Wednesday, April 20, 2016

My Dog, Shana

Shana was purchased about six months after my dog, Leon, died in 2012.   Shana was born on 4/8/2013 which is the day after my husband's birthday:)   We got her roughly eight weeks plus later.

In planning to find a dog, my very first priority was health and longevity.   Our previous foster dog Stormy (who died at just shy of 11) came from Swift Run, as did Shana's mother, Cinders.   Shana, however, has come from Masaya Dobermans, who had purchased Cinders from Swift Run..  

Originally we were looking for a girl, but Brandi (Shana's breeder) would be selecting for us.   I do trust breeder's to select as they know way more about the puppies and the parents than I do.  I asked for the naughtiest, smartest one, that I planned for not only being our pet, our business partner, and my obedience trial competitor.   We had Jackie CD before who died at 6, and not only was I heartbroken but my plans to be able to compete with Jackie to the farthest of our abilities also were unable to be realized.   Jackie and Leon's deaths made me a little extra vigilant to be as sure as possible (you can only stack your odds there is never a guarantee) to have a dog that could live out at least the average number of years expected (given nothing happens in the way of a natural unexpected disaster et).

So at first we were going to receive a boy from this litter.   Robert was leaning more towards boy, but I had never had a girl to raise from a puppy.   My girls who were old with me, Jazz and Stormy, had both received previous training prior to coming to live with us.   They were bossy but fair girls.   I definitely always imagined as a puppy they gave their owners a run for their money (hence how they came to live with me after most of the hard work had been done).  Jazz was mine from age three, and when I became a trainer actually helped quite a bit in the pack dynamics and managing until she died at 16.   Younger though, she could be very hard on new strange dogs and people, but quickly matured and mellowed out at about after four years old.  Stormy was just a love when she came here at 10, feisty, and bossy.   Stormy was a constant loyal companion for my dogs, myself, and my client's dogs until she died a year later.   At this old age riddled with cancer that had gone untreated (who knew how long she could have lived if this was treated early on), she was still the first one to be exercised in the morning due to her wanting to be busy at all times  LOL.  I wanted this in my next dog.

As it turns out, someone thought the boy I was going to get would be better for Schutzhund than Shana was going to be.   So Brandi called up and asked if I would be okay with a girl.   Definitely I would be okay with a girl, plus I had been watching Shana on the tapes.   Shana was the first or second one to climb out of her pen.   Shana also was shown bossing her siblings from the tug LOL.   This was my girl!

She came, and everything went as expected.   She came smart, loving, sociable (if a bit bossy LOL), and very very strong for a puppy her age.  

She also came a bit different from other Dobermans that I have trained.  Shana was surprisingly strong even at a very early age.   I have worked large breed dogs green and untrained before, and some amazing strong labs.   Shana was the first puppy to try to use all her strength against me.  Also Shana was my first puppy who was not going to follow me everywhere and anywhere due to any insecurities she may have.   Shana is a very independent dog.  Shana is also the first one of my dogs to learn how to open every door in the place, except the round knob doors (and she has been working on that).  Shana also absolutely adores her family, is loyal, and a cuddle bug unless there is something more interesting for her to do.   She loves to be busy and work.

So let's go into the things I did wrong before we present Shana's behaviors:

  • At this time, I was very interested in Mike Ellis's work (I still am interested and working with this, but Shana is older now and I understand it a bit better).   However, until this point, my dogs have mostly been brought up differently.   I was looking forward to more freedom and play using Mike Ellis's work.   Course, it was a very new method to me, and so ripe for mistakes to be made.  At the time though, it did not occur to me that ball play, tug, and treats might need a bit more finessing on my part and to be careful to understand it better.   Also Shana was probably not the best puppy for me to try this on green myself.
  • I let myself get distracted a couple of times, and was not prepared for the strength Shana could put into a run towards the end of the line.   I also had not been concentrating (as I used to with other dogs) on eliminating that for our purposes and goals.
  • I was too eager not to put some boundaries on Shana in the idea of just letting her be a puppy.
  • Through my fault, a client's dog bit her in the face entirely too young (not that you ever want your dog bitten, but it becomes more of a problem the younger they are).
  • Right after we purchased Shana land developers, Porter Holdings Inc and their various LCCs, moved next store and tried to close our business down (with the eventual cooperation of the Town of York).   Some important work was missed with Shana during this time, as we were stressed and saving our business.   Took more than a year to get this under control, and then after that time we were still experiencing the stress from this.  Had I known this was going to happen, I would have never gotten a puppy.   They can so sense what is happening and suffer due to lack of attention.  That went on from 2013 to 2015.  We were not emotionally in a good way, and had to concentrate on making money more than the well being of our family (human and canine) to get through it financially.
Other things that happened:

  • Just as a viable training plan went under way, Shana got lyme disease.   That was horrible and put her out of commission for at least a month.
  • Before that, a yellow lab attacked her on the beach.  Did not do harm to her (I put myself in between them), but it was just enough to freak her out and set us backwards on our training plan.
  • This last winter my husband badly damaged his back.   He needed to go into surgery, and then got a septic infection that was not discovered until a month after the surgery.   This required him to go back into the hospital, and I had to cancel all my clients during that period of time just to travel back and forth and meet the needs of my dogs and husband.   The basic needs only, unfortunately.
Additionally, I should mention:

  • While living the life of a dog with a trainer is filled with activity, it can be a challenge to even the most bomb proof temperament of dog.  Imagine strangers and unwanted family coming in and out of your house, and you are obliged to be around them and pleasant almost every day!  That is what it is like for the dogs that live here, and I do try to take them out of the fray as needed so they can decompress.
  • When one of our dogs go out, strange dogs are not the novelty they are to other dogs who don't get to see them pretty much 24/7.   That is just naturally going to be so.

So the result of all this for my dog, Shana?   She has become very reactive to strange dogs, and she is also very slow to warm up to dogs that come here.   When she panics, she lacks bite control and impulse control.   Actually now, we have a pretty good handle on it, but it has been very challenging at points and hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.   I see that light now, but it's been a whole lot of hard work for the both of us.

So what did that plan start to consist of:

  • First, in April of last year, I went back to my KMODT routed knowledge began training Shana in that way.   I am familiar with this method, but have only been to a seminar with one trainer, Margot Woods, that actually trained with the founder of this method.   This time I took an online course with Tony Ancheta, and learned a lot more about training under this method.  He also studied with the founder of this method.   This helped us to get the to the base needed to have us working together as a team.  Also being familiar with it, I was able to get us back to a place that I felt more comfortable working with her.
  • Additionally, we implemented Margot Wood's sit on the dog exercise.   However, I have found that also working Shana on distance long down stays helps specifically with her attitude on this exercise (or it has seemed to).  Shana especially gets reactive when their is any leash pressure or she is close to me when a dog approaches.   So I am sure to cycle the sit on the dog (Shana close to me leash pressure) with Shana at a distance down stay (strange dogs close to me as she needs to exercise impulse control).
  • We added back in the fun and games of tug, treats, and balls.   Specifically to get her more relaxed around strange dogs and doing something enjoyable when they are around, and therefore marrying that feeling as a reward to exercising a form of control around them.
  • In order to prepare her for fully (no micro managing) off leash training, I cycle her in between training with metal training collar and electronic training collar.   This is to do a couple of things 1) know what her true state of mind is when not on electronic collar and how much that resembles her state of mind when she is not on it and 2) to have some control to work as close as possible to dogs to teach her how to be calm and to feel safe.  Also, very important in the beginning of the back tie training for sit stay, the electronic collar to stop her (not a problem anymore) from hitting the end of the line and potentially breaking her neck.   She used to break so hard and fast, it was a real problem and concern.
  • If the electronic collar is on, I try not to use it unless it is for a calming or control reason.   This is to get her to feel comfortable as possible as close as possible to no equipment being on.
  • Many more relaxed times for Shana where she is not required to be in or part of daycare or training.   Definitely some time off for her where she can just cuddle with Robert, laze with Boris, or play with Ziggy.
  • Also a real attempt at Shana and I having some alone relaxed time as well as fun time.
  • One thing that has really helped is not interfering with Shana when she wants to get away.  Sometimes she is making excellent decisions to avoid conflict, and there I am calling her back to spend time with me.  I am conscious of that and have noticed a big difference when she knows she can escape something stressful and I am not going to absently minded call her back into the fray.  
  • Dog games with everyone Shana has a positive relationship with in the house and outside.   Hiding something or someone is a big favorite.
  • Keeping a log of reactiveness or non reactiveness to follow what seems to be working, what seems not to be working, or what I have stopped doing (this is a complicated plan and sometimes hard to remember everything).
  • Tricks have been used to get Shana comfortable performing around other dogs in close proximity.
  • Freestyle dance uses these tricks for Shana plus our relationship to get her comfortable around other dogs in close proximity.   Plus I can really read how comfortable she is but how readily she is performing and having fun.  Shana loves doing this:)
  • When snarking or bossing a dog is inappropriate, these are times that Shana will be practicing a 10 minute down stay.   This has been helping a lot in the reactiveness issues at the house.   Last thing Shana wants is to need to be still for any period of time LOL.   
  • Being sure to get Shana out and about in public, particularly paying attention to crowds she can handle easily vs overwhelming her.   Although overwhelming her (ie Tyler's Seminar and road trip) also has it's advantages.   Without having carefully picked our destinations and distance from distractions though, I am not sure Shana would have worked as well at Tyler's seminar.
  • Managing the dogs that come here, and do not respect or pay attention to Shana's signals.  In that, I will be sure to show them to keep away rather than automatically go to correct Shana's communication that she is uncomfortable.
  • Using the muzzle so I can get close in without worrying about "speedy's" impulse control.   This way I can fully focus on what I am doing rather than worry about what Shana may do, because we are all safe.  Looking forward to not relying on it, but I am waiting for the loose look of Shana to appear feeling comfortable before attempting that in close proximity to a strange dog.  Also allows me to have her with daycare and strange dogs at home, yet keep everyone safe.  This helps Shana learn by being in a certain state of freedom to manage her reactiveness.
  • We have some great advanced commands under our belt that allow me to instruct Shana where to go in stressful situations.
  • I do not tend to obsess over canine body language all that much.  With Shana, it's more important because she can be less obvious about her state than most (right up until she reacts with gusto).
  • Teaching Shana to walk away instead of react.   That has been ongoing and part of the advanced commands (send away for fetch) for instance that have been part of her training.
I am sure I have forgotten some of what we are doing with Shana.  I may update this article to go over anything I missed.   Here is the progress that we have enjoyed to date:

  • So much more relaxed on our beach walks.  She only starts to get concerned now if a dog starts booking towards us.  This is much more relaxing for both of us, and now we can both enjoy much if not all of a public walk.
  • She will now sit when asked if a dog starts charging towards us, and let me turn to confront it for us.   Not that she won't react if the dog manages to get to us...but she no longer tries to lunge instead of go into command and let me deal with it.
  • At home, she does not bolt across the room to try and correct a dog for simply coming up the stairs.
  • She has become kinder and less bossy to her daycare friends.   If Shana is stressed, she tends to take it out on her canine friends or a human stranger, if she can not get to her target.   I have taken this to mean she is getting more comfortable and thus has more control over her reactions.
  • She has started to become somewhat interested in strange dogs.
  • Other dogs are finding her more approachable.
  • Her obedience around things she finds stressful is coming along so nicely.
  • She listens more often to my husband:)
So now let's talk a bit about Shana's specific behaviors.   At first, their was nothing really concerning other than her strength which blew me away.  She was able to go to dog events and everything without being at all concerned.

Boris, Shana and I at the beach, no
]one is concerned.
Shana, Clooney and Dudley having a great old time.

Shana is not in this picture, but she is with me taking
the picture and is unconcerned.

Shana and I at a Kennebunk park, having passed dogs
all afternoon.
Again at the beach with an unconcerned
Shana and her brother Boris.

Somewhere, we also have a photo of Shana walking with us in a Pet Expo in town.  At one point, we were at a dog demonstration in town, and again Shana had absolutely no concerns.   

This is Shana today after much work with me, and at a recent seminar to practice some new ideas.  As you watch me, there are differences in how I would usually handle Shana in this same scenario.   I would tend to have Shana in a command going forward for one.  So this is very loose leash walking towards a strange dog she has never seen before.   This does make sense to me in this training scenario as there is a time that you need to make space for "the mistake" or "good decision" to occur.

Here are some videos of her during Tyler Muto's problem solving seminar (and I will most likely write a blog on the ideas being worked on here):

The above are long videos that I have not chopped up yet.   A good study in canine body language of a Shana Doberman though!   Things you can see in those videos:

  • When she starts focusing in on a dog (front view in those videos).
  • Tucked tail and sloped back when she feels very uncomfortable.
  • Head position I was looking at from the back of her.
  • Later you can see her looser more swingy walk as she feels more comfortable (I love when she does this, she is adorable).

On 7/20/2013 was when the dog bite to Shana's face occurred.   There was no immediate fallout, and in fact she is great friends with the dog that bit her.   However, it is after that where things began to change, and I was slow on the heads up.  When she started to get snarky, I thought it was just a growing phase of being a bossy girl.   Slowly it began getting worse though, until finally I realized we had a problem.

So the behaviors of concern have been:

  • Very nervous and fearful around dogs even if they were from a great distance.   This has vastly improved between mid last year and now.
  • Very concerned about new dogs that come here, or dogs she has not seen for awhile.
  • She would (given the opportunity) deflect on a canine friend or human stranger when she is in this stress state.
  • She used to try and go out of her way to boss me when stressed.   This consisted of barking, body slamming me, and nipping hard.   That is all pretty much extinct.  She trusts me more and will follow my lead knowing that I am going to make sure everything is all right, and that she has a job to do while I am doing that.  I pretty much ignored all that bossing by just following my protocol and training, hence she stopped doing it.   Also praising her for making the right choices when she would normally default to bossy.
  • I could not even easily get down a street at one point, if Shana saw a dog come out of a house that was not doing anything.   That is no longer a problem either with me anyway.  I have not had my husband try walking her in public yet, and he is certainly more of a push over than I am.
  • The automatic impulse to lunge in a manner that was not controlled and felt like she was using every single bit of her power.   Also not a problem any more, but certainly was at the time.
I felt extremely bad about these behaviors as they were interfering with Shana's ability to enjoy a good walk and an adventure.   Something I love to do with my dogs.  Something my dogs love to do, especially when they are not stressing over who/what they may see.

As a trainer and dog owner, you feel like kind of a loser when you have caused behavioral problems to come about.   I have raised two puppies (Leon and Boris) before, and had/have seven adult dogs  (Jazz, Neptune, Jackie, Stormy, Harley, Tommy, Ziggy) come to live with me with no fall out before.  Any issues they had came with them, and were made better.   The puppies of course began issueless and remained that way LOL.   So to feel like I have so failed Shana in the beginning, that is a hard guilt to get over and deal with.

Shana is the best BTW!  Loving, loyal, fun, athletic, and she will leave this period of her life behind so we can have even more fun and adventure.   In the future, I believe I am more prepared to take on a healthy and athletic puppy and not F up!   It's nice to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and remember in the future no matter how indestructible your puppy may seem....they need to be handled and cared for carefully.  Or one of you is going to pay the price in the future.   At this point, I was happy to take that load and do my work in training consistently and diligently to have a dog less concerned about the environment.

For instance, I am very doubtful that outside my own dogs and puppies their own age, my new puppy will be exposed to the adult dogs who come here for play.   Two, no matter what happens, I will do my utter best to be sure that I take care of my mental state to best take care of my puppy.   Hopefully that was just a fluke and will never happen again.   Three, don't coddle your dog but always be sure you are advocating for them to the best of your ability.

Review of Tyler Muto Problem Solving Seminar and Adventures with Shana

Recently my dog, Shana, and I took a road trip to Kingston Mass. Tyler Muto was putting on a problem solving seminar and has been a  trainer  I was curious about. Tyler was going to be in an area that is fairly close to me on a month that it was easy for me to attend.  That almost never happens, and so I made sure to clear my schedule for that weekend. 

 I will go into Shana's history in another post. Suffice it to say she is a well bred Doberman with impressive working lines in her history. Some early experiences made her extra leary and reactive around dogs. She is getting better with a training routine that I have figured out for her. Having new tools in the form of ideas is never a bad thing, and can easily be put into her mix. I hoped to get some of these for Shana, and also for other client dogs who come here. We arrived the night before at an I had found that was priced well for the weekend (and right across from the ocean).

This was in Plymouth Mass near a beautiful beach (see pics to the left).   Shana had been away with me once before, but her other canine and human family were in attendance.   She was very nervous, but the beach and the ability to have a yard outdoors helped out a lot.  It was a great experience to be with her over the weekend in comfortable digs.

The seminar was two days long from 9am-5pm each day.   It was seminar that you can bring a dog to work with.   I always prefer training seminars where you can do this.   There were about 10-11 working slots at the seminar, and about 37-39 people who interact with dogs in various ways (trainers, fosters, dog owners, rescue volunteers, and so forth).

In the facility, there was a large area where you could crate your dog until it was break time or your turn.   Shana was in there with other dogs.   No doubt this helped her be a bit more mellow when it was our turn, plus I am sure she was a bit shell shocked to be up in front of an audience working around strange dogs.

The beginning of the lecture period went over all the basic (to most experienced dog trainers) points on operant vs classical conditioning and other points that provide the base of dog training and behavioral ideas.  So the first half of the day was lecture, then break, and then onto the working slots.

Every good trainer is going to be both knowledgeable in dog training and behavior modification.  In my view (these are my words) you aren't a good dog trainer if you can't modify behavior, and you aren't a good behavior modificator (we don't call it that, just can't think of the right phrase LOL) if you don't understand where dog training can and does fit in.  Tyler is very interested in behavior and science, and I lean more towards the training side of things.   So I always love to hear from someone with a slightly different slant and interest than I may have.   As a dog professional, it more fully rounds you out to see and understand from different angles of a problem.

I did get a lot of new and fresh ideas (to me) from the working slots outside of my own:

  • Tyler uses a different type of electronic collar conditioning (possibly entirely different) training than I had learned.  Really very interesting, I wasn't expecting that.   I would love to learn more about that, and whether it is a good fit for our programs.   My system is focused more on using the nick button after the command has been taught and proofed.   Tyler's focuses on the use of the continuous very low as a means to start the collar conditioning in a very different way.
  • The idea of correcting the friendly dog who does not step back at prompting (by another dog's signals), rather than correcting your dog for reacting at pushy behavior.  Not saying that your dog wouldn't ever be corrected, just a different idea as to the focus of the effort.   This is an idea that I don't think I have gone forward enough with on Shana, although I do advocate for her.   Possibly I have not done this enough to make her entirely comfortable, and have not been listening to what she is telling me enough (and the specifics of this dynamic will be posted at a later date on Shana's history and training).
  • The proper use of a pet convincer.   Still not totally convinced that this will be a tool in my tool box, but experimenting with it now to see if it makes sense in some cases (possibly Shana's).
  • Watching how the restrained recall is used for training.   This is something I have not experimented with at all.
  • Teaching a dog to sniff the ground as an indicator of discomfort by the way Tyler began a heel demonstration with some dogs.   The dropping the treat by your heel was interesting.   Since it involves lunging, not sure that is what I will be using nor showing to my older clients LOL, but very interesting nonetheless.  Food for thought later down the road.
Those were the five main ideas that were new and fresh to me.   It is hard to find new and fresh ideas out there sometimes.   Sometimes you are looking for information on the old ideas that you have been studying for years and still learning about, and sometimes something new and fresh to check out is just as stimulating.  I was expecting something new, but the above was actually not what I envisioned learning about.   So it was a great surprise, and I was not disappointed with the content that came forth.  I did not expect to be either, as I had watched many of Tyler's videos.

Videos and writings can only go so far of course.  I can't emphasize enough how much more you get out of learning when you can also go to a live seminar (and in this case with a dog to work, and dogs to watch work with their owners).   You can only put so much on tape, writings, and even seminars.   The next level of course would be the ability to be able to train with that person.

Finally, the attendees made the seminar enjoyable as well.   So many times you go to a seminar and a faction or group are there that make it very uncomfortable.  Those individuals will sometimes corner you at a seminar and have all sorts of advice on the equipment or rewards you are using without knowing you or your dog at all.   They are more about their beliefs being supported rather than actually learning at a seminar.  At this seminar, there was a very open minded and accepting crowd.   As a group they were supportive and curious as well.   That allowed me to fully participate in the seminar at a level that made me feel comfortable.   I was definitely able to take advantage of the information given, and explore with any questions that I wanted to follow up on.   That has been something very rare to find where I live (if at all).

So thank you Tyler Muto for a very informative and enjoyable seminar.   I hope you will come to the East Coast again sometime.

BTW, I will probably be sharing the clips of Shana at the seminar in the next post that will be all about Shana!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dog owner question: how do I get my dog to calm down around the cats?

Question:  "I have just adopted a 3yr old fox terrier and my indoor/outdoor cats are terrified of him as he will chase and harass them. I have sectioned off my house so the dog cannot get into the two bedrooms so they have a place to come in but they still are hesitant to be around the dog. How do I get the dog to calm down around the cats???"
Spartacus (middle dog) was trained and able to then get
along with Sweetpea.   Sweetpea was no longer afraid,
once Spartacus stopped chasing her around the house.

Advice:  Short form of the answer, is that you need to have your dog understand they are an important part of the family and import to you. Or as many dog trainers say "don't let him do that".

Long form of the answer, training is a way to solve this dilemma.  I don't know if there is a way for the cats to ever feel 100% around him, but there is a way for the dog to show he is 100% not a threat.   If he is not acting in these ways around the cats, the cats will be able to relax a little to check him out.

I'm not talking about training where the command becomes more of a trick or something not to be relied on.   This takes training to a standard so that commands are at least reliable four out of five times.   Also a dog learning commands undergoes a behavioral change, as they begin to correlate what is and what is not desired in their domestic home.  Dogs really don't want to make this harder or unharmonious, but they do need direction to know how to do that.

The basic obedience commands are trained to a standard are pretty much all you need.   Beaware though, that not training to a standard will not get you or the cats where you want to go.

Do you have a question for our dog trainer?   Please submit the form on this link to see your answer on our blog or newsletter.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Dog Foster Question: How can I help my new foster dog get along with my older dogs?

Dog Foster Question:
"I have a foster dog that is an American Bull dog, the rescue isn't sure of her age because they saved her from a horrible shelter and the shelter listed her as 2yrs and a stray. I think she is young because of the way she mouths my hands, arms, legs and she an also tries to chew on everything she can get her mouth on. My two other dogs aren't tolerant of her because she is so big and clumsy and she is pushing them around and out of the way. They are a 8yr female GSD/Pit/Chow mix and a 6yr Pit bull. They are both smaller than her. How can I help the foster with the mouthing and nipping at me and with her pushing and knocking the other two dogs around. The Pit Bull snapped at her pretty bad one time when the foster jumped on her while running in the yard. I really can't get a trainer because I am only fostering her for the moment but I want to adopt her eventually. Any suggestions???"

The first order of business in a situation like this, is the new dog is always the low man on the totem pole.   This means she has limited freedom while also offering her socialization in a meaningful way.

Being that she is so young and most likely a stray, she probably has very few manners and has had limited experience in living a domestic life.   This can become an ugly situation even when all the dogs have pretty stable temperaments.

Every new dog that comes here, I try to keep a protocol that gets things off to the right start.  Because this gets involved, I am going to link some articles to these bullet points:

  1. New dogs do not get freedom around other dogs until they learn something about settling and calm.  Sit on the dog is a good exercise to start with a dog like this (and remember you older dogs are not allowed to come up to her during this nor other people).
  2. Rotate new dog in and out of the crate when they can not be supervised.  To get them used to observing their new friends while learning calm, the crate can be in a room where their new friends are visible.  Crate training is essential for a new dog.
  3. To get some energy out of the new dog without irritating her new friends, have one on one play sessions, walks, and training with her (sans the older dogs and until she begins to learn their cues).
  4. Have the new dog tethered to you and/or dragging a leash around the house when being supervised.   This makes it easier to stop her if she is about to do something that will irritate another dog. This article is leash protocols for young puppies, but it has some common sense ideas for new rescue arrivals as well.
  5. By all means, start obedience training with the dog even if it is just simple stuff.  You want to remember to not start her out in distracting situations that are too much for her at first.  Start off in a quiet indoor room and then move up the ladder slowly.
It is important to work with equipment that is well built and safe when handling a new rescue or foster dog (or any dog not trained to be off leash for that matter).  Also be sure the equipment is well fitted so it can not come off the dog's neck at an inopportune time (or any time).   

Also remember while your dogs have their preferred place in the house, this does not mean they can inappropriately do things to her.   It is actually, in my opinion, appropriate for an older dog to tell the new dog to back off.   That is if it ends there, not if it goes on to something else.   What you want to do is make it unnecessary for your dogs at home to feel the need to do this or take it up a level.   

There is a lot to talk about and do here, so I hope this little bit will be of some help to you!

Please feel free to submit any dog training or behavior questions to us, and we will answer these in our newsletters or blog.   Please simply use this form to send out your question.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dog Owner Question: Why are my dogs afraid of...?

Question:   Why are my 2 dogs afraid of thunder & gunshots & fireworks? My Pitie (Neutered male,5 years old) Shows signs of anxiety really bad, especially when the weather is going to change. He also gets so anxious he sometimes throws up. Also, I would like to know if there is any way on God's green earth that you can get a Black Labrador Retriever (Spayed Female 7 Years Old) from jumping on people when they come in the door. They go walking, but that pittie Is not a very good walker. He wants to sniff EVERYTHING & I mean EVERYTHING. They do not get along with other dogs whatsoever. I am A C-4 quadriplegic & they mostly stay in the house with me. However, they do have a doggy door & a fenced in backyard so they have freedom to go out by themselves & play.

Reply to  "Why are my 2 dogs afraid of thunder & gunshots & fireworks?":  To really know why a dog is afraid of something, would take some sort of psychic ability.   Logically however, we can assume that the dogs do not have any earthly idea of what those noises are.  WE know what they are, and therefore (unless someone has a phobia about it) we know not to be afraid of it.   Dogs also have much better hearing than we do, so to them it must be much louder than to us.

Here is an interesting article that I found about dog senses.

Some dogs may just assume the worst from these noises, because they are just not used to them and do not experience them very often.   Some dogs may have had a traumatic experience regarding weather (one of my dog's was afraid of thunder only after experiencing a scary micro burst with us).

Reply to "is any way on God's green earth that you can get a Black Labrador Retriever (Spayed Female 7 Years Old) from jumping on people when they come in the door. ":
Yes, but it does not involve some quick trick.   You can get there by actively training your dog, and what will be especially important is a well trained sit stay.   In a well trained sit stay, there would be no way for the dog to jump on someone.   Something less than a well trained sit stay would not solve that of course.  There is also the relationship between the dog owner and dog to consider.  You want a team or partnership relationship to develop, and that takes more than a few training classes or sessions (and the homework that goes along with that).

Observations:  You have a lot going on in your home.   The best way to acquire another dog, is to be sure everyone else has been trained up to a standard first.  Of course not everybody knows that or does that.   Another thing that jumped out at me is that while they have a doggy door and backyard, they have no structure.  So with that sort of freedom and no guidance, they are going to be making decisions for themselves.   We are seldom going to be happy with decisions dogs make on their own with no human guidance.  Because they are mostly in the house with you, they are lacking social experiences to make them more balanced dogs.   It may be your best bet to get some professional training guidance, especially someone who has trained with people who have disabilities.   You may need the professional trainer to do some up front work with your dogs first to make the beginning part easier on you, and then train you on how to maintain it.   There are probably several ways of doing this with you.   Many of those issues are a lack of working with you, and making that change in your relationship to that of a partnership.

I hope some of this answers your questions and helps:)

If you are reading this article and you have questions about your dog's behavior or dog training, please just submit this form.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Dog Owner Issues: Dogs that are fearful of humans

This is Mandy who was almost rehomed many years
ago due to her aggressive behaviors brought on
by her fear.   She's gone on to enjoy her life with her
owner of that time (the owner paid for her training
with the thought of rehoming her after trained.  It was
realized that Mandy was very easy to handle after training.
Dogs can be fearful of many things.  One thing that dogs can be fearful of are humans.   This can manifest itself in a few different ways.   Some canines can be fearful of other family members or friends of the family.   That is people that they do see sometimes but not a lot of.   Also it can happen that they bond very closely to one family member, but distrust other family members.   In some rescue cases especially (but not limited to), a dog can be fearful of their own owner.  Some dogs are fearful only of strange people.   That is people they have never seen or met before (and usually a dog distrustful of other familiar people, will also be distrustful of strangers).   Dogs can also develop a fear to people who come and go, like delivery men or utility people, as they get the sense that they can chase them away.  So each time the person comes, they feel they bark and then the person goes away like they want them to.

A dog that is fearful of people is the dog that may bite someone at some point.   Often, the trigger that will make them bite is if they feel trapped and/or cornered.   What usually happens is a human does not take the vocalized warning to heart, and instead continues to advance.   A fearful dog is not a dog that is likely to come at the front of you, unless you make them feel trapped.   They are more likely to bite you if you walk away however, because the back of you is less threatening.   Also by making you retreat, it does make them feel a little braver.   Another thing that can make them feel a little braver and more likely to lash out, is if their owner is in close proximity to them.

The good news is, most fearful dogs can improve a lot and do great with training and/or behavioral modification.  It is a different issue if there is a medical or pain component involved.   Training a dog with a terminal or temporary pain problem is more complex.    Most fearful dogs do just fine, and you can often get them to a point where the owner may forget (later on) that they had an issue at all!

As you can imagine, this can be quite perplexing to a dog owner trying to solve this problem for their dog.   Here are the issues that can make this tricky for your average dog owner:

  1. A dog that bites a human is one that is going to be in big trouble.   So how do we go about making that not an issue as we train?
  2. Obviously, the dog owner will not want to jeopardize another in training their dog to relax and start to trust humans.
  3. If a dog being close to the owner might lash out, you obviously do need to be close in the beginning to control the dog.   So how to do that without endangering anyone?
  4. How and where do you begin a training plan and behavioral modification plan?
Well dog training in general can fill many books and DVDS, so the total answer will not be in this article.   I can however give you some tips and suggestions that will make understanding how to go about this clearer.  

  1. Safety:   Safety of everyone should be the foremost concern when going forward with a training plan for a fearful dog.   That is going to vary from dog to dog.   Common sense items are don't allow your dog to be loose and making their own decisions around people they are fearful of, be sure you have a way to contain your dog quickly and safely for unexpected issues (doorbell ringing et), locking doors so people can't just unthinkingly barge into your house is always a good idea (humans never listen to directions OR read the note you left on the front door),
  2. Handlers:  Handlers should be the person the dog trusts the most at first.   If the dog is being trained by a dog professional and not a family member, the dog trainer should be very well versed in handling fearful dogs and managing a pack (and other humans) around the dog.
  3. Behavioral modification:   Behavioral modification and dog training can intersect at points.   The general difference between behavioral modification to dog training, is that behavioral modification does not rely on taught and trained commands to communicate with the dog.  Behavioral modification with a fearful dog includes things like teaching them how to chill or relax in a situation that may provide them some slight (at first) anxiety, controlling the environment to only allow what that dog can handle, structure to create a predictable environment, and non verbal teaching the dog that they can come close to the handler.
  4. Training:  Training is a way where humans can teach their dogs to understand and perform commands.   This helps a dog in a number of ways.   One way is that it starts to make things very predictable for the fearful dog.   Another way, is that the dog starts to learn what the dog owner needs them to do in situations.   Often, dogs have no idea what we are "hoping" they will do.   It's up to us to teach them how we need them to act.   Once they get good at this, they start to learn how to relax and take our lead in situations.   There needs to be defined goals and standards in training in order to get this done as well as possible.
  5. Experience:   While improvement often happens in a timely manner, none of the above are quick fixes.  There are no quick fixes.   Your dog needs to learn through experience that each time an anxious situation occurs, and you both follow the protocols, that everything ends up fine and nothing bad happened.   This happens over time, and is dependent on the quality and quantity of things you can expose them to (safely of course).   The experience also extends to the dog owner, and having the owner learn through experience about their dog.   A dog owner will gain confidence through a training and behavioral modification plan about how their dog is likely to react.   Knowing this allows for tweaks in the plan, and more confidence on the part of the owner.  It's also important to get the dog owner over the hump, as often they have begun to feel anxious over their dogs fear issues.
  6. Patience:   Dogs are pretty forgiving of human mistakes.   However, a dog owner does not want to move their dog too quickly forward.   That can be risky to everyone.   You need to have patience, and the ability to read your dog and their readiness to move forward.   It is not a race to get there.   That will leave too many training and behavioral holes behind you that are bound to bite you (or someone else) in the butt.   So patience is a definite virtue with a fearful dog.
  7. Environmental control/being the ambassador for your dog:  Environmental control has to do with knowing the environment you will be training (or hanging out in), and having a plan/protocol for things most likely to happen.   So everyone with a fearful dog most likely runs into the person that feels they "know" dogs and all dogs like them.   They want to test this out on your dog.   This makes many dog owners feel embarrassed if they can not offer up their dog as the nice friendly guy or gal they know at home.  It is the handler's job to not allow this in the beginning or at any time before the dog is ready and has been proofed.   If you feel in your bones this is not going to go well and you have not experienced it going well in prior controlled circumstances, DO NOT allow the stranger to approach.   You may have to get quite nasty to the stranger, and it might be embarrassing.   Just remember you are doing it for your canine companion, and so that they can begin to trust people.   This won't happen if your dog can not trust you to be looking out for them.
  8. Lead through example:   Dog owners often become anxious after unsuccessfully working with their fearful dog.   It's important for a dog owner or handler to mask their own fearful state.   You want to work your dog calmly, deliberately, business like, and also friendly and acknowledging their good work or calm state.   Not rushing forward too fast is one way of developing the confidence of an owner or handler in this situation.   The more success you both have as a team, the more confident and accomplished you become.
I hope those bullet points help you understand a little about the process for giving a fearful dog more confidence and therefore starting to eliminate the fear.    Aggressive behaviors often come about because a dog feels fear.   There can be other reasons as well, but fear seems to be the most common.  It is also one of the easier behavioral problems to deal with, if you know how and have devised a solid plan.

Any canine behavior or training questions can be sent to this e-mail.   You can also submit a canine behavior or training question through this form.  

Authored by:  Mannerly Mutts Dog Training and Robin Rubin, head dog trainer and owner

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Question from a Dog Owner: Is this play or aggression?

Question:   " I have an 18 mo old dog that I simply cannot break of jumping. He is large and powerful and even when I turn my back to him he continues to jump, sometimes even biting my ponytail. Is this aggression or play? I feel like he is playing but it REALLY hurts."

Answer:  Regarding is this aggression or play, it sounds like play.   An 18 month old dog is usually still a puppy although an older and larger adolescent.   As puppies grow up, they don't know the rules for appropriate human play without some training or guidance.   Your dog is most likely excited, has a lot of pent up energy, and is visiting this unwanted play on you.

In addition to finding it fun to go after your ponytail, large adolescent or untrained adult dogs can do the other things as "play", in their eyes:

  1. Jump on you or tag you at the top of stairs or icy grounds (dangerous for obvious reasons).
  2. Jump up and hit your eye socket hard with their nose (closed mouthed).  Or sometimes they hit your nose which hurts worse.
  3. Try to pull you off something like a bike with their teeth.
  4. Tug, bite, and tear at your clothes.
  5. Play tug of war with the lead you are trying to walk them on.
  6. Hard nips bordering on bites during exciting play.
  7. And so forth
When dogs do these sort of things, they are not trying to be aggressive (in most cases) but engage you in the only way they know how.  It's up to the dog owner to change that.

Although something may be normal or typical for a dog to do, that does not mean it should continue.  Anything that is potentially harmful to the owner or public, whether it is intended or so or not, should be stopped and redirected.

Jumping isn't simply broken.   Training needs to happen for those behaviors to be diverted and changed to something else.   Training provides a means of communication and partnership between a dog owner and their canine companion.   It also allows for a relationship to develop where there is more understanding through increased interaction on both sides.

Trying to figure this out by researching online or through books right now will probably only hold you up from your goal of a better relationship with your dog, although that is an option.   I would suggest that you find a dog trainer that can help you learn to teach your dog some better behaviors:)  There is no real quick fix tip that I can give you that would be reliable in the long run.   However, I would suggest the basics in obedience, and to also find play outlets that your dog enjoys that do not encourage jumping (tracking, tricks, hiking, et).   Combining both of these objectives together, will give you a more complete plan.

This will make life so much more enjoyable for yourself and your dog in the long run (and probably the short run as well).

Have a question about your dog?  Please either e-mail us at or use the contact form (bottom of page) on!   We are always looking for real life blog topics to talk about and answer.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Dog Training Choices-10 Considerations

In dog training, there is no one size fits all.   How you go about training your dog should be based on many factors and judgements.   Here are just a few things to think about:

  1. Your dog's general temperament which will encompass many things.   Think of whether you have learned that your dog is fearful, confident, shy, bold, friendly, leery, reactive, mellow, and so on.   Think of the specific situations (or general situations) you may see these things play out.
  2. Do you or your dog have any food allergies or other allergies that may interfere with some forms of training?
  3. Is your dog pretty easy in most everyday situations or are there some situations that are cause for concern?
  4. How old is your dog or puppy?   Puppy training is almost always much different than training a more mature adult dog.
  5. How healthy is your dog?  Do they have any physical disabilities or problems that may interfere with some methods of training?
  6. How healthy are you, the dog owner?   Do you have any physical disabilities or other problems that may interfere with some methods of training?
  7. What are your goals with your dog?  Think of such things like if you want an obedient companion, a sports dog (obedience, agility, protection sports), an outdoor adventure companion, a companion your whole family can enjoy, stopping your dog from aggression issues, and so on.
  8. Are your goals with your dog realistic as far as matching their temperament or where they are today?  In other words, are there things that need to be done first? 
  9. Think about budget, but also realize that you get what you pay for.   It may be more to your advantage to really invest in your dog training if you have the money or the need to get something under control.  Or maybe, you just really want to understand a lot about training going forward.
  10. What kind of time can you really invest in the training?   It may be easier on you to have a trainer start your dog off first, and then train the dog owner later, depending on the situation.
Analyzing these things before starting to pick out a training program can really help you whittle down your choices and options.   Every dog and owner team is different and has different needs and lifestyles.  While some dog training may be similar somewhat across the board, generally there are tweaks and accommodations for the different needs of the individual team.   There may be one trainer that can customize their training to your needs, or there may be a trainer who trains in a special niche that speaks to you and your needs.

What are the answers to the above items for you and your dog?   In order to get the best training for your team, it takes more work than just selecting the dog trainer closest to you that is the cheapest.   Remember, this is going to be your cherished canine companion for the rest of their lives.   Invest in making that the most enjoyable and fulfilling relationship for the both of you that it can be.

Mannerly Mutts is a dog training company in York Maine.   Call or e-mail us with your dog training needs.


Friday, April 3, 2015

PetPace Smart Collar for Monitoring Pet's Health

Shana, our 2 year old Doberman, fell ill with last Friday on March 30th 2015.   It did not start out looking like anything serious.   By Sunday, we were in the emergency room very worried.   The emergency staff helped us rule out anything life threatening, and we went to our regular veterinarian the next day.

It took a couple more days to figure out that Shana was suffering from lyme disease.   It got so bad that she did not want to get up, and if she was in a lying down position, I would need to pick her up and then keep her in my arms for any trips up or down any amount of stairs.   To date, Shana has been an incredibly healthy and active dog, and it would really take something nasty to keep this girl down.

Once she was on the appropriate course of treatment, our vets wanted to monitor her temperature for a period of time.  Luckily for Shana and thanks to our veterinarian, we did not need to take it the old fashion way through out the day.  Instead, a Pet Pace smart collar was loaned to us for a little more than a day.   Shana wore the collar (it's the purple one on her neck in the picture), and the collar broadcasted results to the modem plugged into our house.   That modem helped send the data directly to our veterinarians office.

It produced a report like this, that the vet could also send to us to show us how she was doing.

The red arrows show where Shana had some spikes in temp, but pretty much remained in the normal range of temperature.   Additionally, this helps monitor pulse rate, respiration, activity rate, and even position!   

Below are the pictures of the collar from the top and bottom:

I forgot to take a picture of the modem.   This really helped us keep Shana more comfortable by not needing to subject her to multiple butt violations during the day.   Already she was on five pills, as this started out with what looked like a simple stomach upset.  So that original problem was being treated alongside the lyme disease, which cropped up as different symptoms later on.

This way I could also let Shana just rest (something she has never in her life done voluntarily besides regular sleep), and not keep waking her up to check her vitals.   While I wish I did not need to find out about this disease this last week, I am so happy to have had this technology to use.

So if you find yourself with a really sick dog but are able to take them home and care for them, ask the vet if they have something like this on hand.   It could make your life a little easier during this very difficult time.   Not to mention that your vet can actually see if something of concern is happening when they check in online perhaps before you notice anything.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Our Small Dog Training Business is Under Attack by Out of State Land Developer

Dear Customers and Friends,

I am sure some of you have been wondering why we have not been blogging of late.   Out of state land developers have been trying to close our business since January 2014 of this year.   Actually this all started in the 2013, when these developers were going to the planning board to permit a subdivision on the property abutting ours.

Now that they own the property(ies) (under several different Incs and LLCs to make it confusing) they have started an aggressive campaign to close down our business.   In May of 2014, with the help of an attorney, we were able to get a ruling that we were correctly zoned for our use, and could go forward with the Code Enforcement Officer for a use permit.   All these proceedings were initiated by the land developers.   In fact the zoning law does not list that our business use needs to file for a use permit.  However, we have gone forward with that just to close the matter.

Now since the land developers did not like that we were asked to "cease and desist" with our business, they have filed with the Maine Superior Court.   It's pretty clear by the tape of the Board of Appeals on 5/14/2014 that their points are bogus.  

Here is the thing though, if you don't answer the charges, you can loose by default.   I was not aware before that with enough money, anyone can go after anyone else even if they do not have grounds.   And more importantly, that even if you are in the right, you need to do the foot work to prove that.   It's not innocent into proven guilty, it's your guilty unless you have enough money and stamina to fight.

We have no choice but to fight at this point.   This is our lively hood.   If you are able to help in any way, even non monetary ways, we are asking for help in saving our business and home.

Thank you in advance for your support.   We accept support in any way including but not limited to positive thoughts for us.   This has been a trying year and winter with this issue looming over our heads!  We can use all the positive energy that we can get!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Why Do Dog Trainers Cost So Much? (Republished Article)

Sometimes luck comes into your life, and you get something for free. There are many good reasons why a dog may be free, but a human shouldn't NEED for the dog to be free for financial reasons. There are many reasons to pay for the dog you need. These reasons include needing a specific dog due to allergies, temperament requirements, lifestyle, shedding, frail owner, active owner, specific job, stable physical construction, and so on.

In any case, the least of your expenses is going to be the adoption fee, even if the dog comes from a breeder.   Proper care of a dog includes feeding, grooming, exercising, veterinary care, your time and patience, and (in a perfect world) training.  Training will actually help reduce your veterinary care by allowing your dog to respond to commands, thus avoiding hazards.

In the dog training world, there is a lot of free advice out there. This is given by professionals, by non professionals, and maybe even by anyone who has never owned never mind trained a dog:) Or maybe they have had the perfect "no issue", "bomb proof" dog. Perhaps you have a "no issue" "bomb proof" dog as well, and there is not much you are going to do with your dog to make things worse.

Households do exist out there, where free advice can make things worse. Dog training done well, is a skill (some might say an art form). It's a learned skill that has taken hours on hours of practice. For a professional dog trainer, this should mean hours and hours with many dogs that are not the trainer's own dogs!! These should also be random dogs not trained only because the trainer or behaviorists finds them interesting, but trained towards a goal and IMO a standard. When presented with "the problem" or "the issue", trainers who have studied hard know that (unless this is a bomb proof or no issue dog---in which case you are probably not getting the call) communication and a dialogue of skills or commands are needed to begin to address the problem.

A typical jumping problem that does not respond well to ignore it OR stand like a tree, usually could use a stay command. In order to have a stay command, you need to have a sit command. In order for the stay to be useful, training around distance, movement, and distraction are needed. Not something you are likely to learn in a quickly typed comment OR in a single lesson. Owners, being beginners without X many years in handling and training dogs to a measurable standard, need practice on things like leash handling, timing, body posture, and learning to relax and loosen up. As with any skill, these things aren't learned in an hour session, but upon repetition of practicing the skills CORRECTLY. In a lesson for an individual, what is happening is the trainer is coaching the owner on how to train their dog.

Dog training is a business. A business that most of us adore and love no end, but this is not a hobby. This is a profession. If if dog training were free or at a minimal cost, dog trainers would not be able to afford to be dog trainers. However, this is still not why a dog trainer's fee is above minimum wage.

Okay, so why are the fees 60.00 to 100.00 per hour?  There is a reason that you are  paying well above minimum wage to a respected professional dog trainer.

TIME AND EXPENSE OF EDUCATION: A whole other debate in the dog world is how you go about getting your education. Someday, I will tackle that subject in an in depth article about that. The talented and knowledgeable dog trainers out there have put significant time and expense in acquiring their education. A trainer should not have just trained their own dog, and then had a vision one day to put their shingle out. Putting out the shingle should have had work, sweat, money, time, travel, and some pretty hard knocks behind it. This knowledge is a combination of learned by the guidance of many mentors and learned by just the sheer amount of time that training was practiced. If you have a trainer who is further educated in aggression or behavioral problems, and has had a proven success rate, then that is a bit of help that is hard to find. Education is not just a one time thing for a dog trainer. Education for a dog trainer is something that is acquired every year by pushing themselves out there beyond the safety of their prior knowledge.

TIME OF LESSON PLAN CREATION AND FOLLOW UP:  Before the lesson, I prepare and look at my notes as to what was done the last lesson. I create the lesson plan for that day with the individual team in mind. After the lesson, I send my clients the notes on what we did, the very detailed directions, and specific notes on special problems or issues observed during the lesson. I tell my clients to call me if they have a problem during the week. I would rather iron out the problems so that they can practice correctly in between, rather than play catch up on the next lesson. Therefore, my minimum time on one lesson can be three hours and more.

TIME AND EXPENSE OF FACILITY AND CLEANING: Oh yes, dog training businesses have overhead costs!! Some operations even include the cost of the equipment in their fees. There is the cost of maintaining inside and outside practice areas, disinfecting, clean water buckets available at all times, waste bags, pooper scoopers, trash cans in areas, solutions to take care of accidents on the site immediately, electronic cleaning equipment, building costs, depreciation costs, insurance costs, jumps, articles, fences, staff, and it keeps going. If the trainer is traveling, there are all the vehicle costs that go along with it. (tolls, meters, gas, insurance, repairs, parking, maintenance)

TIME AND EXPENSE OF TRAVEL: First of all, it's not just that hour that you are paying for.  If there is a good reason, I will go to to my clients (within reasonable distance) for their lessons. The time and expense of travel is something to consider. Also, so many owners are not there for the appointment, late for the appointment, or not prepared for the appointment when the trainer gets there. It can also that no homework has been done, so when the trainer gets there for the appointment, it needs to be cancelled before any further "new" work can be done.

CREATIVITY AND PROBLEM SOLUTION: The above things lend to the creativity and efficient problem solving of a professional. Due to the time spent in the field with a variety of sizes, temperaments, and breeds; a Professional Dog Trainer can get the job done efficiently and effectively. The investment in the dog trainer will also erase the need to find a professional in the future to solve the same problem. However, maybe that Professional Dog Trainer will inspire you to advance your knowledge as well. A Professional Dog Trainer will have improved the situation so that your relationship with your canine companion is much easier and more enjoyable. This will be true for the both of you.

The dog training profession is a profession just like any other. Yes, most of us love all dogs and want to do what we can to help the dog/canine team exist a happy, healthy, and safe existence for the rest of their lives. However, that does not mean we do not need to charge a reasonable fee for our services to cover our costs.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Before Even Thinking About Biking With Your Dog...

Biking is not an activity that dog owners "need" to do or "have to" learn. I d This is something that I do with my dogs for the enjoyment.   However, if you don't do this safely, it will be a much less enjoyable activity.   This activity needs to be safe for you AND your dog.

So before you even think of biking with your dogs, consider these tips and safety measures:
  1. Concrete, pavement, and cars can kill you or your dog. (not while biking) I missed a step one day to the mudroom and fell onto our concrete floor. My whole chin was one large lump and bruise, I felt quite fortunate to have hit there instead of my head (where a concussion may have rendered me unconscious and then dead). I was also very grateful to have not shattered my jaw. Now consider this power in a scenario where you may be propelled forward. (see number 3)
  2. Dirt roads and trails contain rocks, which can kill you if you strike the right body part on them. (see number 3)
  3. Wear a helmet on your bike with or without a dog. (See number 1)
  4. You have no business even thinking about biking with your dog, unless you know how to train solidly for basic obedience. Or are training with someone who will teach this solidly. The reason for this being a dog left to his own does not know the danger caused by running UNDER the bikes wheels or lunging at a squirrel.
  5. Prepare, prepare, prepare before mounting your bike with your dog in tow. I usually start with heeling my dog next to a shopping cart at Petco for instance to get them used to it in a fun environment. I heel them next to me walking my bike. I do lots of these things before I mount the bike with my dog, including making sure that they know basic obedience very very well. You will also want an emergency sit, auto sits when you stop the bike.
  6. Always consider the safety of the general public around you. This article link is one example of what could happen.
  7. Flexi leads are very likely to get wrapped up in gears (and there should be no need as your dog should be heeling next to you IMO ). This is why I do this on my strong, sturdy leather lead. Note this is not to keep my dog with me when he pulls, as I do not allow my dogs to pull when in a heel. It's to keep the loose leash from being frail and thin enough to wrap around the gears.
  8. (related to number five) Just in general with biking, I tend to not wear sneakers with any laces that could become untied and wind up in the gears. Some lighter baggier kinds of clothes can get caught in them as well.
  9. Do NOT attach leash to bike. Better to hold the leash (and see why 4 is very important) in an accordian style, in case your dog stops to pee (seee number 10) so you can quickly drop the leash, stop, and call your dog to you when he/she is done.
  10. Remember dogs may have to stop and pee, and may not be able to tell you how...other than by stopping suddenly. (see number 9)
  11. Keep in mind that your dog should only go at their comfortable pace.
  12. (related to 11) If you want to multi task and exercise, put the bike on the highest tension level possible, rather than overtaxing your dog with speed.
  13. This is a group/partnership event, you must always be aware and look out for your dog and others.

I am sure that I missed a lot more, but these are things to think about before even considering biking with your dog:) One can always bike without a leash with their well trained dog. I prefer a leash on my dog whenever I am around vehicles that are moving quickly. When I am riding around my house, my dogs don't have leashes on, and are free to decide to follow or not follow. Many times I don't have them in a heel if it's just on my own property. Still, you will want to start out so that your dogs are aware that they shouldn't run into wheels, jump on you, et. I probably could have added a few more for this scenario.

Mannerly Mutts Dog Training
Mannerly Mutts Blog

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Shana's First Snow Day!

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Okay, officially Shana saw snow falling a few days ago at 1 AM in the morning.   She did not want to step in the strange white stuff at first, and then thankfully went about her business.   We were both pretty groggy, and I was not about to go and run for my camera.

Then today's snow came!  This start off with exclamations of surprise at the front window in the family/dog room.  

Then Shana hurriedly went to investigate the rest of the windows.   She found this was going on everywhere!

I figured this was a great time to snap some shots of her outside in her first play session in the snow with her Golden Retriever buddy, Odin.

And a good time was had by all:)   THE END