About Me

I am the Dog Trainer Girl. A wife to a wonderful husband, momma to 2 boys, one that is a mini-me and makes me call my dad and appologize on a regular basis. I am owned by a Corgi named Yadi. I'm a Baseball girl, who likes bats, ball and bases on my diamonds. Go Cardinals!!!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Few More Days of 365 Days of Training Adventures

Little Red
It’s been quiet the busy week so far.  Monday was a cold and wet day so I stayed inside with the Doodle Bug Puppies.  While working with teach them to walk on a leash, I tripped over a rug and fell.  So I was very sore but oh what sweet babies.  They are 6 weeks old now and have taken well to sitting with a lure and even offering a Sit from time to time.  They do a Down really well and are
starting to respond to Come even without playing the name game.  Tuesday I took it easy because I was so sore but Wednesday saw us working a full day.  

First pup of the day was a little Frenchie named Rogan, we were working on public access skills and learning to ignore things such as food dropping to the floor and Ms. Riley.  Other ladies sitting at a table near us who he just knew if he could get over to them, they would give him lots of loving.  He did amazing though as he always does, and within a few times of practicing each behavior he had it down.  It will take several more weeks, or months of practice before he is reliable at the behaviors but he is well on his way.  
Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of Rogan working.  

Later Riley went to work on learning to relax while out in public.  I have been letting her greet
Riley Tucking under a table while I have a coffee
strangers to get ready for the CGC test to help her learn to sit to greet them.  When I test my Service Dog client dogs for this, I practice the behavior with them and make sure they are able to sit for me...  AKA The magic treat lady.  When they learn to ignore me with the magic treat pouch, they can ignore anyone!!!  Well with my own dog, I am not able to do that with.  So we have done a few Therapy visits and then allowing her to greet kids because she so gentle and then we tell the kids what Service Dos do and that we should never distract them because of how important their jobs are.
Lately though she has decided that if someone is looking at her but does not move to pet her then she things it is acceptable to woof at them.  So we are no longer going to be greeting anyone and going to make sure that she understand that I am the only person she needs to be focused on.

We had a session with Ashlynn and her SD Lilly.  After doing several weeks of work with Lilly on just ignoring people and other dogs we have moved on to working on her Tricks titles where are going to be a walk in the park for her because she does so much for Ashlyn already.  As we were talking about something, I dropped my phone and Lilly calmly retrieved it for me from under Ashlynn’s chair.  She is such an amazing dog.  She helps Ashlynn with so many different things and it is so wonderful to see them work together.

After working with Lilly we did some more work on our own walking around the mall we went down to the Gear Head store to see if they had any dog boots in stock but they did not sadly.  Then we did
more walking around and worked on ignoring people.  Worked with walking beside a cart that I really wished I had been able to get a video of and finally as I sat down for yet another lovely dose of coffee, she got very comfy under my chair and passed out.

She is still very young and I like to give her time to nap or for us to go sit outside and her just relax in the sun, but with it being so cold we just took it easy on her.  She came home played like a crazy child with Yadi and then laid down and went back to sleep again.

While she was at home resting, I worked with one of my dogs that hopes to be a therapy dog.  She is a little nervous but we are working on it.

Today I went back out to work with the puppies I didn’t get any pictures of them today but I did get some videos I will post them soon.  I also worked with a couple of my Veteran Service dogs and a Therapy dog.  I will write up more about them tomorrow, so come back to hear about another day’s adventures.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bark... bark... bark... I'm going to go hide...

There are days when my own issues get to me and get in the way of training.  It's all I can do something to hold it together, something causes me to cry and I can barely hold back the floodgates.   Yesterday one of those days.  Our training was mostly centered around the issues that we have been having at home.

We started off this morning with having a battle of wills for lack of a better word with Riley.  When I'm fixing everyones breakfast I put their bowls on the counter and put their food in the bowls then add the probiotic and then a hip and joint supplement for the Corgis.  Then everyone has to go to their places and then I put their food bowls down and they get to eat.  Well Ms Riley decided she didn't want to wait this morning and barked at me the whole time.  She jumped up and knocked her food bowl off.  But instead of letting her eat any of it off the floor, I told her to "Leave it" every time she went near it.  I gave Yadi his bowl and Marley her bowel, and I made Riley sit and wait while I cleaned all her food up off the floor.  I made her a new bowl and then go to her place and sit and wait before I put it down for her.

The Corgis playing 
Our biggest issues lately has been the Corgis and their herding instincts.  They rush out the back door and run straight to the gate and run our fence barking at the neighbor's dog Coco.  Since we have gotten Riley it has gotten worse not because she is joining in but it almost seems like they are protecting Riley from Coco, even though she is sweet as she can be.
So we have switched into management while trying to work individually on trying to get them to leave Coco alone.  Most of our fencing is covered in this green mesh because I didn't want the dogs chasing cars down the side of the fence that is on the street.  So I ordered more of it this morning to finish covering up the small area that they can see her.

They are only allowed to go out one at a time and let me tell you they are not happy about it.  They have pouted like crazy all day that they can't go out side together all day.  They are very bonded to each other and I don't think I really realized it until today.

Bacon Apple treats in bone molds ready for the oven
The other issue is Riley's counter surfing.  She has been stuck with me on leash because I don't trust her not to try and eat things she shouldn't.  Though this is part of her training anyway to help with her learning that she needs to stay right with me, it helps me know she is not getting on a table somewhere or sneaking off to pee while I'm working.  

I spent quite some time in the kitchen moving my plants out of the windowsill as it's getting colder, so overtime she put her feet up on my counters she got a 2 minute time out in the crate.  This didn't seem to phase her.  She would run right out of the crate and put her feet back up on the counters again.  So I guess she isn't even going to get any free time in the kitchen, she is going to have to stay on leash with me all the time.

We did however make lots of treats this morning for training this weekend.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Community Dogs make me so happy!

Yesterday was a very light day for me, I was feeling under the weather as it was cold and wet and the barometric pressure was up pretty high with the rain front moving though.  My head was aching, but I went to breakfast with the hubs which is something we try to do to do on his off days cause we really don't get much time together these days.  Then we went to visit mom at the Nursing home, which is always a stressful time in which I really wish I could have Riley with me, but I'm not sure how they look at that, since they are a state run nursing home and don't even allow therapy dogs to come in.  I'm not sure if they would allow service dogs.  I spent most of the time there writing yesterday's blog so that I could keep my mind occupied on something other than how stressed I was.

Later in the afternoon I had an appointment with Aspen one of my Therapy dogs in training.  Our main focus was her not forging ahead of her mom.  Leash walking can be such a source of frustration for us slow humans.  There are so many different ways to teach leash walking but one of my favorite ways is to teach your dog that if they pull on the leash you are not going to go anywhere with them.  I like this method of training with them because it teaches them that they can go where ever they want as long as they do not pull on you.  The walk itself becomes the reward for them staying with you but you have to make it a point to STOP every single time that they pull the leash tight.  I tell my students that you might practice for an hour and only get 20 feet and that is fine as long as you stopped every time your dog pulled the leash tight.

Also we have to reward them for paying attention to us while we are walking with them.  It is unnatural for our dogs to slow down to our pace and not explore while out on an adventure with us.  Apparently this is not something I have a video of working on so I need to fix this this next week while my hubby is off work and can make some videos with me.

After Aspen's appointment I took a group of Therapy Dogs in Training to visit our friends at one of our local nursing homes.  We have been going to visit these wonderful women and men for almost 3 years now and they love seeing us come in.  We have a set schedule of when we visit and we have pups that dress up and pups that do tricks and pups that just love to snuggle and make people smile.  

Scooby & Kevin
Lincoln & Ms. Joyce 
Scooby (grey Staffy) and Ms Lilly (yellow Lab) are both pulling double duty they are Service Dogs who like to go to the nursing home to give all the love they have stored up and are not able to give to people when they are on duty.

Lincoln is a Springer Spaniel who is going to be going to St Jude's to visit with the kids and help to cheer them up.

Of course Ms Riley is learning to sit politely for people to pet her since that will be part of her Canine Good Citizen Test.  Normally Ms Marley comes with me for Therapy Dog visits she is one of the ones that loves to dress up.

As we were leaving one of the ladies grabbed my arm and was so just so thankful that we had come and brought the babies to see them.  She said having to leave her baby behind was the worst part of having to go into the nursing home but she looked forward to our visits, and that helped me remember why I work as hard as I do.
Lilly & Ms Ashlynn

Riley getting some lovens

Ms Marley

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Training Riley

Yesterday was a good, but frustrating day for training Riley.  She is so good at some things and so annoying at others, but that’s why we are training.  We started our day out at Starbucks for a coffee and some quiet downtime before my day of training started.
She settled into a spot between my chair and the window and laid down to watch the world go by as I did some light reading and enjoyed my coffee.  She got lots of stairs and smiles and one guy even asked if he could take her picture.  I didn’t mind because at least he asked.  She behaved herself very nicely I was super proud.  
One of the things best things I was happy to see was that traffic didn’t phase her in the least.  As we crossed two busy intersections she happily stayed right with me in our heel position, and stopped when I did.    
 She didn’t care to walk in the rain at all, however every puddle we came to she wanted to drink it dry.  So we had to do a lot of leave it practice with puddles.  I was like I know I’m giving you plenty of water what on earth is going on???  She can drink a whole bowl bone dry in 3 seconds flat.  Which makes our potty training that much harder.  I have to remember that I have only had her for 2 weeks and we are making progress.  I need to teach a target behavior to let me know she has to go potty so that she can tell me when she needs to go out in public.  
We went to Lowe’s later and worked with a new Therapy dog student named Sam.  Riley did some barking while Sam’s dad held her for me and I worked with holding on to Sam.  Normally I would have used Riley to show Sam’s dad how to do the behaviors with Sam, however Sam was pulling really bad, and Sam’s dad had stitches in his hand so I did the work with Sam and let his Dad watch.  When he settled down I let dad take him back and I took Riley and had her work on Cover (her laying behind me to prevent someone from walking up into my personal space.). 

Later in the day we went to meet with Ashlynn and
Lilly to work on helping Lilly work on ignoring other dogs.  I’d say we had a wonderfully successful session.  Several people walked by and Lilly ignored them.  A guy walked by with a big cart and said “Hi Lilly” and she just kept her eyes on Ashlynn, I was very proud of her.  She is 5 years old and I’ve been working with her off and on since she was 12 weeks old!

Then we worked on ignoring another dog with the little spit fire Eve, a young German Shepard Puppy.  She was working on learning to settle down and not show her frustration at being not a being able to just do what ever she wanted to do.  When she gets over being a pushy puppy she is going to be such a solid girl.

I ended the night training with Keira teaching her not to pay attention to kids moving around her.  So we were at the mall, and enlisted Ian to help us train.  He was just inside the playground practicing his ninja skills while we played “look at that” from a distance.  Even the mall Security Guards were enjoying watching us work and came by to tell us so.

All in all it was a very good training day!  Happy Training everyone!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Here I go again!!!

Tazie in a basket
Tazie 2007
Training a service dog is not easy, and only 1 in 10 actually make good service dogs. It's a very hard road to training a service dog.  There are days when my mental energy is so low that I just can't push through.  Just getting out of bed in the morning is more than I feel like I can handle some times.  I have a wonderful support system in my husband and friends though.  I know that there is a reason that this is my calling and the more I devote to it the more I love it.  
Marley & Yadi

I was very lucky with my first service dog Tazie.  I lost my hold on a lot of things when I lost my Tazie.  I felt that my connection to dog training had just been cut off as he was my partner.  He taught me that I could do things on my own if I would just trust myself the way he trusted me.  He was always up for learning, but then again maybe I was always up for training him, we were a good team that way.
I finally got around to trying again with Yadi. He however did not have the right personality.  He is feisty and barks at bigger dogs.  Though he did help me get back part of my love of training.  We did a great deal of tricks training and he even became an Intermediate Tricks dog.

I thought I might have a better chance with my sweet Marley but she likes to sleep when we are not moving and I don't think she will pay much attention to me and to what I need her to pay attention, to the subtle changes in my mood or the change in my breath that denotes a migraine coming on.

I've had an opportunity to add a beautiful little girl to our family.  So I'm going to work with her and pray that she is able to give me back the relief and confidence that Tazie used to.
So hopefully little Sidda will help me get back to who I used to be and what I used to love.  I am hopeful as I start training more with her and with the corgi kids that I'll find that love and passion I used to have for training again.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Training Marley - The Rise of my Panic

Marley sleeping on the job! 
Yesterday I went to the Neighborhood Market with Tim (my husband). We just had a few things we needed to pick up and then we had to run home and I had to run to an evaluation.  I got distracted by the candles and I heard Tim say something behind me and from the corner of eye saw him move off to my right.

When I was done picking out the candles I wanted I turned to go find him, and I couldn't!  I walked from one end of the store to the other but could not find him, and I felt gripped by the fear and panic of being alone surrounded by people.  As I got closer to the end of the isles that he could be on I felt like my chest was in a vice grip and I almost lost my breath.  It was literally all I could do to hold on to the candles in my hands and not drop them and sit in the middle of the floor and cry.  Once I got to the end of the isles I turned to see him behind me about half way across the store.  By the time he got to me I was completely shut down and couldn't even talk, or look up at him.

This was the first time in a very long time that kind of fear has taken hold of me, but it's also the first time since my accident that I've been alone when I wasn't training.  I'm usually training (which as I mentioned in my last post is my safety mask) or I'm with a friend that I trust.

When I got back home Marley girl came to my rescue.  She got in my lap and did DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) and forced me to engage with her, instead of allowing me to fall into disassociation and avoidance.  She helps me stay in the here and now and I need that most.  Especially right now.

The picture above was from a few days ago, she was doing DPT for me and feel asleep!  I love this girl so much.  I love Yadi he is my boy, but he is not a cuddlier and will not stay on my lap for very long.  Marley also likes to get on my chest and that calms me so fast, and though "calming" is not a task it defiantly helps pull me back from a full blown panic attack and keeps me from falling into that avoidance that I talked about, and for me those two things are tasks.

So this morning I woke up and realized that I this is a perfect opportunity for me to talk about my experiences with training Service Tasks and how much they help.  I can't talk about what I do with my clients but I can talk about what I do for myself.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The iT in SDiT

SDIT Patch
We know that the world of Service Dogs is a one that is hard to navigate.  The laws are open to interpretation and there is no education to the general public.  That's one of the reasons I am all for the laws and regulations governing Service Dogs to be changed.  We put so much work into our Service Dogs to have someone that just wants to take their pet dog with them where ever they go and not put any training into it, causes us to have a harder time with our real Service Dogs.

I lost my Service Dog about 4 years ago and I've had to learn to live without him.  I've gradually shifted to needing to be with my husband when living my daily life.  I can't really handle being by myself unless I'm doing training.  I can't really explain that other than that I've been doing training for so long that it just feels so natural and I get more relaxed when I'm training a dog.  Many friends watching me train have often said that I am a different person when I train and I often attribute that to being of of the many masks that I wear to hide how I'm feeling.

I said that to be able to say this, I understand how hard it is to train with your dog when you have stuff going on that just make you want to stay in bed all day, or you have a medical issue where you need to stay in bed all day, but the training has to continue.  It can't stop just because we can't get out and go.
Yadi doing DPT while I was laying down.  
On those days you may work on relaxation techniques to help your dogs learn to calm down and relax on for times when you need to go to the doctors office or just want to sit and have a coffee with a friend.  Relaxation is a key element in a Service Dog's behavior.

The training has to be an ongoing 24/7 thing.  You cannot allow your dog to jump on you some times and correct them other times, you cannot allow them to pull on leash some times and not others.  You have to ask that they follow the rules all the time.  Allowing them to get away something only sets you back in your training.

Think of all of the time that you spend trying to cleaning up after a mess that your dog has made because you didn't work on leave it enough with them. Or how long you spend chasing them in the yard because you didn't reward them enough for coming when you called them, or maybe you even you called them to you and then got onto them for something they did when they came to you.

We have to approach our training with a proactive mindset and teach our dogs what we want them to do from the beginning rather than waiting until they have already reacted and then us responding to that behavior.

Feel free to email me at dog.trainer.girl@gmail.com with any questions you might have.

Monday, August 26, 2019

What is Your Dog Trying to Tell You?

Disapproving Corgi giving me the "Look"- Yadi
It has been said that a dog will talk to those who know how to listen, and this is true.  A dog will tell you everything they intend to do with their body language.  Knowing what our dogs are trying to tell us allows us to have a better relationship with our dogs.  We get the opportunity to see the things that frighten or make our dogs anxious and help to change the emotions associated with that thing.  We get the chance to make our dogs lives better by knowing how to listen to them.  
Something that I always suggest for my students is to pay close attention to their dogs at home and learn their dog’s normal postures. If you know your dog’s normal body posture, then you will know very quickly when your dog is not comfortable and secure in their surroundings.  

The parts of your dog’s body that you need to learn to read are the eyes, ears, mouth, tail and overall body posture.  When observing a dog’s body language, you must take it all into consideration, no one part of their body can tell you how your dog is feeling.  Just because a dog’s tail is wagging does not mean that the dog will not bite.  

Their eyes will tell you a lot about what your dog is feeling. Fear and excitement can cause a dog’s pupils to dilate and or become glassy.  Fear can also cause a dog’s eyes to open so widely that you can see the white of the eye all round the iris, we call this Whale Eye.  When nervous you may notice your dog’s eye brows may be furrowed.  When a dog is nice and relaxed their eyes tend to take on an almond shape.  

There are different kinds of ears and this makes it difficult sometimes to read them.  There are floppy ears which hang down against the side of your dog’s face and prick ears that stand up.  If your dog is actively engaged in listening to something you may notice the ears twitching.  This is something I have my students to look for when saying their dogs name. Often a fearful dog will have their ears held back and often to the side. A dog that feels threatened or on alert will have their ears facing forward.  All Diagrams come from Modern Dog Magazine

A relaxed dog will often have a relaxed and loose mouth or sometimes open with a slight pant, but you won’t see any tension around your dog’s mouth.  If your dog is feeling fear or anxiety you may notice that the mouth tends to be tight in a long line across their face.  Some dogs may have a heavy pant or drool when they are nervous or fearful. A dog that is feeling threatened will have anywhere from a slight to a very pronounced raised lip, showing teeth. 

Relaxed Dog
Tails are a lot like ears, they are hard to read.  Some dogs have tails that hang down nice and relaxed near their back legs.  It may wag slowly back and forth or wag so fast and hard it could clear a table of anything on it.  Some dog breeds tails are held high and curl over the dog’s back. The one sign to watch out of is a dog with a loose tail that stands up straight like a flag pole, this is normally a sign that the dog is ready to go on the offensive.  A dog that is feeling fearful or anxious may tuck their tail between their back legs.  A low slow wag can be an indication of a dog that is feeling threatened.  

When a dog is emotionally balanced, they stand with their weight equally distributed among all 4 feet. There are times when our dogs feel threatened and that weight will shift in one of two ways.  If they are on the offensive their weight will rock forward as if they are standing on their tip toes.  This is usually a dog that is going to make the first move in a scuffle.  A fearful or anxious dog will rock backwards on their feet, as if trying to lean as far back away from the thing they are scared of. They may turn just their head away as if trying to act as if the thing isn’t really there if they can not see it.   A fearful dog may lower their body in a crouching stance, they may or may not lower their heads as well.  

One of the more common misconceptions about body language is the ridge of hair that runs down the center of your dog’s back.  Some people refer to as the hackles, trainers refer to it as a piloerection.  The old wife’s tale is that this means that your dog is aggressive.  However, this is actually an involuntary reaction.  Adrenaline causes the muscles to contract and the hair down the back straightens as this happens.  This again is something that can be different depending on your dog’s emotional state. Some dogs get the hair from their neck to their tail standing up.  For some it’s only halfway down the back. For Some it’s a wide strip or a thin strip of hair. This reaction can be from any emotional response that releases Adrenaline such as Fear, Anxiety, Excitement, or Confidence.  Your dog’s temperament is going to denote how he/she responds to that emotion.  

Fearful Dog
Another very misunderstood way that our dogs commutate fear or anxiety with us is their growl.  A lot of pet parents think when their dog is growling, they need to get on to their dog to stop the growling. However, when a dog growls they are giving you a chance to help them out of a situation that is upsetting to them.  A dog’s growl is an early warning system, if we teach our dogs not to growl, we take away that warning to our dog’s emotional state.  

Once you are confident in how your dog responds to his or her emotions you and better communicate with your dog.  If you would like more information on how to read body language there are lots of free handouts and reading on the Sophia Yin Blog at https://drsophiayin.com and Modern Dog Magazine.

For more information you can reach me at dog.trainer.girl@gmail.com

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Chewing is Natural

*disclaimer - I have not been endorsed or supported by any of the products mentioned in this blog.  I have however used them in my own training journeys and found them to be very useful*

One problem behavior that almost all pet parents have to deal with at some point in their furry companion’s life is chewing.  I often have pet parents that come into their first class with me and are beyond frustrated that their beloved pup is chewing up their shoes or phone chargers.  Or if your me, you walked into your kitchen and found this...  

 The important thing to remember is that chewing is a natural and necessary part of their life.  In fact, it is important for the mental well-being of our dogs that we encourage their chewing.  The trick, however, is to make sure that we are encouraging them to chew on the appropriate things.  Chewing is an inherent behavior in dogs.  A dog’s teeth and the skill of chewing are some of the most important parts of a dogs survival instinct, but there are other reasons they chew as well.  

For puppies and adolescent dogs, it’s a way to reduce the pain of teething.  Chewing also helps to promote healthy teeth and gums by increasing the flow of a dog’s antibacterial saliva.  When a dog chews on something it stimulates the Adrenal-Pituitary Axis, which is part of a dog’s Neuroendocrine system which helps to regulate stress with the release of endorphins making chewing a self-soothing behavior.  
Yadi with a Buffalo Horn

Puppies set about exploring life with their mouths.  They learn taste, texture and sound by manipulating objects with their mouths. As they look at their environment around them, anything within their reach is fair game until they are taught otherwise.  I’ve often said that we accidently teach our dog’s 98% of their bad habits by not understanding how they interpreter our responses to their actions.  Chewing on inappropriate objects is a huge example of this. 

Think about this from your pup’s point of view.  You come home and your dog is chewing on one of your favorite shoes.  What do you do?  95% of us will yell “NO” with some excitement in our voice and move toward our dog to take the shoe, right?  Your dog doesn’t want to give up the fun toy that got you so excited when you came home so she grabs it and races down the hall.  You give pursuit because you need to get the shoe away from her.  
Now pup is super happy because you have responded to her chewing your shoe with a game of chase.  How much fun is your pup having?  Is this really something your pup is going to avoid doing in the future?   The answer is no! 

Part of being a pet parent means that you are either in constant training mode, or management mode. All items that could be fun for your dog to chew on that are not appropriate need to be removed from their area when they are unsupervised.  Remember your pup is essentially a 2-year-old toddler emotionally.  They have no concept of value, or ownership (in the sense that we consider ownership).  Our dogs only learn to do the things that WE teach them to do.  

So how do you teach your dog not to chew on inappropriate things?  I’m so glad you asked!  

The first step of teaching our dogs what not to chew on, is to teach them what they are allowed to chew on. Sound to simple?  I promise you it’s not.  Our dogs learn that things that work to get our attention are the things they should do again.  Remember that game of chase down the hallway trying to get your shoe back?  How much attention did your dog think she was getting? (A TON!!!)  Surround your dog with the things that they are going to get your approval for chewing on and then, and this is the most important part, reward them for chewing on those things.  

One of my favorite interactive toys is the Kong, or the Busy Buddy Squirrel dude.  Both of these toys are hollow, and you can stuff them with different types of treats or food.  The Kong Company even has an interactive recipe guide at their website www.kongcompany.com
My pup Yadi loves a natural peanut butter mixed with his kibble in his.  I put this in the freezer for an hour or so until the peanut butter is firm, and it keeps him busy for an hour or more.  
Frozen Peanut Butter Kongs and a horn.
Some other great treat toys are things like snuffle mats made of fleece where you can scatter their food or treats into the mat so that they have to search for it.  These are great for nose work or slow feeding options as well.  Trixie Flip Board games for dogs also have several levels of puzzles where your dog has to learn to use their nose, and feet to find the hidden treats.  There are also all the natural chewing options like Bully Sticks, Buffalo Horns (which are also fillable) and Antlers. All of these options are great to keep pups occupied while you are busy or not at home.  

The other side of this issue is of course the training side.  The first step is to start teaching your pup 2 specific behaviors, Leave it and Drop it.  These will be covered in another post.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

When we need them as much as they need us

Yadi laying beside me as I work
Yadi laying beside me as I work on my laptop
One of the things I don't often talk about is my own need for a Service Dog. To look at me from the outside you wouldn't think I would need one.  I'm a successful dog trainer and entrepreneur, I have a lovely family with two boys and a very happy and amazing marriage to a husband who spoils me rotten.  Why would I need a Psychiatric Service Dog?

I grew up in very turbulent home.  My mom was an alcoholic and I watched her try to kill herself so many times it became almost normal.  I didn't understand that it wasn't something that everyone tried to do.  I began having my own battles with depression and anxieties when I was very young.  The first mental block I have was at age 13.  I don't have memories before that age, I have what I call photo memories.  I've seen a picture of something and my mind has formed a memory around that picture but I don't remember the actual event.  I've had several memory blocks since then, it seems to be my brains way of trying to protect me when I can not deal with things that are happening.

I have problems with people being to close to me, if a stranger gets into my personal space it often causes me to have a panic attack until I'm touching my husband or have my dog with me.  Once I know someone I'm ok with them getting close to me, but not until then.

Yadi snuggling in my lap
Snuggling with me after a long day of training other dogs
I have borderline personality disorder, PTSD and Secondary Traumatic Stress Burnout and trying to deal with stress sometimes is very hard. I have suffered from sever migraines since I was a teenager, and lucky me stress is a trigger for my migraines.  The more I stress, the worse the migraine is.
Lately I've developed new auras with my migraines, I've started becoming dizzy and light headed. Once Yadi picked up on it and alerted to me almost passing out but I've not worked with him on it since so it's something I really NEED to work on.

Sometimes it feels like the world is closing in on me and I just find myself wanting to crawl into my closet and cry, but my children and Yadi don't allow that to happen.  They need me.  My children do not always need me, but Yadi needs me as much as I need him.  He needs me to connect with him and feed him, and walk him.  He needs me to train him and take him to the vet.  There are days when I just feel like I just can't even bring myself to even think about working with him but if I don't, he will not be able to help me.  I need him to help me stop scratching when I get nervous.  I tend to zone out while I'm scratching and forget that I'm actually taking my skin off, until I'm bleeding.

I need him to help me be aware of when I am losing my temper because my brain has twisted something into something it was never meant to be.  I need him to help me be able to manage my own stress and what it causes my brain to do to itself.  Some of you guys will read this and relate to it, and some of you will not.

I don't write enough about Service Dogs and Service Dog Training and I should really change that.  Over the next few months I'm going to start a series of 100 days of training with Yadi and I will be working on his Service Dog training so I will be making a lot of posts about that.   The main think I need him to help me with is keeping me from using up to many of my spoons in one day.  I need to be able to pace myself better, I need him to help me with that.  I need him to help me remember to take a break and not try to take on the world when I'm already so drained.  I have a lot of people that are counting on me and I have so much I need to give them, but if I don't start taking better care of myself then there won't be enough of me to give them what they need from me.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Leash Restrictions

I've often spoken about how Yadi gets grounded and put on Leash Restrictions but I don't really ever take class time to explain just what that means.  I thought I'd write a post to explain more about what Leash Restrictions are, and how I use them.

When Yadi does something that proves that he has not quite earned the amount of trust that I have given him, he goes on Leash Restrictions.  I gets put on the leash in the house.  Depending on what he did, I may just let him drag a short leash or light now, I just hold the leash.  Yadi is pretty good on leash and doesn't pull when we are in the house so there are times when I'm busy doing something that I will just put the loop for the leash over my foot so it's around my ankle.  I have control of him at all times.

This latest round was cause because he decided that he wanted to chew on electrical cords.  I'd rather have him leashed up with me in the house than dead from chewing on a cord that is plugged in.

I use the time I have him on leash to work on his leave it or his recall.  it's a good time to work on anything really because they can't get to far away from you.  This is a wonderful technique for potty training as well.  You have your dog with you though and they are learning how to behave around you rather than being locked in a crate away from you.  This is such an important skill for our dogs to learn.  If we always lock them away from us they don't learn how to behave around us, they only learn how to behave away from us and that does not make them part of our family.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Potty Training Part 3

7 Puppies can not control their bladder until they are about 6 months oldOur puppies are born much like our human children are, their organs and little bodies are still developing and forming.  They do not gain control over their senses until about 12 weeks old and are not capable of holding their bladder for more than a small period of time until they are about 6 months old.  The general rule of thumb is an hour per month of age, give or take an hour.  So a puppy of 12 weeks can only hold their bladder for 2-4 hours, and that is still asking a lot!!!
8 What you clean with really does make the difference The smell in urine is held in enzymes in the proteins.  When we clean a lot of times we use cleaners that don’t kill those enzymes.  This means your puppy can still smell the urine in your home even when you can’t.  To him it means that sometimes it’s ok tousle the bathroom in the house.  Make sure the cleaners you choose say the are an enzyme killer, bio-enzymatic formula or something about enzymes.  If it doesn’t, don’t waste your money on it.
9 Just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean they can’tRemember I talked about that sense of smell they have.  My students hear this speech all the time and I’m sure are tired of hearing it but… A dog’s number 1 sense is their Olfactory sense, in other words, their sense of smell.  A male can smell a female in heat up to 3 miles away, let that sink in for a minute.  So back to #8 if your not getting rid of the enzymes your pup can still smell where he had an accident and will go back to that spot.
10 Potty Bells can be amazing things                            Most puppies just don’t know how to tell you they need to go outside.  The potty bells are bells we hang from the door and teach our pups that ringing them means we go outside.  We do this as we are potty training and they learn to use the bells to tell us they need to go potty.

Potty Training Part 2

In continuation of my getting ready for puppy series, here is Potty Training pt 2.
4 Rule of thumb 1 hour per month of age, give or take an hour
5 Feeding schedules are very useful
6 A crate is your friend
The Rule of Thumb – There is a general rule that trainers follow that goes along with lines of this… A puppy is able to hold their bladder for an hour per month of age, give or take an hour.  So if your puppy is 3 months old, they can hold their bladder at most for 2-4 hours.  This is not a steadfast rule it’s a generalization.  Some pups can hold their bladder long, and some just can’t.  They are born similar to our human children, their bodies and organs are still growing inside of them.  If spank them or get onto them for having a potty accident in the house, they just learn to hide it better.
Feeding Schedules are your friends – When I talk to pet parents about feeding schedules I mean that loosely.  I don’t mean that you have to feed your puppy at 6am and 6pm on the dot.
  • Give your puppy their meal, a lot 15-20 minutes for them to eat and then put them in their crate for 30-45 minutes (you can put their food in their crate with them, but you have to keep an eye on when they finish eating)
  • Leash up your puppy and take them outside.
  • Go to one spot and stand there, do not interact with them.
  • They need to get bored to go potty.
  • If they have not pottied within 10 minutes, take them back inside and put them back in their crate for another 10-15.
  • Leash them up and try again, repeat until they go potty.
Part of the problem is we think our dogs need to walk around and sniff and find the right spot, however, is just a huge distraction.  Our puppies get to running around and playing and forget why they are outside, then when we come inside everything is boring to them.  They remember then that they need to go potty, and then we go right there just back inside the house.
For Peeing in the house, Puppies need to go outside:
  • Within 5-10 minutes of visiting the water bowl
  • After waking up, even if it’s only been a short nap
  • After playtime
  • Every 30 to 45 minutes, until they are able to hold their bladders.
I’m in the middle of potty training a 3 yr old as well and I have to say, the similarities between potty training a puppy and a human child are definitely there!!
crateA crate is your friend – One of the things I hear a lot is that people think that putting their puppy in a crate is mean or is punishment.  Honestly, you have to look at it like this, when your toddler was learning how to explore the world around them, what did you do? You put them in a playpen or a bouncy chair.  So that we knew they were safe.
The same thing applies to our puppies.  They do not know what is safe and what is dangerous, all they know is how to toddle around and put everything into their mouths.  When our eyes can’t be on them, their crate is the best place for them.
Stay tuned for more…

Friday, May 3, 2019

Potty Training Part 1

First off, I’m going to apologize because a lot of you are not going to like what I have to say on this subject.  Most potty training accidents are our fault, sadly, so let’s look at the facts and try to find a way to fix the problem of potty training.
Potty training a puppy is a lot like Potty training a child, however, I seem to have so much more luck potty training my dogs than my son so maybe this post will help me in that respect.  As with anything else in dog training, Consistency is the key.  Whatever method you choose, you have to stick to it.  Let’s look at some of the most common things having to do with Potty training.  We have to remember that our pups can not, in the beginning, tell us they have to go, just like our kids.  We have to teach them out to tell us.  We have to pay attention to them and put the work in.
1 Accidents WILL happen
2 Rubbing your puppies nose in it, does NOT teach them not to do it again
3 Yelling at your puppy teaches them to hide their accidents
4 Rule of thumb 1 hour per month of age, give or take an hour
5 Feeding schedules are very useful
6 A crate is your friend
7 Puppies can not control their bladder until they are about 6 months old
8 Just because you can’t smell it, doesn’t mean they can’t
9 Potty Bells can be amazing things
10 What you clean with really does make the difference
Accidents WILL happen –  Let’s just be honest here and admit that there is no chance that you are going to make it through puppyhood without a single potty accident.  It will happen, what’s important is how we respond to it.  Whoops!!! We had an accident, clean it up and better luck to you next time.

Off The Leash Comics – Pick N` Roll
Rub your puppies nose it in – I’m sure we have all heard this at one point or another.  Honestly, ask yourself how does this teach your dog anything?  I mean we are talking about animals that willingly roll in anything that stinks???  (By the way, if you have never seen any of the Off the Leash Comics you are so missing out!!!)
Yelling at your puppy teaches them to hide their accidents – Our dogs are very perceptive learners. I’ll give you the short version here but if you want to know more just let me know and I’ll give you more details. Let me set the stage for you.
You come into the room and find that your puppy has had a potty accident, (this could have been 5 minutes ago or longer and your puppy has no idea that they are the one that had the accident anymore believe it or not).  When we yell at them for having a potty accident, what you puppy decides is that wow I don’t know how made that mistake but I better make sure I don’t poop or pee in front of mom or dad because I don’t want to make them so upset.
Now, this is where you get your puppies and dogs that will go and hide behind or under the furniture to poop or pee.  This is also the reason that some dogs will not use the bathroom on the leash in front of their parents.
Come back on Thursday for part 2 of Potty Training 101

Getting Ready for Puppy

Meet our little Yadi!!!  Oh my gosh, I’m super excited and can’t wait for May to get here.  I have a lot of work to do before his come home date though.  IMG_4665
Since I am a dog trainer and keep everything!! I do have a lot of the things that are needed for bringing a puppy home but there are still some things I need we started out with a basic list of the supplies we would need.
Let’s start out with just a few items at a time and talk about them and how we will use and train with them.

Collar, Leash, and Tags – Our puppies HAVE to have identification on them.  In the horrible case that we do not discover the escape route before they do, we need a way for whoever finds them to contact us.  I get asked all the time about what to put on a tag.  The most important thing is your dog’s name and your phone number.  I have also included on Loki’s that he is Microchipped.  I will do the same for baby Yadi when he is old enough to get chipped.  This way if for some reason someone can’t read my phone number they can always go to any vet or shelter and have my pup scanned and they will have all of my information.
Crate / Playpen – This is something that I firmly believe in.  I’m going to try something just a little bit different with Yadi than I did with Loki because I want to know for myself how it works.
I’ve always used a playpen outside my dog’s to secure them when I could not be watching them. (that’s when they get into EVERYTHING)
This time I have an Iris Playpen that I used with Loki that I will set up around Yadi’s crate.   His crate will be a 2 door crate with a divider inside, on one side with the door that opens on the front will only be large enough for his bed.  The other end will have a potty pad in it.
iris-playpenThe Iris Playpen has additional panels that can be added.  It’s a hard plastic that can be sprayed off outside if need be, and best of all, you can zip tie small toys to the joints so that puppy can play tug with his toys.  and they are not just laying on the floor.  They become interactive with him.

The idea is called a Puppy Apartment.  I’ve always said not to put puppy pads in the crate before because we don’t want out puppies to learn to lay in their accidents and learn that it’s ok.  This idea helps them to not lay in it and keep their bed away from their accidents as well so it might just actually work.  I’ll update more on that as we go.
Bed – I want to give Yadi a big plushy bed that will help him rest comfortably but the truth is, he is a puppy and he will have an accident on his bed at some point.  Until we are potty trained he will need to have a crate pad, similar to the one in the picture above.  The pads and mats can be put into the washer and washed with an enzyme killer to help keep him from wanting to potty on it again.
From April of 2018

A Few More Days of 365 Days of Training Adventures

Little Red It’s been quiet the busy week so far.  Monday was a cold and wet day so I stayed inside with the Doodle Bug Puppies.  While ...