CVT & Owner of Awesome Paws Academy
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Sensible Dog Training Solutions
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For one of my personal New Year's resolutions, I vowed to pick one word each day that I could use to provide insight to myself with daily reflection.
Well, I am challenging all of my students to pick a WEEKLY word for their Training Program reflections. Whatever word that you want. Just provide a brief description after the word as to why you chose it / your reflection.
This challenge ends April 15th and all participants in the challenge will receive an Awesome Paws reward!
My personal word today was: Conditioning - In behaviorism, we talk about conditioned responses, counter-conditioning, and many other fancy behavior modification techniques for what are normal, natural, species-specific behaviors. The majority of problems arise when humans do not realize what is actually normal behavior and then decide that those behaviors are unacceptable and need to abolished. When I speak with people about behavior, however, we do not speak about "fixing" behaviors, but of modifying them into more acceptable ones to fit into what we believe should be the norm. In the meantime, we also discuss that there is no 100% in behavior, human or otherwise. Outside factors must always be taken into consideration and we all have genetic tendencies. If we satisfy the more unconventional genetic behaviors with appropriate outlets, we can typically circumvent more problematic long-term habits. Living creatures are conditioned to repeat what gets a desired result. With the realization of my past failures and in avoidance and defiance of my own upbringing, I tend to try and avoid fear, pain, and anxiety-based methods of learning now. I cannot change others, but I can condition myself. With the uniqueness of the human condition, my sense of curiosity about modification, and the awareness of my own inescapable death, I want to live my life knowing that I did my best to do no harm. I want to leave a legacy that I can be proud of. So, I am conditioning myself to succeed.
I hope you all will condition yourselves to succeed as well!
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Educational Program Tips:
Unfortunately, a sad fact is that over 90% of euthanasia of healthy animals is due to behavior problems that are really normal dog behaviors that are simply unacceptable in our human world. Shelters and Rescues are overburdened with this sad statistic and Awesome Paws is determined to help minimize this problem by offering these educational services. Most pet owners do not understand how to teach their pets how to live peacefully in our world and do not know how to read canine body language in order to avoid problems in the first place. Most owners are also inconsistent with their training programs and think that just because their dog will sit on cue in the house when there are no distractions, the dog knows sit everywhere. This is true then for ALL of the cues they think they have taught…and can be seriously wrong, especially in an emergency like when a pet darts through the front door towards a busy street. Whether you would rather take classes, have private lessons, enroll your dog in a boarding school program, etc, be on the lookout for trainers who promise instant results. This is simply not true in ANY learning environment – even human schools! Training your pet takes time, patience, consistency, trust, and understanding. You should find a trainer who can keep things fun and rewarding for both you and your pet and can communicate effectively with you and your canine friend. Contrary to popular belief, your dog does NOT need a collar to learn…it is merely the traditional way for most trainers. We at Awesome Paws like to teach “naked” obedience. Collars and leash-laws apply to all public situations; however, it is rare that you will have a leash or collar on in an emergency. Teaching your dog to respond in ALL situations under as many distractions as possible should be the ultimate goal for any pet owner. Owners should find a trainer that motivates them and keeps them smiling while they learn how to strengthen their bond with their pet. Trainers should be creative and ready to modify their approaches in training as well.
Does this mean you must find a “certified” dog trainer? We’ll be quite honest when answering this question: we do not believe so. There are a lot of very good trainers out there that can help you establish a much better training bond with your beloved companion, just like there are also a lot of certified dog trainers that have destroyed bonds or escalated bad behaviors. We recommend doing your research before you decide.
Our founder, Julie Westphal, is NOT certified as a dog trainer at this time. She is a Certified Veterinary Technician (licensed in the state of Wisconsin) and continues her training in the lifelong love of animal behavior by consulting with clients, holding group classes at an AKC member kennel club, competing with her own dogs in dog sport trials and continuing her own education within the veterinary medical and behavioral fields. She is referred to by eleven veterinarians, four animal hospitals, several Rescue organizations, and has been holding seminars and educating the public at many local events for many years.
We believe that in order to consider yourself a “professional dog trainer” you really need to be able to practice what you preach, be able to repeat the success with multiple dogs, keep current on the latest behavioral research and theory, attend continuing educational events...and prove it with your own dogs, whether in competition or just by having doggy ambassadors that you can showcase in any environment, at any time, under any distraction. Do not settle for just anyone – you may end up regretting it or cause an already bad behavior to escalate. You have to be the one comfortable with their methods and be able to understand and replicate the exercises so that your dog can learn from you.
Dogs only learn what we teach them. Reward the Good Behaviors, Ignore the bad ones (or get an experienced professional to help with any Aggression or Anxiety issues) and you will have a dog that tries to keep offering good behavior. We too often forget to reward our dogs for calm behavior (we just “expect” it), and then get angry when they are wound up and yell (or worse!) at them…only reinforcing that wound up behavior gets attention and calm does not! What a goofy world of opposites we are projecting! Without going into the boring details of theory (positive, negative, reinforcement, punishment, etc), just remember: Whatever gets attention…which your dog craves as a family member…will be continued…whether it is “positive” or “negative” to you. Attention IS attention. We, being human, EXPECT our dogs to understand us and the reality is: they don’t. Pets CAN think. They CAN learn. But they CANNOT think as COMPLEXLY as we expect them to. They only LEARN what gets them what they think is rewarding…whether attention, treats, toys, freedom, going potty, for a car ride, whatever! So REWARD your pet for EVERYTHING they do RIGHT (and ignore what they do wrong by turning your back and walking away!)…and you’ll already have a better dog.
So, instead of thinking of training as “correcting the bad behavior”, think of it as teaching your pet English” – their SECOND language! Just as we can learn a second language, so can our pets. At the end of the day, a dog will be a dog and we will be human. Period. We will NEVER be dogs – therefore never be a true “pack” – and our dogs will never be human, as much as we want them to be. Instead, let’s learn a little “Dog” so that we can more effectively teach them “Human” (in whatever language we choose)…and this, just like with us, will take some time, consistency, exposure, generalizations, and reinforcement…sometimes maybe even a few “corrections” but tonal change and using “no” are all that should be required, therefore allowing you to have a CONVERSATION with your dog, versus a mixed martial arts battle, as some trainers would have you try. We can develop a solid, healthy, lifelong relationship…based on trust, clear communication and understanding.
In addition, reinforcement of good behaviors is MUCH LESS work than correcting bad behaviors. There is only one correct behavior that we are looking for when we want to Yes! And pay – the behavior we WANT. We ignore the rest or prevent the others. When we are always looking to “correct” a behavior...there are usually hundreds of other “bad” options the dog can then perform – which leads to frustration (of both parties), fear (of pain), or other anxiety-producing behaviors. Too many “trainers” set dogs up for failure and destroy bonds by using force, collars, corrections, or even “stimulation” methods. We need to call it what it is: aversive-based training. They are teaching your dog to avoid pain, fear, and producing anxiety being around you. instead of actually just teaching your dog what to do instead. How would you prefer to learn?
I recommend students wanting to use correctional-based methods to put the collars (choke, pinch, electronic, etc) on THEIR necks and have someone ELSE control the leash or remote. (This has YET to happen!) The person controlling them then decides on a behavior they want and doesn't tell the student – something like walking nice on leash with attention to the trainer for 15 sidewalk squares. Now, the student has to try and figure this behavior out...but gets corrected (jerked, shocked, pinched, etc) for every WRONG behavior (stopping, moving ahead, lagging, not looking at the trainer, sitting, wanting to investigate the $100 bill sitting on the sidelines, etc). The behavior we want maybe starts to happen (walking nice with attention) but there is probably a wariness in the person's eyes, fear of getting hurt, not understanding exactly what is wanted...and lack of trust, feeling of resentment. There were probably many corrections...and the behavior was still not understood. Take off the collar and start again ...see what happens next.
Keep in mind: the random trainer is you...and the student is the dog. If you are not efficient of delivering a treat to your dog with the correct timing (in learning, timing is everything!) then are you really going to deliver a correction on time? This happens ALL the time: A dog is running towards a tree, an owner calls, the dog stops and looks up at his name...and gets shocked. Then he looks away and gets shocked again. Then looks up again and get praised, without ever hearing his name. What did we teach the dog? You get shocked if you look up when you hear your name, shocked when you look away, and not shocked when you look up again, without ever hearing your name. Confusing, isn't it?
Dogs are NOT as complex thinkers as we are and do NOT understand the human cues until we teach them.
We want to help your dog be able to trust you. Through trust and clear communication, comes understanding. When your dog understands what you WANT...instead of having to always guess and then get corrected for the wrong guess...there can be harmony. We have a simple 4-step program for ANY behavior you want to teach...in the mean-time, before your session, we have a challenge for you:
The Awesome Paws Challenge:
As always...Happy Training!
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*** denotes that he is trilingual for this cue: English Cue, German Cue, Hand Signal
** denotes that he is bilingual for this cue: Hand Signal and Verbal Cue
* denotes hand cue only
Cue & Definition:
1) Guinness to look at me / Pay attention
2) Come Come with me/to my general direction
3) ***Here Come Sit in front of me as fast as you can
4) ***Sit Butt on ground
5) ***Stand Move forward from a sit or down into a standing position
6) ***Down (Platz) Elbows and tail touches ground (sorta with “nubbin”…hehehe)
7) ***Stay Don’t move from that spot (minor movement allowed)
8) ***Heel Get into heel position by swinging around my left side
9) ***Around Get into heel position to going around my right side and into Heel on the left
10) ***What? To bark at me/Speak
11) **Quiet To stop barking
12) Watch To be on alert (at the window, in the car, etc)
13) Get It You may have the item/treat you want
14) Bring To bring the item I want/you have
15) Aus/Out To drop the item you have
16) Circle To spin around in a circle to your right
17) Spin To spin around in a circle to your left
18) Turn To turn 180degrees (used for my Turn/Reverse routine)
19) Reverse To back up through my legs and get into Heel position
20) GoThru/Come Back To weave through my legs while I walk
21) Where’d You Go? To run through my legs, turn around, come back through
22) There You Are! To look up at me from the previous cue
23) Go/Vorous To go away from me
24) “_______” To bite, as in for Schutzhund bite work or tug work. (Cue not stated here/seek professional)
25) **Fooey Wrong. Stop doing that.
26) Hup To jump up
27) **Off To stand, four on the floor (off of people, counters, couch, bed, etc)
28) **Suuk To search/Track
29) ***So ist brav You did it right/used as a Continuer in Training
30) Voron To go search/Go Around
31) Kennel To go into your kennel
32) Go Ahead You may go ahead of me/go scent/have fun, etc
33) Wait Stop and wait for me or wait here (but you can move around) but do not pass thru (like a gate or door)
34) Easy Don’t go so fast or race ahead / Go slower
35) Okay You can break (NOTE: This is said in a funny tone, so not to be confused w/ everyday conversing)
36) Go say Hi You may go greet that person, get pet, etc.
37) Leave It Do not touch, sniff or look at that
38) Go Potty Go defecate.
39) Hurry Up Go urinate.
40) Let’s Go Come with me / in my direction
41) **Back Back up / move away from me
42) Bang! Go belly up (complete dead dog)
43) Side Lay flat on your left side
44) Flat Lay flat on your right side
45) Belly Rubs Go belly up when I am next to you for belly scratches
46) Come Cuddle Come over here and lay in front of me
47) Keys Bring my keys
48) Shoe Bring my shoe
49) Other Bring the matching item
50) Are you Hungry? Go get your dish and bring it to me / into the food room
51) Collar Bring me your collar/leash
52) Elmo Get Elmo
53) Havacow Get the cow
54) Teddy Get Teddy
55) Bone Get your squeaky bone
56) Chew Bone Get the marrow bone
57) Belle City Going to work (he just looks around and gets excited)
58) Go Swimming We’re going swimming / by the lake or at facility
59) Push Get up on the rolling stool and push it with your front paws i. Training session video Seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vg4hZQFJ1BI
60) Open It Open the door (usually has a towel on it, so he can pull the lever)
61) Ah-Choo Open the cabinet door, get the Kleenex box, bring it to me, then go back and close the cabinet door i. Training session video seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FlvSBbpEkWs
62) Refill Bring me your Tricky Treat Ball
63) Kong Bring me your Kong
64) Ostrich Get Ostrich
65) Walk It Walk the Dog Walk in Agility
66) Weave Go thru the Weave poles (weave)
67) Climb It Go up and then down the A-frame
68) Tire Go thru the Tire Jump
69) Table Jump on the Table / Wait
70) Chute Go thru the Chute Tunnel
71) Tunnel Go thru the Tunnel
72) Teeter Go up and then balance down the Teeter i. A session video seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AU3jQ18fB9U
73) Wave Raise your paw and Wave at me (or someone else, depends on position)
74) Bow Take a Bow
75) Jump Jump up in the air
76) Ball Get your ball
77) Go to Bed Go to your bed
78) Open It Open Your Present
79) Over Roll Over
80) Carry Carry this item for me
81) Hold Just sit or stand there holding this item for me
82) Be A Bear To growl
83) Inside Voice To woof/lower bark (instead of bark loudly)
84) Yes! This equals a paycheck and he will usually look to my hands or pockets after hearing it.
85) Touch Put your nose to my hand
86) Target Put your paw on the target
87) *High Five Left
88) *High Five Right
89) *Double High Five
90) *Right Foot Touch
91) *Left Foot Touch
92) Take It Take this from my hands
93) Dance To stand on hind legs
94) *Nod Head Nod
95) *Blink Blink
96) Catch Catch the Item/Treat
97) *Crawl Army Crawl
98) Smile Show Your Teeth
99) I Love You Give me a Kiss
100) Hugs Two paws up on me so I can hug you
101) Bell Ring the Bell
102) Nubbin’ Wag your Tail (nub)
103) Gesundheit Sneeze
104) Balance Balance the Treat on your nose, forehead, etc (see Trick Challenge #1)
105) Remote Bring me the Remote
106) *Heel Backwards
107) Pas Auf Go bark at the bad guy (Schutzhund) but don’t bite him yet
108) *Permit me to put a paper bag over your head (see Trick Challenge #3)
109) *Backpack Carry your stuff in your backpack
110) Lead Your Sister Take her leash and bring her over here
111) Stop Whatever you are doing, stop immediately
112) Bring Me A Beer Open the mini fridge and get me a can of beer
113) Can You Get That? Bring me whatever I am pointing to
114) Pray Put your paws on my praying hands and let’s pray
115) Light Turn on or off the light switch
116) Under Go under that (table, chair, etc)
117) Moose Go get Moose
118) Hedge Go get Hedge
119) Football Go get the football
120) Squeaker Go get a squeaky toy
121) Cookie Prepare for a treat! (he gets excited)
122) Car Ride Go get SOMETHING because you’re coming with (and he needs to bring something)
123) Outside Go to the door
124) * Drop on Recall
125) * Drop on Go Out / Chasing a ball/squirrel, etc
126) Settle Go lay down and relax
127) Twirl Stand on rear legs and turn in a circle/turn around
128) Streeeeeeetch Stretch Out
129) Shake It Off Shake
130) Bed/Bring Bring me your bed/blanket
131) Purse Bring me my purse
Some more: (ones I missed)
132) Monkey Bring me your Monkey (squeak toy)
133) Over Roll Over
134) In the Room Go into the Bedroom / Get ready for bed
135) Where's the Kitty? Go find a cat and let me know where they are
136) Where's Your Sister Go find Pixie / Have her follow you back (usually he gets her to chase him
137) Get Hedge Get your Hedgehog
138) Up and Over Jump in the Car and then over to the passenger seat
139) Want a cookie? Usually head tilt)
140) Brush Your Teeth (comes by me and sits, for tooth-brushing
This is everything I can think of thus far...I am sure I am missing some though…
If you include ALL of the multi-cued behaviors (English, german, hand signal, etc) we are over 150 different understood cues…and still going!
Just some recommended videos to watch our relationship: Small recent demo video in the rain: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dacjrjjMKPU Dog Day video seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMauYn-z1bQ (Understanding in and around Distractions)
Aim for true understanding of cues regardless of YOUR position! Seminar video seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_31ZH7EkRs
More videos can be seen at: www.youtube.com/awesomepawsacademy
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My pets are my fur-kids...and an animal rescuer's first instinct upon seeing a pet in a hot car is to get the pet out as quickly as possible. In today's world, we must always take a step back and think about our actions, however, and contemplate some outcomes.
Please do not misunderstand me (everyone knows MY opinion on saving lives!), but breaking someone else's car window IS destruction of property and "you" will most likely be held liable for any damages.
I know - the life of an animal is more important than a car window...but the owner of the pet and car may not see it that way.
The best, first, idea is to evaluate the pet and call the store manager closest to the parking space so they can make an announcement and then call the local animal control or non-emergency police line and report the car (make, model, color, license plate, etc) and then wait for the authorities to arrive. Even if we see this as an emergency, human emergencies are reserved for 911. The police dispatcher can then direct you over the phone what to do, if the dog is in dire need of extraction, but sadly, lawsuits for destruction of property on a car can be started and YOU may actually be at fault, especially if the pet was not in need of immediate help.
...I know, I know...a dog in a car on a warm day deserves something better...right?
Something to Consider:
* There are actually professionals (such as myself) that leave our dogs in cars, when we go on lessons, field trips, to trials, or other locations...especially if our dogs are integral parts of our business. This does not mean we don't love our animals...but it does mean we take every precaution to ensure our pets remain safe while we need to leave them in the car.
*** For me, this means my dogs are kenneled in the crates, but all windows are open, sunroof is open, hatch is open and I am parked in the shade, knowing that this shady spot won't change for the length of time I am not in my car. In addition, fresh water bowls are with them and even frozen stuffed Kongs to help entertain them while I am gone. If a lesson is running over what I'd like, I interupt the session to check in on my pets, walk them, turn on the A/C for awhile while we work outdoors where I can watch, and cool them off. I am very aware of my fur-kids in the car...and they are extremely happy when they go places, show off as Demo dogs, go on field trips, and are just with me. Both are VERY car-savvy dogs and we travel A LOT.
*** I am more than happy to explain the whys to anyone who questions me or is concerned for my pets' welfare...because I DO care. This does not mean you have to be argumentative or berate me, however, especially if you do not know the situation at hand and my dogs are in no danger. I HAVE had officers come out to check on my dogs, left in the car, when concerned owners have called in...and both times they reported that my dogs were happy, healthy, friendly, and NOT in any danger, because they were NOT exhibiting any signs of distress. But the fact remains...someone else cared too. All I have to say is this: Please do not waste an officer's time with situations that are NOT dangerous, so consider the following:
Is the dog REALLY in need of help? To determine this:
* Is the dog is sitting, observant and not panting or panting slowly, but the tongue is only partially sticking out...this dog is most likely not in need of immediate medical attention yet, so you should take the time to make your phone calls and find the owner if you are concerned.
* look for the dog's comfort level. If a dog is actively barking/growling/lunging at you, you may actually be INCREASING the likelihood of heat stroke or heat-related health complications. Stay a safe distance away so you can observe and not actually aggravate a territorial or scared animal. Look for signs of heat-related medical concerns:
** rapid/heavy panting - this means the tongue is sticking out far, opening the dog's airways as large as possible to exchange heat; this is different from just a normal pant/exchange of air.
** dark tongue and thick saliva - take into consideratioin dog breed - a Saint Bernard, for example, is going to have thicker saliva because of conformation, but if a dog is having slimy or foamy drool while doing heavy panting, there is cause for concern.
** extreme restlessness/pacing combined with the above would give me more cause for concern, especially if the pet is looking for a way out. (Don;t confuse this with car anxiety - look for other symptoms also).
** sometimes vomiting will accompany these symptoms
** extreme lethargy or collapse means the body is shutting down and this dog is in need of immediate medical attention.
*******Heatstroke is deadly in a very short amount of time; on a 78degree day, a car in the shade can be well over 90degrees in minutes and in the sun can reach over 160degrees.*******
So...if you see a dog in a car on a hot day...call somone. If that someone is NOT able to get to the car in time, there are some reports of people collecting witnesses to attest that the dog is in immediate danger and the only way to save their life is to break into the vehicle and cool off the dog. Other reports indicate that "you" will be found guilty of committing a crime and only authorized personnel can open the vehicle without the owner present.
In a perfect world, the owner will come out before this needs to happen and you can help the owner cool off the dog. If this is not the case, however and you decide to risk the liability and intervene, please remember that cooling off a dog too quickly may also result in complications, so some good "rules of thumb" are:
** Bring the dog into an open-ventilated area; remember air EXCHANGE is important in a pet's cooling ability, and surrounding air quickly heats up with panting, so a wide area in the shade may be better than a confined area.
** If possible, bring the pet to an air-conditioned area, but remember to make sure air-exchange can also occur; a closed vehicle may NOT be appropriate, even if air-conditioned, due to smaller spacing.
** Provide a SMALL amount of water to drink in short intervals. Heavy drinking while warm and panting can pre-dispose a pet to bloat or other life-threatenting emergency situations.
** Spray the dog down with water, concentrating on the foot pads, under the armpits, stomach and groin area. Cool water but NOT ice. Ice can actually constrict blood vessels, making it harder for the pet to cool off. Cool water and cool rags over the femoral (inside rear thighs) arteries and in the armpits can help cooler blood circulate, which can cool the dog more effectively.
** Transport the pet to a local veterinary hospital. Just because the pet is cooling off, does not mean the pet is okay. IV fluids may need to be started for hydration and blood-work can show if kidney or liver damage was sustained. If the pet was overheated for too long, there may also be irreversible neurological issues that need to be documented. It is also very important to take the pet's temperature and monitor for OVER-cooling, or possible hypothermia. There is also a complicated blood problem called Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation (known as DIC) that can be a fatal complication of heat stroke and a vteerinar office is the best place to be after heat stroke.
** A bad side: The risk you take with a pet not your own is also a potential liability and some veterinary offices CANNOT treat a pet that is not your own and you WILL be repsonsible for all charges accrued.
Heat Stroke is NO joke...If you notice a pet in distress, CALL THE AUTHORITIES IMMEDIATELY and ask for guidance and assistance. Let them know it is an emergency situation and they should respond, not only because a life is at stake...but because leaving a pet in a car is actually punishable by law in many states.
Until next time!
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A common question amongst our students is whether or not they should become “more dominant” over their pet. As most of my pet owners have seen, this is usually where I have to take a deep breath. This gives me the perfect opportunity to help Change the World...
The answers as to why dogs do what they do vary and for all intents and purposes, the answer is simple to the above question: No. No, you do NOT have to worry about dominating your dog more in order to get them to listen.
Dominance is not a personality trait. It is a situational trait – and only for certain situations regarding a multitude of DOGS. If you are human, dog rules do not apply to you...and vice versa.
Dogs are dogs. They do not come with the inherent understanding of human concepts: societal structure, interactions, and rules.
Humans are humans. We will NEVER be as quick to read a dog as they are. We may never truly understand why certain dogs get along and others do not. We cannot ask them, nor them us.
What we HAVE learned, however, is that dogs and people learn concepts in many similar ways. Learning theory and reinforcement theory apply here.
In short: Dogs are opportunists. They do what works.
If jumping on the counter means they get the tasty food...they do it.
If pulling on the leash to get to that tree to “check e-mails” means you follow them and they get there...they do it.
If lunging at the child when the child comes towards its bone gets the child to go away...they do it.
The simple solution to ALL basic training or any behavioral concerns is this: Change the Motivator; Change the Behavior.
I have a 4-step program that I use for all of my students. It's nothing new, but narrowing the main points of learning down to 4 basic steps means a higher, faster success rate for most students.
Many people skip to step two and actually MIS-CUE behavior. Or, their timing is so far off, that they are paying the wrong behavior entirely. If you cannot successfully deliver a treat on time...you have no business trying to correct or punish your dog.
Problem behaviors arise, not from dominance and the need for more punishment/coercion, but from the fact that you have not truly taught your dog what is expected.
A really good article on the explanation of some of these behaviors can be found here:
Whether for Basic Manners, Anxiety, or Aggression...“bad” behaviors are all too commonly reinforced (whether accidentally or from the mis-timed punishment doled out by unaware owners) or made worse (I am saddened when I am consulted AFTER a severe bite has taken place or a foreign body surgery has been performed for a dog who ate chicken bones from the counter) by methods not science-based.
The real truth is this: If you are having behavioral concerns, you should seek out:
As for me, I will keep my 84lb intact male Doberman (and my 5lb adopted Maltese) on the bed, cuddling with me every night, allowed on the couch by day, and acting as the ambassador for not only Dobermans (& Maltese) world-wide, but also as my examples of reinforcement and relationship-based training. He carries with him several titles and brings a smile to the faces of everyone he meets with his antics and upbeat confidence...and she is just starting her training career and hopes to earn her first title very soon!
I do the opposite of what every trainer based in dominance says and I have a happier bond and much-more reliable off-leash obedience than most of them.
...and It's not that I never say "No" - it's that I say "Yes!" far more often.
Until next time...Happy Training!
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We know it’s been awhile since we last posted (this year did not start off as we'd have liked with family and personal medical concerns), but we should be able to post more regularly now!
We often hear people ask how they can help, when they cannot foster an animal or donate money, so we wanted to put together a list of very easy ways you can help our animals in need!
So many animals need help, purebreds and mixes alike. If your heart has a certain breed in mind, then contact local rescue organizations for that breed. Sometimes, your veterinarian works closely with breed groups and can help guide you to a reputable rescue. I have worked closely with Northcentral Maltese Rescue, Doberman Rescue Alliance of Wisconsin, as well as ABMC Malinois Rescue for many years. I also help local shelters and rescue groups and there are MANY ways you can help too! For Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, or Kenosha area groups in Wisconsin, please contact us and we can help point you in the right direction!
The more obvious top three ways of helping are: Fostering a pet in need, Adopting from your LOCAL breed rescue or shelter, or Donating much needed funds to help provide the necessary veterinary care for the animals in need.
But if you are not able to do any of those, there are TONS of Other Ways you Can Help:
1) Talk with your local groups about helping with “Transport” – This means you will donate some time and travel expense for a short “leg” of a car ride, whether to get an animal INTO a foster home…or to send one HOME!
2) Donate supplies: Leashes, collars, bedding/blankets, food, dishes, chew toys (Nylabones, etc) are ALWAYS needed and used. The more we have, the more we can send home with the pet for familiarity of the transfer!
3) If you are a “rummager” sometimes you can find the supplies (like listed above) or even CRATES or X-PENS that can be purchased for low funds and donated to the group. We always have use for kennels, and this allows us to help foster more dogs sometimes, if you cannot.
a. Please help us by sterilizing them once you get them (simple cleaning solutions are fine) but we don’t want to spread any potential infectious disease, like Parvo or Kennel Cough to our new (or own) additions!
4) Kongs, Tricky Treat Balls, Buster Cubes, and other mental stimulation toys are helpful. These can be found online, or if you write companies, sometimes they will donate them to you, for this purpose. Just a little time goes a long way!
5) If you go to Pet Expos or Events, talk with the food representatives and see if you can get free samples (we can use them for training treats!!!) or see if they will donate a bag of food to you for this purpose.
6) Gentle Leaders & Halti’s are used frequently with fosters when we help teach them how to walk properly on a leash, preparing them for their new homes.
7) Have a unique item? Crochet blankets? These can be donated for Raffle Items or Silent Auctions at our events!!!
8) Flea and tick prevention products, unused (but not expired) Heartworm medications, and grooming supplies, like shampoos, brushes, combs, etc, are all useful for our foster parents!
9) Are you a local business or have the ability to donate a gift certificate for your product/services? We can also use these for fundraiser events!
10) Ask your vet if they would consider offering a veterinary discount to any dog in foster care with an organization? Then, tell the rescue about them and we can set up an account! EVERY LITTLE BIT SAVED ALLOWS US TO HELP MORE!
11) Are you a coupon clipper? Clip coupons for dog food, treats, toys, etc. If you cannot purchase them, get these coupons to a rescue rep ASAP!
12) Do you like to bake? Look up some healthy dog-cookie recipes and bake some treats for us! Especially if we coordinate this, we can use them as giveaways for donations at events, or even just use them as training treats!
13) Do you know of or board your own pets at a boarding facility? Would they be willing to donate a week’s stay for a pet in need, if we do not have an immediate foster home for them? Sometimes, we get “urgent” dogs that need our help, but we cannot arrange a foster home in the 48hrs, so we need a place to temporarily board them. Our funds are limited, but ANYTHING helps…
14) Enjoy walking? Ask about walking dogs at the local shelter…you will provide VERY important socialization time out of the kennel, help them learn leash skills, and have a partner for your own program.
15) Have a website? Consider posting a “pet of the week” link to help a dog in need find a home?
16) Like photography? Help out by donating time to take photographs for the shelters or rescues and get those pets seen online!
17) Can you donate some time to conduct a “home visit” for pre-approval for a foster home or new adopter? We have a guidelines checklist that all you have to do is follow!
18) Hold a yard sale and donate the proceeds (or even a portion) to the local rescue or shelter.
19) Educate everyone YOU know about adopting a dog. Ask them to please stray from pet shops and backyard breeders, so that we do not promote financial gain from breeding irresponsibly. GOOD breeders do NOT let ANY dog they produce take up space at a shelter or in a rescue! Pet store dogs and newspaper dogs do not come from reputable or responsible breeders…
20) Know a volunteer? Donate time to help us get the new foster dog to the vet…We pay the expenses, you just transport and help them get the veterinary care they need.
21) Take advantage of promotions of engraved tags for the rescue. A simple “I belong to ___________. Please call ________ if you find me.” Works well for most foster dogs in our care.
22) Work in Media? Write a column on a local rescue group each week, promote responsible pet ownership, and educate as many as you can.
23) Into web design and/or maintenance? Sometimes we get overwhelmed and need help keeping the website current…
24) Donate a pet first aid kit or pay for a new volunteer to attend a pet CPR class (~$40)
25) Dog seatbelts and car dividers can be very useful for those active in transport…
26) Be a friend to a volunteer…sometimes we need to vent, or cry, or just need someone to talk to about organizing events.
27) See if a local Doggie Daycare might be able to hold a “Doggie PlayDate” for their clients, where they then donate the monies raised to that group. Usually a month a month, rotating group, schedule means a LOT of rescue organizations get a little extra...It ALL helps!
28) Research and Know Your Breeds…then visit the shelter and see if that longhaired white dog may be a Maltese, Bichon, Poodle, etc, and then contact a local rescue asking if they might have room to take it…Most rescues DO get contacted, but sometimes the request is sent to a Spam e-mail or they have old contacts, etc, and some rescues DON’T KNOW about those dogs. It doesn’t hurt to cross-post and try to find an option for that pet before it’s too late and humane euthanasia is the only option.
29) Know anyone looking for a dog? Someone you know talking about getting a dog? Ask them to consider Rescue…Most rescues have ALL AGE RANGES available…and adopting means we now have the room to help another one in need, sitting in a cage at a shelter…
30) Put together a list of your local Rescue Groups and print it for you veterinarian to have on file. Provide name of group, contact name of person, phone number and e-mail. This may mean you e-mail them first, but then can add a phone number. I cannot tell you how often veterinarians have pets that come in looking for options other than euthanasia. Some people are moving and cannot keep their pets, some losing their home, some just not wanting the pet anymore, sometimes for medical reasons, sometimes behavioral. Please keep in mind that most rescues cannot accept dogs with bite histories, due to liability, but many will post pictures/descriptions and links to the owner in that case, called a private referral.
31) Win any prizes to pet stores? Considering donating the gift certificate or gift card to the group.
32) Attend the local free seminars on adoption, behavior, and recues. Arm yourself with knowledge so you can help educate others.
33) Have access to a printer? Consider printing applications and other necessary forms for the group. Contact them and see what they need printed for upcoming events.
34) Go to local animal-related businesses (and even some NON-animal related!) and solicit donations or sponsorship for an upcoming fundraising event.
35) Know or use a groomer? Would they donate one groom per month to a new foster dog? Or offer a discount to intakes? Maybe even hold a “grooming seminar” where we can ask for donations to give to the rescue?
36) Know or use a trainer? Ask if they offer rescue discounts and then out together a form for your local groups to have them on hand. Awesome Paws is MORE THAN HAPPY to speak with new adopters on any questions or concerns they are having and we also offer Rescue discounts on training sessions.
37) Volunteer to call post-adoption and see if the owners have any concerns. You can be the “go-to” person after an adoption.
38) If you earn a free bag of dog food when you buy one…donate it to a rescue group.
39) Know anyone handy with a workbench or wrench? See if they can build doghouses, dog beds, or even build food bins/cabinets for foster homes to store food or toys in. If they excel in wood-working, see if they can make “Welcome” Signs with dog designs, or “Dog doesn’t bite, but watch the owner” type novelty signs to donate for silent auctions.
40) Know anyone in home improvement? Will they donate some time to put up fencing? Make new X-pens for the dogs? If we have divided pens, we can sometimes help an additional dog or two, because we can help introduce them more effectively or keep them separate (like new mothers/pups).
41) Microchip/Register your own pets, so that if they are ever lost, the shelter can scan them and call you, so they never burden a shelter or rescue for long.
42) Know anyone who sews? Crochets? Can they make dog sweaters? Sew together “Adopt Me” vests for the dogs to wear that have pockets on them for people to put money in?
43) See a ReAlLY neat item at an event? Buy TWO and donate one of them for a fundraising item.
44) Have a carpet cleaner? Loan it to a foster parent for the weekend…
45) Next time you are at the Dollar Store, pickup an extra bottle of bleach, paper towels, etc, and donate them.
46) Like kids? Offer to babysit one night a week, so a foster mom can take the new addition to a dog training class...
47) Talk to the local kennel clubs and see if they would donate one class to a new dog.
48) Have a video camera? Help get some Videos of the rescue dogs in action to help show them off more…
49) Have well-behaved, dog-savvy kids? Talk to the groups about helping them socialize the dogs to children. Even at safe distances, we can begin to make GREAT associations for the dogs to tolerate children.
50) Provide “poop patrol” to foster parents in your area. Once a week, go over and help them tidy up the dog areas.
51) Have cats? Are they pretty neutral/come out to greet new people? Can a foster parent come over with a dog on leash to see how the dog reacts to the cat in an Eval?
52) Run a farm? Same concept as #50…
53) Cook a homemade meal once in awhile for a local foster parent, so they don’t have to. This idea is GREAT on training class nights that get to be late nights…
54) Know anyone who cleans houses? See if they would donate time to help clean a foster’s home.
55) Make flyers to post at the kennel club, vet’s office, groomer’s, etc on the “Available Dog of the Month” etc.
56) Use one day to run the flyers to the said places…
57) Good at design? See if the group needs brochures or business cards made…
58) Donate stamps, paper, envelopes.
59) Own a carpet store or know someone who does? Scraps of carpet make excellent mats for training and for under or in crates!
60) Have an old computer? Consider donating it if it still runs, even if it is slow!
61) Know how to fix computers?!? We can ALWAYS use these people…
62) Help organize local “adopt-a-thons” to get the dogs noticed and educate people on the breed!
63) An you pet-sit, even if only for the weekend? We like to take family vacations too, but sometimes we worry about the new dog in a kennel, etc, and just want to be able to trust someone to help for a few days…
64) Good with paperwork? GREAT…’cause we’re not! <joke> We can typically use more help getting pet files together…eval forms, pictures, videos, history, vet records, etc. Then, it all needs to be entered into the database…
65) Run a gas station? Car wash? Detailing business? These things may seems simple, but long-distance drives can be common for intake transport, so these are very helpful donations.
66) Travelling soon?!? Can you bring a dog with you? Maybe bring one back for us? Nationwide small breed rescues use airline travel especially. All you have to do is allow the pet to travel at your feet under the seat in front of you…
67) Have extra skymiles? Donate them to us!
68) Car dealership owner? Care to lend us a car for long-distance drives or just for transport?
69) Any lawyers or accountants out there? We always have use of you as well…care to donate your services?!
70) Report ANY animal abuse or neglect that you see…This can be a homeless pet, one that does not have shelter or water on a hot day or warmth on a cold one. Sometimes this means a dog that is severely matted or looks injured (watch for numerous flies/bugs hovering a particular area, etc). Neglect can be just as bad as abuse and the fines can be high.
71) Update your living will to include a donation to your favorite rescue(s) or amend it to make sure in the event your pets remain, all of their expenses are covered, so the rescue won’t have to.
72) Educate your friends with intact (not spayed or neutered) pets that breeding is NOT for the average person. It takes a LOT of financial commitment, medical expenses, and most responsible breeders do NOT make money. Responsible breeders want to better the breed, so they fully health test, title, and advocate bettering the breed. Remind them that the liability is theirs (financially) if the puppies have genetic defects and all of the owners want refund and replacement puppies or hire an attorney and that they should leave breeding to the people who truly want to better the breed standard.
73) Support local protests at pet stores. Help educate people that they are NOT “saving” a dog when the purchase one from a store…they are condemning the parents of that puppy to mass-produce more, because there is now demand. Help educate everyone you know on breed rescues and adoption. That “cute puppy in the window” may have found a good home…but are they prepared for any medical costs associated with backyard or in-bred puppies?
74) Know an elderly person/couple having trouble taking care of their pet? Offer to help walk the pet, bring it to the groomer or even bring it to the vet. This helps to keep dogs out of rescue due to exercise-related behavioral concerns. We understand that pets provide comfort, but sometimes their care is too overwhelming and by NOT intervening, you may be actually helping to condemn that pet to a humane euthanasia, versus a foster home and second chance.
75) ANY HELP YOU CAN GIVE A RESCUE OR SHELTER IS MUCH NEEDED…AND GREATLY APPRECIATED!
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When owners say "He KNOWS he did something wrong...he looks (acts) guilty!" we tend to ask them to perform an experiment the next time they come home (which is usually when the dog "acts guilty" of something If you want to know more about this exact experiment ..please ask! But...is it really so? Or is it entirely possible that OUR behavior is making THEIR behavior change? Dogs see things in pictures and read us so much faster than we could ever read them. That's not to say there aren't times when they might truly BE guilty, but we tend to give the dog the benefit of the doubt in that if they TRULY knew something was "wrong" they would NOT do it. It is OUR job to truly TEACH them right from wrong.
So, a good picture and mini-explanation can be found at:
As always...Happy Training!