Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Good Dog Toys.

I was in Petco earlier getting my dogs' food and I noticed all the dog toys. They've got a lot of good dog toys that I hadn't seen! So I thought I'd make a list of those that I recommend. You can find most of these at Petsmart and Petco or some online or in specialty shops around town. Click the pictures for you to be directed to a place online to buy.

A note on toys. Dogs are canines. They have loads of teeth, and sharp ones at that! They were designed to rip meat off of bones. So there is truly no such thing as an "indestructible toy" no matter what marketing you see. Some dogs are very good with not destroying toys and others will rip things to bits. The following recommendations are sturdy, and are more durable than many toys. I only like to recommend toys that will last. However, there is no guarantee that any toy will last, every dog is different. (Also, if your dog absolutely demolishes all toys you need to contact me, it's a sign of high anxiety and/or stress.)

Red Barn Filled Knuckle Bone: My favorite for passing time. They can be messy so I recommend putting this in the crate with your dog. This would be good for someone needing to keep the dog occupied while in the crate. Take it out when you take your dog out of the crate.

Booda Dogzilla Dumbell: All things made of thick rubber are often a good choice. They are durable and can often be stuffed with goodies. Rubber alone isn't often a dog's favorite so get the type that can be filled with dog kibble and make it a fun, challenging way to eat!

Chuck-It! Ball Launcher: If you have a dog that enjoys a good game of fetch this is a good one. While it's not really practical for most backyards (it throws too far!), it is ideal for a day at the park! My Jack Russell will go after a ball when I toss it for hours. I cannot throw so this is super handy!

Coop Pet Beast Ring: This is a heavy duty rubber ring for chewing. I think I may like this one because it just looks cool. However, if you have a chewer this could be good to leave in the crate or to occupy Fido while you work!

Nylabone Double Action Chew Bone: Anything from Nylabone is a good one in my book. I really like their products. They have many durable bones and chews for dogs. My own dogs have Nylabones that have lasted for years. This one is rather attractive and looks like a winner!

JW Pet Dexter the Elephant: This is an obnoxious squeaky toy that dogs usually go nuts over. You will have to have some real patience as it can be very annoying. The squeak could drive anyone to insanity but the dogs just love it! I also wouldn't leave your dog with this alone. The rubber isn't highly durable and the squeaker can be a danger if it's removed by your dog.

Jolly Pets Teaser Ball: This is one of my favorites. I've had this ball with my four dogs for about 5 years. It is quite beaten up, chewed up and battered but it's completely intact and still keeps them happy! It's clunky and big so be prepared for that. The outer ball is a very hard plastic, not rubber.

JW Pet Amaze-a-Ball: This is soft, thin rubber and has openings for food. Fill it with your dog's meal and let them go to town! These come in several sizes and colors. Don't leave this in a crate or with a dog unsupervised, may not last! Remember to use fillable toys for a food bowl alternative. Don't buy the icky goo that is supposed to go inside or stuff with treats--actually feed your dog out of these types of toys!

JW Pet Rubber Rings: If you haven't noticed I like JW Pet's toys as well as Nylabone! They make some very good and fun toys of many calibers. These rings can be used for a good game of tug and to practice "drop it" or if your dog likes to self-entertain he can toss these around for some good fun! They are a thick rubber, heavy duty.

Petco Canvas Dog Tug/Toss: Petco has a line of toys they make. I don't know that they are too incredibly durable but they are cute. These last if you use them as a "bonding toy". This is where you only get it out to play one-on-one with your pooch, don't leave it out for Fido to get on their own. It will last forever if you control when it comes and goes!

Petstages Rope Ball: This is good for a game of fetch and also another "bonding toy". Many dogs find joy in shredding all rope toys so I don't recommend this one be left alone with Fido either. Use it to play with your dog. Petstages makes some cool toys, some of the most eye-catching on the market but only a few can be used with no supervision!

I could go on but I'll stop there. That's a good selection. And remember toys last longer if you don't have them out all over the floor like a 3-year old's play room. Keep them guessing, bring out a different toy every other day or so and play with your dog, involve yourself in their entertainment! Use it as a training lesson!

Train that dog!

2009 brought a lot of things my way . . . I got to see what being a mom is all about, and I continue down that path with glee . . . but I also get to see how dogs can take a back seat. With a new baby in the house my four dogs took a back seat to what they were used to. This would be the life that most of my clients live. I was so used to my dogs being my kids and I revolved a lot around them. This isn't realistic for many dog owners. If you are able to spend more time with your dog then praise hallelujah, that's marvelous!

Whichever life may be yours there should still be some room left to train the dog. After raising a horrible Beagle (he was truly a nightmare of a dog!) in college and deciding I had to learn more about dog behavior I slowly realized that dogs should be like kids--training should be required for dogs like school is required for kids.

There is a much larger emphasis on dog training since the televised versions of training have emerged. This in part is good and in part bad in the sense that no matter what legal is on the TV people will still "self-medicate" from what they see. Nothing takes the place of a professional in your life to coach you. And anyone who works in radio and TV can tell you that editing is what makes most of the shows we watch entertaining--reality or otherwise.

I also recommend asking a professional dog trainer for advice, not a veterinarian. While vets are wonderful people they don't normally have any training in dog behavior and/or training unless they did that on their own. So it's best to ask where they got their dog behavior training before taking their advice. I too often hear some very poor advice from vets and while they mean well it's not advice I'd give. Also, because they are a veterinarian many dog owners often feel that they are the end-all-be-all for anything dog-related. Just keep in mind that vets went to school for medical training, not dog training. There are some vets that do seek dog training education, or even become Animal Behaviorists, so ask your vet if this applies to their credentials!

Did you know that 2 common factors are almost always true for dogs that have aggression issues?--They don't walk well on-leash and they don't come when called. I'm talking about in 99% of all situations, not in your living room or a pet store training class!

Did you know that if you have a dog that walks well on-leash and comes when called you can almost be sure that everything else will fall into place? If you can get these two commands to be reliable almost all other commands will be a breeze to teach your dog.

Did you know that you don't need hours to train your dog? We show you how to use training as part of your daily routine. You don't need to take out a portion of time during the day to just sit and train. You train your dog everytime you talk to it, touch it or look at it, even if you don't know it! So make sure you are doing it to benefit you and Fido! Make them sit while you wash dishes. Make them sit at the back door before you let them out. Leave a box of Milk Bones on the front porch and have all entering guests offer one if your dog sits when they enter. Make your dog sit to be fed . . . these are just a few common things, the list could go on.

Did you know that a group class of any kind can benefit both you and your dog greatly? We recommend tackling things in your home first and then joining a group class after things are under control there.

Did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month! Get on it. We offer just about anything and everything for your dog, puppy and family members!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dog Tricks.

I'm currently teaching a tricks class of sorts to doggie parents. What a fun class this has been! We graduate Saturday, January 2nd and encourage anyone to come watch the finale! Each class member has to do a 30-second routine with their dog which can be made up of any number of tricks, jumps, music numbers--whatever they want! (The pic to the right is Sam-Me the Mini-Schnauzer sitting nicely on her mat as told.)

Today we taught the dogs to go to and get on an object. We used a bucket today and one client decided to use her back and teach her dog to sit on her. It was hilarious and the dog did it with gusto! Charlotte even had dog poop on her foot when she stood up--what a trooper! Here is Geeno and Charlotte doing their tricks. Geeno also picks up his paw when Charlotte picks up her foot and they can do a little "dance".

Another couple in class has a dog that is a mutt of sorts, resembles a Dalmation somewhat. His name is "Bo". Bo was a mess about 2 years ago when I started with them and has turned into this wonderful dog. They have done really great work with him and told me today that if they do 20 minutes of tricks with him he's done for the day. Out, pooped, zonked. I'm so proud of them and Bo! You should see him go through the tunnel too, he's big enough that the tunnel we have in class literally is stuck on him and he doesn't care. He's having too much fun running through it!

We also have a darling little fuzzy gal, named "Daisy" that is great and tricks and it is very noticeable that she loves doing them! When she gets in training mode to do tricks she's very obviously having a ball! Then of course we have a Border Collie who picks up the tricks in a heartbeat--I have high expectations for her in her routine--no pressure, Rita! Then a goofy black Lab named Bruce who has fun no matter what he's doing and will do anything for food and just to learn something new that pleases mom! I'm excited to see the results and hope we can gather a bit of a crowd for it!

(I'm so sorry I didn't do well as the cameraman today, only got a few shots and none of the other doggies mentioned in class!)

Tricks are great to get a dog tired mentally, which can wipe your dog out for much longer than physical exercise alone. Hope to see some of you in our classes in the new year! . . . . and if you're around on Saturday, January 2nd at 10am then come by the Craddock Park in Dallas and see our show of dogs! If you want details so you can see the finale, let me know!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Why I hate invisible fences.

I am reminded why I hate the Invisible Fence. Great invention, profitable company but for many dogs it can do more harm than good.

One example is a dog that is barking to get to a neighbor or anything across the street but can't because it's behind an "invisible fence". This can cause major frustration and escalate aggression. The dog can clearly see the stimulus (or stimuli) that makes it go into high arousal, when it can't get to the stimulus it becomes frustrated. If the dog gets too close to the edge and gets a "zap" then the frustration can escalate to aggression and also will most likely be associated in the dog's mind with the stimulus.

I was walking Riley, the handsome Golden Retriever I walk 2 days a week and there is a yard that is lined with big bushes along the street. Every few times I walk him I can hear this ruckus in the bushes and lo and behold I see a little Westie and a Lab mix dog that run furiously back and forth, often trying to make it through the bushes to get to us. They are frothing and frustrated that they can't get to us. They also think their antics are marvelous as we pass by calmly they are high-fiving saying to each other, "Ah, we did it again--chased off another person and their dog once again . . ."

Cross this one off of the Christmas list.