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Stop Talking Get Communicating

“Come on hurry up, go outside and go to the toilet, get, down, get off, outside, OUTSIDE…hey! Be a good boy and be quiet, Shush, Toby, Toby, please stop barking! Toby shush! Come inside! COME IN! Oh for Petes sake! Thank you!”

How many of you had this conversation this morning? The answer is no one did. What? True? But… What?

Conversations occur between two, or more, individuals usually involving an exchange of thoughts and ideas (or in a human/dog sense giving, and importantly responding successfully to commands). When a dog is involved, especially a dog like Toby this morning, you were in fact partaking in a monologue. A one sided, not terribly successful, none imparting, or gaining, of useful information, achieving no real gain for either side, monologue…. or as I like to call it; talking to yourself.

Let us look at what part of your morning monologue could have been a conversation…that is, what the dog could reasonably have understood had it been taught to respond to your well-chosen words:

“Outside” – Open the door at the same time as using this command, dog goes out. GOOD DOG.
“Thank you” – Said happily after his first bark. Dog knows you heard the bark and you need him to be quiet now.

If you have to continue helping him “shush” go out to him and bring him back inside. Handy hint: attach a 5m long piece of light rope to a determined barkers collar and go outside with him every time – then it’s easy to take him inside once you have said “Thank you for letting me know there might be a monster on the other side of the fence but we can go in now”. GOOD DOG (with a little help).

Toby… (insert your own dogs lovingly chosen name here) means listen up, the next thing I say is worth listening to. ALWAYS follow your dogs’ name with a command he already knows (if he doesn’t know it you need to teach him it before you expect him to follow it) when he follows the command correctly follow that with a reward/treat/trip in car/toy whatever will motivate him to follow the same command correctly again next time it is given. On hearing his name your dog should stop what he’s doing to listen…and you have more chance of getting him to follow your next command. GOOD DOG.

“Inside” – dog knows you are happy he’s done all he needs to do outside and heads inside….probably for his reward, in Toby’s case his breakfast. GOOD DOG.

Tomorrow morning start this condensed conversation by first staying quiet and calmly greeting your dog crouched down at his level so he realises he doesn’t have to jump all over you to say, “good morning” then keep the new, quieter, calmer, to the point and listen-worthy you going…for ever. GOOD DOG? GREAT DOG OWNER

Toilet training. Do it right, don’t take the easy way out

If you successfully toilet train your dog you have the option to look after it in the future in convenient and usually preferable ways. Prospective dog sitters with no cat door can care for your dog easily. Kennels tend to prefer clean dogs, and at busy times may choose a clean dog over one that toilets in its kennel. Toilet trained dogs safely stay inside during the day preventing barking, digging, destruction and escaping usually associated with outdoor dogs. Toilet trained dogs don’t ruin carpets, are more welcome in rental properties and don’t end up living outside because they aren’t nice to live with inside anymore.

Facts about Toilet Training :- teaching our dogs to hold off going to the toilet until they are somewhere that WE find appropriate (usually the garden)

All dogs can learn to live inside and toilet outside however; the younger you begin the higher percentage of lifelong guarantee you get.

Dogs learn to go outside because (a) That’s where she’s gone most often (because you take her there each time she needs to go) (b) It makes her feel comfortable – if it feels good she’ll want to do it again (c) You have rewarded her either with a little treat or verbal reward. “Clever girl!!!!”

The age that pups most effectively learn where it is acceptable to toilet is between 6 and 16 weeks – toilet training should be complete by 5 ½ months (when teething is usually complete)

By 5 months if pups have toileted inside or close to their sleeping area enough times it becomes more difficult to teach them to hold their bladder and bowels until they get outside.

How to Toilet Train your Puppy/Older Dog

Prevent your puppy/dog from wandering round the house unsupervised. Pups and dogs sleep a lot so if you cannot be watching her then allow her to sleep in a contained area such as a training crate. All healthy dogs will naturally hold their bladder and bowels until they can move away from their sleeping area.

Keep an older dog near you, by using a lead, when not in a training crate so that she cannot wander off, unnoticed, to toilet.

Watch the clock and take your pup or dog out every hour or two or three or four, depending on how old she is… Dogs can hold their bladder for an hour for every month they have been born – up to 7 months old and then its fairer to ensure she gets the opportunity to toilet every 5 – 6 hours. Once 100% toilet trained an adult dog can comfortably go 8-10 hours between toilet stops, if need be.

Don’t leave doors open or use a cat flap to allow your pup/dog to get to the garden as-and-when it wants – think about a time in the future when you won’t want the door open, or when the dog simply chooses not to go outside or she doesn’t have access to a cat flap – she won’t have practiced ‘holding on’ and consequently cannot be considered 100% toilet trained.

Don’t use Puppy Toilet pads inside – designed to draw your puppy to toilet on them you may inadvertently be teaching your pup to go to where the pads are…not just to toilet on the pad. Don’t be surprised when the pup returns to toilet where the pads were even after you’ve taken them away. Save your money, watch the clock, open the door and prepare to reward for a toilet well done.

Leave a poo or two on the area of lawn you want your dog to return to and take your pup there every time you know a poo is due.

Feed your pup so it only poos during the day. This means feed breakfast then only feed a small snack at lunchtime or nothing at all and feed dinner AFTER 6pm.

Toilet training done correctly can be 100% guaranteed. It takes time, effort, awareness, an ability to tell the time and a willingness to get up and go outside when it would be a lot easier to stay in front of the t.v and let the dog figure it out itself.

If you think you may be running out of time with your pup toilet training or if you have an adult dog with a problem give Sarah at Pet Dog School a call. Do it right. Get up and let your dog out.

Fun Stuff to Do Whatever the Weather

Dark, cold days make dog walks a little less than fun. Sometimes I think hibernating bears have the right idea. Pet Dog School Doggy Daycare clients take full advantage of convenient drop off and pick up times Monday to Friday, at this time of year; so even when a sneaky extra 30 minutes in bed is too much of a temptation to resist they simply drop their beloved pet off at school to play with their friends instead.

There are however plenty of other ways to entertain and wear out our dogs, even on non-school days and without venturing outside for anything more than a quick toilet stop and boundary check every so often.

Don’t ever underestimate how much it wears a dog out when it uses its brain, compared to just using its energy to run around. In fact, a 20 minute brain training session will tire a dog out and help you improve your relationship far better than an hour pulling you round the bridges or charging around the beach chasing seagulls.

Happy dogs use their noses: Find your pets inner border security dog. Without your dog seeing where, hide a few treats somewhere easy-ish to find – this is a good game for even your youngest child to play with your dog. Bring el poocheo into the room and initially help him find the first treat, saying excitedly, “FIND IT!”. Help your dog the first few times but don’t help too much or he’ll expect you to point out every treat. He’ll soon work out that when you say, “FIND IT!” he should use his nose to, well… find IT! The more you practice the better your dog will get and you will be able to take the game to the garden or even on walks. Once he’s an expert, replace treats with his favourite toys.

Body and Mind: Dogs are designed to use their brains AND their bodies together – this is what makes them so good at rounding up sheep, apprehending villains, guiding visually impaired people and working as assistants to people with disabilities. We can help our own dogs use their brain and body and have fun too by teaching them tricks. Let’s teach your dog a new trick now;

Little dog? – sit on the floor with your legs stretched out together and knees bent upwards to make a tunnel. With your dog on your left side, hold a treat in your right hand underneath your legs so he can see the treat and slowly lure him under your legs to your right side. You may have to let him eat a few treats before he gets brave enough to come right through, but take your time and eventually he’ll think it’s great fun to scramble through to get the treat. Say “THROUGH!” as he comes out the other side. Trick taught. Got a big dog? Hold treats in both hands and luring from behind your bottom, stand up and get your dog to come from in front of you to behind you, round your leg back to the front and through to the back again in a figure of eight. Let him have the treat initially each time he successfully goes through your legs, then treat only when he’s done a complete figure of eight. Lure him from the front to the back, it’s easier and looks better. Say “WEAVE!” as your dog moves through your legs. Trick taught.

Dogs love to play with you: Never underestimate the power of controlled play, Use games to teach and perfect self-control. Hold your dog lightly by the collar, say “Wait” and throw a toy…when the toy stops moving send the calm dog to chase it. Practice your tricks, sit, down, come and throw his toy as a reward rather than giving a treat.

Fortunately, the cold mornings and dark nights will only last a few more months then daily walks will become a pleasure again. However, while we wait we can teach our dogs self-control, focus, how to enjoy learning with us and lucky Doggy Daycare dogs have plenty of time to hang out with friends.

So, no time for hibernation then? We can leave that to the bears!

Love your dog? Going away? New Holiday Homestay from Pet Dog School

Owner, trainer and groomer at Pet Dog School Doggy Daycare, Sarah Hesketh says the world never stays still and for our business, to be the best we can be, it is vital we remain open to changes in the needs of our clients. 

Just recently another need has been bought to Sarah’s attention and she isn’t going to let her loyal clients down now.

Wanganui is lucky to have some well patronised boarding kennels but the nights are getting colder and some dog owners want an alternative for their pets.

Now Doggy Daycare clients are welcomed into Sarah’s own home over night, long term or short term. It’s just one more way the dogs of Wanganui and their owners can benefit from the love that Sarah has for her work and her clients. When their humans go away, adored family pets can now enjoy all the comforts of home; like a sofa and human to snuggle up to, a familiar routine, cosy bed, maxed out toy box and fires to sprawl out in front of. Homestay guests play at daycare for free during the day and spend warm cosy nights with Sarah her family and her dogs in their warm, cosy home. 

So next time you’re planning a trip away, book your dog a place on Sarah’s couch. When it comes to Wanganui dogs nothing is too much trouble and if opening her home helps owners help their dogs then Sarah just can’t help herself!

Call Sarah for more details on 06 354 2553

If the Shape Fits – Choose It

Remember the red plastic cube toy that toddlers are given to learn the properties of shapes? The different shaped holes on each side teach little people that, however hard they try or however much they want it to work, a round shape simply won’t fit in a square hole.

Oh you do remember? Did you, like me, manage to get at least one of the shapes into the wrong hole – proof that if you work hard, concentrate and spend the time working out what it needs to go into a hole it wasn’t designed for sometimes you can MAKE it fit! Anyway, back to my point; over the years little, red cube deciphering people become big people and the time comes for them to get a dog; Now they begin the process of deciding which one they want to live with for the rest of its life.

Now as odd as it may seem this rather simple, red plastic cube was all the education these potential dog owners needed to make an educated and ultimately successful choice on the type or breed of dog they should choose – but sadly, I fear, this lesson of recognition, and common sense is often long forgotten. Now, in the adult world afflicted with knowing better than common sense, believing “I want one” is all that is required for successful ‘having’ or liking the look of something makes ‘owning’ it a must, the lesson learned all those years ago on the importance of choosing the right shape to fit the given hole being the best way to achieve success is lost – but just WHO loses out? 

The complex ‘hexagonal’ breed that just isn’t going to slip into a simple ‘triangle’ life, the children whose new ‘star’ shaped puppy refuses to fit into mums’ basic ‘round’ time or dog rearing ability. These are the animals and families that education fails and emotion and short-sightedness destroy.

There are of course exceptions, just like with the toy with slightly different moulding, with time and hard work and learning what’s needed, some individual dogs will fit into a mismatched family, but these are far outnumbered by the ones that don’t.

So, as usual with this column we ask the question: So what can we do to change this?

Before we choose a pet dog we must first look at the ‘shape’ of dog that would successfully fit into the ‘shape’ of home we can offer it. If we are honest at this stage of dog ownership we give ourselves, and the dog, every opportunity to live a happy and successful life.

If you are looking for a PET dog, rather than look at breeds that may suit you, let’s look at the types of dog that probably won’t;

Working dogs – bred on a farm, they need to work. They are highly intelligent and you have NO choice but to train them and allow them to use their brain. Ignored they may collect habits that are at best dismaying (chasing shadows) and at worst down-right dangerous (chasing vehicles).

Pitbull types – have a thin coat and HATE living outside. They desperately need company and if not taught right, when left alone, they will learn to escape, from ANYWHERE. 

Foxies – Are clever and love to chase. They are energetic and when children manhandle them they nip and tears follow. The ending result is a foxie left outside learning to dig, chew, chase and kill things as an adult.

Big Dogs – Need training. They may be calm as adults but they only get that way by being taught not to jump, pull on lead and lose control of themselves right from the start.

Small dogs – Are a long way down if you don’t bend easily. This makes them difficult to train or even pat unless they are jumping all over the furniture or YOU.

There are dog trainers and multiple fun websites that help you choose the right ‘shape’ dog for you. So, decide what shape of home you can offer then let these websites help you pick. After- all; if the shape fits – why not choose it?

There are many different dog breed selector tools online here’s one to get you started:

Winter Woofers

Just a quick reminder that dogs feel the cold too. If your dog has an outside living space, a kennel and metal run or simply outside on the deck, prevent problem behaviours like barking, refusal to come to be put outside or to bed, destructiveness and escaping by ensuring he or she has plenty of dry, clean bedding and can get out of sideways rain, drafts and wind. Cold dogs act out their discomfort and we call it annoying or problem behaviour. You play your part in your relationship by ensuring he is warm, comfortable and dry and he’ll play his part by accepting your care with love, patience and respect.

Preparation for a Successful Dog (Owner)

Long before we take ownership of our first car we have learned that providing it with fuel makes it move forward correctly, putting air in the tyres keep it going in a straight line and putting oil in it keeps it from grinding to a halt – forever.

New stoves come with manuals, flat pack furniture comes with a building guide and even the last pack of grass seed I bought had a little note helping me sow it to give it the best opportunity to grow perfectly.

Now whether we choose to look at this advice or not it is always offered… And, let’s be honest, we know we should take a peak, just to make sure we are doing it right.

Why then do we believe that making a puppy work correctly, keep it going in the right direction or find out where the ‘Off’ switch is, do we think we don’t need to at least have some relevant information to hand?

You know the saying – Fail to prepare, prepare to fail? That seems to be the unheeded mantra of too many dog owners – until that is their charge has gone in the wrong direction, broken completely, or failed to grow in the way they hoped (or assumed) it would. 

Until all puppy breeders recognise their responsibility to the little lives they create and build their own knowledge so they might educate new puppy owners, puppy owners must recognise their own responsibility to their new pet. 

Advise, help and guidance is available for new dog owners from Pet Dog School – in the form of unique written notes and private training sessions with or without dogs. However, just for now here are a few ideas to help you prepare for your new dog and hopefully help you become a successful dog owner in the future.

  1. Puppies are baby dogs, so it isn’t ‘Like’ living with a baby, it IS living with a baby
  2. Puppies are still learning to be dogs, they need a surrogate ‘mum’ who will show them how to behave and introduce them to the world in a way they understand – to do this you must act like a mummy dog not like a demanding human, at least for the first few months.
  3. While learning about the world supported by his foster ’mum’ it is vital to get his sleeping, eating and toileting going well if living alongside his new family is to be successful. Owners therefor need to know what to expect at different ages and development stages of their puppy.
  4. Understanding there are some things that will wait until the puppy is older and some things that need to be sorted out asap can make all the difference between a fun and successful life with a pup and hard work and ultimately disappointment.

If you have a new puppy or want help preparing for one, Pet Dog School can send you their Rearing the Perfect Puppy notes. So, puppies CAN come with a manual… we created it for you. You only have to want to ‘take a peak’’ just to make sure you’re doing it right.

School for Dogs and So Much More

Last month a River City reader found out about Pet Dog Schools new homestay service for its daycare clients. We had so much interest in the services they provide we have returned to find out more.

Most people know someones dog that attends Pet Dog Schools unique Doggy Daycare – a real school for dogs where pups learn social and play skills and older dogs meet best friends and hang out for the day. Check out their facebook page to see who you know.

Grooming is a popular service and provides an extra experience for daycare dogs as well as none daycare visitors. Daycare dogs staying for a full day only pay for a half day providing hours of fun and a full beauty treatment too.

You’d have to go a long way to find another real school for dogs. In Wanganui owners benefit from owner Sarah and her teams enormous experience in rearing brand new puppies, supporting owners through the, “what have we done?” stage and behaviour issues and obedience training.

Private sessions, at the school or at home are chosen by owners needing help to get to the bottom of particular difficulties. Traditional group classes are always popular. The energy and depth of knowledge that Sarah brings to her lessons provide a learning experience second to none.

Pet Dog School provides help to a unique group of people – those that love their dogs and realise that a little help and time goes a long, long way.

Call Sarah on 06 354 2553