Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Puppy's Journey!

The project is complete!   Actually it was completed 6 months ago, but life has been busy with not only training dogs but also a trip to Africa.   Have a look at my new training book, it gives guidance for new puppies, and tips for adult dogs also.  All profits go to the National Borzoi Rescue Foundation

A Puppy's Journey can be ordered from:

Now that life is back to normal, I will catch up on what my own dogs, as well as my students dogs have been learning in upcoming blogs.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Listen To Your Dog

Our dogs try their best to communicate with us, we need to listen.

Today I was grooming young Java. He has been wonderful about standing on the grooming table while I dremel/grind his nails. Today he pulled his right front foot away as I went to hold onto his paw. I thought that odd. I tried again, thinking maybe I had tickled the bottom of his pads with my finger. Same response.

Instead of insisting he hold still, I checked his bottom pads and looked between his toes. Everything looked fine. But Java was telling me something was not right. I continued my search for what could be wrong. And I found what was causing some discomfort. Java's carpal pad was torn. This is the pad that is just above the dew claw.

At first glance the carpal pad was not even visible.

But after I moved the hair away, I saw the torn area.

As always, my relationship with my dogs is priority. I cleaned out the sore area and will trim the nails on his right foot on another day. Listen to your dog, although not always immediately understood by us humans, they are usually trying to tell us something.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Rotate Dog Toys, Keep Them Interesting

Remember when you were a kid, and you found a toy or game in the back of your closest that you had forgotten about? Remember how it once again seemed new and you would play for hours?

It's the same for our dogs. They can get bored playing with the same toys every day. I give my dogs access to about 3 or 4 toys at a time, and hide the remaining toys. Every week or so I take away the ones they have been playing with and take out some 'new' toys. They play with their 'new' toys as if they have never seen them. They are more interested and play for hours.

Aunt Joy made our dogs this braided toy over a year ago, many washings and many times introduced as 'new' has given it many hours of playtime.

Indoor toys also become outdoor toys after they become ragged after many washings. That brings on another concept of 'new' toy. This blue monkey was no longer of interest indoors, but when I brought it outdoors, Melissa and Java ran and tugged for hours as if they had never seen such a toy with long legs and arms.

A forgotten toy found under the snow can also add hours of fun.

If your dog is given several toys as gifts on his birthday or Holiday, save a few for another day. Give him one now and save the rest for later. This green and orange ball on a rope was a Holiday gift, I gave it to the dogs the end of January.

Winter can be long enough here in the north east, let's keep our dogs' minds engaged by rotating their toys to make them 'new' once again. Same idea for their meals in interactive toys, think outside your usual Kong, try a Twist n Treat, Kong Wobbler, or Kibble Nibble Ball for a few days.

Best thing about a new toy, it challenges and tires them mentally. Some dogs will use their 'new' toys as a pillow.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Holiday Safety Tips

Keeping the Holidays Fun and Safe for our Dogs

It’s here! The snow, the cold, and the festive time of year we’ve been waiting for. We attend parties, go shopping, have friends and family to our homes, and travel. It seems like we never have enough time to get everything done. But wait….our dogs are in the midst of all this!

To keep both humans and dogs happy and stress free, here are a few tips that you might find helpful.

1) Guests arriving mean open doors. Keep your dog safe by placing him in a crate, keeping him on leash, or make use of baby gates to prevent access to the front door.

2) Wrapping gifts equals scissors, tape, bows and ribbons, and paper. All can be enticing to a dog. Please keep all of these items out of reach. Plan on using one room for gifts and wrapping, the door can be closed and your dog will not be tempted.

3) Christmas trees with ornaments and lights are also very tempting for your dog. Consider the use of baby gates to prevent your dog’s access to the room.

4) Holidays mean an abundance of food. We humans might be able to handle the fancy appetizers, the eggnog, candy and desserts, but our dog’s digestive system is not made to handle such items. Although pleading eyes may tell you otherwise. Keep to your dog’s regular diet as much as possible; his digestive system will appreciate it.

5) Last year the grandchild may not have been walking. This year she is moving around and heading towards your dog! Not all dogs appreciate a toddler around their face or bothering them if they are lying down. Always supervise children and dogs.

6) Chocolate is poisonous to dogs, as are Poinsettias. If at any time that you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic item please call the ASPCA National Poison Hotline 888 426 4435.

7) Time is short this time of year; there is so much to do! Our dogs do not understand what all the commotion is about. Make time in your busy day for your dog, an extra walk, a longer grooming session, or a game of fetch, an extra special stuffed Kong. Anything your dog enjoys doing with you; make time for in your busy schedule. Your dog will appreciate the time spent with you…and the old saying is still true ‘A tired dog is a good dog’.

Have a wonderful and safe Holiday Season

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Puppy's Journey!

It's been awhile since I have posted. I've been busy training my own dogs, student's dogs and putting the final touches on A Puppy's Journey

Soon to be released:

A companion to Being Borzoi & Forever Borzoi. 200 pages, hardcover, color photos

$39.95+$5 s/h USA

To order:
OR: a check to ZOISTORY
2255 Strasburg Rd.
Coatesville, PA 19320

All profits benefit Borzoi Rescue.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Puppy Java goes to 4H camp

This morning a group of us helped at the annual 4H camp held on the grounds of Albany Obedience Club. The children rotate thru training sessions on agility and rally, and have different educational programs to learn more about dogs. I was there specifically to help teach the children on the needs of puppies, how we train them, how to approach them etc. It was also a wonderful opportunity to socialize our puppies with children. The puppies also had time to play with each other, another socialization opportunity.

We set up crates or x-pens for the pups to rest in between training sessions. It was a good opportunity for each puppy to practicing being confined in a different environment. We all had toys and chews to keep our pups occupied.

There were all sizes and shapes of puppies.

Each child had a puppy to work with . We practiced the name game...where the puppy learns how to respond to his name. Java thought it lots of fun, 'Java' and he got a treat, 'Java' and he got a treat. A wonderful venue for our pups to learn how to respond to someone else other then their owners. After many repetitions the pups were able to turn away from mild distraction and look immediately to their handlers when they heard their name.

We also practiced how our pups should greet politely. Puppies want to be near our face, think of how many times we pick them up and hold them close to us. The rules change when they get too big and we no longer pick them up. So we need to teach them that keeping four feet on the ground, with the final goal of sitting, is how to get attention from us.

The pups had lots of breaks to walk outdoors to for potty breaks and to cool off in the wading pools.

The children each took a puppy and practiced handling a dog different then there own. It made me smile to see these young handlers talking in soft voices, helping the puppies out with a cookie to move them thru the club grounds, and encouraging them to try the pools. Best of all was the laughing and giggling along with the puppies playing. Kids having fun with puppies, and puppies learning many new and different sights. A perfect day!

Java and Bryce, always seemed to find each other, they are becoming the best of friends.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Puppy Java learning to 'Target'

Targeting is a skill where Java will learn to touch a part of his body to an object, known as the 'target'. Usually we teach dogs to touch their nose or paw to an object. Targeting is helpful in teaching our dogs to go to a mat, lying on it and remaining in place; for service dogs to open and close doors; to move our animals from one place to another; to teach them to go on or under obstacles; or to facilitate teaching tricks. It also helps dogs to learn about their bodies, for Java I wanted him to begin learning about turning his body to the left and right in a circle. This helps with strengthening his hind end and learning about hind end awareness.

I started to teach Java how to target a bit differently then I have in the past with my other dogs. Instead of teaching Java to first touch his nose to the center of my palm, I started with a target stick. Target sticks can simply be a spatula, a spoon, a stick with taped wrapped around the edge for visibility. Or you could opt for a more formal click stick which has a clicker built in. or a target stick that has a red rubber end and also comes with a stand for distance work. Both can telescope to over 20 inches.

I wanted to give a target stick a try to see if it would facilitate his understanding of moving towards an object to touch his nose. I had already used my hands to do a lot of touching him all over his body, especially around his feet to accustom him to having his nails trimmed. Just for my own curiosity I wanted to see if teaching him with a target other then my hand would make a difference to the learning process.

I paced the target stick very close to his nose, he was interested in something different, he moved closer to take a sniff. The instant his nose touched the rubber ball, I clicked and gave him a treat.

Gradually I moved the target stick inches further from Java, he had to make the effort to move towards the target. I continued to click and treat each correct response.

I was late on clicking a few times, and clicked as Java was attempting to mouth the ball, no need to yell at him. He was just learning what this new game was all about. This is the beauty of clicker training, the only 'correction' the dog receives is the lost opportunity of receiving a reinforcement...his treat. Our relationship was intact, he still trusted me. I just withheld a click when his mouth touched the ball. The next rep I clicked a tiny bit early, just as his nose was about to touch the target, but before he opened his mouth. He quickly understood that it was his nose that needed to touch the red ball on the target stick in order to get a reinforcement

It wasn't long before Java was following the target stick.

I began moving it ever so slightly to the right, to get him to turn in that direction.

Java's first two lessons in targeting gave him a good foundation towards his first trick: 'spin'. Stay tuned.