Thursday, February 26, 2009

You Can't Teach My Dog to do That!?!

I have heard the statement "You can't get my dog to do that!" many times during my career as a dog trainer. I believe that statement to be the biggest setback of almost every pet owner out there. The truth is, yes I can. And yes you can.

I remember one client who came into my office a few years back with a pit bull terrier and a hound mix. While we were talking I had my Australian cattle dog sitting quietly on her crate behind me. The prospective client joked that there's no way his two dogs would ever be able to behave that well. So I made him a bargain. If I could get his pit bull to do that he'd sign up right there for my group classes. Within 10 minutes his dog was mimicking my cattle dog, quietly sitting on a pet bed, and needless to say he signed on the dotted line.

Now this is not a testimony to how great my training skills are, although I would love it to be one. What I am getting to is that many owners deny their pets adequate training because they believe their dog can be no more than a disobedient family member. I have heard reasons stretching from their dog's breed, to age, to up-bringing to finances and back. But these are all just excuses.

There are circumstances that can affect training. In reality a dog's breed does have a lot of effect on how quickly a dog will learn, or what skills they will exceed at. For instance I would never ask a Maltese to herd long horn cattle. Sure we could train the dog to do it, and I've met some Maltese who believe they can... but why? And of course age and health also will change how the dog learns, but there is no task that is impossible.

Take my mother's beagle who just recently passed. We are talking about a full fledged, stubborn basic obedience drop out, only cares about food and rabbits, hound dog. She became a family member long before I had any interest in dog training. But to my surprise at the age of 14 she learned every trick my puppies were learning for my dog training classes. The secret was finding out how to motivate her. Before she passed this beagle could play dead, speak on command and do several other tricks.

To get back to my original point here is that any dog, of any breed and of any age can learn anything! But the owner must be dedicated to teaching the dog and be in for the long haul. And most importantly be able to know whether or not it is worth it, and in the best interest of his dog.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Keeping Your K9 Active and Happy in the Winter

The weather can put a damper on hours of outdoor fetch and walks, but there's still several ways to keep your pet active and happy without braving the outdoor weather. Here's a small list of ideas....
  • Hide and seek in your home. Have family members hide in different areas of your home, armed with treats. Release your pet, and have him race around finding his lost friends. Try other variations such as hiding your pet's favorite toys or treats and helping him search your home to find them.
  • Do Tricks! Even if your pet can't have a lot of physical exercise, brain work can do them just as well.
  • Take your walks indoors. Visit your local pet store to get your daily walks in, even during the worst of weather.
  • Weave polls indoors. Visit your local dollar store and stock up on 6 or so toilet plungers. Affix them to any tile floor, and weave away with your dog!

Of course these are just a few ideas to get you started. What activities do you and your pet enjoy during the winter months? Please leave a comment.


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