Thursday, August 25, 2016

Proper Paws Summer Newsletter #2

Wow, it seems like a perfect summer with all the sun and warm weather we are having!  I hope you are all in a position to really enjoy it.  Remember that your fur-bucket friends may not view this warmer weather the same way you do!  Plenty of shade, water and rest may be more to their liking.

For those of you who know my dog Winter, we are having some luck in her recovery (she has a partially torn ACL that isn’t bad enough for surgery – yet).  We’ve begun daily swims off the local boat ramp in the morning, with an easy .8 mile walk in the afternoon and she seems to be making small gains in her ability to support her weight and get through the day without limping.  All this with no Rimadyl since it caused her liver enzymes to go the wrong way!

So between the hot weather and resting most of the day you can imagine how pent up she is feeling, even at 11 years old this is a dog that is used to having a non-stop day.  So to combat this we are playing lots of mental stimulation games to keep her from getting really bored and redecorating the house with the trash!  Yes, even my dog will get creatively destructive when she gets bored, her shtick is to empty any and all trash cans available to her and spread the contents far and wide!
So here is the rundown of mental stimulation games we play with her to keep her occupied and happy while we are gone for the day.
       Find it.  Winter has been playing Find It games all her life, so before I leave for the day I ask for a sit/stay at the front door, I then walk into each room and scatter or place many pieces of dry kibble in the room, some are easy and some are more difficult to find.  As I walk out the door I say, ‘Find it’ and she’s off!  I have videotaped this and found that she is often busy for up to an hour searching the house for kibble!  There are many variations to this game, but this is the one we use.  For a full explanation on how to teach this game check this out
      Stuffed Marrow Bone or Kong.  These are among my all time favorites.  For puppies we use the stuffed Kong every time they go into the crate for any period of time (except at night), so that they associate the crate with good things.  For older dogs use the stuffed Kong or Marrow bone when you leave for the day.  Here are a couple of tips; stuff the Kong or Marrow bone with wet dog food instead of peanut butter or cream cheese, or use a mix of wet dog food, dry dog food, yogurt and a bit of cream cheese or peanut butter to hold the stuff together and as a flavoring.  This way the dog is getting mostly good nutrition rather than a heap of extra fat and calories.  Then FREEZE IT, so it takes a long time for the dog to get the stuff out of it.  Finally, HIDE IT so it takes time for the dog to find it first!
      Food dispensing toys.  There are some great food dispensing toys out on the marked, but you have to pick the right one for your dog or puppy.  If it’s too easy it won’t last long, if it’s too hard the dog will give up.  You may need to teach your dog how to use it first, which means supervising play with the item and nudging it a little to get them going.  I have several of these toys in my house and fill them randomly, or leave 2-3 filled in different rooms before I leave.  I try to sneak them into the rooms when she’s outside so she stumbles upon them during her day.  Again, fill these mostly with the dog’s kibble plus a FEW pieces of high value treat.
     Early morning/Late night walks – Early morning walks are great as the heat of the day doesn’t get in the way, alternatively the late night walks can be fun too, just watch out for the skunks!  J
5.     Swimming, sprinklers and water play of any kind is often great fun for the dogs as well as a way to cool off.
     Teach a new trick each week.  Pull that clicker out of the drawer and each morning before breakfast and evening before dinner use 10-15 minutes to stimulate your dog mentally by teaching him a new trick.  For ideas on tricks to train take a look at this video.

Proper Paws News

We have some exciting old and new offerings coming up this fall, including Adventure Classes on Monday’s and Friday’s at 9:30am, Wag it Games on Wednesday’s at 9:30, Rally Obedience Introduction at 9:30 on Thursday’s, and Master Puppy at 11am on Thursday’s.  For those of you that have dogs with dog/dog reactivity I am starting a new class called Growlies on Monday’s at 9:30am, we will work in a group class setting on reducing your dog’s reactivity and redirecting their anxiety with play!

Please feel free to log in and take a look at the class descriptions as well as register now for your fall classes!
As always, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.  I hope to hear from you soon!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Happy Summer!

I hope you are all having a wonderful, safe and happy summer.  As we get into our summer routine and classes are filling up (or are full) I thought I would touch base with everyone and give you an update on what we are doing this summer and looking forward to next fall.

First, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind everyone that hot cars are dangerous to our dogs!  Even a few minutes in a car on a hot day (even with the windows down!) can cause serious distress.  Not only do our dogs have fur coats on, their physiology makes them more susceptible to heat stroke than humans.  In addition, it’s good to remember that young puppies don’t have the same ability to regulate their body temperature that adult dogs do. So when it comes to leaving your dog in the car in the summer, please JUST DON’T! 

Do you have a new puppy this summer?  Getting used to riding in the car can be challenging to some young pups, as their vestibular system is not yet fully developed and car rides might make them feel ill.  A ½ a ginger snap cookie before a short car ride may help to easy their stomach upset.  Help your little ones get used to the car with short rides to happy places!  Airflow is important too, so keep those windows open, or the AC vent pointed toward the pup!

Finally, remember, the safest option for dogs traveling in the car, is in a crate that is secured using a seat belt or tie downs.  Remember that if you hit the brakes, your little bundle of joy is likely to become a projectile! 

For more tips on traveling with your pet check this link out .

Now on to news from Proper Paws!  Our summer classes are mostly full, although we still have one or two slots for Graduate Puppy available in July (more in August as people graduate from the class) and I have held open an overflow class for new Puppies who want to join the Puppy K classes.  If you know of someone with a new puppy who’s looking for a class I do Puppy Kindergarten on Tuesday’s!

This fall I am looking into some new offerings.  The first new offerings is Master Puppy class.  Think Master’s program for your dog (puppy or not).  This class will be a fun filled challenging class for those who have been through Puppy K and Graduate Puppy and have mastered all the skills taught in those classes with a fair degree of fluency.  If your dog can sit , down, stay, come and walk on a loose leash with some distractions, and you want them to do it even with a high level of distraction present, this is the class for you.  Weather permitting this class will challenge you and your dog with field trips to area distractions (Rideout Field, Dunkin Donuts, Train platform, downtown streets) so that we can proof all those behaviors you’ve worked so hard to teach your dog.  Pre-requisite is the ability for your dog to do basic behaviors with moderate distractions, for most people this will mean having gone through Puppy K and Graduate Puppy class (at least once).  Master Puppy Class will be a regular class with rolling admission!

Next on the list, Rally Obedience is back!  This is a fun way to really hone your leash walking and general obedience skills.  Rally Obedience is an AKC sport and consists of a series of 12-18 stations where your dog does an obedience skill, either moving or stationary, before advancing to the next station.  This class is designed for Novice students where we will be teaching a new set of signs each week as well as setting up mini courses to do ‘run thrus’.  If demand is high I will hold weekly or bi-weekly run thus for those who are interested in competing or ‘mock competing’. 

Finally, and the most exciting one for me is a new ‘Growlies’ class.  This is not for everyone, in fact is it a class for a select few, those who have dogs that react to other dogs with barking and lunging behaviors.  This will be among my ‘specials classes’ those are classes that will be offered occasionally as traditional 6 week courses with a start and end date – no rolling admission.  If you think you need this class, contact me and we can talk.

For those of you who are looking for Adventure Class, I will be running two sections of Adventure Class this fall, on Monday’s and Friday’s at 9:30am.  Both classes will start the week of September 19th, they will run for 6 weeks (no rolling admission – sorry) and the cost is $160.  If you have completed my Puppy K and Graduate Puppy classes and would like to enroll you may use the group class calendar to do so.  If you are not sure if your dog is ready, give me a call or drop me a line!  I look for dogs in this class to have a 70-80% recall, with the goal to improve it to 90%-95%.

Last but not least, a perennial favorite, Wag it Games class will be back this fall.  This is a great follow up to Graduate Puppy class and builds obedience skills as well as dog/handler connection. 

My tentative schedule for these classes is shown in this blog (schedule page).
If you have an interest and don’t see a course that matches it, please let me know!  I am always open to suggestions.