Dog Parks

Our weather is starting to get nice, finally!  On those nice days we want to get out and about with our dogs.  Many dog owners take their dogs to dog parks, some find success playing with their dogs in a safe, fenced environment, and others don’t. When I got Geo, I carefully chose the dog parks we visited and the dog friends we met there.  Quickly, I saw Geo acting in a way I didn’t want.    I stopped taking him to dog parks, promising my friends we would return when I had a reliable recall and Geo was a little more mature.

I consulted with an expert in the field of dog behavior and dog parks.  Sue Sternberg has researched dog parks and the effect on dogs who visit them. She believes with a well-designed dog park and knowledgeable owners the potential for behavioral problems and injury to dogs is greatly reduced. She would like to all dog owners be “Triple A” Owners—Alert, Attentive, Active—Alert to the conditions of the dog park, behaviors of other dog and owners, paying attention to their own dog; Attentive to their own dog, noticing when their dog or other dogs are getting out of control; Active and engaged with their own dog while at the dog park.  Sternberg developed an iphone app, Dog Park Assistant, unfortunately there isn’t one for androids.  Her store, www.greatdogproductions.com has an offering of literature and dvds on dog parks.

Trainers have known for years that there are risks with dog parks. Trish King, CPDT, CDBC reported in a seminar I attended in 2004 that she was seeing a lot of dogs with behavioral problems with the commonality that they attended dog parks.  She and Sue Sternberg suggest a minimum of looking for parks that provide separate areas for small and large dogs, double gate entryways, multiple obstacles i.e. trees so dog’s views are blocked and fearful dogs can go for safety, minimum of benches for humans, and a surface that discourages dogs from building running speed.

I wasn’t happy seeing Geo quickly learn that he could run amok and not come to me when I called him. For now, we have a wonderful time going to training class, hiking in the woods, and taking leashed walks in town.  I hope Geo can meet with his dog friends at our favorite dog parks someday. Some dogs can keep their cool at the dog park and that is the only time they have to romp off leash.  I’m glad for them. As Trish King said, “A dog park is like a cocktail party, where you don’t know anyone and everyone is drunk.  You could have fun, but it could be a disaster.”

If you are interested in showing off your dog’s good manners at the dog park, call me for private and group lessons.  I am offering puppy and adult group classes at Rock Nest Training and Pet Care in Creswell, 541-895-3162 or www.rocknestpetcare.com.

 

Group Dog Training Classes Eugene, Springfield, Creswell Oregon Article

Group Dog Training Classes

 

Last month I spoke about what a good dog a trained dog is. How do you get a trained dog? There are a variety of ways—learning from training books, private lessons, and group dog training classes. If you’re like me, trying to learn something complicated from a book without the benefit of asking questions is frustrating. Private lessons are best for you and your dog if there are specific and complicated behaviors to be learned, but you will be paying for the individual time of an instructor. Taking a group dog instruction class is the best choice for your dollar if you are looking to learn general behaviors. You will learn from an instructor who has devoted significant hours into education and training of dogs and people.

 

Group dog classes are wonderful because you have the opportunity to ask questions of an instructor who has had everything happen with their dogs or dogs they have trained that you may be dealing with. You haven’t lived until the only way you can get a dog to come to you in the dark and during an ice storm is to lay down in a busy intersection at 5 PM rush hour! But that story is for another article. Good instructors help you with selection of proper training equipment and provide class safety—you and your dog should feel relaxed enough to practice skills. Look for a class that provides you and your dog plenty of room to work. They also modify exercises to suit you and your dog’s level, and will be available to field quick questions in between classes.

Veterinary hospitals sometimes will have a large enough waiting room to hold a puppy class—a combination of puppy socializing with each other and learning to work with their humans. The added benefit is the puppy associates happy experiences with the Vet’s office. Even if your Vet‘s office is unable to accommodate puppy classes, discuss with your Veterinarian about when to start puppy training class. Puppy socialization is important to your dog’s mental health. A dog doesn’t have to be a puppy or young adult to benefit from a class. Older dogs will appreciate a weekly outing to give him mental stimulation or sharpen his skills. Group dog training classes with specific themes—really reliable recall or tricks, to name a couple are fun and useful.

There is a group class for every dog. Look for a class that will be a safe place to learn, fun, and has a qualified instructor. Dog training is an unregulated industry, there are efforts made to legitimize it, so you will sometimes see an alphabet soup of letters behind an instructor’s name. These signify they have gone through training and testing of their skills through a certification council. Asking about possible credentials is a way to figure out if the instructor has had advanced education which will reflect in their classroom skills.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care, LLC is offering weekly group puppy and adult classes. Look for us on facebook under Rock Nest Pet Care. For more information about services, please contact us at www.rocknestpetcare.com or call 541-895-3162.

Dog Walking Safety Training Rock Nest Pet Training Article

Dog Walking Safety

Last month I spoke about dog bite prevention.  I recommended the Be A Tree method—stand tall like a tree trunk, put your arms (your branches) in, and lower your head to look at your feet (roots) when a strange dog approaches.  I want to talk about what to do if you are walking your dog and a strange dog approaches.

Last week my dog, Geo, and I were taking a walk.  Geo was sniffing a grass patch in a vacant lot.  Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a black furry blur, a stealth bomber moving very fast, aimed at Geo. The black dog grabbed Geo’s and Geo whirled around and froze. Thankfully Geo has very good dog skills, diffusing a violent fight. I yelled for the owner to come, I stomped my feet at the dog, I told him to go home in my most commanding voice.  He did go back across the street to his yard.  His owner put him in the house and then came out on his porch to ask me if my dog was ok.  I checked Geo and he didn’t seem to have physical injuries, but he was shaking and his tail was tucked.  I was quaking inside.  The next day I did find a scab on Geo’s neck where the attacking dog bit him. I started thinking about what I could have done differently and what the black dog’s owner could have done to prevent his dog leaving his yard.

It is all about management and training. Good management choices the black dog’s owner could have used are: 1) a more secure fence around his yard, 2) have the dog on a cable tie 3) be with his leashed dog, interacting with him and enjoying a warm evening together.  Those would have been on the owner’s part.  He could train his dog not to leave his yard.

A good management tool if you walk your dog a lot is a dog deterrent spray such as a pepper spray or one specifically formulated to deter dogs. Train you dog to move around behind you and sit so you can handle an emergency situation.  If there had been time I could have had Geo sit behind me so I could interact with the black dog and possibly prevent Geo’s injury.

The main goal is to avoid dog bite injury.  Make sure fencing or tethering is secure. Train your dog to stay in its yard. When you’re walking your dog, look at your surroundings. Is there a dog in a yard?  Move to the other side of the street. This will help make both dogs feel more comfortable.  Carry a pepper spray.  Train your dog to move behind you so you can better handle any situations. Management and training go hand in hand.

May is National Dog Bite Prevention Month.  I will be given a Be A Tree Presentation at the Creswell Library in the Children’s Reading Room on April 26th at 3:30 PM to start it off.  This is an interactive presentation for children age 7-12 and will run approximately 30 minutes.  I also offer dog training classes, private and group lessons.  Pease call Rock Nest Training & Pet Care at 541-895-3162 or visit www.rocknestpetcare.com for more information.

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!

http://www.k9instinct.com/blog/frozen-kong-dog-treat-recipes

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMCdJSAzFGU