Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dog Yoga Time!

 People tend to look for ways to relax. Whether it be yoga, massage, day spas, or golf….I keep hearing people say they need to ‘take time for themselves’;  time out from their stressful lives to enjoy something.  Our lives have gotten so busy, that in order to be happy, we need to take time out of our life, to enjoy living!
It sounds funny, but it is true. A friend of mine, a psychologist, writes a daily blog, for exactly this cause; to be good to ourselves.  She says people do not treat themselves well enough, and need to relax.  Dogs often tell me that she is correct!
Taking time to smell the flowers!
Where is our dog in all our stress?  Right in the middle! If you have trained with me, then you have heard me say, “Your dog is your mirror, or your barometer.”  Your dog’s behavior is telling you what’s going on inside your head.  If you are stressed, your dog is stressed.  If you are running around looking for your keys, is your dog running around with you?  If you are calm….your dog is calm.  Do you notice a pattern?
If you need a time out….so does your dog.
So after your yoga class, or massage, or ten minutes of quiet, try to help your dog enjoy the same treatment.  A ten minute walk with a relaxed human leading the way can create a miracle in a dog’s world, and also in your home.
February 2011 Monthly training tip from Dogtopia Newsletter:

Preparing your dog for challenges on the walk

April 2011 Monthly training tip from Dogtopia Newsletter:

   Learning to be prepared often comes from the experience from being burned, or lessons hard learned.  As we age, we learn to harvest and prepare for times of hardship; to prepare for adversary in the future.  In dog training, the best way to relate this is to be prepared for what may be around the next corner.
   Many clients tell me they ‘evaluate’ the neighborhood, or scan the next street, to decide where they venture on their dog’s walks.  If they see challenges like dogs or bikes or runners, they may choose a different route to avoid confrontation and stress.  As we progress through our trainings, I tell my clients to look forward to a stray dog, a screaming toddler, and to seek out the excitable soccer fields to embrace these events as opportunities to enhance their training with their dogs. When enough time is spent around a toddler, a dog may find out they are really not that scary anymore, and actually become endearing.  (A dog will quickly realize a squeaking toddler may also have macaroni and cheese stuck to his t- shirt!)

Conquer Challenges!

  Training is not easy. It is an adventure, and the opportunity to conquer challenges.  Just like we face our human challenges, dogs need to face their fears, and sometimes that means to go on the front lines, like a soldier in combat. If a dog is fearful of something, we need to address the issue, rather than avoid it, because if coupled with another fear, and another, and etc…. then we have a fearful dog that can show fearful aggression.

I have never labeled a dog as aggressive, but have found many dogs to be fearfully reactive when unprepared for their environment.
  Be brave yourself and be prepared to be proud of your dog.

Just say NO!

March 2011 Monthly training tip from Dogtopia Newsletter:
   “Just say NO!” We hear the slogan all the time for the subject of kids and drugs. But does it really work?
   Telling our kids one time not to do drugs does not prevent or protect them from using drugs. But consistently talking to our kids about the effects of using drugs can make a positive difference.  Consistency is the key.

Is that the kitchen table?  Yep!  Say NO!!!!!!!

   Telling our dogs “no” once, or ten times, may not stop the dogs’ unwanted behavior, and may even cause more confusion or excitement in his actions.  However, when modifying human behavior, or when trying to establish a new habit, or deter an old bad habit, we suggest performing the new habit 100 times before it takes affect.
    I use that same rule for training dogs.  Have your dog perform the new habit 100 times before you get frustrated.  The new habit will usually be successfully learned before you reach the hundredth attempt, but this way you don’t quit after 25 attempts!
   Usually naughty dog behavior is a learned habit, or simply because they are having fun. Dogs don’t plot, scheme, or conspire to do bad things. There are emotional and live in the moment. That’s why we love them, and why they still love us! When they ate your couch, sprinklers, or shoes they were probably just having a great celebration!
   Help your dog make good choices and “Just say No.”  One hundred times!

Frustrated with my dog!

Many clients are frustrated with the dogs today, and often compare their current dog to their memory of their childhood dog.  Times have changed. We have changed; our activities, our schooling, our diets. Heck, even our measuring system has changed!  Some even claim Betsy Ross did not make the flag and Virgin Mary did not give birth to Jesus. Our dogs had to change with us.

As a dog trainer, I see many dogs everyday, and many people are frustrated and searching to find that perfect dog they 'had'. What we should be grateful for, is the great memories those dogs have given us.

I also have a perfect dog memory from my childhood. But in criticizing my personal 'perfect dog' case more thoroughly, I remember my dog was not so innocent. There is a vague memory of my dog attacking the neighbor dog and causing a severe vet visit, and that dog was always on the forbidden couch!  But our memories seem to hold more of the good stuff! Those good memories act as our level of expectation for the next dog, and we forgive or forget the bad parts. It's in our tool belt of survival skills, and these coping skills fit better into our childhood and precious memory pictures.

I have had many dogs, multiples at a time, and many off leash trained.  Many excellent dogs, and many dogs with traits I worked hard to eliminate. With two paychecks needed to support households now, there is more alone time for dogs to reac havoc from boredom or anxiety. Dog daycare centers prevail, and are my suggestion and solution to many clients that just need their dogs to get some exercise and socialization! Dogtopia of Temecula is my favorite! 
My question as a trainer, is what changed to create more anxiety in dogs now? I know what works for dogs now, but why has having a dog become another area of life to micro-manage. What used to just work, now takes training, effort, and a degree to balance the human/dog relationship.
If you love something, set it free.  If it comes is yours.  If it doesn' never was!
We all know that saying and everyone claims a dog is the most loyal companion.Yet, most people do not trust their dog to return if let off leash. In addition, leashes are now mandatory now, and even toddlers wear them. Safety has been compromised. Society has changed.

Dirty Dog....will make a good memory, later.
 We have so many losses today. So many broken families. A dog is the one thing we can control and make sure we can tether. Sometimes this fear of the dog running...causes the dog to run!

My husband is scared to death of losing our dogs. So much that even I won't let our dogs off leash if he is present. His panic and fear would lead to a disaster. I, in absolutely NO way, am suggesting anyone to let their dog off leash in an un-safe manner. A dog does NOT automatically follow you simply because you registered his license, got him shots, and feed him daily.  A very young puppy, yes.  Most puppies have a "built-in" leash, for a very short period.  The invisible leash for a dog  is earned by building a relationship of trust and respect.

Although our lifestyles have changed, causing the need to work harder, we also have more information available, more knowledge about what makes our dogs tick. Education in dog psychology helps us to be the proper leader to build a relationship with the best dog we have now, and that will serve as perfect memories later!