Dogs

Nutritious and delicious for your dog

real food for dogs

What do you feed your dog? Kibble? Raw? Real? I feed mostly real. The little one is one his way to completely real but we are taking our time. I do not want a puppy with diarrhea, no thank you.

What the heck is “real food?”

Real - being an actual thing; having objective existence; not imaginary:

Food - any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, promote growth etc.

Okay, so real food is good for you versus highly prepared food. Kibble and/or prepared food can sustain us and our dogs but does it allow us to thrive? I think not.

Do my dogs eat the best of the best every day, no. But, neither do I. I try to eat really healthy most of the time and I try to feed very nutritious food to my dogs most of the time.

The most important thing for me in feeding real is variety. The more variety you feed the more nutrients you feed; that is as long as you are feeding real food. As far as cooked or raw, I feed mostly cooked but throw in raw when I can sneak it in. Elsa is not a raw fan although I’m sure that Riggs will be.

I feed lots of different types of animal protein; which is the most important part of a dogs meal. When I cook it I just barely cook it if they are eating it right away. If I am making batch food I will cook it a bit more but it is never over cooked.

Beef - 20% protein/3 oz

Chicken - 25% protein/3 oz

Cod - 15% protein/3 oz

Egg - 6% protein/1 large

Salmon - 17% protein/3 oz

So these numbers are solely from the animal protein. Much of the problem with dog food is that the protein percentage is taken from meat by products and or plant protein. Things like beaks and feathers can be used to up the protein level in food but is not easily utilized by dogs. Also plant protein is not the same as animal protein and there is lies the problem. Dogs need meat.

Along with quality animal protein I feed veggies. Lots of different leafy ones, cabbage, carrots, green beans etc. These are either wilted down or cooked enough to be easily digested by my dogs.

I sometimes throw in potato, sweet potato, squash and other things. Variety, variety.

I am not a big supplement person; not for humans or for dogs. But I do offer a few extra things like goat kefir, cranberry concentrate, krill oil etc These are never given on a daily basis but every so often when I think about it.

I am not a science type person and think that we have been pushed into a state of fear when feeding our dogs. We have been made to believe that we “cannot” do it on our own and that “dog food” is the way to go. Please feed variety. Even if you just want to feed dry kibble; switch it up and offer many different protein sources. Do your research and feed the best that you can.

Add a bit of real everyday. The more variety that you feed your dog the more their system is capable of accepting lots of different foods.

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.

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.

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.

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.   

Bicycles and dogs

Bicycles and dogs

I have a new bike and I'm super stoked about it.  After years of not being on a bicycle; my biking days are now back and I'm loving it.  I bought a beautiful crossover or hybrid bike.  This means that I can ride on the pavement/asphalt or dirt and grass.  So I've been out riding as much as I can trying to feel "one with my bike," after a long absence.  :) 

Having fun and being active is my main objective.  Enjoying the freedom of speed I am also very aware of safety.  I wear a helmet and am constantly scanning the environment around me.  That includes dogs.  Those who love to ride bikes must stay very aware to the dogs around them. 

I was riding down a path this weekend, where there were folks walking their dogs.  I zipped off and on the path when needed; always giving pedestrians and dogs the right of way.  Judging the distance of leash guardians had given their dogs and making sure that they knew I was coming; I took the needed amount of space between them and me. 

I am writing today because I had a few moments with dogs that I needed to address.  The first was an area that was very close quarts.  As I rode down the path, a more narrow path was ahead of me.  At the entrance of the path was a couple with their dog.  Their actions made me get off of my bike.  They had cornered their dog; the husband put his leg across the dog and the woman had a stick in ready.  Hmmmmmmm.  This looked like an accident waiting to happen.  Clearly the dog was not going to be okay with me riding by.

I got off my bike and gestured for them to go ahead.   "He loves to run with bikers," they explained as the dog dragged them my way.  "I could see that he was focused on me" I said back to them.  Before I could scoot around them the dog was sniffing my bike.  "How did you know?" they asked.  I told them I was a dog trainer and then we had an impromptu Q&A.  Being that I wanted to continue my ride I quickly answered some of their questions and started to move away.  The dog went into full CUJO mode where they continued to explain what was going on.  I already knew, smiled and continued my ride.  

The dog wanted to control my movement; he was not interested in a fun run by my side.  The dog's guardians were being ruled by their dog.  As long as I stood where he wanted me to stand, things were fine.  But when I took it upon myself to move away, he was not.  Had I just rode my bike passed them; I have no doubt that I would have had to deal with a large Lab/Border Collie lunging at me.  

The next incident was one where I also got off of my bike.  I was riding a long a path and saw a couple of women up ahead with their dogs off leash.  Off leash dogs is not something you like to see when you are on a bike.  I slowed and watched where the woman were going to take their dogs.  They FINALLY saw me coming and moved away from the path.  I got off my bike, both dogs were herding type dogs so I knew they would be more prone to my bike as a trigger. 

What happened next really shocked me.  One of the woman leashed their dog, which was good.  The other woman put her dog between her legs and held onto the collar.  As I got closer, the dog went so crazy that the woman could barely hang onto her dog.  This was direct at me just walking by, I had already got off my bike thinking about what might happen.  The other dog was on high alert, ready to pounce when given the chance.  Neither of these dogs should have been off leash EVER in public.  

So, I love my new bike.  I will enjoy it whenever I can.  Dogs are often triggered by bikes, it is a common occurrence.   It is much the same as walking vs. running trigger chase.  Many dogs have very strong chase drive; so this is something that a rider must be aware of.  Always be prepared to react to a lunge.  Always be ready and give yourself more space when riding by dogs.  

If your dog is not accustom to bicycles or has the drive to chase them; you must take extra precaution.  One lunge, even if the dog does not connect; can send a bike rider off of their bike resulting in a serious injury.  Keep your dog by your side and hire a positive trainer to help you to desensitize them with bicycles if needed.  

By desensitizing and counter conditioning, bicycles can be a problem in the past, very quickly.   

We can do better for our dogs

Toller

With camera in hand, my sister and I head out to visit her breeder.  Finally after all these years, I was going to meet Dawn; the woman behind all the stories.  Sadly I was meeting her after the passing of my sister's much loved Ruby.  

Turning into the driveway, I scanned the springtime terrain that was trying to escape the winter cover.  The ground was very wet and muddy; giving off the very familiar smell of spring.  Even though April is a messy time of year in Canada; it carries with it the hope of sunshine and warmer temperatures of summer to come.  

Getting out of the car, I stepped over a big puddle to avoid getting a soaker (foot submerged in water).  We head towards the house where we got our first sneak peek at the Tollers who were enjoying the outdoors in a fenced area off to the left.  The door opened and we were welcomed in with open arms and hugs.  Dawn and my sister (Bonnie) are family; family through the mutual love of a very special dog.

After our welcome we sat in the living room and waited for the releasing of the hounds.  Excited barking could be heard before a sea of red charged through the doorway and headed our way.   Three Tollers (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers) and a small but mighty Toy Poodle welcomed us to their home.  Immediately after our welcome the retrieving started.  Tollers love to retrieve.  

Our conversation began with who was related; where everyone came from and breeding.  Dawn then opened a book that held a wealth of information.  I was amazed as she sifted through the family (Toller) records with the topic turning to Ruby's siblings.  Two siblings remained and Dawn shared the history of the rest.  It amazed me that she kept track of each and every family member (Toller) who had left her charge over the years.  The families who had adopted a Toller from Dawn were indeed family.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

It is rare to find someone who is as passionate about dogs as I am but Ruby's breeder (Dawn) is most definitely that and then some.  I have not met a more conscientious breeder.  These are the type of breeders we need to support.  We talked about extensive health testing, health, breeding and temperament testing in detail.  I learned a lot as Dawn shared her Toller mission with us. 

Throughout our discussion Dawn shared a great deal of information that she had learned over the years.  We talked about a wonderful company that focuses on changing the future of dogs called Avidog.  She also explained Nomographs, which I have never heard of.   Nomographs are done by testing a mother's blood to see what level of antibodies are being passed to her puppies in  her colostrum.  This lets a breeder know when it is best to vaccinate puppies.  This explains why puppies given vaccinations too early can get ill.  Fascinating. 

Between the canine conversation, I tried to capture a few photos of the dogs.  It was clear that the little Toy poodle was the boss.  Easily outweighed by all the red dogs she was confident and happy to rule the roost.  

As our visit neared the end we head outside and toward the kennels.  Dawn also runs a boarding kennel.  We were going to meet Ruby's brother who is one of the two siblings remaining from her litter.  As soon as we set eyes on him, it was impossible not to see the resemblance.  Bonnie knelt down to meet the old man; a link to her much loved Ruby.  It was a moment; one that most of us never get to experience.  

Meeting this old man was an honor for me.

Meeting this old man was an honor for me.

 

Before we left we were lucky to meet the future of Dragonluck kennels.  The new members who will continue the legacy of filling the position of much loved family members with their offspring.  

Perhaps the future.  

Perhaps the future.  

As we drove away, back down the driveway and head for home we reflected on our visit.  This is what a breeder should be.  Dawn has a wealth of knowledge, a caring heart for dog and human; with a drive to do better and desire to know more.  This is what you want to find when you are searching for a breeder; no matter what breed you are looking for.  This is who we should be supporting.   

The Queen

The Queen

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.  

 

Isle of Dogs-the movie

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The first time I heard about Isle of Dogs was only a week ago.  I don't know why it had not come to my attention and not crossed any of my feeds before then.  Once I finally saw the trailer and asked others about it, they had known about it already.  Anyhow, I went to see it yesterday and this was my take away. 

First let me say that I was shocked that you can now get wine at the theater, guess it's been a while.  So with a plastic cup of Pinot Grigio in hand I waited for the movie to start.  I didn't really have any huge expectations except that the movie was about dogs. 

My only complaint was that there could have been fewer humans in the movie; and more dog interactions.  But that is just me.  It was an amazing production when you consider how stop motion movies are made.  I can't even imagine the time and patience it would take to create the movie.  It was done expertly.

Isle of Dogs is set in Japan in the near future when the dog flu sweeps over all the pet and stray dogs and they are banished to a garbage dump island to live out the rest of their lives.  That is until some of the humans (the bad guys) decide to euthanize all of the dogs on the island.  The battle between good and bad ensues.

 The story is mostly about a young boy who loses his guardian dog to the island and he sets out to find him.  A gang of previous "pet dogs" take up with the boy and attempt to find his dog for him.  Albeit one stray dog (Chief) who was never a pet.  He has a rough exterior that he holds strong to retain.  

Isle of Dogs

 

The movie is not for children; it has a few disturbing scenes that would not be okay for young children.  Because of the animation idea around the movie; one might think that it is for kids but it is not, in my opinion. Some dark parts of the movie come from the humans who are against the dogs.  But there are also good humans in the movie who are trying to save the dogs. 

Isle of dogs

There is some translation throughout the movie so that you can understand some of the Japanese spoken segments.  But there are some that are not translated which leaves you with just getting an emotional feel for what is being said.

There are a lot of really big actors who lend their voice to this movie and they are great.  Some were recognizable to me, others not.  

I don't want to give too much away if you are planning on seeing it.   The movie is very artsy and I would assume will be winning awards for the work of art that it is.  It is different, not exactly what I thought it would be but worth seeing.  Being the dog lover that I am; of course I felt that I needed to see it. 

It is definitely a movie that leaves you thinking that this type of situation could actually happen in perhaps a lesser fashion.  Something to think about.

Hold tight to your dog and enjoy every second you can with them.  

Sherri 

 

 

 

 

Canine relationships

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We have a house guest.  One of my Granddogs is here for the long weekend.  I have often had Penny here for several days or a week; but this time our visitor is Luna.  Luna is a little rescue mix.  We are not sure what she is but she looks like a mix of cavalier and Japanese Chin to me.  

Luna is a very tiny girl with a big luxurious coat.  She came from a rescue group with no past information on her life before her new one.  She is not fond of new people until she gets to know them.  It can take a couple of visits but once your in, your in.  She is not a fan of large dogs but likes others her size.  

When we introduced Luna to Elsa it took sometime until a face to face was advisable.  Luna is a very alpha female.  Elsa is a fun loving, highly energetic, rambunctious girl., mature and non submissive.  In other words she will always choose to play over anything but will not back down when confronted.  In the beginning of their relationship, Luna wanted to be the boss; telling Elsa what to do and when.  Knowing that Elsa would not appreciate this in her home, we took our time.  

As you can see from the image above, they now coexist.  If it was up to Elsa they would be best buddies.  When Luna arrives at our house, Elsa spins, leaps and smiles.  They charge out to the backyard where Luna stops.  She gives Elsa a "look" to remind her that she does not indulge in this crazy behavior.  Off they go with Luna peeing in the yard and Elsa peeing on top of every single pee that Luna does.  Is in Elsa's yard and she knows it.  

Not all dogs get along the in the same way.  Many relationships need a great deal of work to a good place.  Luna and Elsa now hang out together.  Luna is not a touchy feely type with Elsa and so they co-exist.  They can eat together and are at this moment on my bed together as I write.  The bed could be an issue but I have made it a very structured event.  Supervision, supervision.  

I love when I see them lying together on their own.  It is a funny relationship but it is just that, a relationship.  No relationship is the same as another.  Luna sleeps in another room and is only allowed on the bed while I write.  The bed is Elsa's special place and sleeping with me is her right as my constant companion.  Both girls are sound asleep right now, nice.  

When it comes to dogs and relationships with other dogs; you must look at each as a separate entity.  If you have a houseful of dogs; each will have a different relationship with each other.  You cannot force a relationship but you most definitely can nudge it with very careful work.  Knowing your dog/dogs is essential.  

I know that Elsa loves other dogs who are non threatening.  She will always choose to be friends if the other is willing.  That said if the other is pushy or threatening then it will not go well.  Luna is use to being the boss lady so she has had to learn that she cannot be the boss in this house.  

I have to laugh when I watch Elsa choose to lie beside Luna outside in the sun.  The look on Luna's face is priceless.  Her expression and body language clearly says "really blondie, you have the whole place and you have to lie right here beside me?"  :)   

 

Grooming your poodle

Today is grooming day.  With the temperatures rising, Elsa needs a shave.  She is a Standard Poodle and needs to loose some fluff to accommodate the upcoming weather change.  Elsa is a very active girl so keeping too much coat on her makes her uncomfortable.  Poodles and poodle mixes come with a grooming warning.   "Extensive grooming" most pages state.  With the regular grooming requirements can come big cost.  But it doesn't have to cost a fortune.  I have been grooming for almost forty years and love to share my experience with others.

"I can't do that" is almost always the response I hear when I tell others that I groom myself.  I am here to tell you that "YES YOU CAN."  Yep, if you want to groom your poodle, you can do it.  Should everyone groom their own dog?  Nope.  But those who want to, should.  If you have no desire to DIY then you shouldn't.

From the big fluffy and extensive groom of a show poodle to the easy peasy shave down and everything in-between.  I've done it all and can switch it up, touch it up whenever I like.  That is a huge benefit to doing it yourself; touching up whenever you like.  

There are many other reasons why grooming yourself is great.  

  • Bonding time.
  • Trust building.
  • Physical check up can be done regularly when grooming.
  • Your dog does not become stressed by having to go to the groomers.
  • Save literally thousands of $$$$$$$$$$

There is an initial expense of equipment; although you can do a great deal of grooming with very little equipment (which is thoroughly explained on both courses)  I groomed many poodles over the years with the bare minimum.  

Will your dog look amazing when you first dive into grooming?  Maybe, but chances are not.  It, like anything else you begin is a learning curve.  I have just started learning how to golf.  Am I great?  Nope.  

Grooming your own dog can be intimidating.  For this reason alone, I have created an in-between course.   Grooming in-between pro grooming visits can give you the confidence that you need to do full grooms.  

If you want to save a ton of money, want to groom your own dog, learn the ins and outs of maintenance, equipment and grooming techniques.  Take a look at my online courses listed above.  Oh.... and "YES YOU CAN," groom your own poodle.  In fact I know you can.  ;)

 

 

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?

 

 

Teaching your dog to shake

shake a paw

After sniffing the treat, Yogi stopped and gave me eye contact.  Asking "what do I need to do to get this treat?"

 

Shake a paw.  Everyone wants their dog to shake, right?  Strangers often walk up to dogs expecting them to "shake."  

Shake a paw is cute and very easy to teach a dog to do.  It can be evolved into other cute behaviors like high five and waving.  So how do you teach a dog to shake?  Patience, much like many other behaviors; you need to wait until your dog offers a behavior.  The best way to ingrain a behavior is for the dog to figure it out themselves.  That means no cheating.  No grabbing their foot and shaking their paw for them.  

The way that I teach the shake exercise utilizes both lure and shape training.  The lure is a piece food in the hand and the shape is waiting for the dog to paw the food.  

Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Here's how

  • Put a small piece of food (not too high value) in the palm of your hand and cover it firmly with your thumb. 
  • Place your hand on the floor near your dog with your palm facing up.
  • You can break the exercise down into many baby steps but I normally prefer to wait for the pawing action.  But if a dog is easily frustrated I will then break the behavior down into baby steps (next blog) to avoid this. 
  • Wait for dog to paw at your hand and immediately open hand, rewarding dog.
  • Do this until the dog is reliably pawing at the hand immediately.
  • Then remove the food from the hand and put it into your other hand and behind your back.
  • Place the empty hand on the ground in the same position with thumb on palm and wait.
  • As soon as the dog paws at the hand reward them with food from the other hand.  Repeat.
  • Next paw attempt, hold your dog's paw gently while rewarding.
  • Move hand up from the ground and remove thumb from palm
  • Add verbal cue "shake, give me paw" etc. 
  • Gently add a full foot handshake while rewarding.
  • Be careful to never grab the dog's foot negatively (too hard, too long, too much shake).  This could create an unwillingness to continue. 

So there you have it, the shake.  

Yogi didn't get the shake behavior at my house on this day as we only worked for a few minutes on it.  I was showing his Mom what to do when she went home.  After a few moments at home working on it Yogi's Mom accomplished the highly prized "shake."  

Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

You can evolve this behavior to the high five and wave by simply moving your hand slowly to different positions and rewarding.  

 

 

 

Dog on a leash. Pay attention!

Fanny pack gone wild.  :)  I had to bring several balls with me to this beach in Connecticut.  Other dogs stole the balls all the time so I had extra bags to put the wet balls in.  

Fanny pack gone wild.  :)  I had to bring several balls with me to this beach in Connecticut.  Other dogs stole the balls all the time so I had extra bags to put the wet balls in.  

I see ducking dogs everywhere.  Team after team stroll past Elsa and I; at the beach, the park, malls and street, ducking.  What do I mean ducking?  

Ducking - to avoid or evade a blow, unpleasant task, etc.; dodge.

Humans strolling along, walking their dog with their arms swinging back and forth.  Along with their arm swing is also the leash swing, perhaps a poop bag swing if you are one of those folks who attach a poop bag holder to the leash.  While the leash swings the dog ducks to avoid the constant and annoying leash and/or poop bag holder hitting them in the face or head.  

When I am working with a client on walking, loose leash walking or heeling, I'm all eyes.  I was trained as a youngster in obedience by a very strict obedience teacher.  She was unfortunately a harsh conventional method trainer but that was many, many years ago when there was nothing else.  She watched our every movement looking for things that would interfere with the robot like obedience we were training our dogs to do.  

The obedience teacher hated when the human students swung their arms about willy nilly.  She'd scream at you until you stopped.  If you held your body crooked, you'd hear about it.  Anything that was unlike a statue was not allowed.  So, although I hated the training method; movement was something that was drilled into my head.  To this day, the arm that holds Elsa's leash is motionless, typically held by my waist.  For those students who did not catch on to the "no flailing" rule; they were told to keep their hand in a belt of waist of pants.  

I see people walking along, not paying any attention to who is on the other end of the leash.  The leash can be whipping them in the face, their collar half pulled over their head, the humans hand even hitting the dog in the face as it swings.  So many dogs walk very far away from their human simply due to an avoidance behavior.  The guardian has no idea that their dog is not enjoying the walk because of the swinging.  

When you walk your dog, pay attention.  Yes there are times when something can happen for a moment and you might miss it.  But typically if you look down at your dog on a regular basis you'll notice this kind of stuff.  Does your dog strain at their leash?  Either sideways or backwards?  Well maybe they are trying to avoid the swing.  

The whole poop bag holder is a big thing now.  I don't understand attaching one to a leash, honestly.  I wear the very chic fanny belt; although it is not on my fanny.  ;)  I carry everything I need on a walk in it, poop bags included.   

So pay attention.  Ask someone to watch you walk.  Be aware of what your body is doing.  Along with the annoying face swapping, there could be other things going on that you have never noticed.