big beefy type necks. All contain the same bits and pieces inside but in different shapes and sizes.

Our dog’s neck can be easily damaged. It is our job to protect our dogs and do what is best and right for them. The neck is a big part that needs our protection.

Controlling your dog

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Controlling your dog is an essential part of being a good canine guardian.

Control - to exercise restraint or direction over; dominate; command:

Control can take many different forms. Depending on your dog, you and the work that you’ve done will factor in what type of control may be needed in certain situations.

Control is important. It is even more important that we… the guardian of our dog, be able to control them. Controlling our dog should not fall on others. Our visitors, passersby, guests or extended family are not responsible for controlling our dog. We need to control our dog.

When Elsa got attacked by an English Bulldog several years ago; the woman who was walking them had no control. Her dogs literally dragged her to the ground and commenced to attack Elsa. It’s pretty mind boggling that these two dogs were on leash yet were completely out of control. If you cannot control your dog either verbally or physically then you should not be out in pubic with your dog, bottom line.

When Elsa and I are out and about on our daily walks, the last thing I want to see is someone who cannot control their dog. We have come across many people in this type of predicament and it is unnerving to say the least.

You love your dog, great; but not everyone loves your dog. Controlling your dog is one of the K9 etiquette musts. When you are in public with your dog, it is your job to keep them safe and the public safe. Just because your dog would like to come and see my dog does not mean that he should be allowed to do that.

Ask. Always ask before allowing. The other day while Elsa and I were out for an early morning, quiet stroll; a woman headed our way with her black Labrador. He looked nice enough but we were not there to see him; we were enjoying our quiet oneness that we are. On their approach I automatically stepped off the path to give Elsa some space that she requires. The woman stepped off the path as well as her dog dragged her our way. I then turned on a dime and started walking away; a clear visual that I was not interested in a meet and greet. She continued to be dragged our way. FINALLY, I had to blurt out a loud “NO” with my hand up. This she understood and tried to brace herself and control her dog. She was having a very hard time not being dragged any longer.

YOU MUST CONTROL YOUR DOG. If you have no means of controlling your dog through voice command then you must be able to physically control your dog. If your dog drags you down the street on their collar then you need something different to walk your dog on if you are not going to train. Find something that gives you control.

It boggles my mind when someone says “he won’t listen, he wants to say hi,” like they have no say in the matter of what their dog does. Just because your dog is friendly; does not mean that every other dog wants to say hi. Dogs need to learn to walk by other dogs unless there is an invited an agreed upon meet and greet. Train.

I love being out walking with Elsa and seeing all of the other dog lovers walking as well. But I do not want to stop and have a tussle with every one of them. Elsa is uncomfortable with dogs that she does not know; unless they are puppies of course. She has been attacked and she has every right not to trust strangers. Do we trust strangers? I don’t. Do we control ourselves when out and about? Hopefully. ;)

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

 Beautiful little lady

Beautiful little lady

Elsa is beautiful, probably one of the most beautiful dogs I've ever known.  Most people feel exactly the same way about their dog; and that my friends is how it is suppose to be.  Isn't it amazing how we all have the most gorgeous dog that ever lived?  

Beautiful - having beauty; possessing qualities that give great pleasure or satisfaction see, hear, think about etc.' delighting the senses or mind:

There is beauty and then there's beauty.  I like the term "gorgeous" or "good looking" as the phrase or word used for outer visual appeal and beauty for that inner stuff.  Of course being beautiful inside makes one more beautiful outside, right?  

As far as I'm concerned dogs are beautiful as a species; covering just about every one of them.  Like humans, there are some that are more beautiful inside than others; but then again that is a personal thing as well.  Kind, caring, loving and compassionate people are beautiful.  The same goes with our dogs except that they tend to be much more pure and naturally more beautiful inside than us.  

Dogs are beautiful.  But sometimes life itself can alter a dog.  A dog who has had to deal with a situation that may have changed who they are can make them seem not as beautiful.  This is when we humans need to be able to look passed what has happened to them and into their core.  

I am far more concerned with the inside of dogs and humans as well.  Our outer shell is a first visual connection but aren't we and our dogs sooooo much more?  

When I temperament test a litter, I get to have a first glimpse into who these little creatures are.  They give me a clear read on who they are as a individual; I get to meet the real them, their core and I love it.  

When we choose to live with a dog it should be through an inner connection, not an exterior preference.  Do you want to live with a maniac retriever, couch potato, guard dog, highly emotional, social butterfly etc etc? 

A dog's exterior visual appeal is simply the vessel that carries in it, their true beauty.   

When to start training

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Now, right now.  If you already have your dog/puppy, start immediately.  Is your dog 8 weeks old?  Maybe 8 years?  No matter how old they are, start educating them right now.  Many people think that there is a specific age that you should start training your dog; but that came from the idea that a puppy had to be large enough to withstand collar yanks.  I don't think that any dog should receive collar yanks at any age.

Positive reinforcement training can be used very, very early on tiny puppies.  I have taught pups as young as 6 weeks old to sit in a matter of minutes.  I have also taught old dogs to sit in minutes as well.  

There are of course limits to what we can expect from very young puppies but they can learn for sure.  Most of the learning restraints on small puppies are length of time and distractions.  Everything is new and their little attention span is short.  

That said, every single dog/puppy is different; some puppies have amazing attention spans but we should always remember not to push (mentally) too hard.  Training should be fun; dogs should look forward to their training and learning new things.  If they don't enjoy it then you are doing something wrong.  

Feedback is educating.  With simple sounds we can educate our puppies/dogs on things that should be done and should not be done.  Starting on the road to learning is in my opinion, essential.  Without an education or even learning how to learn, our dogs are quite handicapped in this human world of ours.  

Life is all about learning.  Everyday brings with it something new.  My days are always better when I say to someone "I didn't know that."  I love to learn and I love Elsa to learn as well.  There is so much to know about this world that we live in.  We live with rules and regulations, so to should our dogs.  

Education is a gift, give the gift to your dog.  Teaching your dog how to maneuver more easily through life is just a win win for everyone involved.  So get to it, now.  

National Dog Day 2018

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Yesterday was National Dog Day.  I hope that you all enjoyed the day with your dog/dogs by your side.  I happened to think that every day is dog day but hey, that's just me.  ;)

We (my husband and I) spent Saturday afternoon celebrating National Dog Day at the Pet Project Foundation fund raiser at the Outlets at San Clemente mall.  This was my first time at the event and I was extremely surprised by the turn out.  Before it was officially started, there was a steady stream of canines and guardians.  By midway in, it was packed. 

Three hours spent visiting with dogs, talking dogs, helping guardians with their dog problems and listening to stories about dogs, not too shabby for a huge dog lover.  :)  The dogs were all very well behaved.  There was everything from the tiniest of pocket pooches all the way up to a huge Mastiff and a couple of Great Danes.  There were young puppies out socializing and old dogs just moseying around.  

I had made four batches of my Elsa's Pure Delight cookies to handout that were a huge hit.  I was so stoked when several guardians told me that their dog had spit out other cookies at the event, but ate mine.  They were hesitant to try more cookies but after one taste of Elsa's Pure Delights, they chowed down and their guardian grabbed a second bag to bring with them.  

There was no shortage of body language for me to watch.  As most of you know, I could watch dogs communicating with other dogs and humans all day long.  They truly are so amazing to watch as they interact.  One special moment was between an adorable young Golden puppy a mixed breed adult.  The puppy was very apprehensive to say hi to the adult because the adult was frozen in stance.  He was not giving off the warm and fuzzy feeling and the puppy clearly understood.  He hesitantly sniffed the adult and then backed away; sitting down and just watched which was the best thing for him to do.  Nice.  

It was a great family event that I was thrilled to be a part of.  I hope that we can make it again next year; it was most definitely a fun time for all.  

Happy National Dog Day, yes it is every day for me and should be for you.  Have a great day.  

Ruffwear - Hi & Light, a new harness

 Elsa sporting her new Hi & Light Dog Harness

Elsa sporting her new Hi & Light Dog Harness

Elsa and I are just back from a huge, really early exercise outing.  As most of you know, exercise is very important to me.  Both for myself and for Miss Elsa.  We rarely take a day off because it is that important for us to stay in shape.  Anything physical that you do in life is made easier when you are fit; and that goes for our dogs.  

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On our walk today we gave the new Hi & Light Ruffwear harness a try, and WE LOVE IT.  Elsa has worn the Front Range harness for a long time now; so when I saw the new lighter version I wanted to try it out.  The very first thing I noticed when the harness arrived was the packaging, no struggling to cut ties or pry plastic to get it out.  There are three slats on a recyclable card where the harness fits in nicely.  Easy to get out and toss the cardboard in the recycle.  Nice. 

The next thing I noticed was the snaps on the harness.  They are smooth and not threatening as far as the pinch factor.  I can't tell you how many times I've pinched my fingers in snaps over the years.  They are a breeze to do up and so smooth.  

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The Hi & Light harness is lower profile than the Front Range .  It has one leash attachment on the back and 4 points of adjustment so that you can get a really great fit on your dog.   I adjusted the harness on Elsa in about a minute.  It is sleeker than the Front Range with a debris resistant liner inside; which is great for dry, brushy seasons like now and the fall.   

It comes in three colors: blue, gray and red/orange and sizes from XXXs to large/x large.  Elsa wears a medium and it fits like a glove.  She is 24.5 inches tall and a 45 lbs.  

Like the Front Range harness, the Hi & Light is easy peasy to put on and take off.  It pops over their head and does up on both sides of their chest.  Taking it off can be done one handed which is how I typically do it as I often have stuff in one of my hands. 

I love harnesses, they are my canine/human attachment device of choice.    For dogs who are very active on their walks, it's even more important to wear a harness in my opinion.  Another great thing about the Hi & Light harness is that it does have less material to it; and for times like now when the temperatures are soaring is was nice to have a lighter harness on Elsa.  The harness is very light; easy to carry in your pack or purse even. 

This will be a second "go to" harness for Elsa and I.  She was extremely comfortable wearing it and that of course is one of the most important factors when choosing a harness for your dog.

Counter conditioning canine behavior

counter conditioning

Counter - something that is opposite or contrary to something else.  

Conditioning - a process of changing behavior by rewarding a subject each time an action is performed until the subject associates the action with pleasure.  

Counter conditioning is a highly effective way to alter a dog's response.  It is commonly used to change how a dog reacts to a specific stimulus by changing the meaning of it.  

Example:  Your dog is terrified by the vacuum cleaner.  Every time you try to vacuum your dog runs for the hills, hides under the bed or behind the couch.  

Like most rehabilitation type behavior modification, baby steps in progression should be used to best facilitate success.  Depending on your dog's response you may want to start by just bringing the vacuum out of the closet or just open the vacuum cleaner closet.  Then link an enjoyable activity to it.  Maybe the closet door opens and you pull out your dog's leash.  Maybe it  means feeding time or time to play catch.  

This should be done until you are seeing a positive response from your dog.  Next would be to pull out the vacuum and create the same activity - feeding, playing, walking. etc.  

The goal would be - each time you pull out the vacuum, your dog associates it with something wonderful.  You start small and slow, only moving on to more intense work with complete success at each stage.  

Like desensitizing, counter conditioning is about association.  Counter conditioning is typically used to re-associate the stimulus that causes a fearful or stressful response.  It is on e of  most useful tools in positive behavior modification.  

Questions?

Desensitizing the canine response

 Ready to give up?  Dealing with an out of control trigger?  You can fix it.  Read on.  

Ready to give up?  Dealing with an out of control trigger?  You can fix it.  Read on.  

Desensitize - To lessen the sensitiveness of.  To make indifferent or unaware.  

Many different things can become sensitized for our dogs.  Particular items like leashes, toys, shovels, cars etc. etc.  Sounds can become sensitized; thunder, door bells, food pouring in a bowl, packages being opened etc. etc.  

The moment that we need to step in to desensitize is when the response becomes a problem.  This is a very common issue with dogs, no matter what the cause.  

When a fear response is exhibited due to a sound, item or activity, we typically use counter conditioning which is different from desensitizing.  I will discuss counter conditioning in the next blog.  Today's blog is about desensitizing which is usually used for an over excitement issue.  

I am going to use the leash for my example.  The leash often results in a severe sensitivity caused by the whole "going for a walk" thing.  Dogs love going on walks, most do.  So when a leash is a trigger for wild and out of control behavior we need to step in and fix it.  I have had many clients who had a big time leash sensitivity causing them to race around the house like an out of control maniac resulting in a very frustrated guardian who cannot get the leash on their dog.

The goal with desensitizing training is to make the leash less of a trigger.  The way you do that is to pull it out often with no response.  Mix it up, pull it out and throw it on the floor, walk away.  Pull it out right before your dog's mealtime.  Pull it out and go outside.  Pull it out, hook it up to your dog and go no where.  Your goal is to make the meaning of the leash less powerful. 

By bringing it out often and creating a different meaning of the leash being out it loses its crazy out of control power.  The more mundane the leash becomes the less power it holds.  Soon the leash coming out means a lot more than just a walk; your dog never knows.  

This is how you desensitize things like the doorbell, pulling out the food bowl, a noise making item or any other item or sound that causes a loss of control.  Out of control is never a good state for any dog to be in.  

Make sense?  Questions?  Leave me a comment!

 

 

Reading dog body language

 Not the puppy from today but Elsa clearly stating how much she loves to play with Yogi and as a puppy.  (Taken a couple of years ago)

Not the puppy from today but Elsa clearly stating how much she loves to play with Yogi and as a puppy.  (Taken a couple of years ago)

We were out as the sun came up this morning.  Hearing about our impending heat today, Elsa and I head out to the park early, before the heat hit.   Like myself, Elsa needs to workout strenuously daily; so I love when I can get her power run in before the day starts.  Today's run was a quiet one, as we were out before most others, nice.  

As we were ending our walk we ran into a woman and her 5 1/2 month old yellow Labrador.  From far away I could see his rambunctiousness and that he was quite a handful for his guardian.  Elsa watch carefully and I watched her intently.  As we got closer I could see the question coming from the human on the end of the puppy's leash.  

"Can he meet her?" the woman asked.  I'd been monitoring Elsa's body language well before they were upon us.  Elsa LOVES puppies.  But, she is very wary of adult dogs because she has been attacked several times.  So...I read very carefully before meeting any other dogs face to face.  I go with what Elsa tells me, and if it is another adult dog we typically get space and keep on moving.  But this morning she told me that she was interested in this little man.  

Even though the youngster was exhibiting direct eye contact and straining at his leash to meet her; Elsa knew that he was non threatening.  Elsa is probably one of the best readers that I have ever met.  She also knows who she wants to meet and this one was someone who she wanted to meet.  Her tail was high but not all the way up; and wagging slowly in an excited by not overly excited manner.  She reached out to get a sniff and there was no snorting.  Snorting is her stress signal that I listen carefully for. 

I asked how old he was before allowing a greeting.  He was 5 1/2 months old and even as large as he was, Elsa knew this before I did.  I let Elsa sniff him as he strained at the end of his leash.  I HATE on leash greetings.  Even the friendliest dog greeting can go wrong if they become tangled.  After their first sniff I unhooked Elsa.   Watching like a hawk (as I always do) Elsa's body language went from interested, happy and a little tense while on leash; to instantly no worries and calmly excited off leash.  

The release of tension (unhooking the leash) gave her the freedom to move about, away or closer as she felt the need.  Leashes can interfere with body language drastically.  Of course there are leash laws and most of the time our dogs MUST be on leash.  But it really is amazing to witness the huge change in body language on and off leash.  

Even though Elsa had clearly shown me that she wanted to meet the young man this morning; she was much more relaxed off leash while interacting with him.  She truly is amazing with puppies.  So many adult dogs are not big puppy fans; they don't want to put up with their antics.  But not Elsa, she much prefers puppies over adult dogs.

It always amazes me what she allows puppies to get away with.  Even puppies that she has never met before are allowed to push the boundaries that an adult would NEVER be allowed.  The puppy bounded around, jumping on her and pawing her with his huge feet.  I thought that she might give him a bit of a schooling on etiquette but she just enjoyed his naughtiness.  Now... had this boy been her little brother; he'd would have had a great deal of education at 5 1/2 months of agee.  Elsa is an amazing teacher with the patience of a saint.    

Elsa and Forest (little mans name) had a short romp before I stated that we were going to continue our walk.   "Quit while you're ahead," one of my motto's in life.  They had had a great interaction, so I chose to end it and keep moving along.  Elsa was happy, Forest was happy and both guardians were happy.  I hope to meet Forest and his guardian in the park again; Elsa really enjoyed his crazy and energetic puppy antics.  

Dogs are SOOOOOO much more versed in communication than we humans are.  We can go on and on with our words without saying anything.  But dogs, they speak volumes with their body alone.  Paying attention to that and knowing your dog is so important when living with dogs.  Canine body language is fascinating and telling.  

Do you know what your dog is saying?