Sometimes when I look at my dog I wonder what is going on in his head. We went for a walk today at the Englewood Metropark with my daughter. Cap was very antsy acting as we walked along, which is a little unusual. He kept looking at Jolene as if he expected her to do something out of the ordinary. I just ignored it at first, but then she noticed it too. After about 15 or 20 minutes of walking the paved trail, I let him sniff in the bushes for a minute. He sniffed a bit then he stood and stared at Jolene. He wanted her to play his running fool game. I don’t know what else to call it, but he loves it when someone acts like they are going to chase him and he takes off running with his butt tucked up under him, zigging and zagging around. Running like a fool. So he convinced her to play it with him. He also thought having one of her gloves in his mouth while he did it would be great fun.  Usually when we go for a walk, he is happy to just walk along normally. I don’t know what got into his head today.

Schwartz has been living at our house with us for many years now. We have rules in the house, one of which is no stealing food from the counters. He hasn’t had a problem with that. Until last week. Thanksgiving night, in fact. I cooked the turkey in one of those big aluminum throw away pans, that way after dinner I could put the carcass in it, put it in a plastic bag and toss it in the big garbage cans outside. Well, I had help cleaning up after dinner (yay!) and that big greasy pan got saved for me to wash (what were they thinking?) and the carcass got thrown out by itself.  I didn’t wash the pan and left it on the stove to take out to the trash in the morning. Sometime in the night Schwartz decided to steal the pan. Thankfully, he must have cleaned it pretty well before he took it into the living room to chew on it a bit on the carpet, as there were no stains to be found, just an empty pan. A bit mangled and with a few holes in it. After it was discovered the next day, I showed it to him and he just wagged.  I don’t know what got into his head that night.

Many of my clients believe I know what a dog is thinking. Actually, I can’t. I can just predict what their next behavior is likely to be. I watch their body language, I know what things are likely to distract them and I know how to redirect their attention before they react to a distraction. Here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training, I teach my clients how to do this with their dog, so they can be more successful with the training.

I know Schwartz was thinking since everyone was in bed, and he didn’t get turkey for Thanksgiving, he would help himself. It worked for him. He took a chance and it worked. Cap did  more or less the same thing. He felt like playing and figured out how to get that to happen. Dogs will test the rules now and then. Our job is to try to be as consistent as possible with enforcing them.

The Running Fool

Board and Train

One of the training programs we offer my clients is what I refer to as a Board & Train, as that is basically what it is. A dog boards with us at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training while we train him. The advantage to this program is that the dog spend two weeks learning new behaviors in an environment he hasn’t been in before. I think it is probably a lot like the first few weeks of school for kids. They are in a new environment, they aren’t sure what the rules are, there are new and different people and sounds. So it’s the perfect environment to learn new rules for behavior and prevent old habits from happening. The biggest misconception people have about a board and train is that the dog will come home and just do everything he was trained to do with no effort on their part. Wrong! The advantage to the board and train for the dog is that he gets to learn from someone who is experienced in teaching a dog something new, being very consistent in what is expected and being knowledgable enough to know how to tweak things to the dog’s personality.

The advantage for the owner is they don’t have to try to teach the dog at the same time they are trying to learn something new themselves, so when the dog comes home, they know the dog already understands the commands, they just have to learn how to maintain them and learn how to interpret the dogs mistakes. Was he confused because you weren’t clear? Was he testing to see if you were really going to make him do it? Or did he fall back on an old habit?

The advantage to the trainer is we get to teach the dog first, then we can teach the owner. I especially enjoy the Board and Train program. I really like the time I get to spend getting to know the dog and helping him figure out what it is the humans are trying to get him to do. And we get to play too. (I call it recess.) We go on field trips as well, that’s when we go to a park, for a walk in town or to the pet supplies store and practice the new skills in different environments with distractions. It’s like I get a new dog for 2 weeks, only just as he get to be good, he goes home!

So if you don’t have the patience or time to get your dog trained, consider our Board & Train program. If you are going on vacation and the dog has to go to the kennel, it’s the perfect time to send him here. He will be learning something while you are gone instead of just kind of hanging out at the kennel.

Group sessions

Instead of doing a group class where all dogs and handlers are in a room practicing their skills with other dogs around, I take my students who choose the Grand Dog Program training package for training their dog, out in the real world for practice.  After all, that is where they will need the dog to behave. We meet at a local park or in town and walk together as a group. We often start out with the dogs just sitting or lying down as we wait for everyone to arrive at the appointed meeting place. Today, we met in Troy, Ohio in the Hobart Arena parking lot. We then walked over to the Troy City Park.  We found a picnic shelter that no one was using. ( Not likely anyway, it was about 35 degrees.) We had the dogs place on the benches.

Picnic Shelter

Fire up the grill!

I almost had a better shot than that one but I needed to focus my attention elsewhere for a moment. As this is a learning experience for the dog and handler, I sometimes have to remind handlers of things they should do with their dog. It’s always important to be proactive and tell your dog what you want him to do instead of waiting for something to happen and then trying to get things back under control.  We always need to think ahead.

We walked to another spot in the park where several old trees had been cut down. We had the dogs jump up on them and sit. Boomer is a little min pin who can leap like a deer. He doesn’t tolerate the cold like a deer so he wears a coat. Here he is up on a log.

Here's Boomer.

We were lucky today as the squirrels must have been napping. Normally they come down the trees and chatter at the dogs. Some of the dogs can’t stand that and get excited.  We walked around the park a bit and stopped a few times and had the dogs hold a down. Some of the dogs did so with their handlers out of sight. Just before we went back across the road to the parking area, we had the dogs do a place command on the parking blocks.  Cap and Micah, a german shepherd,  shared parking block and Micah sat kind of funny. I took a picture of it because they look like Micah was pretending she was on a motorcycle and Cap was her passenger. Doesn’t she look like she could be saying, “Hop on Cap. Vroom, Vroom.” Well, it does if you use your imagination!

Vroom, Vroom!

Getting out with our dogs to practice the skills they have learned is an ongoing thing at here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training.   I plan to update our adventures here now and then so check back often.

Micah, Zoey, Beau, Cap & Happy

Micah, Zoey, Beau, Cap & Happy

Well, another Furry Skurry has come and gone and the Grand Dog’s Team from Aunt Faye’s Dog Training had fun once again. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cool, and best of all, no rain! It was a new experience for one of our team members and her dog. They were a bit nervous about the crowd and all the other dogs but it all went well. I don’t know how many people were there but it was quite a large crowd. All of our dogs behaved well and posed for several pictures.
The walk started on a path and went on through a residential area on sidewalks. We came to a beautifiul bed of yellow iris so we had to stop and get a picture. We posed the dogs using our obedience commands, namely a “down” command.

Pretty yellow iris and pretty dogs!

Pretty yellow iris and pretty dogs!

The next place we came to that yelled out “photo op” was an embankment with some huge rocks at the top. We put the dogs on the rocks using the both the “place” and the “down” commands.

Kings of the Hill

We visited the vendor booths afterwards and sat at a table with our dogs and had some lunch. The local police department K9 handlers posed for pictures after doing a demo of some of their skills.

Police canine handlers and dogs after their demo.

Police canine handlers and dogs after their demo.

It was a long walk, 5k, and the dogs were tired. They saw a lot more dogs than they are used to seeing all in one place. Some dogs were dressed up for a contest. We walked behind one for a while, our dogs kind of looked at him as if to say, “What’s up with that?”

What's up with that?

Our dogs all figured that it was probably just another distraction set up by Aunt Faye and left the little guy alone. No behavior issues from them!

Furry Skurry Dog Walk

Furry Skurry 2008

Furry Skurry 2008

Its time once again for the annual Furry Skurry 5K dog walk. Each year several of my dog training clients and their dogs participate in this event. We have fun walking and talking, posing our dogs for photos and we raise money for the Greater Dayton Humane Society while having some fun. You can join our team or just sponsor us, the team goal is to raise $500.
a href=”http://www.firstgiving.com/auntfaye” alt=”Firstgiving- sponsor me now!” target=”_blank”>

This year the event is held at a different location. I haven’t been there before but I’m sure it will give us a lot of photo opportunities as it has in previous years. ( I know there are some additional characters in the button to sponser us on Firstgiving, I’m just glad I got it to show up. Now I have to hope it works!) We are hoping for good weather, which is always just a gamble in this part of Ohio. We will walk, rain or shine.

Behavior Changes

Schwartz with a toy

Schwartz with a toy

Schwartz is my German Shepherd. He is about 11 years old. When he first came here to live here, he would bark at anything and everything. He would bark, rear up and lunge at other dogs, trying to get at them. He was a hand full. But, luckily for him, there was something about him that I really liked, in spite of the bad behaviors. We worked out most of his issues, he can be off lead around other dogs and stay calm. Small dogs still seem to give him a little gleam in his eye so I am always watchful of him then. I am ready to interrupt any thought he has of doing anything “negative”. He was my demo dog here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training for a few years but he started having some health problems.
First was a series of broken toenails. That was eventually diagnosed as SLO or Symmetrical Lupoid Onychodystrophy which means he has an autoimmune disorder where his body fights off his toenails. It is under control pretty much now, he has had it for about 5 years and it will occasionally flare up. The nail crumbles away and leaves a stump with the quick exposed, it’s very painful for him. Most of his nails are now kind of deformed looking.
A year or so later he started having back pain. Diagnosed with “spondylosis” which is arthritic changes in the spine. We saw the chiropractor regularly and also had some acupuncture/aqua-pressure treatments to get him through the rough spots with that. Once the spine fuses together at the affected vertebrae the pain lessens.
For the past 6 months I noticed Schwartz was slowing down. He’s getting older, I thought. He doesn’t do much anymore, just hangs out in the house, goes out to pee and comes back in. He lays under the table or by the front door. He doesn’t play with his toys anymore. He used to always have a toy in his mouth. He didn’t chew it, just carried it around, put it down next to him while he napped, picked it up to greet you with it or to take it to a new spot to lay down. He hadn’t been looking for a toy to carry for a while. He was getting heavier and I contributed that to his sedentary lifestyle. I also thought his flabbiness was from not getting the exercise he used to so he was losing muscle tone. He wasn’t jolly any more. He was shedding quite a bit, he blew his coat 2 or 3 times in that 6 month period. Then I noticed he had a scabby area on his side. I looked him over closely and noticed another his belly. I thought maybe a bacterial infection from losing a toe nail? But I didn’t remember him losing one and none looked shorter than the others. So off to the vet we went. He had some blood drawn and they ran it while we waited.
The results showed he is hypothyroid. He is now on medicine for that and what a difference! He is happy again, he has that prance in his step. He is carrying a toy around again, he takes it outside with him, puts it down on the deck when he runs off to pee. When I open the door to let him back in, he starts to come in, then stops and looks for whatever the toy of the day is and picks it back up and brings it back in. He did have a bacterial skin infection and that was treated with antibiotics and cleared up nicely.
He feels good. He is anxious to go somewhere again. He loves to take walks around the back field and he is asking to do that again. Everytime you go towards a door he stands up and says “Now? We gonna go now?” Can I go? Come on, can I go? Can we go out to the back field? Wait, where’s my toy?” Sometimes I’m just going to the kitchen.
It’s good to have him back.

New year, New Post

It’s hard to believe it’s the new year already. 2009. Wow. I’m not done making my list of resolutions yet. Oh well, I’ll still work on it. I think you can make a resolution to change at any time of year. So once again, I am going to resolve to post to this blog more often. Along with all the other usual stuff, more exercise, less food, more work, less play, blah blah blah. Actually, I think I might resolve to play more. Cap and I are going to work on the things I talked about in my last post, agility and disk dog stuff. I have to post the picture of him going over a jump while we were in Georgia, becasue I think he looks so cool doing it.

Cap jumping, Riff watching

Cap jumping, Riff watching

Having fun with your dog is important, so why not have fun as you both learn new things. I have done some agility stuff in the past but lost interest. Not having a dog to do it with may have been part of it, but now I think with Cap, it might be different. He seems like he might actullay get good enough for me to consider competing with him. We’ll see. I always enjoyed the agility classes I used to hold here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training. My clients had fun doing it and I had fun teaching them and their dogs.
Since I have resolved to post here more often, I am not going to get too wordy. I don’t want it to get boring for the reader or the writer. It needs to stay fun for us all. Here is my current favorite picture of Cap having fun. Thanks to Renee Lamoureux for catching that moment of glee on film.

A very happy dog.

A very happy dog.

Learning New Things

I recently made a trip to Georgia to attend a workshop a friend and fellow trainer was giving at her training center. Cyndy Douan of the Georgia Dog Gym presented an informative workshop on Border Collies. I don’t own a Border Collie, but I do own Cap, who is an English Shepherd. English Shepherds are similar to Border Collies in activity levels and their desire to herd and/or do farm chores. So much of the material that was presented was applicable to my dog. In fact, much of it was applicable to herding dogs in general. Other than the origins and history of the breed, many dogs of the herding group have a lot of drive and the need to work. Unfortunately, we don’t all live on farms with livestock for the dogs to gather. There are many of these dogs that channel that drive doing dog sports like agility, frisbee, obedience or flyball.

So while we were there we decided to see how Cap liked some of those things. You would think that since I am a dog trainer, I would have already started my do doing these things. Well, not so much. I find that after a day of working with other dogs, scheduling appointments, and doing all the sundry cores involved with running a business, I don’t always have the desire to work with my own dog. So having a weekend away at another location with my dog, I can focus on him. We discovered that Cap really enjoys the agility obstacles and he can jump quite well. He also is interested in frisbee. He is at least willing to chase down a roller and pick it up when he catches it. There is a disk dog group in my area and I think Cap and I will be giving them a call soon.dscf0008

Schwartz, Coco & Sassy with Dog Walker Sculpture

Schwartz, Coco & Sassy with Dog Walker Sculpture

Commitment. Big word. Something we don’t really think about applying to our dogs. But it is the most important aspect of dog ownership and your relationship with your dog. When you first bring your dog home, you are committing to keeping that dog fed, housed and exercised for the rest of his life. But our commitment doesn’t end there. We have to commit to getting the dog enough exercise. Daily. Some type of physical exercise is very important to your dog’s physical and mental health. When we first get that dog, are we really committed to doing that? How many of us intend to do it, even plan for it?  Like when you are getting ready for bed at night and think tomorrow is Sunday, I don’t have to work. I need to get a few chores done around the house like laundry and grocery shopping but I don’t have anything pressing to do. So I am goingto take the dog to the park and walk with him for an hour so we both get some exercise, first thing in the morning.  Sunday morning, you get up, drink some coffee and check out the newspaper.  You don’t get a chance to start your day slowly all week, so Sunday morning you take your time. Then you throw in some laundry, and realize you are almost out of laundry detergent. It’s goingto take a while to get all the laundry done so you’ll need to go get some. As long as you are going to the store, you might as well get the groceries shopping done then.  So now walking the dog at the park is pushed further down the list. Eventually, it gets bumped from the list because there is no time left to do it. So how do we get better at getting the dog his exercise? Well, you could ask another family member to do it. ( Delegate it.) Or hire a dog walker. Either of those are good choices. You could buy a treadmill for your dog.If neither of them fit you particular situation, then commit to doing it. Really commit. Commit 100% to it. To be 100% committed to something, you do it, no matter what. No exceptions. If the weather is bad, dress for it. Or find a place that will allow you to walk indoors with your dog, a hockey arena, a stadium, or a mall. A parking garage will even offer some protection from rain and wind. So make the commitment and get out there and walk your dog. You will be glad you did. The following quote from Ken Blanchard, author of the One Minute Manager in addition to many other books:

There is a difference between interest and commitment. when you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you except no excuses, only results.

Big Dogs



Tonka is a big dog who belongs to a client here at Aunt Faye’s Dog Training. He is a very big dog, a Newfoundland. He weighs about 175 lbs. It’s very impressive to see him, everyone he encounters usually say something along the lines of “Wow.” He is quite friendly with people. He does drool a bit. Sometimes he likes to get a biiiigggg drink of water and then he runs to you and wipes his face all over you to dry it off. We keep towels handy to dry him off. After he drinks he usually shakes his head so the goobers fly and land on his back, head, my head, your head, where ever. In fact, he has remnants of one in the photo above.

Big dogs are a lot of fun but there are things you might want to consider before you get one. The first is obvious, do you have room? They do take up a bit of space, a small upstairs apartment would probably be out of the question. Feeding is another, they eat a lot more than the average dog so you spend more feeding them. ( And then there is the clean up of the “by-products” of eating.) Transportation is a factor. I had to buy a ramp to get Tonka into and out of my Ford Exposition. He can’t jump that high so agility would not be an option for him, anyway. Grooming is more expensive if you take him to be groomed. It takes a lot more time to bathe, brush and dry a dog his size. Finding a groomer who can bathe him in a floor stall or have a heavy duty ramp to get him into the tub is something that has to be considered. Boarding costs more for large dogs. Medical costs can really get expensive. Tonka has to take 2 heartworm preventative pills each month because it is dosed by weight. Same for flea prevention formulas. Dental prophylaxis performed at the vet is usually charged according to the weight of the animal. And the hardest part for all big dog owners is that their life span is usually shorter than the average dog. The larger the dog, the shorter the life span.

But there are many good things about large dogs. They deter burglars better than those little foo-foo dogs. They can pull the kids aroud on a sled. They can probably pull you around in a sled, no need for a whole team of huskys. You don’t have to bend over to pet them. They don’t get on the furniture because either it won’t hold them, or their wouldn’t be any room for a human to join them, so what would be the point. They can look out the window just standing there, so they don’t scratch the woodwork all up from jumping up to look out the window. If they are out in the back field, you can still see them, they don’t get lost in the long grass like those Chihuahua’s can. And hawks and eagles never swoop down and carry them off.

I love big dogs. I also love small ones and the in betweens. There aren’t really very many ( if any) dogs on this earth that I don’t like.