Dogs in Quarantine?

Now you’re home in quarantine, this is a great time to do things with your dogs. I keep my dog, Geo, busy with walks, fetch, and scent and training games. My favorite saying is, “A tired dog is a good dog!” And these cover his need for exercise and brain stimulation. I’m going to give you suggestions and overviews along with links to “how to” videos. (See Resources below)

I have taught Geo to play fetch. It is a great way to tire your dogs if you only have 10 minute break from your “stay-at-home” job. The best way to start teaching fetch is to toss the toy your dog is most likely to go after only a couple feet away. When your dog picks it up, step backwards or turn to run a couple steps, acting very excited, to draw your dog to come towards you. He might drop the toy, that’s ok, try again. Your dog should get the hang of how the game’s played in time. It’s supposed to be a fun, goofy, sloppy game. (See Fetch)

I’m sure many of you are getting out and about with your dogs. I recommend you use a 6 foot leash and never a flexi-leash. I like a shorter leash because I have a better control of my dog and with everyone on high alert, I don’t want my dog running up to people. If you do have time to take your dog on 12 walks a day, let your dogs sniff things on some of those walks. A dog’s olfactory organ is highly developed. (See How Dogs See with Their Noses) If you want to take a power walk and your dog is a dedicated sniffer, I recommend you take the exercise walk for yourself, leaving your dog home, and then take another “sniffing walk” with your dog. Spending a little time away from home and your dog may help your dog to ease back into those times that you are absent when you return to your regular work schedule.

If fetch, hiking or walking isn’t your dog’s thing, there are many indoor scent games to play. I like playing object recognition games. I put out a favorite toy, when my dog puts his paw or his nose on the toy, I say “yes” or use the clicker to mark that I like what he did. Then I give him a tiny treat as a reward. Once he had touched the toy 10 times in a row, I hold a different toy and wait for him to touch his original favorite toy before rewarding. (See Target) Another fun game is the shell game. I put a treat under three plastic cups. When my dog touches his nose on the correct cup, I lift it up so he can get his treat. (See Shell game) It’s always fun to teach tricks like Spin. I found the easiest way is to lure my dog by holding a treat at his nose and slowly moving my hand around in a circle, then fading out the treat but use my hand in the same circle to lure them around. (See Spin)

Your dog might have a behavior that you would like to see improved. Now would be a great time to work on the basics: sit, down, stay, and come when called. Pick one and work on it 3-5 minutes a day. I like to incorporate games into learning. On our walks, I let my dog get a big 10-30 second snootful of smells as a reward every so often for walking with me.

Teaching my dog “fetch” helps with getting him to want to come when called. It has all the components to a successful recall, he is away from me, he comes to me, and he is rewarded with my attention and it is all fun. I use the clicker when teaching specific behaviors. (See How To
Clicker Train

I’m sure your dog loves having you home and this is a great time to spend “quality” with him. I sure have enjoyed spending more time with Geo.

Fetch: Zac George

How Dogs see with their noses: Alexandra Horowitz

Targeting: Ken Ramirez

Shell game: Kyra Sundance

Spin: Kyra Sundance

How to clicker train: Donna Hill

How to clicker train: Karen Pryor Academy, Take a Bow Wow

20 Tricks: Kikopup

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.

Be sure to like us on Facebook!

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,

You can find Rock Nest Training & Pet Care LLC at

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.

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!