For many of us, January 1st marks a new beginning. A chance to wipe the slate clean and start over. Set new goals and work on bettering oneself.
More often than not, things like lose weight, eat better, quit drinking and travel more top the list of common New Year’s resolutions. But I’d like to challenge the dog owners out there to make spending more time with their dog a priority for 2016.
By this I do not mean sitting at home with your dog and watching TV. I mean getting out there and exploring the world. Maybe it’s taking your dog to a new park once a week or doing a second walk a day. If you’re doing 30 minutes already why not bump it to an hour. Take them along with you on car rides and while you run errands (surprisingly many places are dog friendly). Play with your dog – games like hide and go seek, tug, or fetch make for a great time. Set up play dates for your dog. Start a dog walking group in your neighbourhood. Enrol in a training class – agility, obedience, Dog Haus Training Essentials or come to our Social Circles each week. Even if you have an obedient dog there are still new things you both can learn and training is a fantastic way to improve your bond and enhance your skills as Pack Leader.
Spending time with your dog is fun and rewarding to you both. The benefits are endless, a happier you and a happier dog! Being with our dogs helps us relieve stress and live in the moment. They ignite a childlike playfulness in us, reminding us not to take life so seriously. They lift our spirits by just being themselves unapologetically and that is simply beautiful. They offer us unconditional love and the best friendships we could ask for, don’t you want to be around to enjoy it? Dogs are here for a fun time no not a long time, so if I can offer you any advice it’s to spend as much time as possible with your beloved dog while you can. There are so many things you can do together to live a more fulfilled and balanced life. Get out there and enjoy life together!!!
Anyone can be a so called “dog trainer.” You, your grandpa, or the crazy cat lady down the street. The truth is the industry itself is not regulated. This is a scary thought. It translates to there being no standards in how to properly educate humans to have successful relationships with their dogs. It also means any tool or technique can be used, or abused, to condition a dog.
My number one tip I’d like to share with all of you to know whether or not a trainer is actually any good is to look at their own dog. How does it behave? Is it a robot, just acting out commands? Does it know how to be calm? Is it hyper and constantly alert? Does it seem anxious or uneasy? Does it bark nonstop until it gets a reward like a treat or ball toss? Is it friendly with other dogs? Does it pull on leash? Does it actually listen to the trainer? Can the dog be good with a different handler? My point is, does the dog behave in a way that you want your dog to behave? That is the most important question.
Buyer be ware if the dog shows any problem behaviours, especially those you are trying to fix in your own dog. To me it’s even more suspicious if the dog isn’t even at a training class. As a trainer myself, Carmen (my dog) is my BIGGEST asset and a huge marketing tool. This makes it sound like I pimp my dog out, when in fact I don’t. I do take my dog everywhere with me though, especially to classes I teach, and have people comment on how social, calm and well behaved she is (notice I didn’t use the word “Obedient”). Carmen is my demo dog in showing how to do things properly. She is proof of my own training methods and consistently doing exactly what I instruct clients to do with their dogs. Think of it like this, you wouldn’t hire a fat personal trainer, or a dentist with bad teeth. You’d want someone who is truly good at what they do because they practice what they preach.
Here are 5 more tips to ensure you pick a qualified dog trainer.
It’s that wonderful time of year again where the kids go back to school and everyone’s routine has changed. Your schedule is packed full with little to no time to even take a breath. You’ve got to pack lunches, get the kids to school, drop the kids off at soccer practice, pick them up, feed the family, and then ahhhhh sit down on the couch for a few minutes before going back to bed and doing it all over again tomorrow. Sound familiar?
Fall is a busy time of year! It’s among the craziest for us at The Dog Haus as we constantly get last minute calls from clients begging us to take their dog because they have absolutely no time to exercise their mutt and he’s chewed the couch…again!!!
Being so busy often means dog walks come last on the “to-do list.” Unfortunately for our pets this is not only frustrating but stressful. Suddenly everyone in the pack leaves for hours on end all day long and the dog is all alone with nothing to do. With so much stored up energy, they wander around, bored as hell, only to find a shoe that smells just like you so they carry it around and feeling frustrated release their excess energy by chewing it to bits. This is not a blatant screw you, but pretty much the only way they have to burn energy and at the same time sooth themselves. When this happens, take a good hard look at how little time you may be spending with your pooch. I still remember when I first got Carmen she would go through the garbage any time she felt she didn’t get a long enough walk that day. It was sad and hard for me to realize that I really shouldn’t punish her whenever she did this, instead I took her feedback and would do better the next day. Keep in mind that dogs have very few means to communicate with us. Any time you notice some bizarre or naughty behaviour, pay attention to what may have changed in your dog’s life. Did someone move out and go to college? Did your work hours change meaning you don’t walk the dog as long? Are you too tired to take the dog out at night when you get home? Your dog is speaking up to say his/her needs have not been met lately.
Some dogs experience depression and anxiety when the kids go back to school and their routine changes. It’s important that you not neglect your dog during this busy time so here are my suggestions to help you through this change.
Tire your dog BEFORE dropping kids off at school and going to work. Better yet, walk your dog to school with the kids instead of driving – my personal favourite because I love getting two birds stoned at once 😉 plus it’s good for the environment!
Use time with the dog as a stress reliever for you both – we all need to take time to relax which we rarely do. Come on a Meditation Walk with me to learn more on how to do this (next one is September 14th 9:30am at Kiwanis Park).
Have fun together and play some games! Being with your dog should be rewarding to you both and play is a great way to bond.
Redo some basic training – with everyone out of the house separation anxiety often creeps up. The best way to avoid this is to remind your dog of who is leader so that he doesn’t stress while you are away. It is also a way to provide mental stimulation and tire out your dog.
Bring your dog to The Dog Haus or another dog daycare that has full day training and socialization for your dog. That way your dog is out of the house so he cannot destroy things and is being fulfilled by getting exercise, socialization and mental stimulation.
Hire a dog walker. If you are unable to walk your dog pay someone else to do it. Having a backyard is not enough. Dogs need to be walked everyday, without exception!