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

Cooler Heads Prevail

Sadly, we hear about people forgetting children or leaving their dogs in hot cars. I called the police about a car with two huskies in it.  Fortunately the temperature was in the mid 60s but the sun was strong.   I had been walking dogs and I was sweating in a long sleeve shirt and the dogs in the car looked uncomfortable and were panting.  If the person had pulled up 10 feet the car would have been in the shade and the dogs would have been much more comfortable.

Oregon now has a law allowing people to break a window if children or dogs are in distress in a vehicle.  There are rules to this law though before a window can be broken, there needs to be a reasonable belief that the child or pet is in danger.  While researching the new Oregon law, I found the testimony of Kohana Clem, age 9, of Girl Scout Troop 10037 who made a short but effective statement.  The following is a portion of it:

The rules are:

  • See if the owner of the car is close by.
  • If they are not, check to see if the doors are unlocked
  • If it is not unlocked, first call the police to make sure you have permission to break open a window
  • Only break one window
  • Then stay until help arrives

Leave it to a kid to tell it in plain speak so we can understand it!  The law used her rules but dressed it up in a lot of legalese.

Now that we have this law that allows us to legally help a distressed pet in a car, we need to make sure the pet is really in distress before opening doors or breaking a window. Kristine Willaman, DVM reported on the process of hyperthermia (overheating) which can be within minutes.  She said, “Initially the pet will pant excessively and become restless.  As the temperature increases and hyperthermia progresses, the pet may drool large amounts of saliva.  In addition, you may notice the pet becoming weak or unsteady on his/her feet.  The lips or tongue may turn blue/purple or bright red in color, due to inadequate oxygen.”   Thankfully, I have never seen a dog in a car like this.  Sheri Schlorman, DVM suggests knocking on the window, if the dog can’t lift his head, he is in distress.  Importantly, she added, “If the dog can respond, then he is not in imminent danger. You can risk a dog bite if you reach in a car window and open the car door to check on a dog who thinks he needs to protect his territory.”

After you have knocked on the window and the dog is responding but he looks very hot.  Try to find the owner first. If it’s at a store, take the license plate number with a description of the car and ask an employee to make an announcement. That may help the owner come out of their shopping daze.

To avoid having an embarrassing announcement on a loudspeaker or your window broken, don’t take your dogs out on very hot days.  Sheri Schlorman, DVM added additional thoughts, “What is just as worrisome to me is seeing dogs in the back of pick-up truck with black bed liners or dogs walking on asphalt on 95 degree days. If it’s too hot for you to walk barefoot, then it’s too hot for your dog.”

Work on your dog’s socialization and training skills early in the day or take a drive to our local bank, Banner Bank, or Cascade Home Center.  Both are welcoming to leashed, behaved dogs.  If its really hot, give them a ride in the air conditioned car and hit the drive through at DQ, Hot Shots, Coffee Bean.  Whatever you do, think it through so everyone stays cool.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care offers dog training classes in an air conditioned facility, both private and group lessons.  Please call at 541-895-3162 or visit for more information.  Find us at

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

Fireworks are not for everyone!

It’s the time of year we show our patriotism and celebrate our country!  It’s the time of year our dogs think the world is ending!  It’s not just dogs, people are often sound sensitive. My childhood memories of July 4th are of my family going to watch the town’s firework display. Everyone would park in a field, get out blankets, chairs and picnic baskets to watch as the sky lit up with vibrant colors.  At the first explosion in the sky, I was wailing and trying to get back in the car to climb under the seat.  I know how dogs feel, the sudden loud noise is terrifying and then with each flash and bang my nerves were jangled that much more.  I overcame this as I got older because it wasn’t cool to scream and cry in front of my friends and I didn’t fit under the car’s seats anymore. My experience gave me empathy for our furry friends.

I had a friend whose dog would hide under the bed at the boom of guns or fireworks. Another friend’s dog dove for cover into his “bomb shelter,” the crate.  If your dog is crate trained, that might help. Susan Bennett, a client, friend, and local realtor said of her dog, “Izzy gets upset the moment she hears a firework and stays that way for a couple days. She won’t eat, she hides in the closet trembling.”  I’m worried for dogs like Izzy because revelers may start firing off the fireworks on Friday, June 30th and continue for the next 4 days through the 4th. That is a long time for terrified dogs.

The shelters are overloaded during holidays like the 4th of July because hysterical dogs break through windows and yard gates in an attempt to get away from the noise.  Then you will have to post bail for your dog when the shelter is open.  It might be a few days of boarding you will pay for.  To avoid this, a little knowledge is power.

Dogs can’t be calmed easily when in a state of fear.  Do you have a phobia?  Do you want someone telling you that your fear of spiders is silly when you are staring down a Daddy Longlegs? Dogs in fear will pant heavily, drool, have sweaty paws, be destructive to get out of doors, and possibly aggressive.  So what do you do for your frightened pup? Plan ahead a little—think about going on a vacation and taking your dog with you, visit your Veterinarian and discuss appropriate tranquilizers and options, play classical music or a white noise machine to drown out the cacophony outside.  Over the next year, you can employ a slow systematic desensitization process using thunder and loud noise CD. Your dog will habituate to the noises.

Even though I have gotten over my sound sensitivity through many years of exposure, many people have not. Fireworks can trigger anxiety attacks or reliving combat memories for veterans of war. According to ABC News, in a 2012 report, 30% of the service personnel from the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars have PTSD. So for the sake of all sound sensitive beings—human and canine—stick to a celebration without the loud percussions.

If you don’t consider the 4th of July complete without fireworks, forego having noisy fireworks at home.  Your veteran neighbors and those who have dogs will thank you. Instead make sure your dog is safe, find a pet sitter for him, and attend your town’s centrally located fireworks display.

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

Who’s calling, please?

The most common complaint dog owners have is that their dog won’t come to them when called. I had the same problem with Geo when I got him.  We practice every day, sometimes once, sometimes many, many times. I look for opportunities and there are the necessary times I have to call Geo to come to me. I’ve successfully called him off chasing deer twice. Still, there is rarely a perfect recall.  If you have looked at my Facebook page I have posted many videos of us having fun practicing recalls.

Fun is the keyword. Just as you don’t want to hang around a grump—neither does your dog.  Make yourself more fun and interesting than what is in your dog’s environment during practice. That would mean practice in an area low in distractions for your dog—inside your house or a quiet area of the yard. Keep your voice friendly. This is where using a whistle for the recall is handy because the whistle tone is always the same. Stand up in a relaxed pose-dogs find a forward leaning pose threatening.  Use rewards your dog likes. If someone called my name and I thought they might have a $5 bill to give to me, I’d run to them. Food is the easiest reward because it’s quickly delivered.  I use pinkie fingernail sized pieces of hot dog, cheese, or chicken.  These are high value to most dogs. You’ve set the scene, now practice is very short sessions of 3-5 minutes.

Start by getting your dog on a leash to keep him close. Say your dog’s name and reward him when he comes to you.  Watch for times when your dog is looking away from you and call him.  You can step backwards to encourage him to come towards you quickly. When your dog gets to you—reward, reward, reward.  Be generous with tiny rewards, dogs understand quantity.  Do this as many times a day as you can for a couple weeks so your dog gets in the habit of listening for you to call him.

Never call your dog to you when you are going to do something your dog finds unpleasant-nail clipping, going to the Vet, getting a bath, etc.  I would never call Geo to me to put him in the car.  He does not enjoy car rides, yet!  When he can tell I’m getting ready to leave, he runs to his bed as if to say, “I’ll hold down the fort.” If he needs to go with me, I go to him, calmly leash him up without saying anything and put him in the car.

As with all training sessions, only do recall practice when you are positive your dog will come to you.  Set the scene for success: no distraction, your dog’s a couple feet away, he’s on a leash or long line. Remember to keep training sessions short—less than 5 minutes, but have them frequently—several times a day.  Reward heavily every time he comes to you.  I play Hide and Seek with my dogs, I go into another room and call my dog.  When he comes running, we have a party of pets, treats, or a trip into the yard to play fetch.

Recall classes with be offered this summer.  They will be 3 weeks long, meeting once a week. Call Rock Nest Training & Pet Care for more information at 541-895-3162.  Find us on Facebook at

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

Traveling with Your Dog

It’s the time of year many of us start planning a trip. I recently took a trip with my dog, Geo.  I was shocked at all the baggage Geo had while I had a tiny suitcase and my computer bag.  I brought everything he might need—several different types of leashes, bowls, food, treats, bed, crate, first aid kit and many, many toys,. We were ready for anything. Along with packing these necessities, there are some other considerations, basic canine manners.

Your dog is used to the routine in his territory, his house and yard, but being in different surroundings may be quite unsettling.  In my last article, I spoke to you about the importance of socialization.  Spot will be a much better traveling companion if he has daily car rides to the store, park, bank or coffee drive thru.

He will also be much more comfortable during a long car ride and then expected to settle into a hotel room or camp site if he has some real world skills.  If he knows some basics:

  • Recall-your dog with come back to you in every situation—particularly useful if camping
  • Wait at doors-useful getting in/out of hotel rooms, tents, cars
  • Watch me-able to get your dog’s attention when there are distractions
  • Settle- your dog can lie down and relax in new situations
  • Sit-your dog will stay in one place
  • Crate training-safety in the car, hotel, camp site

You want to work on these a month to three months in advance.

Teaching your dog to look at you in the presence of distractions, settle on a mat, and sit or down/stay is fairly easy to teach—those are the basics you would work on in a Good Manners dog class. Settle on a mat is particularly good because it gives your dog his own territory, a constant when he is traveling.  Another good practice to have your dog automatically wait at doors until you tell him its ok to go through, it’s great when you have visitors or are a visitor, needing to get bags through a door at home or in a hotel.  There would be nothing worse than having Spot blow through your tent flap or camper door in chase after a squirrel or deer.  This is when a solid recall would come in handy!  You might want to have Spot can sleep in a crate if you are still working on that solid recall.  Crate training can be easy but you want to have time before your trip to have your dog adapt to settling down in a crate.  Crate training has a practical everyday use, if he goes to the Veterinarian for surgery, he will be in a kennel. These are basic manners every dog should have whether for everyday or visiting Grandma in the next town.

I’ve always traveled with my dogs and we had a lot of fun and adventure. Someday I’ll tell you about Rocky and Nestle, my first dogs, getting a bath at a truck stop in Indiana. Yes, we all make mistakes.

I still think it’s worth packing all the extra bags and equipment.

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

Dog Socialization

My dog, Geo, was born in an animal shelter and lived there for the first 5 months of his life.  He is sweet and goofy, friendly with dogs, cats, and people, but terribly fearful.

Dog Training in Eugene, Oregon

Cheri and Geo

Toewes Ordering a Biscuit

He is fearful of everything, especially sudden, sharp noises and anything I might carry—hats, purses, umbrellas, water hoses, tote bags of any kind—you name it.  I don’t believe he was ever beat by a woman in a floppy hat carrying a black polka dot tote bag.  I do believe some of it is his personality and most of it is that he missed the crucial time in his life when socialization to the real world would have benefitted him most.

Puppies and young dogs need to be slowly exposed to more and more to help them develop skills to cope with new experiences.  It’s important to get puppies out and about as soon as possible after you get clearance from your Veterinarian at puppy’s first exam and start their vaccinations. You will want to take your puppy to only select places for short visits. Avoid areas where other dogs frequent, you want to protect your puppy from communicable disease and injury. As your dog gets older and is exposed to more situations, and had the full course of puppy vaccinations, you can take him more places. Here are ideas:

Puppies: Car rides to the store, through the bank drive through—Banner Bank tellers always have good treats, coffee booths—The Coffee Bean, Hot Shots, and Creswell Coffee are animal lovers, your Veterinarian’s office to get weighed and cuddled by the staff—the clinic staff and your dog will thank you, or the hardware store, Cascade Home Center is very welcoming to leashed dogs.

Geo at Beverly Hills Restaurant

Have a puppy party at your house—invite a couple friends or neighbors at a time to help with your puppy’s skills-sitting politely for visitors. People love to help train puppies. The most important place to take a puppy is a puppy kindergarten class.  They will experience a little training, lots of handling, a variety of noises, objects and textures, people, and other puppies.

Young or older dogs: Hiking, parks, festivals or farmer’s markets, animal shelter fundraising events, pet stores, patio seating at restaurants, a stroll downtown. Take your older dog’s training level up a notch—a group dog class.

I‘m sure you can things of other places to take your puppy or dog. Make sure to call ahead to ask if the presence of your dog is appropriate.  Don’t introduce your dog to a new situation without a plan in case he showed distress—fear, excessive barking or whining, hiding. If he is showing fear that can’t be soothed, be ready to cut short the visit.  With a little advanced preparation, you and your dog can have an enjoyable outing.

Socialization is an important part of training.  While you are out, you will be working on car ride management, walking on a leash, sits/downs, and your dog learning to be polite in public. Socialized dogs are in general happier and can handle stress better throughout their life.

Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC is offering group training classes.  We are available by email or call us at 541-895-3162. And be sure to like our Facebook page!

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.

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

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 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.  Please call Rock Nest Training & Pet Care at 541-895-3162 or visit 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  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.