Monday, March 29, 2010

Advice From the Dog.......

I walked on the beach recently with my two young dogs and couldn’t help but think how fortunate it was that we were mostly alone. These days it’s hard to go anywhere and be by yourself. It was so peaceful just walking on the shore, watching the dogs run and play and listening to the sound of the ocean crash at my feet. The fact that it was raining lightly helped our cause greatly. Dog owners went scurrying when it started which was a perfect opportunity for us to enjoy the solitude of a beautiful beach.

If there is something we could all use a bit more of it’s solitude. A break away from the hurry up life, the constant barrage of media in our lives, phone calls, emails, and other social media. Our dog’s give us that excuse for solitude freely no strings attached. Are we listening to them?

Too often we are so engrossed in what we have to do, in where we have to go, and whom we need to call, that we are removing ourselves from being in the moment. This is a mistake on our part, once we detach ourselves from living in the moment we lose the simple joys of life and we allow stress to take over and fear to dominate. We are afraid that if we don’t keep going, that something bad will happen. I guess in some ways we miss the forest for the trees when it comes to what is important in life.

Listen to your dog, here is what he has to say………

Hang up the phone when you are with me and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the neighborhood.

Have you seen that some of the flowers are struggling to break through from their winter slumber ?

Did you notice that the neighbors house needs a paint job ?
That the huge tree down the street lost a few limbs in the last storm ?

Did you see that your elderly neighbor is struggling to put her trash barrels in the garage ?

Smell that skunk that went through here last night ?

Notice that the squirrels have had their babies and are now out and about more looking for food to feed their growing families ?

Did you see how good I was when I walked by the neighbors dog that was barking in the window ?

Please acknowledge me when I hold my emotions in check because that little so and so needs a talking to but I know that you don’t like it when I bark so I won’t.

Watch me, admire me, pay attention when we walk together this is our time. I haven’t seen you all day and now we are together again and I live for this time.

Don’t let yourself think about all the bad things that happened today or what you will do later, just be with me and let yourself relax and be here with me in this moment.

I don’t want to pressure you but here is the truth……

There won’t be many years that we can do this. I won’t be around forever, my lifespan is so much shorter than yours. On average my kind only live 8-12 yrs. If I’m lucky I’ll stay healthy and be able to keep up with you for all that time but I take nothing for granted. Every time I am with you I give you my undivided attention. I know that you can’t always do that but I am here waiting, don’t be too long.

I came to you to teach you how to live in the moment, how to appreciate the joys in life and how to notice all the wonders around you. I came here to protect you from yourself because as a human you really don’t get it. The point of life is not in acquiring more things, going more places or achieving more goals, its about love, it’s about joy, it’s about just being.
I know you might not ever get this but I am here to remind you and I’m a patient dog…..I’ll wait.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Teaching Dog Owner Etiquette

This is a great age to own a dog in. More and more people are becoming dog owners than ever before and there are more products and services available to meet this growth. What's missing however is some infomation on dog owner etiquette. As dog professionals we have to help new dog owners learn not only how to train their dogs but how to act with them in public. Here are some things that we need to teach folks who are just learning the mores of dog culture .

Dogs in Public
- always pick up after your dog no matter where you are
- keep your dog on leash or be prepared to re-leash your dog when you approach another owner/dog on a walk, especially if that dog is on leash.
- not all dogs are friendly and most do not want to be greeted by having your dog bounce off of them
- teach your dog to sit/stay in the presence of other dogs and only allow him off leash to play if he is under control and calm
- allowing an overstimulated dog to go "play" often leads to on leash aggression problems as the dog matures
- even if your dog is friendly, consider that the other dog and owner may not appreciate your dog's advances and may find it offensive that your dog is out of control
- play in dogs is healthy when intense wrestling and chasing is broken up with sniffing the ground and wandering around
- prolonged heated interactions that include a lot of vocalization, wrestling and pinning should be redirected after a few minutes and not be permitted to go on and on.
- teach your dog a rock solid verbal "leave it" so that you can break up and re-direct overstimulated play without having to physically pull your dog away.

At Canine University we have begun to really listen to our clients and implement these behaviors into our training curriculum as part of the core behaviors we include in our beginner classes. The more real the curriculum the more valuable training is to the average person.