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Self-trained Service Dogs 2

Just a quick follow-up to my blog the other day. There are two wonderful books that can help you train your dog to perform specific tasks for you. They are called Teamwork I and Teamwork II.

The first book covers the basic Obedience training that your dog must be capable of in order to be a service dog. If you and your dog can’t truly master these tasks, unfortunately, self-training is probably not be the right path for you. It takes a special dog to be a service dog; it takes a lot of time, patience and effort to train your own. Be honest with yourself about your dog and your relationship with him/her, it will save you from heartache and embarrassment later! Most importantly, it will preserve the rights of the disabled to continue to take Service dogs into public areas.

The second book, Teamwork II shows in detail how real-life people creatively taught their dogs how to perform specific tasks. It was inspiring to read how a man with severe Cerebral Palsy, with the help of a friend, taught his dog to pick things up that he had dropped. If you have any interest in dog training, this one is an interesting read, just to see the trial, error and ultimate success.

Remember to always keep in the back of your mind: “how do my dog’s behavior in public and mine potentially effect the rights of those who have a more severe disability than mine?” Even if your dog can’t master the public obedience requirements, there is no reason why you can’t have him/her help you around the house. The mental stimulation of training these tasks is good for both of you!

Enjoy your dog(s)! Let them help you have some fun and enjoy life!

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Self-Trained Service Dogs

Self-Trained Service Dogs.



Hot Dogs 2

Well this week I started a new job. I had to leave my Rosie behind while I traveled for some training. Thankfully, I have been able to stay with my sister Judy in Gettysburg, PA all week. She has a lovely 6 month old Border Collie/Lab mix named Marcy. We hit it off right away and have been having a lot of fun together (forget my sister ;-))

Judy also has some neck problems, we blame it on my Mother’s side of the family! While I’ve been here, I’ve been sharing some of the things that I learned when I was so sick. Yesterday, we were swimming and Marcy would get into the pool using the steps, but wouldn’t jump in. She wanted to, but was afraid. So I stood in the middle and splashed and carried on until she was sprinting in circles around the pool like a crazy dog, then I called her. She jumped right in – I got a faceful of dog! After that, she wasn’t afraid anymore, so we played a game. We took an empty water bottle and threw it in the pool. She would jump in like a Dock Jumping Dog. We had a great time, and so did she!
I shared 2 videos, one a success, the other not so much! Enjoy! Feel free to laugh at my expense!



Hot Dogs! How to Keep Dogs Busy When It’s Too Hot to Walk

It has been soooo hot in the Philadelphia area lately! We’re almost in Winter mode, where we don’t even want to stick our noses outside. Having A/C makes it easier to just stay inside than to face 95 degree temps with 100% humidity. Short term, that feels pretty good, it satisfies your sense of self-preservation. I don’t know about you, but some days I feel like I am literally going to melt in this heat!

Unfortunately, as we all know, if we spend too much time sitting on the couch, not getting any exercise, we pay in the long run! Muscles need to be used to support sore joints, joints need to move to stay lubricated and mobile. So even in the “Dog Days of Summer”, we have to play with our dogs. My dogs get antsy and in trouble if they don’t have enough exercise, they need outside time. Maybe they’re just nosey and need to know what is going on outside, because even 15 -20 minutes of playing is often as good as a long 1 hour walk.

So here is my thought for the day. All you need is some shade and a garden hose, a baby pool, or sprinkler can add to the fun, but are optional!

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Rosie, Ranger and I had a great time paying with the hose. Rosie attacks it as if it were a big snake, Ranger prefers to get in the pool and dig in the water. We all get a little wet and cooled off! If I hold the hose up high, I get a good stretch, and some easy exercise; think of the bending, turning, holding, not to mention toweling off the dogs! It all counts as low impact exercise, and it gets you off of the couch without dying of heat stroke!

Get out and enjoy your dogs. Let them help you to feel better and live life more fully!



Traveling Dogless
July 2, 2012, 12:28 AM
Filed under: Dogs as Healers, Dogs as Inspiration | Tags:

I have to travel for a week to get some training for my new job. Rosie was not happy when I left, I really did not want to leave her! I’m sure when she realizes that my husband will let her sleep on my entire side of the bed, she will feel better!

I am fortunate enough to be able to stay with my sister in Gettysburg,PA for this trip. It was a long, lonely drive, but when I got here I was greeted enthusiastically by 6 month old, Lab/BorderCollie, Marcy! She is ignoring my brother-in-law and following me everywhere! It made me feel better!

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Collars, Leashes & Harnesses, Part III in a Series or How To Stop Your Dog From Pulling on the Leash

The point of this blog and my webstore is to educate you about how to make spending time with your dog more enjoyable so that you can get out with them and enjoy life! I don’t want you to go for a walk, then come home and be sore for two days, and think “Ugh, that was horrible, not worth it, I’m never going out again with that dog!” People and dogs both need exercise!

Even though it sometimes seems impossible, you can get your dog to stop pulling when you walk. As with all things “dog”, the younger they are when you teach them, the faster they learn it. But it is possible to teach old dogs new tricks. (Hmmm, maybe I’ll start a 2nd blog about how to train from when you first bring a puppy home…What do you think?)

I had neck surgery and carpal tunnel surgery this past winter (11/2011 & 2/2012), this picture was taken in May 2012. Am I crazy walking 90lb Ranger and 65lb Rosie together on a leash with a coupler? Maybe – but I knew that they wouldn’t pull me, and yes I cheated with a pinch collar just in case. But they didn’t pull, so they never got pinched! Now that I’m more confident in my own rebuilt strength, I walk both of them without the pinch.

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I know that pinch collars are a touchy, controversial subject in the dog training world. It’s not my job to judge what people do to control their dogs. I am trying to help people to understand how dogs think, how to let your dog be a partner in your healing, and to find some methods to let you work with your dog without giving you undue pain. So my perspective is this… Yes, pinch collars are meant to be a training tool and the dog should be weaned off of them as quickly as possible. Some dogs are gentle souls and never need them, others never seem to understand the whole leash concept. I’ve owned dogs on both ends of the spectrum. The other factor that comes into play is the strength and physical capabilities of the dog owner vs the strength and training of the dog. I had 2 German Shepherds that I bought when I was fully capable of handling them. When they were 1yr and 1 1/2 yr old is when I had my surgeries that were completely unexpected. They weren’t fully trained yet. Should I have given them back, or found tools to help me keep them? Believe me when I tell you that if you feel that you always need a pinch collar, I won’t judge you, sometimes it is the best choice!

So here is the “trick” to teaching your dog to stop pulling on the leash. Choose a leash that is comfortable in your hands, and feels good when you hold it. (That will be the subject of an upcoming blog when I’m done taking all of the educational pictures!) This is especially important if you have arthritis in your hands like I do.

Know your dog and what makes them respond. Are they thrilled just to hear you say “Good Job!”, or do they need a treat, or a chance to bite on their favorite toy? Whatever it is that works for you & your best friend, take it along when you go out, also bring a lot of patience.

The first part of this has nothing to do with walking. It’s all about developing attention.Your dog must know that he needs to always know where you are and what you are doing. He needs to understand that no matter what other exciting things are out there in the world, you are the bearer of the best things, and that he should stick with you. This exercise you can do from a park bench. If you are not strong enough (yet!) to hold your dog for a long period of time, tie the leash to the bench. Keep an eye on your dog, (you remembered your treat, toy or kind words – right?), every time he looks at you say. “Good Look!” or “Good Watch!”, treat him and then let him go back to watching the people or squirrels, or whatever is fascinating to him. Pretty soon, (it may take a few trips to the park, but what is so bad about that?) he will learn to look at you every so often, just to check in. When that is solid you can move to the next step, the actual walking part.

When you first try  to get your dog to walk without pulling, if at all possible, go to a place, or at a time when things are fairly calm, and your dog won’t be too distracted. This is just an extension of the exercise above, so fewer distractions means that you get more attention. You have to be sneaky and fake your dog out, they’re smart!

When you walk your dog, watch them very carefully. When they get almost to the end of the line, but before they start to pull – STOP in your tracks. Your dog will get a little tug. They may: 1. walk back over to you, 2. look at you in surprise, or 3. try to pull you. Any reaction is ok. If you get the 1st reaction, it will be fairly easy to teach your dog to stop pulling on the leash. Tell him how good he is and reward him, then start to walk again. Repeat, over and over! If you get the 2nd response, call her over to you, tell her she’s a good dog, reward her and start to walk again. Repeat over and over! If you get the 3rd reaction, your life will be a bit more difficult, but there is hope! It’s all up to you, and you can do it! DO NOT let your dog pull you forward. If you are not strong enough to do this, try to find someone to help you. They hold they leash, you get to give the rewards! Eventually your dog will look back to you. Tell her “Good Look!”, reward her and when there is no tension on the leash walk again. Repeat over and over… (Reminds me of the awful joke from 3rd or 4th grade: Pete & Repeat are on a boat, Pete jumps out. Who is left? Repeat. Pete & Repeat are on a boat, Pete jumps out, who is left…?) Keep the first few tries at this short, or you will both get tired and frustrated – keep it fun and upbeat.

If you are feeling really good, or are fortunate enough to have recovered from whatever illness slowed you down, or have a friend or family member to help, there is another more difficult exercise that also reinforces this. Take a very thin leash and put some rocks, pylons or other markers in a straight row, about 2 feet apart. Keep the dog close, and move very quickly around the obstacles. You can also just walk in a random fashion, changing directions quickly. The idea is that the dog has to stay with you and pay attention to you in order to move forward. This is difficult and can be tiring at first. Don’t try it if you’re not up to it. It’s like putting the extra trim on a nice car. It looks good, and finishes things off, but not completely necessary if you can’t afford it.

Eventually your dog will understand that pulling means stopping, being near you on a loose leash means being allowed to walk. As the two of you turn this into a more solid behavior, try walking in busier places or at busier times of day. Eventually it will gel, and both you and your dog will be happier! More walks = more exercise =  a healthier you + a calmer dog in the house – it’s all good! Patience and consistency are the keys – you can learn them. If I did, anyone can! Sometimes it’s easy, others it is not, but the time and effort are always worth it.

Go have fun – enjoy your dog!



The Proof of My Insanity Has Arrived!

Last week I told all of you that I had lost my mind. Well, the proof of that arrived today. She is a 7lb., 9 week old, red, Border Collie from a working ranch in Oklahoma. Her breeder told my daughter that she was the “terrorist” of the litter. Of course Teresa wouldn’t pick the calm, laid back one! Her name is Fiona.

Poor 100lb Ranger doesn’t know what to make of her. He is being very gentle, which is tough for him, because he is so big, still growing, and therefore clumsy. When Fiona jumps at him and yips, he sits back with a surprised look on his face. Don’t tell anyone, but I think he may be afraid of her! He’s supposed to be the tough guy in the house!

Rosie loves her and is taking great care of her. She is smart enough to know that all of us dumb humans can’t handle a puppy. Good thing Rosie is here or disaster might strike! Fiona and Rosie are playing well, lots of “tug”, which mainly consists of Rosie holding one end of a small end of the rope in her mouth while the puppy goes crazy at the other end.

The cats are not happy with us and are reserving comment for now.

I think Teresa’s face says it all though, somebody in the house is happy! I haven’t seen her this excited in a long time, sometimes a puppy does fix everything. I’ll keep you posted on our progress.
Don’t forget to get out and enjoy some time with your dogs!

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