The Truth About Socialization

When it comes to socializing your dog it’s important to set you and your pooch up for success. There are many misconceptions when it comes to what socialization truly means, so I though it necessary to address this in a blog. Most dog owners assume it’s making sure their dog can play and be around other dogs without conflict. Although this is important, it is not the only aspect of socialization. Beyond tolerating other dogs, it also means knowing how to behave around humans and in new environments.

Here are my tips on how to socialize your dog and keep them happy and balanced throughout their life.

  1. Be proactive. Don’t wait for issues to arise to start socializing your dog. Start early and enrol your puppy in training classes at an early age. That way you’ll be working with a professional who can ensure your dog’s safety and you’ll learn the tools and skills needed to continue socializing as the dog matures. There you’ll also connect with other likeminded dog owners who can become your dog’s regular friends if you choose to stay in touch. Use it as a networking opportunity.
  2. Once is not enough. Training is important but one class is not going to create a perfect dog. Training and socialization go hand in hand and are ongoing throughout your dogs life. I like to think of it as a lifestyle not a diet. Think about ways that you can continue to grow your dog’s social skills regularly.
  3. Socialization is not just for puppies. All dogs at every age need friends. Dogs, like humans, are social pack animals and need to be around other dogs ongoing so that they are fulfilled, happy and balanced family pets. As your dog grows up, make sure you are still providing opportunities for them to meet people, go new places, and interact with other dogs, those they are familiar with as well as new friends.
  4. Socialize daily. Just like human’s interact with other humans numerous times a day, our dogs need daily interactions with new people, places and other dogs. Regular practice ensures your dog’s manners stay fresh. Try taking your dog with you when you go out whether it’s to the pet store, a friend’s house, out for a drink on a patio, or pet friendly stores in your neighbourhood. You can also sign your dog up for regular visits with friends at a daycare you know and trust or with a highly trained dog walker who works with a pack.
  5. You need to put in effort. Don’t just leave all the work to the pros. It’s not as simple as having your dog walker or local daycare do all the heavy lifting. Although these are fantastic opportunities for your dog to be a social butterfly, it is also very important that your dog knows how to socialize around YOU, not just in your absence. Invite friends to bring their dogs to your own get togethers, start a weekly neighbourhood walk, or see about local events that allow canines. This is what the joy of having a dog is all about, including them in your life events. If you don’t have a network of friendly dogs to socialize with, why not create your own. Facebook and other social media outlets are great for posting and finding local events. Or check with your local pet store to see if they know of any pet friendly events.

Just to give you a few ideas, here’s how I ensure my dogs practice regular socialization with people, places and other dogs. My dogs come with me to family bbq’s and when I teach my training classes. My girlfriend brings her pooch when we have our Bachelor nights (my guilty pleasure). I take my dogs with me for coffee with friends or when I go to dog friendly stores (Chapters is our favourite). I host events like Movie Nights and Paint Nights where dog owners can participate with their furry friends. We also do regular walks with our Dog Haus clients and sometimes I just take my dogs in the car with me for a drive and see where we end up, often times we find a great new walking trail.

I hope you find this article helpful and that it inspires you to get out and have fun with your dog! It’s the best way to show your canine companion how much you love her!

5 things to consider before getting a second dog

When is the right time to get a second dog? As a dog trainer for several years, this is a question I get asked a lot! Being as I recently adopted another dog, I thought it fitting to approach the topic and what I thought long and hard about before adding to my pack. If you are contemplating adding another four-legged member to your pack there are several things to consider.

First let me be clear, dogs are not collectors items! They are living beings with needs that require fulfilling every day, not just when you feel like it. The needs of a dog are simple but when you have more than one dog it does mean you must have more time. A dog needs EXERCISE, DISCIPLINE and AFFECTION.

Dogs also require work, and in some cases lots of it, to properly train. Yes, training is a must, even if you already have another dog. Your first dog is not going to do all the hard work for you. More often than not, bad behaviours rub off on well behaved dogs not the other way around.

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Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before committing to a new pack member:

1. What is the reason you are getting a second dog?

There is a myth that getting a second dog will provide your current dog with entertainment, especially if you don’t have time for it. This could not be more false. It is 100% a bad idea to get a second dog solely as a companion for the first. Trust when I say this will backfire and you will end up with two dogs that are attention starved, thus developing behavioural issues. If you don’t have time for one dog you won’t have time for two…which brings me to my next point….

2. Do you have time to train your new dog? 

It’s important that you allot time and money to work with a professional to help your new dog learn manners and commands. Consider training your dog as a second job. Do you have the time to commit to a second job right now in your life? If not, perhaps it is not the right time to grow your pack.

3. Do you enough money to cover the cost of 2 dogs who will need vet care, boarding, or even emergency surgery?

Dogs aren’t cheap. Much like getting a second car there are many additional fees you should factor into the cost. Similar to how cars need gas, insurance, registration, car washes, and whatnot,  dogs require food, pet insurance, spaying and neutering, vaccinations, training, grooming, pet sitting, and so much more, which all come at a price. Make sure you have money saved up to pay for all the necessities to keep your dog happy and healthy.

4. Is your current dog “balanced”?

If your existing 4-legged companion has behavioural issues, it’s absolutely necessary that you fix those problems first and foremost before introducing a new pack member. Otherwise, you will just double the problem. That’s because your new dog will develop the same issues that your existing dog already has, thus giving you twice the headache.

5. How old is your current dog?

It’s important to recognize that if you have a senior dog, sometimes adding a rambunctious pup into the mix can cause stress to an older canine. If your current dog has mobility or health issues, it may be best to put off the new addition so that you can give your older dog the time and space it needs as he/she ages. The ideal age to add a second dog in my professional opinion is between 2-8 years old. Any younger than this and the dog is still maturing and learning social behaviours. Any older, and depending on the breed, the dog could start showing signs of aging. If you do opt for a second dog in the senior years of your canine’s life, I’d suggest adopting a dog who is older instead of an active puppy. It’s important that the two dogs energies match so as to not disrupt harmony in the pack.

Thinking about getting a second dog? Contact me for training advice and how to integrate the new addition seamlessly.

The 3 Building Blocks to a Solid Relationship With Your Dog

In my years of training I have learned from dogs and Cesar Millan that there are 3 ingredients to any successful relationship: Trust, Love and Respect. This is true of our relationships with friends, family, our dogs, and even towards ourselves. As humans we tend to focus primarily on loving our dogs and less on earning their trust and respect. There is no question, our dogs will love us unconditionally. That is why we consider them man’s best friend after all. No matter what kind of day you’re having, your dog will always be there to comfort you and make you smile. It is something they do naturally and whole-heartedly and truly is admirable. Trust and respect on the other hand do not come automatically and require work to establish.

Let’s take a look at these 3 ingredients in closer detail to see how we can improve our bonds with our dogs.

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TRUST

Having trust issues is not ideal for any human or dog! I have seen many behavioural problems develop due to lack of trust with an owner. Aggression, fear, and anxiety are among a few of the issues that can develop when a dog does not have trust in it’s human. So how do you build trust you might ask? For me it is simple. I work on teaching the dog something new. If a dog can overcome an obstacle with a human it forms a connection built on trust. To give you an example, at the daycare we get new dogs everyday who we need to establish a relationship with fairly quickly in order to bring them in to meet other dogs safely. Many dogs will not just follow a stranger in to meet 25 dogs off leash so easily. If a dog is feeling insecure, I will spend time teaching the dog something new to forge a connection that is meaningful. That something could be learning to go on the treadmill, in the pool, or do some simple agility. Another way to work on trust with your dog is to take them on walks and to visit new places. The more you and your dog explore the world together and have positive experiences the more your relationship will grow and strengthen due to a foundation build on trust!

Just remember that trust is cultivated by doing things together, exercise and overcoming obstacles.

LOVE

We all love our dogs, that goes without saying. But how and when we love our dogs is important. If we try to love our dogs the way we love a baby or significant other, it is not respecting a dog for the animal it is. For instance by buying a dog lavish gifts, dressing them up in clothes, constantly holding, hugging, and talking to them, we are humanizing the dog. To love a dog the way they want to be loved is to provide them with leadership and fulfilling their needs – exercise, mental stimulation and socialization. After all of that, then we can love on them. And treats aren’t the only way to shower them will affection. Most dogs are more motivated by touch and praise from their human than by a Beggin’ Strip or Milkbone. The best way to give affection to your dog is with a slow massage. Being close to you and feeling your tender touch is not only soothing and calming to your dog but also to you. I encourage owners to praise their dog with calm energy and truly connect with your dog through meaningful touch not mindless petting.

The best time to show your dog affection is when they are in a calm submissive state.

RESPECT

Probably the most overlooked ingredient when it comes to our dogs. Most people don’t care about having their dog’s respect because they are more concerned with being their dog’s buddy. However, this part of the relationship is just as important as any other! Dogs who don’t have respect typically do not listen to commands, jump up, and pretty well do what they want no matter what. This wouldn’t be acceptable for a child so why is it ok for a dog. If a friend came over to your house and jumped on your couch with muddy shoes, screamed and shouted, stole your favourite shoes, and pooped in your living room, you would not only be disgusted but also not impressed. You might reconsider your friendship as you would feel disrespected. So if your dog is running the show in your life it is time to start working on gaining their respect. This means enforcing rules for your dog. Some great rules to implement to teach your dog boundaries and respect are: no being on furniture, no pulling on leash, no jumping on humans, no rushing through doorways. To be fair to your dog, teach these new rules on leash and be calm and patient. Change doesn’t happen over night so be consistent with your rules and you will see a change in a matter of a days.

Earning respect means setting clear expectations, so don’t go changing them or you will end up confusing your dog. Be fair and respectful and your dog will do the same.

If you work on these 3 areas in your relationship with your dog, you will have a deeper, more meaningful connection with her and isn’t that what everyone wants?

To learn more about building on these 3 ingredients, join our Training Essentials Group Class!

“Wanna go for a walk?”

5 simple words that can send a calm and relaxed dog into a hyperactive tail spin!

“Wanna go for a walk?” I think every dog owner is guilty of saying these exact words to their dog almost daily. So, what’s my beef with this common phrase you might ask? Good question!

dog-walk-paseo-de-perro-clipart-pinterestMany dog owners struggle with controlling their dog on leash. One of the most common issues I get called in to help clients with is pulling on leash. They get dragged down the street when their dog tries to chase a squirrel, tackle a kid on a skateboard, or lunge toward another dog. For these reasons, the walk can become stressful for owners. Often times resulting in no longer wanting to walk the dog period.

If we start right from the beginning and promote calmness instead of excitement we will see a drastic change in the walking experience for both dog and human.

So to break it down here’s what happens when we utter those 5 key words to our dog. I’d compare it to shouting out to kids in a playground, “who wants ice cream?!!!!” You would evoke sheer chaos! We all know that the walk is the highlight of our dogs day! It’s their time to explore their surroundings, take in sights and smells, and most important bond with their human! But this time outside must be controlled.

The first thing we do when we take out the leash is promote excitement in our dogs. We have actually conditioned them to get pumped up when the leash comes out, whether you are aware of it or not. Most-likely it is because people think it is cute when a puppy comes barrelling to the front door, tail wagging, barking, whining and jumping up. “He’s so happy to go out!” Then we reward that behaviour by taking them right outside and there’s usually a lot of cooing and coddling in the process. But then as the dog matures and grows much larger and STRONGER this excitement becomes a problem.  Owners can risk getting hurt when a powerful dog is pulling on leash. If we start right from the beginning and promote calmness instead of excitement we will see a drastic change in the walking experience for both dog and human.

You see, an excited dog is in a forward state of mind. It is natural for them to pull and not listen to their owners. A dog in a calm state of mind will be relaxed and instead want to follow. That is why Cesar Millan often says your dog should be in a “calm-submissive” state, so that he will assume his follower position, because his mind is open and willing to take instruction.

13116212_10102667845473661_5452660371272984389_o.jpgI challenge you to practice calmness before going on a walk with your dog. This must start with you. You have to be calm to teach calm. I limit talking to my dog and simply present the leash. Then I wait for her to sit and be calm – it is important that you not just focus on the dog’s body language but also their state of mind. A dog who is sitting can still be super excited and raring to go! I always take my time. Do not rush this process. It may take 10-15 minutes the first time, but if you invest the time to calm your dog before heading out it will dramatically improve your walk together. Lastly, lead through the doorway before your dog. It’s important that you stay in front of your dog to communicate that you are in control. A leader always goes first.

The start of my dog’s walk is like a ritual for me. It is calm, quiet and under control. It is discipline. Nobody is rushed. How we reenter the home after the walk is much the same. You should end just as you began, in a calm state. Do this as a daily practice and you and your dog will become more disciplined with how you walk. By including rules, boundaries and limitations to start the walk, you’re dog will learn that good things come to those who wait. 

Try it and tell us how it worked for you! Or post a video to our Facebook page of your new walking ritual 🙂 http://www.facebook.com/doghauswaterloo

 

 

Calm comes first

If you’ve ever watched The Dog Whisperer or Cesar 911, you’ve heard Cesar Millan use the adjective “Calm-assertive” about a million times to describe the energy of a pack leader. But what does he really mean?

Being a trainer and running a daycare, dogs have taught me exactly what it means to be a pack leader over the years. They have shown me it is about patience and understanding. It’s about giving clear direction and setting realistic expectations. It’s about confidence and always following through. Plan and simple, it really comes down to communication.

Zen-DogWhat it definitely is not about is ego. It’s not about being tough or strong. It’s not about dominance in an aggressive sense. It is far more grounded than that. Working with dogs is humbling and honest. Through them they will teach you more about yourself then you’ve ever thought possible and some things you might be reluctant to learn. A dog will reflect back the energy you are, and sometimes people are not ready for that reality check.

Through observing owners over the years, I’ve seen it all when it comes to how people communicate with their dogs. Pleading, yelling, yanking, using sarcasm, half-assedly asking, or  not doing anthing at all, people just can’t seem to properly communicate to their dogs exactly what it is they want. The dogs then simply rebel, shut down, or frightened they begrudgingly comply just to end their handlers charades. If we want to better our relationships with our pets we seriously need to get our sh*t together! Our dogs need us to better communicate what it is we want through our emotions and intentions (aka ENERGY).

This is easier said than done for most people. When trying to understand energy it is best to reflect on yourself in the moment and ask yourself two things: How do I feel and what is it that I want? If you can be honest with yourself and your emotions in the moment you can see whether or not you are truly being calm assertive. Notice Cesar Millan never says Assertive-Calm. There is good reason for this. Most people emphasize the assertive part. They try to puff out their chest, speak louder, and often use their arms in grand gestures while barking out commands to their dog. This however is not calm. This is more pushy and aggressive than calm and confident. Calmness is something our society in general can improve on. We all are pretty darn confident in ourselves if you think about it. And even if we aren’t we certainly fake it. What we most definitely aren’t is calm. We constantly busy ourselves, always in a rush, and typically annoyed when anything slows us down. Rarely do we take a breather, calm our minds and bodies and just relax in the moment. This is where we can take a lesson from our dogs. Simply breath. Be present. Chill out. If we focus on calm before anything else with our dogs that’s half the battle right there. If you’ve got an anxious dog, being overly assertive will not help him relax. You must be calm to teach calm, so relax first and then focus on assertion. If you have an excited dog bouncing off the walls only calm energy will slow him down.

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Calm confidence, is still and when it moves it’s deliberate in it’s movement. It’s about patience and taking the time to do things right, never rushing the result. It’s about intention and being quiet rather than loud. Cesar is called the Dog WHISPERER because his energy is understated but his presence is known. He is calm, first and foremost.

I urge you to try emphasizing calmness with your dog. Slow things down. Take a look at how you feel inside and ask yourself are you communicating with your dog in a calm and confident manner. Are you being fair or are you more concerned with being firm? Remember to always be calm assertive and that CALM comes first!

 

 

10 Tips on Beating the Blues

At The Dog Haus we always notice a significant change in the dogs’ behaviour when the weather changes. As it gets colder the dogs seem to have infinite energy and you can tell that maybe some pups haven’t been getting their regular exercise.

This isn’t all that surprising as it is that time of year again when it gets hard to get out of bed and face the day. Motivation is at an all time low and really all you want to do is c5e90352b3cd617b3913450c89fdfce2hibernate. I can relate! Trust me. As someone who has suffered long time S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) I know all too well about deep dark depression and the misleading comfort it seems to offer. It’s all too easy to slip into that sadness and stay there in a familiar funk. It takes far more energy to be up beat when the days are cold, dark and long and when stress piles high and you just want to give up. But when you have a family or a pet to take care of, it becomes even more imperative to pull yourself up and keep your mood and motivation in check. When other’s rely on us we need to stay positive, focused and moving forward! So I’m here to offer you solace and refuge. Here are my 10 tips on beating the blues so that you can be the best YOU – parent, dog owner, friend, spouse, teacher, nurse, business owner, musician….you get it!

  1. One of the most important pieces of advice I can give you is to make time for the things you love! So often when we become depressed or stressed we are quick to remove the things that bring us the most joy. If you think about it those are the things that ignite passion within us and in turn energize us! If you take that away because you feel like you don’t deserve it you will stay at a low. For instance with me, I know being creative is something that inspires me. It is important for me to express myself whether it is through writing (like this blog), painting, singing, or dancing, even when I am feeling down. When I do any one of these things I instantly feel different. I feel lighter, freer, and more me 🙂 Find out what energizes you and do it daily!!! I cannot stress this enough!
  2. Invest in yourself. What I mean by this is truly take care of yourself. This means eating well, working out,  going to bed early, and working on ways to improve yourself. If you take good care of your mental, physical and emotional well being it will show through and effect your overall mood. Think of how good you feel after a good night’s sleep, or a run, or when you master a new skill. Why not incorporate that into your routine to keep you functioning at a high frequency always? Duh!
  3. Embrace your inner child. Remember when you were young and you did things just for FUN?! Why not do it again. Think of what it was that made you laugh and feel silly and try it as an adult. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you can’t let loose and giggle now and again. Maybe it was playing board games, tobogganing, finger painting, or jumping rope. Try something you haven’t done in a long time and bring back those good memories.
  4. Listen to uplifting music. When you’re sad or depressed it’s easy to find a soundtrack to your life that keeps you feeling sad and depressed. No offence to Radio Head and ColdPlay, but listening to sad music has a cyclical effect and can often times intensify our sadness. You’re listening to sad music because you’re sad, but you’re also sad because you are listening to sad music, so how is that going to help? Now I’m a huge fan of Bon Iver and other melancholy bands, but I know that in listening to them my depression is not going away any time soon. Conversely, choosing to listen to music that makes you feel good will put you in a happier mood as it actually releases dopamine, the feel good chemical, from your brain (the same affect as chocolate, sex, and some drugs). On days I feel weighed down by stress and sadness I start my morning listening to a favourite song before going to work. Music has such a power over our emotions so use it to help treat your psyche and alter your mood. Try it!
  5. Meditate. In place of anti-depressants and anxiety medication, meditation is increasingly being used to treat depression and anxiety within the medical profession. It was actually my doctor who suggested I try Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) to help deal with my depression and anxiety. And so I began an 8 week course and incorporated it into my daily life often meditating numerous times a day. I encourage you to find time in your life to slow down and live in the now. Simple things like focusing on your breath or sensations in your body help to clear the mind and bring us peace. We live in such a busy world that it seems difficult to take 5-10 minutes to literally do nothing, but it is so important to do so. Consider it like a recharging of your battery. This “time-out” completely alone with yourself with all the distractions gone, will help bring more focus, clarity and harmony to your life. For me, I meditate not just when I’m sitting cross-legged on the floor, but also when I run. When I run I just focus on my breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I am not concentrating on what I’m doing afterwards or how to solve issues I’m facing at work, I am simply in the moment, running. It is one of the best parts of my day and I feel refreshed afterwards.
  6. Surround yourself with positive people. It is said that you are a combination of the 5 people you hang out with the most…so choose wisely. Take a look at who you spend a lot of time with and what are they like. Are they ambitious? Passionate? Fun? Or maybe they are Debbie Downers and people who like to have pity parties. If you want to be confident, positive, and successful find people who inspire that within you. Remember energy is contagious so if you are hanging out with people who have bad vibes, they will rub off on you. Good vibes only people 🙂
  7. Practice gratitude. If you count your blessings each day it’s pretty hard to feel bummed about life. Do you have a job? A roof over your head? Friends and family who love you? Are you healthy? Are you alive and breathing? I suggest that each day you right down the things you are thankful for. Make a list and appreciate all the little things you have in this world. It’s important to also practice gratitude with others. It feels pretty good to actually say “thank you” to people every once in a while. Think about an employee who works really hard, a family member who is generous towards you, or a neighbour who does kind gestures and take the time to give them the appreciation they deserve.
  8. Do something nice for someone. A random act of kindness is a sure fire way of lifting your spirits. Good deeds really shouldn’t be done just because they make us feel good, but it is an added bonus! You could do something small for a stranger like holding the door open or do something big for a friend, either way it causes a ripple affect of good vibes. Even if the act itself is simple or anonymous it feels good deep down in your soul to make someone else happy. Spread kindness wherever  you go and kindness will reflect back to you.
  9. Repeat daily affirmations. It sounds cheesy but it works! Write them down, say them to yourself out loud in front of a mirror, or repeat them in your head when you get feeling blue. Self talk is a powerful thing so telling yourself things like “I am a kind and positive person” or “I am beautiful inside and out” make a huge difference in how we perceive ourselves. You are what you think so think positive things about yourself and you’ll believe it to be true…because it is!
  10. Lastly, and probably most important, GET OUTSIDE! Sure it may be chilly, but bundle up and brave it! There is nothing better than fresh air in your lungs to make you feel alive. So resist the urge to stay inside all day and binge watch Netflix, because that’s not doing anyone any good. Strap on your boots, leash up your dog and go for a good walk in the great outdoors! It’s exercise for you and your dog and you’ll both feel better because of it, trust me!

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New Year New You!

10623440_928723847182874_3065162442975644778_oFor 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!!!

Happy New Year from me and Carmen 🙂

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Dog Psychology for Humans

12095204_10102397126526601_7060444694680698258_oA moment of clarity struck me as I flew home from another Training Cesar’s Way workshop yesterday. It seems every time I attend one of these sessions I learn some thing new about myself. This time I grew in ways I never thought possible. I realized more about myself in the last 5 days than ever before. I’m slightly ashamed to say it took me 3 visits with Cesar Millan to really get the message but it finally has gotten through to me.

The first time I went out to The Dog Psychology Center I learned about dogs and the power of energy as it relates to animals and came back excited to make major changes in how I ran my doggie daycare. My business became even more successful and friends, family and clients noticed some positive changes in the dogs and also in how I carried myself. It seemed like everything was happening just as it should because I followed my dream of learning from my biggest role model, Cesar Millan, and embraced everything he stood for. I was changed for the better! The second time I went to his workshop I learned even more. I came back and took my business to another level! I pushed myself to do things outside my comfort zone and took a huge leap of faith. I was courageous and I grew as an individual and the pay off was huge. Again I was pumped for my new life and embraced change.

Then, out of nowhere, I crashed. I felt drained, depleted of all my energy. I lacked enthusiasm and creativity. I found it difficult to connect with clients, dogs, staff and loved ones. What happened? I still don’t know. I felt like no matter what I was doing I was failing miserably. I took everything as a reflection of personal failure. I beat myself up…hard. To say my confidence was gone and I was depressed is an understatement. It was hard to go into work. My diet was poor, I was drinking more than I should, and crying in the shower. How could I inspire people and train their dogs when my energy was so weak? I felt like a fraud, preaching about energy when I couldn’t muster the strength to get out of bed never mind admit I needed help.

Then the opportunity to come back to Cesar’s Dog Psychology Center presented itself, like the universe knew I needed support and a helping hand. I got there and tried to be uplifting and felt more alone than ever until I opened up about my suffering and was embraced by people who can relate to exactly what I was experiencing. Being burnt out isn’t something to be ashamed of. And sometimes being stressed or depressed doesn’t equate to not being passionate about what you are doing. Sometimes we need to recharge and get in touch with our inner self. And finally when I put aside the drama of doubting myself and really listened to the universe, I realized I’ve got everything I need to make change and it’s all within my reach. I am fortunate to be surrounded by people who believe in the same philosophy as me. It’s not just about dogs and I understand that now more than ever.

The last day of the Cesar’s workshop we do a Meditation Walk and it’s one of the highlights of the trip for me and how I was first introduced to the power of meditation, the importance of deep breathing and stillness. I have since incorporated it into my life and shared it with clients and anyone else curious about the possibility of opening your mind to channel a connection with what surrounds you. As we prepped for meditation, I sat cross legged on the floor, my eyes closed and concentrated on my breathing for just 10 minutes. I walked away feeling refreshed, calm and content. I said farewell to my Cesar’s Way family and set out to the airport.

Now, let me be clear, I am not a good flier. I’m typically stressed, panicked and generally afraid. This is due to the passing of my father in a plane crash when I was only 3 years old. I have since realized that this fear is subconscious because I correlated travel with death from a very young age. But today with my calm mindset from meditating I was far more relaxed. I strolled through the airport unaffected by the hustle and bustle of others concerned about missing a flight and checking their baggage. I could feel the airport bursting with excited, stressed, and nervous energy and I let it slide off me as if I was wearing a protective layer.

Trying to kill time, I perused a book store and gravitated towards the “self help” section. I picked up and leafed through several books, which all interested me until I picked up one that hit me like a lightening bolt. The title spoke to me. “YOU are a BADASS.” It was as if the author herself pointed me out of the crowd. 12045261_10102401693793761_2648921991961316871_oSlightly embarrassed to be looking at a how to book on self doubt, I put it back and walked away. By the time I reached my gate the little voice inside my head kept telling me to go back and buy that damn book. I thought to myself, “self, you need this book. You need to be a badass. No, you deserve to be a badass.” So I did. I listened to my gut and bought this life changing book, and it was like it was speaking directly to me! I devoured
page after page, nodding in agreement, putting it down at times to let the information absorb in my brain. I let the wisdom wash over me like a warm shower. I was obsessed with every word. And so my moment of clarity came to me and I realized the signs throughout the whole week that were trying to tell me the same thing. My guardian angel pointing me in the direction I needed to be heading in. This little book helped me realize that I am far too hard on myself and I have always been living in fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of putting myself out there. Fear of what other people think. Fear of failure. Fear of not being true to myself. Fear of getting hurt. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of sharing my gift. And in all honesty, fear of success.

“I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life – and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do.”

– Georgia O’Keefe

This book was a major wake up call, reminding me about Cesar’s message that energy really is everything! How you think about your self and the world around you is your reality. The moment you realize that you not only have the power but ARE the power to overcome that fear and go after exactly what it is that you want is slightly overwhelming yet liberating at the same time. It’s what one of my mentors this week mentioned at the start of the workshop, the power of intention. If you whole heartedly believe in something it will come true. As Albert Einstein said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.”

Again I find myself excited to go home and make change. This time it’s not for the dogs, it’s 100% for ME, because I am a badass!

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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

Video

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! 🙂