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
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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

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Thursday Thirteen Best Christmas Gifts For Your Dog

Here are thirteen gifts that your dog will enjoy the most this Christmas:

If your dog needs number 11 on the list, we can set up an appointment to discuss this with you.   Just fill out this form.

1) Lying by the fire with you after a long walk through the woods.
2) A new place to explore.
3) Visiting with dog and human friends.
4) Learning a new trick with you.
5) Playing a game of fetch.
6) Playing a game of find or hide and seek.
7) New classes to learn a new sport, such as agility or freestyle dancing.
8) Remembering to spend time with them when the busy holiday season gets in full swing.
9) A thinking, working, or chewing toy.
10) Playing dog games with other owners and their dogs.
11) Being sure that they have had their obedience training, so that they are able to attend family holiday gatherings if they are welcomed.
12) A car ride and walk to pick out a toy at their favorite dog-friendly store.
13) A mini obstacle course to learn together.

Make sure your companion has a holiday every day!  Keep  these things in mind all year long.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tommy, Mannerly Mutt's Maine Dog of the Week

Tommy by the heater this winter.
Tommy by the gas stove his first winter at our house.

Tommy stuffed behind me on my office chair.
Tommy find a sunshine spot by the window.

Tommy on his favorite chair and under his favorite fluffy blanket!
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Tommy is NOT our dog!   However, Tommy is a large part of our family, being that he boarded with us for over two years, and he boards here at least once a month these days.   We got to know and love Tommy very much.

From the pictures, you can probably guess that Tommy loves to be warm.  He is always seeking out sun spots or warm places to cuddle including the back of my chair when I am on it!  

How did we meet Tommy?   A friend of the owner's spotted our truck at the library one day.   This friend called Tommy's owner, who was in Switzerland at the time.   The family had moved their temporarily because they work for one of those large corporations that like to ship their workers off to far and wide places.   Tommy had been flow, as well, to Switzerland.   Turns out, this is not the place to have a dog whose breed falls under the designation of "pit bull breed" even if they are a mix.   So the family wanted to get Tommy out of the country ASAP!   They also wanted him to still be here, if possible, upon their return.

And so Tommy came to be with us for two plus years.   his family came home four or five times a year to visit with him during that time.  The first day that Tommy came here, he was so shell shocked.   First he was flown to Switzerland, then flown back and at a stranger's house!   We needed to do three weeks of board & train with him, so that we could have a dog that would get along with human and dog guests at our place (or at least obey a command quickly). Tommy was smart and quick friends with my dogs, and our various client's dogs.

He has many nicknames here.   "Timmy Tommy Jimmy Jomdy" for one.   We frequently refer to him as "round and brown" LOL.   And if you need Tommy to be protective of you, he will be ready for that job.   Likewise, if you tell him to cut it out, he will cut it out.   Tommy is the dog I most want in the house if my husband is travelling!  

Also despite his "seeking warmth photos" Tommy is a very active guy.   I taught him to do jumps, and he loves performing these in the woods.  He can jump quite high even as he is aging.   He also loves to race in the woods, especially with friends Ollie and Boris.  Tommy is probably seven or eight now.
Tommy is like family here.   We always refer to him as our fourth dog.  That is why Tommy is the dog of the week this week.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Hoobie 11/23/2005-11/28/2013

I received the news yesterday that Hoobie's heart stopped during a routine examination.  Hoobie holds a special place in our hearts and memories here.   Luckily he was only 50 or so pounds, because he was the hardest dog that I ever had to train.   His size made it possible for me to handle and teach him safely.

Unfortunately, Hoobie was born with bad genetics that caused some very uncomfortable medical problems for him very early on.   When I have dealt with very human aggressive dogs, it has been very common that they have medical factors that are making them uncomfortable being handled AND they started very early on in their lives.

Why would his owners choose to spend so much time, money, and effort on Hoobie?   Well, there was a sweet guy in there that liked to have fun.   To Hoobie's owners, it was very important for them decrease not only the physical discomfort, but also the mental discomfort that grew from that as well.   They knew the sweet Hoobie, and wanted more time with that side of him now that they had identified his physical maladies.

The reward that Hoobie worked the best for was outdoors and fun.   Food or treats would get you bitten.   So that is what we used for this guy to bond and build trust during his stay here.   He really taught me a lot about identifying what a dog is going to work for.   It is not always going to be something readily available, and the dog is going to pick it (especially in a case like this) NOT the dog trainer.

He left to go back home in September 2009.   Hoobie and his owners lived a bit away in Canada so I have not seen him since, though I do get updates.   Hoobie gained a female canine companion, and lots time with his owners for these years.   I cried a bit last night when I found out.   His owners did such an incredible job of sticking with Hoobie, and continuing on the work to keep his aggression at bay by working with what Hoobie (and they) had learned here.

Hoobie is now medical issue free for once.   I hope he is running with his old friends Leon and Jackie (my dogs that knew him and went before him) at the rainbow bridge.   Hoobie, you were very loved and will be missed and remembered.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Harley, Mannerly Mutt's Canine of The Week

Harley came here for dog training in our board & train program as a six month old puppy in the winter of 2005.   To the left of this text is a picture of Harley at that time (and to the right a picture of Harley now).   As a puppy he was as big as my full grown Doberman Jackie!

Need puppy or dog training with a dog training professional?   We are happy to talk about it with you, just first fill out our client service form.   If you are not familiar with us, review our webpage and blog or just call us 207-809-6300!

Harley's original owners were ill equipped to have a puppy of any sort.   One owner worked as a nurse and was not often home, and the other owner was just not into spending time with a Great Dane puppy.   Harley's original name was Moose.   The original owners paid for training to house train and obedience train their dog, and at the last lesson the male owner expressed his feelings about the puppy.   I offered to purchase Harley at that time (plus the cost of his veterinarian fees to date and reimburse their training), but the male owner did not want to disappoint his wife.

So a year went by, my phone rang in the afternoon in March 2006, I think.   It was Harley's male owner, and they wanted to know if we still wanted Harley.   Harley had been being passed around to family member to family member, with no one wanting to commit the time and appropriate care to him.  Meantime, Jackie the Doberman, who had been a foster, had become our third dog.   Our budget did not allow for a fourth dog at that time, but I had a client who was looking for a companion for their dog.   Hence, Harley found his new home with owner's who walk him mornings and evenings on the ocean.   Not a bad life for a once unwanted puppy.

The best part?   Like most of our clients, Harley has remained in our lives all these years later.   We know that he is safe and loved.   I get to see him every week, and let him know that we still love him as well.   Harley has known all of my dogs except Neptune, who died before we moved to Maine.

Harley is an awesome dog, who truly deserved his awesome life and awesome owners.  Each week, I plan to blog about one of our client's dogs.   Most of the dogs that come here, we have known for years!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Holiday season tips for your canine companion from Maine's Professional Dog Trainer

Leon and Boris at Petco.
Thanksgiving, Hanukkah,   Christmas, and New Years are all just around the corner!  So what does this mean for your beloved dog?  Here are the things you should be aware of:

  1. Everyone loves a Christmas tree.  Unfortunately the tinsel, lights, ornaments, hooks, packages with wrappings underneath, and potential for the tree to fall over can all pose a threat to your dog.  Glass ornaments can not only be unhealthy to digest but can cut your canines' feet.  Also it's wise not to use edible ornaments on your Christmas tree.
  2. In some homes there will be major food preparation for celebrating the holidays.   This means an increase in foods that are not toxic to humans but possibly foods toxic to dogs.
  3. Not all dogs like the increase of visitors to their home.   If you have not prepared your dog for this in the past, think of strategies that will make them comfortable and so they are not put in situations they will not be prepared for.
  4. There are holiday plants that can be toxic to your dogs.   
  5. Hard candy such as candy canes may not only be choking hazards and unhealthy, but they may actually contain ingredients poisonous to your dogs!
  6. If you are opening the doors a lot, you need to be sure that you have made any dogs liable to bolt safe during these holiday visits.
  7. Bones can also be choking hazards or even carry dangerous bacteria.
  8. Holiday candles are always in danger of being knocked over by a pet.   Or even a pet just burning their nose.
Holidays are a fun and busy time for humans.   Just don't forget to be on the lookout for our other companions during this time!

Visit our Maine Dog Training Facebook Page for more tips and tricks.   

Looking for puppy training or dog training help over the holidays?   Whether you live in Maine or outside Maine, we have a professional dog training program that can help you.   Sign up soon, and your dog may be trained or had behavioral modification help before the holidays!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Our Maine residency dog training program, what is it?

Mannerly Mutts Dog Training is located in Maine.   Many different programs are offered at the Maine dog training facility.   Many people have not heard of a residency dog training program, also known as a board & train program.
What it is:  A Board & Train or Residency Training Package is one where your dog stays with us.  A dog in training receives two hours of training per day in addition to exposure to a home environment while training.  Residency or Board & Train is a great way to get up front work done by professionals for getting a start on puppy training, getting a start on house breaking, and getting professional help with behavioral problems (aggression, fear, or reactivate behaviors).   Dogs in training train here, and go into public distracting areas to train when ready.   This way your dog gets complete exposure to every day life situations that go beyond their home and yard.

Benefits:   All the up front work (including traveling to different locations when your dog is ready) is done by a professional dog trainer.   This saves the owner a lot of time and effort in the beginning of training.   The training can also go faster, because the dog is not being trained by the owner, who has a learning curve to scale, but by a professional trainer who has handled many different dogs of varying breeds and temperaments.   If the owner has been having long term problems with a behavioral challenge, a professional dog trainer is not going to be intimidated by the dog, and will know how to guide the dog through various scenarios safely (for the trainer, the dog, the public at large).    In this way, you will be better prepared to maintain your dog once their behaviors have improved to being socially acceptable.  Taking a dog or puppy into a structured environment used to training and handling dogs, also gives the dog a strong foundation for their future behavior as a well trained family member.

Included in the Board & Train Package:  1)  Two hours a day individualized training attention and work for your dog 2) Training blog that you can follow including video of the work done with your dog 3)  play, exercise and rest time provided for your dog 4) excellent boarding care while your dog is here and 4) follow up lessons to train the owner on how to interact with their dog and maintain their dog's training.   The leashes and collars we use are also for sale at Mannerly Mutts.   If you want to purchase these from us, they are available for an additional fee.

Price:  This price is based on two hours a day of training (70.00) plus the boarding expense (30.00) to total 100.00 per day.   However, the minimum board and train package we sell consists of a three weeks.   There is not much we can make a dent in with less than three weeks to work.   Therefore, the board & train or residency program starts at $2,100.00 with each day thereafter being 100.00 per day (or 700.00 for each additional week).  
This program is for a variety of purposes:
  1. The owner does not have the time for the up front work.   We can bring the dog through all the basic obedience training through to distractions, and then provide a maintenance schedule and lessons.
  2. The owner has a dog with behavioral challenges.   Often times an owner will find themselves in a situation where they are afraid of or intimidated by their dog.   This program can take the dog out of the environment, work with him, and then have the owner come back for follow up.   By this time a language has been created (IE commands and behaviors that have been taught) that make the process for the owner and dog much easier.  We can bring both the dog and owner back to a place where both eventually feel comfortable with the other.
  3. An owner wants a really well trained dog:)   So they want the bulk of the up front work done by a professional dog trainer.
  4. An owner lives far away, but wants our services for training their dog.
  5. To begin the training process before a puppy or rescue dog enters their home.
If you find yourself in need of this service, please fill out our client interview form.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Our Chihuahua Ziggy and the Pros and Cons of Small Dogs

Dobermans have been our breed since 1997 or so. They have ranged in weight from 80#s to 110#s.  Ziggy weighs 5#s plus a little something.  He is our first dog of any other breed (besides our cats, Clyde and Mustache, who were well over 15#s).   Luckily, I am a dog trainer, so I am very familiar with the special problems of smaller breed dogs.

Small dogs are awesome and need training just like large dogs to reach their potential.   However, there are special considerations that go into owning and caring for a small dog.

First of all, they can be hurt by any number of things if you are not careful.   They just do not have the bulk or strength to withstand things many other dogs can.   On the other hand, you don't want them lacking in confidence, adventure, or socialization.   Small dogs, like Ziggy, can also easily be carried away by predators (birds of prey, coyotes, other dogs, a cat could even get Ziggy!).  We are sure that playmates are trained, and that they are supervised in order to play with him carefully.  The rule here with large dogs is that the smaller dog is always right, and if they are not, I will intervene and they do not need to.   It is very important that the large dogs here know that it is never okay to go after the small dogs.  (also not okay to go after the large dogs here, but there is an additional level of protection needed for toy breeds)

Non social behaviors that can reduce the patience level of the pack are not allowed from the small dogs either.   A bad behavior exhibited towards another has the potential to erode the relationship until something tragic or unfortunate happens.   Therefore, even though small dogs are usually less than 20#s, it is also important that they are trained and supervised.  While toy breeds can not do much damage to a medium to large dog, their behavior can incite a reaction from them that could have serious if not fatal consequences.  However, when rules exist, this keeps that possibility at a minimum.

Another thing we need to be careful, is that there is water that Ziggy can get to.   Our large dogs drink from pails of water.   Ziggy can get up there, but if the water is not high enough, he can not reach it.   So we are sure to bring him aside several times a day for his own water time, unless we have seen that he has reached the larger pail and gotten his water (and same for any toy breed guests that come here).

Going to a dog park or the beach means looking out for my little guy.   I don't coddle him, but I am on the lookout for potential problems to avoid.   To some dogs that have not been socialized with small dogs, Ziggy is fair game to chase like prey.  Being a dog owner means always being aware of my surroundings anyway (as I don't want my large breed dogs to be attacked either), but it is especially important to be aware of what is going on around Ziggy.

Extreme weather especially the cold is a problem for most toy breeds.   They just do not have the insulation to keep themselves very warm.   Even when you have a coat on them, sometimes it is just too cold for them to spend any real time outdoors in the winter.

Tooth decay happens in toy breeds, and it can happen when they are fairly young!  This is a lot different than larger breed dogs.   It is thought this happens as they do not chew enough on bones.   Be sure to consider a solid dental routine for your small breed dog, and get their teeth checked out at each health check veterinarian appointment.

Toy breeds also have their advantages of course.   Picking them up is very easy when they are injured, to take out of a situation, and to walk around in stores that let you do that.  Travelling with small breed dogs is much easier on just about any level.   Feeding smaller breed dogs is obviously cheaper.   The vaccination and other such health expenses (besides surgery as toy breeds actually need specialists sometimes) are cheaper.   Exercising a smaller breed dog is easier.  They live longer, and are easier to take care of during their old age.   Also if they make an accident in the house, it is only so big .   Toy breeds are much easier to pick up after.

Just be aware of these other items:)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Five Rules to Keep In Mind When Using Corrections

Corrections are ways to improve communication in training and make corrections for training items that are either lacking precision and/or behavioral problems that need to be addressed.   Corrections are not the same as punishment (either in the general public understanding which refers to a reaction after a negative event or the more scientific definition of punishment, meaning reducing behavior only or in other words does not mean physical harm in the scientific definition).

For about the fist six months of a puppies life, training goes along usually with minimal corrections (like no, trading items, or redirection to something more appropriate) and punishment might be a simple crate time out.   Hopefully you have been doing formal training during this point, which does have less expectation and precision than one would have of a more mature dog going through training.

Why do we need corrections of some sort?   When training a dog, you want to give them information in as clear a form as possible, so that they can learn how to understand our verbal communication and domestic living rules.  There are many things canines do that are natural and normal for them to do, but do not belong in a domestic, living with and around humans and other critters environment.   Because many dog owners want a dog that can go anywhere with them and take on adventures, dogs need to understand the rules in order to be safe and enjoyable in public.  Six months is the age many dogs training professionals believe a puppy can receive more responsibility and start to have the responsibility of performing commands at first cue (verbal or signal or what have you).   This is when you begin to build the compliance that you want in an older dog on their way to maturity.   This may also be the age that your dog starts testing you and others to see how far they can go.  This is natural for dogs to do at many different stages, but six months is a good age to begin being very firm about the rules of domestic living.

There are rules that humans need to adhere to for corrections to be an effective and fair part of a training plan.   Here are five rules that most often come to mind for me:

  1. Training and teaching always are the first things you do with your dog before correcting them for non compliance.   They need to know what the right decision, position or behavior was before you can expect them to perform it.   A correction is not the beginning teaching step.   Also remember a correction is not the reaction to an unpleasant event (IE dog bite, growling, going to the bathroom in the house, getting into the garbage ET).  We are not talking about that here, and those reactions are not part of the TRAINING process in specific.
  2. Related to above, a correction must be fair and appropriate to the situation.  Remember even when using training collars, the handler/trainer/owner always has control over how much they are used, how well timed they are used, and how consistent they have been in general to the training plan.
  3. A correction happens when the human is calm and in a good frame of mind.   Again a correction is not something that happens in anger or frustration.
  4. There is usually a second or so between an event (command, behavior, ET) where the dog is giving their learning space.   Then a correction (body bump, re-position, molding, collar/leash correction) is given only after giving the dog the opportunity to act based on what you have already taught them.   Without giving them that space, you are not giving them the space to think, contemplate, and decide what it is that you want.
  5. Corrections are never the only information given in a training plan.   They are a tool just like anything else that you use for training (leash, collar, voice, body language, consistency, timing, and so on).   If you only used correction, you would never be teaching or rewarding.   These are ALL part of the training process.
This is a short article on an involved topic.   Please let me know any questions you may have.   Future blog posts will delve further into this.