Find it!

We just started a Scent Class for reactive dogs, and two weeks in I am not only impressed at how great the dogs and their owners are doing, I’m also excited by the positive feedback we’re already getting.

I’m hearing how the dogs have more confidence, how they are happier, how they are sleeping after class and excited to get into the car and come back – it is wonderful and total reinforcement of why I do what I do.  So happy to be helping dogs, particularly dogs who do not always get included in things outside of basic behavior.

This is a video I put together from the scent runs on our first week of class – some of these dogs had never tried scent work before and by the end of the hour they were consistently identifying the boxes, and better yet, they were excited to work!

Such a great group of dogs and people!

 

 

Tell your dog he is handsome . . .

Tell your dog he is handsome . . .
Yesterday I was at the vet, and as there was a long wait we spent some time in the lobby practicing our sits, our downs, and getting lots of treats.  It is hard for dogs to be bored, and even harder for them to be bored when they are in a stressful place, surrounded by distractions.  The Elkhound knows things happen at the vet that he does not like, his nails get trimmed, they take his temperature, they put him on the ::gasp:: scale . . . none of these things are fun and while he does handle it with as much grace as an almost 14 year old dog can muster, any chance for him to head to the door he will take.  And he needs his space from other dogs to make it even more of an adventure.  So keeping him distracted and focused on me is important, even if it means letting him eat treats directly from the bag as the techs try to find and trim his front dewclaw.  But I digress . . .
As I was sitting in the lobby telling my dog how amazing and handsome he is, one of the receptionists, who has been there for years stopped, paused, and told me how nice that was to hear.  I looked at her shocked, I mean, clearly my dog is incredibly handsome.  Amazing is debatable at times but he had just saved me and the entire building from a squirrel who ran by the window by barking at it and driving it away, so, clearly at that point he was amazing.  Clearly.  But I thanked her and told her he may not always listen, but he is always handsome, so, of course I am going to let him know.  And then she told me something that made me a little sad, she said they do not normally hear things like that in the lobby, and it was just nice to hear someone saying nice things to their dog.
But the thing is I know you all love your dogs, and you all say nice things at home – but why not at the vet?  From now on I propose we tell our pets how great they are, no matter where we are.  You can deny it all you want but I know you are probably talking baby talk and snuggling away in the privacy of your home, but bring that love out into the world.  Particularly at a time when your dog probably needs to hear happy things the most, like at the vets, in the car, or at the groomer.  Maybe it is embarrassing, or maybe you think it will distract the other dogs, or maybe you think you have to be serious to be taken seriously as a dog owner, or maybe you are just distracted.  I get it, and sometimes that is me too.  It took having a dog who needed reassurance and monitoring to get me to where I realized the benefits of talking to my dog, and feeding him treats, and telling him he was awesome were all worth looking silly, or being loud.  Giving compliments and hugs and snuggles took vet visits from a chore to a chance for bonding time, and yes, we would both rather be somewhere else, and yeah, no amount of treats and soothing words will convince him that a nail trim is fun, but a bag full of liver treats fed with a happy word makes it better for both of us, and apparently it does not happen as much as it should.
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So tell your dog he is handsome.  Tell her she is smart.  Tell him he is sassy.  And yeah, sometimes they are a jerk and needing three pokes with the needle to draw blood may be considered karmic justice for bopping the tech in the face with their paw during the nail trim, but tell them that in a loving tone too with lots of hugs.

Tabby

Tabby started in our home as a foster dog, for two years through Peppertree Rescue. Tabby is a shy dog working very hard to be brave in the world and looking back at the early pictures, and e-mails, oh how she has grown.

Tabby was a fearful dog, and a life lesson for me.  When she arrived I tried to desensitize her to a lot, walks, cars, people, dogs – and I watched her just tense up and shut down each time.  So, we slowed down, we went at her pace and we focused on quality, not quantity.  I took the pressure off her, and me, and with the help of time, puzzle toys, snuffle mats and some good meds, Tabby has become a braver dog.  She still does not want to go on walks, but, she loves her car rides, and she went from being a nocturnal dog who ran at the sight or sound of people to going out in the sunlight and barking at the neighbors.

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The biggest positive change in Tabby’s life came in the form of two kittens.  We had always joked that Tabby was a cat trapped in a dog’s body, but when we brought our foster kittens home we saw this in truth.  She would groom the kittens and snuggle the kitten and to this day Rory would rather snuggle with his Tabby then with us.  Because of their bond she wanted to be where they were, and would start exploring more parts of the house as they explored.  And then when we added Jasper, whose puppy enthusiasm for play and all things naughty were not to be ignored, Tabby started playing more, and that led to her engaging with us more, and now she is a dog who greets me at the door with the rest of our cast of characters, instead of waiting upstairs with a tucked tail and worried wag.

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Tabby still hides when people come over, and sudden movements will sometimes still send her running.  She still hates walks, and she will not pee for days when she is being dog sat, but Tabby is happy in her day to day, and getting more confident.  Cannot wait to see how she continues to grow.

Yaddo

Yaddo, also known as Shadow, also known as the Elkie.  A senior Norwegian Elkhound that brought a lot of laughter to our lives, and who I am pretty sure was around to keep me humble.  While he was officially a Canine Good Citizen, Canine Good Citizen Advanced, and a Therapy Dog, Yaddo was also a stubborn, independent dog that liked to live life his own way and reminded me daily that dog training sometimes requires creativity, and always requires patience.

Yaddo is why I work to keep things fun, and was a wonderful example of how training can enrich a dog’s life, regardless of their age.

Fluff

 

Losing Owen left a hole in our lives, a hole quickly filled by a dynamic dog who had no idea she was supposed to be a sedate senior.  At 11 years old Fluff arrived with little fur but a lot of spirit, and our lives have never been the same.

It was Fluff who truly helped me realize age was nothing but a number and pushed me further into dog training.  She loved to learn, and loved to be doing things.  Fluff effortlessly obtained her Canine Good Citizen certification and went on to become a Therapy Dog through Therapy Dog International with the help of Cydney Cross and Crossroads for Dogs.  But it was soon clear she was not done working, Fluff came alive when the treat pouch came out, so we tried agility, and eventually scent work through Good Choice Dog Training, where she truly shined.

Unfortunately cancer came, and we only had 18 months with this special girl.  But it is Fluff’s legacy that pushed me into dog training and showed me how much fun it can be.  Old Dogs New Tricks is very much Fluff’s legacy.

Owen

Owen is the one that started it all.  My first official dog.  While Fluff was my partner and Yaddo is my buddy, Owen was my heart.  Skinny, sick, with no ACLs and hip dysplasia Owen came to me broken down as a foster dog, and watching him heal was a privilege I will be forever grateful for.  We worked through his dog reactivity, we obtained our Canine Good Citizen certification and when it became obvious that his health issues were not something we could overcome we started a bucket list and lived every day to the fullest.