Puppy in Fall Leaves - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care

Autumn Training Tips

Fall is here, the weather is crisp and cool.  There are so many fun things to do with your dog.  Take your dog with you on a nature walk to enjoy the last days of dry, warm weather while enjoying the changing colors. This is a good time to work on your puppy or dog’s socialization. Take them to pumpkin patches, small farmer’s markets or Willamette Valley’s many parks.  I recently took Geo to our local hardware center, then for a short hike and visit to Northern Lights Pumpkin Patch. It was a fun couple of hours. If your dog is ready­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­-loose leash walking, has a good sit/stay, doesn’t bark or jump, and is well socialized-then take him with you while the kids trick or treat in your neighborhood.

When you walk your dog in the park to enjoy Willamette Valley’s changing season, work on leash skills for a few minutes at a time.  Keep it fun by letting your dog sniff the damp earth and falling leaves.  An enjoyable hour spent together will result in a canine snooze when you get home and you have completed your training session for the day.

If you take Rover to the pumpkin patch or public event, check the rules and size of event first.  Are leashed dogs allowed?  Is your dog ready for a large crowd?  Do you have Plan B if your dog lets you know he is frightened and needs space?  I moved Geo away from the crowd at Northern Lights when his ears went back and he started yawning.  He was not sleepy. Yawning is a sign of stress for dogs.

If your dog can accompany you while you take your little super hero out to celebrate Halloween, find a bright colored bandanna or reflective vest for Rover’s costume.   This might not be the best time for Rover to meet new little goblins up close, but Rover can spend quality time with your family members while cruising around the neighborhood.

You can work on training while giving out treats, when the doorbell rings, Rover gets a treat for being quiet.  It helps to have two people, one to hand out the people treats and one to reward Rover.  I have a friend who uses her porch window to deliver treats through while rewarding Rover for practicing not jumping or sits/down stays.  Her dogs love to hear another “customer” approach her window because they know their good manners will get those rewards.

If staying indoors is your thing and Rover’s manners could be improved, I offer open enrollment good manners class which means you can start any time. I offer classes on several different days and times.  My training room is temperature controlled and safety is my #1 concern while coaching you and your dog.

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Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Crate Training

September is off to a fiery start in Oregon.  Many residents have been on evacuation alert or evacuated. You want to make sure your emergency plan is in place and every member of your family is calm and safe.  Your pets don’t understand why they have to suddenly travel and be kept in crowded conditions of a hotel or shelter. This is one reason why having a crate trained pet is so important.

The following crate training methods can work for your cat, bunny, and even your chickens, but I am referring to “dog” in my directions:

To start training, move the crate into an area near you such as a living area or home office.  In the beginning, leave the door open during training, tempt your dog to freely go into the crate using toys, chewies or food treats as rewards.  The key is whatever you use must be rewarding to your dog.  Pretty soon your dog will look in the crate for those rewards.  When you see that happening, reward your dog after he has entered the crate.  Then start closing the door for a couple seconds and treat your dog through the door.  The trick is to not go too fast with training or your dog will think the crate is a punishment. You want them to be comfortable with the process every step. Keep your training sessions short, 5 minutes at most.

Crate Training may take some time though, especially for a pet that has unpleasant associations with the crate. My dog, Geo, was very frightened of the crate.  With a little training and positive associations with the crate, he now naps in his crate.   It’s lovely to have a dog who will happily chew on a stuffed Kong while relaxed in his crate.  As I’m typing Geo is sleeping in his crate. I can be assured that if Geo needs to be crated at the Veterinarian’s or in an emergency situation, he will have crate experience.

Having a crate trained pet is a load off your mind when you need to get together essentials for your evacuation kit.    A crated pet is a joy to travel with, is calmer at the Veterinary Hospital, and they are ready for anything. I know many dogs that use their crate as a “bomb shelter” during fireworks or thunder.

To help you with the evacuation list, the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) has a supply list on their website, https://www.avma.org/public/EmergencyCare/Pages/Pets-and-Disasters.aspx?utm_source=smartbrief&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=smartbrief-article

You can find Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC at facebook.com/rocknestpetcare/



Cheri Spaulding - Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, Eugene, and Springfield

Back To School

School is right around the corner, the after school sports and lessons will start and it will get dark earlier.  It doesn’t leave much time for the dog to be walked, played with, and trained.  You might come home to find a shoe chewed or the neighbor complaining about your dog barking.  Your dog is not being spiteful, angry or jealous—he’s lonely and confused by the sudden schedule change.

You can do things to help your dog with the transition.  Take your dog for a walk or play fetch with him before everyone rushes off to school and work. Feed your dog in a snuffle mat or puzzle food bowl so he is entertained for longer. A well stuffed Kong can give your dog hours of entertainment—Kongs are a boredom buster staple here. The pet stores are full of interactive toys but you can make some of them yourself.  Poke holes in a used water bottle or box and fill it partially with kibble or dry treats small enough to fall out of the holes as pup rolls it around. Use an old muffin tin, fill some of the cups with kibble then place balls in the cups.  Your dog has to lift the ball off to get the treat.

If you didn’t get around to that needed training during summer, no problem, take a training class with your dog.  Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers an open enrollment class, that means you pick a day and time that fits your schedule, start right away, you pay for 5 sessions but have 10 chances to complete the course.  You can fit home training sessions into your daily routine.  You only need a few minutes and a few treats to teach your dog to lie on his bed.

If you are gone so many hours that if feels like the only time you see your dog is the weekend, let Rock Nest Training & Pet Care take care of the walking and training.  We offer a variety dog walking, pet visit and training options. We just finished up with two young corgis in our walk and train package.  They are good citizens now that they don’t feel the need to bark at every noise.  This is a good value for these young dogs— they will have good manners for life.



Summer Pet Tips

The dog days of summer are here!  It’s a great time to get out and do fun activities with your dog-hiking, swimming, walking, play fetch, sit in the park, take a dog training class.  There are a few helpful tips to get you and your pup through the lazy days of summer.

Dogs don’t handle the sun’s brutal heat well.  Their cooling system isn’t the best and then there is the fur coat they wear.  Make sure whatever you are doing with your dog, you have fresh water available for both of you. When I took my dogs to dog shows every weekend, I kept frozen bottles of water in the freezer, ready to pack in the dog supplies.  As they thawed my dogs had cold water to drink. I also wetted and froze rolled up bandanas for my dogs to wear around their necks.  It also felt good to hold one of those frozen bottles on the back of my hot neck or tie a frozen bandana around my neck after running at top speed to keep up with my speed demon dog.

If you are not into running around like a crazy person midday, take walks with your dog early in the morning while you both can enjoy the cool morning air and feel the pleasant morning sun.  If you are not a morning person, an evening walk after dinner can’t be beat.  I love walking my dog while reviewing the day, listening to the crickets and frogs in the twilight.  Walks are a great way to work on your dog’s leash skills.

In midday, make sure your dog has access to shade-trees, reflective shade tarp strung up in a frame, pop up canopy.  You can share a moment in the shade to work on sit or down stays, then as a reward you can read a summer novel while drinking an icy beverage and your dog chewing on a frozen treat.

Kongs, the red beehive looking rubber toys are great for a special treat-wet kibble with water or low sodium broth, stuff Kongs with mixture and freeze.  I have 3 for my dog, one in the freezer, one in the dishwasher, and one in use. If you don’t want to invest in Kongs, here’s a recipe for pupsicles made with cheese:

What you need (makes eight servings)

  • 16 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
  •  8 2.4-oz. kitchen containers with lids (pet bowls or ice cube trays also work)
  • 3 oz. kibble & hard cheese, cubed

Its lovely to be outdoors in the summer, but our dogs can pick up fleas and ticks, talk to your Veterinarian about parasite solutions so you both don’t end up playing winter host to the next generation of fleas.  A simple first aid kit is a good thing to have on. I’m sure your Vet will be happy to give you suggestions for a kit for your dog or you can find them in stores or on line.

Whatever summer activity you plan with your dog-physical activity or staying home and enjoying the summer in your yard-a little planning ahead will keep both you and your dog healthy and cool.

A Trained Dog is a Good Dog

You have welcomed a dog into your life and you want the very best for him. You fulfill his needs with food, toys and attention. Training is also an important need for your dog. It helps him know how to be a good companion and family member.  A well behaved, trained dog is a joy to be around.

It doesn’t matter what your dog’s age is when you start training, it’s time well spent.  A foundation of basic behaviors-sit, down, stay, come when called- can be taught easily with consistency and practice. A practice session should be kept short-5 minutes, 2-3 times a day. A total of 15 minutes! Your dog will start to understand what you want in one or two sessions.Those behaviors can lead to having your dog lie down on his bed quietly while you eat dinner or automatically sitting when a visitor arrives at your home.

The first thing I worked on with my young dog, Geo, was lying down when a person approached him.  The point is if he’s laying down when a person is near, he won’t be jumping on them. I also routinely work on his recall, coming when called.  This is for safety reasons-if he slips out of his collar, calling him away from an oncoming car or an approaching stray dog. Because I spend so much time practicing come when called, I was able to call him off while he was chasing a deer! Training your dog to come to you when called could save his life.

Since you are going to have your dog for many years, a few months of consistent daily training will pay off for a happy home. Taking a group class with your dog is an inexpensive way to learn the skills you need to train your dog and will help him learn to pay attention to you while in a distracting environment. You and your dog might be better suited for private lessons.  The benefit of private lessons is you and the trainer customizes a training plan that works best for you and your dog.

Think about what would be enjoyable for you and your dog. Do you want Spot to take a walk with you without pulling you down the sidewalk and then lie on his bed quietly in the evening? Maybe your dog is naturally calm and enjoys people-you might want to volunteer as a therapy dog team.  Maybe you and your dog like staying busy, there are many dog sports you both can compete it-agility, dancing with your dog, rally obedience, tracking, nosework –to name a few.

Training is a partnership, you both will learn and it will strengthen your relationship. You need only to commit a few months of consistent practice teaching your dog skills he needs to be a good friend.  He’s part of your family so why not give your dog a good education. Think of training your dog as a road trip with exciting twists and turns. There is no telling where it might lead.

Dog Bite Prevention – “Be a Tree”

We’ve all visited a friend’s home that has a pet dog. We’ve all had a stray dog approach us when we are out and about.  Sometimes the dog is a bit too rambunctious or you get the feeling the dog isn’t friendly. The last things you want to do are scream or yell, wave your arms or legs, and run.  That will only entice the dog to jump, bite, and follow you. If you use the Be A Tree method developed by Doggone Safe, you best avoid injury until help can come or the dog gets bored and goes away.

Be A Tree is a catchy reminder developed to teach children dog safety, but anyone can use it. If a dog approaches you that you don’t want contact with, you stand tall like a tree, look down at your feet (roots), fold in your arms (branches) and clasp your hands in front of you. Count in your head until the dog goes away or help comes. For children, they can count as far as they know, then start over.

There is another component to this safety lesson, Be A Rock.  If a dog knocks you down, you curl up into a ball with folded legs under you and your forehead resting on the ground.  Put your hands on the back of your neck and lace your fingers together.  Count in your head until help comes or the dog goes away.

The Be A Tree Presentation is designed for children ages 7 to 12, though my 4 year old niece attended the presentation a year ago and she still remembers what to do. The interactive 30 minute talk has kids practicing Be A Tree/Be A Rock several times to make sure they understand what to do when encountering a strange dog. There is also a section of the program telling children how to ask to pet a dog: ask permission from a parent first, and then the dog’s owner. Also it covers stranger danger, never help a stranger look for their dog.

The Be A Tree Presentation covers a lot in a short time and gives good information in an entertaining way. I am a member of Doggone Safe and I am a Be A Tree Presenter. I am listed as Cheri Spaulding, Rock Nest Training and Pet Care, LLC. Doggone Safe also offers help and support to dog bite victims. You can find out more at www.doggonesafe.com  I will be presenting Be A Tree at the Creswell Library throughout the spring and summer. Please contact me to present for your classroom or group.

Stress relief-Kongs

Years ago, possibly 10 years,  I went to a one day canine behavior seminar in New England, where the speaker, forgive me for not remembering her name,  was a Veterinary Behaviorist.  The most memorable advice she gave for canine stress relief was having stuffed Kongs available for your dog.  A Kong is a rubber, hollowed out beehive shaped interactive toy that can be filled with any food or treats that might interest your pet. She said she had 3 Kongs for each of her dogs: one stuffed with their dinner in the freezer, one for them to actively work on, and one in the dishwasher, all in constant rotation.  

Kongs come in a variety of colors and sizes.  Select a size that your pet can easily interact with but one that is not so small that it might get caught in their mouth or throat.

The filling in the beginning should be highly interesting to your pet–smelly is always a hit–and packed loose within the Kong so your pet stays interested in pulling out the treats.  I use whatever treats I have available: cut up cheese, hot dogs, liverwurst, or boiled chicken along with a binder like meat favored baby food or mashed sweet potato.  The following link has fun Kong stuffing recipes that will give you inspiration when looking through your fridge for stuffing material.  Always remember: be careful to use foods that are easy on the stomach and are not toxic to your pet.  Lists of those foods can be easily googled.

Happy stuffing!


Pet Loss

A good friend sent me this link for a video her friend put together in honor of his dog, Punkin.  I lost three dogs and my previous life this past year and it was horrific.  I enjoyed this simple, sweet video and felt pleasure while watching it and remembering the wonderful times I had with all my pets over the years.  I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.