What Is a Dog?

Webster’s defines a dog as a domesticated carnivorous mammal (Canis familiaris) related to the fox and wolf family and raised in a wide variety of breeds. Although that definition is basically accurate, it falls a bit short of the mark in a lot of ways.

To some, a dog is that noisy thing they hear in the distance that never seems to be quiet. To others it’s a four footed furry kid. To others, a dog is a friend and companion. While these are also accurate descriptions, they still may not be the best way to describe what a dog really is either.

To see what a dog really is, you need to look past the obvious. You have to take the time to get to know a dog from top to bottom, nose to tail and from a new puppy to old dog.

A dog is trusting. It trusted you to provide food, water, exercise, guidance and a safe environment to grow up in.

A dog is obedient. When you and your dog are connected, it will do anything for you because all it wants to do is please you.

A dog is always there for you. When you have had a bad day, all it wants to do is make you happy again. When you have had a good day, all it wants to do is celebrate with you.

A dog is your protector. From watching your stuff when you are away, to backing you up when a stranger approaches, your dog is always looking out for you. It will even let you know when something is wrong and warn you about it.

A dog is an entertainer. When your spirits are low, or when you are board out of your mind, your best friend will always be there to do something to amaze, amuse and make you glad to be you.

A dog is a therapist. When you are stressed out from all of the things that life throws at you, all it takes is a few minutes on the couch (or the floor) with your dog and that stress just melts away. Dogs just have a way about them. They know how to take your mind off your troubles and make you feel better. The best part is: You don’t even need an appointment!

A dog is a replacement for medication. Not only will your dog help with stress relief, it can also help you reduce your blood pressure, help you with weight loss, and make you feel younger. As your physical trainer, your dog will restore you to your former self and reduce the need some of your medications. All you have to do is take him for a 20 minute walk everyday.

A dog is also a “brother in arms” because it shares difficult, dangerous or stressful experiences without question or reservation.

Lastly, A dog is a best friend. A dog will always be there for you. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night. When you need a shoulder to cry on, someone to bounce an idea off of, some to hang out with, or someone to share your life with, a dog will always make time for you.

Dog Training Sessions

I was recently contacted by a young person and asked about setting up dog training sessions. There were several very good questions asked. Here is how I answered them.

1). How long should each training session be?
I actually try to keep sessions to under five minutes. Working from home I can take the time to do them more often if needed.

2). Do you use treats when you train?
Yes, but only when I start a new trick or behavior. Once the dog begins to “get it” I phase out the treats. Some dogs will not need treats at all. It depends on their concentration level.

3). Does your dog enjoy training? … and How do you know?
She likes it SO much that she actually tells me that she wants to train! I know this b/c I have a special jar of treats that we ONLY use for training. She walks over to the jar and puts her nose up toward it and gives me that excited “Happy Dance” …

4). How often do you train?
Usually at least a 3 times every day

5). When do you train?
After she comes in from her first time out in the morning, after lunch and mid evening. We also do some “trick reinforcement” during commercials if we watch TV at night.

6). Where do you train?
In the backyard and in the living room

7). How long do your sessions last?
3-5 Minutes tops.

8). What do you do to prepare before a session?
I set a goal of what I want to accomplish for that session.
Example: I want my dog to “stay” for two minutes. When she does it, we’re done! The next session, I want her to “stay” for two minutes 15 seconds. When she does it, we’re done again!

9). How do you end the session?
I always end our sessions on a positive note with my dog doing the trick or behavior correctly. The reward is giving lavish praise for a job well done!

10.) What do you do after a session to reward your dog for a good session?
I get my dog’s favorite toy out and we spend 5-10 minutes playing. If we happen to be in the yard, I throw a ball, frisbee or chase her around the yard

Adopt a Shelter Pet, You’ll Be Glad You Did!

If you are thinking about getting a family pet, start by looking at your local shelter or rescue organization. There are millions of great companion animals in shelters all across America, and they are just sitting there waiting for a great home like yours.

Shelter and Rescue pets are not troubled, rejects, damaged goods or second-class pets. They are just pets that have been turned in for various reasons. These pets have all kinds of different stories. Many were forfeited or given up for adoption because the owners didn’t realize the amount of work it was going to take to care for them until it was to late. Others were given up due to the illness of the owner, or because the owner lost a job or lost their place to live. My last rescue was because the owner lost his job. The one before that was a stray that someone dumped in the country. Both were great dogs, as you have read here.

Are you looking for a purebred? You can find many pure breeds in the shelters and rescues. All you have to do is ask!

So whether you want a puppy or an adult dog, a purebred or a great mixed breed dog, a rabbit or hamster or even a bird, your shelter has the best selection of animals anywhere. And rest easy; they have all been screened for good health and behavior.

Don’t fall into the trap like many people have. Stay away from pet stores and websites that offer dogs, cats and other pets. A lot of these animals come from puppy and pet mill facilities were the pet’s health and well being is the last thing on their minds.

There is an old adage: “Don’t Shop … Adopt! And when you adopt, you’ll be very glad you did because you will not only be getting a great pet, you will also be saving a life. The sad truth is, for every puppy or kitten born, one dies in a shelter because it doesn’t have a home.

When you’re looking to add a pet to your life, adopting a homeless animal from your local shelter or rescue makes sense. At the shelter or rescue a pet placement expert will help you get the perfect pet for you and your families lifestyle. They have compiled all the information you’ll need to take care of and train your new pet too.

To find your local shelters and rescue groups and to see all of the pets available for adoption in your area, visit the The Shelter Pet Project and Petfinder.com

Dogs At Play: As Important As Training Itself

Dog’s at play: is for dogs at least, the highest form of socialization. It’s as natural as humans going to picnics and parties. This is because during play sessions they learn limits and boundaries as well as learn to polish their other social skills.

I have always allowed my dogs, and my dog playing with another owner’s dog to play as hard as they want to. I will only stop play if one or both dogs seem to be taking things a little to serious. But that very seldom happens.

Sometimes when my friends and neighbors see dogs at play they try to break it up because they think they are hurting each other. I have one neighbor who has a 8 pound mixed breed that loves to “sneak attack” my 45 pound pointer mix and then run away. She is just trying to get my dog to give chase, and when my dog catches up my dog uses her nose to roll the other dog over in the grass and then holds her with a paw or with an open mouth. The little dog then kicks her legs in the air and barks in a very high tone as if she’s laughing or giggling. It’s not a squeal, it’s a bark, but the owner always wants to remove the dog. But as the neighbor moves in, my dog lets the little dog up and they begin the whole game over again! My pointer will also do the same thing to her, and will play the submissive role!

This same game also went on with my Pointer and my German Shepherd, (see video posted here a few days ago), and before that my Dalmatian and the neighbor’s Lab, and my Pointer and my best friend’s Border Collie mix.

The point is, it’s just play. It’s really no different than a group of young kids playing football in the back yard or a pickup game of basketball at the playground. The only difference is, the contestants all have four feet instead of two.

The thing we as humans need to understand is that, if one of the dogs didn’t like what was happening, or if one was being hurt, that dog would be trying to get away or would fight back and drawing blood. If things ever begin to get out of hand, I stop the play session and make both or all of the dogs calm down for a few minutes. Once they calm down they can go right back to playing.

When the dogs get tired, they know what to do. So I resist the temptation to stop play for that reason. When they need a break, they just take one. The smaller the dog, the more breaks they take. The hotter it is, the more water breaks they take. The point is, they know what to do, so you can relax, take a seat, and enjoy the show.

Remember: Before you allow your dog to play with other dogs you must first make sure that the dogs get along well and that they are properly socialized.  Knowing the personalities of all of the dogs your dog plays with is the best way to prevent accidents from happening. Supervision is a must until you know that they get along. Don’t ever leave them alone until you know for sure that the will not get into a fight.

One last thing worth mentioning: You are the guardian of your dog. You are responsible for it’s safety and the safety of everyone and every dog he comes into contact with. If you think a play session is getting too rough, or if you don’t want your dog to play with another dog, for whatever reason, you have the right and the responsibility to stop it and remove your dog.

Dogs Doing Funny Stuff

If you have been reading this blog, you know that back in April I had to say goodbye to my beautiful German Shepherd Neka after a very short illness.

Patchs and Neka got along great with each other from the first moment they met. They loved to play together, wrestle and just hang out, but it was much more than that. After a short time it was like they could finish each others sentences and yes even each others thoughts.

There were times that I would stop what I was doing or turn off the TV and just watch them. More times than not, if you watched them close enough you could see them talking to each other, even though there was nothing ever said. (I mean no barking)

Between them and you could fill in the words to the non-verbal communication, because you could just tell what was going on in their minds!!!

Here’s a few examples: