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Saturday, March 24, 2012

Finding the Right Dog Trainer

Looking for the right trainer for your dog can be a tough task. I found that asking other dog owners for recommendations is a good start. Often they have a good sense of the trainer and can tell you what they liked and disliked about the training techniques. This is a place to start thinking about what your goals are with your dog and match up the strengths with the trainer. Many people offer basic training or obedience classes for dogs. I personally have wasted money on these classes finding that they really do not understand dogs and most of all I get the feeling that the trainers feel most dog owners are inexperienced. The most you get out of some of the classes are basic training like sit, stay, lay down and some socialization around other dogs.

Dogs are somehow all different and learn differently. Even their personalities and traits are not the same and may require more work in some areas. Training that is helpful in the home like crate training, barking issues, chewing issues, and coming when called are rarely taught in the basic classes. However, we still waste our money because we feel it is something to do with our dogs. For example, I have found the technique used in these classes by bribing the dog with a treat does not work. Eventually your dog will figure out when you have a treat and when you don’t and choose to listen when they feel you are carrying an award. This is why you should do more research into what the trainers offer and the various techniques they use. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find out if they are for you and your four legged companion. A good trainer is transparent and will welcome any questions you should have and address your concerns. They would even let you attend a class or training session to observe their techniques. Individual attention is important when training your dog. If you decide to go to a class, make sure the classes are small so the trainer can try different techniques with your dog, if needed. Most of all, a good trainer should make training practical to everyday life for you and your dog. Learning to communicate and work with your dogs natural instincts is important. Take your time looking for the right trainer to help your dog to become a valued and trusted member of your community.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Must Haves When Taking Your Dog to Work

More and more workplaces are allowing our four legged friends to join us at the office or in our cubicles. The dog friendly workplace helps boost morale and can make the office a happier place. Clients and employees enjoy being greeted by our friends. The following are five must haves when taking your dog to work. Get ready to pack your bag!

1. Make sure you bring comfortable bedding like a bed or blankets from home. This will ensure they have a place to rest and calm down from all the excitement. Plus, they will have something familiar from home and a safe place to call their own.

2. Bring lots of treats with you for your dog and his/her friends at the workplace. A small container full of soft yummy treats will make you the hit of the office. Remember to reward good behavior and not the bad.

3. Food and water are the basic essentials to bring with you. Usually, there is water available so remember to bring a bowl. Food can be more creative by freezing rice and meat mixture with some soft canned food in an over sized Kong toy. This will make feeding time fun and keep your dog busy while you complete that next task.

4. Remember to bring leashes with you both long and short. Depending where you work a fun romp outside on a long leash is a nice time to get some exercise. If needed, you can put your dog on the long leash to keep them next to you in your cubicle. A short leash can be used to go to and from meetings or between buildings.  

5. Toys will complete this list and create some play time with you and your dog. Tug toys, chew bones, balls, and Kong's work well in the office space. Usually, if you bring a small basket it can serve as a toy repository and at the end of the day you have a place to put the collected toys if you do not plan on taking them home.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bone Marrow for Dogs

Mischa loves to chew on marrow bones which offer many hours of chew time and most of all, a fun treat. I give her raw cow shin bones which you can find at your grocery store or local butcher shop. They come in large sizes or the butcher can slice them thin for smaller dogs. The reason I give them to her raw is to keep the nutrients in the marrow. When the bones are cooked they can break and splinter. They taste better to the dog if they are raw as well. When buying a pack at the store they usually go for about $1.00 a pound. A pack of two large bones is about three dollars, which is fairly cheap considering the price of dog treats. Since the marrow is rich in fats, I only give Mischa one bone a week. During the summer I put them in the freezer. This allows the dogs to have a yummy frozen treat and they last a lot longer in the freezer than in the fridge. If your dog has any type of discomfort or pain associated with their teeth, this may not be the treat for them.  Please make sure to monitor your dogs with the bones and after a day they should be thrown away. If your dog is a master at cleaning the bones you can pack them with treats and soft dog food and refreeze for more yummy treats or a meal on the go.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sporn Mesh Control Harness

Like many dogs, Mischa had the problem of leash pulling. I notice this especially when she was excited or could not wait to greet another dog, or even chase squirrels. I spoke with many pit-bull owners about the pulling and recieved some feedback on ideas that I was not crazy about. Some of the ideas for the behavior were the choke chain, pinch collar, and noise makers attached to the leash. One owner recommended the sporn mesh control harness, which sounded more humane than the other options. I decided to give it a try and instantly fell in love.  
This harness can be found at a variety of pet supply stores and even at Wal-Mart. It has a simple design and your dog will find this comfortable to wear. The mesh harness is made out of a breathable nylon fabric and has extra padded support under the front legs. This harness gives you more contol over dog and provides less stress for you when on walks. When your dog goes to pull, pressure is applied to the rear of their front legs which is uncomfortable for the dog. This harness worked magic for my 85lb strong, young dog. Paired with a retractable leash, it makes for a great time when on the trail or at the park. As soon as I stop, she stops immediatly. I no longer feel like my arm is going to detach from the socket when she pulls and this allows us to enjoy our walks together.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mischa’s Favorite Spot

Having a dog that loves to chew can be hard for an owner. Finding just the right bedding to ensure your dog is comfortable can be a challenge with a chewer. I can tell you, a lot of money was spent on buying fancy beds for my girl. It was a waste of money. I found she would rip them open and de-stuff them a couple days after the purchase. On top of the price, there was a mess to clean up, and finding out that some of the stuffing ended up in the digestive track of my dog was a little unnerving. Furthermore, I found the beds were hard to keep fresh.

I always bought the type of bed with the removable cover so I could wash it easily. The cover always shrunk in the dryer and never fit the same after washing. One time the zipper broke after I had tried to put the case back on the bed. Finding the right sleeping arrangements took some time. Through trial and error, I finally found a solution, blankets. I had some older blankets that we had no use for and layered two of them on the floor for Mischa. She took to the arrangement, making herself comfortable in her new bed of blankets every night. Sometimes, I will find a fleece throw on sale and throw it over the folded blankets for some added softness. Having blankets as her bed is wonderful because I can wash them all time and I don’t have to worry about squeezing on a cover or using Febreeze to freshen the part of the bed I could not wash. On a personal note the blankets idea stemmed out of Mischa’s favorite spot, the laundry pile. When I would sort the laundry on the floor, and was not looking, she would make herself comfortable on top of one of the piles. I never thought in a million years a dirty pile of laundry would solve one of my problems.

Breed Specific Legislation (BSL)

Breed specific legislation (BSL) can be compared to a band aid. It is not a long term solution to handling dog breed issues. Many times the responsibility is truly in the hands of the owner, if they choose the road to irresponsible dog ownership the owner  should pay and not the breed. Breeds like pit-bulls are the main breed affected in bans. This is mainly from the negative press from the media. Unfortunately, this is not based in any truth. Many of the dogs involved in attacks are not pit-bulls but of a mixed breed. Breed specific legislation does not stop criminals from dog fighting dogs or using them for illegal purposes.

Behind breed specific legislation is nothing but paranoia and prejudice. This hits home to me as a responsible owner. When there is an attack in my community by a pit-bull type dog, I hold my breath and start to tell people that it is an isolated incident. I feel the need to protect the name and have Mischa be a model pit-bull. To show how well behaved and fun the breed can be. No matter how hard I try, when something does happen, it makes the whole breed look bad. People who know Mischa can rationalize that not all pit-bulls are vicious because of their exposure to her. However, people who do not understand the breed  will judge and label them all as dangerous. In order to stop breed specific legislation from coming into our neighborhoods we must all show responsible dog ownership. I truly believe if some rescue groups and local ASPCA’S could offer responsible dog ownership classes to the public, the classes might help people with their dogs in the beginning of dog ownership. The classes could offer insight to different breeds and help identify warning signs. For dog owners, adding a support system could be an effective alternative to banning breeds. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mischa's Introduction

Since there is so much in the media showing pit-bulls or pit-bull type dogs as having a bad reputation, I wanted to show that they are sweet loving dogs and deserve a fair chance in life. The name of my beautiful girl Pit is Mischa and she is smart, loyal, and silly.  I would like to document her moments and share some tips and hints as I learn more on responsible dog ownership.

Mischa came into my life 2 years ago when I purchased her from a breeder in Upstate New York. She is a blue nose pit-bull and one of the best dogs I have ever owned. She loves to work, listen, and play. Many call her the queen of the neighborhood, while others call her princess because they say I spoil her too much. One of the questions is if I watch the Dog Whisperer? Yes, it is one of my favorite shows. I find the way you work with your dog is all about the relationship.