Sometimes you feel like a nut…………sometimes you don’t, same with our dogs.

Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut Sometimes You Don’t…………What???… in snow
It’s true, some days I feel playful and energetic while others I don’t. The same goes for our dogs, especially as they get older. My dog Blossom is not playful with other dogs now that she is 7 years old but as a pup she played chase and wrestled with others almost daily. I like a dog with a good sense of humor and I really believe that they do have one. What I do to encourage silly, fun behaviour is laugh at her and give her good positive feedback when she is acting this way. It is fun to share a laugh with our dogs and keeps us happy being together. I work on tricks with Blossom as well as play games with her. When we go out, I can just throw balls or walk if I am feeling low energy, but the days that I am feeling a bit more frisky, we run together and jump and chase and well, you get the idea. So, don’t take your dog out thinking, ugh, another walk, have fun, play games, teach tricks and laugh together! I can’t think of a better way to strengthen a relationship.

Dog Days Of Spring

Dog Days of Spring in Vancouver
IMG_0648So, it rains a bit here in Vancouver, BC, but the rewards of the rain are so beneficial. We have the North Shore Mountains with plenty of beautiful streams and trails, the beaches, Pacific Spirit Park, the Fraser River as well as many off leash dog parks. Much of this is dog friendly and with the huge population of dogs in the lower mainland, we are very lucky to have so much. So back to the rain part; the rain keeps everything green year round and the air is less polluted but another bonus is that when it rains you can take your dog to Spanish Banks and let them swim. Or as the spring and summer months approach take them out onto the low tides. If you haven’t taken your dog to Spanish Banks, it is at the very end of N.W. Marine Dr. You drive past Locarno Beach, Jericho Beach and as you pass the last concession stand there are three parking lots to park in. Signs are posted to where you can take your dog off leash. There is a large open field which is very close to the road, so please do be extra careful when letting your dog out of the car. The field can be quite muddy in the rainy months but you can avoid it by walking on a path or wear gumboots! Your dogs won’t mind. Tides are high in the fall and winter and get lower in the spring and summer. It is so fantastic to take your dogs out onto the sand and let them just run! They can wade in the tidal pools as you look at the city and mountains from out in the sand. There is a lot of natural wild life with Hawks and Eagles as well as Seals and Otters. A website that I go to and check to see if the tides are low is: then I write on my daily planner which days are low to remind myself to go and take advantage of the low tides.
Plan to pack a picnic and take it out to the edge of the shoreline, if you walk out to the end of it, there are sandbars to set up camp on. Beware though that when the tide starts to come in, it comes in fast. Something else that is incredible, is that the Canyon Trails of Pacific Spirit Park are just across the road, so you can take your dog for a small hike as well. Can you say lucky?!
Parking can be difficult on weekends so get there early or go in the later part of the day.
So get out there and enjoy your time with your four legged furry friend or friends and maybe we’ll see each other on the beach!

Street Safety Tips

Dog training is much more than just sit, down, stay and come. It should also include everyday safety behaviours such as not going onto the road unless released by owners to do so.

Every minute with your dog is a teaching moment and something to keep in mind is that even though you may not be teaching they are still learning.

Teaching a dog not to go on the road without permission is not as hard as it sounds. What it requires is for owners to be clear on what you want the dog to do- stay on sidewalk until released to go onto the road. Consistency is the key here, every time that you walk towards a curb to go onto a road ask your dog/pup to sit and then make sure to release them before they are able to go forward. If you don’t want your dog/pup to sit then ask them to wait before releasing them onto the road. For practice I go to an intersection that isn’t too busy and start on one corner, I then ask the dog to sit then release to go across the street (say “off the road” when you come within 3 feet of the other side of the street corner). Once I get to the new corner I set up a sit again and release the dog and go to the third corner then the forth. Once I have done all four corners I then do it in reverse, within a few short minutes you have done 8 sit and releases at the corners.

Once I have practiced this several times, I then add in approaching a corner and pretending to just walk onto the road (without actually walking onto the road). The dog will naturally walk onto the road at which time I make a small noise (sounds like a gasp) and say “Off the road” while backing up, try to sound surprised by your dog going onto the road without a release. Once the dog is back on the sidewalk make sure to praise verbally, but don’t pet as this may over arouse the dog and put it back onto the street. Do lots of set ups of almost walking onto the road and getting the dogs attention back on you on the sidewalk. Having a out of control dog lunging ahead onto the road is very scary for this

I add a third step, which is: sit/stay on the corner or curb and go onto the road by myself and check to make sure that there is no traffic coming and then release the dog to come onto the road so that we can continue across the street.

Many times we cannot see around large vehicles that are parked and I have found this very useful.

Things to work on

– Plan ahead; know what you are going to work on

– Be consistent and fair

– Praise when the dog is beside you on the sidewalk

– Use your voice as to reinforce, don’t pet(could over arouse your dog),the use of food is fine

– Practice in many locations

Increase time and distance as well as distractions while practicing ex: throw a toy on to the road and tell the dog not to go to get it with a stay or leave it. (Always with safety in mind)

The Pet Professional Guild

This is a wonderful Association in which we advocate for Force Free Training. There is a lot of important information on the website and I encourage everyone to go through and have a look. By staying up to date and educated with all of the new information on training of our animals,it is critical in today’s society. I’m sure that it must get confusing on how to train a dog due to so many conflicting methods being used. Force Free means just that, no corrections, shock collars, chock or prong collars, we used science based methods of training and it is awesome.

Anyone can join as a member and it’s free!

Teaching Through Play

Let's Go For A Walk!

One of the things that I love to do with the dogs is teach through play. I will play tug to work on: fetch, drop it, take it, leave it and of course no teeth on skin.

This is one of my all time favorites because the dog is aroused and has to learn to have a shut off switch in order to get the toy back. No follow through on the dogs part means the game ends and I walk away or if there are any teeth on skin I will yipe and withhold all play for several seconds and try again. This means no jumping on me in between or the game ends. When I reintroduce the tug toy to play again I will continue to play as long as no teeth touch me. If they do the game ends for good this time. Playing with your dog and teaching at the same time are very bonding and can be lots of fun for both of you. By making fun a part of everything you do, your dog will want to be around you more then many other distractions.

I Should Have Said Something!

I was enjoying a nice walk on the trails yesterday with Blossom and another lab and saw a woman with two dogs. One looked a lot like my old girl Kailey (shepherd x) and I pet the dog and we talked about it being a rescue and her age. The dog was off leash and seemed to be relaxed, so when I saw the plastic looking collar on the back of the dogs neck and thought it was a prong collar, I didn’t say anything as much as I am not a fan of them. I was enjoying my walk and I didn’t want to get into a discussion on prong collars. Then when the woman got a head of me I saw the remote in her hand, yes….it was for a shock collar. Then I saw her do what I see uneducated remote collar people do, continuously shock the dog for not complying to a command. Seriously?!

The dog was walking nicely, and the woman wanted the dog in heel instead of sniffing (why at this moment in the walk, I don’t understand). She kept repeating “heel” and the dog kept walking and sniffing, so much for it working right? The dog was only a foot or two in front of her on an off leash trail, with no other people and yet it suddenly became important to have the dog in heel.? Meanwhile the dog is throwing calming signals that she doesn’t even understand, but a shock is something that she does understand.

Then she grabbed the dog by the collar(she was gentle so I give her that) and repeated the words sit and then had to use her hands to get the dog into a sit. She wasn’t using the shock collar at this point because her hands were full, not that it was working anyway. She then continued onto another trail with the dog in heel. I should have said something, I kicked my self for not saying anything, I usually say something…..why didn’t I say something? I think that I was having such a nice walk with my dogs that I didn’t want to get into any conflict.

The dog wasn’t appearing to obey the shock and perhaps it wasn’t working. I have had nice discussions with people that use these devices in the past and I have had shouting matches as well. Since the woman and I had chatted nicely before I noticed the e -collar, and she was further ahead of me when I noticed, it made it easier to not say anything. Argggg……..I should have said something! Perhaps a smile and “do you find that collar really works?” And see how she responds? But no, I sniff the ground, look the other way, blink my eyes, lick my lips, shake my body, yawn and stretch…………argggg, I should have said something!

Keeping Our Dogs Healthy

We talk about preventing unwanted behaviours a lot in the dog training world.  One other thing to prevent is injuries and illness. Diet, nutrition and exercise play just as big a role in our dogs lives as they do in ours. Although, I have a hard time not eating addictive sugar, I can make sure my dog has a healthy diet!

As I get older and sadly, bigger, my joints ache more then ever before, and the same applies to our dogs. Making sure they have enough exercise but finding a balance is important. I see some people out running with dogs that are way too young (and small) as well as some that are past their prime and it is difficult to watch. If an opportunity presents itself I will make a useful suggestion or comment to help the owner (really the dog!). Many times there is not an opportunity so that is why I am writing this today.

Preventing unwanted behaviours also means feeding a healthy diet, going to a good vet who continues their education, and maintaining a good balance of exercise. Dogs who are not feeling well display many unwanted behaviours, whether it be from poor diet which causes an upset stomach or loose stools, not enough exercise which can cause boredom, chewing things that don’t belong to them, jumping up, and many more naughty doggie behaviours. Too much exercise can lead to stiffness and joint pain as well as ligament tears and much more. I have a friend whose 9 year old black lab was playing Frisbee with him on a very hot summer day. The dog did not stop playing and the owner didn’t realize the dog was over heating. This led to the dog jumping one last time and never getting up again. He had heat stroke and died. Very sad indeed.

Dog Training Vancouver

Enjoying the outdoors

I haven’t talked much about what kind of diet or what kind of exercise and will save that for my next post. This one is a food for thought post.

Vaccinations is also play an important role in how your dogs overall health is and can affect their behaviour as well.

I will leave this one for another day and since I am not a vet I will make sure to have good resources available to those that are interested in finding out more on whether to vaccinate or not.