Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Mia's Excellent Adventure in Washington DC February 2016

I recently had opporunity to travel with my husband to a conference he was attending in Washington DC.  It also happened that the timing of the trip was perfect for taking our puppy Mia along.  She was just at the right age to accompany us.  As fate would have it, the hotel in which we were staying happily allows for doggy guests!  So after planning what to pack to make her and our stay comfortable....away we went!

Mia has been fantastic the entire trip.  I could not be more pleased about how she has handled every new and interesting...noise, person, and many different things - such as carts, strollers, cars, trucks, beeping horns, sirens, elevators, escalators, doors that open in interesting ways, etc. etc. etc.  :)

Her inquisitive, curious nature has taken it all in stride.  I have been very careful not to overface her and watched her carefully for body language signs that she might be feeling overwhelmed.

Well done Mia!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dog Walking Etiquette - One Step at a Time

Today a dog is walking with their person who is blind and taking them safely from point A to point B.  During this walk, this amazing partner at the other end of the lead is problem solving to keep their person safe along the path.  Another dog is watching their person closely, because she may have a seizure.  For the first time in her life, this person has courage to go out and about and live life because she knows her dog will alert her before a seizure and keep her safe.

Dogs are amazing and by working with their nature, we can go out and about with our dogs and enjoy life together.  I often get calls from new clients who find the simple act of walking their dog a bit daunting and overwhelming.  It doesn't have to be this way and I'd like to give you a few pointers on dog walking etiquette. In other words, how you and your dog can go out and have an enjoyable time rather than a time filled with a reactive and perhaps worried dog.

#1 - understand that dogs have a personal space just like we do.  When this space is invaded it is very natural for your dog to respond with a bark and or possibly a snap.

#2 - Leash reactivity often has nothing to do aggression, dogs are simply saying get out of my face and my personal space.

#3 - Draw boundaries with the dog owner who insists on coming your way as they say "Oh my dog is friendly".  Avoid people who try to force their dog on your dog.  Comunication is key and be aware of other people's feelings as well.  What a perfect time for you to educate them on proper walking and greeting ettiquette.

#4 - If you do not know the dog, it is simply best to avoid a Meet and Greet on lead!  Don't allow other dogs to invade your dog's space and respect the other dog's space as well.

Dogs are often placed into situations in which they are forced to endure invasion of their personal space and are set up to fail at greetings.  Unfortunately, owners often miss or misread cues (body language) of their dog feeling uncomfortable.

Let's set our dogs up for success!  Before heading out, here are a few things I teach in my Puppy Social Skills and Basic Life Skills classes you can do at home so you are prepared for what may come.

~ an intregal part of my training program is teaching my students all about dog body language.  Our dogs tell  us how they feel way before we see a reaction, such as a bark, lunge, growl or snap.  But we have to be vigilant at reading our dog's body language.  There are many great sights on the internet and good books about doggy body language.  This is a great place to start before heading out on the walk. Know what your dog is saying and how she/he is feeling about a situation before it can get out of hand.

~ teach appropriate dog to dog interactions - we go over this in my classes as well.  Often it is not a good idea for dogs to play with one another on lead.  Allowing your dog to jump all over another dog can result in injury - both to you and your dog.  I have seen people get all tangled up in dogs leads, not a good idea.

~ Bring high value treats to keep your dog focused on you.

~Dogs need to learn there's a time to play and a time to pay attention to you.  Building value for your dog being by and with you can be a great deal of fun.  It's a fun game I teach in my classes and I call it being more "Exciting than the Squirrel".

~So here's the game. Practice “come” when called on a long leash. Put your dog on a long lead and let him wander around and sniff. Then randomly call his “name” and “come” then immediately turn and run the other way. If you need, give a clear directional tug on the leash so he knows you want him to follow. The goal is that you run far enough and fast enough so that he gets the message that the “fun is in your direction”.  Make sure you’re paying attention to him and he doesn’t run by you.  Pick up the the long lead so that there’s no slack as he gets closer to you. Then when he catches up to you, you can reward with a treat or a favorite toy and allow him to play with toy when he/she reaches you (whatever motivates your dog).  

~A couple other great games to bring your dog's attention back to you is the "touch" and the "watch me cue".

Playing these fun games at home in a non-distracting environment will go a long way in building understanding for your dog and then will help when you find yourself in a very distracting environment.  Homework pays dividends!

And last but certainly  not least, always have your dog on lead.  Most cities and towns have leash laws.  And please don't forget to bring baggies for clean up.  Cleaning up after your dog is one of the most important things to remember.  This goes a long way in keeping neighbors and fellow dog walkers happy when they see you!

Walking your dog can be the best form of exercise for both of you.  With a little bit of thoughtful practice and preparation at home, you and your dog can enjoy blazing new trails and exploring the world around you!  I hope my suggestions help in your success.  As always, I'm here to help!

Happy Trails!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Personal Growth...

If we change our own responses, 
our own behavior and our own actions...
our dogs will change too! ~Kathy Kawalec

Thoughts on this beautiful winter's day...  I posted the above quote on my Pawsitive Journey LLC facebook page this week.  I was struck with the truth in these words.  I have learned very long ago as a Certified Dog Trainer/Instructor that the truth of the matter is...  I am a human trainer.  I train the human and together we train their dog.  

The larger picture, the bigger truth about dog training is truly the personal growth of the human part of the partnership.  If we become aware of our own responses, our own behavior and our own actions, we then can truly help our dog to change their behavior as well.  Dog's do reflect us!

I was struck with Pope Francis' words recently as he encouraged people during this Lenten Season, instead of giving up something, he encouraged people to reflect on the inside, make room and "renew the quiet joy of God's love" in their life and in turn be open and willing to help those around them.  Make time for thinking of and helping others...  How beautiful...

Dog training takes a great deal of thought, self reflection and proactive thinking.  The joy and the wonderful benefit of all we learn about ourselves in the process of training our dog is the best part if you ask me.  

I have been training dogs since 1992 and I have learned so many lessons from my canine partners.  I am already learning a ton from our new puppy Mia.  What a sweet dear soul she is.  She is like an old soul, she seems to be wise beyond her years.  I am so enjoying and continue to look forward to our journey together.  

In Job 12:7 it says, "...and let the animals teach  you..."  They have so much to teach us.  My hope and my encouragement to you is to allow your dog to bring you to new levels of understanding yourself as you teach your dog and walk through this journey together!

Happy Trails!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Brain Teaser Games...

...are so good for your dog!  Do you remember as a kid coming home from school and feeling so tired?  I do and often times I would say, "I'm tired" and my Mom would ask, "why are you so tired, you just sat in school all day?" 

And yes, exactly, that's it.  We sat still in school and exercised our brains all day long.  Exercising our brains is energy draining.  Did you know this same concept works well for dogs?  By exercising your dog's brain, you can help them drain excess energy. This should make some of you jump up and shout for joy!  Well, here you go...your free fun fact tip for this beautiful Friday.

There are many brain teaser games on the market made specifically for dogs and many of them come with a pretty healthy price tag.  So here is a way to make a great brain teaser game (pictured above) with supplies you might have on hand at home or can easily get at your local "bargain priced" store.

Take one muffin tin and divide your dog's kibble for one meal into each muffin cup.  Place a light weight ball over the kibble in each muffin cup.  I am using light weight balls that would be used for a child's ball pit.  OR you could use wiffle balls you might happen have stored in the garage.  You want to use light weight balls so your dog can easily push the balls off to find their kibble.  Also, remember your dog's sense of smell is his/her number one sense they use to "view the world".  So, no worries they can easily smell their yummy food under the ball.

I do have a caveat, for larger dogs who might just try and eat the balls...you might want to use heavier balls, such as tennis balls.  And for those dogs that are ball obsessed, you might want to forego this game all together.  But for most dogs, this is a wonderful game to play a few times a week.  This game is also great for the dog who tends to bolt their food - they have to slow down and think.  

This game is fantastic and allows your dog to use their brain to problem solve.  Draining energy, learning to problem solve...a win, win situation all the way around.  

Leave a comment and let me know how your dog enjoyed the game!

Happy training everyone!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mia Update - To sleep with your dog or not...

Mia puppy is now 12 weeks old.  She has been with us an entire month...plus.  Where has the time gone?  She is growing up so quickly and we are enjoying every minute!

The happiest event of puppy raising seems to be when they can go outdoors to potty solo! And I am  happy to report Mia goes outside with the big dogs now.  I open the door and she runs out with Alli collie and Ezra.  She is able to pop down the deck steps (three steps total) and do her banking and then head back inside with her pack.  I am so thankful for this turn of events, as we have had a few very cold days.  Temperatures in the single digits with them plunging below zero a couple times...cold, cold, cold! I'm also thankful that these extremly cold conditions have not deterred Mia's brave heart from facing the elements to dutifully do her business in the great outdoors!  I now get to stand at the door and watch, so I can be sure I know she has done the deed.  I do have to give a big thank you to Alli collie for helping me train Mia to use the deck steps.  I directed Alli to jump off the side of the deck which has the steps and she dutifully did so.  She also would wait for Mia puppy to get around to doing her banking and then happily bound up the steps of the deck at my direction...Mia following every step of the way!

I am pleased that both Alli and Ezra have fully accepted Mia as part of the family pack.  Even Maui kitty has thoroughly embraced Ms. Mia puppy.  Everyone loves her and seems to enjoy the breath of fresh happy air that only a puppy can bring to a household.  Both 10 year old Ezra and 8 year old Alli have been playing like puppies with little Mia! What a sweet sight!

Mia has been such an accomodating puppy from the start.  At first we let her outside for the last time around 11 pm to potty.  She would then wake us up about 5 am.  Good puppy!  Now 4 weeks later, Mia turns in at 11 pm and doesn't wake us up until around 6:30 am.  She is coming right along.

I just read an excellent article questioning whether to allow your puppy/dogs to share your bed.  The article pointed out several good thoughts on the pros and cons. First and foremost the decision to allow your dog in bed is a very personal one and there are no right or wrong answers.  You also have to take into account the personality of the dog in question.  Some dogs are not able to make it through the night without having an accident in the house.  Some dogs are not able to go through the night without hopping off the bed and getting into mischief. These dogs are best confined during the night. Waking up to a huge mess is not something anyone of us find amusing.  Some dogs are just too big and take up too much space on the bed and it is important that the human be allowed to comfortably rest through the night, right?

I also found the author's thoughts on why some trainer's recommend a no tolerance on dogs in beds interesting and worth sharing.  It seems to go hand in hand with the more dominance style of dog training.  Although, there are some dogs who truly can get a bit dominant and even aggressive about the bed, but I must add, usually these dogs are also allowed to be dominate in many other areas of life with their human.  So they truly need intervention.  In which case, contact me, I can help.  :)

My husband and I have agreed that our dogs may share our bed. We have often been happy that we had a "3 dog  night" when it is cold.  Dogs are the best foot warmers! We have experienced that the benefits far out weigh the disadvantages. And I have to add here, it is a great advantage to already have good doggy role models in place to help our new puppy learn the ropes from the very first night. Thankfully we are both light enough sleepers who are aroused when the little puppy wakes and waddles around the bed saying they have to go outside.

Our puppies join us in bed from day one and we all get a good night's sleep from the start.  With exception of our larger collie puppies, who often stay in a crate the first few months.  Because of their size, they are able to jump off the bed and find a place in the house to relieve themselves.  But once they are fully potty trained we allow them to make the decision to join us.  Oddly enough, most of our collies will join us on bed at one point, but most of the time our collies just seem to enjoy their space and the ability to stretch out.  Often times they will jump off and enjoy the doggy beds that we place by our bed.

Our Jack Russell Terrier puppies have been the easiest by far.  Their diminutive size makes it easy for them to find a small space and snuggle right in between us and sleep happily until they wake us to use the great outdoors.  Sweet Mia has fit our night time routine without one hitch.

Mia is an inquisitive and curious puppy, which I find very nice.  Every new experience is a happy adventure and it is so easy to build on her outgoing nature and personality.  She is socializing well with our ponies, our kitty, our other dogs and our grandchildren!

It has been 8 years since we have welcomed a new puppy to our family!  As a dog trainer, I know how active a puppy can be.  We thought long and hard before adding a new puppy to our home and family.  Realizing in the span of 8 years we may have forgetten just how much energy it takes to train a bouncy new puppy.

We are so thankful we decided to go ahead and welcome sweet Mia to our family!  She has been such a joy to us already in the 4 short weeks since her arrival.  I am enjoying watching her grow and getting to know her personality.  Such fun to develop her talents and gifts.  I often wonder what is in store...  Each of our dogs have taught us so very much and have taken us on new adventures.  What dreams may come...the skies the limit!

And as always...Happy Trails!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A New Year, A New Puppy - meet Mia!

We have a new Jack Russell puppy and her name is Mia.  We are so happy to welcome this precious little one to our family.  We have been looking for quite some time for just the right puppy.  When we saw a picture of this sweet girl - she looked like she was meant for us - as is so often the case when we lay eyes on the one meant to join our family.  In fact, when we inquired about her she had already been spoken for.  I couldn't help myself but to say she looks like our puppy, but I understand, if something changes let me know.  Sure enough, as fate would have it, this little girl became available.  I just knew she was meant to join our family.

The first week with Mia has been fantastic.  We have been around this block a few times and have puppy rearing to a science.  Be consistent and have a sense of humor!  But, I have to say this little one has been super easy.  Maybe it's been easy because she has a great temperament, perhaps it's because we love puppy rearing, maybe it's because she truly was meant to be ours and sent to us from our little Libby.  I am not completely sure but I think it has something to do with all of the above, she has certainly wiggled into our family and life.

She fits with us like a hand to a glove! We couldn't be more pleased with her and are enjoying her tremendously!

The best part is both our dogs love her too.  I have noticed this before with Alli collie and JR/mix Ezra - they can be aloof at first.  Very normal, trying to get to know the new dog in the house.  We are always sure to carefully introduce our new puppy and we supervise a great deal of course.  We also have had may different dogs come through our home.  Maybe just for the night, a couple nights, couple weeks, couple months...  New comers are just a part of our normal routine here.  They come, they go...some stay.

Today was a great day, a break through day, as both Alli collie and Ezra finally played with utter abandon with new puppy Mia.  They let their guard down and really enjoyed her.  Alli collie did her play bow over and over again and everytime I turned around she was inviting Mia to play.  They romped a bit in our fenced yard as well.  Alli has been playing tug throughout the weekend with puppy Mia and then today sweet old Ezra played tug with her too.

Perhaps my son in law, Brian, said it best - maybe they finally know that Mia is staying.  She is a part of our family and is not going to leave us. I believe he is correct!

I just read a blog post entitled "Defining Moments" from one of my favorite trainers and mentors, Susan Garrett.  (To read more visit http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2016/01/defining-moments/) It was so timely for me.  Susan shared from her life of defining moments...
"Defining moments are the decisions we have made, the actions we have taken or were afraid to take.  Defining moments are mysterious things. We often don’t know “why” we are making a certain choice until we look back years later and then it all makes sense."  Of course she was talking about the dogs she has had in her life, what they meant to her, taught her and often times where they took her in her life as a trainer.  

I too have had the most wonderful dogs in my life.  Not sure what it was when I saw them or their picture, why I chose them OR if they chose me in some way.  But each one of them have taught me many lessons, have taken me to winner circles and good places I never dreamed of going - therapy work - schools, libraries, rest homes, hospitals and they list goes on, competition obedience, agility and more...

I have had the most precious moments, sitting in the quiet solitude - allowing myself to be still and enjoy my little puppy who will only be little for such a short period of time.  Of starting her training in tiny bits.  Of allowing myself to dream dreams of what adventures we might go on together.  I have reveled in the thought of what will this little tiny spirit teach me...  I feel privileged to be on this journey with Mia...writing her story, our story.  Developing her talents and her gifts and in the mean while opening a part of myself that this little puppy was sent to open.

Here's to 2016 and our new puppy Mia and in the words of Susan Garrett
"Heres to 2016 a year where all of our choices are conscious acts taking us a step closer to all of our goals."

Happy Trails everyone!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

These are a few of my favorite things...

If you are still trying to find the right gift for a friend or family member who loves and owns dogs, I have some suggestions for you.  Here are a few of my favorite things!

1st - Songs About Dogs CD is one of our very favorites!  I love this CD and my Grandchildren are absolutely wild about it!  A. Rae and The Rescue Dogs have put together a wonderful array of catchy tunes about dogs.  This CD features wonderful music and great vocals.  The vocals are of two young ladies who can really belt out a song!  The CD goes with us on trips and plays throughout the day complete with my 2 year old grandson and 4 year old granddaughter dancing to their hearts content!  You'll love it!  And another great thing about your purchase of the CD - half the money goes towards local rescue organizations!  This is sure to make you smile for three reasons - great music, wonderful vocals and money going toward helping dogs in need!  How can you go wrong!?

2nd - Dog Lessons:  Biblical Truths taught through Man's Best Friend.  If you teach or have a friend who teaches Children's Church or Christian Preschool, this would be a wonderful gift.  As a Children's Church teacher for many years, I was always looking for innovative programs, something different.  Well, here it is - written by someone who has taught Children's Church, everything included and ready to use!  Dog Lessons uses a different breed's characteristics thoughtfully woven into a weekly Bible Story - for example, the Siberian Husky runs his race just like Paul encouraged us to run the race God set before us and the Collie herds and watches over his sheep just like the Great Shepherd watches over us. I include facts about the breed, a ready to use craft that compliments the featured breed or Bible Story, a memory verse and “Emma’s Tip” which teaches children how to be a good and responsible dog owner.

3rd - Reversible Dog Collar Bandanas!   I have two styles packaged and ready to ship. Noel in blue and Christmas Pups in red - Small (fit Jack Russell, Shih Tsu, Yorkies), Medium (fit Labs, Goldens, Collies) and Large (fit St. Bernard, Newfoundland and Great Dane).  Your dog collar will slip right through the top of these bandanas...no knot and very comfortable for your dog.

I will be happy to ship all these items anywhere in the United States!  Email pawsitivejourney@gmail.com for more information!

I hope you are enjoying the Christmas Season.  Don't forget to take some time for yourself and take a walk with your best buddy. What a wonderful way to take in the sights and sounds of the holiday by enjoying a walk through your neighborhood and or town.  It will be good for both you and your dog.

Merry Christmas from all of us here at Pawsitive Journey!  And as always, Happy Trails!
Barbara, Alli and Ezra