January 24th, 2011
Many people have heard friends or dog trainers talk about puppy socialization. Yet, lots of folks are not sure of what this means or why it is important. I am going to try to clarify some of this for you and why we dog trainers think it is a critical component in raising a well-adjusted, well-mannered puppy.
Socialization is a process of introducing your puppy to a wide range of new experiences, people, places, things, environments and activities. This is accomplished by gradually allowing your dog to check out different looking people, children, environments, objects and dogs. The period of your puppy’s life when socialization is most critical is between the ages of 8 to 16 weeks.
When you socialize puppies, you give them the opportunity to be positively exposed to a wide variety of new experiences. This results in dogs that more easily adjust to new things throughout their lives. Well-socialized dogs are more secure and self-confident.
The process of puppy socialization should be fun, safe and positive for your puppy. It should be completely force free and voluntary for your puppy. Your attitude will matter during this process, so make sure that you are having fun introducing new things to your pup.
It is also important for you to respect your puppy’s feelings and never push or force your puppy if she is at all reluctant to meet someone or something. Let her approach new things at her own pace. Provide opportunities for your puppy to investigate new things and then let her take her time. If she is reluctant, try laughing or interacting with the new object or person yourself, but be wiling to let it go if your pup continues to remain reluctant to interact with a new object or person.
Try to avoid situations, places or people you think may be less than positive for your puppy. The idea here is to build upon lots of really good experiences so that your puppy builds up a resiliency to novel experiences. So, if someone approaches you and wants to hold your puppy, it may be best to suggest that they sit down and allow the puppy to approach them.
A well-socialized puppy means that by the time your puppy is 16 weeks old they should have had POSITIVE experiences with:
v Many different surfaces: grass, sand, cement, grates, linoleum etc
v Interacted with many different objects: a variety of toys (soft, squeaky, hard, etc), wood, paper, metal etc
v Been to many different locations: friend’s homes, the vet’s office, ponds, cars, boats, bus etc.
v Met and played with a variety of new people: kids, men, women, people wearing hats, men sporting beards, folks in wheelchairs etc.
v Have heard many different types of noises: lawn mower, snow blower, sirens, doorbell, coffee grinder, vacuum, other animals sounds (horses, chickens, cats), babies crying, kids playing etc.
v Has seen objects moving at different speeds (do not allow your pup to chase): people running, kids playing, cats running, vacuums moving etc.
v Has had a variety of challenges: climbing up and down objects, climbing over objects, walking on wobbly surfaces, seeing an umbrella open etc.
v Has been gently handled by you and family members multiple times per week: touching their paws, looking in the ears etc.
v Eaten from different containers and in different locations.
v Played with many different safe puppies and adult dogs.
v Has had an opportunity to learn that it is OK to be left alone; this should be done gradually so your pup does not experience any anxiety about your departures and arrivals.
v Experienced wearing a leash and collar.
The important thing to remember is that when your puppy is experiencing new things you must allow your puppy to approach and that the experience is a positive one for your puppy. Peaceful Pack Dog Training offers Puppy Head Start classes with new sessions starting every four weeks. These classes are a wonderful opportunity to get your pup started on the right paw- more information can be found on the schedule page of our website at www.peacefulpack.com.
December 2nd, 2010
Dogs are a lot like children. If you don’t give them something fun to do, they will make their own fun- and often not in ways you approve of. What’s more, dogs that get plenty of mental exercise are happier, calmer, quieter and less likely to rummage through the trash or attack couch cushions. All terrific reasons your dog should have toys and this is the season for placing a special toy of two under the tree for your beloved pooch! But do not limit your dog’s toy box to one of two toys. Dogs have distinctly individual toy preferences, depending on the day, time and situation. Do some detective work and find out what truly tickles your dog.
The best toys have a purpose. They deliver food, present a challenge, squeak, or make themselves interesting in some other way. If you are new to the world of dog toys, here are some classics to begin with: Rope toys, plush toys (with or without squeakers), Hide- A-Bee (or squirrel, bird etc.), tricky treat balls, soft rubber toys or hard rubber toys filled with tasty treats like Kongs. Once you have a good selection, develop a toy strategy. Designate a popular toy for use only when your dog will be left alone, like when you need to leave your dog in her crate, confinement area, or a spare room- stuffed Kong toys are a good bet. Then, rotate the other toys daily to keep the novelty factor high.
Some dogs are dissectors, another word for toy destroyers. Messy as it can be, it’s perfectly normal canine behavior- dogs are predators, after all, and need an outlet for those pounce and shake urges. If your dog is a dissector, provide legitimate things for her to attack and let her indulge her hobby. Don’t worry; she will not graduate to your possessions. Spare your budget by collecting the stuffing and putting it back in the toy- your dog doesn’t care is she splits apart the same stuffed alligator seven times! Or sue hand me down stuffed animals that your friends’ children no longer want, or buy in bulk from a goodwill store- just be sure to remove choking hazards like eyes and buttons. Many pet supply stores sell bags of squeakers that you can then insert for added entertainment and allure. Remember, dogs get busy. Make it with toys not trouble.
November 21st, 2010
It really is wonderful when I am able to find a product that is both fabulous and is produced locally here in Maine. The folks at Maine Natural Health and founder Dr Leighton have been producing all natural omega 3 fish oils in a state of the art facility in Warren, Maine. I am sure that many of you have read about the research, which describes many health benefits of a diet rich in omega oils- both for us and our canine companions.
Maine Natural Health has generously offered our readers a 20% discount on their Pet Products. Simon and I encourage you to give it a try! To activate your coupon, just copy and paste the link below into your web browser address bar.
Woofs & Good Health to all!
October 30th, 2010
Baking some Chewy Salmon Treats to bring with us to Wag It tomorrow for our Rally O trail. It is my hope that they will inspire Simon and I to greatness!The Basic RecipePre-heat oven to 350 degrees.Mix All together:14 to 18 oz. tinned fish (salmon, tuna)2 or 3 eggs1/2 cup cheese finely grated1 1/2 cups four (oat, wheat…)Spread on an oiled 9 x 13 inch baking sheet.Bake about 20 minutes. A pizza cutter works well to cut them.Makes about 350…. double that if cut into training size treats!Feed to your dog- who hopefully relishes them- woof, woof woof!
October 27th, 2010
Changes in routine and the strange sights and sounds associated with Halloween can cause stress in a normally placid family dog. Keep dogs out of the fray by securing them away from the door and providing a long-lasting chew treat. Teach kids to Be a Tree and stand still if any dogs come near them on Halloween.Halloween is lots of fun for kids, but many dogs will be confused or upset by kids in strange costumes and by lots of people coming to the door, but never being invited in. Peaceful Pack Dog Training and Doggone Safe (www.doggonesafe.com) offer the following tips for dog owners, kids and parents:Dog owners:1. Secure your dog behind a closed door or in a crate in a room away from the front door or the party if children are meeting at your house.2. Give him a juicy bone from the butcher, a sterilized bone or Kong stuffed with hotdog, Rollover or other soft dog treats or a pre-stuffed bone from the pet store.3. Play music or leave a TV or radio playing in the dog’s room to help mask the sounds of the activity at the front door.4. Close drapes so that the dog does not see people coming and going through the window.5. If you have a dog that barks at the sound of the doorbell, disconnect it or watch for trick-or-treaters so that they do not have to ring or knock.6. Puppies and dogs that like to chase can get overly excited by costumes with dangly bits or streaming material. Supervise very carefully if you have a dog that may try to play with your children’s costumes while they are wearing them. Teach kids to Be a Tree and stand still if the dog does start nipping at their costume since the more they move, the more exited the dog will get.7. Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors around Halloween time. Pets have been stolen, injured or poisoned as part of Halloween pranks or other rituals.Kids and Parents:1. Avoid houses if you can hear a dog barking behind the door, you can see a dog behind a screen door or you see a dog tied up in the yard or barking behind a fence.2. Never approach any dog, even if you know him. He may not recognize you in your costume.3. If an owner opens the door and there is a dog there, just stay still and wait for the dog owner to put the dog away. You can tell them you do not want to come near the dog. Do not move toward the person and dog. Wait for them to come to you to give you your candy. Wait for them to close the door before you turn and leave.4. If a dog escapes just stand still and Be a Tree (hands folded in front, watching your feet). He will just sniff you and then move on. Wait for the owner to come and get the dog before you turn away.5. If you meet a loose dog, Be a Tree and wait until it goes away.6. It is best to ignore other people’s dogs on Halloween if you meet them out walking. The dog may be worried about all the strange creatures that are out and about. Even if you know the dog, he may not recognize you in your costume.Here is a great video from Emily Larlham, a truly gifted dog trainer, to get you in the spirit- enjoy!http://www.youtube.com/user/kikopupPeaceful Pack Dog Training and the Peace Pups wish everyone a safe and happy Halloween!
October 25th, 2010
Recently, on one of the hiking forums I belong to we have been having a months long conversation about dogs on the trails and to leash or not to leash. Below is one of my recent response. I felt the information was important enough to torment you all with : ) so here it is.<span style=”font-weight:bold;”>a fellow forum member wrote:</span><span style=”font-style:italic;”>”the worst case scenario with my dog is she really wants to say hi to the other hikers”</span>To which I responded:I do not mean to offend, but allowing your dog to be able to do this with anyone she meets on the trail is a path that will end up getting dogs banned on the trails or someone- human or canine getting hurt. Or worse, I am thinking here of the child who is allergic to dog saliva- yikes!I think that there is a lot of misinformation about dogs circling about- probably could say that about anything! One fantastic educational resource is Doggone Safe. This group focuses on teaching folks, and specifically children, how to read a dog’s body language and keep themselves safe in the process. Many of the ways we humans communicate are not perceived by dogs as being friendly- for example looking directly into a dogs eyes, approaching a dog straight on and hugging dogs may all be viewed as threatening to dogs. Yes, dogs can learn that these human behaviors are all ok, but I would not count on any dog I meet to have been schooled in our ways.I think the bottom line is that there are going to be folks who adore being with our dogs and want to hike with them (myself included) and there are going to be folks that are not so thrilled with dogs on the trails. How to find a balance and make sure that both camps are respected is key. For me, the bottom line is that I am always able to control my dog so that other folks I meet on the trail never have to interact with him. If other hikers want to say hello to my dog I am all for it. The respectful, safe thing for us to do is to err on the side of politeness and safety.Not to be preachy…. well, maybe a little bit , but the Doggone Safe website really is an amazing resource. A little bit of education can go a long way to ensure safe dog/human interactions. Here is the link to their “Speak Dog” page:http://www.doggonesafe.com/Speak_DogSo, even though we may not be able to completely understand this- there are actually some folks who do not enjoy our dogs as much as we do! Enjoy time hiking with your dog and try to keep this in mind when you meet up with fellow hikers. We want those Peace Pups to continue to be able to be with us as much as possible!
October 15th, 2010
Tracy Haskell, MSW, owner and lead trainer of Peaceful Pack Dog Training, has successfully passed the examination to become a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA) through the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT). The CCPDT is an international testing and certification resource for professional dog trainers.The CCPDT’s certification program is based upon humane training practices and current scientific knowledge in the field of dog training. Candidates for certification must demonstrate that they have completed a minimum of 300 hours of training and working with dogs in group and private sessions prior to receiving permission to sitting for a psychometrically sound written examination. Candidates must also provide references from a client, a colleague and a veterinarian as part of their certification application.The written examination tests a candidates knowledge of all aspects of the dog training profession. Areas of competency include: classroom management, instructional skills, canine ethology, the science of learning theory, humane training equipment and animal husbandry. CPDT-KAs are required to to stay informed of current scientific advances in the field and be familiar with the newest, humane, most effective training techniques. Attaining continuing education is a required to maintain certification; which is reviewed every three years. Additionally, a Certified Professional Dog Trainer- Knowledge Assessed follows a strict Code of Ethics.Peaceful Pack Dog Training provides group and private lessons to people and their dogs. It is our business to help people and their dogs create lasting friendships with training solutions that REALLY work!
September 27th, 2010
For half a century, the Lassie stereotype has endured in American hearts and minds. The ideal dog is noble, with the vocabulary of a college student and near- telepathic understanding of what is expected of him. It makes for lovely storytelling, but the imprint left on generations by Lassie and similar fictions, from Dorothy’s Toto to Disney’s Bolt, is one that sets many first-time dog owners up for disappointment and frustration. Oh, we know dogs are not people. But surely, they understand the difference between a chewie and an Italian shoe?
In fact, dogs are more akin to happy-go-lucky aliens trying to plot a course through our strange world of rules and expectations. To better help them, a good place for us to start is with greater understanding of how they see the world. Here, humane education plays a crucial role. The term brings to mind aproned children petting rabbits or fashioning cat toys from strings and feathers- and that’s part of the picture, of course. But in many humane societies and classrooms, the curriculum has greatly evolved. Children now learn about all aspects of animal behavior, training, and care. They talk about cruelty-free shopping and responsible pet guardianship; they invent socialization plans for hypothetical puppies; they witness spay or neuter surgeries and discuss animal population management; they brush dog coast and learn poop scooping technique.
This is important because children educated about dogs are more likely to behave safely around them- meaning dogs are safer, too. Also, dog-savvy children grow up to be dog-savvy adults, a necessity in a world with ever- increasing numbers of dogs living close together. Once primarily the domain of wannabe veterinarians and animal control officers, proficiency in dog behavior and training is today a vital life skill for people in cities and suburbs, whether it’s about navigating a busy sidewalk or keeping the bark frequency and pitch at a level that won’t drive neighbors to distraction. Luckily, humane education programs are more popular than ever and are expanding to allow more kids to get close and personal with pooches.
August 27th, 2010
Some dogs just grab you and Esther is one of those dogs. She is a two-year-old Basset Hound with eyes that could melt even the coldest of hearts. I met Esther when she was a young pup after receiving a call from her people. I could hear the frustration in their voices and when I met them saw it is their eyes. But, I also saw an incredible love and commitment for this breed and for Esther.
Esther’s human have spent the past two years consistently working with her and encountered many challenges along the way. I will never, ever forget the moment when she did her first ‘down’. We cheered and rewarded her so much that she developed this absolutely adorable “zooming down”- she literally threw herself flat!
Not long after the success with her ‘down’ Esther started to practice for her AKC Canine Good Citizen Test and on test day she dazzled us all with her polite behavior and skillful display of whatever was asked of her. So, here is a tip ’o’ the pen to Esther and her people and the wonderful life they share together!
August 26th, 2010
Simon and I walk every single morning- rain, snow, sleet, hail- we are like the ever reliable postman. The cool thing is that I enjoy each and every one of our outings. Places that we visit often in good weather can look and feel completely different on a rainy or snowy day. We vary our routes so that both Simon and I get some mental stimulation, watching the changes in our favorite places and checking out new places. We also have different kinds of outings- nice strolls, brisk cardio-enhancing walks, running, hiking and today the coffee walk.
The coffee walk is not one I do often, but it is one of my favorite types of walk. It begins with filling up a travel mug full of rich, dark, black coffee and then choosing a place where Simon can be free of his leash- as my hands will be occupied with the travel mug! A coffee walk has no particular purpose and its pace is mellow. Simon is free to explore- taking in all the delicious smells the morning has to offer, running through the woods and following up on interesting sights and sounds. I, in turn, can let my mind wander, gaze out upon mountains or the sea or whatever else we happen to pass by. As we walk I enjoy the crispness of the day while sipping on hot coffee and the perfection that life holds in those moments. It is truly a wonderful way to start the day and I highly recommend it if you have yet to try a coffee walk. Oh, and tea is an acceptable substitute!