Friday, December 22, 2017

Is This Your First Time?...with a new puppy

Remember your first dog? Not the family dog, but the first dog you picked out of the litter, rescued or was gifted to you. The first dog that had YOU as the point of contact at the veterinarian, had YOUR phone number on their dog tag, the first dog you bought dog food for, medicine, supplements, daycare, took to the dog park and told other proud owners, “that’s my dog”.

Remember when you got your first dog? Some of the mistakes you made? What you didn’t know? How overly protective you were?

Like Bulldogs, Poodles and Chihuahuas, first time dog owners are a breed of their own. They enter parenthood much like a puppy enters the world; eager, but with a lot to learn:

·      Potty training: Puppies come with bladders they cannot control. Patience will be tested and consistency is the key to success. Regular potty breaks with praise for desired behavior works so much better than punishment for accidents.
·      To fix or not to fix: Puppies come with all the plumbing for making more puppies.  Seven months is the standard age for getting puppies altered. There are many opinions, advantages and disadvantages to spaying or neutering. Personally, my first dog became aggressive at about three years old and got snipped soon after he bit me.
·      Vaccinations: In California, dogs must be immunized against rabies. If they want to go to daycare, they may be required to have current distemper/parvo and bordatella (kennel cough) shots. Here is another topic with many differing opinions, advantages and disadvantages; so new owners must do their research.
·      Daycare/boarding: Any dog can benefit from socialization. Dogs are, by nature, social creatures and dog daycare gives them a chance to interact, learn from the pack, potty outside (if your daycare offers that), and spend some of that excess energy.  Although it’s best to socialize dogs when they are young, some puppies may be more vulnerable to viruses when their immune system has not fully developed. Just like a playground for kids, being around others exposes them to viruses, even if all are immunized.
·      Dog parks: A great way to bond with your pup, create memories and meet other dogs and dog owners. Dog parks can also attract aggressive dogs, non-vaccinated dogs and sometimes inattentive/irresponsible owners. Keep your dog close, never out of your sight and pick up after them.  Don’t be “that” owner.

In conclusion, being the owner of a dog daycare, we love first time dog owners. These are people who’ve chosen to make the sacrifice and accept the commitment of a dependent creature they will have for years. These people are usually very protective of their newfound love and it’s an honor to be trusted with their newest family member, share information about their dog, best practices and antidotes. New dog owners need to be coddled just as much as their dogs. We get it, that’s why we do what we do.

If you’re a new dog owner: be curious, ask questions, learn, and be your dogs’ best expert. Remember, they’re counting on you and well-informed owners make happy, healthy, well adjusted dogs

Monday, October 2, 2017

Turn Off the TV

We are all victims of habit. 

Most of us work, some work long hours, some have long commutes, some work from home but all with the same goal: to finish the day and enjoy some much needed down time.  This is our reward for a day of accomplishment, stress and earning a paycheck.

What is your reward for the end of the day? Dinner? TV? Reuniting with your dog/family? Dinner is a given but after that, what is the real “down time” part of your evening? Do you spend it watching the news and getting upset or angry over events of the world, the direction of our country, natural disasters, injustice, violence, ignorance and down right stupidity?

It’s important to keep abreast of the events of the world but the daily bombardment of negativity only hurts you and your dog knows it. Your dog is your monitor. Your dog sees, hears and smells your moods, tones and body language more than you might realize. This affects them too. Why would we knowingly do that to our dogs? Sometimes our dogs are smarter than us and know what’s best, better than we do.

Ten out of ten dogs surveyed say, “Kill your TV and love on me”. It’s a proven scientific fact, snuggling with a dog is good therapy. It lowers your heart rate and blood pressure, calms your stomach and gives you peace.  The same happens to your pup.

Life is full of options and you have a choice at 6pm every night to get stressed, angry, frustrated and yell at your TV or simply turn it off, get on the floor and feel the happiness and love your pup is full of. They don’t worry about things they have no control over, they live in the moment and enjoy the simple things in their world. Now more than ever, it’s important to occasionally get down to their level, both physically and psychologically.


So next time you find yourself getting even the slightest bit agitated over the news, stop and look at your pup. Why are they looking up at you with their tongue hanging out and a smile on their face? Turn off the TV, get down there and find out.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Do Dogs Smile?

When you get home or pick your dog up from daycare, you’re most likely going to be greeted by a happy dog that’s uninhibited in showing their joy. That’s why we love them. A jump in the air or on you, a bark or squeal, running aimlessly in circles or through the house, all done with a big happy smile.

According to the Huffington Post:

“A SMILE, WITH LIPS CURLED UP = “I’m happy.”
Many experts believe that dogs have learned to smile because they’ve seen humans do the same or because we reward them for doing so. At any rate, it usually means your dog is contented and happy. The doggy smile is also known as a submissive grin, or a sign that your dog wants to appease you.” 

That’s your dog, the one you know inside and out. But what about other dogs? Have you been in a situation when you see a dog that you don’t know “smiling” at you?  Is it a smile or a snarl? The chance meeting between you and a strange dog can be a complicated situation. That dog does not know you and you don’t know him. What you both have in common is the unknown. You might both be thinking, “Is he nice? Is he scared? What are his intentions?”

While you may be looking at the ears, tail, eyes or lips… you’re being looked at too.

Are you tall or short? Male or female? Are you wearing accessories? Is your voice loud or soft? Are you fearful or curious? What do you smell like? Are your pupils dilated? (Yes, they actually access that). Do you look like someone in his present or past life? Is that someone a kind or abusive person? As you can see, they have a lot more to assess and a lot more to be fearful of than you do.

Normally a dog that’s wagging, submissive, head bowed, ears up and eyes relaxed is smiling at you and wants to be petted.  A dog with tail stiff or tucked, body stiff, head at attention, ears back and showing teeth. That’s a snarl and he wants you to back off.

In general, never approach a dog you do not know. I’ve actually had dogs give me all the right signs then bite when I reached out. Ask the owner if the dog is friendly (no matter what signs he’s giving) and if it’s okay to approach them. When given permission, hold your hand out with palm down so you can be sniffed, do not reach over their head, crouch low, look small and unintimidating, and use a soft gentle voice. 


Once that dog realizes you are a cool human, you may have just made a friend for life.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Are you a good "pack leader" to your pup(s)?

Dog training has come a long way in recent years. With popularized trainers like Caesar Milan and Victoria Stillwell, we have been given better methods to connect with our four legged canine friends. 
We have been taught that positive reinforcement is the best way to train your pup, as it puts less stress on your dog and let’s face it, less stress on the relationship you have with your pup. No one wants to be yelled at, swatted on the nose with a newspaper, or have your face rubbed in anything.  It makes perfect sense that this would not be the way you would want to learn, so why did it take so long for us to come around to the idea of a gentle, intelligent, caring, and respectful leader would be the best way to lead?

Well, some studies were done back in the 70’s that set out to prove that dogs were like a pack of wolves and that wolves were guided by the principle of domination. That principle would allow for others to challenge the “pack leader”, whenever they wanted to become the dominate in the group. This challenge was simply an attack on the leader to seem whom was strongest, and the strongest would be boss. 
So being the pack leader meant being strong and able to dominate your pack. It wasn’t a matter of intelligence, kindness, compassion and least of all respect. It was commanding by the element of fear. Not really the way you would think of communicating with “mans best friend”.
Those studies turned out to be no so valid for a host of reasons including the fact that true packs are created by blood relatives and not unrelated wolves that were used in the studies, but also the sheer fact that dogs are NOT wolves and dogs know that humans are not dogs.
So it was been proven that dogs are not wolves and they do not have that same pack like mentality, but dogs are social pack animals. They like to be with one another, they create bonds with other dogs, meaning they can make friends, and they can respect a good, patient, and compassionate leader.

So, I put the question out there again….Are you a good “pack” leader?