Saturday, August 31, 2013

A How To on Teaching Your Dog Agility

Here are some clips of how to build some of your own dog agility equipment (for very little money), and another clip on a few exercises you dog can do to improve and work off a little of that energy before a walk or just something other than a rousing game of fetch for fun.

Here also is a shameless plug for the new agility classes that are starting soon. If you would like more information on them please click here
 How do you know if your dog is a good candidate for learning agility you ask?  Does your dog have lots of energy?  Loves to race around the yard?  Do you wish your dog paid better attention to you?  Do you have a couch potato dog who needs to loose a few pounds? (though I wouldn't recommend Basset breeds, I don't know if their joints could handle it, at least the larger ones)  Are you looking for something new to teach your dog?  Well if you have answered  YES to any one of those questions agility training could be for you!

 Do you see how much fun it looks! Roxy loves it! Agility not only helps create a better bond between you and your dog, it also creates a fun happy environment for your dog that teaches him to pay closer attention to you and your body language.

It is also pretty easy to teach from your own house without the need of too much special equipment.  (and the things you do need can be made for just a few dollars and some creative thinking)

I like to start off by teaching the jumps and working on teaching your dog to think about his back feet.  (As shown in the video above)  
Dogs love to learn new things and once they figure out that it's easy to do and they get quick positive benefits from it, it soon becomes the "happy" time of the day
To teach the jump: I start by using a lure to get the dog over a low horizontal object, then click as so as they start to go over and then they can have the treat/lure on the other side.  Once they've got the idea you can start to raise your "standard" (horizontal stick/pole).  Pretty simple.
So the bottom line is if you are looking for a good time and some fun new things to teach your dog give agility training a try! (It's not just for competition!) 
(now that our rain has returned for a bit I can put my weave poles back out and my next post should be on teaching the weave)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dog and Kid Safety

This past week Roxy and I spent some time teaching the kids in town how to be safe around dogs.  I thought it would be good for everyone else to understand too. This is not meant to be something to scare you or make you wary of other dogs, I just want people to be better informed.  Not all dogs who are stressed bite all of the time, but why push it.  Why make a dog, who does have sharp teeth, and can, and will use them, feel more stressed.  Some dog breeds are more laid back than others, but even some of those breeds can have issues and get stressed in certain circumstances.

Sometimes an owner might tell you it's ok to pet their dogs, and it isn't.  Only you can make sure that you will not be bit.

Everyone loves to pet a dog, they are cute and soft, and we just can't help ourselves.  However there are ways to tell if a dog is ok to pet and if you should steer clear.

This is what I call Roxy's "Happy Face"
When most dogs are relaxed and feeling good, this will be how they will look.  Notice the smile on her face and the "twinkle" in her eyes?  Yes dogs smile too.  :o)
When a dog is working or extremely focused this is how they will look. The ears are still up, but her mouth is shut.  In dog language that means "Don't bother me" she is focused on something. Look at her eyes, that twinkle is gone.  A stressed out dog looks very similar.  If you see a dog looking like this, don't ask to pet it.  It is very focused on something and if you get in it's way it may snap at you.

This is a fearful face. Ears are down, and most likely so is the tail (if the dog has one, and Roxy does not so that is not always a reliable way to gauge emotion of a dog).  Again look at the eyes, you can see the whites of her eyes and she is avoiding eye contact if possible, or turning her head away.  Sometimes the dogs will start drooling or barring teeth if you continue to get closer.  Another one you want to watch out for and do not pet.  I would also say do not approach this dog if possible.  This dog may, or may not bite.  Even if this dog would not bite, it's never a nice thing to do to force a dog to feel more stressed and fearful by approaching.

Here is a clip of what you should do if a dog starts to chase you.  It's called "be a tree."  You should quickly stop running or moving, fold your arms, and stare at your feet.  In this pose you will not look threatening to most dogs and they will stop chasing you, they might come up and sniff your legs, just hold still, and don't make eye contact.

See how quickly Roxy lost interest in chasing the child as soon as they stopped moving.  When something runs away from a dog it triggers their "chase" instinct.  With some dogs they have not been taught to only chase, because the chase sequence goes from chase to bite with their instinct.  You can teach them not to bite, but that calls for them to have self control and understanding of what is allowed or not.  Not all dogs have been taught that, so they will bite what they catch up to.  Another thing to keep in mind.....A dog is (almost) always going to be able to outrun you.  So teach your kids to NEVER run from a dog, NEVER throw their hands up or hold them up (this encourages the dogs to jump), and NEVER scream and shriek.  Loud high pitch sounds gets a dog even more excited, and thus will run faster, jump higher, and bite harder.

Just for a recap...Happy.....

Not so happy...... can you pick the dogs that are happy and then one who is not? Happy body language reading everyone!