Weekly Round-Up: June 28th

It feels like a short week for me, even though it was full of long days on the road as I get back to work as a travelling technician.
I am, sadly, on the road solo; Scout and Kirby are at home in Georgia, and i’m eager to get things organized so I can bring them with me.
Being on the road gives me a new perspective to write from, which is exciting for me, and i’m interested to see what new topics come up.

The first thing i’ll talk about this week is how I came to the decision of travelling solo, or, in short, ‘How do I know when to, and when NOT to, bring my dogs?”. In my mind, it boils down to my anticipated schedule, work load, and accommodations. I expect to be working 8-12 hours a day, living out of motels, and all of this is happening in the Southern US summer heat and humidity, none of which is pleasant for dogs. I think their best life is being lived at home where things are relaxed, ‘normal’, and familiar, rather than coming on the road with me and dealing with all the crazy as I start a new chapter of my adventure. It was a tough choice for sure, but I think the best way to answer that question is, ‘What is best for the dog(s)?”.

The next thing to talk about is the heat! I’m in West Texas as I write this, surrounded by asphalt, concrete, sand, and heat. So much heat in fact that even the heat is tired of it being hot here! SO, in this enviroment, the biggest issue is burned paws on dogs, which can happen in just a few seconds of walking about on the asphalt or concrete under the afternoon sun. It’s very important that you take time to check the heat of the ground by simply placing your palm (or bare foot) on the ground and see how long you can hold it there comfortably. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them!

I’ll wrap up this week by talking a little bit about travelling with dogs. Travelling with dogs by vehicle isn’t difficult, you’ll just need to add a little time to ensure they get a break outside for potty and leg-stretching, and make sure you’ll be staying somewhere that they’re welcome, too.
Along with dog food, extra bowls, and water, I also recommend bringing along a blanket or something familiar from home, and some chew bones or treats that take a while to work on so they have something to do!

As always, thanks for reading, and happy tails! 😀

Weekly Round-Up: June 21st

Hello, and welcome back! We’ll start with a big, “Happy Fathers Day” to all the Dads out there, including Dads of fur-kids. Sure there’s a lot of differences, but at the end of the day, dogs are still dependents of us, though I think the likelihood of being bit is about the same… 😛

Foster first again, Trixie is doing well, and definitely enjoying her gradual return to full activity. She’s technically got two days left until she can go ‘full wide open’, but for a six week rest period, 1-2 days early shouldn’t matter at all.
She’s gotten really good with going outside off-leash, waiting to be invited in or out, and loves to hang out nearby. She’s laying in her bed to my side as I write this at my desk now!
She’s ready for her furever home, and there’s been several posts circulating Facebook, but if you’re interested, and not on Facebook, you can reach out to the LaGrange-Troup County Humane Society and message or email them through the website.

Everyone else is doing well, and other than still struggling with a submissive pee-er, there’s no major issues to discuss. Kirby had a minor issue this week in which he refused to obey a command of ‘go outside’ after he gagged a little; I thought he was about to puke, so I figure we’ll just go outside and let it all out in the grass. He decided he didn’t want to listen, and ran away to my room, and then into his crate. It took a half-dozen verbal commands to get him to go back out of the room, and then he took a seat on the couch before I finally reached to put hands on him. He was clearly nervous, but I got him to relax and come outside with me, though I did have to carry him.

Often time when a dog isn’t listening, the first issue I find is lack of a clear command. Whether the word is mumbled, muffled, or just not clearly understood, this can cause an issue because you expect the dog to obey, but the dog doesn’t know what you want done. The second most common issue is a command that’s not readily understood by the dog, which can be from it being new, or one that hasn’t been practiced in a long time. The third common issue I see, and the one I had with Kirby, is that I was repeating the command, and he knew that, but because I kept saying it, he knew he wasn’t obeying, and thus, in trouble. Rather than try to obey, he tried to get out of the situation; he was scared, and I suspect wasn’t treated so well in the past when given a command multiple times.

My fix for these are,
1) Be sure to speak slowly, clearly, and in a neutral or pleasant tone. The tone of your voice often says much more than the word itself, so even if you’re angry, work on using a pleasant tone to get the message across. Also, be sure you’re not being blocked or muffled by other sounds closer to the dog; if the dog is out in open field and you’re sheltered by trees, it’s possible there’s wind blowing your sound away from the dogs ears.
2) In teaching a command, take time to get it concreted in by doing it many times over and over, but remember to take breaks, and don’t push the dog too hard during the teaching phase. I usually aim for 2-3 commands before breaking from that with a release command, and moving to something else, like pets, play, or just a break.
Be sure to practice all of the commands at least 2-3 times a week so they stay fresh and understood with the dog.
3) This one is the hard one, because often time we want the dog to obey out of need, there’s something happening and you need the dog to cooperate now, but once they get scared, they shut down.
My method is to lower my voice, my body language, my movements, and my actions, get slow and quiet, and gently move to the dog so I can help them relax. Usually it’s just pets and praise, and once the dog is relaxed a bit, we can try it again.

Summer is officially here, so remember to check temperatures of surfaces before letting your dog walk on them, ensure there’s plenty of fresh water available, and don’t take your dog with you in the car if you’re not sure they can go inside with you! Even with the A/C running, there’s still potential for problems, so think it through before you go.

Also, all that barking from your dog? They want to go for a walk, so get out early or late in the day and stretch those legs! 😀

The leash

There’s a lot of talk about the leash, whether it’s ‘leash laws’, training, being out and about, or even the color of the leash.
In this post, we’re going to round up some of those ideas and get ’em collared.

First of all, in general daily use, the leash should be a SECONDARY means of controlling your dog; your voice should be the first. This is easily accomplished with good training, and allows you to confidently take your dog with you without having to worry about getting tangled, pulled, or otherwise annoyed with the leash.

Second, many cities, counties, states, and places have one or more laws in place about having your dog on a leash. Personally, I think it’s dumb, but it’s part of the world we live in, so make sure to check out your local laws.

Third, a good leash can go a long way in handling and training your dog, but always remember that the connection between you and the dog is more important, and more powerful, than the leash. Simply putting a leash on your dog isn’t going to fix poor behaviors, erase your dogs fear or concern about anything, or make you a great dog handler, it’s just a tool you can use with your dog, but it does need to be sued correctly.

I’ll get more in depth about the leash as it relates to training in the training category, but remember that the leash is a SECONDARY form of controlling your dog. When I put my dogs on a leash, it’s just to give me a second way to help them behave, especially in places where they’re easily overwhelmed and/or excited about the environment.

Weekly Round-up: June 13th

Welcome back to the weekly round-up!
This past week has been rather hectic, but we’ve made it through, thanks to lots of dog towels and a couple loads of laundry.

Foster first, Trixie is doing well, with only 9 days left on her activity limitation, we’re both counting down the days!
She’s still quite skiddish when I use a loud voice, but she’s getting better about voice recall as she learns from experience that i’m safe, and not going to hurt her.

Two issues from this past week feel worth talking about to me, and they’re both summed up as: House-broken dogs going potty in the house.
We’ve got one dog here that is known to poop inside when the weather outside is bad. This dog won’t pee inside, but will poop inside, which is rather odd to me, but it’s well known. For this dog, anytime we have bad weather, I keep a sharp eye on them to make sure they’re pottying outside. This means I need to follow them out in the morning and make they poop outside, as well as ensure they go out after they eat. If i’m not able to supervise the dog, then the dog goes in their crate until I can supervise again.
As with all house-training, when I catch them in the act of pooping inside, they get a sharp reprimand, a punishment, and then taken outside if they’re not finished. I like to follow that up with some ‘treat trips’ outside ASAP so they get a reminder of how good pooping outside can be.
Another trick I use is having a ‘potty box’ for them. You can put a potty box anywhere, but I have one on the covered front porch so they can go outside, but not get rained on. It does take the dog some time to get used to it, but it’s very valuable when the weather sucks.

The other issue from this past week is about time. No matter how well house-broken a dog is, they have a time limit, just like we do. When the tank is full, and there’s more coming down the line, something has to GO!
A couple of dogs here were left in their room around 8 pm, still early for bedtime for them, and their person didn’t come home that night, so when I looked in on them in the morning, there was quite a mess. Three of the four dogs are house broken and usually do well, while the fourth one has been dealing with submissive peeing for a few months now. Still, none of them had access to go outside, and if they did make any noise, it wasn’t enough to wake me up.

It’s important to make sure your dogs have access to go outside and go potty, both within their time limit (8 hours or so) and around their normal schedule. I know some people say their dogs don’t have a schedule because they don’t get fed at the same time everyday, but dogs are very much in tune with their routine, and learn quickly through repetition; that’s why good training involves doing the same thing again and again and again!

Okay, wrapping up, make sure to care for your dogs needs, give them access to appropriate facilities, make sure the ground temperature is safe for them to walk on, and remember that training matters, so train your dog!

Kirby goes kayaking

Some days you need to rest, and some days you need adventure! Today, we went on an adventure.

Scout absolutely loves the water, loves to go kayaking, and spends about half the time in the water while i’m paddling around. Ever since she got her life jacket, she’ll swim for as long, and as far, as i’ll let her, and let me tell you what, that’s been quite the thing to figure out!

I, too, love the water, and i’m a big fan of taking my dogs on adventures with me. It’s all around good for them, so after Kirby healed up from his surgeries and got his muscles back in shape, I was determined to get him in the water and see how he likes it!
Last week we went out to the lake and just walked around the waters edge. Once I let Scout and Kirby off leash, Scout took off in several leaps and jumped right into the water, happy to go practice her fish moves again. Kirby, however, took three great big strides into the water, stopped, looked back at me, and decided this was not his cup of tea. He gingerly stepped out, shook off, and spent some time sniffing around the shoreline awhile.
A few more trips in and out, and he seemed to figure out that the life jacket helps him float, so he got a little braver, and started trying to follow Scout off into the water.

After a few evolutions from the shore, I finally threw him in about 6′ off shore, and after he settled into his life jacket, he started swimming around a bit before coming back to shore. SO, he doesn’t dislike the water, it’s just new for him. Good.

Thursday evening came and it looked like a good mix of factors to get out on the lake; the weather was clear, the humidity was not quite ‘oppressive suffrage’ and I had some free time thanks to a canceled meeting, so off we went!

I keep my kayak setup light and easy, so I just walked it and Kirby down to the boat ramp, set the kayak a little more than halfway in the water, got myself in and settled, snapped my paddle together, and then helped Kirby figure out how to get in. Took him a minute or two, but he got settled in and quickly grew curious about the adventure awaiting us. As I pushed off he stood, startled, but quickly sat back down on command and began looking around.

Once we got away from the boat ramp, he settled down and starting taking it all in, and boy oh boy there a LOT of things to take in! Lots of interesting sounds, smells, and of course sights (I like to get RIGHT next to the buoys as we go by…), but he did very well and seemed to have a great time.

The biggest factor to being able to take Kirby places with me is the bond we’ve built; I have to able to trust he’s going to behave and follow commands, and he has to be able to trust that i’m going to keep him safe, well, and not let him hurt himself. This is the same bond i’ve built with Scout, but my bond with Kirby has additional hurdles to overcome, from his past and from outside sources.

He’s come a long way since he first came to my house, and we’ve got a lot of great adventures to go enjoy!

Weekly Round-up: June 7th

Hello, and welcome back to the weekly round-up!

It’s been an odd week for the dogs around here; between the bad weather, people in and out, and odd schedules, there’s plenty to discuss!

First up, Trixie, who has 16 days left of no activity, not that we’re counting…
I know she’ll be super excited when she’s allowed to run free and play hard again, and i’m eagerly awaiting that day, too! She’s doing well, working on her manners and basic commands, and while she’s not a fan of her diet, she’s getting better about tasting the food and not just inhaling it.

It’s been a fairly quiet week, but we did have a fun outing; Scout and Kirby came out to a friends house with me where they got to run around on 3 acres of grass and woods. Scout’s been there a few times, but this was Kirbys first time here, and he didn’t take long at all to get out and stretch those legs!

With the weather hot and humid as it is, and things starting to open back up, a couple of important reminders:
1) Asphalt and concrete will absorb heat, and are often hotter than the ambient air temperature! Always be sure to check the ground temperature by placing your hand on it for 30 seconds or more. If it’s too hot for you to hold it, it’s too hot for your pet to walk on it.

2) It’s fun, and good training, to take your dog places with you, but make sure you’re caring for their needs while you’re out and about, just like you do at home. If you’re going to leave them in the car, remember that it gets very hot very quick in sunshine, and the excess humidity here doesn’t help at all!

When I take my dogs somewhere, most often they get to come with me. On the rare occasion I leave them in the vehicle, I leave the vehicle running to keep the temperature comfy inside, and i’m only gone a few minutes, 15 minutes at the most.

Alright, that wraps up this weeks round up. Y’all stay safe, have fun, and play with your dog, they love it, and it’s good for you, too! 😀

Weekly roundup: May 31st

Hello all! I know, I know, it’s been more than a week since the last roundup. I’ve been tangled up in leashes and dogs and… yeah. Anyway, let’s get down to it!

Trixie is my current foster from the LaGrange-Troup County Humane Society, a wonderful organization that works relentlessly to get great dogs into great homes. Trixie is available for adoption, so if you’re interested, let the Humane Society know and they’ll get you started!

I think this picture captures her personality well; she’s curious, loves to explore, and is not so wrapped up in being perfect, she just likes to be around people and see what’s going on.
Trixie is almost halfway through with her six weeks of limited activity for recovery from heartworm treatment, and while it’s no fun for either of us, she’s taking it like a champ! She’s getting lots of practice on the leash, practicing some of her base commands, and of course getting lots of rest. June 23rd is the date she’s looking forward to, because that’s the day she finishes her rest period, and is allowed to go wild again!

At home, i’m working through a couple of different issues:
1) Submissive peeing. We’ve got a small terrier/chihuahua mix that began peeing submissively with me several weeks back when she witnessed me scolding another dog nearby for jumping repeatedly.
Among google results and talking with other trainers, handlers, and dog owners, it seems this is the hardest issue to overcome because standard methods really don’t work well. It’s very difficult to punish a dog out of submissive peeing because punishment brings about some level of fear, which causes more peeing!
I don’t have much experience in this arena, but i’m using a mix of crate time, giving space/letting the dog come to me, and repeated calm/gentle presence. I’m rather limited since this isn’t my dog, but we’ll see what happens.
2) Our two male dogs have now had a couple of scuffles that were over the line, and they’re under a strict separation order. One of them is an instigator, and while I don’t see it as malicious, it’s a problem because he wants to play so bad, and sometimes he crosses the line, causing the other dog to make a correction, which the first doesn’t take well.
I’m working on this from multiple directions:
First, the separation order. This limits their exposure to one another, and ensures i’m present when they are, so I can maintain, correct, and intervene as needed.
Second, when the behavior moves from playful to instigation, I make a sharp correction and remove the offending dog for a half-hour of calm crate time so they can reset.
If any aggressive behavior is displayed, such as posturing, snarling, or otherwise aggressive, I immediately intervene with a sharp, loud, aggressive response. The idea is I want them to be more afraid of the consequences of being aggressive than they are of the other dog.
Third, exercise. Getting the the instigator out for more exercise will help him relax a little more, and get some of that pent up energy out.

Outside of my home, I was presented with a few different issues, but there’s one that stands out: Peeing inside, and peeing in the crate.
This one stands out for two reasons: first, that it’s been going on for several weeks, and second, that the dog peed in his crate, which is very unusual.
Dogs are ‘den animals’, meaning they tend to make a den, or small space, to live in, and they don’t usually go to the bathroom in their den. When I heard that the dog was peeing in his crate, along with the peeing inside, my first thought is that he has a medical issue with his bladder, and I suggested he have a visit with the vet.
My second thought is that the crate is too big; if they’re given a large space, dogs won’t see their crate as a den, but rather as a various-use space. You can see my posts about crate fitting for more on that.
My third thought is that the dog hasn’t really put ‘have to potty’ and ‘go outside through the doggy door’ together, which is easily remedied by training.
It’s a work in progress, but I am certain it’s a problem that can be solved with the ‘3 P’s’: Patience, Persistence, and Praise.

My challenge for you this week:
Teach your dog to not bolt through an open door. This is especially useful for when you open the front door to a guest or visitor, but not having to fight with your dog to block the door.
Start with a door inside, such as a bedroom, and make them wait to enter while opening the door. Small steps, the 3 P’s, and you’ll have it down in no time!

Trixie is ready!

Trixie has been back from heartworm treatment for 6 days, and she’s doing very well. She’s eating all of her food at a reasonable pace, even though she’s on a diet because of her lower activity level, she’s doing well on and off leash, and while she does not like being cooped up so much, she’s being a super trooper about having to keep her activity level down.

Trixie is a 1-2 year old terrier mix, 30 lbs, altered, up to date on all shots, current on flea, tick, and heartworm preventative medicines, and is recovering from heartworm treatment.
Recovery means she has to be on limited activity for 6-8 weeks after treatment, so either resting in a small room, in her crate, or on her leash to go outside and potty. She cannot jog, jump, sprint, roll, jump, or anything strenuous until her treatment is all done.
Trixie is crate trained, and likes to hang out in there when she’s not snuggling and snoring on the bed.
Trixie is *mostly* housebroken; she will go out on her own to potty, but she will not hold it for 6-8 hours if she’s left out of her crate. If I have to be away that long and no one is there to let her out, I just keep her in her crate and that’s fine.

Trixie shows a lot of curiosity and bravery about exploring new things, but is quick to shy away at a loud voice, a fast hand, or a movement that might strike her, suggesting to me that she’s had some abuse in her past.
Trixie needs a loving, caring family that is consistent, patient, and fair with her. Trixie is not a dog for a beginner, she has some challenges to overcome, and she needs a lot of love with a light touch of discipline to help her grow into her furever home.

Trixie is very sweet, friendly, and loves to snuggle. She’s a wonderful dog that wasn’t treated well earlier in life, but she’s ready for her furever home now, filled with love and treats.

The Frustration of Fostering

There’s no easy way to say it, fostering can be frustrating. You almost always start at a deficit, with a dog that needs special attention, probably a lot of training, maybe even some medical care. They probably don’t know to go outside to potty, they’re probably scared of some thing, most things, maybe even everything!

Fostering a dog is a special mission, and while it’s not always easy, there IS a reward for every single foster. For the dog, it’s a warm, safe, loving home with plenty of food, water, and attention. It’s a safe place where they can rest, relax, and recuperate from whatever nonsense or craziness they’ve been through.
For the person, it’s the giving. Giving the love, attention, care, help, and hope the dog deserves. As a foster, you’re giving your time, energy, space, care, and even your dollars to a creature that can’t ever repay you in kind, to a being that may have issues, may even be a burden, but you’re doing it anyway.
For me, the reward is knowing I made a positive difference in that dogs life, I gave that dog a human interaction that was positive, kind, caring, and meaningful.

We can’t save all of them alone, but if we all save one, we can change the world, one dog at a time.

Trixie is back!

We picked Trixie up from the clinic today, and she’s very happy to see us! She’s doing well, is in good spirits, and still has her sweet face and smile. I’m looking forward to getting her home and letting her rest. Once i’ve had a few days to assess how she’s doing, we’ll see if she’s ready to go to her furever home!