7 Indoor Activities for You and Your Dog

Between the summer heat and storms, many owners and dogs find themselves stuck indoors. Just because the weather is not conducive to outdoor activities does not mean there is nothing to do! Whether it is pouring rain or 100 degrees outside, it’s the time to get creative with indoor activities.

1. Practice basic commands, especially ones that your dog has yet to master. Mental exercise can make your dog more tired than physical.

2. Turn your house into a playhouse. If you have a long hallway, stairs, a covered porch, or garage, use it to play fetch or practice the Come command. Have your dog sit at the top of the steps with your Stay command, go down first, then call your dog. Repeat going back up. Make it a fun and happy game, and you will not even realize that you are getting exercise too! If you have a treadmill, you can acclimate your dog to walking on it.

3. You can play Hide and Seek to practice Come, get the kids involved, and teach them the foundation to search and rescue. Have one family member hide, then ask your dog to go find them, and then give lots of praise when he finds them! If your dog is more motivated by toys, hide his favorite toy and have him find it. This really gets dogs using their noses!

4. Puzzle Toys are a great way to provide mental exercise as well as build the human-canine bond. Check out all the neat toys on the market that can keep you and your dog involved together such as Nina Ottoson Puzzles or Kyjen Puzzles which you can find at one of our own local pet stores: http://www.animall.org.

5. Teach fun tricks. When you have a lot of time inside, it can be a great time to teach your dog some fun commands like roll over, dance, or speak! Remember to always keep it fun and enjoy yourself. The more genuine you are with teaching tricks, the more receptive the dog will be to your enthusiasm.

6. After an indoor mental exercise, you can take advantage of your dog’s calm state of mind to groom them. Having that calm down time gives you the opportunity to check your dog over, brushing them, checking their teeth, cutting their nails, and giving them a good look over.

7. Cuddle together or set them up with a stuffed kong or chewies such as bully sticks to settle down while you relax!

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Steps for Easy Living with Kids and Dogs (Part 2)

1. Teach your kids to always ask to pet dogs, even if it is a dog you know well in the neighborhood, and then listen to the owner’s instructions. Dogs, like people, can have bad days and may not always feel like being petted. The owners may tell kids to pet a certain way, may ask the kids to pet one at a time, or they may even say no.

2. Dogs should respect the humans’ space, but, equally so, dogs should have their own safe place to retreat. Teach children to leave dogs alone if they are in their crate or bed, especially if sleeping. Let the crate be just for dogs, and no playing inside it.

3. Teasing is also a big no-no. Dogs should not have to tolerate poking and prodding. Tolerating only lasts for so long before there comes a breaking point. No lying on, hugging, pulling, poking, jumping in dogs’ face, or any sort of teasing that can stress them out. Instead, promote calmness and good interactions such as proper petting and playing.

4. You can also teach kids about dogs’ body language, such as dogs turning their head away or hiding his face. These are big communications that dogs wants to be left alone.

5. Teach how to properly give a treat without getting fingers nipped. Holding fingers and thumb close together in a flat palm, kids can offer a treat to dogs without them confusing which pieces are food and which may be fingers.

6. One especially important rule is to teach kids to never approach dogs they do not know! Whether on a walk, out at a park, walking by a fence with dogs behind it, or come across a stray dog, the best rule of thumb is to stay calm, not look at the dog, and keep moving. Seeing a dog you do not know and running or yelling with excitement can excite dogs more and engage its prey drive.

7. The best thing you can do for your kids and dogs is supervise all interactions. Especially with little ones, you do not want to leave them unattended together, not even for seconds. Supervising sets them up for healthy interactions and allows you to intervene before things escalate.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Steps For Easy Living With Kids and Dogs

Kids and dogs can live together wonderfully, but the first step is understanding that it should be a respectful relationship on both sides. Your dog should respect your rules and boundaries, and your children should also understand what is appropriate behavior around dogs. If you have the expectation for your dog to be well-mannered around children, but do not show your children how to properly interact with your dog as well, only half of your job is done and can lead to some frustrating and potentially dangerous interactions. This week’s post will cover some guidelines for your dog. Be on the lookout for the next post, where we will go over different ways to ensure your children are learning the correct manners as well.

1. Do not reward jumping, nipping, pawing, or any demanding behaviors. Instead, teach your dog to sit to be petted. If he stands up while he gets petted, attention stops. Once he learns to hold that sit while he is getting scratched, it will make it much easier for everyone to love on him.

2. Make sure that your dog has a designated spot in the house where he can settle down and that is off limits to kids. Keep him busy with a toy or chewy while on his bed, and he will not be in the middle of what you are doing such as watching TV, homework, or playing a board game.

3. No chasing! Dogs love to chase fast moving things, especially little kids running by, squealing with delight. If you know your dog has a tendency to fixate or chase, correct him early before he gets zoned in on the chase. Exercise your dog properly to channel that energy elsewhere. A tired dog is a good dog.

4. Go on walks as a family so that the dog sees all humans in the household as leaders, not just the grown ups. Not only does the walk show the dog to look up to his people, it’s also a great way for everyone to exercise together! Proper walking is covered in classes at http://www.nck9solutions.com if you are not familiar with this concept.

5. Spend time playing games together, supervising all interactions to know what is going on and proactively prevent issues. Being present is imperative so you can step in before things get out of hand. The moment your dog gets jumpy or mouthy, even if not malicious, you do not want your dog to see the children as littermates.

6. Regular walks near playgrounds, parks, bus stops, or other areas where there are big groups of children will help your dog get accustomed to being focused on you while the sounds and movements of kids become regular background noise. You can incorporate lots of commands on the walk, moving at a fast past so that your dog starts looking for your next direction instead of looking for something to fixate on.

7. Most importantly, be aware of what your dog is telling you with his body language. Does your dog have his ears pressed back? Is she turning her head away or turning her back to avoid what is coming closer? Sometimes ducking their heads or doing anything to turn away is saying “I don’t want to play, please leave me alone.” The best thing you can do for your dog is to stop whatever interaction is happening. A dog who is panting but isn’t hot or yawns but shouldn’t be tired, is showing signs of coping with stress. Other red flags that the dog would rather not play include growling, baring teeth, a wide wall-eye (where you can see the whites of their eye), a stiff body, or suddenly closing their mouth after panting. When a dog shuts his mouth after that type of panting, he’s saying “the next time I open it, it’s going to be worse!”

In the next post, we will cover things you can do with your kids to teach them proper dog manners, making it more pleasant and harmonious. Kids well educated on dog behavior at an early age will likely share their knowledge with their friends as well and be safer in other home environments that have dogs. This also helps them grow up to be responsible pet owners.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Steps for Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

Summer is here, bringing us longer days of sunshine and fun in the great outdoors, as well as heat that can lead to dangerous heat stroke for our dogs.

1. Pay attention to what your dog is saying
Dogs cool off with heavy panting and excessive drooling. If your dog sits down, refuses to move, or tries to go back home, they’re not likely being hard-headed. They might be asking to go back to where it’s cool. Brachycephalic dogs (short-nosed dogs like pugs, boxers, bulldogs, boston terriers, etc.) are quicker to overheat because of their short airways, so avoid too much exposure. If you see your dog digging outside, take a second to watch – many dogs will dig to find cool earth to lie in.

2. Don’t overdo it
Exercising, whether walking, jogging, or running, is great, but go early mornings or later evenings. This will be better for both you and your pup. If you do have to take a walk in the heat of the day, stay in the shade, let your dog walk in the grass instead of on the hot sidewalk or pavement, take plenty of water, and keep your walks shorter.

3. Fresh water
Make sure, whether inside or out, that your pups have access to fresh water all the time. If they have a giant bowl full of water, but it’s been sitting in the sun all day, fill it with fresh water. You wouldn’t want to drink a hot glass of water.

4. Play with water!
Some dogs love water. Fill up a kiddie pool up and place it in the shade. Some dogs will lie in it, while others may just play fetch while you throw their ball into it. Super soakers or playing with the hose can be fun for dogs who like to catch water in their mouths, and some love to play in the sprinkler! If your dog doesn’t like water, you can always leave a wet towel out in the shade (if not a chewer!) or freeze a big bowl of water. Putting that big block of ice out in the yard is like a big popsicle for a kid, and your dog can choose to take a lick whenever it feels like it.

5. Keep their paws cool
Dogs release heat through their paws, so walking on hot pavement or sidewalk traps that heat is miserable for them. They can also burn their pads. A good rule of thumb is taking the back of your hand and pressing it against the pavement, or walk around barefoot. If it’s not comfortable for you, it won’t be for your dog either. If you end up walking during the heat of the day, have your dog walk on grass. You could also try using dog booties to protect their pads or even paw wax. Paw wax protects their pads from concrete heat during the summer and from road salt and cold during the winter. While out and about, you can spray your dog’s paws with water, and also their stomachs, to help keep them feeling great.

6. Products that keep dogs cool
There are so many things out there made to beat the heat like bandannas or cooling vests, elevated outdoor dog beds that allow air to flow underneath, and frozen chew toys. If you shop around in small pet stores, a lot of times you can find unique and interesting products to stay cool.

7. Never leave your dog in a hot parked car!
When it’s 75 degrees outside, the temperature in a car can still quickly heat up. Even in the shade with the windows cracked, the car will get hot in minutes without air circulating or the air itself being hot. Another reason they may become dehydrated faster is excitement from watching other people walk by or from being nervous that you’re gone. Even at lower temperatures than 75 degrees, the humidity might be too high for your dog to stay in a car so be aware of the humidity level as well. If you don’t want to sit in a car on a certain day, neither do they! If you’re travelling with your dog, remember to keep the air conditioner running and have plenty of water available.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC
http://www.nck9solutions.com

7 Reasons to Think Twice Before Heading to the Dog Park

Dog parks have become more and more popular in the recent years. The concept of them is great, but there are many reason you should reconsider before leashing up and going.

1. Irresponsible Owners
You probably have a great understanding of what your dog likes and does not like, but not everyone is totally in tune with proper dog manners, or proper people manners for that matter! Most dog parks have a sign saying owners are responsible for their pets, but that doesn’t mean they abide. People like to use the park as a social time, gathering in circles or sitting in chairs with friends, and letting their dogs romp. This would be fine if there weren’t such a big mix of random dogs, but owners not paying attention to what their dogs are doing can be a real problem. Many folks are dog lovers, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t oblivious to dog body language. They might come in with a dog who is clearly getting into other dog’s spaces, picking on them and starting fights, but then get sensitive when their dog gets corrected. They might think “I don’t understand why all these dogs are being aggressive to her,” when it’s very clear that their dog is being impolite. I’ve witnessed people drop their dog off and come back later to pick it up!

2. Pent Up Energy!
You get home from a long day at work and the last thing on your mind is going for a walk. Maybe you live in an apartment, don’t have a yard or space, and a much easier solution is letting your dog run free at the dog park. Bringing your dog with built up energy to a park with lots of other dogs who have the same built up energy makes for a bad mix. Sure, they get to run and play – but you haven’t mentally exercised his/her brain, and you’ve also rewarded their hyper state of mind. Instead of using the dog park as an alternative to exercise, the world would be a better place if it were used as a reward. Imagine: You get to the dog park and get out of the car. Fluffy is tugging and pulling to get through the gate, but instead you walk together, doing laps around the dog park, laps in the parking lot, throwing in commands for them to follow, and after Fluffy is calm and tired, you enter the park with a much more leveled off energy. She doesn’t drag you in, but instead follows you and waits to be released to play. If every owner did this before coming in, there would be so much more control in the park!

3. Gate Greetings
Thresholds are a huge deal to dogs. Every time a new dog comes through the gate, he is entering an already occupied park – coming into those dogs’ space. Think of it like this: You are late for a meeting and everyone is already seated and engaged in conversation. When you walk into the room, people might stop and look at you. They may or may not be sizing you up, depending on how self conscious you are, but you certainly might feel embarrassed or intimidated before finding your spot to blend in. In the dog world, this can be a tricky experience. They enter a park where the energy level is already elevated. All of the dogs are rushing at the gate where the new dog is, which can be a very rude greeting. Dogs shouldn’t meet this way because the owners are clearly not in control, making it a free for all and hard to break up if something were to happen.

4. Mixed Energy
The whole dynamic of a group can change just by one new dog with slightly off energy entering the park. An unneutered male might arrive, which some dogs are completely fine with, while that could trigger a huge reaction from some. Even a reaction from just one dog can start a whole chain of events that can continue escalating before humans can intervene. A dog who is weak or sick, high strung, or who exhibits a behavior that doesn’t belong, is likely to get into a squabble.

5. Socialization
If you have a dog needing work on socialization with other dogs, the dog park is the last place to practice. Some owners bring their dogs to learn how to play. The best way to socialize with others is to start out going on walks with dogs that you know with the owner present, so that you can be in control of what goes on. A shy, timid dog walking into a pack of dogs with elevated, mixed energies can make your dog become more stuck in his way. He depends on you to watch out for him, but if he gets thrown into an overwhelming situation, he might decide he’s going to stick up for himself.

6. Peak Times
Late afternoons, evenings, and weekends are probably the worst times to visit the dog park. This is right at the hour when people are coming home from work and bringing in their over-the-top excited dogs. If you get to the dog park and there are 40 dogs running around, you are doing your dog a favor by not going in and finding something else to do! If you do want to use the dog park, especially with a small group of friends, try going during an off time like early morning or mid-day. Having a group you know and trust is the best way to play. You’re setting your dog up for healthy play time by being in control of who they play with.

7. Strangers
All behavior issues aside, you also don’t know who is bringing their dog to the park and if the dogs are healthy. Some dogs may be in heat, unneutered, unvaccinated, have fleas…the possibilities for what you’re exposing your dog to are endless. You want to have their health in mind and find another alternative to playing. You also have to be mindful of the bad people in the world – people who leave tainted dog treats out or put antifreeze in the water bowls. If you opt to go, it might be a good idea to bring your own water bowl and not let anyone give him/her treats.

Kersti Nieto
Certified Dog Trainer
K9 Solutions LLC

7 Steps to Helping your Dog with Thunderphobia

1. If your dog is still low key with his fear of thunderstorms, the very first step is to completely ignore him and go about your business as if all is well in the world. He will see that you are calm and can work on being calmer. Allow him to seek out the spaces that comfort him.

2. Desensitization might help and won’t likely hurt. Get a CD with thunderstorms and play it at the highest level that will NOT cause a reaction from your dog. Play it for a week and, as long as he is not reacting, move the volume up one notch. Keep doing so each week. If he reacts at any level, back off a notch on the volume. Start on days that you are off so you can monitor the results before leaving him alone.  This could take weeks or months. Be patient and consistent.

3. Try Rescue Remedy from Bach Flower Remedies. I’ve had a 75% success rate. You will know very quickly if it works for your dog.

4. Check with your veterinarian on using melatonin. I have had much success for noise phobia with this natural supplement.

5. Work with a veterinarian who specializes in herbs.

6. Thundershirt. A tight shirt-like wrap that calms some dogs. The snugness of the thundershirt works similar to the way you would swaddle a baby, making them feel secure.  Most local pet stores carry these. You can also try wrapping them with a towel or a small t-shirt.

7. If the thundershirt does not work, move onto the Storm Defender Cap with the added benefit of discharging any static electricity buildup that can form in their fur. http://www.stormdefender.com.

Sylvie Pleasant
Specializing in Manners
Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant
K9 Solutions LLC
www.nck9solutions.com

7 Venues to Socializing your Dog

Socializing your dog is crucial for you to enjoy a well-rounded, well-mannered pooch. Not only will you enjoy the company of your buddy in public without embarrassment, but it will help greatly with mental stimulation, exercise, leadership, and self-control. The more you socialize  your dog, the less of a big deal public distractions will be to her.

Ways to Socialize your Dog

1. Have coffee/lunch/dinner at coffee shops and restaurants initially on your own then with family and friend.

2. Take him to your friends or family’s homes as well as social gatherings (with permission of course). Ask for their rules. If they wish for you to keep your dog crated, then bring a bully stick and water to keep your dog occupied. He will learn to adapt to different situations whether he is crated, leashed, or roaming among folks. Of course, roaming politely at a gathering will be the ultimate goal to be celebrated with a margarita!

3. Take walks in different locations at parks such as Shelley Lake, Lake Lynn, Pullen Park, etc. as well as outdoor malls such as Stonehenge Mall. This will expose your dogs to different distractions such as grocery store carts and doors that open/close,  joggers, bikes, strollers, ducks, playgrounds, bridges, etc.

4. Take your dog to dog-friendly businesses such as pet stores and including your own work place. I have had clients report that they received permission to go into a home improvement stores, video stores, jewelry stores, etc. You can ask any establishment that doesn’t sell food.

5. Take your dog with you on errands, family activities, and, if you are self-employed, to your coffee shop while you work. You can walk him around then keep him in the car while you run into the store (on cool days only of course). Sit on a bench and you both watch the kids play. Work while your dog learns to lounge.

6. Socializing also includes having guests over so you and your dog can practice door manners as well as not harassing your guests. You might have to start with your dog on a leash and even give him a bully stick to keep himself busy, until you can weane him off both as you continue your training step-by-step.

7. If your dog is still rowdy and you need guidance, classes are a great socializing venue while receiving professional guidance so you can get the manners in quicker. Dogs learn to pay attention to you with dogs and owners around. A favorite is the Public Manners class so it’s real life.

And throughout this part of your journey with your canine companion, have fun!

Sylvie Pleasant
Specializing in Manners
Certified Dog Trainer and Behavior Consultant
K9 Solutions LLC
www.nck9solutions.com