The value of a proper leash and collar

I want to share an important lesson with everyone from something I experienced tonight. While walking my dog something incredibly dangerous and completely avoidable happened. While passing by an unfamiliar house a dog came charging down the lawn towards Carmen. The owner’s, who were sitting on their front porch, seemed undisturbed by this behaviour as I noticed, to my relief, the dog was tied up….that was until the collar snapped open and the dog came flying all the way down towards the road!

The all too familiar words “DON’T WORRY! HE’S FRIENDLY!” shortly followed as they rushed down to collect their dog who was hackled and stalking my dog waiting for an opportunity to challenge her – not very “friendly” if you ask me. He circled many times as Carmen stood tall while being calm and motionless. Thankfully Carmen knows exactly what to do in situations like this and will not attack even if she feels threatened.

Once the owners wrangled their mutt and muttered that they would be purchasing a new (and improved) collar, I couldn’t help but think how differently that scenario could have ended. Imagine Carmen was aggressive and went after their dog. Most dogs would not be as tolerant as mine! What if the dog was going after a squirrel or dog across the street.

The collar the dog was wearing was a very commonly used flat collar with a plastic buckle. The buckle snapped wide open when the small dog came full speed ahead at us. Notice I said this was a SMALL dog. This was not a Rottweiler or German Shepherd, but this small dog pulled with enough force to destroy that cheap collar.

I cannot emphasis the importance of a good quality leash and collar. This can mean life or death for your pet. If your dog breaks out of a collar, harness, or leash, they could potentially run into traffic or towards a dangerous dog. Poor quality leash clasps can get jammed and are unreliable. Leather leashes can stretch and loose their strength and eventually snap. Cheap flat collars all too often fail as a safe means to keep your dog under control and free from harm.

I am reminded of a video from Mike Rowe about sh*tty collars. (Due to harsh language viewer discretion is advised.) Enjoy!

At The Dog Haus we only carry one type of collar and that is the Martingale Collar (photoed below). This is because it is the only collar, that when sized appropriately a dog cannot back out of and there is no buckle to break open. Martingale collars are part chain and part nylon. They are not choke collars but do apply pressure and release to communicate to the dog. We also carry slip leads which also tighten as a dog pulls so that they cannot escape. I ALWAYS recommend that even slip leads and Halti’s should be attached to a Martingale collar as a back up safety. We also have strong 6′ leashes with heavy duty clasps that will not falter.

leash martigale_collar

No dog should get injured or killed from a crappy made product. Do not buy collars because the price is right. Question their durability. You get what you pay for so invest in a high quality tool that works for you and your dog in everyday situations to keep them safe.


Make Walking Your Dog Part of Your Routine


Yesterday I ran an entire workshop dedicated to helping owners improve their walk with their dog. It was incredible how quickly we saw a transformation with the dogs and humans. Changing how you walk with your dog can dramatically change your relationship with your pet. Most clients expressed frustration, fear, and embarrassment when it came to taking their dog out, resulting in shorter and less frequent walks, which lead to behavioural problems with their dogs. Aggression and leash reactivity was the most common issue in all that attended the class. Whether the dog was big or small it didn’t matter, they were all walking in correctly with the dog in front and their owners not showing any leadership, which made them react to everything on their walk as if it were a threat.
Here’s a video of the before and after. This is already minutes in and much improved from when the dogs first arrived.

The walk is something you cannot skip. It is a crucial time to bond with your dog, gives your furry friend a healthy way to get rid of pent-up energy, and when done properly (you walking in front with your dog beside or behind) affirms your role as Pack Leader. Backyard time is not a substitute. A dog only given backyard time is unfulfilled and bored and guaranteed will find other ways to release their frustrations. It doesn’t seem all that different from solitary confinement in prison, where the prisoner gets 1 hour rain or shine to be by themselves in the yard. Fun right?
All dogs no matter what their age, breed or energy level need daily exercise. Low energy dogs need at least a 45 minute walk, Medium energy 1 hour and High energy dogs require 1.5 – 2 hour walks.
Here are my 10 tips to making a walk a part of your routine:
  1. Wake up an hour early!!! Add time to your day and get the walk done first thing when you are recharged and energized. Walking the correct way with your dog will help you clear your mind, de-stress, and prepare for the day.
  2. Don’t leave the walk until the end of the day when you are tired and unmotivated. More likely than not you’ll just end up sitting down and to have dinner and relax.
  3. Make it a family event – either walk together or divide the walking responsibility (Mom/Monday, Dad/Tues, Kids/Wed, Family/Sat&Sun, etc.)
  4. View it as your workout. Pick up the pace or get some ankle weights to get your heart rate going and it can sub for the gym.
  5. Drive less! Going to the corner store? Dropping the kids at school? Meeting a friend for coffee? Why not walk there with the dog? The perfect way to include the dog while doing something you would ordinarily do.
  6. Make your walks more interesting! It gets boring walking the same route. Switch it up! Go new places! Jump in your car and find a cool place to discover. Have Fun!!!!
  7. Start a walking club. Guaranteed you have friends with dogs or there are dogs in your neighbourhood. This is mutually beneficial because walking with other dogs will help socialize your dog and walking with other people daily will hold you accountable.
  8. Make more out of shorter walks but adding an extra element, like a knapsack, to help tire your dog. This fulfills the dog physically by adding weight but also psychologically because the dog feels she has a job to do.
  9. Avoid the urge to walk at times you won’t encounter other dogs. If you are walking properly your dog’s reactivity will get better. However, if you still practice avoidance your dog will not be able to socialize so the behaviour will stay the same or get worse.
  10. If all else fails hire a dog walker. If you cannot fulfill your dogs exercise needs, you must invest in a service that can provide a walk for your dog. Everyone has a busy schedule but if you really can’t add a walk into your lifestyle you need to ensure your dog gets exercised through another means. Otherwise your dog’s behavioural issues are here to stay.

Now that you’ve read my tips, go walk your dog! 🙂

Always judge a Dog Trainer by their dog

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.

Buye10671486_963644933661364_6444139759428768389_nr 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.

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Keep Calm & Carry On

“In situations like dog parks and doggie daycare centres, where dogs don’t really know each other, it’s the responsibility of the owner to bring a dog into that scenario calmly.” – Cesar Millan, Cesar 911 episode 205

At The Dog Haus we always stress the importance of dogs entering the facility calmly. When a dog is excited it will stay in that excited state especially when put with other dogs. An excited dog might not make the best decisions when that stimulated and this can offset the pack. Many people however, don’t see excitement as a problem thinking the dog is just happy. But a dog bouncing off the walls is in an unbalanced state. Excitement can often lead to excessive barking, aggression or anxiety, which is an unbalanced state for the dog and will affect the rest of the pack. An unbalanced dog can become a target within a pack and that can be very dangerous.

So to avoid any potential problems like nuisance barking, fights, or anxiety, it is important to address excitement first so it does not lead to an explosion. Leading your dog into the environment calmly and confidently, will communicate what is expected of them. Dogs are affected by our energy, so it is important that the owner represent calmness. Enter through doorways first only when your dog is calm. Never allow your dog to pull you into new territory. Lead and your dog will follow.

Start to reward your dog’s calm energy and you will see a huge shift in their behaviour. If you reward excitement you will get an excited dog. If you reward calm, you will have a balanced dog. It is important to know that a calm dog is a balanced dog and a balanced dog is happy and confident. And there is no better feeling for a dog owner than having a balanced, happy dog.

Just remember: Keep calm and carry on.

New Year’s Resolutions For You and Your Dog

New Year 2015 formed from sparking digits over black backgroundIt’s a new year meaning a new beginning. A chance to make change, to start a new. Perhaps there’s something you’ve always wanted to learn, a new skill you’d like to acquire, or an old habit you’d like to kick. Maybe you’d like to paint, speak a different language, workout, or learn to cook. Why not make this year’s resolution one that includes your dog? What could be more motivating and rewarding than working with your dog to achieve a personal goal?! Your dog will definitely keep you accountable that’s for sure. So make this the year you keep your resolution and include man’s best friend.

Here are my suggestions to make your 2015 the best year ever with your furry friend!

1) TAKE YOUR DOG NEW PLACES. This was my resolution last year for me and Carmen. I even took Carm all the way to California with me! Try going somewhere new each week. This can be trails, parks, pet stores, or even just different neighbourhoods. This is a great way to learn cool spots in your city, socialize your dog, give her mental stimulation, and tire her out. I’m sure you and your dog are bored with the same old walk around the block. Why not make walks more FUN! Change it up a bit by switching spots. Even travel together. My dog sure loves an adventure, I’m sure your dog would too!

Here are some of the dog friendly places we’ve found together in KW:

DOG PARKS – There are several dog parks for off leash romps (Kiwanis, Bechtel, McLennan, and unofficially Snyder’s Flats).
TRAILS – There are trails a plenty all along the Grand River which are great for on leash strolls. There’s also Breithaupt Park, Idelwood Park, Pioneer Tower Natural Area, The Iron Horse Trail, and Forest Height’s Community Trail. Parks like Victoria Park, Waterloo Park and Bechtel are also great spots to go with lots of sights and other people walking their dogs as well.
STORES – Pet stores like Ren’s and Pet Valu are some of Carmen’s favourite spots to go. But what you might not know is Chapters, The Uptown Shops Centre, and The Patch (in Cambridge and Waterloo – I’ve never had them turn away my cutie) are also pet friendly.
***Please only visit stores and dog parks if you are confident you can manage your dog without issue around people and pets. Please don’t ruin pet friendly spots for the rest of us if your dog is not ready for that environment. Home Depot was pet friendly until recently when an employee got bit by a dog. Know your dog and what she can handle.

2) Make 2015 the year you BECOME YOUR DOG’S TRUE PACK LEADER. To be Pack Leader, you’ll need to make sure to adequately exercise your dog daily, provide structure/discipline, and then reward with affection. Why not get everyone in your house on board with making changes to ensure your dog’s needs are all being met. Print off the rules and put them on your fridge so it’s in plain sight and everyone can be consistent in applying the rules.

Here are some examples of rules:

The dog must be walked for at least an hour a day
The dog eats after the family eats
The dog is not allowed on furniture

3) IMPROVING ONE’S HEALTH is a popular resolution. Why not make it a priority not just for you but also your dog. This could be a goal to loose 5 pounds together or increase your activity level. They do say a dog is the best personal trainer. Why not take up running or biking and bring along your buddy. Guaranteed it will make exercising more enjoyable. If you are trying to limit your calorie intake in 2015, you can easily do the same for your dog as well. Pay attention to food portions and just how many treats you may be giving Fido. Obesity in dogs is a huge problem (pun intended lol), but the good news is it can be easily fixed. Eating more organic and less processed foods will be a big help to you both to be your fittest selves in 2015.

Here’s to making 2015 the best year for you and your furry friend 🙂

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Pack Life

10572203_987421187950405_6479738509060605040_oAs many of you already know, I work with dogs every day in a pack setting. I see dogs of all sizes, ages, and breeds interacting in harmony. When I tell people I own a dog daycare without fail one of the first questions I get asked is “Do the dogs ever fight?” People find it hard to believe that 25-30 dogs can co-exist peacefully off leash. I can understand where their bewilderment stems from. Have you ever been to a dog park? It’s chaos! Dogs are running at large with no manners and no discipline. So yes, in those settings there are often conflicts between dogs and sometimes things get ugly.

Here’s the difference between that chaotic pack dynamic and my balanced dog daycare setting. We have rules that keep the dogs safe and they are always implemented, no exceptions. These rules are simple really and are as follows.

1) You must be CALM to enter the pack. We will wait with dogs who are anxious or excited until they relax in order to meet the other dogs. This is CRUCIAL for keeping everyone in good spirits. Now think of how dogs arrive at the dog park…..they are crazy excited! This leads to disaster. Those dogs will no doubt cause a riot and someone may get hurt.

2) You must PLAY NICELY, with EVERYONE. We watch for certain dog behaviour and break up potential issues before they escalate. Many times at dog parks I hear people say “dogs will be dogs, just let them figure it out.” This survival of the fittest mentality is breeding bullies at parks and the learned behaviour of aggression towards another dog to be alpha will create future problems. In my daycare if a dog is out of line he is put in a time out and then reintroduced to the pack once calm. Owners should take accountability at all times in group settings. Parents would do the same if it were their child.

3) NO TREATS. Having treats when you are surrounded by dogs is a recipe for disaster. Some dogs become food aggressive when they feel threatened by other dogs. If you have a dog that will not come to you unless you have a treat, then my advice is do not let your dog off leash. Work on gaining their respect first so you do not have to bribe them with cookies.

Although I’ve never had a bad experience myself I’ve heard dog park horror stories so I tend to steer clear of them. Instead, owning my own daycare allows me to provide my own dog and many other dogs with a safe and structured place to be social. I also host on leash dog walks all around the city. This still is socialization for dogs. It’s important to realize that dogs don’t always need to be off leash to make friends and be social. Learning to walk peacefully beside other dogs is a great way to help calm excited or anxious dogs and is very therapeutic for humans too. Best yet it still has the benefits of being in a pack. My next pack walk is happening TOMORROW Saturday December 13th at 4:30 PM in Waterloo Park if you and your dog would like to see what it’s about. Please be advised that retractable leashes are not permitted.

Please keep The Dog Haus rules in mind when even doing on leash and off leash socialization with your dog. Be CALM. Be NICE and ACCOUNTABLE. And please no TREATS!!!

Food is LOVE!

In our society, FOOD is LOVE. Unfortunately, this often means copious amounts of fatty treats for our furry friends. What’s concerning is that obesity in dogs is on the rise and needs to be taken seriously. Overweight dogs have a higher risk of arthritis, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, among other medical issues.

“In Canada’s Pet Wellness Report (published in 2011), Canadian veterinarians identified weight control/management as the number one thing a pet owner can do to increase the length of their pet’s life.”

– Canadian Veterinary Medical Association

I love my dog very much. Some might say I’m obsessed. So to show her love, I prepare healthy meals for her that keep her lean and healthy to help her live a long life free of ailment. I show Carmen love, by offering her nothing the best of the best. This means local, natural foods that are easy to digest. She does not get artificial CRAP! No Milkbones for my baby. Instead she gets human-grade RAW food and all natural supplements. THIS (along with regular exercise) is what keeps Carmen as active and healthy as she is especially for a 3-legged dog.

Do not skimp when it comes to food for your dog. Quality ingredients like the ones I give Carmen can add years to their life and will save you on vet bills for trips like ear infections (usually a food intolerance), allergies, and hip/joint problems due to being overweight from too many carbs, sugars, and salt in kibble and treats.

Watch the video I’ve included to see how I prepare Carmen’s meal. All ingredients included are listed below and are available at The Dog Haus. Raw food is not only natural for dogs it is healthier and I’ve notice major improvements in Carmen’s coat, stamina, mobility and weight management. Have questions about the benefits of RAW? Ask us next time you are in 🙂

BigCountry Raw Pheasant and Elk
BigCountry Raw Herring Oil
Coconut Oil
Dr Dobias GreenMin
Dr Dobias SoulFood

What you didn’t see is Hero Dehydrated Duck Feet for dessert 😉 Which are full of chondroitin and glucosamine which is excellent for joint health and best of all LOW IN FAT!