Introducing our newest addition!

Nov 06 2006

Our new addition to the family is a female Greater Swiss Mountain Dog named River. We picked her up October 12th on her 8 week old birthday.

The breeder’s facility was run out of her home and very clean and all her dogs seemed very friendly and happy. We met River’s mother, father, littermates and a 1 year old male from River’s father. We had always adopted our pets from Rescue organizations or Shelters, so going through a breeder was a new experience for us. Our primary concern was that the breeder be well-established, reputable, professional and be equally invested in her dogs’ physical as well as emotional well-being. We wanted a professional, knowledgable breeder who had her litters in a home environment and had limited breedings (1 or 2/year) so we knew that she could dedicate herself completely to our puppy’s litter.

We researched her line and knew one dog well (he came to Kelly’s Training Doggie Daycare until he and his mom moved to NYC!) from her champion sire (River’s grandfather) . We spoke several times with the breeder over the phone and she was very well educated and always willing to talk extensively about the pros and cons of this breed and her specific line. Once we picked River up, we drove for 2 hours from the breeder to Debra’s parents. Debra held River in her lap in the backseat where River proceeded to pee on her! Luckily we were prepared and laid an extra large wee-wee pad at her feet and River went to sleep for the majority of the trip.

Once we arrived, we implemented the potty training program. We placed an x-pen in their dining room with a crate inside. She was allowed to play in the backyard with Doc and Amber (see photo) if a human could be watching her. As a bonus, if she pooped, she was allowed to come in to their sunroom and play for 20 mins., then let outside to pee, then to the crate for 1-2 hours of nap time. This routinue was repeated religiously until bedtime.

The crate door was closed for naptimes and left open at night where the x-pen kept Doc contained so that she had a warm body to sleep with. Our only accidents occurred when we stretched our 20 mins. indoor playtime or were too slow to wake up in the middle of the night. Once we got back to LA, we visited our vet, who instructed us that River had a bladder infection, so the medication is helping her need to be a little less urgent! She is a pro at puppy push-ups (sit/lie down,sit/lie down,etc.) and is learning the name game and sit -stay in crate with door open until release word is given. Doc absolutely adores her and we often feel like we are cheating when she is having a bout of puppy mania since Doc gets the brunt of her zoomies and alligator chomping! We are constantly swapping out our arms for an appropriate chew toy and implemeting Ouch! for really painful bites!

She is amazingly gentle with Kelsey although we are ever vigilant with their interactions. Her socialization program was started the day after we got her. We went outlet shopping and put River in Kelsey’s stroller (and Kelsey was happy to explore using her new found ability to walk!). Debra’s mom was worried that we wouldn’t be able to enter the shops! Instead, nobody wanted us to leave!! Everyone was doing a double-take at the stroller! Ha, ha! And River was very good at staying in the stroller. We still take her in the stroller down to Tujunga Village, but she has almost outgrown it! Our goal is 100 new people every week. So far so good! We’ll keep you posted!


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Happy Halloween!

Oct 28 2006

Our beautiful Rhodesian Ridgeback client, Soul, will be greeting the ghoulies on Halloween thanks to her very talented owner who created this striking resemblance of her! If anyone else has memorable photos of their canine goblins, we would love to share them! Also, here is a fun Halloween animation created by Debra’s website design company, check it out! Check back soon to meet the new puppy, River!

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The Amazing Skidboot

Oct 28 2006

View Skidboot Video

We can all inspire trust, love and dedication in our dogs, if only we offer the same to them. Skidboot is truly remarkable, but he could have been equally problematic if he had not been shown the love and compassion that humans are capable of. Training is most effective when we focus our energy in a positive way to provide a positive outcome. Choosing to bring a dog into your family means that you are obliged to create a nurturing environment for that dog to prosper. It is true that you can tell a lot about a person by the way that person treats their dog. Thank you to Skidboot’s dad for showing all of us how truly wonderful a person can be!

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Doggie No-No’s: Toxic Items around the House

Oct 05 2006

Unfortunately, toxic items can often be found in every room of the house! Common household cleaners (even the all-natural stuff), antifreeze, prescription and over-the-counter medicines (usually your dog does not just “take one”!) should ALWAYS be kept in drawers or cabinets not accessible to canine family members.
There are also some items that may surprise you!
Xylitol, a common all-natural sugar substitute found in certain sugar-free chewing gums (Trident for example), candies, baked goods and other products can potentially cause serious and even life-threatening problems for dogs. Signs to look for include a fairly sudden drop in blood sugar, resulting in depression, loss of coordination and seizures. These signs can develop quite rapidly, but if the item ingested has a low level of Xylitol, symptoms may be delayed as much as 12 hours from ingestion. If your dog ingests any product with Xylitol as an ingredient seek veterinary treatment immediately as xylitol ingestions (even small amounts) may be linked to the development of liver failure.
Cocoa bean shell mulch is becoming a popular landscaping product used by gardeners and homeowners because of it’s attractive odor. In small amounts, cocoa bean shell mulch consumption can cause signs similar to that of chocolate poisoning, including vomiting and diarrhea. In cases where very large amounts of mulch have been consumed, muscle tremors, seizures and death can occur. Unfortunately, most dogs find any type of organic material spread out on a lawn to be a delicacy, and therefore are at great risk for toxicity. Know what products your gardeners or family members are using on your lawn and avoid neighbor’s lawns when any fertilizer, manure, pesticide or any organic material is present. Your dog may not immediately present with obvious life-threatening signs even after ingesting large amounts of cocoa bean shell mulch. So seek veterinary attention immediately, irregardless of lack of symptoms, if you suspect your dog has ingested cocoa bean shell mulch.

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Physical and Emotional Well-being in your dog

Sep 29 2006

I appreciate the comments I have been getting from readers. One of the comments I received on the Cesar Millan article has inspired me to write today’s blog.

As our society’s perspective of the dog shifts from worker (herder, hunter, sled puller, for example) to family member, our attention to the emotional and physical needs of the dog must keep pace with those changes. We have an obligation to exercise our dogs both mentally and physically. This is where training can be so useful. To Cesar Millan’s credit, many behavior problems are a result of owner miscommunication and misunderstanding and his show does succeed in highlighting that issue. Unfortunately, many professional dog trainers continue to employ techniques that have proven to cause serious injury to the dog as well as to the bond between dog and human.

Many trainers use a mixture of new positive techniques and old force-based techniques, making it difficult to determine their true philosophy. My personal opinion is that absolutely all positive motivational methods should be thoroughly exhausted by several different trainers and a comprehensive vet examination must rule out any mental or physical cause for the behavior before any mild force-based method should be attempted under the guidance of a professional dog trainer. And under no circumstances should a force-based method be used that could potentially cause severe or irreparable physical or emotional damage.

Training is teaching, helping another to learn by instruction and practice. When we are trying to learn something new, we are most receptive when our teacher provides clear instructions in a calm, stress-free learning environment without fear of abuse if we choose the wrong answer, and huge rewards if we choose the correct answer. I know of very few instances in pet dog training where positive motivational training will fail to provide results. These rare cases can be related to medical conditions which if discovered by a veterinarian can often be treated or managed. Again, you know your dog best. The best indicator is your own gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, get a second opinion, or third or fourth until you feel comfortable.

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Biscuit for your thoughts…

Sep 27 2006

Thank you to George’s mom for sending the very first comment to my blog (see comments under “Doc loves everybody”)! We love hearing from our readers so if you have a comment on a specific article or an idea for a new article we would love to hear from you. I want this to be informative and fun for you so let me know your thoughts!
“George” photo by Kelly Moren

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Things dogs teach us

Sep 25 2006

My goal in life is to be as good of a person as my dog already thinks I am. ~Author Unknown

“Winston”, photo by Kelly Moren

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“The Dog Whisperer” techniques raise controversy

Sep 20 2006

When dog-related issues appear in the media, I will do my best to inform you through this blog. Recently, concerns have been expressed about the techniques used by Cesar Millan on the popular show “The Dog Whisperer”. Here are some articles on the topic; the American Humane article, the SPCA article, the New Yorker article feedback, the Esquire article. There is much debate on the topic of force-free methods vs. the use of adversives in dog training.

This is a good opportunity to discuss how to evaluate a trainer. Look for a dog trainer who employs humane training methods which do not cause physical harm, great pain, or undue distress to the dog. Dog training should be fun for both canine and human participants, so make sure that the professional you choose is approachable and encourages your active participation and questions. Former or current students are a valuable source of information. A competent trainer will encourage you to visit a group class and consult current or former clients about their experiences.

To summarize the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) guide for selecting a trainer, during a training session a skilled and professional trainer will:
1. Explain each lesson.
2. Demonstrate each behavior.
3. Provide clear written handouts on each behavior.
4. Assist students individually with proper implementation of techniques.

Always remember to follow your instincts. If you are uncomfortable with anything your trainer suggests, speak up. A competent trainer will explain the reason for the use of a specific technique and offer alternative options as needed. Remember that your emotions travel through your leash to your dog. So if you are uncomfortable, it is likely your best friend will be uncomfortable as well.

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Put your best paw forward!

Sep 19 2006

Learning the proper way to greet a dog is simple and very important. If more people perform these simple techniques, others will watch and learn and every dog will benefit. As humans, we communicate primarily through the use of our voices, although popular dating shows and talk shows have made us more aware of our extensive body language vocabulary! Dogs actually use body language as their primary source of communication, so it behooves us to learn exactly what we are communicating to them when we offer the standard ‘pat on the head’ greeting. To a dog, any dog, even your own dog, reaching over the top of the head is a dominant or challenging signal. To make matters worse, we are usually facing the dog and staring directly into his eyes when we reach to pet his head. This posturing is interpreted by the dog as very domineering and not at all the friendly gesture we are attempting to offer. If the dog is frightened, he may back away, snap, or growl. If the dog is used to being in control and accepts a dominant role in his own family, he may perceive your ‘friendly gesture’ as a challenge and bite you. If the dog is friendly and has had overwhelmingly good experiences with people in the past, he may tolerate your inconsiderate gesture, but this isn’t what we want either. When we reach to pet a dog, our desire is to communicate to the dog that we are no threat to them and that we would like to be friends.
This can be communicated by changing 3 simple things in our typical greeting ceremony.
1. Body position- turn your side to the dog
2. Eye contact- glance sideways at the dog without looking directly into his eyes
3. Hand position- put your hand out just lower than his nose, palm down and allow the dog to decide to sniff or approach you, if the dog accepts your invitation by moving calmly toward your hand, you may pet him gently on his chest.
If we all simply improve the way we introduce ourselves to the dogs in our lives, we can all start to put our best paw forward!

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Doc loves everybody at daycare!

Sep 18 2006

Doc enjoys time with all the dogs at daycare. He teaches the dogs appropriate play positions and helps the shy dogs learn that daycare is a safe and fun place to be. Here he is playing with his good friend Malone, a 10 mos. old Shih Tzu, while a newcomer, 5 mos. old Cocker Spaniel, Lucy, watches.

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