Canine emotions and body language

Lots being said here. 

Lots being said here. 

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology. ... People have also routinely attributed human emotions and behavioral traits to wild as well as domestic animals. (Taken from Wikipedia)

Yes, people do put human emotions onto dogs BUT...

There is a huge difference between putting a human emotion onto a dog and explaining canine emotions in human terminology.  We have to use our human terms but we should not put human emotions on dogs.  Why?  Because herein lies the injustice to our dogs. 

Dogs most definitely have emotions.  

- an affective state of consciousness in which joy, sorrow, fear, hate, or the like, is experienced, as distinguished from cognitive and volitional states of consciousness.

Elsa is a very emotional dog, her emotions run deep although she is not overly sensitive.  Each and every dog is vastly different from one another just like us.  Some dogs are not emotional at all and just go through life sort of scratching the surface of everything; never letting anything bother them either good or bad.  There are dogs that are so emotional that it becomes a real task in our learning how to deal with them correctly.

Knowing your dog is essential to connected at a higher level.  Sure there are folks who will never connect with their dog, simply because they do not have the desire.  There are also people who think they know their dog but they don't really understand "dog."  Everything they understand about their dog is from a human point of view.  This is a huge problem with many canine guardians.  

Wouldn't it be great if everyone had to take a crash course in "dog" before adding a canine to their family?  I think it is a wonderful idea and wish that it was mandatory.  So many people I talk to have no idea how dogs work or think.  Even people who have had dogs all their lives astound me with how they think about dogs.  

Watching your dog is the key to understanding dogs.  They are master communicators, often giving so many signals of communication in a minute that we can't keep up.  If you are not watching for the signs you are never going to see them; meaning that you are never going to understand what your dog is saying.  The slightest of body movement contains so much information.  

When I temperament test a litter, I watch for the little signs.  Sure there are lots of big signs but the small ones are often missed and can be more important.  Ears are a huge indicator as are tails and the rest of the body.  But the ears and tails are the easiest to see when you are first learning "dog."  1/4" movements of the body can communicate huge amounts of information and emotion.  But we must understand dogs to know what our dogs are feeling.  Otherwise we simply put our human emotions onto them.  

Dogs are simple and extremely complicated.  Their emotions should be understood in dog, not human.  

 

Ball dog. Golf day?

Elsa left the balls in front of her only licking them occasionally.  She enjoyed being surrounded.  

Elsa left the balls in front of her only licking them occasionally.  She enjoyed being surrounded.  

I'm a newbie, a golf newbie that is.  I've just recently taken up golf with the gift of a great bag of clubs.  This is something I never thought that I would enjoy but I have a very competitive spirit; I love nothing more than a challenge to improve at new activities.  I've yet to play a round, but visit the driving range a couple of times a week.  The atmosphere is casual and relaxed with people even bringing their dogs sometimes.

While observing others with their dogs, sitting quietly watching; I wondered if I could bring Elsa to the range.  Although Elsa is amazingly well behaved; she is a ball dog beyond all else.  She has a very difficult time not interacting when a ball is involved.  Even when my Grandbabies hit foam pucks around the house with their little hockey sticks (hey, we're Canadian) Elsa can barely contain herself.  She's driven to say the least.

Stalking, chasing and acquisition is her game.  She is excellent at sharing her prize and has never guarded any ball.  She prefers to share and invites her friends to join in the game of chase and tussle over a ball.  She loves balls, all balls.  Small, big, weird shaped and everything in between.  Knowing this I decided to try.

I knew it would be tough.  Just getting to my spot on the range would be a challenge being so new to the sport.  My golf bag is almost as big as I am.  Carrying the bag, holding onto Elsa, getting my basket of balls and bringing water for both of us.  I had more than my hands full.

The first shock for Elsa was the ball delivery machine.  Without doubt, Elsa would love one of these at her house filled with large tennis balls.  :)  The golf balls shot out at high speed as Elsa took a step back and watched.  It is loud when the balls come out but by the third fill she was fine and just observed.  Next was the task of getting to our spot.  I must have looked like a someone in a comedy movie.  But I managed and we found our spot. 

It took me a while to get settled and place Elsa in her spot.  She was already amped.  So many people to talk to; Elsa adores people and is very cat like in her greetings, wrapping herself around people.  She draws people in and they come in droves.  This alone is an issue to deal with while I am trying to get her to settle and stay in her spot.  Of course it is a good problem, having a dog who loves people so much. 

I grabbed a club and walked onto the green.  Elsa's pupils dilated and I prepared to drive.  Elsa came unglued.  There were balls flying everywhere but it was my ball that hit hardest.  Mom was hitting balls and she could not go get them.  This is horrifically difficult for a ball dog.  Elsa whined and stomped her little chase feet.  I returned to her mat and placed her back.  Back to the green to try again.  Elsa barked in complaint but she stayed on her mat.  I quickly brought her a treat.

This went on for a half hour.  She had bouts of jaw trembling and whining with the occasional defiant high pitch bark.  She spotted a flag flapping in the wind behind her and sounded off with her howl barking.  Something typically saved for when she sees horses.  What a girl. 

I was determined to get some balls driven with Elsa under control.  This was far more a dog training session vs. a golf training session.  Getting in some positive reinforcement was a quick step dance.  One ball, back to reward her for settling on her spot.  Back and forth, back and forth with continual interruptions of people greeting.  People can't not come visit and talk to Elsa, everyone loves her.  

As Elsa and I worked through it, the man beside us was smitten.  I smiled watching him talk to Elsa.  His golf game had taken a back seat as he watched us work.  As I walked to the green again I could hear him saying "just stay there Elsa" to her.  He wanted her to get her treat.  It made me smile again, this was regular life.  

Nearing half my basket of balls, Elsa was getting it but needed more help.  I decided to place the basket of balls right in front of her; giving her something to focus on other than my flying balls.  Then I uped the game placing a line of golf balls on her mat in front of her.  Getting back to the green I checked in on her and she was checking out all of her balls.  Then I told her to leave them, she had a job to do now.  This was the help she needed.  Lots of treats for Elsa for remaining in her spot.  I didn't care if she stood, sat or lay down, as long as she stayed in her place.  

The green stand to the right side is the ball wash thing that came down.  Geeesh

The green stand to the right side is the ball wash thing that came down.  Geeesh

"Quit while you're ahead" one of my steadfast quotes about life.  I was about to leave at the success we had achieved and then decided to push it.  I shouldn't have, I should have left but I didn't listen to myself so we went past the "ahead" stage.  A man walked down the isle headed straight for Elsa.  Something about this guy made her lose it.  She started her hinged in the middle routine and pulled to get to him.  She had been tied to the ball wash stand (something I thought had been concreted into the ground) when it started to move.  I ran to grab her, the leash and the stand but missed it by a millisecond.  Down came the stand full of water, the basket of balls and my clubs.  

Elsa was only slightly phased by the event and continued her greeting to the man who had unglued her.  For some reason she really, really had to meet him.  He was a super nice guy as he helped me gather Elsa, the balls, her now soaked mat and clubs.  We laughed for a bit at the mess and craziness before he went off; leaving me in my "I knew I should have quit" moment.  

Will I bring Elsa back to the range, darn right I will.  I like a challenge.  Control is everything regarding drive and dogs.  I clearly remember trying to teach Tilley to wait off leash while I threw her frisbee for Luke.  She was a bundle of tension but managed to control herself.  Elsa will get it but it will not be easy.  Balls are her thing and being surrounded by flying, rolling and sitting balls everywhere is no easy task.  But we're up for it.   

Next time I will bring one club, not my whole bag when dog training at the range.   ;)

 

 

 

Canine behavior - a true passion

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Attending my first "official" canine behavior college course.  I believe I'm 16 in the photo taken by a very good friend.  A very long time ago.  

I can't remember when I wasn't drawn to dogs.  As a very young child I just loved them.  At nine years old I had no idea how involved the species was, it was just a love that I had for them.  Now at fifty five my love for them has grown and changed.  I am passionate about canine behavior as I always write about, I could watch it from sun up to sunset and beyond. 

From just wanting to be around the canine species to loving the aspect of communication of dogs.  It has always been there, even when I didn't know what it all meant.  The more I learn about dogs; the more I want to know.  

Canine interactions with the same or different species is where my heart is.  How dogs interact with their own kind, humans, cats, horses or anything else.  Knowing what the smallest of head tilts, tail swing, visual glance or vocalization allows me a glimpse inside the dog.  

I love the outside of dogs, but it is the inside where my passion lies.  I care not about the size, color, coat type or body structure when it comes to my passion for dogs.  I wish that humans had not ruined so many breeds (but that's a whole other blog) giving them their functional body back.  I have a keen eye for proper body structure which I can't seem to shut off.  Look at a wolf to see the true resemblance of structure that dogs should possess. 

It is their mind and amazing ability to communicate without any or very little vocalization that intrigues me.  Each and every dog has this ability, some more than others of course just like humans.  Dogs do not lie; that alone makes them far superior to humans.  A dog will always communicate what they are feeling unless they have somehow been broken.   Humans tend to misread dogs, putting our human understanding of emotion onto them.  This is our downfall as humans, not the dogs who are communicating incorrectly.   

Dogs fascinate and amaze me.  From the most minimal of body gestures to a full blowout of behavior they are communicating.  If you are not watching for behavior then most miss the really subtle parts.  These slight movements make the canine an exquisite communicator.  Can anyone learn to see these faint communications?  Yes, most definitely.  But not everyone  on has a passion for it, like anything else.  Dogs are my spirit, they are not everyone's zest of life and there in lies the difference.  

Researching a new canine family member

Photos prove nothing.  People steal photos all the time.  

Photos prove nothing.  People steal photos all the time.  

I want to write about what I've been experiencing lately.  With new canine companion acquisition for our family on my "to do list;" I've been looking and looking.  Along with breeder research I have begun to check out rescues and re-homes.  I want to discuss what I have discovered while looking for a second hand dog via private re-home.  

Researching canines looking for a new home; I have learned that not all are on the up and up.  Expanding my search, I landed on many different sites that listed re-home dogs.  After contacting several listing that caught my attention, I was once again disappointed.  People.  Money, money is what it came down to.  Did the dog even actually exist?  I will never know, because I will not send money to these people. 

I contacted a few via email; asking all the right questions with regard to the dog that they had listed.  A young puppy, older puppy and young adult were listed on separate sites but they all revealed the same results.  Sketchy answers.  No real information was shared but a clear request for funds was demanded.

Two people that I spoke to wanted to just send me the puppy once I'd paid.  They started out with a seemingly heartfelt need to find a great home; someone who would love the puppy that they needed to re-home.  Before long, a few back and forth emails, and they were willing to ship to me site unseen.  When I pushed to go visit the puppy and meet them I was given a story that they were busy, busy, too busy. If I wanted the puppy they would ship to me.  Anymore pushing from me to see the dog ended the conversation, done.  

Another person I contacted only contacted through a few word sentences.  They would not disclose any real information about the dog or why it was being re-homed.  If I wanted the dog, send money.  Hmmmmmm?

Intrigued and dismayed by my discovery I dug in further.  I searched for more alleged re-homes.  What I found was more of the same.  Yes there are unscrupulous people out there.  Folks who are looking to get your money with nothing in return.  I do know that there is a big criminal aspects now in stolen dogs being resold.  Were these stolen dogs or did the dogs even exist?

Just a few weeks ago my son had someone try to scam him out of money.  A common scam when selling things online.  Luckily I'd read about the scam and let him know.  This puppy/dog re-home seems to be the same sort of scam.  Send money and then wait for your puppy to arrive...

Do your research.  There are legitimate re-homes out there; sadly there seems to be far more scams.  Research, research, research.  

 

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.  

Dog's recognizing their friends

This photo was taken in July, the rest in the blog are from yesterday.  Atticus's size difference is immense.  

This photo was taken in July, the rest in the blog are from yesterday.  Atticus's size difference is immense.  

Dogs amaze me, especially Miss Elsa.  She has the ability to remember anyone she has met in the past.  This includes humans and other dogs.  She has a huge number of "friends" who are on a list of great playmates.  Elsa use to love all other dogs even if she had never met them before; but after being attacked she is very particular with whom she plays with.  Friends are always welcome; that is until yesterday.

Elsa has a fairly new friend; if you follow my instagram or Facebook then you have already seen him.  His name is Atticus and he is a Great Dane puppy.  Elsa met him at eight weeks of age and at that point in time he was placed on her "friend" list.  She adores puppies because she knows that they are non-threatening.  So Atticus was in.  

July of this year we took care of Atticus for a week which was wonderful.  A live-in playmate for Elsa, what could be better?  They had a great time, playing all day long.  But since then she had not seen Atticus.  With a very busy summer schedule we just did not get together again, until yesterday.  

Elsa ran down the stairs when Atticus along with his Mom and Dad came in.  She was thrilled to see him, that is for the first few minutes.  Being that Atticus is only 6 months of age he is still a bit apprehensive when they first get together.  Elsa is a force to be reckoned with when you are her friend.  Playing is her absolute favorite thing so as soon as you get here, it's game on.  

Atticus ran around a little unsure and Elsa stopped with any interest in him.  I assumed it was her normal reaction to his apprehension but when he pounced at her; she gave him a very serious warning.  Of course this caught my attention and I watched.  Elsa picked up a ball and got heavily into her retrieving; she wanted nothing to do with Atticus.  

Elsa had clearly recognized him the second they arrived; this is all done through scent.  We went inside after a bit as it was so hot out and things got worse.  Elsa was very obviously not thrilled with Atticus's presence, strange.  She always loves her friends; she has never turned a friend away, EVER.  I watched with great interest as she let Atticus know that he was not to come near her.  She was very clear with her warnings and made them more intense if he did not heed them.  

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What was going on?  This was very strange indeed, and I wish that I had thought to video some of the warnings but I was so enthralled with watching that I forgot until it was over.  I would say that her negative feelings towards our guest lasted about 20 minutes until Atticus helped her.  The only thing that I can think that changed how Elsa felt about Atticus was his sheer size.  He had been smaller than her when they last met and he was much, much bigger than her yesterday.  Although he smelled like Atticus, he did not look or sound like Atticus anymore which through Elsa.  

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Both Atticus and Elsa offered amazing canine communications.  She let him know how she felt and he understood without a doubt; keeping his distance and looking at her from around the corner of the couch.  When he got a little more confident he stood staring at her; she starred back with a clear message.  He inched towards her seeing how far she would let him come.  Elsa gave him a warning bark but the intensity had changed and he knew it.  He got closer and then play bowed, AMAZING.  She dove off the couch and was wagging at him relaxed.

Atticus took his time, he was very careful about approaching her.  Her greeting had been very serious and she had lay down the law with a heavy hammer.  It was like a dance as they spoke back and forth with very little barking; that is until all was good again and Elsa got into her high pitched "I love playing with my friends" barking.  

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Elsa has never, ever had to deal with such growth with a friend.  She clearly knew that it was Atticus but due to his sheer size felt the need to set new ground rules.  Everything changed in two months; in her eyes he was no longer the goofy little puppy that could get away with anything.  For twenty minutes things were very tense; poor Atticus didn't know what had changed but he had new rules to learn and abide by.

After Atticus did his play bow, things got happy, crazy very fast.  From "don't touch me or come close," from Elsa to lets brawl only minutes later.  It was quite fascinating and I was pretty much in dog behavior heaven.  :) It was very important to let Elsa speak her peace.  She was by no means going overboard with her warnings and Atticus got her message very clearly.  It was amazing to witness.  

Atticus is going to continue to grow; I could not believe his size yesterday either.  His head and feet are giant, but the difference will not be as much as the last two months.  Plus we plan on continuing to get together more often.  I'm sure Elsa was just as shocked as we were to see the size growth in Atticus; but it meant something different to her than it did to us.  

By the time they left she couldn't get enough of him and all was back to normal.  :)

Do's and don'ts with dogs

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Don't leave your dog in a hot car, EVER!  The above photo played out in a parking lot when I was leaving a vineyard.  On one hand I was happy to see this dog who had very clearly not been left inside the car.  His owners had thought out their plan before leaving the dog as they hit the wine tasting room.  But, I was still not happy at what I saw and here is why. 

As we were at a quiet vineyard out in the country; the traffic was much less than a high traffic area, but... Leaving a dog tied out while you go inside always puts your dog at risk to be taken.  I never, EVER like to see a dog tied out while the owners go inside.  Along with the risk of your dog going missing is the fact that if you are not there supervising your dog; who knows what could happen in your absence.  

It was also a parking lot which can be dangerous for other cars, let alone your dog.  What if someone didn't see him and backed right into him?  People back into cars all the time while parked in lots.  It is not the place to leave your dog tied up.  

I am extremely nervous when I see things like this.  Even though the owner had good intentions, not leaving their dog in the car; they put their dog at risk for injury or theft.  It can be a tough situation to deal with if you have your dog with you when you are partaking in activities that will not involve your dog.  I would leave my dog at home if possible.  If not I would keep my dog with me at the outdoor patio or wherever we could stand together safely.  

If you are not with your dog, you do not know what could or is happening to or with them.  Think safety!

 

Feedback for you and your dog - (BOOK GIVEAWAY)

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The book, the one that anyone with a new dog or puppy truly needs.   It is my first training book and it is written for those with a new canine in their life.  W. Jean Dodds DVM wrote the foreword for my book which I was and am beyond excited about.  

Feedback for you and your dog focuses on everyday issues that can arise with the addition of a new dog to your home.  It is written so that it is easily understandable and has a quick reference section in each chapter.  This enables you to get quick answers when you are in a hurry to get them. 

The book is written in easy to understand language that can open the door to quick learning for you and your dog.    Walking through the doors to understanding the canine/human relation and how it can thrive with education on both sides is truly enlightening. 

This little book is packed with information for any and all new canine guardians.  Each and every new guardian client will receive a copy of their own as a reference manual through our training course.  Having trained dogs and their people for over 15 years gave me the experience and knowledge of what should be covered in a book for a new canine guardian.

If you have a new dog or puppy, you need this book.  

I will be giving away a free copy to one canine guardian.  Leave a comment on this blog and I will choose someone to send a signed copy to.  Ask a question or leave a comment about you and your dog/puppy for your chance to win.  

Dog training in Orange County, California

Good morning, it's been a while.  Life has been pretty hectic as of late and many things have had to take a back seat for a bit.  But I'm revving up with a new beginning and new start.  Training.  Yep I'm getting back to my roots and training again.  My in-home, private training will start up in mid September and I'm stoked.  

I have trained for years and years; beginning with group classes an evolving into private, in-home only.  Why in-home?  I like one on one, I enjoy addressing real life behavior issues in the dog and their guardian's home; where it all happens.  

Private training is time consuming but very rewarding.  There is so much progress that takes place with the ability to tackle very personal problems head on.  Each client has their own problems and this is how my training is geared, very personal. 

I also have my online training consults available; which is another very personal and easy way to work through dog behavior issues.  There are many different packages so you can pick and choose what best fits you and your dog/dogs. 

Another great side effect of getting back to training is the plethora of subjects that it gives me to write and share about.  I'm really excited to get back and it and will be sharing many stories and dog behavior issues with you all.  Wooot!

 

 

These are a few of our favorite things

Good morning, I hope that everyone had a wonderful July 1st and 4th weekend; and that you and your dog/s made it through safe and sound.  Elsa and I watched television through the fireworks and she did pretty well.  There was no shaking, trembling or dilated pupils; although when we went to bed she had to deal with a few residual boomers.  She hopped on and off the bed a couple of times but then settled down once they all FINALLY stopped.  

I'm often stumped about a topic to write about so this morning as I pondered what to write about; I thought I'd list some of Elsa and my favorite things to do.  I think it is really important to do things that you love and offer our dogs the things that they love to do as well.  Like us, they are all different so what one dog finds fun to do another may not at all.  What one person loves to do, another may not.  

Elsa's favorite things.

  • without a doubt, meeting up or playing with her dog friends is number one
  • retrieving her ball, she is rarely seen or photographed without her ball
  • going for a walk/run anywhere
  • lounging in the sun on some of her comfy patio furniture
  • getting her toes in the sand, it brings out the puppy in her
  • her family
  • scenting, sometimes it's nearly impossible to get her nose off of the ground
  • lizard hunting

These are activities that make me happy and I have a passion for.  Some of these things involve Elsa, some start out on my own and then I add Elsa and some are Elsaless.  

  • spending time with my family and friends
  • DOGS, training, watching them etc.
  • walks in nature - the beach, forest, field etc.
  • weight lifting
  • bouldering (rock wall climbing)
  • cooking and baking
  • writing
  • photography
  • wine tasting 
  • dining out at great restaurants
  • paddle boarding will soon be on the list.  It is something I have always wanted to do and hope to include Elsa once I get a handle on it.  

Life is short, too short not to do the things that you love to do.  The same goes for our dogs.  Enjoying life is important.  Each and every dog is an individual; what they love to do will be a very personal choice.  Allowing our dogs to partake in something that they love to do is typically something that we dog lovers love to do as well.  Seeing Elsa enjoy herself is something that I love.  Making her happy makes me happy.  

I would love to hear what you and your dog love to do.  

Crate training 101 - location

Not a great photo because it was dark out but you can see how big this 14 week old boy is already.  

If you are a long time blog follower then you know how much I love crates.  I love crates because they offer safety, security and freedom.  Crates offer you a chance to skip the moments when you regret ever getting a puppy. Instances when a puppy with too much freedom wreaks havoc on your home.  Coming home to a hole in your new couch, a leg chewed off of your antique dining room chair or poop from wall to wall can challenge the most seasoned canine guardian.  A crate can eliminate it all and offer your puppy a nice little cave to call their own.

Crate training is not for the weak.  It can be a challenge, when many people throw in the towel far too soon.  "They hate it," "he screams his fool head off," yep.  Yes most puppies aren't thrilled with the idea of a crate in the beginning; but it's not the crate per-say, it is the "lonesomeness." They don't want to be away from you, hence the screaming.  Given the option of a nice comfy crate with the door open so that they can come and go, most would opt to use it on their own.  

We have a house guest for a week, Atticus.  He is a about 14 weeks old and almost the size of Elsa already.  He is crate trained and for that I am thankful.  Last night was our first overnight so I knew it might be a little rough.  The two played for a good long hour outside before bedtime.  I have Atticus's crate with his bed stuff inside to make him feel at home.  He was not keen on going in the crate at first; heck their's too much new stuff to check out.  So with a little push, in he went and he wasn't thrilled about it.  

I crawled into bed and waited, listening...  Then it started, it started out low and it started to grow.  He whined, barked, pawed at the crate door and full on howled.  He hasn't got his adult voice yet (thankfully) but he is loud enough.  The commotion was not desperate or frantic; he was just complaining and throwing a tantrum.  The crate is what he is used to sleeping in, so I'd just put him in his bedroom for the night.  

I closed my eyes and waited for silence.  When it didn't come, I thought about the location of the crate.  Being that he was already crate trained I'd placed his bed away from mine.   In need of a solution I got up out of bed, dragged the crate over close to my bed and stuck my toes into the side of the crate. There was instant silence.  He let out a few final objections in the form of heavy sighs and then finally lay down.  Success!!!!!!

This is how I have always crate trained.  Of course there are a lot of steps to get to this place but the importance of crate location is one of the biggest factors.  By having the crate close to your bed, you can easily make a puppy feel like they are sleeping right beside you.  With my toes in the side grill of the crate; Atticus felt like he was with the pack.  Once he fell asleep I quietly slipped my toes out and back under my covers. 

He let out one objection around 4 am but went right back to sleep after venting.  This morning we were up bright and early at 5:20 for a pee and he is now back in the crate for a little bit while I blog.  He has complained a bit but is calm and fairly quiet.  

Some folks have issues with crates, stating "I'm not putting my dog in a cage, that's cruel."  What's cruel is the dread, danger and regret that can form from not using a crate.   Just think about wolves in the wild; Momma wolf does not leave her puppies running free when she goes out to hunt.  They are left in the den and fully understanad that they need to stay there until she returns.  Think of your dog's crate as their den; a safe place to leave them when you are not supervising.    

 

 

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.  

K9 Affairs of the Heart

I sat listening intently.  "I want him to love me the most" he said.  I was at a new client visit and what the male guardian was saying was that he wanted his dog to love him more than his wife.  This was not the first time I'd heard this from a new guardian.  "She doesn't love me at all," one woman said; resulting from her dogs avoidance of her and desire to be with her husband.  

When asked :how can I get them to love me more?" this is what I tell them.

Dogs choose their people; you cannot make a dog love you or want to be with you.  Much like people, they either want to be with you or they do not.  Of course it is much easier to help sway a dog's mind in this department.  Time, time spent with a dog factors in hugely on who they like to spend time with.  It is not gifts, toys, treats or a new soft bed; it is quality time spent with your dog.  

You can say that you spend time with your dog or that you want to but are you really?  Words are just that, words.  Actions speak volumes.  Don't even get me started on words vs. actions.  

Being a great leader can sway a dog's devotion as well.  Kind and patience guidance works wonders.  I often ask the sorrowful guardian "do you spend time with your dog?"  The answer is clear by the look on their face.  "Do you walk, train, feed and groom your dog?"  Once again their face tells the story.  

Dogs are easy, give and you shall receive.  It is all about bonding and connecting.  The minute that a dog enters your life you start the process of building your relationship.  If one party gives more of themselves than the other then the lessor will be the one who misses out on something amazing.  Dogs give their all; they deserve one, two or more guardians to reciprocate.  

Are you doing your part?

Dogs and the unexpected

Life has a way of throwing us a curve ball.  What you may have thought your life was going to look like out in front of you can change drastically in a heartbeat.  Change can come in the form of small uneventful moments or monumentally huge transitions.  The same can happen to our dogs.  

One moment can change everything; and depending on the dog and their age time frame will factor in the lingering effects.  When we see changes in our dog's behavior; it can difficult at times to know what has happened.  We stand pondering and pondering.  What happened?  Sometimes we can figure it out, other time not.  So what do we do?  We live in the moment, deal with what is in front of us.

The first thing you may want to do is get some help.  It is amazing how many people will not reach out to someone in the know.  A little advice can go a long way in helping you dog to get over an unexpected behavior change.  Sometimes it takes someone on the outside who is very experienced in dog behavior to have a look and figure it out.  

If you hire someone to help you; make sure that the behavior specialist listens.  Yes, listens to you.  I hate when I go see a specialist of any sort who doesn't listen to me.  Listening to the person you are trying to help only helps with the diagnosis so if they don't listen, move on to the next.

This is one reason I love my online consults so much, I have to rely on the guardian to help with me what's going on.  This means asking the right questions to get to the bottom of the it all.  It is amazing how many times how just the right question will be all that is needed to draw up a positive and corrective plan of attack.  Listening.

Things can change in life and we have no choice but to deal with that change.  But we can help our situation by hiring help.  After all it is a human world that our dogs live in so we humans need to assist them.  

Dogs and "ah ha" moments

The quiet moment before the fog lifts

The quiet moment before the fog lifts

"Ah ha" moments, the phrase that Oprah made famous.  Most of us have "ah ha" moments throughout our lives and it can be a huge catalyst to change.  As far as our dogs are concerned, they too have "ah ha" moments.  They learn and have huge life altering moments like us.  We also have canine "ah ha" moments when living with dogs and learning from them.

One of my big "ah ha" moments was years ago when I shaved my boy Clyde completely.  You can read about it here in an article that was done on me several years back.  The article was suppose to be about the book that I had just published but they picked up on the "ah ha" moment and loved it.  It was a moment when I realized that I wasn't doing what I loved anymore.  So much time spent on hair, washing, fluffing and clipping, for what?  I knew for sure that Clyde did not enjoy standing for hours at a time being brushed and primped so off it came, all of it; and I never looked back.  

The moment for me was huge; no more poofy poodles for me.  The "ah ha" hey like all other dogs were one in the same; albeit donning a different exterior.  Don't get me wrong, I think that Standard Poodles are unbelievably amazing.  I have lived with one, two or more at a time for over 30 years.  But they are not amazing because they can sport fancy hair; they are amazing for who they are on the inside. This was a turning point in my life.

I have always loved dogs.  I can't remember a time when I wasn't thinking about dogs is some shape or form.  They fascinate me just by being dogs.  

There have been many "ah ha" moments over the years, living with and training dogs.  I love when it happens and sometimes it happens in a big way.  As if someone knocks you on the forehead with education sledgehammer.  If we pay attention to our dogs there is no doubt to be many, many "ah ha" moments.  

Sometimes in training I am perplexed by a behavior; but when I sit and watch quietly, blocking out everything but the dog and environment , the answer can come quickly.  That "ah ha" can be monumental.

Our dogs "ah ha" moments can be just as monumental.  

What is an "ah ha" moment?  A juncture in time when everything becomes clear.  The fog lifts away and you are left with a clear and precise message.  "AH HA!!!"

Dogs and Mental Stress

Is your dog stressed out?  First let's discuss stress and what it actually is.  

Mental Stress - A form of stress that occurs because of how events in one's external or internal environment are perceived, resulting in the psychological experience of distress and anxiety (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Mental stress is often accompanied by physiological responses (Cacioppo, 1994)

Stress can be caused by anything that we or our dogs perceive as an issue that is difficult to deal with.  Stress is a bad thing; it is seriously tasking on the body.  If you have dealt with stress in a big way then you understand what it can do; not only to your mental state but your physical capacity as well.  

So what can cause stress in our dogs?  Anything.  Each and everyone of our dogs is different.  How they deal with the world around them is just as individual as they are.  My man Luke who is now gone was a stress monkey.  Meaning that there was a great deal that he stressed about.  Stress can be triggered by monumental events in life or tiny day to day things.  The important thing is to keep stress away as far as you can.  

I have heard many owners tell me about their dogs and how they have to live separate lives.  Each dog in a different room; alone all day because they don't get a long.   That is most definitely a stressful environment for a dog.  This is a choice that some humans make for their dog but it may not be the best situation for any of these dogs.  Sometimes placing a dog is a much kinder thing to do.

Dogs that are under socialized can lead a very stressful life.  Those who are left alone all day for hours and hours at a time can be stressed.  But like ourselves, each deals with it in their own way.  So what one dog can deal with does not mean that another can.  It is important that we know our dogs and understand what they can deal with.  

Stress was a trigger for Luke's epileptic seizures; I tried very hard to keep stress out of his life as much as possible.  Elsa does not stress about too much although she is a very serious caregiver with a watchful eye over me; so she does worry about my well being and whereabouts.  Any sign of emotional turmoil from me and she kicks into gear.  Once she feels that I am okay then she relaxes once again. She can also become stressful when dogs that she perceives as scary or a threat to her are near; because she was seriously attacked out of nowhere. 

Stress is serious.  We hear this all the time don't we?  

5 Signs that your dog is stressed

10 Human behaviors that stress out dogs

Know your dog and what they can deal with.  Actually as I finish this blog, Elsa and I are now heading to the harbor for a walk.  There will be feathers there and they most definitely stress you out, yep feathers.  

 

 

Are you strangling your dog?

I was driving down the street today when I noticed a large but young Siberian Husky out of the corner of my eye.  I stopped at the red light and had a better look at the big boy.  He was with a young girl and he was very literally dragging her down the street.  They got to a section where there was some construction on the sidewalk and had to veer around it.  

The Siberian had other plans; he wanted to visit with the guys working on the sidewalk.  The young girl yanked and pulled until he finally followed along unhappily.  He was being strangled while on his walk.  I could see the chain and how tight it was around his neck.  Why do we strangled dogs and think nothing of it?  

I've stopped people to try to educate them on strangling and choking their dog and all but a few have been very angry with me.  "Mind your own business," is what I am usually told.  Isn't it the strangest thing?  If we put a chain around our neck and someone pulled on it we would most definitely freak out; yet people to it all the time without a second thought.  

Dogs are being strangled; some slowly, other very abruptly.  But if you throw a chain, nylon or leather choke collar on your dog and apply pressure, strangling.  

Strangulation - to compress or constrict

This needs to be stopped.  Almost all dogs should wear a harness in my opinion.  Why not?  It's comfortable and there is little chance of injury from it.  

Putting a thin choke collar on your dog and then putting pressure on it is damaging.  There is no question.  Why do we continue?  Because we tend to be a society of non thinkers.  

What is your dog afraid of?

I captured this image shortly after the first feather incident.  She is clearly not herself and very concerned and other feathers in the area.  Poor girl.  

I captured this image shortly after the first feather incident.  She is clearly not herself and very concerned and other feathers in the area.  Poor girl.  

The other day I was discussing fears with my husband.  I thought long and hard about what I'm afraid of and came up with sharks, bears and alligators.  Other than that, there aren't a whole lot of things that would send me running the other way like Fred Flintstone.  

Fear - a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil pain, etc.  

Our dogs have fears as well.  Like us they are all different and what one might fear another will not.  Elsa has a very strange fear; although when I dissect it I can figure it out.  Nonetheless it is a fear and it is most definitely real to her.  Elsa is afraid of feathers, but not just any old feathers.  She is afraid of ones that have recently come off of birds that are lying around outside.

Today I tried to capture a video of her when she first sees or scents a feather, but I missed it.  Just about a week ago when we were out walking at the harbor, she had the biggest reaction that I have ever seen.  The height and distance that she jumped after locating the feather had me laughing, I couldn't help it.  She had to jump 3.5 feet in the air and about 7 feet in distance.  All in her attempt to get away from the feather.  

Once she has seen and labelled it a rogue feather then she is skittish on the rest of her walk. Luke had the same huge recoil when he saw or scented a snake skin which was also something I had not seen before in any of my dogs.

So what can or should you do about a fear?  React the way that you want your dog to react.  In other words, pretend like it is no big deal at all.  Our dogs watch us to see how we respond to things; so if you coddle your dog when they are fearful, the fear grows.  If you ignore the fearful trigger then you will be helping them to conquer their fear.  

The feather fear of Elsa's is a strange one.  I assume it is because it smells like a real creature yet just sits there frozen.  Frozen posture is a bad thing.  Feathers from a pillow or craft bag do not instill the fear, only fresh from a bird feathers do it.  So when it happens I just keep walking as if nothing happened.  Although I am probably snickering, which is a good thing as far as vocal feedback.  

Show your dog how you want them to react by reacting calmly in response.  Even if you have to fake it big time.     

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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Your Best Friend has the Answers

Ever wonder what's going on in your relationship?  That relationship you have with your canine?  If you really want to know, ask your best friend.  Typically our best friend can tell us what is really going on.  

Are you in a strong relationship?  Or are there holes that need filling or fixing?  

Trust - reliance on the integrity, strength, ability etc., of a person.  Trust is a huge part of a strong relationship.  Are you a trustworthy guardian?  Trust for a dog is huge; your dog should trust that they can lean on you in times of need.  

Reliability - the ability to be relied on or depended on, for accuracy, honesty. Are you reliable?  A guardian who does not fly off the handle?  Someone who is there when your dog needs you, without a doubt?

Honesty - the quality or face of being honest; uprightness and fairness.  Are you honest about your relationship?  Does it need work?  Is one member more of a giver than the other?  Do you meet in the middle with a pure respect for one another. 

Canine/human relationships can be wonderful; but they can also be awful.  In this New Year, take a hard look at your relationship.  Ask your best friend how things are going.  Be honest with yourself when you sit down to dissect your relationship.  

Make 2017 the year to turn any negatives into positives.  Here's to a magical relationship in your future.  

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