Friday, April 24, 2015

Up Trading

Have you ever tried to play fetch with your dog only to find Fido happily chases the ball, grabs it and then forgets all about the bringing back part?

Many dogs love to chase toys and they do really want you to throw them. They also adore having a "special" object in their mouth that is theirs. This can include toys, sticks and even prized possessions that your child will spend the next few hours screaming about.

So what's a fun loving dog owner to do? You want to play but Fido only gets half the game. Plus you don't really want your furry pooch stealing stuff around the house and playing keep away.

It's really important to teach your dog to up trade. Now what does that mean? The just is that they give up something and get something better. This encourages them to relinquish objects readily. And it does work even when you don't have a trade item down the road.

A great example would be my dog is fetching a ball. He brings it back. I say "Out" and show him a new ball. He drops the ball and I throw the new one. We can continue to play using two balls so there's always something exciting to chase and my dog doesn't feel conflicted about relinquishing the one he has.

Another example would be my dog retrieves a stuffed toy. I say "Out" and show my pup a treat. He drops the toy for the treat. I throw the toy and we resume "trading".

A really important note is to avoid taking the toy from your dog or chasing your dog around. You need to make them excited about your item and not worried about you taking something from them.

Give it a try!


Thursday, April 16, 2015

What Dogs Need

I'm pretty lucky in that in my line of work I get to meet the Pet Parents who are absolutely committed to their dogs and truly want what's best for them. They are willing to invest time, money and love into ensuring their best friend has the best possible life. What does catch me off guard if how many of them feel guilty that they are in some way screwing up their dog or not being a good Pet Parent. 



This is always a hard one for me as I worked for the Calgary Humane Society for 4.5 years and met some of the worst pet owners in this city. This includes people who felt that dogs were disposable and not worthy of the basic necessities of life. The Pet Parents I meet are polar opposites. 

Let's break it down a bit... why do you feel guilty? 

1. You feel as though your dog isn't getting enough exercise. 

This may or may not be true depending on the family I see and why the dog might not be getting exercise. If your dog is aggressive and a danger to the public then yes exercise is most likely something you put off or are very nervous about. If your dog gets too tired after a 20 minute walk this is also a reason people feel guilty. So let's break it down a bit... depending on the breed and age of your dog you may be over or under exercising. 

Puppies (8 to 16 weeks) are often not great candidates for long walks. I find 15 minutes for most puppies is more than enough. You can do 2-3 of these shorts walks in a day. And possibly for your puppy 5 minutes at a time is enough. They are often quite happy to sit outside with you and explore the world around them. You can try taking them new places and letting them sniff and explore. This will allow their brains to process new eliminates of the environment and for them to be socialized in a variety of places. 

Seniors are also often not great candidates for long walks but it does depend on the individual dog. Senior dogs may get sore from walking on pavement too. Try a park where you can allow your dog to walk on a long line at a slow pace on grass. Tailor your walk duration so that your dog does not get sore. 

High Energy Breeds - so let's face it I could walk my German Shorthaired Pointer for 4 hours straight on leash and he wouldn't be tired (not even a little bit). His exercise needs to be off leash running (Quadding seems to work well), hiking off leash so he can explore and smell or physical activity found in dog sports like agility or tracking. If you own a high energy working breed then you need to be participating in a diverse amount of activities that work the brain and the body. 



2. You work a long day (8 to 10 hours away from the home). 

This is another concern but a reality for most pet parents. You have to work to pay the bills so you and your dog can have a roof over your head and food on your plate. This is more than many dogs around the world have. You can only do your best. Great options for friendly, well adjusted dogs can be dog daycare 1-2 times per week or a dog walker everyday or every other day. If you can't afford that then try a walk in the morning where your dog can do lots of sniffing, followed up by interactive feeding with a Kong, Treat Stix or Tricky Treat Ball and another walk or dog sport activity once you're home from work. Most dogs (especially those in dog sports) need around 19 hours of sleep per day. Does that make you feel less guilty???

3. A few times a week you like to go out with friends, play human sports or eat dinner out. 

This is true for most pet owners and can be a real stress. Your dog is a part of your life but for most of us your dog isn't your whole life. If you want to do activities in the evening try to mix it up so your dog has had a great day the day before. This is another time when a dog walker, dog daycare or family friend can help you out. Try not to feel guilty and occasionally even my dogs have to put up with a boring day when I have other stuff on the go. This is usually when they'll get a nice awesome bone to snack on. 

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

My Dog Was Attacked

My clients have countless stories about off leash dogs coming after themselves or their pets. I’ve heard them and I’ve experienced it a few times myself. This past Monday I had a situation that I was completely unprepared to deal with and to be honest should never have happened.

I had been out of town for the long weekend and had some lovely family friends taking care of young Pointer. It was his first weekend as a solo dog and I was anxious to pick him up and see how he did. My friends don’t currently have a dog and did a great job of taking care him even though he had been slightly anxious without his pack around. When I pulled up into their driveway to pick him up I noticed a man with a large Rottweiler playing in the nearby children’s park. This violates bylaw in Calgary in that dogs are not permitted on or off leash in these areas. It is however a common occurrence so other than noting that they were there and seemed to be minding their own business I didn’t really think of it.



I loaded up my dog’s crate and belongings before returning to the house to get him. He wears a collar, gentle leader and leash. I made sure to put on his leash, as I didn’t want him getting overly excited and attempting to go visit the dog in the park. He’s usually pretty good about staying with me but why take an unnecessary risk.

I said goodbye to my friend and walked my dog the entire 12 feet from their front door to my Jeep parked right in their driveway. My dog was happy to go to the jeep and didn’t even notice the dog and man in the park. I had my back hatch open and he was ready to jump in when I saw the other dog running towards us across the street. The owner didn’t even attempt to call his dog. I could tell the approaching Rottweiler was coming in too fast to be friendly. I yelled him to attempt to deter him but he jumped on top of my top biting his head, neck, ear and even leg. My dog was secured by his leash and gentle leader and was unable to defend himself. I yelled and kicked at the other dog in an attempt to get him to back off. My friend came running from her home to assist but let’s face there’s not much too unarmed women can do against a dog this size and she was also pregnant. The man eventually made his way over and removed his dog. He never said a word to either of us. I checked over my dog. He was scared, bleeding from his ear and had puncture wounds and scratches along his head, neck and upper back. He also had a injury to his left front leg that I discovered the next day. I loaded my dog into my jeep and tracked down the man’s address once I saw which house he went into.

My dog is an intact male and other dogs before have attacked him. This generally happens in an off leash park setting and he’s showing discomfort before anything happens. He never instigates these events and continually the target of neutered males. This is however the first time my dog has been a significant distance away and not even looking at the other dog. This particular dog has very real dog aggression and his owner choose to run him off leash in a residential area where there are many neighbourhood dogs.



Now that some time has passed (a few days) and I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I’ve come to realize that I need to be prepared for an incident at all times. I do carry an air horn with me when I go for walks to help break up dogfights. When you work with aggressive dogs for a living you understand that sometimes accidents happen. We can’t always predict the behaviour of our own animals and definitely not someone else’s. In this situation it was not an accident and the other owner was fully in the wrong. He failed to have control of his animal and he placed his dog in a situation where everything could go wrong. My dog and I are going to suffer the consequences of this, as I’m fairly certain this has damaged my dog’s ability to trust and meet new dogs of this type. He took a full 24 hours to begin acting like himself again.

So why the blog post? For two reasons I want to educate the public on why we need to follow animal bylaws and also what to do when/if this happens to you or your dog.

We need to follow bylaws not because we’re at risk of being fined. It’s because the bylaws are designed to prevent aggression and allow dogs to live in a community in peace with each other and humans. Every single dog owner should be familiar with the bylaws in their area, which include leash laws, noise compliance and tethering. In Calgary, the leash laws are very specific and they are designed to keep everyone safe. Just because you feel your dog has strong obedience or is friendly doesn’t mean everyone else using the public spaces will feel safe around your dog. If I am walking my dog on leash it might be because he’s sick, not friendly or because I believe in following bylaws and my dog and I most likely don’t want to meet your dog while he’s off leash.

If your dog isn’t friendly with other dogs there are options for exercising, which include leash walking, hiking in remote areas on a long line and visiting a fenced area where you can safely run your dog and keep him/her away from others. Using a basket muzzle as a back up for safety would also make sense. It is your job to not put your dog in a situation where he/she feels they need to act aggressively towards other animals or people. If you can’t do this then you aren’t responsible enough to have a dog period.

If you have questions about responsible dog management and need help with behaviour modification for aggression please contact an appropriate dog trainer or behaviourist to help. Look for trainers who have their CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA or KPA certifications.

So what do you do when this happens? I can tell you from experience that these situations can occur quickly and you won’t always respond as well as you could. I definitely could have done a few things different when this dog came after mine. The first would be having my air horn on hand. I definitely did not think I needed it for 12 feet of walking but I did know the other dog was outdoors off leash and I could have had it just in case. I was only thinking about managing my dog and not that the other owner was not despite being shown evidence that he wasn’t following bylaw and therefore most likely wasn’t very responsible.  

I did a great job of not putting my hands in between two fighting dogs, which is crucial to human safety. I could have attempted to grab the other dog’s hind end. At the time this seemed far too dangerous but in hindsight may have been more effective than kicking. I could always have directed the other owner on what to do however I am not completely convinced that would have jolted him into action. But it wouldn’t have hurt to try.

And finally I need to ensure that I am taking my dog out for walks and reinforcing him heavily when we see another dog that is similar. He needs to know I will protect him and that he is fine so that my own dog does not develop reactivity or dog aggression. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Why you should teach your dog their name?

Dogs know their names right? Well that depends on who you ask and when. The average pet owner would say their dog knows their name in their house but does that same dog know their name when they're in the park? Most likely the answer to that one would be no. Names are a crucial component of a strong obedience foundation. 

A name should mean something to a dog just like when say "Sit" and you expect your dog to have their bum on the ground. A dog's name should tell the dog to pay attention and actually look at the person speaking. This is a skill set that has to be taught. 

I like to play "The Name Game" with my dogs. This can be taught to any dog of any age. This includes if you are changing a dog's name because you've recently adopted. 

All you do to play is call your dog's name once "Rover". Then move around or make other noises until your dog looks at you. Once your dog is looking at you say "Yes" and reward with a treat. Then start the process all over again. The most important part is not repeat the dog's name when you're playing. Calling only one time will in the long run eliminate your need to repeatedly call your dog to get attention.

You can play The Name Game with a toy as well. Instead of rewarding with a treat pull out your dog's favourite toy and play tug or throw it for fetch. 

Your dog is learning that their name means to pay attention to you and that there's a fun pay off for listening. 

Try it out today! 

If you'd like help with your overall obedience contact Where's Your Sit to participate in one of our group training classes or private lessons. 



Little side story here at the end... Photo is of Remi our senior French Bulldog. She was adopted only a few years ago and came with a name the Rescue gave her. She's had at least 3 names. We chose to re-name her so she could have a fresh start. Playing the name game helped Remi learn that her name meant to look at us and that good things would happen as a result. She is able to run around off leash and easily come when called all because she's knows that she is in fact Remi. 

Monday, July 28, 2014

Dog Training: Like A Pro Seminar Series

Have you ever wondered how dog trainers can get their dogs to listen so easily? It’s a science and an art form. In this “Like A Pro” series Professional Dog Trainer Jade Robertson will demonstrate and walk you through how she would address each training strategy.



You can apply to have your own dog trained during the session or Jade will bring one of her own. The dog chosen to participate will not be proficient at the selected skill already so you will see exactly how to do it.  

The session is 30 minutes long with a 15-minute Q&A period afterwards.
Topics will include: loose leash walking, recall, stay and keeping focus in a high distraction environment.  



Spectator Spots: $10 per person per session
Apply to have your dog trained: $80 per dog/per session

Session Dates:
Saturday, August 16 at 11am
Saturday, September 13 at 11am
Saturday, October 11 at 11am
Saturday, November 8 at 11am


The location and topic will be selected 1 week in advance. All sessions will be held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

Please email jade@wheresyoursit.com to participate.