New Puppy, Now What?

New Puppy, Now What?

I get asked a lot “how can I prepare for a new puppy”?  Or “I have a new puppy, what should I do”?  Here is my list of top suggestions to new puppy, or dog owners :

Crate train your new friend.  A crate trained dog is a blessing.  It makes it so much easier to travel with your dog or to leave your dog with a trusted caretaker.  A crate should be treated with respect, as puppy’s safe zone.  Don’t ever ‘punish’ your dog by locking her in the crate.  My favorite crates are wire crates that fold up nicely and fit into my car.  They have a lot of ventilation and day light can get in.  Put a blanket that can stay in the crate at all times on the floor of the crate. You can cover the crate at night and uncover during the day.  Have the crate available to new puppy as much as possible when you are home.  Leave the door open, put puppy’s toys in there, toss some treats in there and make it so fun to go in the crate.  When I leave my house with dogs in crates, I never leave anything in there except blankets preventing them from choking.

Get puppy on a feeding schedule.  If you allow your dog to ‘free feed’, picky eating habits will establish.  By feeding her breakfast, lunch and dinner, you are creating a routine, and dogs love routines.  This way you can also determine when your dog last ate (or didn’t eat), and estimate when a potty break will be needed.

Socialize that thing, especially puppies, to ask much as you possibly can think of.  When a dog is between of 8 – 16 weeks old, use this window of opportunity to introduce your partner to all kinds of noises, surfaces, people, buildings, vehicles, your veterinarian, etc. Socializing now will get you a healthier puppy and happier partnership.

crate schedule feed socialize pic


Back in the Game

Back in the Game

A friend recently told me it’s important to get back to the things we did and liked to do before we were married.

I got married October of 2010 and took a break from offering classes to get ready for the big event. I have since been learning how to be a wife, adopting 2 more dogs (who belong to my husband), and training with my own dogs and other furry friends. We have finally adjusted enough to our new routines and are ready to offer our training techniques to others. Yay!. We are so excited to offer our next round of classes.  They begin March 5.  We are offering Doggy Decorum Forum and Spring Training.  Take a look at the classes page for more information on each.  Yay! We are excited to see you again.

chickens in new house
Chickens in New House
mesa hi 5
Hi 5 with Mesa


Fresh Batch of Dog Food with Some Supplements we add
Fresh Batch of Dog Food with Some Supplements we add

Boarding Options

Boarding Options

If you own a dog, you will likely find yourself in situations where you need to travel and it’s impossible to take your dog. So, what should you do with your dog to give him the best opportunity for safety, comfort, and exercise while you are gone?

A great option is a dog sitter that comes to your home and stays with your dog in his environment.  If you are lucky enough to find a trusting soul, please give her an extra-detailed note on caring for your dog (food, medications, nighttime routines, etc.), what to do in emergencies, and who a back up helper could be.  The sitter will appreciate the extra details.  Ask this person to walk your dog on leash at all times to reduce chances of runaways and other accidents.  Have your sitter come to your place a few times before you leave so the dog can get used to her in the home environment.  Have the sitter come over for a trial period while you leave the house for a short time.

The next option is asking a reliable, willing, and able friend or family member to take in your dog for the whole absence period.  To reduce stress, find someone who can have your dog the whole time rather than juggling your dog between multiple homes.  The same tools for this situation apply; a detailed note, leashed walks only, and early environmental introduction.

Another option is a boarding facility.  A plus to this option is your dog will be able to be in 1 location the whole time during your absence. You and your dog should visit the facility prior to making reservations.  Meet the staff and consider a trial period for an afternoon.  Be sure the staff will accept you calling to check on your dog.  In larger cities, you may even find a facility that has cameras, allowing you to check on your dog at anytime from a computer.  Be sure you give the staff at the facility the same extra-detailed note you’d give your friends and family.

Crate trained dogs make all options easier and reduce stress for you, your dog, and the caretaker.  Be sure to take your dog’s own crate, blankets, food, treats, food and water bowls, favorite toys, and leashes.  For any of these options, request the caretaker leaves your dog’s collar with proper identification on at all times.

Seasonal Safety Reminders

Seasonal Safety Reminders

As the seasons change, so should safety precautions you take for your dog’s wellbeing. Here is a list we’ve put together to help you safely transition into the longer days which mean more outside time. Yay!

  • The inside of your car can get up to 15 degrees warmer than the outside, even with open windows. People who drive pickups, especially with toppers, keep in mind the same fact. Dogs will die if not provided appropriate temperatures, ventilation and water. If you think it’s too hot to take your dog, leave Fido home.
  • If asphalt or sidewalks are too hot for your bare feet, they are too hot for your dog’s feet.
  • Bear spray and other combustibles blow up just like a bomb when left in heat. Remove them from your car.
  • Pesticides and fertilizers on crop lands and lawns can be poisonous to your dog. If you are fertilizing your own lawn be sure to buy pet-safe fertilizer.
  • Know there are areas where landowners have poisoned gophers. Not only is that ground poisonous but so is the dead gopher.
  • Distractions (deer, squirrels, etc.) will make your dog want to chase. You don’t want your dog getting lost, running across a busy road or finding a poisoned dead thing that could be a delicious snack.
  • People are still trapping coyotes and other livestock predators.
  • Snakes are soon to emerge from their dens. You can investigate snake vaccines but the best idea is to avoid snake areas.
  • Condition your dog’s paws as needed. If they get dry and cracked find a paw cream you can nurse them back to health.
  • Carry extra food and plenty of water your dog as well as yourself.
  • Some dogs do not deal with thunderstorms or fireworks very well. Make a comfort zone for Fido at home and stay there with her. A crate your dog is used to or a dark room with her bed and blanket are good choices. Music that is calming to your dog, a fan or humidifier to provide white noise will also help. If you are hiking and get trapped in a storm, put your dog on leash and get to the car if possible. Otherwise find shelter while keeping your dog on leash at all times.

Know the area you are walking your dog but most importantly, know your dog. Enjoy your summer and play it safe.

3 Main Thoughts

3 Main Thoughts
I could spend the whole first night of each class emphasizing three main thoughts to the humans while the dogs wait patiently, well excitedly actually, in the cars. The first thought is this: Training is something you should do WITH your dog, not to your dog. Rather than thinking you are the boss of your dog, try thinking of you and your dog as a team and you are building a partnership. This results in happier, healthier and more well-balanced lives for you and your dog.
Another thought: You chose your dog to live with you in your human life. Imagine for a moment if dogs chose humans to live as their pets in the canine world. Wouldn’t you want to be given a fair chance to live successfully and have fun? Why not give that option to your rocking canine? You could think of training a dog means essentially teaching English as a second language. By offering constructive feedback via rewards, you may consider yourself a positive reinforcement trainer. There are many types of training techniques which do work for different people. I have found positive reinforcement training works very well. The pain- and fear-free techniques of positive reinforcement are fun and successful. Encouraging behaviors you like by rewarding Fido for attempting success quickly builds behavior fluency.
In training context, positive reinforcement means to add something to a situation in order to increase the likelihood of the previous action happening again. If you go to work, you get paid. If you have excellent performance at work, you get a Christmas bonus. If you exercise, you have more energy. If you invite friends for dinner, you laugh and have fun. Each of these actions is followed by a positive consequence. Sometimes the action isn’t always something you or your dog wants to do (Premack Principle), but if rewarded, the probability for that action to happen again is higher.
A final thought: Manage your dog’s environment and modify Fido’s natural responses. This is perhaps the most important tool for safety and success. Genetically, dogs are opportunistic scavengers. They are smart beings but they are not physically born with the knowledge of how to safely cross a street or stay out of the garbage or not to chase a squirrel. If you think your dog did wrong, try saying “oops, let’s fix that so that won’t happen again.”

Red is the Color of Love, and Blood

Red is the color of Love and Blood.
Have you ever given or received blood or know someone who has? Chances are the answer to that question is yes. Do you have a pet, or know someone who does, that has given or received blood? Chances are likely not as high with that question.

Just as in humans, there are many reasons, acute and chronic, your dog may need a transfusion. Trauma, internal bleeding from eating poison, hemolytic anemia, cancer, liver and kidney failure are some examples. If your dog is on the receiving end, you will be quick to learn of the expense. The amount of blood typically ordered for a small dog (125 mL) may cost up to $150.00, including processing and vet mark-up. An acute crisis in a large dog could easily cost up to $1000.00 in blood and blood products in a single day. Dog blood requires special storage instructions for longevity and protection. Shipping and handling will also add to the cost of the blood.

Just as in humans, dogs have blood types. In domesticated dogs, there are about 6 common blood types. There is a universal donor type in dogs as well. A dog receiving a transfusion for the first time is commonly able to accept any blood type. After the first transfusion, a dog given blood with a different blood type than its own may take on the donor’s blood type. Therefore, for future transfusions the recipient’s blood will need to be drawn and tested for an accurate blood type to prevent adverse reactions.

Just as in humans, on the donor end, volunteering your blood or your dog’s blood may save another life. If you are interested in doing this, please contact your veterinarian to get put on a donor list. Because of the storage requirements and limitations, local vets are likely to call on you as needed. You will need to set up an appointment with your vet for an exam and go over the donor requirements and blood typing. Just as fun as it is to know your own blood type, it’s fun to know your dog’s type too. In a life threatening situation for your own dog, knowing this information ahead of time will be very helpful if your dog needs an emergency transfusion. Blood is the gift of life in all beings.

Pull the Trigger? No, Just Identify the Trigger

Pull the Trigger? No, Just Identify the Trigger
The current barking dog issue in my home town has triggered me to share some of my thoughts.  Let me send a gentle reminder that barking is how dogs communicate.  Meowing is for cats, mooing is for cows, neighing is for horses and talking is for people.

If you are fortunate enough to be an animal owner, and your animal is doing a bit too much talking, it is your responsibility to be the first to recognize this, not your neighbor.    Your animal is letting you know that something is not right.  In my Rocking Canine Companions dog training classes, teams (human and dog) work on building and modifying appreciated behaviors using positive reinforcement. As animals learn a behavior (recreational barking, killing chickens, sitting or fetching) they cannot unlearn that behavior. The good news is you can modify unwanted behaviors and maintain wanted behaviors.

It is your responsibility as the owner to identify the trigger that is setting off your dog to bark. The first question to ask:  Is my dog feeling ok on the inside?  As it is for people, not all foods on the market are suitable for every dog.  Maybe you need to find a food that is gentler on your dog’s system.  Other questions you can ask include:  Have I physically exercised my dog recently?  Have I mentally exercised my dog recently?  Is there an unwelcome visitor (deer, skunk, loose dog) near my dogs’ territory?   Does my dog have adequate space?

By identifying the triggers that make your dog bark, you will be on the right path to saving yourself a municipal and also saving your dog discomfort from a bark collar.  When you see a decrease in speed limit sign (trigger), don’t you usually manage your environment (slow down) to prevent a large fine?  As a responsible animal owner, you need to manage your environment for your dog for successful, well-balanced, long-lived partnerships.  After all, you chose this animal to live with you in your human life.  Imagine if your dog chose you to live in it’s canine life. Wouldn’t you want to be given the opportunity to live a healthy, successful, and fun life?