So many of us consider dogs to be one of our best friends we could hope for. They bring endless joy and fun into our lives in so many ways. Moments of exuberant play are balanced with the calm of your dog resting his or her head on your lap, assuring you that there is no place your dog would rather be than with you. No wonder thirty-nine percent of U.S. households share their lives with at least one dog and there are approximately 77.5 million canine companions in the United States, according to the 2009-2010 American Pet Products Association National Pet Owner Survey. Yet, for as grateful as so many of us are for the mutually rewarding relationship we have with our dogs, there are many who suffer from an extreme fear of dogs, which is called cynophobia and is often caused by a traumatic encounter with a dog.
I had a dog training lesson recently with a family that purchased their 5 month-old Havanese puppy from a pet store in New York City. They have had the pup for a few weeks and during that time have dealt with what seems to be more than their share of puppy issues. This little pup is consistently urinating and defecating in it’s sleeping area, is eating it’s feces, and is terrified of everyone, including it’s own family. Watching this scared little pup trying to hide behind the furniture so it wouldn’t be seen, let alone touched, made me feel heartbroken for her and for her family. The family purchased the pup from a pet store in NYC. They admitted they knew it was not a good idea to buy a dog from a pet store. But, like so many people do, they entered the store after seeing her curled in.
A few years ago, a friend of mine who is a well-known animal photographer asked me to assist her with handling dogs on a shoot she was doing for a pet food company. The photos were to be used for the packaging and advertisements for this new brand. Throughout the two days of shooting we had a stream of dogs coming and going, each one as deliciously cute as the previous and next. By midway through the first day, I expressed my concern about how they could possibly choose amongst them. My friend explained that the company had a specific vision for what they were looking for and had actually spent many months making lists of their criteria for the best spokesdog partner for the brand. Taking photos of numerous dogs allowed them to ‘test-drive’ many options in order to make their final choice. Being that I was helping to.
I named the voice in my car’s GPS system Martin. I thought it was a suitably proper, British name for a voice that sounds remarkably real for being computer generated. At times, Martin provides me with a bit of amusement, such as when he says “At the roundabout, take the first right hand turning,” or “If possible, make a u-turn.” Oh Martin, you are so polite. If I was the voice in my car I might be tempted to say “You missed the turn! Turn around, go back and follow my instructions.” Luckily, I have far more skill and patience when teaching dogs and their people than when trying to navigate somewhere in my car. Martin and I have had a generally good relationship. Although, not so much when I am lost and feel he isn’t doing his part to get me on the right track. In the last year.
Anyone who is passionate about helping dogs live long, happy and healthy lives would say that all dogs should have some sort of job. Giving a dog a job they enjoy can help to prevent an almost endless list of potential behavior issues (such as excessive barking, inappropriate chewing and digging, separation problems, and more). It can also help them maintain overall physical wellness. So, by this definition, all dogs are, or at least should be, working dogs. But, there is also a grouping of pure bred dogs that are categorized by kennel clubs as working dogs due to the fact that they were developed to have the physical and mental ability to help people in a myriad of tasks, including: guarding, pulling carts or sleds, performing water or land rescues, and assisting the police and military. In addition to being wonderful companions, these types of dogs have been invaluable.
As a professional dog trainer I am quite often asked if there was just one bit of advice I could offer to pet parents, what would it be? My response is usually along the lines of encouraging people to focus on management to set their dogs up for success. Careful supervision and long and short term resting areas are vital to helping a dog reliably learn the rules. And of course, being able to understand and comply with the rules of your home is the best way for a dog to live a long, safe and wonderful life with it’s family. But, as it is the beginning of a New Year I have found myself in the last few days responding to this question a bit differently. This time is a wonderful opportunity to make a very simple resolution to remind ourselves of the things in our lives that bring.
Last year as I was working at Animal Haven Shelter I was called down to the front desk to meet someone who had dropped in for a visit. Apparently, they had come to know us from watching Animal Planet’s Underdog to Wonderdog. As I came down the steps to the storefront adoption center I saw a little girl and her mother standing at the front desk. The woman looked at her daughter and said, “It’s Andrea!” I walked over to introduce myself and she explained to me that her 5 year-old daughter, Amelie, was a fan of the show and the rescue work we do. While they were visiting the city from out of state, she wanted to stop in to drop off a donation. At this moment, Amelie pulled out a little plastic sandwich bag filled with change and a couple of dollar bills. At just 5 years-old, Amelia.
The holidays can be a very happy time of year. But, they can also be very stressful, as much for our pets as for us. To follow are some tips on how to help your pets enjoy a safe, happy and calm holiday season. *Adhere to the Regular Routine: Animals are very attuned to even the slightest changes in their environment and most animals are creatures of habit. During the holidays some houses go through what is essentially an overhaul with new decorations, lots of visitors, and the pet’s routine changing due to everyone being extra busy. These changes can be challenging for even the sweetest pet. Help your pet by keeping things as close to their normal routine as possible, including walks, feeding and play times. *Consider that the sights and sounds we enjoy, such as loud holiday music and lots of decorations might disturb our pets or worse,.
Several times a week we offer small dog socials and puppy play groups at different locations in Manhattan. These trainer moderated groups are a wonderful way to allow dogs under 20 pounds (for the small dog socials) and pups under 5 1/2 months old (for the puppy play groups) an opportunity to socialize with other dogs and their people in a supervised, indoor environment. Playing with other, well socialized dogs is a superb way to allow a dog to burn off mental and physical energy as well as to improve upon and/or maintain social skills. As an added bonus, these sorts of play groups can be a lot of fun for people as well. Whether you take your dog to an indoor, trainer supervised play group or to a safely enclosed, clean dog park there are some rules of conduct that are sure to make the experience as valuable and.
If you are reading this, odds are you are one of the many people who consider dogs to be members of our families. One of the ways we demonstrate this is the careful consideration we give to naming our dogs. There was a time when dog names where typically descriptive of the dog’s physical traits, such as Spot, Shadow, Fluffy, or Tiny or a dog specific name such as Fido, Rex, Brownie, Apollo, Patches, Buddy, or Banjo. But, today’s dogs tend to strut around the dog park showing off collars which identify them with a name that could easily be mistaken for that of any other human member of their family. Some of the most popular names we see are Lilly, Max, Oscar, Gracie, Norman, Lucy, George, Ruby, Dylan, Sadie, Jack, Sophie, Stella, and Zoe. Some dog names honor a pet parent’s special interest, hobby or place. There is Jackson.