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Dog Gone Good!

May 3, 2017

Expect the unexpected or keep your dog close to you

– contributed by Nora Hayes, MSW

Last week was a bit of a departure from our usual serious approach to training a well mannered dog. I focused on the skills and training our dogs need to be able to walk safely off lead in the woods. I described a situation where a rather sad gentleman inflicted his very aggressive small dog upon our dog walking group. The little dog was on his own and good luck! Kind of funny but also tough to handle for us and our dogs.
So we do have to expect the unexpected and the unpredictable. Our best defense is a well trained and responsive dog that will come when called and stay by our side until we are comfortable they will be safe.
I will use my puppy Gwen again as an example of a not yet reliable off lead walker. Gwen walks with a pack of dogs and until adolescence struck (she is 8 months), she stayed with the older dogs. But remember puppies are meant to test and she has begun to do just that big time. She strays and doesn’t always listen when called. My rule of thumb is-one stray is a mistake, 2 strays is a habit. So Gwen is now walking on a long line so I can help her stay close to me and the other dogs. She is just not ready yet to be trusted.
What is a long line? Simple! Go to the hardware store and pick up 20-30 feet of clothesline (I like the mildew and rot resistant variety), and attach a clip to the end. Voila! Attach the clip to the collar and let your dog drag it behind. It is important to make sure no knots or tangles are on the line so it will not catch on roots etc.
If your dog tries to take off simply step on it, haul her in and treat when she is close to you. The rule that close to you is all good always remains a guiding principle. Treats appear when she is next to you.
Last week on our walk, Gwen was very interested in the path in front of her and nosed the ground avidly as we walked. After a while, I saw a young man with an infant in a carrier on his back walking just ahead. Whew! I had no doubt my pup would have run eagerly to see who this interesting person was, and might even have jumped up to see the cute bundle on his back. I would have been mortified and hopefully no damage would have been done, but you never really know-if she had gotten to him and knocked him off balance, it might have caused harm to him or the baby. Always better safe than sorry in my book and my dog needs to be under my control at all times.
Next week we’ll continue our good dog training discussion with more training tips. 

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

THE CONTENT OF THIS COLUMN IS THE EXPRESS OPINION OF NORA HAYES, AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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Dog Gone Good!

April 26, 2017

Expect the Unpredictible

– contributed by Nora Hayes, MSW

Last week I ended my column with this… “Next week next steps in fool proof recall training.” And…I lied!…I have been thinking about the best next steps and what kept popping into mind was a story about what can really happen when walking loose dogs (AKA expect the unpredictable and how can you really prepare for everything).
So here goes. Way back when I was part of an early A.M. walking group of multiple dogs and owners, we had a wide assortment including a very large Bullmastiff, an equally large Rottweiler and my 2 Golden Retrievers. We met by the bottom of the Palisade cliffs, next to the Hudson River, and climbed a series of switchbacks to the top and were rewarded by a beautiful view of the Hudson. Our pack was well trained, very responsive and we all looked forward to our walks.
The only fly in the ointment was when a gentleman showed up (very often) with his tiny, very aggressive dog and set him loose at the bottom of the switchbacks. Luckily, we could hear him coming as he angrily charged up the path eager to do battle with our dogs. Oh no! Then hell broke out with most of our guys really wanting to take him out. And, of course, the owner was nowhere in sight and never responded to our cries to come and corral his dog.
After many episodes of ruined walks, in desperation we decided to ambush the owner. We waited out of sight (just us, no dogs) and approached him as he exited his car (his little dog already loose – no leash, no restraint whatsoever).
Our expectation was we could reason with him, get him to see the error of his ways and then we could resume our peaceful walks again without his toothy terrorist at our heels. I will never forget his response. It went something like this…..”you want me to control my dog, do you?! I don’t control ANYTHING in my life, not my home, not my family, not my job, not anything, NOTHING!!” As he spoke, his tone got higher and higher and he ended with almost a loud, very exasperated cry. We stood in disbelief with our mouths open and then just walked away shaking our heads.
From then on, remembering this encounter with this sad man often made us laugh, not at him, because we really felt sorry for him, but more at the crazy incidents that can and will surely happen in the wacky world of dogs and people. Once again our dogs were sorely tested but the little guy never got hurt. And we knew we could handle just about anything that came at us afterwards! (Next week promise more recall training hints.) 

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

THE CONTENT OF THIS COLUMN IS THE EXPRESS OPINION OF NORA HAYES, AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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Dog Gone Good!

April 19, 2017

Enforcing the recall

– contributed by Nora Hayes, MSW

Wow! Last week’s column resulted in a lot of really interesting feedback. Just a short synopsis, I discussed
how to handle rude dogs and owners especially when walking in the woods. My basic advice was to not be intimidated and to stand your ground and call out the owner no matter how rude they are.
One of the emails I received asked how to train our dogs to be in control and safe while out walking. A great question! And, to be honest, it ain’t easy-very doable but it takes time and practice. So here’s how we train a dog to be responsive and in control while off leash:
• Start early (if possible). I do puppy recalls routinely with my puppies. I call them in a high excited voice and treat them every time. Importantly, never let your pup blow you off. If they don’t come, go get them, bring them in close and treat anyways. I practice these first recalls in my fenced in yard where I can be sure to get hold of them if they don’t come to me.
• If you have an older dog, the same principles apply. Call them, reward them and let them go right back to what they were doing. What they will realize is that it’s all good, they come to you, get a tasty treat, and go right back to what they were doing before you interrupted.
• A very important principle to remember is to be consistent and firm always. If you allow your dog to blow you off sometimes they will learn that it is ok. It is never ok not to come when called. At the beginning when they are just learning you make sure you are in a controlled environment (a yard or your pup is on a leash or long line) where you can enforce the recall. But no matter if they come on their own or you have to reel them in, it is all good. They get rewarded and being next to you is a very positive experience always.
• After I am sure my dog understands they are expected to come when called, I take the show on the road and add distractions and make it harder. So now she knows to come every time in the back yard, how about while walking down town or in another unfamiliar place? What about when other people or dogs are around? Start slow and add in more distractions until you are sure your dog can work through most distractions without fail.
Next week next steps in fool proof recall training. 

Nora Hayes is owner of Hayes Happy Dog, Day Care, Boarding & Training, serving Berkshire and Columbia Counties. She is an AKC Canine Good Citizen Evaluator and an evaluator for Bright and Beautiful Therapy dogs. She teaches group classes and does individual behavioral work with all breeds and mixed breeds. To reach Nora call 413-528-0877, email email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit HayesHappyDog.com

THE CONTENT OF THIS COLUMN IS THE EXPRESS OPINION OF NORA HAYES, AND CANNOT BE REPRODUCED WITHOUT THE PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR.

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