Get Adobe Flash player

Save your carpet, buy a kong

Blaze is a year and a half. I thought for sure we were done with our puppy chewing phase so I decided it was time to put the crate away. I am fortunate in that I work from home full time so he really isn’t loose very long in the house unsupervised. Our kids started back to school so in the mornings the dogs stay home unattended for 15 minutes. Did you know that most damage is done in the first 15 minutes of being left alone?

Blaze has developed this bad habit of pulling our carpet back and shredding the padding. He doesn’t eat it from what I can tell, just shreds it. Initially I left the dogs out back while we went to the bus stop to avoid him shredding the carpet, but what if I needed to be away for more than 15 minutes?

I broke down and bought a few kongs and now when we leave they get some sort of yummy kong to play with while we are gone. Over the past few days just a teaspoon of peanut butter in the bottom of a kong has saved our poor carpet from being mauled. Unfortunately we bought the wrong size and need to get larger ones (I recommend large or XL black for labs).

If you are struggling with your dog eating something when you leave and dont really want to crate them, try some kong products.

Check out more articles related to this topic:
Keep your puppy busy!
Kong Wobblers

Scared Puppy

I was out for a walk the other day and met a new puppy that had just come home from the humane society. It was a cute little puppy but obviously a little nervous about the world. I started thinking if this were my puppy what would I be teaching it?

Initially a new puppy needs time to acclimate. Remember the fear period for a puppy (the time they can develop serious fears) is 12-18 weeks or so (give or take a week or two). Some puppies will even go through a period where they are nervous at random things and then pop out of it just as suddenly as it started. I remember with Nitro one day he noticed a fire hydrant. He acted like it was out to get us and he had to protect me from this awful yellow thing. He pretty quickly learned that fire hydrants are pretty darn cool. All those great smells! (Yes gross I know.)

So in seeing this puppy, what would my recommendation be as a dog trainer? Get a puppy socialization check list and start going through it. I like to introduce a puppy to something new 4-5 times. Keep a check list and if they are nervous, write it down so you know you need to revisit it.

Now when you are in the moment and your puppy is not wanting to meet someone, or scared of something dont push it. Hang out, ignore the puppy and start interacting with the object or person. If the puppy moves forward, then you can praise the puppy. You can also give treats to help the puppy along. Often times dogs will overcome their nervousness on their own. Its also VERY important that nervous puppies get into a puppy socialization class. A professional trainer can help you setup your plan for your puppy.

Watch your puppies body language, lip licking, yawning, shaking off, turning around, moving away are all signs your puppy is nervous and you should move slow.

Canine Acne

Who would have ever thought it? Canine Acne. I know it sounds made up but trust me its real.

It all started with little pustules on the lips and chin. They look nasty and sometimes bleed. As with anything new and different looking on my dogs, I took Blaze to the vet who confirmed that it was in fact Canine Acne. Apparently because its around the mouth its easy to get infected. Blaze isn’t the neatest drinker so his mouth is always wet. After a nice round of antibiotics he was all better.

Fast forward a few months and we have it back again. Consequently he is also sleeping a lot! After doing some research it seems that Canine Acne (just like human acne) can be related to hormones. Blaze is still intact since he is being shown so I assume that’s what this is, probably another growth spurt of some kind or increase in testosterone. Granted I’m assuming all of this and basing it on some things I’ve read online.

Now what to do about this yucky acne? I’m not rushing to the vet this time so I’m keeping his mouth dry, and trying to do some neosporin which he will probably just lick off pretty fast. Hopefully this will clear in a few days!

Video Taping Dog Training

Teaching dog training, and doing dog training are two very different skills. Some people have an amazing ability to watch a team and point out areas for improvement. When I am working with my dog I have a different perception of what is going on. Over the last month I have been entered in a really fun tricks challenge, but it required me to video tape my dog working. When I look back at it, I can see areas for improvement. Its truly amazing.

I’m also on an email list for competitive dog obedience and I heard some similar responses there too, videoing your dog gives you a different perspective. I’m going to work on a few behaviors over the next few weeks and try to video them. I may not post all, but I will post some. I would encourage you to do the same! You may just learn something from your dog!

So Tired Mom!

I’m taking this really fun online class with my dog called the Tricks Challenge. Baby Blaze (18 months and 90lbs) is learning to lift his paws. It originally started out as a trick but he doesn’t seem to be aware that he has paws or that he can use them. I think this will be very useful in the show ring and with his service dog behaviors so I’m going to keep working on it.

We’re using a technique called Shaping. Shaping is where you incrementally get closer to a behavior by making small modifications. The best explanation I ever heard was with dolphins, they don’t just put a ball 20 feet in the air and hope the dolphin touches it. Nor do they force the dolphin to touch it. They probably start by having a ball floating in the water and reward the dolphin for getting close to it. Over time the dolphin learns that touching the ball gets the reward, then they slowly raise it.

I’m using the same technique with Blaze, if he moves a paw he gets a reward. I personally use clicker training. After just 5 minutes, here is the result:

You guessed it, a sleeping tired dog. Thinking is hard work!!

Here is his video