Canine human relationship

Dogs and babies - an update

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It’s been a while, a whole month actually since I blogged. Since then, we have added two more human babies to our every growing family. #4 and #5 grandbabies arrived happy and healthy. Both Mamas and babies are doing wonderfully and this Grandma could not be more excited.

Little Riggs has been in constant training and is doing great. He is house trained, which is a wonderful thing to get behind us. We are in training mode pretty much all the time as it should be having a six month old puppy around. He has so much more to learn. Jumping is a thing for him, he is pretty much a kangaroo so not jumping is tough for him. He sleeps wonderfully through the night and gets to have the run of the house with Elsa when I have short errands to do.

Riggs has met three grandsons from early on and enjoys them with much supervision. The almost 2 year old is a bit of a challenge around Riggs but constant supervision, hovering and short interactions is needed. He has met one of the newest babies and other than sniffing, he was not phased, even when she cried for a long while.

Babies are different from adult humans; just like puppies are so different from adult dogs. Many dogs are dog friendly but not puppy friendly; just like lots of dogs are friendly but not so much with babies or toddlers. Supervision is a must, constant supervision. Even with dogs who love babies, you can never become lax.

Elsa (Nanny dog) was introduced to the newest and first granddaughter, Nellie two weeks ago. She was beside herself and licked her toes even inside of her jammies. Elsa is the most amazing dog around her babies; I love how much she loves them. But even she needs constant supervision. And she got to meet the newest little one yesterday, little Odin. She knew right away that there was a new baby in the house and seeked him out; welcoming him into the family, Elsa style. She adores babies just like she adores puppies; Elsa is quite a girl.

As a side note I have been struggling with my email and I am about to give up on it. I may have to change it and all of my business cards etc. Such a hassle but I’ve already spent so many hours trying to figure out what the problem is and Yahoo has been no help at all. I will keep you posted on my FB and IG pages.

I’m working on several new projects and look forward to sharing them with you in the near future.

Our dogs are always watching

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As I started to turn the corner, I looked down to notice Luke watching my feet. I’d noticed for about a week that he was always looking at the ground when I was up and moving. I was pretty sure about what he was doing so I tried it out. I turned my foot to the left and he followed left; I turned my right foot and he followed that. Yep, he was watching my feet. He was my first very obvious foot watcher and the dog who taught me the most out of all of my dogs. Luke was a very clear watcher; my other dogs, like most are much more subtle about their watching, but they are watching non the less.

Canines communicate predominantly with body language. The impact that we have on our dogs just utilizing body language alone is immense. Each and every movement we make impacts our dogs. From guidance movements (as far as where we are going and reaction movements). They are always watching, learning and following.

It is fascinating to see how much our dogs watch us. Not only do they use our movements as a “whats up” signal but also use it to learn. Learning comes in many forms and for dogs they learn intensely from body language. From the moment we get up in the morning to the minute we turn out the light and drift off; they are constantly watching us.

Because our body language is so influential with regards to our dogs; I will be holding a webinar on human body language and how it impacts our canines. Stay tuned for more info, it promises to be fascinating and informative.

Dog manners

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Manners - ways of behaving with reference to polite standards; social comportment:

Dog training has many different aspects to it; from basic manners, socializing, house training, obedience, field, agility and far more. As soon as we add a puppy or dog to our family it is or should be “in training.”

Training - the education, instruction, or discipline of a person or thing that is being trained:

Some of the most important training a dog will ever receive is the learning of manners. I’ve met some amazingly talented obedience dogs who have no basic manners and others who have no official obedience training but excel in the manners department.

So what are the manners that we want to instill in our dogs? The first would be not to take our food from us. Which is not the same as not begging. To me begging is a non issue; it is our dog wanting our food but waiting until we give it to them, just like in the wild. Of course if your dog is accustom to getting food from you when you are eating then they are going to hang around and wait for it.

Other manners include not stealing from the counter tops or coffee tables. Not jumping all over guests when they come over to visit. And pretty much any rule that you the guardian would like followed in your life. Sitting before going out or in a door and not barging through; knocking everyone over. That would be considered a manner.

Teaching manners is easiest when you start right from the get go. If you don’t want your dog on the couch then don’t let your puppy on the couch. If you don’t want your dog to steal food from the counter; then start training now as they join your family.

Manners are really very important, both for us and our dogs. There are things that mannerly humans would not do; things like grabbing someone’s food off their plate. We would not barge our way to the kitchen just to get the first piece of pizza (okay, maybe some would.) Saying please if we would like something is essential. Heck I find myself asking Alexa “please” every time I change my mind on music in the day; I really feel rude if I just blurt out demands to her without saying please. :)

Having a dog who is mannerly is very enjoyable. But manners take time to learn and to teach. To start off we need to figure out what we’d like as far as general manners in our home. Once you have that, it is time to hire a trainer and get to work on manners. Sometimes manners are easy, often they can take some work to instill. But teaching your dog manners is really important and you will both benefit from.

I love getting comments from you all; leave one if you’d like, please.

Dog sense

My guardian

My guardian

We got closer to the steps leading up to the open field when I noticed the guy. A man was standing at the top of the stairs; legs crossed and checking out his cell phone. I took note as I am very aware of my surroundings; really important when out and about. Oddly enough, Elsa had also taken note. She stopped for a split second then continued up with me. I’m not sure if she was sensing my emotions or if she was having her own sense from this guy.

As we got closer to the man at the top of the stairs Elsa lowered her head and growled very deeply. I was surprised at the seriousness in her tone and that she felt a growl was needed. Elsa’s favorite thing in the world are people; she has only met a few in her life that she didn’t gush over. Getting closer she then barked once at him; but it was loud, clear and precise. “Keep your distance.” She was creeped out by him for many reasons. The root of her concern that were clear to me were:

  • he was standing in a strange place

  • he was frozen (not moving with his legs crossed)

  • he was dressed all in black

  • he had large head phones on

  • he had a large black backpack on

So to Miss Elsa he was some level of threat. I chatted happily to her as we passed him by; keeping my wits about me. I listen when my dogs speak; they are much more in tune to things like this than we are. Elsa let out a huge snort as we got beyond him and moved into the park and I glanced over my shoulder. “Wow,” I said to her…”you didn’t like him much.”

Had this been Riggs and his reaction, it would have meant less. He is young and finds a lot of things scary. But Elsa is nearing 8 years old and very worldly. She’s been across the country several times, lived through a shit ton and has a great deal of life experience under her belt. I think that I have a good sense of character but she is an amazing judge of character . If I feel the least bit uneasy I look to her for consensus and she has never let me down.

There have been times when worker guys come into our home and she does her typical “Hi, my name is Elsa, who are you?” routine. And then there are times when she gives a low wag and keeps herself between the worker and me. She is the most amazing dog.

Elsa tends to kick into a more attentive guarding mode when out with others. Whether we are out with babies, human friends or dog friends, she is more guarding.

The guy in black today was probably just a guy. But, he was definitely giving off questionable behavior to both Elsa and myself. If your dog acts out of the ordinary when another dog or person approach or appear, listen. They know a lot more than we do.

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.

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.  

Moving on - after losing your canine

Losing your canine

It's not easy, how do you move on when you may have lost the love of your life?  This was something that I dealt with after losing my Luke.  Luke was my heart dog and he left a huge gaping hole in my heart when he left.  Getting over a love like we had is never easy, not for anyone.  

Luke's goodbye

I lost Luke in January of 2015; so where am I now in the whole grieving process.  I've been through it all and am out the other side.  Oh, there are still days when I can't talk about him; it really depends on my mood and what the Luke topic is.  It is hard to think that you can ever have that again with another; but I know it will happen, I will fall in love again.  I am very ready to fall in love, as is Elsa. But how do you go from a mess; to being able to move on?  Grief, you must grieve such a loss or you will never get through to the other side.  Writing my book helped me immensely.  Each re-read brought fewer and fewer tears.  I can now read my book with only a few tears rolling down my face.  No sobbing, no heartbreak, just memories.  

The memories are what we need and when they come and bring joy instead of sadness; well then, you are almost there.  

You have to go through it, there is no way around.  Getting to the other side demands that you go through the middle of the sadness.  Deal with it, cry, remember, cry and cry some more.  You must mourn what you have lost, it is essential.  There is no easy way to get to the other side and if you take the easy road; then you'll likely have to go through it later in life.  

Going through the middle of it all was why I wrote my book.  It made me deal with every heartbreaking emotion.  Oh there was a lot of crying.  Some days I couldn't think of moving on.  How could I go through a day without him?  

But here I am, with all of my amazing memories left.  They bring smiles now; how can I not smile when I think of that big goof ball?  I loved him, I will always love him.  But now I only have memories and that my friend is a gift.  One that we should cherish.  

It's not easy, but you can get through it.   

My book

 

Take your life back

Picture perfect - you can do it.  

Picture perfect - you can do it.  

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard "he doesn't want to," or "they won't stop."  Are you feeling like you've lost control of your life?  

Control - check or restraint.

Have you lost control?

Have you? 

Does your dog rule your life?  Are you feeling like your life is no longer your own?  Do you want to take your life back?  Read on.

We often let our dogs get away with behaviors that we later regret.  Our dogs will do what we allow them to do.  Taking charge does not have anything to do with being mean, cruel or bossy.  It has everything to do with guidance and creating a harmonious canine/human relationship.  Our dogs need us to step up to the plate.

Are you ready?

This all starts in your head.  You can do this, yes you can.  Is your dog charging out open doors?  Jumping all over you?  Counter surfing at will?  Whatever you don't want your dog to do, it is time to stop the behavior.  This all starts with you believing that you can be the one making and enforcing rules.

First, decide what you will allow in your home and life.  Next, think about how to control or stop the unwanted behaviors.  If you are at a loss and can't do it yourself, then get in touch with a positive reinforcement trainer to get you started.   A good trainer will give you the information needed to take your life back.  They should make you feel like you can do it; giving you the guidance to train your dog.

Life can be made better with a dog by your side, but sometimes it's worse.  If we allow the relationship to go amuck with no rules or boundaries set, it can go very bad.  A little guidance, modification and confidence can make a huge difference.  

If you need help, get it.  Life with dogs is amazing, and you can do this.   

Temperament testing in dogs

A most perfect match made when Elsa joined our family.  Thank you Vicki.

A most perfect match made when Elsa joined our family.  Thank you Vicki.

I want to talk about temperament testing today, yes again.  This is something that I am very passionate about and wish that all breeders, rescues and shelters did.  Very few that I speak to think that temperament testing is important.  But why?  Well, from what I can glean from the conversations that I have, it seems that the idea of temperament testing is something you do when you don't "know" your puppies.  The common response I hear from the breeders who don't do it is this; "I don't need to temperament test, I know my puppies."  Leaving me to think that they feel that it is only something you do when you don't know your puppies.  Hmmmmm...

So what exactly does temperament testing do?  Well, let's first say that there is temperament testing and then there is temperament testing.  I have seen many dogs who have been "tested" that have been done completely inaccurately.  So that must be the first understanding.  When a temperament test is done it must be done by someone who is very experienced in dog behavior.  There are so many things to factor in aside from the initial result.  

What am I looking for when I test?   I look to find out who this puppy is as an individual.  What makes them tick; what they like, what they don't like.  How will they deal with life as it unfolds before them.   

What type of family scenario is going to best suit each individual puppy?  Temperament testing is not about finding the good and bad.  It has nothing to do with the best puppy; it is all about finding the best puppy for each family waiting to add one of the bundles of fur to their family.  Who would thrive in each very different individual family life?

  • Are they afraid of loud noise?
  • Are they independent?
  • Do they easily follow a human?
  • What is their recovery time after being startled?  A biggy for me..
  • Are they a soft or hard type dog?  
  • Will they do well with small children?
  • Are they forgiving?  
  • etc etc

There is no reason not to temperament test but a plethora of reason to test.  When a breeder does not test and opts to allow the families to pick their own puppy; every puppy/guardian pairing can be wrong.  It can start with the first choice to the last.  Most people have no idea what they are looking for; they go on a visual choice and who comes to them first.  Nothing can be gleaned from a onetime visit in among a litter of puppies.  

Each puppy must be looked at alone and offered many different experiences to show who they are as an individual.  Why not give each a chance for the best life that they can live.  Much more coming on temperament testing, stay tuned.  

 

Indulging our dogs

Those eyes, honestly.

Those eyes, honestly.

 Do you indulge your dog?  I do.

Indulge - to yield to an inclination or desire; allow oneself to follow one's will

There are days when Elsa gets to accompany me where or what I want to do.  Other times we go out it's all about her and then there are times when we get to both indulge.  

So what did we do today?  

Very early this morning, as the sun was just starting to hit the open field; we were out there indulging Elsa.  She was getting a good long round of Chuck it in.  With my hands tucked into my fleece jacket I tried to keep them warm from the early morning chill.  I was indulging Elsa.  That is why we were at the park so early in the morning; for some nice long Chuck it indulging.  

With her tongue hanging out and my fingers nearly frozen we head for home.  Once home we had some downtime for Elsa to cool down and I jumped in the shower.  After about an hour we ate.  We basically shared our breakfast.    I heated some some yummy Filet Mignon left over from the night before, scrambled eggs, added spinach, a little cheese and yum.  Elsa enjoyed it as much as I did. 

With the bulk of her exercise done, a rest time and full stomach we got ready to go out again.  We were heading to the outdoor mall for some shopping.  I wanted some new shoes and I know that Elsa is more than welcome at this specific mall; even inside the stores where the employees welcome her with open arms.  So off we went.

Once we were there I further indulged my girl.  Being that it is very dog friendly there is a lot of peemail to read and Elsa loves to catch up on her mail.  We meandered through the mall stopping at every single tiny bush.  I wasn't in a hurry and it makes me happy to make Elsa happy.  

To indulge is not a bad thing; if it is something that you want and you will not regret the indulgence.  Want to skip the gym and hit the donut shop?  Do it if your not going to obsess over the decision.  

I like to indulge Elsa at least once a day.  That could mean a great long retrieve session, maybe going to the park, a long slow peemail walk or play date with a friend.  If we can both indulge at the same time then we get to do more fun things together that we both enjoy.

Indulging is a good thing if you will not regret the decision.  If the end result is not worth the indulgence, then skip it.  

Do you consider the things that your dog would like to indulge in?

 

 

National puppy day

Do you want a dog

You want a puppy?  Do you really?  You think you want a dog but do you?

Many people go through the process of adding a puppy to their family only to discover shortly after that they don't want a dog.  

If everyone who was thinking about adding a dog to their family could see into the future and get a glimpse of what was to come, they might not get a dog.  Of course I adore dogs but not everyone does; not everyone wants to deal with dog issues.  Issues that are very species specific and normal for any dog but not just any human.  Sadly many people don't realize this until after they get a dog.  

Puppies and dogs are work, bottom line.  Dogs deserve companionship which often elude those who add a dog to their family.  Dogs should be considered a member of the family.  They are not a creature that you purchase to complete the image of a family.  Dogs deserve a life of togetherness; they should never be left in a yard to live their life alone.  Although the backyard is where many dogs find themselves after the family realizes that they didn't really want a dog.

Dogs are amazing; and what they give us should be given back to them.  The canine/human connection is a wonderful thing.  An intense bond forms from quality time together.  But is often lost from those who find a dog to be do much work.  

Isle of Dogs

Check out this new movie.  Isle of Dogs - I can't wait to see it and would love to hear if you see it.

Yes dogs are work, especially puppies.  But if you truly want to live with a dog; living side by side as true companions, the work doesn't feel like work.  When you love someone, acts of care and giving feel good; they do not feel like work.  

As I write this morning, Elsa is draped across my legs, dreaming.  She loves her mornings in bed and I love that I can work in bed with my laptop.  We are connected and this very special time in bed confirms that.  Elsa feels safe here and enjoys the comfort of connection restricted to family members.  

When a dog joins a family, they should be blanketed in the cloak of family.  They deserve nothing less.  Living alongside the family is where dogs belong.  Piled on the couch, resting on their own bed by the fire, enjoying hikes, mornings in bed, evenings on the porch and much more.  Loving a dog is good for you; it is a humbling experience.  To truly know a dog will change you forever. 

Once you've been connected to a dog, there is no going back.  

When we allow ourselves to connect with another species; to genuinely share our lives with a canine, we grow and flourish to a much better self.  Dogs deserve our very best because they don't know how to give us any less. 

Do you want a dog?  Just know, there will be work; and your life will never be the same.  Loving a dog will come back to you tenfold.  Do some research, find out if you really want a dog.  If you really want to live with a dog; you are in for an amazing connection.

If you've got a new dog and want to know what you need to know, check out my book.  

 

 

 

Dog training help now. Online Consultations!

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No matter where you are...

"I need help, right now" the email said.  The woman was having some huge canine issues with her new puppy and needed HELP!!!!!!  I replied right away "I can help right now."  I sent her the questionnaire and we began immediately.  

The new canine guardian had been ready to pitch everything.  She was starting to regret ever getting a dog and was ready to give up.  Sometimes you need help right away; and that help can come in many forms.  One form of help that I offer is my online canine consultations and I have to say that "I LOVE IT."  I love being able to connect with people right away.  The ability to get them started on their very personalized remedy to their problem with their dog, instantly is wonderful.

So what does my online email consultation look like and who can benefit from this service?  First it is a very cost effective remedy to your canine behavior issues.   We work via email which enables us to communicate back and forth over a period of time.  This lets you, the canine guardian get to work right away.  We can span the emails out as far as you like.  As you and your dog make progress we walk through new things that arise until you have a handle on your problem.

And it doesn't matter where you live, which is the greatest thing EVER.  

Online canine consultations are geared to those who want to address their problems.  That means that I tell you how to help your dog.  Then you tell me how its going and we work on fixing more, until you are happy with your dog's behavior.  Sound good?  

I offer local hands on behavior modification but I'm not limited to local anymore.  I love helping people all around the world with my online canine consultations.  

Often a couple of emails are all that's needed for a canine guardian to be on their way to complete success.  And I might add, they did all the work; which I believe is essentially important for the best possible outcome.  This is because a guardian needs to understand what's going on. With the personalized give and take of an online consultation, that happens very naturally.

So wherever you are and whatever your canine problem, shoot me an email.    

  

Memories of my first dog

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Mandy, what a great girl she was.  Mandy was my first dog; that is my first very own dog.  I had a toy poodle growing up that was the family dog but Mandy was mine alone.  I met Mandy when she was only six weeks of age.  Yes, far too early to have been taken away from the litter but that was forty years ago.  She was a crazy little devil on four legs; but matured into a wonderful, kind and gentle adult.  

Mandy and I started our life together when she was 4 years of age.  I was 18, had just graduated, got a job and an apartment.  It was just Mandy and I.  I have the greatest memories of our long walks along the parkways, our peacheful walks at The Pits (before it was known as the place to be,) and anytime we could be around water. 

Living in Canada at the time, swimming was definitely saved for the summer.  Although Mandy was game anytime she could get into anything without ice on it.  She was a sporty dog and loved to retrieve, even though she was a terrier.  But her favorite activity by far was swimming and bringing up huge boulders from the depths below.  She would somehow get her mouth around something that was truly far too large to remove, but she would figure it out.  She'd bring it out, put in on the beach, clean it for a bit and go get another.  

Our enjoying the Canadian waters with my girl.

Our enjoying the Canadian waters with my girl.

By the time our girl was an old girl, her canine teeth were completely flattened out from the rocks.  She also loved to pull out small logs that had sunk to the bottom.  The logs were brought onto the beach where she would dig on each side of it, turn it and dig some more. 

Her obedience education was very little when we were first together but in no time she was the perfect canine companion.  She went from running every time I'd say "come," to being one of the most reliable recall dogs I've ever lived with.  

Only a few years after being together, the two of us were joined by my husband and Mandy's new Dad.  We were a family of three then, but not for long.  It was less than a year when we had our first baby who Mandy welcomed and then the second and third.  By then she was an old lady sleeping most of the day away.  

As the years caught up on her, her legs grew weaker.  Canadian winters are brutal for the healthiest of dogs so the old and feebly can really have a time of it.  I clearly remember her trying to get up the front steps; often running out to carry her up or just take the weight off of her back legs.  She was a trooper in every sense of the word.

She was an amazing dog and my very first.  The first plays a huge roll in the dogs to come.  You learn so much from the first; make many mistakes and take with you lessons learned for the next.  All of the dogs who came after Mandy benefitted from the gifts that she gave me as we shared our lives together.  I will always remember her with a smile in my heart.  My first.  

Old dogs

One of the saddest things I see come across my FB feed are senior dogs looking for a home.  There are often small stories that accompany the photo; explaining that the dog is relinquished from a family that couldn't cope and/or didn't want to deal with old dog issues any longer.  What is wrong with people?  

Sometimes things change in life and humans must re-home a dog.  I do not judge people for this, shit happens as they say.  Perhaps they have to move somewhere where there dogs can not live with them; maybe they have dogs that don't get along.  No matter what, finding a new and wonderful home is the thing to do.  But getting rid of an old dog because it is old?  Inexcusable!!!!

You don't have time?  You don't want to clean and pick up after your old dog?  You can't deal with the slow pace and needs of your old dog?  Horrible.  So you took everything that your puppy, young dog and adult dog had to give and then walked away when it was your turn to give?  

I love old dogs. There is nothing like being gifted with the joy of time spent together.  Many people are never lucky enough to have an old dog; their dog passed far before it's time.  Old dogs require patience, kindness and tenderness.  I remember walking slower than a snail pace with my old girl Tilley as she recovered from Vestibular disease.  Patience was required as we barely moved around the park.  I remember hovering over Luke as he hunched to take a poop. I stood in the ready to catch him if his legs gave out as they had often done when he had his morning poop.  He hated being touched when he pooped so I had to help him in his blind spot.  This was done out of love and I felt honored to have been able to give him a helping hand when needed.  

There is nothing like caring for a dog who needs you.  Nothing comes close to giving out of love.  To offer unconditional love and care to a dog who has given their all to you.  

I just don't get how people can dump a senior dog when it is their turn to receive.  It is a horrible kind of person who does this; someone that you don't want to be associated with.  

Old dogs need our caring arms (metaphorically speaking) wrapped around them as they move into their golden years and beyond.  When the time comes for them to leave this world of ours; they should go by our side knowing the love that they deserve.  Giving the gift of your time, love, care and tenderness to an old dogs is where we show our true colors.  

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

This is my newest book.  It was published in August of last year and was a work from my heart.  This little book covers so many things in it; far more than just the actual loss.  My hope is that every dog lover will read it; no matter where you are in your relationship with your dog.  

We all know only too well that our dogs do not live nearly as long as we would like them to.  So, at some point everyone is going to have to go through loss.  I wish that all dogs who leave us are old and have had a great life but sadly that is not reality.  

The book is a step by step through the entire process.  It begins with the very first and most important question of "when?"  It explains everything from the very start of the end, through to the healing of grief and everything that it brings.  

I will be holding a FREE Webinar on February 02-2017 to discuss the subject of losing a canine and the book itself.  

Click here to register for the Webinar - Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

If you are the guardian of a canine now, have lost a heart dog or want to know how to deal when the time comes, join us.  

My greatest wish is that this book and now the Webinar will help even just a few.  Join us and share your stories; as I will be sharing mine.  

If you are interested in reading the book before the Webinar you can find it here.  

Moving Through the Loss of your Canine Companion

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Dogs and the Holiday Season

It's that time of year again.  Time for gift giving, food preparation and consumption, lots of family and visitors coming and going and everything that makes the holidays wonderful.  All of the things that we love about the holidays can stress out our dogs and cause dangerous situations.  You may be all Holly Jolly and ready for the holidays, but is your dog ready?  

Got a counter surfer?  This could lead to all sorts of troubles over the holidays.  Extra precautions need to be taken so that your dog does not consume something that they shouldn't.  Many counter surfers are not picky about where they steal from; it doesn't always have to be a counter.  A coffee table, dresser, shelf, Christmas tree or purse are can be fair game.  Always be aware.  When in doubt, opt for safety.  Keep anything and everything that could be dangerous to your dog, away.

Got a dog who is not a social butterfly?  Save them the stress of having to deal with your loud and obnoxious neighbor who is sure that every dog loves him.  Keep grabby and wild children away from your dog if your dog is not comfortable around them.  Too many people put their dog in harms way as far as having to tolerate inappropriate behavior from other people and/or children.  It is mind boggling how many people just expect their dogs to deal with everything.  This often leads to owners being outraged and shocked that their dog snapped or bit someone who crossed a line.  

Take charge of each and every situation that your dog will be immersed into.  If you know they are not going to be comfortable then put them into a safe and quiet area for their own good.  Just because you want to make Merry does not mean that your dog does.

Got a high energy dog?  Make sure that your dog has a normal outlet for their energy.  We often overlook our dog's needs during the holidays and then are dismayed their unusually bad behavior.  Elsa is a very high energy dog; she needs a daily outlet for her need to run and retrieve.  So even during this magical time of year, Missy Elsa must run.  I love that I can now run her morning, noon or night because of the cooler temps so we head and run.  Keep up the normal energy release routine.  

Got a puppy?  This can be a rough time with puppies and many people forget that their little ones are very little and inexperienced.  Watch for signs of stress.  Make sure that your little one has an ample amount of time to sleep.  Puppies need to sleep a lot and if they are not given the opportunity to do so they can run into problems.  Being overtired is never good for a puppy; especially around the holiday season.  

Introduce anything new in a positive manner and bit by bit.  Socializing is great, too much is not better.  Too much socializing can backfire and lead to behavior problems down the road for your puppy.  Baby steps to success.

Got an old dog?   Old dogs need and deserve "Peace on Earth," for Christmas.  Like puppies, they are easily overwhelmed, grow tired quickly and don't have the patience of a young dog.  There is nothing like living with an old dog.  Being given the gift of an old dog is something very special.  It is our time to care, tend and give to them.  I have cared for many old dogs over the years and it is always a wonderfully significant stage of the life that you share.  The holidays call for extra care, love, patience and vigilance for precious old ones.  

This is my favorite time of year.  I hope that you have a wonderful Holiday Season.  

 

Dog problems - asking for help

One of my many covers over the years. 

One of my many covers over the years. 

Imagine for a second...your dog is chasing cars, you hang on tight and hope not to be taken for a ride as you brace yourself.  Maybe your dog is systematically clearing off the counter each and every time you turn your back.  You sit with your head in your hands wondering "how am I suppose to fix this?"  

So many people go so long living with issues before asking for help.  Humans are not born with the ins and outs of the canine brain.  Yet somehow we think that we should know how to fix it; after all it is our dog who we live with day to day.  I have been called for help with so many "canine problems" that are actually easy fixes.  But if you don't know the solution to a problem then it is not easy.  

Dog brains do not work the way that our brains do.  The ideology that we can fix it with our human specific remedy is part of the problem.  We often see a canine "issue" as very human, we put it into human terms and human reasoning; this is call anthropomorphism.  

Anthropomorphism - the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to an animal or object.  

When our dogs act out we  understand it in human terms unless we are experience in canine behavior.  It has to be talked about in human vocabulary but the actions that they are displaying are far from human.

I remember standing in a dog park hearing a woman say "oh look he's hugging that dog."  As I turn to see what is going on it is very clear that there is a fight just around the corner if a human does not intervene.  One paw up on the back of another strange male and there could be a problem.  The woman saw this as a loving hug, but dogs do not hug like humans do.  That is unless you have pack members that like to lay together so close that they appear to be hugging.  ;)  A hug in human terms is usually a nice thing, not in dog terms. (Which is why you should NEVER hug a strange dog)

Asking for help is not a weakness but a strength.  When you do not know the answer to something is always a great thing to ask.  How many people feel that by asking a question they are somehow lesser of a canine guardian.  I wish that there was a mandatory Canine Guardian course that everyone had to take before adding a dog to their family, but there is not.  

Anyone and everyone can get a dog.  Sadly a fraction of people who are canine guardians know nothing about dogs.  Even people who have had dogs for years can know little about them if they have not taken the time to learn how dogs work.  

Being a canine photographer I have been out to many "big breeder" homes.  I use to shoot for all of the big dog magazines out there (all of which are not gone); so I was always on the hunt for breeders.  When I put on my photographer hat in lieu of my trainer hat, it was hard work.  I had to turn all of the "trainer/behaviorist" in me, off.  Some of the moments I spent at these "breeder" houses were the most eye opening.  I assumed that if you've had many dogs over many years that you would understand dog, wrong. 

Learning dog takes time and if you aren't interested to understand then you will not learn.  If you do want to learn then do some research.  If you are having problems that you cannot figure out, ask.  Asking for help is always a good idea.  

 

Heart Dog - The Love Of Your Life

I love this image.  An senior Labrador surveying his vineyard.  

I love this image.  An senior Labrador surveying his vineyard.  

We all love our dogs, or most of us do; but over our lives there is usually "that one" or if you are lucky, two or three, who is or was the love of your life?  

When I sit and think about all of the dogs I have loved.  Each one holds a special place in my heart; one by one they have wriggled their way in.  Single moments stand out with each.  So many lessons learned over the years; essential lessons to get me to where I am today.  

Mandy, was my number one dog.  There is nothing like a first.  Over a lifetime there were more dogs who stand by our side, along with more lessons.  Life is all about experiences and each individual brings with them a plethora of them.  

I often sit quiet, just sit with Elsa and realize the power in sitting silent.  I love to watch her as she reacts to our "moments."  She is special, very, very special.  But they are all special aren't they?  "My dog is the best," literally thousand exclaim, as they should.  

Each and every dog is the best.  Relationships with all, without exception, are what make our up life our memories of them.

The stages of our lives are precisely different.  Each experience with a new dog is genuine.  No two are alike, just like us.  We are all different, life is ever changing and each of our dogs brings to our shared life, a newness. 

For me, a heart dog is one who has touched my life.  Every single dog I have shared my life with has done that.  

 

Listening Part #2

So much being said.

So much being said.

This is part #2 - a continuation from my previous Really Listening Part #1 blog.  

As far as we humans are concerned, listening (although few people actually listen) is what we rely on for communication.  There is a great deal that can be heard if you read between the lines of what is said and watch as well.  Even though we depend on verbal communications for our preferred way of communicating; there is more to communication than words.

Dogs, on the other hand use body language first so listening to your dog means watching.  Of course canines use vocal communication but it is not their prime means of getting a message across.  Do you listen to your dog?  Which means do you watch?  

I love watching dogs.  So much is said within a few seconds and if you are not watching intently and clearly understand what you are seeing, you'll either miss it or misinterpret the message.  When Elsa has a play date with a canine friend, I find it hard not to watch 100% of the time.  I find it fascinating, so much information is shared between our dogs that we never even know about if we aren't paying attention.

Isn't it funny that we think that our dogs are so amazing at knowing what is going on with us.  "How did she know we were having friends over?"  "How does your dog know when you aren't going out?"  They watch, it's what they do and they know.  They know when things are good and when things are bad, they just know. 

If I am out and about I love to watch dogs and their constant communication.  I have tripped many times while turning to watch an interaction on my own walk.  It is what I love. 

Humans tend to take what they see in canine content and turn it into a human behavior.  When dogs communicate it is not in the same way that we do at all.  We have to explain it in human terms so that we mere humans can understand it but they don't do human things unless they are trained and asked to do so.  

Understanding canine communications is completely alien to us; that is unless we take the time to learn about it.  

Humans misread canine interactions on a regular basis, I see and hear it all of the time.  I see videos where people think that dogs are playing so cute; but they are just on the verge of a fight.  Photos of people allowing children to hug or sit on a dog and think that the dog loves it, sends chills down my spine. 

An extremely relatable example is guilt.  Humans often, far too often see submission as guilt.  "He knows he should not poop on the floor," is a common statement as an owner is yelling at their dog.  "Look how guilty he is," they say as the dog hangs it's head, averts eye contact and shrinks in submission.  The dog is reacting to the human behavior, not the guilt from what they have done. 

If you live with a dog or dogs you really should learn how to understand them.  

TRUST

Trust - reliance on the integrity, strength, ability, surety, etc., of a person; confidence.  

Does your dog trust you?  Is there a trust that is unbreakable within your relationship?  Trust is huge, in fact it is everything.  

Trust takes work and it can take a long time to truly trust, depending on the dog and of course the human.  Are you trustworthy?  Does your dog easily trust?  Many dogs do not naturally trust, they are suspicious by nature and to win their trust can be a great deal of work.  But it is well worth it because once your dog trusts you, the two of you move onto a higher connection.

Luke was a worry wart type of guy so it definitely took work to get to a point where he trusted everything that I did.  He never questioned what had to be done, although he occasionally had to check in to make sure that we were still good.  If I accidentally pulled his hair or bump into him he worried that perhaps we weren't good.  He'd reach his face up with a need to touch mine; once we connected physically he would stare into my eyes, just to be sure.   

If he got hurt while playing or messing around somewhere he'd immediately come to me to show me what happened.  Once I gave him some "you'll be okay" reassurance, off he went on his merry way.  He was quite the guy.  Earning his trust was not easy so when I did, it was something that was never broken.  Even when I had to do things that he didn't enjoy, he trusted me.  

Trust is everything.  I tried to explain the trust factor to someone the other day.  They were explaining to me how they attempted to house train their dog.  They would yell and scream when they found pee or poop on the floor.  What does trust have to do with this?  Everything.  Dogs don't associate pee or poop in the house with something wrong.  So when you start to yell and get mad you are actually breaking trust which means ruining the bond that you have been trying to build.  A trust filled bond is amazing.  

When I had to give Luke his Vitamin needle, I knew it might hurt, but he trusted me.  I did my best not to hurt him and he never even winced.  He did trust me fully.  

Building trust means never lying to your dog.  It means always meaning what you say and never doing things out of anger.  This is one reason that positive reinforcement training is so very important.  The old yank and choke'm training is done through much anger, it is alpha ruler driven.  

Dogs deserve our best and trust is #1.