Human Behavior Training: Picking up the Poop

I believe that training dogs not only encompasses training of the canine, but also the teaching and training of the dog’s human. So, this post is more about human training than dog training…

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I always carry either two poop bags or a container full of them wherever we walk.

While we’ve been in such unique times of staying home to stay healthy, there’s been an increase in everyone partaking in outdoor activities. This includes increased dog walks. Which is great! I’m sure all our furry friends are basking in the extra time with their human and extra mileage.

So, now is the perfect time to remind you about picking up after yourself (err…rather…after your dog) when you’re walking your dog.

It’s imperative to pick up your dog’s waste during your walks. Why?

– Common courtesy for your fellow walkers. Who enjoys stepping in a pile of dog poop and then having to clean off your shoes? It’s disgusting.

– Stop the spread of disease. Other dogs, and random animals, will stop and sniff your dog’s leftover feces, which can spread unknown disease from your dog to another.

Did you know that dog poop has high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus, as well as disease causing bacteria and parasites; some more so than other types of waste. All of these bacteria and parasites are harmful to humans and spread disease to other dogs.

Your dog’s waste can be full of E. coli, salmonella and is a common carrier of the following: Worms (several types), Parvovirus, Coronavirus, Giardiasis, Salmonellosis, Cryptosporidiosis, and Campybacteriosis.

It’s also important to note you should regularly clean your yard where your dogs defecate regularly. These bacteria and parasites can actually linger in the soil for years.

So, whether you are the kind to use cutesie dog poop bags with a matching holder attached to your leash, recycled plastic trash bags tied to the leash or if you just grab some from a dispenser along walking trails, make sure you’re prepared to pick up after your dog. Be a good, thoughtful citizen and realize you could be putting other people and other dogs at risk of getting sick if you don’t.

So you want a puppy or older dog…….

After a lot of consideration and talking to your family, you have decided you want a puppy. Or maybe you decided you want an older dog. But have you considered everything?

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Before you get all the toys, bed and food, make sure that you have considered the role you will now become…dog owner. If you have never owned a dog yourself, there are a few things you need to remember and consider. The first thing is you must know that being a dog owner cannot be taken lightly. New puppies and even new older dogs will wake you in the middle of the night. Sometimes out of loneliness and sometimes to go potty. They require training and schooling. It is your responsibility as a dog owner to make sure your dog is obedience trained. You also have to think about the expense of veterinarian appointments. Depending on what breed you get and their size, these can be costly. These are a few things you must think about when you have decided to get a new member of the family.

Once you have thought about the different things from above, now it’s time to think about what breed or what kind of dog you want. Some people want purebred dogs and some want mixed breeds. You can’t go wrong with either. The only real difference between purebred and mixed is the purebred will come with a pedigree that you can trace the family history and medical history. Choosing the right dog is important regardless of purebred or mixed. You need to think about these factors…..What size of a dog do you want when they are fully grown? What are the exercise requirements for it? Are they known for there assertiveness and friendliness? The most important one you need to consider whether you have kids or not is how are they with children? Certain breeds have certain reputations that they have had for centuries, like German Shepherds are always the best guard dogs or terriers all have bad attitudes. I can tell you with both b and with other dogs they do not always follow those reputations. I’ve seen German Shepherd’s with no drive to work and I’ve seen terries be sweet. So while it is important to study the breed you have chosen to get, don’t always believe the reputations they come with. One of the great things with mixed breeds is that it will be fairly easy to guess temperament, size and appearance. But the one thing you should do is research what you want!

You’ve chosen the breed you want or you have chosen one that you want to adopt. The next is preparing to bring them home. Just like bringing home a new child, you have to prepare your house for your new best friend. This is when you want to buy toys, treats, grooming supplies and other necessities. Whether you live alone or are a family, you need to sit down and come up with a feeding and exercise schedule. Another thing you will need to do is prepare you house. Make sure to move all breakables and anything the dog/puppy can chew on somewhere else. Move any plants that could be poisonous to a dog and make sure all electrical cords are out of sight and reach. If you don’t have a fence you need to think where will they go potty at. If you don’t have a fence than you need to think about a tie out so the dog can stretch its legs. If you are adopting from a rescue or humane society, one of the requirements to adopt and even bring them home is having a fence. Inside your home you need to set up a place that is just theirs. A crate, which I highly suggest for any dog coming into a new environment let alone a puppy, blanket or bed can be their space. You want to make it so they know this is where they can go if they are scared or uncertain and it will keep them safe when you leave the house.

The day has arrived that you’re bringing your new best friend home! It is a exciting time for you and can be for the dog. But you need to remember that it can also be a scary time. For a puppy this will probably be the first time it is away from its brothers or sisters. I’d suggest taking a towel/blanket or a new toy with you to pick up the puppy. While you are talking with the breeder and signing contracts, ask them if you can put that item in with the puppies. This will give your pup a little comfort at its new home because it smells like its family. A dog coming from a rescue or humane society can either be really excited or a little fearful. All of these things are normal. The biggest thing you need to do for both puppies and older dogs is give them time!!! Especially for an older dog, it will take time for them to relax and understand that they aren’t going anywhere again that this is their home. I’m talking like 3 months or more for a rescue or older dog to finally completely relax. Make sure that you show them where their water bowl and food bowl is and then just let them explore. Keep an eye on them from a distance but let them check out their new digs.

It’s so exciting to bring home a new puppy or dog and you want to introduce them to all your family and friends. That is to be expected. But you need to introduce them slowly to people and you need to do it the right way. Do not let people, especially children, crowd the dog/puppy or get in its face. Depending on the breed of puppy you brought home they could be mouthy by nature and accidentally grab a hold of a lip or nose with teeth. With an older dog it can make them feel threatened and even though they are sweet tempered, any dog that feels threatened can get aggressive. The same goes for introducing them to other dogs and animals. If you force it or allow someone else’s dog to get in your dogs face, it could become aggressive. Make sure to study up on how to do introductions the correct way before trying them.

Once the puppy or older dog has relaxed a bit it’s now time to start potty training. This is mainly for puppies but older dogs will need to know where they are going to go potty and and you need to help them learn how to tell you they need to. There are several books and things from the American Kennel Club to help you understand how to teach your puppy potty training. But most of your older dogs will have this knowledge when you adopt them. This is also the time to start house training them as well. This is when you must set the rules of the house…right at the beginning. One example of a rule is….if you allow your puppy to lay in your favorite chair, they are going to think this is acceptable. But you need to also think..Do I want a 90lb dog sitting in this chair with me? It can get a little crowded that way.

Just like you and I have to have regular doctor visits, so do they. Make sure that when you bring your new puppy or dog home that you make an appointment with the vet you have chosen just to have a good thorough exam done. For puppies this is very important to make sure that they are on the path to get all their puppy vaccines and they are healthy. Make sure that you are feeding a healthy diet to your dog. Talk to your veterinarian about what kind is best for your dog. Another thing to talk to your vet about is about heartworm and flea and tick medicines. You will need to make sure that it also gets proper exercise. This doesn’t just mean playing ball in the backyard. This means going for walks, hikes or whatever to get their energy out. Make sure that you know what kind of bathing and grooming requirements your dog needs. It is your responsibility to make sure that your dog is groomed and bathed and their coats are brushed out. Another must do is know any and all health risks your breed might have.

There are things that you need to do to help make sure your dog is safe, with or without you. Make sure you get them microchipped. This can be done when they are puppies or adults. Most rescues and humane society’s will have this done for you the day you pick them up. BUT!! It is your responsibility to make sure the chip is registered AND you keep the information attached to it updated. If you move make sure you call and give the company your new address. If you get a new phone number make sure they have it. A microchip is no good if your dog is lost and you have not updated the information and no one can reach you to return your best friend to you. Some cities you have to a dog tag license. Make sure that your dog has their tag on them at all times. You also should get an ID tag made for them to wear with all your information on it. Again, get a new tag if any of your information changes. Make sure that your dog has shelter in the backyard. Even if they are only out for a short time, they need something to protect them from rain, snow, heat and cold. We all love to take our dogs with us on road trips. But we have to think about their safety there as well. Keep them in crates or use the seat belt harnesses. There is nothing worse than your dog jumping out the car window at a red light, or God forbid you’re in a car accident, your dog needs to be safe. Along with keeping them safe on the road, you need to make sure that you are prepared for any kind of disaster or emergency order to leave your house. Make sure that you have a dog emergency kit that includes a bowl for water and one for food. Fresh water and food and you have a canine first aid kit. Put emergency contact information in the pack as well in case you get separated. Another thing that I suggest you do and lawyers will recommend is having someone that will take your dog or dogs if something happens to you. Talk to the person you have decided would be best for them and make sure that they agree to it. There are so many dogs put in shelters and rescues after their owner gets sick or passes away because family members don’t want the responsibility.

This is just the beginning of your new life with your puppy or adopted dog. Hopefully it will be a long one and one full of adventure for you both. Always remember……..you are responsible for these animals health and well being. Give them all the love and care in the world, and you’ll get it from them tenfold.

It’s Spring!!

Birds singing all day. That’s one way I know that we are definitely in the spring season, even if Mother Nature isn’t 100% sure yet. The spring brings new life, warmer weather and sunshine. But what does it bring with it for your dogs? Ticks, mosquitoes, fleas, parasites, skin problems/allergies and depending on where you live, even more dangers. Let’s talk about the ones I mentioned and ways to keep your dog enjoying spring not being miserable through it.

Don’t let your dog be miserable this spring!

We’ll start out with ticks. There is nothing worse than when I get to my house after being in the horse barns or trailing/tracking with my dogs and finding a tick on me and or on them. Ticks are honestly one of the weirdest creatures, even for insects. Ticks can latch onto any part of your dog. Some ticks can produce a sticky substance like glue to help them stay attached to your dog. This is not a problem just for dogs that live outdoors. Ticks can attach to your dog on walks, hikes, or any outdoor activity. Ticks do carry diseases and they are spread when the tick attaches its head into the skin and is feeding off your dogs’ blood. The most familiar disease is Lyme disease but they can also cause Rocky Mountain spotted fever. A more extreme result of ticks is they cause anemia. Not all dogs will get any of these diseases in the blink of an eye. But the longer a tick is on your dog, the greater chance of one of these developing. Anemia can also be caused by fleas. The best way to prevent a tick biting your dog is products that are made to help keep ticks off of dogs. Consult with your veterinarian for the best product for your dog. Not all tick medicines are good for all dogs. I personally use Vectra 3D because it repels fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, plus it’s safe to use on one of my dogs that has seizures from time to time. Please consult with your vet before buying any product.

Mosquitoes. I think we all can agree those are the most annoying part of spring and summer. But they also cause one of the deadliest diseases for a dog……heartworm. This disease kills more dogs a year than cancer. The results of heartworm disease are…severe lung disease, heart failure, other organ damage and death. So what does a mosquito have to do with it? The mosquito is the Uber for Dirofilaria immitis, a fancy name for a parasitic worm that it is carried from animal to animal. This parasite then infects the heart and if not treated the lungs of your dog. If your dog is tested and comes up positive, they can be treated. It is not a cheap procedure and it can be hard on a dog depending on age, health, etc. The process includes x-rays, blood work to determine how severe the case is. After establishing that, your dog will get a series of injections. The prep work can cost up to $1,000, but the treatment itself can be done for around $500 in some places. The signs of heartworm disease initially doesn’t have any symptoms. But as more and more of the worms infect the heart and lungs they will develop a cough. As the disease progresses, a dog won’t be able to exercise as much as it used to. Their lungs can develop abnormal lung sounds, there can be so much loss of blood to the brain that your dog passes out. Eventually the dog will die if left untreated. There’s always been a misnomer about giving monthly heartworm medicine. Some people will tell you that you only have to give monthly medicine from spring until the first good freeze. Well this is not entirely true. Mosquitoes can live in your house all year long. They can still infect your dog if it is -10 degrees outside, so make sure you give it to them monthly. This is another medicine you need to consult with your veterinarian on which one is right for your dog. Some medicines can have adverse effects for dogs the are epileptic.

Fleas are the other pains in the you know what for dog owners. Fleas can be picked up from anywhere….the park, dog boarding/daycare, the next door neighbor, etc. Fleas can not only cause an infestation on your dog but they can cause one in your home as well. The more fleas you have, the harder it is to get rid of them. The best way to help prevent fleas is by doing a monthly treatment, yes just like heartworms, on your dog. Fleas can cause your dogs to have diseases as well. The most common one is anemia. Now I’m talking that your dog has a substantial amount of fleas on him and has had for quite sometime. Since fleas feed on the dogs blood, they essentially drain the body of it. Dogs can die from fleas. The other thing it can cause is skin issues and just plain old irritation to your dog. If you see skin lesions or your dog scratching literally non stop, call your veterinarian and make an appointment to have your dog looked at. Also make sure you talk to your vet or their staff about what flea preventative is good for your dog. Please do not buy flea preventive from stores like Wal-Mart, Target or your grocery store without consulting with your vet first. Some medicines have caused major health problems including chemical burns.

Allergies…..those of us who suffer from them know how annoying and draining they can be. Some signs that your dog is suffering from allergies are nonstop licking of their paws and the hair on top and in between their pads are a red color, ear infections, hot spots, swelling of the eyes and so on. Fortunately dog allergies, some, can be controlled by our OTC allergy medicines. Talk to your vet about a dose of Zyrtec or Benadryl to help battle them. If allergies are left too long not being treated or diagnosed, the constant scratching and itching can cause open sores and infections.

Spring is a wonderful time of year after a long winter. Please make sure it’s just as enjoyable for your dog as it is you. Now get out there with them and enjoy spring!!

Dog Training While in Quarantine

We are in a very unique situation. Because of the Coronavirus, millions of Americans are staying at home in isolation and quarantine. We’re not supposed to be out and about–nonessential activities are canceled. This also means that classes at Frontier K9 have been canceled.

But that shouldn’t mean that your dog’s progress in his training should be put on hold. In fact, now you should have more time to focus on building your relationship with your canine best friend, so it’s the perfect time to improve on that.

I’d like to share some ideas to help you with continuing your training while at home:

– Practice some K9 fitness by following our instructions on using the balance disc
Work on your dog’s sits and downs in two positions: heel (right at your side, almost touching) and directly in front. Note: Make sure they are sitting “pretty” which means nice and square and not rocked on one hip.
Practice your dog’s stays: See if you can increase the distance that you can step away from your dog while he’s in a stay (either sit or down). Remember to take steps slowly backwards. Then, increase the difficulty by walking a circle around your dog or going around the corner of the room so he doesn’t see you. Remember to praise him for his stays and don’t linger on this skill for very long.
Get some fresh air and take your dog for a walk (as long as you practice social distancing). Keep your dog close to you, and work on him walking in a relaxed manner.
– Teach him basic tricks: Asking for his paw for a handshake, or a nose touch to your hand. Remember to praise and treat as soon as he does what you ask!

And always remember to reach out to Erin for more ideas or if you have a question. We can do FaceTime conference calls just to catch up and see how you and your dog is progressing while we’re on this break.

Socializing – Why is it so important?

Have you ever watched or noticed how dogs act when they are out for a walk with their owners? Or how they behave when taken to a doggy daycare or at the farmers market? Are they walking along with their heads up, tails wagging at people? Do they have their head hung down, tail tucked between their legs and looked scared to death? Today I hope to tell you how you can help your pup be the first one and not the second.

Today’s society has made it easier for us to enjoy time with our dogs. Breweries, wineries, restaurants and farmer’s markets all make it much easier for our best friend to enjoy some of the things we do. But there are certain things you need to make sure that happen for your pet before you them into a situation that could be overwhelming for them. It is our responsibility as dog owners to make sure our dogs are properly trained and socialized before taking them out into society. Unfortunately, approximately 1 in 4 to 5 dogs have behavior issues due to poor socialization. This is why we must start them out as puppies, or as soon as your adopted dog has relaxed and settled in. The first 3 months of a puppy’s life is the most important time for socialization.

When you bring your puppy home, the breeder should have already started the most important steps of socialization. They should have been handled from birth and learned to accept touching of all their parts including their tails, legs, ears and feet. If you notice your puppy still has some issues with that, start doing it right away. You can do it while watching tv or while reading a book. There is one time that it is important to make an effort everyday to touch them and mess with them. A lot of dogs have food aggression, it’s also one of the main behavioral issues rescued/adopted dogs have. When you mess with your puppy while they are eating this will help food aggression later on down the road.

A puppy needs to be exposed to as many places, people, animals and situations as possible. Now, this should not be started until your puppy has had its puppy vaccinations. Speak to your veterinarian as to when they feel it is appropriate for you to take your puppy out and about, especially pet stores. There are diseases that a puppy needs vaccinations from to protect to them, mainly Parvo. When you do take them out and about, you are going to need to reassure him or her. The world is a scary place for pups and older dogs, that haven’t been exposed to crowds and lots of loud noises. Make sure that your time out and about with the puppy includes car rides as well. That can be one of the most feared things your puppy will be exposed to.

Let your puppy with a number of different games and toys. Different types of surfaces is another thing to make sure you expose him to. Some dogs don’t want to walk on certain types of surfaces because they are unsure or it feels weird to them. I had a client bring their 1 year old Great Dane to me not only for obedience training but also because he wouldn’t walk on grass. For whatever reason, he just avoided grass while on walks as much as possible. But with training, patience, time and reassurance he now has no issues walking on the grass. Be sure to also let your puppy explore and investigate their environment. Let them learn their new home and feel safe and comfortable.

There is nothing better than being able to take your dog with whenever and wherever you go. Hopefully these tools will help make your puppy or older dog, feel more confident in themselves and you. Cheers to a more fun spring and summer (and the rest of their lives) with your dog!!!

Retractable vs Standard Leashes

This is a question I hear so often. Not just from clients but from friends and family. So I thought I’d share my answer and reasons behind it here for all of you as well.

There are many reasons why I tell all of my clients to get a regular lead. What do I mean by that? Simple, a leash that is not a retractable one, doesn’t have part of it is a bungee. Just a regular 6 foot lead made out of leather, nylon or another type of material and has a snap on one end. The main reason I don’t recommend a retractable leash is..SAFETY.

A retractable leash has a few flaws that can cause safety issues and some can be life altering for you, your dog or someone else and their dog. Retractable leashes are just that, retractable. That is until that part of the leash doesn’t work anymore. When that happens you lose all, or what little you had, control of your dog. Your dog is now anywhere from 8′ – 10′ away from you on a little, thin cord. Do you have good enough obedience with your dog to be able to call them back to you? What if another dog comes walking by or scarier yet, charges your dog? If your dog goes to run away from you or a situation they are going to break that cord especially if they are a medium or large breed dog. Then the situation spins completely out of control. Another mechanism on the retractable leash that can fail is the lock button. This is how you’re supposed to be able to lock how far your dog is allowed away from you. Again, if this breaks you’re looking at again no control of your dog.

But besides the safety of your dog which is very important, we have your safety to be concerned with. I have seen numerous injuries on owners and handlers from these leashes. One of the biggest things is the leash getting wrapped around your legs and causing you to fall. But one of the injuries I’ve seen most is burns. People have gotten nylon burns on their ankles from the leash being wrapped around their legs and the dog pulling on the leash and running it across their ankles/legs. Believe me, no kind of nylon burn feels good.

So why do I always recommend a “normal” leash? Simple…control and safety. When you have a normal 6′ – 8′ leash, whether it’s made of leather or other materials, you have more control of your dog which also equals safety.

A normal leash doesn’t have any give in it, meaning no bungee type material in it, which now you have control of not only your dog but also something to help guide your dog. You’re able to reinforce obedience commands, direction and pace/speed. If you’re on a walk and another dog is approaching you from the opposite way with their owner you’re going to be able to keep your dog closer to you so that there is a less chance of dog vs dog aggression. There is less chance of the leash being wrapped around you causing you injury. Now this isn’t to say that if you have a nylon leash and don’t hold your leash properly that you won’t get it a nylon burn. But this topic will be covered in a later blog. But the chance of anyone or any dog getting harmed on walks or runs are much less on a leash that gives you more control than on one that you have very little to no control.

In closing, the decision is always up to the owner or handler. Unless you’re going to a class or activity that requires you to have a non-retractable leash. But I hope that this gives you something to think about when choosing a leash for your best friend. Like I said in the beginning, it’s all about safety and control.

Training Tip: Using the Balance Disc at Home

Winter is a hard season for dogs: too cold to spend time outside, sometimes walks aren’t an option with the freezing temperatures or salt on the walks and it’s just dark and dreary outside. So, what can you do to burn off some energy and get your dog thinking in a constructive manner?

I prefer to do some canine fitness exercises to help build muscle and also increase my dogs’ body awareness. Note: If you are not familiar with using products such as the ones below, please work with me or do your homework prior to introducing these tools to your dog.

The most basic canine fitness tool you can use, and the most easily available, is the balance disc.

If you’ve worked with me one-on-one, you know I like to use a balance disc in a lot of different ways. One way is to use as a marker for them to go to. Another is to introduce uneven footing to start on their body awareness. You can purchase any type of balance disc online, it doesn’t have to be a brand name. The purple one we use was purchased off of Amazon, and humans can use it as well!

When introducing the balance disc to your dog, let them make the first move. As soon as they place a paw on the balance disc, immediately reward so they understand that was a right move. Slowly, they’ll start to put both front feet on the balance disc–reward!

With the front paws on the balance disc, you can ask your dog to sit–but they must keep their front paws stable on the disc. This can be a hard maneuver to learn, so give your dog time. And don’t forget to reward, reward, reward!

Next, move to the hind paws on the balance disc. Let them start with placing one back paw on the disc–reward! If you can get both hind feet on the disc, reward! Then you can work on your dog sitting on the disc, while keeping his hind feet flat on the top.

There are lots of other exercises you can do with the balance disc, once you’ve mastered these key steps. Schedule a lesson with Erin or Megan to learn more!

FitBone and Ramp
These two products are available from FitPaws.

You can move up to other FitPaws equipment, such as the wedge or the FitBone. Again, before moving forward to these, make sure you’re educated in how to use them properly to build your dog’s fitness.

We’ll cover more in later training tips and in class!

FK9’s Referral Program

BIG NEWS! We’re ready to grow and we want you to help us! So, we are starting the Frontier K9 Referral Program!

How does it work? Easy!

Share your experience with Frontier K9 Training with your friends, family, neighbors or co-workers. Share our business card or contact information and make sure they say that they heard about Frontier K9 Training from you.

If your referral signs up to be a new client, you will receive a free lesson!

If you have any questions, reach out to Erin for more details.

frontierk9training@gmail.com

Gift Idea: The Gift of Training

Christmas is the biggest gift giving holiday of the year, and it always seems to be one of the hardest times to show how much you care about a person.

One of the best types of presents you can give, or receive, is one of experiences or lessons. Which is why I am always looking for ways to help encourage relationships between human beings and humans and their dogs. Giving the gift of basic obedience lessons or the opportunity to try new things like scentwork or agility is a great way to gift your favorite dog lover in the family.

This year, Frontier K9 is offering the ability to purchase gift certificates! I’m really excited about this opportunity, because it is a gift to show that you care, but you want to make sure the right choice is made for the dog and owner. Our gift certificates can be purchased in quantities of $20 – $150, and the receiver of the certificate can use it towards any lesson option Frontier K9 Training offers!

If you’re interested in learning more about the gift certificate program, feel free to reach out to me. They’re simple and fast, ready for you to give almost instantly.

Merry Christmas!

Frontier K9 Treat Bags

One of the best ways to make sure you’re able to treat your dog quickly while doing your training sessions, it’s important to have a treat bag at hand, full of your pup’s favorite treats! Treat bags are excellent for training. You can easily put your treats in them and attach it to your pants so you don’t have to carry a handful of rewards and possibly cause confusion in your training sessions.

Frontier K9 Training Treat Bags

That’s why we’re excited to offer these treat bags, complete with our Frontier K9 Training logo. The bags are very durable, waterproof, and feature a hard plastic clip for your belt or pocket!

If you don’t use food as a reward, you can also put a ball in it you want.

We are offering these for $5.00 each and can be sent anywhere. If you’d like to get one just send us a message and we will get it to you!