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October 25, 2012

Teaching "Stay" Command

In this video Rosie, a 6 month old puppy is reviewing her "watch me" and "down" commands. Watch Rosie learn her "stay" command.

Remember we have to teach our puppies what we expect first; then start to enforce what they have learned. Take baby steps when increasing your distance, duration and distractions.

Diamond Dog Training
Private In-Home Sessions
Barrie, Ontario 705-252-7717
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October 17, 2012

Holiday Safety for your Dog

Written By: Marcia Murray-Stoof CPDT,CCB

The holidays are all about family, friends, fun and food - but sometimes it's easy to forget about holiday safety for your dog. We all want our dogs to be part of the celebration, but there are some important guidelines to follow. Keep your dog safe this holiday season - no one wants their holiday celebration to end up at the veterinary emergency clinic! 

No table scraps! Just because we humans like to indulge in the feast does not mean it is good for our dogs. Rich, fatty foods can seriously upset your dog's stomach and even be toxic. Most dogs love food and especially yearn for "people food". Dog experts have discouraged the feeding of table scraps to dogs for years because of the potentials for toxicity, obesity and general poor health. While healthy, well-balanced diets can be prepared for dogs using human food, it is essential to feed the right foods. Know what foods to avoid so you can prevent poisoning and keep your dog healthy. If you suspect your dog has ingested a toxic food, seek veterinary attention immediately.

It is especially important to keep your dog away from the following dangerous foods:

Grapes and Raisins can cause irreversible damage to the kidneys, possible resulting in death.

· Ingesting as few as 4-5 grapes or raisins can be poisonous to a 20 pound dog, though the exact toxic dose is not established.

· Signs of toxicity include vomiting, loss of appetite, diarrhea, abdominal pain, decreased urine production (possibly leading to lack of urine production), weakness and drunken gait.

· Onset of signs typically occurs within 24 hours (though they can start just a few hours after consumption)

· Your vet may start by inducing vomiting, or the stomach might be pumped (gastric lavage). Treatment involves aggressive supportive care - particularly fluid therapy and medications

· Onions can cause a form of hemolytic anemia called Heinz body anemia, a condition that causes the destruction of red blood cells. Kidney damage may follow.

Toxicity may occur from similar foods such as garlic and chives.
It is not clear what quantity of onions is poisonous, but the effects can be cumulative. Poisoning can result from raw, cooked and dehydrated forms. Avoid feeding table scraps and any foods cooked with onions (including some baby foods). Check your ingredients! 

Signs are secondary to anemia, such as pale gums, rapid heart rate, weakness and lethargy. Other signs include vomiting, diarrhea, and bloody urine.
Treatment: blood transfusions and/or oxygen administration may be necessary, followed by specific fluid therapy.

Chocolate and cocoa contain a chemical called theobromide that can adversely affect the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system. Pure baking chocolate is most toxic, while milk chocolate requires a higher quantity to cause harm. A 20 pound dog can be poisoned after consuming about 2 ounces of baking chocolate, but it would take nearly 20 ounces of milk chocolate to cause harm. Ingestion of cacao bean mulch can also be toxic.

Signs include excitement, tremors, seizures, vomiting, diarrhea, abnormal heart rate/rhythm, drunken gait, hyperthermia and coma.
Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications. 

Caffeine is quite similar to the toxic chemical in chocolate. It can damage the heart, lungs, kidney and central nervous system.
Commons sources of toxicity include caffeine pills, coffee beans and coffee, large amounts of tea, and chocolate. 

Signs typically begin with restlessness, hyperactivity and vomiting. These can be followed by panting, weakness, drunken gait increased heart rate, muscle tremors and convulsions.

Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. Treatment includes administration of activated charcoal and supportive care with fluid therapy and medications

Macadamia nuts, while generally not considered fatal, can cause your dog to experience severe illness. 

The actually toxin is not know, nor is the mechanism of toxicity.
Ingestion of just a handful of nuts can cause adverse effects in any dog.
Signs include vomiting, weakness, depression, drunken gait, joint/muscle pain, and joint swelling. 

Onset of signs typically occurs within 6-24 hours.
Dogs are typically treated symptomatically and recover within 24-48 hours. In-hospital supportive care may be recommend for dogs that become very sick.
Xylitol is a sugar-free sweetener most often found in chewing gum and candy. In dogs, it stimulates the pancreas to secrete insulin, resulting in hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Xylitol ingestion can also cause severe liver damage. 

As few as two pieces of gum can be hypoglycemia to a 20 pound dog. A pack of gum can cause liver damage.
Signs of toxicity can occur within 30-60 minutes and include weakness, drunken gait, collapse and seizures. 

Your vet may induce vomiting or perform gastric lavage. The affected dog will likely need to be treated intravenously with dextrose (sugar) and monitored closely for 1-2 days. Many dogs improve with supportive care if treated early enough, though liver damage can be permanent.

Alcoholic beverages contain ethanol - a seriously toxic chemical compound that causes central nervous system and respiratory depression.
Uncooked yeast doughs also produce ethanol.
Even small amounts of ethanol can cause toxic effects.

Signs include sedation, depression, lethargy, weakness, drunken gait and hypothermia (low body temperature). 

Ethanol is rapidly absorbed into the system, so it is important to seek medical attention quickly. It is not usually helpful to induce vomiting. Treatment includes aggressive supportive care with fluid therapy and medications.
Under controlled circumstances, alcohol is used by veterinarians as an antidote for antifreeze (ethylene glycol) poisoning.

Apple seeds, cherry pits, peach pits, and plum pits contain the toxin cyanide.

· Signs of cyanide poisoning include vomiting, heavy breathing, apnea tachycardia, cardiac arrhythmias, coma, skin irritation.

· In some cases, antidotes are available. Other treatments include oxygen therapy, fluids and supportive care.

· Also take note that the leaves, fruit, seeds and bark of avocados contain Persin, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea in dogs. Also, the fat content is not healthy for dogs.

Moldy or rotten foods can cause many problems for your dog, some more serious than others. Any food that seems "past its prime" should be kept out reach. Be especially careful to keep your dog away from trash cans.

· Botulism, often from garbage, can cause paralysis, slow heart rate, constipation, and urine retention. An antitoxin is effective only if poisoning is caught early enough.

· Rotten fruit produces ethanol, causing the same effects associated with alcohol or dough ingestion.

· Moldy foods contain toxins that may cause muscle tremors, convulsions and drunkenness.

· Therapy depends on the toxin. Your vet may induce vomiting. Sometimes, treatment includes activated charcoal. Supportive care with fluids and medications is often necessary.

· Certain foods, while not considered toxic, can still be unhealthy for your dog. Avoid any foods that are high in fat, sugar or sodium. These foods can contribute to indigestion, obesity, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance and more. Dairy products may be difficult for dogs to digest. Corn cobs and bones can cause GI obstruction. Cooked bones may splinter and break easily, risking GI damage.

Like people, too much junk food can cause poor condition and decreased energy.

Remember that your dog is smaller than you and may be sensitive.
What seems like "just a bite" for you is more like a small meal for your dog.
If you want to feed homemade food, seek advice from your vet.
You may wish to meet with a nutritionist for diet recommendations.

October 14, 2012

Understanding a Dog's Body Language - Why Dog's Do What They Do

Understanding a Dog's Body Language - Why Dog's Do What They Do

Why Do Dogs Do That?
Dog communication refers to body movements and sounds dogs use to send signals to other dogs, and other animals (usually humans). Dog communication comes in a variety of forms, and is part of the foundation of dog social behavior. Dogs use certain movements of their bodies and body parts and different vocalizations to express their emotions. There are a number of basic ways a dog can communicate its feelings. These are movements of the ears, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose, head, tail, and entire body, as well as barks, growls, whines and whimpers, and howls.

Interpreting animal body language
It is important to note that while many gestures and actions may have common, stereotypical meanings, researchers regularly find that animal communication is often more complex and subtle than previously believed, and that the same gesture may have multiple distinct meanings depending on context and other behaviors. So, generalizations such as "X means Y" are often, but not always accurate. For example, even a simple tail wag may (depending on context) convey many meanings including:

Happiness, self-confidence
But also:

There is a simple way to tell the difference though. Just like humans show more happiness on the right side of their face, dogs swing their tail more to the right when they're happy and vice versa. Combined with other body language, in a specific context, many gestures such as yawns and direction of vision all convey the dog's emotions or feeling states. Thus statements that a particular action "means" something, or that the dog is using its body language with the intent to report information to others, should be avoided. In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C. Dennett of Tufts University, tells us that there are two basic forms of communication: the unconscious expression of a mental or emotional state, and the intentional act of reporting information. He goes on to say that there are many ways of expressing a mental or emotional state, “but only one way of reporting information, and that is through the use of language, written, spoken, or signed.” It's also important to note that most of the body language exhibited by human beings isn't done consciously, with the intent to communicate, so it could be a mistake to believe that dogs intentionally use their body language to report information to others.

Greeting ritual
One of the first forms of communication that will be observed is the greeting ritual. When a dog first encounters another dog, a brief assessment of aggression or friendliness is made. If one dog growls or barks, for instance, the encounter will usually end quickly, either by the other dog avoiding the encounter, or by a fight ensuing. If this test is passed, the dogs usually attempt to greet each other. This is done first by sniffing each other's odors. Dogs often sniff each other's anuses simultaneously, and this is the clearest indication of what some in the field believe to be a greeting ritual. This so-called greeting ritual is said to establish the identities of the dogs by scent, and isthe dogs' way of saying 'hello' to each other. However, most people miss an important observation: even dogs who know each other very well will sniff one another when they first run into each other on the street. Dogs who live in multiple dog households will also sniff each other from time to time (for instance, if one dog gets up to get a drink of water while another dog is asleep, that dog might go over and sniff his housemate on his way to the water bowl).

Dogs who are playing will sometimes get too wound up, stop, shake themselves off, then sniff each other before resuming their play session. So the idea that sniffing is just a greeting ritual is probably a misunderstanding.

If the dogs are satisfied with the encounter (it is not unusual for dogs to take a sudden dislike to each other at this stage), then they may either move on in disinterest, or proceed further in the greeting ritual by showing affection. Affection is shown by some or all of the following: Wagging the tail, licking the face, playful barking, panting, or jumping (including playful jumping on the other dog). Dogs that show affection in this way will usually get along fairly well, and this display can be considered a display of friendship.

Hand-sniff greeting
Humans can also participate in a greeting ritual with a newly met dog, by bending down in front of (not looming over) or kneeling down to the dog, and slowly but confidently extending the hand to be sniffed in front of and just below the dog's snout. If the dog is timid or has a habit of snapping at strangers, it is best to allow the dog to come sniff your hand, rather than extending it into the dog's space (this can make the dog nervous) while using words of praise in a calm, soothing voice. To limit the chance of getting bitten, keep the hand palm-down with fingers cupped downward or the hand fully closed in a loose fist, making it difficult for the dog to grab hold of a finger in a bite. Be watchful of the dog's demeanor. If you continue praising the dog in a soothing voice in an attempt to calm it after it has just growled or snapped at you, the dog is hearing its bad behaviors get reinforced and is more likely to get frightened and bite, rather than sniff your hand in a friendly manner. Reserve praise and soothing tones for times when the dog is behaving well, and firm, disapproving tones (not yelling) for times when discipline is necessary.
After the dog has completed the hand-sniff, it is possible to proceed to making physical contact by gently petting the dog on its chest or shoulders. Attempting to pet the top of the head can create a nervous response because the movement of the hand toward the head may interrupt the dog's ability to see your eyes, thereby assessing your emotional state. Again, it is possible to get snapped at, so care should be taken not to block the dog's ability to see your eyes. If the dog completes the sniff without snapping or barking, another attempt to pet the dog can be made.
Once the dog allows the affectionate petting, it will more likely only take a quick hand-sniff on the next meeting for the person to attempt petting the dog. Petting can at this time become more playful without risking the dog snapping at the person.

For timid or mildly aggressive dogs, it may not be possible to establish friendship in one greeting ritual. Friendship cannot be forced, and may require repeated attempts over time. Keep looking the dog in the eye to show the dog you command them.

Aggression during the greeting ritual
 Some breeds of dog have a more suspicious or aggressive temperament by nature and are more difficult or dangerous to approach with the greeting ritual. Dogs that have been physically abused tend to be much more timid and defensive than a well-treated dog, so great care should be taken before trying to perform the greeting ritual with such a dog, as these dogs are more prone to react aggressively. Some dogs are also trained to be aggressive, such as guard dogs.

Dominance and submission
 Dominance and submission are often mistaken to be part of normal social behaviors for dogs. They are not. Wild canines form packs specifically for the purpose of hunting large prey. Evolutionary biologist Raymond Coppinger has noted that wolves that live near garbage dumps, and therefore don't need to hunt large prey, don't form packs. He also states that coyotes, which are more solitary than wolves, sometimes form packs, but only when they need to hunt large prey. In Dog Language, biologist Roger Abrantes has noted that it's easier for a group of wolves to hunt large prey by working together. So pack formation in canines seems to be a function of prey size more than dominance and submission.

The idea that dogs exhibit dominant and submissive behaviors is based partly on behaviors seen in captive wolves that were culled from various sources, didn't know one another, and weren't able to hunt together. David Mech of the University of Minnesota has been studying wild wolf packs since the 1960s. Mech states that in wild packs "dominance" displays are so rare as to be totally nonexistent. The only time they seem to take place is when a conflict emerges between the pack parents over how to disperse food to the young. The female invariably wins these encounters by acting as "non-threatening" (or submissive) as possible. Rudolph Schenkel was the first biologist to ask the question, if the "submissive" wolf always wins, who’s really dominant? Also, since "dominance aggression" in dogs can be treated with anti-anxietal medications, it's more likely that this behavior is an expression of stress or anxiety, and is not a natural part of the canine social instincts. (Mech (1999) asserted that the significance of dominance relationships within pack society has been overrated, and he argued that wolf packs are best understood as family groups in which a breeding pair “shares leadership in a division of labor system in which the breeding female initiates pup care and the breeding male leads in foraging and food provisioning”. INTRODUCTION: “Leadership behavior in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus,” Rolf O. Peterson, Amy K. Jacobs, Thomas D. Drummer, L. David Mech, and Douglas W. Smith, Canadian Journal of Zoology, Vol. 80, 2002, p. 1406)

Body movements
 How high or low the tail is held, in relation to how the dog's breed naturally carries its tail, and how it is moved can signify the dog's mood. When the tail is held high, it shows that the dog is alert and aware; the tail between the legs means that the dog is afraid or frightened. If the fur on the tail is also bristled[pokey feeling], the dog is saying it is willing to defend itself or pups.

Small, slow wags of the tail say the dog is questioning things around the environment it is in. Either it is not sure whether it is the target dog or the person around them is friendly, or it is not sure what is going on or what is expected of it to do. Large, fast wags of the tail may be a sign of a happy, excited, or an energetic dog, but can also signal aggression. A large percentage of the victims of dog bites are bitten while the dog is wagging its tail.

Dogs are said to exhibit a left-right asymmetry of the tail when interacting with strangers, and will show the opposite, right-left motion with people and dogs they know.

Aggressive/ violent
 When a dog's lips curl back this shows that the dog has a strong urge to bite. This is an unconscious reflex, designed to get the soft flesh of the lips away from the teeth before the dog bites, and is often misinterpreted as a way of communicating aggressive intent. For example, many dogs will curl their lips back into a "snarl" when they take a cookie or bone.

Ear position relates the dog's level of attention, and reaction, to a situation or animal. Erect ears facing forward means the dog is very attentive, while ears laid back suggests a negative, usually fearful or a timid reaction. They also lay their ears back for the sounds surrounding them. Dogs with drop ears, like Beagles, can't use these signals very well, as the signals first developed in wolves, whose ears are pricked. Wolf-like dogs (such as the Samoyed or Husky) will, when content and happy, often hold their ears in a horizontal position but still forward. This has been referred to as the "wolf smile".

Mouth expressions can provide information about the dog's mood. When a dog wants to be left alone, it might yawn (although yawning also might indicate sleepiness, confusion, or stress) or start licking its mouth without the presence of any food. When a dog is happy or wants to play, it might pant with lips relaxed, covering the teeth and with what sometimes appears to be a happy expression (it might appear as a smile to some observers) or with the mouth open. Mouth expressions that indicate aggression include the snarl, with lips retracting to expose the teeth, although some dogs also use this during play. However, some dogs will pull back their "top lips" in what looks like an aggressive way, when they are excited or happy. For example a dog prone to "smiling" may do so in greeting to a much loved owner and this should not be punished lest the dog become less affectionate and more withdrawn.

It's important to look at the dog's whole body and not just the mouth or tail before deciding what the dog is feeling. What appears initially as aggression might be an invitation to play, or vice-versa.

Tongue (Licking)
A very common form of communication is for a dog to lick another dog, or a person. Dogs lick other dogs' faces and mouths when they greet each other to indicate friendliness. Dogs like to lick human skin not only for the salt from the sweat, but also as a form of greeting, such as by briefly licking a person's hand after sniffing it. Licking is also used as a social bonding analogous to primate social grooming and stroking. This can indicate intimacy. Such licking is longer and slower, as compared to the brief licking of faces during a greeting.

Eyes and eyebrows
 While dogs don't have actual eyebrows, they do have a distinctive ridge above their eyes, and some breeds, like the Labrador Retriever, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, and Doberman have markings there. A dog's eyebrow movements usually express a similar emotion to that of a human's eyebrow movements. Raised eyebrows suggest interest, lowered brows suggest uncertainty or mild anger, and one eyebrow up suggests bewilderment. Eyes narrowed to slits indicate affection for the person or animal the dog is looking at.

Feet and legs
Although a dog's feet lack the dexterity of human hands, a dog can use them as an avenue of communication. A dog might stamp its feet, alternating its left and right front legs, while its back legs are still. This occurs when the dog is excited, wants something, or wants its owner's attention. Pointers tend to tuck one front leg up when they sense game nearby. This behavior is not communicative so much as the dog exhibiting a fixed-action pattern called "the eye stalk." It is also common for dogs to paw or scratch for objects they desire. Many dogs are trained to mimic a human handshake, offering a paw to a human stooping down and offering their own hand in exchange.

 The leaning of a dog's head to the right or to the left often indicates curiosity and/or a sound it has not heard before. This, however, may also be a sign of recognition to a familiar word.

If the dog's head is held high with its neck craning forward, it is showing interest, although, it could also mean an aggressive mood if other body language is present.
Some adult dogs that were not properly raised have been known to challenge their owners for alpha position. One of the signs, though this is rarely seen in dogs, involves the dog slightly lowering its head while standing tall with its eyes fixed upward at the owner or any human beings they are about to challenge (start a fight with). This behavior is extremely rare and usually occurs with dogs that have been severely neglected or in some cases, abused. This can also be dangerous and sometimes fatal if no action is taken immediately. However, this behavior is preventable if owners avoid being neglectful or abusive to their dogs.

Dogs bark for many reasons, such as when perceived intruders (humans, dogs, or other animals unknown to them) approach their living space, when hearing an unfamiliar or unidentified noise, when seeing something that the dog doesn't expect to be there, or when playing. Barking also expresses different emotions for a dog, such as loneliness, fear, suspicion, stress, and pleasure. Playful or excited barks are often short and sharp, such as when a dog is attempting to get a person or another dog to play.

Dogs generally try to avoid conflict; their vocalizations are part of what allows other dogs to tune into their emotions, i.e., whether they're aggressive or are in a playful mood.

The bark of a distressed or stressed dog is high pitched and repetitive; it tends to get higher in pitch as the dog becomes more upset. For example, a dog left home alone and who has separation anxiety might bark in such a way.

Some breeds of dogs have been bred to bark when chasing, such as scent hounds whose handlers use the bark to follow the dog if it has run out of sight. Coonhounds and Bloodhounds are good examples. This kind of barking is often called "singing" as the sound is longer and more tonal.

Some research has suggested that dogs have separate barks for different animals, including dog, fox, deer, human, squirrel and cat.

 Growls can express aggression, a desire to play, or simply that the dog doesn't want to participate in what's about to happen next (being picked up for example). For this reason, most pet owners have been urged to treat growls with special attention. This includes always considering the context of a growl, and exercise caution. If the threat is very serious, the dog will usually start off with a very low toned but strong growl and then if the threat isn't being heeded the tone of the growl gets progressively higher in tone.

Howling may provide long-range communication with other dogs or owners. Howling can be used to locate another pack member, to keep strangers away, or to call the pack for hunting. Some dogs howl when they have separation anxiety.

Whining is a high-pitched vocalization, often produced nasally with the mouth closed. A dog may whine when it wants something (such as food), wants to go outside (possibly to 'go to the bathroom'), wants to be let off the leash (possibly to greet another dog or a person), or just wants attention. A very insistent dog may add a bark at the end of a whine, in a whine-bark, whine-bark pattern.

A whimper or a yelp often indicates the dog is in pain. This is often heard when dogs play-fight if one dog bites the other dog too hard. The whimper or yelp is used only when the dog intends to communicate its distress to a pack member (or human) to whom they are submissive or friendly, and the other dog or human is expected to react positively to the communication; dogs engaged in serious fights do not whimper, as this indicates weakness. Dogs also whimper when they are physically abused or neglected by people. Whimpers are often associated with the lowering of the tail between the legs. Whimpers can also indicate strong excitement when a dog is lonely and is suddenly met with affection, such as when a dog is left alone in a house during the day and its owner comes through the door late at night. Such whimpering is often accompanied by licking, jumping, and barking. Whimpering is distinct from barking in that it is softer, higher pitched, and lower volume.
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October 11, 2012

Making New Friends

Introducing a dog that maybe shy, scared or defensive can be tricky because your never sure how your dog will react.  Here is a video introducing my dog Diamond to Kobe one of my clients.

September 29, 2012

Perfect In My Eyes

All our dogs need is our love.  

Here is an adorable slideshow I made for your enjoyment;  I hope you like it.  

Please leave me your comments and let me know what you think; I'd love to hear from you.

September 27, 2012

Happy Dog vs, Defensive Dog

Today, I was getting ready to take one of my clients dogs for their scheduled walk.  Roary, is 6 months old, beautiful Shepherd, LabX.

My dog Diamond, is a 1yr. old, Dutch Shepherd, LabX. 

I decided to take Diamond with me today with the assistance of a friend of mine.  Diamond does not always get along well with dogs and I did not want to be on my own if things did not go well.  

We introduced Roary and Diamond; right off Roary, was happy and wanted to be friends. Diamond on the other hand was not as eager. Diamond got real low, her hackles went up, her trail and ears down and then the growls came.

We quickly separated them and started on our walk.  As we were walking I shot some video and thought it was a great visual for you to see the different body language between a happy, relaxed dog who wants to make friends; and the opposite. A dog scared and on the defensive.  Diamond, did not straight out lung or try and attack Roary; that would signs of Aggression. However, if your dog or another dog is displaying the signs and body language Diamond displays there is a likely chance the dog will bite or attack if they feel threatened in any way. This goes for people as well as dogs.

Watch the video and watch the differences between Roary and Diamond. Pay close attention to each of their postures and body language.

Diamond Dog Services
Dog Walking and Puppy Visits 
Barrie, Ontario

September 24, 2012

Training the Down Command (Lay Down)

 Down (Lay Down) 
Down is an important command for a few reasons; going to the Veterinarians or the Groomers are a couple of examples. Also, down in the first step to teaching tricks like “Roll Over”, Crawl, “Play Dead”, to name a few. 

Loading the Marker The “marker” is what tells your dog “YES”, they have done the command correctly. A “marker”, can be the word “YES” or a single click with a clicker. 

1. Have about 10 small bite size treats in your left hand.

2. Take 1 treat into your right hand

3. Now in an excited voice say “Yes”

4. Then reward your dog

5. Repeat steps 2-4, from 7-10, times

1. Hold the lure(treat) between your thumb and index finger; hold your hand so the palm of your hand is facing the floor and fingers extended straight.

2. Put your dog in the “sit”, position.

3. Hold the lure just under your dog’s nose.

4. Say your dog’s “name” and “down” as you slowly move your hand from under your dog’s nose straight down towards the floor.

5. Move the treat along the floor away from your dog. Your dog should follow the treat and naturally lay down. When your dog lays down mark, reward, release.

(If your dog keeps standing up; try moving the treat towards him instead of away. Slide the treat towards him between his front legs.)

6. Repeat steps 1-5, about five to seven times; increase the duration of time your dog has to stay down before you release him. Remember only increase your duration 1 to 2 seconds at a time.

7. When you see your dog starting to understand the “down” command, increase the distance from your hand to the floor.

8. Continue to increase the distance until you are standing straight up and using the full hand signal.

September 23, 2012

Training - "Come When Called"

Today I was teaching Miska, a 3 month old Alaskan Malamute, "come when called"
See how well she progressed in less then 10 mins.

Teaching your dog the "come" command could be one of the most important commands to teach your dog.  Having your dog "come" back to you the first time you call him could save his life.
I teach the owners and dogs 1 time commands. This means you say the command one time and your dog should respond.  Repeating our commands lets our dogs decide when they are going to listen to us. Teaching your dog 1 time commands gives them no choice.

Private In-Home Lessons
Barrie, Ontario and the surrounding area.
Click here to visit Diamond Dog Services' website
Please leave me your comments or training questions; I would love to hear from you

September 15, 2012

Top 10 Puppy Basics

Top 10 Puppy  Basics – All of these steps are important for a well adjusted puppy.

1. Start socializing your puppy early. As soon as he has had his second set of shots usually (after 10 weeks). Introduce your puppy to as many new environments, people and dogs as possible.  The critical socialization period for a puppy is (8-22 weeks).

2. Take your new puppy to the veterinarian with 72 hours of getting your puppy.  It's important to get to know your Vet and for your Vet to know you and you puppy, as this will likely be a long term relationship.

Use common sense when it comes to your Vet, if you are not comfortable with how they are handling your dog, or the Vet does not really listen to what you are saying. Shop around and find another Vet. Ask friends who have dogs for their recommendations,

3. Remember an 8 week old puppy is just a baby, play and handle him gently. Do not engage in rough play or encourage play with that involves biting your hands or clothes.  This behavior should be immediately corrected and give the puppy a toy or object he is allow to chew.

Puppies bite/chew and nip, it's our job to teach our puppies what they can and can't bite and what is appropriate play.  What is cute as puppy is not so cute in an 80 pound dog.

4. Introduce your puppy to new children and other puppies and dogs slowly.  You want every new experience for your do to be a positive one.  If your puppy has a negative experience at an early age it could effect his behavior for life, so make sure each new situation is short and positive. Give your puppy lots of praise.

5. Good quality puppy food is very important for the healthy growth of your puppy.  Poor quality food may lead to a lifetime of health issues.  Do your homework and make sure you are getting the best quality for your breed of dog. Click here for a list of homemade dog treat recipes you can make your dog, click the recipe name to take you to the full recipe.

6. Begin house training the first day you get home.  Decide a head of time how you want to potty train your puppy(using puppy pad, going directly outside, using a crate) and be prepared for when you bring your new addition home. 8week old puppies need to go to the bathroom approx every 1-2 hours. The rule of thumb is 1 hour for each month they are. Click here to read "Housebreaking -Training for Success"

7. Don’t inadvertently encourage bad dog behavior. Jumping up, biting, barking, begging for table food. It is so important to correct these behaviors right from the start.  It is much easier to teach your puppy the right things to do then it is to correct bad behaviors that he has been allowed to do for months.  Remember, what is cute and adorable when your puppy is 8 weeks old will be far from cute when they are grown.

8. Never use food rewards for correcting behaviors.  Food rewards should only be used when teaching your dog his commands(sit, come, stay, down, etc....).

If you correct your puppy for jumping up and he goes down, you give him a food reward, you have just encouraged your dog to perform bad in order to get a reward.

Remember, only give food rewards when your dog has done work like sit, stay or come.  Only give love as his reward for correcting bad behaviors.

9. When correcting your puppy's behavior, NEVER do anything that will hurt, harm, embarrass, humiliate or loss of dignity.  Puppies need love, patience and consistency are your best tools.

10.  Have a variety of toys for your puppy, a soft one, a chewy one, a tug toy.  See which type of toys your puppy likes to play with more and get him the toys he like rather then spending lots of money on toys they never play with.

Puppies also need a variety of toys for teething, some toys offer more comfort for those teething times.

I highly recommend taking a Puppy Training Class. It is so important for you to learn how to teach your puppy.  This is a long commitment you have made, it's your responsibility to learn how to do things the right way.  If you spend your puppy's first year working hard and training, you will have the next 10-16 years of having that awesome dog.

Note: Make sure your new puppy has identification in the event that he gets lost. It’s a good idea to identify your dog with an ID tag as well as a dog tattoo or microchip.

If you have any questions about your new puppy, please post it on the comments and I will respond ASAP.

Puppy Milestones:
Puppy is ready to take home 8 weeks
Housebreaking  6-8 weeks
Bathing 7-8 weeks
Obedience training 8-10 weeks
Socialization 8-22 weeks
Heartworm prevention  3 months
Spay or neuter 6-9 months
When is a puppy full grown 1- 1½ years

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Dog Owner Training - Training the Owner First

Listed below I have created a list of common mistakes dog owners make

Dog Owner Training -101
Inconsistent training, is the number one reason for bad mannered dogs. If  a dog is not well trained it is the responsibility lies on you.  Some dogs and breeds will learn faster than others, love, patients and consistency are the most important tools you can use.

10 Common Mistakes New Pet Owners Make

1. No Training Classes: A lot of new dog owners think if they just repeat a word several times their puppy will just understand what you want and do it. When they don't do what we are asking, we get frustrated, angry and think we have a dumb dog.

It is highly recommended that you take a basic puppy/dog training class to learn basic manners for a well behaved dog. Click here for Diamond Dog Training, private in home training.

2. Poor Diet. Diet and exercise are just as important for your dogs as it is for people.
Feeding your dog a low quality food will lead to health problems down the line.  Most dog foods that are sold in your local grocery store are a low quality food. They are the equivalent of feeding your dog McDonald's everyday.

Common health issues related to poor diets are; diabetes, heart disease, overweight, hip dysplasia, tooth and gum disease and arthritis, just to name a few.

It's important to educated yourself before heading to the pet store. Do your research on the web, use Google to search "Best quality dog foods", read other pet owners opinion's are a few ways you can find out what is best for your dog.

3. Choosing the Wrong Breed.  A lot of people decide on a breed of dog just because of the way they look, how cute they are or by their impressive size. Choosing a dog on these reasons alone in 75% of the cases the dog will be surrendered to an animal shelter or given away.

DON'T EVER BUY A DOG ON IMPULSE! I cannot stress this point strong enough.

When you decide you want to get a puppy or rescue a dog from a shelter, first look at why you want a dog; is it for companionship, protection, a running partner or a loyal friend to be by your side. Research the breeds that fit your expectations and lifestyle. In other words if you very active and love to run and bike, do not get a Shih Tzu or Great Dane as these breeds are not big on exercise. A Husky, Lab or a German Pointer may be a better fit.

Do your research. Getting a puppy or dog is a big commitment and comes with a lot of responsibilities, be sure you are ready for this.

4. Lack of Exercise: 
Your lifestyle; if you work for 8-12 hours per day, 5 days a week, can you afford a dog sitter or dog walker. A puppy should never be crated longer then 2-4 as they cannot hold their bladders  hour for to long. Will you hire a dog walker or pet sitter? Dogs who are crated all day will be bored, anxious and do not get the exercise they need.

Again, depending on the breed of your dog will determine the type of exercising needed.  Small dogs do not need long walks or need to be run. However, larger dogs, working dogs, herding dogs, etc.. need  more vigorous exercising. Dog parks where they can run full out, jogging/biking with you, min 1 hour walks.

Not spending enough quality time with your dog. It’s so easy to please your dog. His needs are simple. Take the time to take him for a walk, throw him the ball, take him for a ride or just cuddle with him. It will do you both good.

Researching the breed will let you know what daily exercise is required for that breed.  A tired dog is a happy dog. Click here to read "Exercising Your Pet’s Body and Mind"

5. Yearly Visits to the Vets: When we get a puppy, we know they have to go to vet to get their required needles, de-worming, etc. However, a lot of us after the first year do not take our dogs to the Vets for yearly check-ups.  A lot of pet owners only take their dog to the Vets when something they are sick or injured.

It is very important to take your dog to the Vets for a yearly check-up. Check-ups will ensure your dog is healthy and doing well.  Since our dogs cannot speak to us, at times there are serious health issues but we did not notice them until it was to late. Early detection of anything is so important and will save you thousands of dollars in the end.

Click here to read "Over-Vaccination - Dog Owners Beware"

6. Human Food: NEVER give you puppy or dog human food. Although, we think we are doing something nice for our dog, giving your dog human food will only lead to begging, stealing food, garbage and counter surfing and a host of other problems.  Also, remember a lot of human food is bad and sometimes dangerous and or fatal to your dogs. Click here to read a List of Dangerous Foods for Dogs.

7. No Pet Identification Tags: New pet owners think their dogs will always be with them, they don't let them out by themselves, why does my dog need a tag. This inexpensive thing can be the difference between your dog being returned to you safely or ending up in a shelter and adopted out to a new family. Don’t skip this step and make sure your dog’s tags are always up to date.

8. No Pet Health Insurance. It can be heartbreaking if you’re unable to give your dog medical treatment because of finances. Insurance can make sure your dog will always receive the care he needs without breaking your bank account.

9. Proper Grooming for your Breed: Good hygiene is just as important for your dog as it is for us. Even short hair dogs need attention. Make sure you bath them regularly, cut their nails, and check their ears and skin. Long haired dogs require far more grooming. If you are not able to do the daily and monthly grooming that is needed for long haired dogs, make sure you find a good and reputable Dog Groomer. If daily brushing and eye cleaning is not for you, consider a breed that does not require as much daily maintenance.  A matted dog is an unhappy dog. Click here to read "How to Groom Shih Tzu Dogs"

10. Not spaying or neutering: Thousands of pets are euthanized every day due to pet overpopulation. Spaying or neutering your dog can help prevent homelessness, cruelty, suffering and death.

Okay, your dog owner training is complete. Congratulations on being a responsible dog owner.

Remember, do your research, don't impulse buy and most important make sure you have the time.

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September 13, 2012

Hip Dysplasia - Cause, Prevention, Maintenance

Hip Dysplasia, has become a serious issues with dogs today. Why? Poor breeding!

What is Hip Dysplasia?  Hip dysplasia is associated with abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the joint. As joint laxity develops, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint is called a subluxation, and this causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces. Most dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips but due to their genetic make-up (and possibly other factors) the soft tissues that surround the joint develop abnormally causing the subluxation. It is this subluxation and the remodeling of the hip that leads to the symptoms we associate with this disease. Hip dysplasia may or may not be bilateral; affecting both the right and/or left hip.

When it comes to hip dysplasia, there is only one thing that researchers agree on; selective breeding is crucial. We know that through selectively breeding animals with certified hips, we can significantly reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia. We also know that we can increase the incidence of hip dysplasia if we choose to use dysplastic animals for breeding. Breeding two animals with excellent hips does not guarantee that all of the offspring will be free of hip dysplasia, but there will be a much lower incidence than if we breed two animals with fair or poor hips. If we only bred animals with excellent hips it would not take long to make hip dysplasia a rare occurrence. If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal that had parents and grandparents with certified good or excellent hips, or if breeders only bred these excellent animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated. For someone looking to purchase a dog, the best way to lower the possibility of getting an animal that develops hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of hip dysplasia in the litter's lineage. It is best to examine the parents and grandparents out to three or four generations.

There are many different theories on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia. As discussed earlier, poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Following solid recommendations for exercise and nutrition may help, but will never come close to controlling or eliminating the disease if stricter requirements for certified hips are not instituted or demanded.

Click here for a great article all about Hip Dysplasia, causes, prevention, treatments, etc...



September 12, 2012

Thundershirt - Do They Really Work?

In a single word YES!

I am a professional trainer and I have used the ThunderShirt on a lot of puppies and dogs with amazing success.

When a dog suffers from anxiety it can come out in many different ways; frightened, shaking, barking, excited jumping, aggression towards people and/or dogs or an over excited dog.  Most of the times these bad or negative behaviors are due to anxiety.  As the dog owner we believe we just have a bad behaved dog when certain situations arise.

Is your dog great at home but when you take him for a walk he turns into Cujo? More then likely it's due to your dog feeling very anxious when he is away from home.  The ThunderShirt relieves this anxiety so your sweet dog at home is the same sweet dog when going out of the house.

I worked in a pet retail store and sold a lot of ThunderShirts.  A dog would come into the store, scared, tail tucked under and legs shaking.  I would put a ThunderShirt on the dog and within literally minutes the dogs tail would be up, shaking stops and the dog now feels confident and assured.

I'm also a dog trainer and use the ThunderShirt often for over excited puppies.  Once I put the ThunderShirt on, the puppy I could not get to focus for 1 second is now sitting, listening and obeying his commands.

If I had not seen the truly positive effects the ThunderShirt has with my own eyes, I would never believe that something so simple can be so effective for a dogs anxiety.

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September 7, 2012

Senior Dogs Mask Their Disease

Tips and things to consider with your senior dog.  Why do older dogs “hide” their illness from us?
“If they acted sick [in the wild] …they would lose their position in the pack.”
This is an excellent video.  I’d never heard this explanation about older dogs, or dogs in general, before and it makes perfect sense!
Dr. Dressler of South Shore Vet Care talks about health tips for our Senior Dogs and Pets
Dr Demian Dressler of South Shore Vet Care in Kihei Hawaii, brings us up to speed about our Senior pets and shares a few health tips that can extend their life span.

Tagged as: health tips, older dogs, senior dogs, senior pets, veterinarian

View the original article here

Banana & Peanut Butter Dog Cake

Dog cakes make any occasion a special one. But if your next dog party plans are small, or your dog is small in stature, you may want to consider making this dog cake recipe into mini muffins. That's what is pictured below. We like to have several dogs test our homemade dog treats, so we made little treats to pass out to all our taste testers.
Make this dog cake extra rich with the optional cream cheese frosting. See our tips below for more fun ways of decorating the cakes and dog muffins.
Banana & Peanut Butter Dog Cake Recipe Mini Muffin Version  

1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened
1/4 cup molasses, blackstrap
1/4 cup peanut butter
4 eggs
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
2 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 350° F
In a stand mixer bowl, add the canola oil, applesauce and molasses.
On low-medium speed, thoroughly combine.
Add the peanut butter, and mix until combined.
Add the eggs one at a time, until all combined.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and cinnamon.
Using the lowest setting, or the stir setting on your mixer, slowly add the dryingredients.
In a small bowl, mash the bananas.
Take the mixing bowl off the stand. Fold in the mashed bananas, making sure they are well incorporated.
Using a baking spray with flour, generously spray each 8 inch pan.
Divide the batter between both pans.
Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes clean. Rotate the pans on the racks half way through the baking time.
Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
Remove the cakes from the pan, and cool completely on a wire rack. Cream Cheese Dog Treat Frosting8 ounces cream cheese (low or fat free)2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt (low or fat free)
flour (see note)
Note: You will need approximately 3 Tbsp. of flour. You can use any type of flour for this recipe. Keep in mind that if you use wheat flour (or another type of flour with specs of color) it may affect the end color of the icing.
Mix first three ingredients in a bowl until smooth.
Mix in one tablespoon of flour at a time until you have a good consistency for spreading.Storing - This dog cake recipe will keep fresh in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Freeze the cakes for up to 3 months. If you choose to freeze the cakes, wrap each one individually with plastic wrap. Then wrap each one with heavy duty aluminum foil. Then place each one in a labeled freezer bag. It may seem like a lot of work, but it will keep the dog cakes delicate texture fresh longer.
Yield - Two 8 inch round cakes.
Decorating Ideas - For an all out special dog cake, make enough cream cheese dog frosting to put between the two cakes, on top and the sides of the layered cake. Or, my favorite decorating idea is to cut half inch banana slices and place them as the layer between the two cakes. Then frost the top of the cake with cream cheese frosting. If your dog is watching his calorie intake, you should limit the amount of icing you put on the cake. One idea is to use the frosting to make small polka dots and write a happy note on top of the cake, like "#1 DOG". You can omit the frosting all together and use banana slices as the decoration.
Mini Muffins - Using a mini muffin pan with 24 cups, you will be able to fill your pan twice to get a total of 48 muffins. Bake at the same temperature, but for 10 minutes. Turn the pan half way for even baking. Let the pan cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins. Cool the muffins on a wire rack. We like this version of creating mini muffins best because it is so versatile. If your dog is small, you can easily break apart one muffin for two servings. Or, for larger dogs, they get their very own muffin. The muffins also travel very well, so you can make extras for dog party favors, or gifts. We used a scant tablespoon cookie scooper to easily measure the right amount of batter into each cup. The muffins rise quite a bit, so don't overfill the muffin cups.

Paper Liners - We used plain paper liners, but it would be adorable to make these muffins with paw print cupcake liners. Or, match the colors of your dog party, or the season, to make your homemade dog treats more festive.

Stand Mixer - If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use a hand held one instead. But, we recommend the stand mixer due to its many speeds and large capacity for heavier dog treat batters.

View the original article here

Good Dog Beef Biscuits

1/2 cup dry milk
1 egg
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon parsley
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 small (2.5 oz) jar beef baby food
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 cup rye flour
1 cup cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup rice flour
1/2 cup cracked wheat
For the Glaze - 1 egg, 2 tablespoons beef broth
Preheat oven to 325 ° F (165 ° C).
In a large bowl, combine the dry milk, egg garlic, parsley, oil, honey, baby food, and broth. Gradually blend in the flours and cracked wheat. Add enough wheat flour to form a stiff dough.
Transfer to a floured surface and knead until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Shape the dough into a ball, and roll to 1/2-inch (12 mm) thick. Using bone-shaped cookie cutters, make biscuits! Transfer to ungreased baking sheets, spacing them about 1/4 inch (6 mm) apart. Gather up the scraps, roll out again, and cut additional biscuits.
Bake for 30 minutes. Whisk together the egg and broth for the glaze. Brush biscuits with the glaze on both sides. Return to oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes. Let cool overnight.
Makes several dozen small bones that freeze well. Or 2 1/2 to 3 dozen large bones, depending on the size of cookie cutter you use.

View the original article here

Gourmet Salmon Cakes for Dogs

Health benefits of salmon, such as the goodness of fish oil for dogs, the high amount of protein, vitamin D and the Omega 3 fatty acids.

Salmon Cakes for Dogs

Salmon Cakes
1 14.75 oz can of wild Alaskan salmon
2 egg whites
1/4 cup sour cream, low or fat free
2 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 cup carrot, shredded
1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
1 tsp. dried dill weed

Yogurt Tartar Sauce
1/4 cup plain yogurt, low or fat free
1/2 tsp. dried dill weed

Salmon Cakes
Preheat oven to 375° F
Drain liquid from salmon. Remove bones and skin, if any.
In a medium bowl, mix together salmon and next four ingredients (through shredded carrot).
In a separate shallow dish, mix together the plain bread crumbs and dill weed.
Using a cookie scooper, scoop one ball and lightly flatten into a patty form.
Dredge or thoroughly coat the patty in the bread crumb mixture.
Place on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Repeat until there is no more salmon mixture.
Bake for 12 minutes. Then flip and bake for 12 more minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack before serving.

Yogurt Tartar Sauce
Mix together yogurt and dried dill weed.
Cover and refrigerate until salmon cakes are cool.

Storing & Yield: Any dog treat recipe with meat should be served quickly. We recommend one week in the refrigerator. You can freeze these salmon cakes for 2 months. If you are using a 1" cookie scoop, this recipe should make 2 dozen salmon dog treats.

Tips & Techniques
Be sure to drain the salmon very well. Otherwise the mixture will be too moist and will not hold together. If you have already combined the salmon mixture and it is not holding together, add one tablespoon of plain bread crumbs at a time, until the mixture stays together.

To save time you can use pre-shredded carrots.

If your dog needs or prefers softer treats, you can bake the cakes for 10 minutes on each side.


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