Ghosts, Ghouls and Drool: 7 Ways To Prepare your Dog for a Safe Halloween (+ Free Treat Recipe!)

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Ireland Practicing Being A Ghost

Ireland Practicing Being A Ghost

Halloween is fast approaching! For many kids (and some adults too!), that means dressing up as their favorite superhero or Halloween character, lots of candy, and even a little spooking!  For our dogs, especially young puppies, or those that haven’t ever experienced this strange onslaught of the senses, Halloween can be as confusing and scary as a fireworks show!

Think about it: Costumes cover our faces and add weird appendages to our features, strange people come constantly to our front door and yell… loudly! Is it any wonder that many canines display strong anxiety to these things? We might also put our canines right in the thick of it, taking them for a walk or bringing them along as a companion for our little trick or treaters. Imagine what they must be thinking when they come across that scary witch or graveyard of skulls?!

I often talk about the concept of “setting up for success” and for occasions such as Halloween where costumes are meant to evoke strong and sometimes frightening emotions, this concept becomes very important. In the service dog world, we proof and prepare canines for many different scenarios and possibilities that they may encounter during their busy lives helping out their family. In controlled environments, we expose dogs to the lights and sounds of emergency vehicles, encourage volunteers to come dressed in their work clothes to bring along the smells of the community and we have very generous fireman and police officers take time to come to the facilities in full gear, to expose the developing puppies to funny helmets, gas masks, oxygen tanks, and utility belts covered in things that might look like toys. However, for the majority of “household” canines, their exposure and learning experiences are slightly different. Some have a very integrative life, are out in the community all the time (or as much as possible), meeting new people and new things. Others spend some, or all of their lives around a few houses, and the local park. For any dog, at either end of the exposure spectrum, going around the corner and coming face to face with a Yeti, or someone dressed up as our favorite martial arts turtle can be quite a shock, and can evoke emotion and behaviours that we have never witnessed or experienced EVER!

You Thought I was Cute Before!!

You Thought I was Cute Before!!

So what can we do? Here is a list of things to keep in mind around the Halloween season and some ways to make All Hallows’ Eve as positive as possible:

For those of us with canine-enriched lives

  1. Have a good play with your dog at the local park or in your backyard well before you have to start handing out candy. Make sure their needs are met!
  2. Take them for a “business” run (pee and poop) before the trick-or-treaters are out and about. Usually it is still daylight at this point so you will also be less likely to be surprised by a costumed ghoul or ghost. Then take them out after when things have drastically calmed down and most, if not all, of the families have gone home.
  3. Usually someone stays at home to hand out candy. GREAT! Don’t leave your dog in the front room or by the front door unattended where they can be over stimulated by commotion outside and knocking/doorbell ringing. It also avoids any possible escape attempts.
  4. Set up a quiet and safe room for the canine. Put on the TV or turn the radio on with some nice easy listening, and pull the blinds over the window. For some, just running a fan in the room is enough white noise to block out stimulation happening at the front door. Make sure the room is safe for the dog, whatever their age. If they become stressed, they can act out on furniture, electrical cords, and doors. Set them up for success by minimizing dangerous items.
  5. If you are at the front door, take some time to check on them at a decent frequency. Reinforce their quiet behaviour with verbal praise and even the occasional delicious treat. (It is treat night for everyone else, after all! See below for a great recipe.) If they become anxious or unsure, spend some time to quiet them down and redirect these tense emotions towards a fun or happy thing. Get out their favorite toy or puzzle and have them work through it. Spend a little time running through their various commands so they redirect onto the task at hand, not what is going on outside.
  6. If your dog barks at the doorbell… Contact Canines By Design and we can help fix that, but for now, watch for people coming to the house or tape over the door bell with a sign to say “do not ring”.
  7. Make sure the candy and chocolate is out of reach from them. Also make sure that your children or guests know that the canine cannot have any “people” treats. Many kids like to spread out their candy on the floor to check out their “haul” after trick-or-treating. That’s fine… just maybe close the door to their bedroom first to avoid any canines snacking!

If you are out and come across a dog:

  1. Do not approach (even if you know the dog): Remember you are wearing a costume: Canines are very good at reading body language, facial expressions, and verbal language. We are running around having fun with raised/excited voices and covered faces (masks or makeup)… it doesn’t exactly give them a fair chance to assess the situation. If you have to go say hello, remove your mask and return your emotional level back to a relaxed and calm state before doing so. Even your own canine may second-guess that it is actually you when you are dressed up to scare!
  2. If you are going up to a house and you hear a dog barking from very near or right behind the door, turn around and head to the next house. While we want to give the benefit of the doubt to those caregivers, we cannot assume that the dog will be OK with us near their house and their people. They are already showing sign of arousal and they may make the wrong assumption and turn a fun night into a negative one.

MOST Importantly… Have FUN with your families this Halloween! While canines might not get the concept of dressing up and going door to door, they can still have fun and a delicious treat too! Try this easy recipe:

Simple Peanut Butter Pumpkin Canine Treats:

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Peanut Butter (Natural)

1 cup of 100% Pure Pumpkin Puree, canned. (Not Pumpkin Pie Filling)

1 ¾ cups Whole Wheat Flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together peanut butter and pumpkin. Sift in the flour ¼ cup at a time just until the dough in no longer sticky.
  3. Roll the dough out between two sheets of parchment paper until it is about ¼” thick.
  4. Use your favorite puppy or Halloween-themed cookie cutter to cut the shapes. Place on prepared cookie sheets
  5. Bake @ 350 for 8-10 minutes (non-convection setting). Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container (2 week shelf life) or freeze for up to 3 months.
Ready To Hit The Town!!

Zoom and Ember Ready To Hit The Town!!

NOTE: I would like to thank Kathryn Koh for the photos she sent me to use in this blog post.  Kathryn is very involved with my school, Bergin University, back in Sonoma Valley, California.  She volunteers to take many of the beautiful pictures of all the Bergin dogs, she is an active puppy raiser, trainer, foster home, canine caregiver, and helps out the school anyway she can!!  Many Thanks from here in Victoria!

Canine Intelligence: How Our Understanding Continues To Grow

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Making Light Work of a Heavy Snack

Making Light Work of a Heavy Snack

I was going to write an article this week about canine intelligence, but I quickly ran into a conundrum… they are intelligent in so many ways, I’m going to have to write a book, not a blog post!!!

Canine intelligence and what it means, stands for, and how it is represented is a hot topic these days. For a long time, we didn’t look at canines as intelligent, but rather we thought they were gifted with their nose, and something that we can train and mold to complete tasks.  Those tasks may have been something we didn’t want to do ourselves, or that we found canines could actually do more efficiently. While there are some magnificent examples of highly trained human trackers, a bloodhound’s nose is hard to beat.

But the tables have turned. Societal shifts have opened our eyes to explore our world through a different lens. We are more empathetic towards animals, their needs, and have turned our perspectives from being “master’s of the universe” to welfare minded “caretakers” (…this may be a generalization as there are still far too many people who either ignore or refuse to believe this, but that is a topic for another blog). We have begun to explore the possibilities not by what they can do for us, but rather what we can simply learn from them by taking a step back and looking at the world through their eyes.

We have come to understand that not all animals, especially dogs, are created equal. There is an unexplored intelligence that we are just beginning to uncover and attempt to understand. While being humans, we are still confined to understanding intelligence by how we have defined it, we are still uncovering many aspects of canine life that we once thought was completely untrue, or impossible.

I thought an easy way to share some of the ways that canines are amazing us, and showing just how intelligent they are, would be to group these concepts into areas we as humans tend to think about intelligence, and share some amazing links to some stories to demonstrate these areas.

Nose Work

Nose Work

Scent (nose) Intelligence:

This has been linked with canines for a long, long time. Helping on hunts, detecting predators lurking just outside our camps, canine olfaction has always been considered one of their strong suites. Imagine telling someone 30 years ago that scientific research would be able to show that they are actually so intelligent in this way, that they could in fact act as more reliable early warning detection systems for particular cancers than some of our best “man-made” medical equipment. Don’t believe me? Check out these links:

http://www.dogsdetectcancer.org/

http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/nbec.2014.13.issue-1/nbec-2014-0003/nbec-2014-0003.xml (sorry, you can only access the abstract without purchase).

Google Search: Canine Cancer Detection, or Google Scholar: Canine VOC detection and then pick “since 2014” for the newest articles.

Verbal Intelligence:

Immediately one thinks “dogs don’t speak words, so how can they have a verbal intelligence!?”. Well canines bark, and these barks do mean something. Canines also have a very important, and complex body language that they use to “silently” speak to one another. They can ALSO read our body language and what we are doing and interacting with! Furthermore, canines are great listeners (OK, most of the time :)), and have an incredible ability to understand human language… now imagine living in a world where this is going on all the time!! That is some serious thinking power!

Vocabulary:

Chaser the Border collie has the same understanding of vocabulary as a three-year-old child:

http://www.amazon.ca/Chaser-Unlocking-Genius-Knows-Thousand/dp/0544102576

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hi8HFdPMsiM

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-smartest-dog-in-the-world/

Body Language:

https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-behavior/canine-body-language

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0035437

Auditory:

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/201211/how-dogs-bark-in-different-languages (a neat article in how dogs bark in different language courtesy of one of my Master’s Degree Professors, Stanley Coren)

What Did You Say!!?

What Did You Say!!?

Visual Intelligence:

People used to think of dogs as completely colour blind, but this is not true. We learnt at Bergin University that canines are dichromatic, not trichromatic, so to say they are colour blind is a misnomer. Canines can see colours in the environment; they just see them slightly differently than we do. Stan Coren writes:

“Instead of seeing the rainbow as violet, blue, blue-green, green, yellow, orange and red, dogs would see it as dark blue, light blue, gray, light yellow, darker yellow (sort of brown), and very dark gray. In other words, dogs see the colors of the world as basically yellow, blue and gray. They see the colors green, yellow and orange as yellowish, and they see violet and blue as blue. Blue-green is seen as a gray”. Reference: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/canine-corner/200810/can-dogs-see-colors).

One thing that Bergin University is demonstrating is that canines are capable of a form of reading. While not scientifically demonstrated how this occurs this video will get your grey cells working trying to figure out how they can look at a cue card and understand what it means without any auditory reinforcement by the trainer in the later stages of their training! AMAZING!! (I LOVE MY SCHOOL!)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Egvz_dZ1qv4 (this is an older video… facility has changed (now for three years).

Physical Intelligence:

While I alluded to canine’s inability to open jars earlier (not having opposable thumbs will do that), they do have an amazing ability when it comes to their physicality and using it in intelligent ways. Anyone (like myself) who has worked within Service Dog organizations can certainly attest to this. The ways that they are able to help out it truly amazing!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-WrDMxw_mY – Turning on a light switch (Sae can sure raise her voice up high!! What Excitement!! All students at Bergin work with canines training for full service certification).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NbFISCnTQgc -learning to pull a wheel chair at Bergin’s new facility.

http://vimeo.com/52965741 -Zoom Learning to recycle bottles (this was early on in my Master’s Program). We are required to teach our own dogs a higher-level job by shaping and linking smaller instructions together.

With all this said, I must also put in a disclaimer. These changes to our mindsets have gotten us excited, and the media excited, to seek out and find out more about canine intelligence. It is important that we continue forward with an open mind, but also be careful not to jump to any conclusions before we are able to match our gut feelings with rigorous studies that either approve or disprove particular theories and ideas. This isn’t to say that these intelligences we witness don’t exist, we just need to put our thinking caps on to determine how we can accurately measure and record. Our canines are truly amazing. They offer emotional and physical support, they can help us live longer, and they always seem to bring a smile to our faces. I am a firm believer that we are just beginning to truly understand our canines, so next time you are looking into your dogs eyes wondering what they are thinking, just know, they are looking right back at you, and might be wondering the same thing. -J

Be Prepared: Canine “Bug-Out” Bags

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Zoom's Bug Out Bag!

              Zoom’s Bug Out Bag!

Earlier this week, Napa County and surrounding areas in northern California had a very shocking and terrible experience. An earthquake, which peaked at a 6.0 magnitude, shook houses, wrecked property and was reported to cause injuries to a number of people – all in the middle of the night. My heart goes out the families and businesses of Napa and Sonoma counties who were affected. It was a wonderful home and community to be welcomed into for our three years there, and I know the good people of NorCal are, if anything, survivors!

Waking up to a strong act of Nature such as an earthquake doesn’t offer any time to pack or prepare to leave for safety. The surprise factor is unfortunately part and parcel of most natural disasters. Earthquakes, floods, tornadoes and hurricanes are very real possibilities in our lives and, while we do not often have much warning, there are a few things we can do to prepare now for the potential of worse to come.

The Napa earthquake hit close to home for me as, just months ago, we would have been living in one of the affected areas. It got me thinking about my emergency preparedness for my family, including my canine. Many people talk about “bug-out” bags, or bags purposely packed with supplies and important documents that are ready to grab and go when emergencies hit. We often put cash, medication, clothes, water and snacks in a bag so we have the basic items to help get us through power outages, closure of stores and banks and a lack of fresh water. Many will think this might be overkill, but for those that have been in disaster situations, a “bug-out” bag can be a lifesaver.

There is no reason that we can’t apply this same preparedness for our canines. Creating a basic “bug out” bag for our pets can and will decrease stress in already stressful situations. The last thing anyone needs during an emergency is to be running around trying to find your canine’s food or medication. Since Canines By Design’s focus is dogs, the below list is specific for them. However, there is no reason that these concepts cannot be applied to other species we have in our households. Here is what I’m putting in Zoom’s bug-out bag:

  1. Food: Whether it is kibble or cans, bring enough food for at least three days. (And a way to open the cans!)
  2. Medication: Any specific medication needed for your dogs. Zoom doesn’t have much, but I’ll be including Zoom’s tick and flea medication. Again, have multiple days’ worth in case you cannot return home for a refill.
  3. Water: Try to bring enough bottled water to prevent dehydration during the first 12 hours of an emergency. Infrastructure may not be working, or county water sources maybe tainted.
  4. Collapsible food and water bowls.
  5. An extra leash and harness in case you can’t get to the part of the house where you normally keep these items.
  6. Medical records: Have a printed or electronic copy of your canine’s medical record in case they are injured or you have to go to a different veterinarian than normal. Having their background information can greatly accelerate how vets can help you out in the event of an emergency.
  7. Have a basic first aid to help treat any injuries that could have been sustained during a natural disaster.
  8. Blanket: This can help keep your dog warm and can also help you treat shock or hypothermia if needed.

Note: Try to make sure your bag is in a good place you can grab easily and also make sure it isn’t too heavy. You don’t want to struggle with the weight of the bag. If your pet is going for a sleepover or a longer stay because you are out of town, drop them off with the bag and let the sitter know what it is for and why you have made it.

It doesn’t take long to create or keep a bug-out bag maintained (fresh food, water, and medication), so I would encourage you to set aside half an hour this week to plan one out. And if disaster strikes, you and your furry friend will be very happy you took a few minutes to plan ahead.

If you would like to share ideas of what’s in your bug-out bag, or you want to send pictures of the final result to our community, tweet them to @CaninesByDesign. And of course, I’m always here to answer any questions about your bug-out bag and what you can do to make sure you and your canine are prepared in the case of any emergency.

Nose to tail Product Review: Improving Intelligence In Your Pup, and Preventing Age-Related Cognitive Dysfunction in senior dogs

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Zoom enjoying the sun, sand, and his toy!

Zoom enjoying the sun, sand, and his toy!

If you’re like me, you are always on the lookout for new and creative ways to entertain and enrich the lives of our canines. You know who you are… if there’s a new toy at the pet store, you’re all over it! Luckily, a Swedish company has been thinking this way since 1990. If you haven’t heard of Nina Ottosson before, you’ll be excited to learn that their Dog Activity Toys have been designed and tested to challenge your dog both physically and mentally through educational play.

Just like “brain games” for you and me, the games are meant to motivate your canine to learn, whatever their age, increasing their problem solving skills and intelligence as the difficulty level increases. They have developed a variety of interactive products with different difficulty levels (in both plastic and wood options) depending on the needs and play style of your canine.

Owners of senior canines take special note: they promote their products for older dogs. Activities change as their bodies age, so it’s great to find new, accessible ways for them to play and have fun. Keeping seniors mentally engaged is important for preventing or helping with Age-Related Canine Cognitive Dysfunction, and introducing mental puzzles is a great way to do it (Cline, 2014).

These products work well enough in creating dynamic challenges for canines that even service groups have integrated them into their programs to help develop problem solving skills in their up and coming service canines!

Quality is carefully controlled, with usage of choice materials that meet strict rules geared minimize or eliminate the impact to both the environment and your dog’s health. All of their products are recyclable and non-toxic, which is evidence of the detail they put into their design.

My Tips:
1. Using some of their dinner kibbles as the treats you put into the puzzle is a great way to make sure you are keeping your canine at their proper weight while still giving them food rewards.
2. Set them up for success. Start with level 1 puzzles and work your way up.
3. Lots of reward and praise through the process and make it fun!
4. Always supervise your canine!
5. Don’t forget to wash your puzzles frequently to keep them sanitary. Plastic puzzles can be cleaned easily and work well if you are using wet, canned or raw food, and/or are being used by multiple dogs. Wood puzzles can be wiped with a slightly damp cloth and a little mild detergent (Dawn dish soap) then wiped dry.
6. Check out all of Nina Ottoson’s tips and tricks!!!

Canines By Design wants you to know what cool and interesting products are out there. Do you know of a product that everyone should have, or at the very least, know about? Contact me (link) and let me know so I can feature your product!

References:
Cline, Dr. Jill. (2014). Cognitive Changes in the senior dog patient. Retrieved from: http://www.veterinarmagazinet.se/content/images/list_5/7467_1702620309.pdf. Accessed on: Aug. 12, 2014.

Whats Next!!?!

Whats Next!!?!

Nose to Tail Product Review: GoughNuts Toys

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GoughNuts.com Stick

GoughNuts.com Stick

At Canines By Design, we are always looking into new and exciting ways for you and your dog to interact and have fun. Both Zoom and I love checking out new products, games, puzzles, and gear that is geared for positive and safe experiences (and sometimes it’s hard to tell which of us geeking out more!).

I know I don’t have to look too far to find those of you who have a canine with some serious chewing power. I bet they are the kind of dog that has made those “indestructible” claims seem like a bit of a stretch. I also know that this… enthusiasm can make finding appropriate toys difficult, expensive and, frankly, distressing when yet another product fails miserably.

GoughNuts, LLC has created a line of safe dog products, made in the USA, that have specifically catered to the needs of champion chewers. Alongside Mechanical and Polymer Engineers, Goughnuts has developed products made of high quality materials with wear indicators to let caregivers know when the toy’s integrity has been compromised. They also come with a multi-Axis Groove System to help prevent potential choking/air blockage, bite-strength statistics and a return/replace policy for both Canada and the U.S.

Products with these types of considerations make canine safety a top priority, and GoughNuts makes sure customers know it when visiting their website. They go into detail about how to properly size their products based on your canine’s size and also give detailed information about when it is time to remove the toy to ensure your pet stays safe. They make a range of GoughNut Sticks and Rings with different bite strengths and sizes for both small/medium and large dogs, and have also recently released a tug toy and a ball design that follows their strict “Safety-First” policy.

Nothing is indestructible – this is always part of our environmental enrichment discussions with clients. Playtimes with toys should be monitored, especially with strong chewers. Developing safe and enriching spaces means working with the specific personalities, needs, and behaviours of each individual dog as well as all the variables (such as durability and budget) introduced in each case to strike a balance between an entertaining space and a safe one. No one wants to lay on a tile floor in a bare room with nothing to do! The GoughNuts company is helping this process for us all, by ensuring that the products they develop, produce, and promote already encompass major components of canine safety.

Always research your canine-related products. While those that offer bargain prices and multi-packs may seem enticing to those of us who have canines who don’t seem to know their own strength, the level of ingredient control and quality in these products can be quite varied. While I can offer many examples of dog-related surgeries due to the ingestion of toys and other materials in the environment, I thought I would post one that we will all be dealing with right now as it is BBQ season and we are all on the hunt for what we think is a deal: http://www.edmontonsun.com/2014/07/07/woman-hospitalized-by-cheap-bbq-brush.

 

 

 

 

“Harness” the Power: Collars are for ID, not for Control

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Canines By Design, Zoom, Sense-ation Harness

Zoom Wearing His SENSE-ation Harness!

In my recent journeys around Victoria, I have noticed that the canine-caregiver population seems to still be split on the type of gear used to walk with their dog in “on-leash” areas. People are either employing a type of harness or using the more traditional collar method of attaching the leash.

Collars have been present for generations of co-development with our furry friends. With some of the oldest archeological remains of canines, where the skeletal remains of canines have been found, the collars they wore were also preserved. Collars found in Ancient Egypt (dating between 3500 and 3000 B.C.) solidified their use by the human-canine pair (1). Today, collars are one of the most popular pieces of equipment used for training dogs (2). Many you’ll see for sale are designed for compulsion-based corrective training, where punishment is introduced to decrease a behaviour from occurring again. Extreme versions of corrective collars include those that apply electricity to “shock” and stop the behaviour, and prong collars used to pinch the neck when given a quick collar jerk. Choke collars too… Raise your hand if you’ve seen any of these being used, and yet the person is still bracing, arms outstretched, and barely holding onto to a wheezing pup who is “just soo excited to go play with their friends”!

By attaching a leash to the collar the concept is that we can control the direction more or less, and control their head/mouth. However, as we have been discussing in previous weeks, using the principles of redirection, proofing, and setting up for success, surpass the need for “physical correction” by opening up a more dynamic dialogue between caregiver and canine. We have a wide variety of tools to use, such as our voice, treats and distractors to achieve the “appropriate” behaviour. Prioritize these tools and the need for shocks and prongs is essentially eliminated. This is now proven fact, and the pet industry has responded to this change and developed a whole new methodology of “connecting” with our canines.

The purpose of this blog post though is not to discuss the merits or follies of these corrective devices, to belittle or make caregivers or the trainers that still support them feel targeted, but rather to let interested readers know that there are now some great alternatives out there that can, and should, be considered.

I’d like to introduce two harnesses that I have used, recommended and found great success with. Paired with the other CBD principles, harnesses are an easy way to increase responsiveness, decrease stress and improve positive interactions with your canine everyday.

To start off with, Softouch Concepts, Inc. offers the SENSE-ation® Dog Harness. Known as a front-connection harness, the leash attaches to a ring in the middle of a cross-chest strap. Offered in a variety of sizes for all dogs, and even with 2 webbing sizes for different energy levels, this harness is the go-to for Canines By Design and is also used by Bergin University in their service canine program. It has technology built into it to prevent irritation and is a great alternative to attaching the leash to the collar. Having the leash attached to a harness that goes around the chest and body helps distribute the force of pulling, preventing possible injury to the neck, coughing, gagging, etc. In many cases, it can offer more directional control with the canine utilizing smaller movements. This harness works best for canines that walk well, or need just mild redirection to heel.

There is an alternate harness that will specifically help those with a canine who needs a little (or a lot of!!) assistance with heeling on leash. The Easy Walkby Premier looks just like the SENSE-ation harness, but offers an additional unique front attachment system which will help steer the canine gently towards the side, aiding the caregiver in utilizing redirection help attain a heel. This extra step helps interrupt the cycle that can form by something called the “opposition reflex” where the pressure of the harness being tightened due to the pulling can actually stimulate further pulling by the canine (something that competitors in the Iditarod Race rely on).

Both harnesses listed above offer fantastic alternatives to using the traditional methods of attachment to canines. Like all products though, it is important that they are correctly utilized for the given situation. Ensuring that they are properly fit, positioned appropriately on the body, and that they are introduced and integrated in a positive way will help ensure that you and your canine avoid frustration and worry and start achieving success today.

We love testing products at Canines By Design so we can pass on useful products and alternatives for you, the canine caregiver, to aid in integrating and achieving a positive, healthy relationship with your canine. If you have any more questions regarding harnesses or walking aids you have discovered or would learn more about the options out there, Contact Canines By Design to set up a consultation today! Also check out our Links page on Canines By Design for more product and educational resources.

1. Smith, S.E. (2009, July).  History of Dog Collars.  The Magazine Paw Prints, Retrieved from: http://www.pawprintsmagazine.com?p=4599

2. Hodgson, Sarah (2006). Teach Yourself Visually Dog Training. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing.

Set Up For Success: Achieve your Canine Zen

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ZenPic

“Set (insert your dog’s name) up for Success!!” – This is one of my favorite mantras that I use to help clients create happy life experiences with their canine. It absolutely applies in every situation, whether we are working on basics commands with a young puppy or with an older, street-smart rescue.Seems straightforward, easy even, doesn’t it? In many ways, it is. And, it is well worth having “set up for success” become a regular phrase in your household. The more you think about it, the more you will realize that it applies to nearly every area of your canine’s life. Training, playing, relaxing, alone time… the mantra applies. The challenge, however, is that you have to “walk the walk” as well as “talk the talk.” It is a constant added layer of effort on top of your T.A.P. (training, appropriate activity and positivity) regimen.

Think about the phrase in two categories of reference: The first is: “How can I make this ‘safer’ for my canine?” The second is: “How can I make it ‘positive,’ or ‘more fun’?” To further explain this concept, I’ll use the example of leaving your canine at home when you run out to do a quick errand…

The scenario is familiar to all of us. We have to go out to a store that doesn’t allow non-service certified dogs inside, and we make the choice of leaving them at home. Whether it is for 5 minutes or a half hour, this is your chance to “set them up for success.” Before you leave, stop! Take a look around… Is the room messy? Are there papers on the ground or maybe a dirty plate on the coffee table? Leaving your canine in a clean environment that minimizes dangerous situations they “just can’t seem to resist” appears to be a no-brainer, but as you look around, I’m sure you will notice things you haven’t seen before. Maybe you have a canine that is working through a licking fetish. Have you thought about using covers on wall plugs to avoid a nasty electrical shock?

Yoga Pic

Let’s take it outside, too. Maybe you are at a local park working on a your dog’s recall behaviour, but she just loves to play with other dogs. Setting her up for a successful training session would be to begin training in an empty field, with no other distractions to impede the recall. Each successful trip would earn increased time with other dogs during sessions. If you feel that your training is unsuccessful, consider external factors that could be affecting your sessions.

So, this is where your “A-ha!” moment should kick in. Incorporate the mentality of “set up for success” everywhere and every time. No canine behaves exactly the same as the next. All dogs, based on their experiences in life, will have different strengths and weaknesses. With a dog who just can’t seem resist counter surfing when left alone, or who cannot go out without saying hello to everyone… carefully consider these “weak” areas, and think: “How can I change what I’m doing to help them succeed?” Keeping your counters clean or choosing quieter times for walks, are set-up actions that increase your positive interactions together. The more positive it is for you both, the more successful you will each feel, the more trust you will build and the tighter your bond will become.

Want to learn about achieving your Zen with my “set up for success” mantra? (Or if new-age isn’t your thing) how to doggy-proof and enhance fun in your home and yard for unsupervised time? Talk to me about out how Canines By Design can help with an integrated consultation for your specific needs.

For more information on Canines by Design – check out our webpage: http://caninesbydesign.ca and our blog: https://caninesbydesign.wordpress.com