Thursday, December 29, 2011

Holiday Pounds - Yes Dogs Can Acquire Them Too - Milton Ontario Dog Trainer


The holidays aren't over quite yet, but it's a good time to start thinking about all those holiday pounds that you and your best friend have packed on over the past few weeks.

Yes, dogs acquire that extra baggage too. What owner doesn't want to let their dog indulge in some turkey dinners over the festive season? And who doesn't want to share some added treats for their pooches when everyone else around is eating Christmas cookies, sweets and chocolates?

Added weight on dogs can lead to serious health issues, just like in us humans. Heart disease, diabetes, stroke, clogged arteries and the list goes on. The best way to combat these potentially life threatening diseases is to stop them before they start. A healthy diet mixed with daily exercise is the number one way to keep your dog in tip top shape. Same goes for us I might add.

Regular walks, hiking and runs only add years to your best friends life. And if you hate the winter weather, a treadmill works just as well. Stop over feeding treats, and make sure your portion out your best friends food properly, be it high quality kibble, cooked or raw.

If you're looking for an awesome way for both of you too loose the love handles, check out our newest class in partnership with Madjam Fitness - Doggy-Style Fitness. This class combines both a human and canine work out, all while getting that most important obedience training in as well.

Contact us to sign up for Doggy-Style Fitness at dogtraining101@hotmail.com and visit our website for more details www.smartdogsk9.com.

If you're not ready for classes, and even though you might be tired from all the fesitivities, get out there and have some physical fun with your dog. There are no downfalls, only benefits, and try to enjoy the season in a healthy way!


Basic Dog Obedience in Milton Starting Soon!


We have a new Smart Dogs Basic Class starting January 8th from 10-am-11am, every Sunday for 7 weeks.

This class will help you teach your dog all the basics such as sit, down, stay, come, walk nice and leave it/off.

We will only be taking 4 spots for this class, so you are able to receive individual attention for you and your dog.

Start off the new year right by getting your dog trained.

Remember a trained dog is a happy dog and has a happy owner.  A trained dog is easier to live with, to take places and more fun to be around.

To sign up contact us at dogtraining101@hotmail.com and visit our website for more details www.smartdogsk9.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

New Year - New Classes!! Dog Training in Milton

The New Year is almost here, make one of your resolutions getting your dog trained!

Sundays from 10-11am we will be running our Smart Dogs Basic group obedience class and Sunday's from 11:30-12:30 we will be running Smart Dogs Fun Agility. Start date is January 8th 2012.


We will be taking four maximum in these classes, an excellent way to get individual help from a trainer without paying for private sessions!

Sign up now as some classes are already half full!

And watch for Doggy-Style Fitness starting Saturdays at the end of January - get yourself and your dog in shape and have fun doing it!!
 

Friday, December 9, 2011

It's never too late or too early to train your dog ... Milton Ontario Dog Trainer

There are those out there that will tell you to wait until after a certain age to begin training your puppy, and there are also those out there that still believe that you can't teach an old dog new tricks.

How very wrong they are!!

The best time to start training your dog is from day one. Puppies are like little sponges, and soak up training like a Sham-wow drying a wet car. The key is consistent, short, fun sessions. Though they love to learn and thrive on "mind games" a puppy's attention span is a lot smaller then the attention span of an adult, so keep them interested by keeping the sessions short and happy.

Though older dogs may seem "stuck in their ways", there is no reason to believe that they can not be trainer and/or re-trained in the adult years. The fact is, adults dogs have a greater attention span, and can often be easier to work with in that regard than young pups. Adults who have never been trained should be treated as untrained pups, keep sessions short, consistent and fun to begin with, moving on to more challenges once you see they understand what you want.

Please don't count out the seniors either - they are more than capable of learning new things, the process might be a little longer, but the result is extremely rewarding.

So remember, it's never too late or too early to start training your dog. If you need help or guidance, give us a call or email and we can help you on your way to having a well behaved, trained and happy dog, regardless of age.

www.smartdogsk9.com

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Have Fun With Your Dog - Dog Training in Milton

I'll start by saying dogs want to have fun too.

Yes, many of them enjoy their strolls in the park, or hikes in the woods, but why not spice it up a bit for them?

Utilize what's around you to give them a challenge on their walks. Rocks, benches, trees, curbs, playground equipment and more make great obstacles for your dog. Teach them how to use their bodies and where their feet are in order to conquer the obsticles.

Allowing your dog structured play like this on a walk actually helps to increase self confidence. Keep it structured though, that is the key. You tell them when and where, and encourage them to try (and make sure you tell them they are doing a good job) and they will give you all their effort once they get the hang of it. They learn that there is nothing scary about new things, in fact, it's fun.

This type of activity works your dogs mind as well as his/her body. Working their minds will often times tire them out more than just working their body, and a tired dog is a happy, well behaved dog.

So get out there on your next walk or hike and use what is around to challenge your dogs body and mind and over come any lack of self confidence that they may have.

Interested in joining one of our classes? Please email dogtraining101@hotmail.com and visit the website for more details www.smartdogsk9.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Doggy-Style Fitness! Dog training in Milton Ontario

Join us for our newest class!!!

Are you one of the many who hate to leave your dog behind while you go and work out?

Smart Dogs Canine Training and Madjam Fitness are changing that. Doggy-Style Fitness allows you to get an awesome work out in all while training and exercising your dog. What more could you ask for???

Classes are Saturday mornings at 10:30am and will be taking place at Madjam Fitness Studio in Milton.

Check out the website for more details www.smartdogsk9.com/dogggy-style-bootcamp.html

or email us for more information dogtraining101@hotmail.com.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Group Dog Training in Milton Ontario

THIS CLASS IS NOW FULL!
WE WILL BE OPENING ANOTHER ONE FOR THE END OF NOVEMBER

Smart Dogs Canine Training Group Basic Class (all ages) has one spot left for registration.

Start Date: Friday, October 25th, 2011
# of Classes:
Cost: $160.00
Location: St. Paul's United Church on Main Street, Milton, ON

Please contact us if you would like to sign up dogtraining101@hotmail.com

We will be running another Group Basic Class Starting at the end of November 2011 as well.

For more detailed information about our training, check out the website www.smartdogsk9.com

And don't forget to like us on facebook www.facebook.com/smartdogsk9

Friday, October 14, 2011

Don't Let 'Em - Dog Trainer in Milton

I often find people listing off the issues that they are having with their dogs, but not understanding why they are happening. Of course, we as trainers are here to help them understand and break down any issues, but it truly does come down to common sense.

First and foremost, 9 times out of 10, the owner is to blame for much of their dogs behaviour.

And secondly, if your dog is doing something you don't like ... very simply put, don't let him.

Frustrating answers? I suppose.

But we, as trainers, can step back and take an unemotional stance in order to help our clients come up with the solutions to their problems. Emotions get in the way of common sense, and in the dog-human relationship, the emotions run wild and sometimes common sense does not prevail.

If you find you are having issues with your dog, try to take a step back and consider the situation from a different view-point, and don't let emotions cloud your view. Think about your actions, and then think about your dogs reactions.

If you feel your situation is too difficult, there is no shame in calling in a professional who can help walk you through the problems, give you advice, training tips and results, after all, that's what we are here for.

If you need help with your dog, please don't hesitate to contact Smart Dogs Canine Training in Milton at dogtraining101@hotmail.com and visit the website for details on our training programs www.smartdogsk9.com



Friday, October 7, 2011

Thank you Milton!!! Dog Trainer in Milton


Thank you Milton for voting Smart Dogs Canine Training #1!!!

Canadian Champion Reader's Choice Diamond Award for best dog trainer!!

Trained dogs are happy dogs and have happy owners - contact us to improve the relationship with your dog - we're always happy to help.

dogtraining101@hotmail.com
www.smartdogsk9.com
www.facebook.com/smartdogsk9

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Reserve Champion!!! Dog Training in Milton Ontario


A Sunday spent outside in Paris, Ontario was well worth the drive.

Brandy held her own in the agility competition taking home the title of Reserve Champion in Agility II & III and winning the Small Dog Steeplechase competition. As far as the lure coursing and brush hunt went, she left a little to be desired. But she showed promise in the ball toss - but fatigue had started to kick in.

A big thank you to everyone at the Jack Russell Terrier Club of Canada, the volunteers, the judges, the board members, sponsors and the competitors who made this event fantastic. Also, a huge thank you to our president, Deb Mahon, she's done a great job!!!

For more information about joining the club please visit www.jrtcc.com.




Also, don't forget to visit the Russell Rescue www.russellrescue.org

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kids and Dogs...They Can Be Friends - Dog Training in Milton


Yes, it is true, dogs and kids can make the best of friends.

The key to this relationship is maintaining control of both, supervision, proper etiquette and rules.

Supervision is the most important of course. Never, ever, ever leave a child alone unsupervised with a dog, regardless of how good that dog is with the child. Either could get hurt, and it is best not to ever let that happen.

Maintaining control of both your child and the dog is a top priority. If you have no control over either, they you will encounter, at some point, issues with both dog and child. For dogs, obedience training is a must! Even just the basics of sit, down, stay and come. Without these, control becomes difficult to maintain. It is also a great idea to get the children involved in the obedience training. This can help establish that the child is on a higher level than the dog, and help to build a better relationship between both. As a parent, you need to be able to end the game at any time you want without a struggle.

Proper etiquette and rules means that both child and dog need guidelines in order to play together. The child should never be allowed to hit, pinch, kick or scare the dog purposely. The dog should never be allowed to put teeth on skin, mount, nip at or rough play with the child. This of course goes back to maintaining control on both.

If you are consistent, fair and are able to maintain control your children and dogs should be able to grow a healthy, happy relationship together.

If you are having any issues with your dog around your children, please contact us dogtraining101@hotmail.com. This is never an issue that you should take lightly, and it can be resolved with a little guidence from a professional trainer.


Keep in mind there are certain dogs/breeds that, due to their background, temperament, socialization (or lack there of) or other such reasons, should never be around children, period.

* Please note, the dog in the below photos is extensively trained, and socialized with the child shown. The child, though very young, is learning how to play nice. If you are unsure about the way that your dog will react, do not try the below.

Dog hides

Baby finds

Dog hides again and baby finds


Then we share toys



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Thanks Milton!!!!! Dog Trainer Milton Ontario


Thanks to everyone who nominated Smart Dogs Canine Training as their favorite Dog Trainer in the Milton Champion Reader's Choice Awards!

We would love to have your vote, so please visit the link below, and remember to vote on all of your favorite businesses in Milton!!

http://www.insidehalton.com/community/milton


Click on the link above, and then click the link on the top right hand side of the page. A multiple choice screen will appear. Smart Dogs is #27 on the list.

Thanks everyone!!!!!

Funny at the Food Bowl - Dog Training in Milton

They are out there, there's millions of households that have one this very moment, lurking in your living rooms, under your covers ... they are the picky eaters of the canine world.

Sometimes it's hard to believe that a dog, of all creatures, would decide to be a picky eater. If you're like me, you've only had dogs that will wolf down anything in there path that even slightly resembles eatables. Dogs are opportunistic creatures, so when the opportunity to eat presents itself, many will take full advantage of it.

But then, we have those that turn their nose up at dinner unless it is accompanied by a nice steak sauce, or those who refuse to eat unless their bowl is in a certain area of the house, or snub the food until their owner waits on them hand and foot, feeding them each little morsel by hand.

Are these dogs truly picky eaters, or is there something else going on here?

From my experience through working with clients, and through observation, these dogs are not actually picky eaters, rather they are manipulating their owners, using the food bowl as a hostage.

Now when I say manipulating, I don't mean in the same sense as the way humans manipulate. There is no premeditation here, rather a habit that has built up due to the owner giving in to the dogs wishes.

The dog has become used to being waited upon, or having their food lavishly adorned with special sauces and when they fail to receive this treatment at meal times, they refuse the bowl.

The best way to deal with dogs like this is to use the good old, time tested method of filling the bowl, leaving it down for 20 minutes, and picking it up at the 20 minute mark, regardless if the dog has finished or not. Then trying again at the next meal, with the same process.

Unless your dog has an underlying medical issue, this process usually works over a few days, making the dog realize that he'll be going hungry if he doesn't do the doggy thing and eat his dinner. This is usually enough to break the bad habit of requiring fan fare or special treatment at meal times.

If you have a really stubborn case, it would be beneficial to seek the expertise of a trainer, to make sure that you are approaching the situation the correct way. It is also best to check with your vet to rule out any medical issues that may be interrupting the dogs eating habits.

Please feel free to contact Smart Dogs Canine Training if you are experiencing food related issues with your doggy companion and we would be happy to help.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Little White Dog Turns 9! Dog Trainer Milton

Brandy - The B-Hive
ADC, SGDC, AADC, CL2-H, CL2-R, CL2-F, CL2-S, CL3-R, CL3-F, CL3-S, CL3-H, CL4-R, RN MCL, RPT, HIT Agility 2009 JRTRO Trial, JRTCC SGD

My favorite little dog in the world turns 9 today.

She has been my greatest teacher, my best friend, my training partner, my team mate, my constant companion and my son's guardian.

I could not have asked for a better dog.

So happy birthday Brandy, and here's to many, many more.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Puppy Class in Milton - Dog Training in Milton

Smart Dogs Canine Training will be running a puppy class in Milton starting mid-August.

This puppy class is our Smart Puppy Basics, and as the name implies, will teach you all the basics of obedience for your new puppy.

This class will be for puppies up to 7 months of age. It will run on Wednesday evenings at Beaty Neighbourhood Park in Milton, ON from 7:00pm - 8:00pm.

Please contact us for more details dogtraining101@hotmail.com or visit the website to sign up www.smartdogsk9.com.

And don't forget to like us on facebook in order to follow all of our updates, articles and activities.
www.facebook.com/smartdogsk9

Remember, a trained dog is a joy to live with, so get started early and give your pup a good foundation.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A well-trained dog is less likely to attack - Dog Trainer in Milton

The importrance of training your dog is emphasized in this article by Mark Rubensohn, a veterinarian at the Bridlewood Veterinary Clinic in Calgary.

A well-trained dog is less likely to attack

A trained dog is a happy dog. A trained dog is a dog you can take anywhere. A trained dog is a joy to live with. So make sure that you keep your dog happy by not just love, but also training, rules, reward and discipline.

If you are having problems with your dog, please don't hesitate to contact Smart Dogs Canine Training dogtraining101@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Socialize Your Dog - Dog Trainer in Milton


The period of time between 8 and 16 weeks in puppies is an extremely important time to positively introduce new people, places, objects and situations to your dog.

Utilizing reward for good social behaviour is key to creating positive experiences for your pup. Its good to remember to choose your socialization situations carefully. Young puppies should only be socialized with low key, respectful (fully vaccinated) adult dogs, or other young puppies. Caution should be taken at this young age when introducing other animals because puppies are vulnerable to disease. If you are unsure, speak with your vet about the best times to introduce others of the canine species.

When choosing people for initial social interaction, try to pick those who are not going to overwhelm your pup. For fearful, unsure, insecure and apprehensive pups, treats can be thrown from the person who the pup is being socialized to, as long as they remain calm and follow your instructions not to overwhelm your dog with rough petting, standing over them, over exuberance, loud voices etc. If your pup will approach strangers, even though cautiously, the owner can reward the approach, so as to avoid any overwhelming behaviour from the stranger. The best way to avoid those over exuberant puppy petters who need to be in your dogs face, is to simply tell them that your pup is in training and at this time can not receive any interaction (or even better for those very insistent people, tell them the dog has explosive diarrhea and may let loose at any time - that usually works).

For the outgoing, bold, confident pup, the owner rewarding the social behaviour, rather than the other person rewarding the pup, will help to teach the dog that you are the giver of the treats (pets, praise etc.) and that you need to be payed attention to. The outgoing, social pup will automatically gravitate to others if they are not taught that the owner is the one who is more exciting. This will help the social butterflies training later on, encouraging focus and attention on the handler, not on others.

As far as places and situations, the best thing to do is try and bring your pup everywhere you can that you think they may encounter later in life. Always create a positive experience while watching for and acting upon signs of stress; lots of yawning, lip licking, flattened ears, tucked tail, shaking etc. If you begin to see signs of stress end the session on a positive note (ie. with a reward for a sit or other obedience command), and bring the pup home.

The above techniques can also be used with older or rescue dogs, though if they missed their critical social period as puppies, the process can take much longer to achieve.

Over all, it is important to create positive experiences when socializing your dog. You will help develop a dog that is more confident and can be taken with you almost anywhere.

If your dog is having problems with socialization, fear or aggression towards others please don't hesitate to contact us at Smart Dogs Canine Training, we are always glad to help. dogtraining101@hotmail.com or visit the site for details www.smartdogsk9.com

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dog Walking Milton

Smart Dogs Canine Training will now be offering Dog Walking services in Milton!

We provide this service with an abundance of experience since we are professional trainers first, so rest assured that your pooch is in good hands.

We will only be offering private walks for the safety and well being of your dog. Private walks ensure more one-on-one time, and provide opportunities to reinforce any training that your dog has had.

Our services are listed below and you can find more information on our website: www.smartdogsk9.com

Potty Breaks:

  • $10.00 for 15 minutes

Dog Walking:

  • $16.00 for 1/2 hour (1 dog)
  • $22.00 for 1/2 hour (2 dogs from the same household)

Training Walk:

  • $25.00 for 1/2 hour

Adventure Walk:

  • $30.00 for 45 minutes to 1 hour
Please contact us to set up a dog walking schedule for you dogtraining101@hotmail.com

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Group Obedience Lessons - Dog trainging in Milton Ontario

Smart Dogs Canine Training is offering group lessons starting in August.
These two courses are only $160 for 6+1 lessons!
Smart Dogs group and private lessons set you up for success in every day life situations with your dog. Get the results that you want and need with Smart Dogs Canine Training!
Sign up today to make sure you can reserve a spot. Classes are kept small for optimum learning experience.

Beaty Neighbourhood Park at Bennett and Clark
(820 Bennett Blvd, Milton, ON)

Monday Evenings
August 1st Start
Smart Dogs Basics
(7 months +)
7:00 - 8:00pm

Wednesday Evenings
August 18th (Thursday) Start (the rest of the days will be Wednesdays)
Smart Puppy Basics
(up to 7 months)
7:00 - 8:00pm

Email us to sign up!
dogtraining101@hotmail.com

or give us a call
905-299-0052

www.smartdogsk9.com

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weave! Dog Training in Milton

Oh yes, small dogs certainly can weave just as good as the big guys. Check out this video of Brandy showing off her skills in the poles. In my opinion, one of the hardest agility obstacles to teach, but persistence pays off.



Check out www.smartdogsk9.com for information on our training.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Canine Performance Events Trial - Milton Ontario Dog Trainer

Just wanted to share a video of my little dogs "older" work.

Canine Performance Events is a great organization to get started in agility with. They offer lots of games classes, a great atmosphere and fun for both dog and handler.



For more information on agility or if you interested in trying it out in a private session or two, please feel free to email dogtraining101@hotmail.com. Even if you don't plan on competing, agility is a great way to bond with your dog, gain more control and increase confidence.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Celebrate 1 Year with Mutt Life in Milton!


Mutt Life on Ontario Street and Derry Road in Milton is celebrating their first anniversary of being here in Milton.

With a do-it-yourself dog wash and high quality canine products, how could you not love a store like this?

So join them, Saturday July 16th, 10am-5pm for the celebrations that include 10% off in the entire store, prizes and giveaways.

Mutt Life is located at 15-585 Ontario Street, beside Food Port. And visit them on the web at www.muttlife.ca.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Private Lessons - Milton, Ontario Dog Trainer


Smart Dogs Canine Training in Milton Ontario is taking on new private clients!

We offer obedience training and problem solving, not limiting ourselves to anyone method, you can be sure to get an abundance of information, tips and training to help you achieve a well behaved, stable companion.

For more information, please visit our main website at www.smartdogsk9.com or email us at dogtraining101@hotmail.com.

All breeds welcome!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Agility Table, how does it relate? Milton Ontario Dog Training

The table in agility might be one of the most "obvious" pieces of equipment, it's a table, what can really go wrong? But there is plenty that can go wrong, and I have seen it happen many times.

A lot of times the focus is on the harder pieces of equipment, such as the teeter and weave poles, or difficult jump sequences. The table just doesn't seem as important because at first glance, the obstacle looks very simple, however, it is not. Many a dog has pooched (pun intended) a run due to lack of proofing on this piece of equipment.

A dog won't "down" on the table in the rain, refuses to "down" after another dog has been on it, doesn't like the surface texture, hasn't been trained to "down" any where at any time, waits until the 6th time you repeat down before she complies, prefers to sniff than lay down. The dog has never been required to "down" ... if he doesn't, oh well, just try again.

How does this relate to training when you're not interested in competing in sports with your dog?

Well, you may think down is simple and obvious once the dog "knows" the command, so you over look "proofing" the "down". Most dogs tend to be contextual learns, meaning, that sure, they can "down" on the carpet in your living room, but "down" can mean something totally different on the sidewalk outside your home if you have not trained them in that location as well.

Proofing a command by repetitive practice on all surfaces, and in all environments that you think you will need the command in, is vital in order to have a dog that will respond to you where ever you are. Over looking simple things, such as this, may result in confusions for your dog and frustration for you. This goes for all commands, not just "down". Sits, stays, comes etc., all need practice in different environments. This doesn't mean hours on end, but rather a few minutes here and there weekly in order to get and maintain the training that you are hoping for.

Another important factor that is often overlooked is the requirement of the command. If you never require that your dog responds, then don't expect her to respond in all situations or under distraction. Requiring a command means there is a consequence for misbehaviour which can take the form of a verbal or physical correction once the dog fully understands the command. Of course, to be fair, you need to be sure that your dog is well aware of what the command is before you start correcting for lack of response. This means that you've taught the command in all situations with many repititions, and the dog can comply without a lure, coercion or being physically placed. In other words, if you don't require the down at home, why should your dog down on the sidewalk or the agility table. This applies to any and all obedience commands.

Here's two videos of table training with two different dogs. One is experienced, and just practicing, the other is new and just learning. Both are "proofing" their "downs" on a different surface from a normal down.





If you are interested in learning how to proof your dog for all commands, or are looking for help with basic training or issues that you are having with your canine, please feel free to contact us at Linkdogtraining101@hotmail.com and check out the website for details on our training www.smartdogsk9.com

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

New Website - Dog Training in Milton

The new website is up and running!

Please check out www.smartdogsk9.com for information about lessons and what we offer.

Group classes will be starting soon.

Please don't hesitate to email if you have any questions.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Correct or Ignore? Milton Ontario Dog Training


I am a huge proponent of positive reinforcement dog training. I think you can accomplish great things with this type of training, however, there are downsides to the positive only training that is highly popular right now.

Many people who work exclusively with treats and/or toys do not know how to properly fade out the reward, and there for create a dog who will only work for a bribe or when food is present. A good number of owners end up with an "I won't do it unless you show me the cookie" type dog, because proper fading techniques were not taught. Constantly shoving treats in your dogs mouth every time she does something you ask instead of also utilizing praise and petting as a reward can cause this to happen.

Another down fall is that all meaningful negative consequences are removed from training. This means that there are no corrections utilized to help the dog improve their behaviour. Some will tell you that ignoring the dog during an inappropriate reaction is just as good and will garner the same result as administering a well timed correction. Though this may ring true for some dogs, or some situations, it does not ring true with all dogs during all situations.

For example, if your dog loves to chase squirrels while you are trying to walk him, and loves that more than anything, ignoring him will not make even the slightest difference in that behaviour. Often times a redirect is suggested, utilizing a toy or treat, however, if squirrels are your dogs favorite thing above all else, a redirect on it's own will also not put a dent in this inappropriate behaviour. A correct and redirect, balancing the approach with a negative consequence for the wrong behaviour and a positive consequence when the dog focuses back on you, will offer the most effective solution.

There is also the problem with dogs who are high drive (meaning they are, hmm, how shall I put it, insane about certain rewards ie. food, toys etc.) staying in that state when solely utilizing a source of major excitement as a reward. Some trainers will tell you that it's rare to come across a pet dog that is high drive .... I disagree. Training these dogs in drive, with no consequences can create over excitement, over stimulation and over action. This type of training is fantastic when you are looking for a sport dog, a dog that you want "on" all the time during training. But when you are just looking for a well behaved pet, who can compose herself in public, and not be super excited all of the time, then other methods need to be investigated in order to decrease the drives in those wonderfully crazy, high-drive pets, and utilizing voice and petting as a reward as well as adding some appropriate corrections will help owners reduce the insanity that is high drive.

In the pure positive world of dog training, where ignoring the bad and rewarding the good is your only option, there lies a problem of balance in the method. The problem of doing away with any corrective measure is that you are decreasing the amount of tools that you can use during training, and in decreasing these tools you end up with a dog that can never fully realize its potential. Balance is the key during any training, and allows effective and fair communication when done correctly.

Of course, there are steps to take before any corrections should be introduced during formal training. A dog should be taught in a gentle manner what she is suppose to accomplish. A lure and reward, a clicker session, a physical manipulation can all show the dog in a fair manner what you are expecting. The key is to teach before correcting. You want to be sure that your dog is well aware of what is required before adding a corrective consequence during training. You don't teach a child how to read by spanking them, so don't expect to teach a dog who to sit by popping them on the leash.

That being said, there are certain canine behaviours that require corrective consequences without teaching, such as lunging at other dogs on a walk, constant pulling on the leash, inappropriate jumping, humping and bumping etc. These are what I like to call natural behaviours, that occur without training, and can require a correction to reduce the natural tendencies without teaching anything first.

As stated in the first paragraph, sometimes ignoring an inappropriate action from your dog will provide an excellent result, this is an option that should also not be discarded. During agility competitions, there are no physical corrections, but if your dog has deliberately brushed off your commands, ignoring her after the run, and going straight to crate time instead of receiving her highly coveted tug or treat will, in many cases, make the dog think twice about being sassy. A high drive dog who adores the reward will work harder, and better next time in order to receive that reward - no physical correction needed.

Utilizing any corrections must be timed properly, fairly applied and be appropriate for the situation. Once you have achieved success repetitively in your training while teaching the dog what it is you require, you can add in appropriate corrections for the dog brushing you off when he surely knows the command. If you are sure your dog now know the word "sit", and she deliberately ignores your directive, a minor leash pop, a voice reprimand or a physical touch/manipulation to get them into position is fair. And please note, when I say physical touch I mean an attention grabbing tap, not a kick, hit, punch or otherwise abusive behaviour.

Please do not think badly of yourself if your dog needs to be corrected. There are so many ways to train and get your point across to your canine companion, and really, there is no right or wrong way (unless it is abusive), so keep your mind open to all options during training, especially if you get "stuck" and need to search your trainers tool box for a different method.

If you are unsure of of how to reward or correct properly or would like some guidance on the topic, please contact a professional in your area. Someone you are comfortable with, and someone who is willing to utilize different methods in order to get the results that you are looking for.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Small Dogs Can Heel Too! Milton Ontario Dog Training

There is a misconception that small dogs do not need to be trained. This is so far from the truth that it's scary.

A trained dog is a happier dog. A trained dog is a dog that can take part in more family activities. A trained dog is easier to live with and a pleasure to be around no matter what the size.

And small dogs are no exception. Often times we see trainers with demo or competition dogs, being the usual german shepherds, labrador retrievers, border collies, malinois etc. I don't fit in that picture. My demo dog is a 13lb Jack Russell Terrier who can work with the best of them. If you think it isn't possible for little dogs to "work", think again.

Small dogs enjoy using their minds and being trained just as much as the big guys do, so please don't deprive your small breed from learning his or her basic manners, obedience or maybe even beyond.

This is a video of my JRT being put through her paces in a low distraction environment. Proof that small dogs can do just as good as the big guys and are just as happy to have a "job" to do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dogs and Babies - Milton Ontario Dog Trainer

The below article was originally written for the Jack Russell Rescue of Ontario, but it can apply to any breed or mix being introduced to a new child.

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Owners often wonder if it is possible to have their new baby and their Jack Russell Terrier co-exist together in relative harmony. There are often sad stories of terriers being discarded because they didn’t get along with the new addition, but many times there is a lack of education for the owners or a lack of effort to make things work. However, the relationship with your terrier does not have to end this way.

There are four key steps to take prior to and once baby has moved in. Though they make take a little time, owners who love their dogs will find these imperative to creating a desirable environment for both dog and baby. Though there are other steps that one can take, these four are very important.

1. The dog MUST learn and know its place in the pack.

2. Baby MUST be associated with positive but calm consequences however a correction or two may be necessary.

3. The dog should NOT be ignored every time baby arrives on scene.

4. The dog MUST have a safe haven.

THE DOG MUST LEARN AND KNOW ITS PLACE IN THE PACK

This is a step that can be initiated well previous to baby arriving. Every dog, regardless if an infant is involved or not, should learn and know that it is most certainly not the leader in your household. There are very simple ways to achieve this by setting boundaries and rules for your terrier. Basic obedience training can and does help most dogs learn their place; however, terriers are a “take charge” sort of animals, so some extra steps may need to be put in place for these feisty little hunters. Actions such as requiring a sit and wait before putting the food bowl down (do not free feed unless your JRT has a medical issues that requires it), a sit and wait before entering and exiting the house, keeping the dog off of furniture that baby will be on, and out of what will be the new babies room, having the dog move when you need to get by, rather than going around her, don’t leave the dogs toys out for him to pick and choose from and correcting or redirecting inappropriate behaviours. Keeping babies room a “no go” zone is important and should be done without the use of crutches (gates or obstacles). Your dog needs to learn his or her boundaries and crutches should be avoided because there is no real training involved. Once a crutch is removed, the dog will likely go back to entering and exiting whenever he pleases. If you are consistent, fair and repetitive, the above should go smoothly and your dog will soon learn (or be reinforced) that you are the boss, not her.

BABY MUST BE ASSOCIATED WITH POSITIVE BUT CALM CONSEQUENCES, HOWEVER A CORRECTION OR TWO MAY BE NECESSARY

Dogs should associate the new member of the family with good things. However, this MUST be done in a calm manor. If your dog is super excited about toys, but is only mildly excited about petting, use a pat as a reward around baby, not the toy. Find something that your dog enjoys, but that keeps the energy level low. Some dogs will lie calmly chewing a bone for hours, and this can be used as a reward every time baby is around. The bone is only offered to the dog when baby is close by, associating baby with a calm, but positive, rewarding activity (only do this if your JRT has no resource guarding issues). If your Jack has no food aggression or possessive behaviour, having baby in your arms every time you feed the dogs also associates baby with a positive consequence.

There are times when a minor correction may have to be used and this can be in the form of a voice correction (agh, agh), a touch, a leash correction or even just a look for some softer dogs. A minor correction is used when the dog becomes too pushy or too excited around your infant and you want to bring the energy level down. If need be, go back to the basics and keep the dog on leash so she is easier to control. Umbilical training works great with this situation as it keeps the dog involved, active but under control.

THE DOG SHOULD NOT BE IGNORED EVERY TIME BABY ARRIVES ON SCENE

Ignoring the dog, or putting the dog away when baby is out creates an environment for jealousy. If your JRT is under control, there should be no reason to exclude him or her from being around during family time. In a calm moment, hold the baby and call the dog over to pet her. Petting is a calming touch (nice long gentle strokes or a chest rub) and keeps the dog in the right frame of mind in baby’s presence. Ignoring the dog while holding the baby can possibly create jealousy in some dogs, there for having a negative impact on the relationship between the two. This point ties into the above point, as it helps the dog to relate positive experiences with baby and not abandonment or jealousy.

THE DOG MUST HAVE A SAFE HAVEN

Though this is the last point, it may just be the most important. Every JRT should have a place to go once baby is on the move, so that they can “get away”. It could be a crate, a soft bed, a blanket, but it must be a spot that baby is not allowed to enter or better yet, a spot where baby cannot get to. Dogs who aren’t given this reprieve can become frustrated from constant harassment, and can lash out. That being said, if you have control over both baby and dog this should never be the case. So just remember, the dog may need to get away sometimes just as much as you do, but they can’t tell you that they want a break, so make sure to give them their own “getaway”, safe from prying hands.

Over all, though some steps and training can take time, integration of the new arrival to the household should be an easy one. If you notice that you are having some problems with keeping your Jack Russell calm, or controlled and are unsure how to proceed, do not be afraid to contact a local dog trainer to help you with any issues that may arise. Speaking with a trainer and getting some hands on education is a much better option than giving the dog up (unless there is a safety issue in regards to terrier and child). Keep positive, consistent and fair and you will help build a wonderful relationship that your child and dog will greatly benefit from.

*Please note: interaction between children and dogs of any age should ALWAYS be supervised by an adult.

Julie Deans © 2011
dogtraining101@hotmail.com

Friday, May 13, 2011

Purina Walk for Guide Dogs


The Purina Walk for Guide Dogs is in place in order to help more Canadians receive a dog guide for no cost. These dogs become visually impaired Canadians new sight. They also assist others in gaining back their independence. If you are looking to support a great cause, check out their website below, go to the "Walk Locator", and find a fundraising walk happening near you.

http://www.purinawalkfordogguides.com/default.cfm

The Purina Walk in Milton, ON, will be taking place May 29th at 11:00am. starting at EC Drury School for the Deaf. Registration for the Milton location information is below:

http://www.purinawalkfordogguides.com/findWalkResult.cfm?WalkID=1302

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Safe Pet - Milton Ontario Dog Trainer

Now this is an awesome idea!

http://www.ovma.org/pet_owners/safepet.html

Safe Pet was founded by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association to help woman in abusive relationships leave their partners by finding a temporary foster home for their animals.
Often times all these women have is their pets, with usually no one to turn to for help when they are trying to leave their terrible situations.

48% of surveyed Ontario women who had left their abusive partner said that their pets delayed their decision to leave an abusive partner. *

61% of surveyed Ontario women who had left their abusive partner stated
that their partners had brutalized or killed a pet. *

(*OSPCA 1998)


Check out the website and see how you can get involved.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Agility Run - Milton Ontario Dog Training



Don't mind the weave pole bobble, we all do it at times ... and most of the time it's a handler mistake ... opps

Just my little dog having fun in agility a few years ago.

Agility is a really great sport to get into, it's beneficial for both dog and handler alike. Even if you don't become competitive, it's a wonderful way to bond with your best friend, get exercise, and even boost a dog's confidence level.

Look for agility training schools in your area if this sport interests you. Make sure you check them out first, are comfortable with their methods, and ensure that the trainers have some competitive experience in the sport, be it Agility Association of Canada, Canine Performance Events, or other such organizations.

If you are looking in the Halton area, and are unsure where to go, please feel free to contact me and I can offer some excellent recommendations.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Body Language - Dog Trainer in Milton Ontario

Huge eyes, tense muscles and quick movement are all saying, "throw the ball dammit!"

Dogs are very skilled creatures with reading body language, so be careful what you say with your movements.

Actually, most animals are masters in communication of subtle shifts and changes in the body and face. Because animals do not possess a spoken language such as ours, they reply on the language of the body (as well as grunts, growls, howls, barks, squeaks etc.) for communicating with others. Because dogs have to live with us, deal with us and rely on us, they've become masters at reading us.

Observe your dog next time you make a move towards the leash hanging at the door. Often times this means an outing for your companion, which for them, can garner extreme excitement. As you make your way towards the leash, you wonder, how does he know? Is he reading my mind? Does he know what I'm thinking, that I'd like to stroll with him? Wouldn't it be interesting if dogs were clairvoyant; though it would be almost impossible for them to tell us the winning lottery numbers, and then, really, what's the point in seeing into the future? Alas, they are not all seeing, all knowing mystical creatures, rather, they are picking up cues from your movements about what is going to happen next.

Why is knowing this so important? Well, during training, this can mean the difference between a good recall and a great one. If you are not interested in competing with your dog in formal venues, then you don't need to worry about the fancy sit on recall or finish on recall. What you need to worry about is that your dog will recall, period. Standing stiff, barking out an order, and looking somewhat menacing, is not enticing your dog to come to you nor will running after him when he decides not to listen (instead, that turns into a game of haha, you can't catch me on the dogs behalf). Moving away in a playful gesture, crouching down, and making your voice "biscuit" smooth will definitely entice your dog to come. Why the difference? Your body language is saying I'm fun to be with, and who doesn't want to be with someone fun?

Dogs are also great at communicating with us using body language, though we usually get a C- in understanding what they mean. When you eat your lunch, and your dog is observing you, keenly, waiting for a morsel to drop, watch them as they look at you, look at your plate, look at you, look at your plate, and so on. It's pretty easy to imagine what they mean by this, but often times these communications go unnoticed.

Overall, it is important to remember what our bodies are saying to our dogs during training, as this can greatly improve the results that you will see. And, keep in mind that it is also important to observe what our dogs bodies are saying to us. Who knows, one day it might be something profound.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Milton Mutt Strutt

Join others for the Milton Mutt Strutt, May 1st from 11am to 3pm at the Milton Fairgrounds in support of the Oakville and Milton Humane Society. Animal entertainment, vendor market place and more! The walk starts at noon, and you can help by pledging a donation for someone walking or collecting donations yourself. Visit the Oakville and Milton Humane Society website for details and download the pledge form here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Dreaded Thunder - Milton Ontario Dog Trainer

A thunder storm can make everyone stressed and nervous.

Remember how scary thunder was when you were a child? And how the lightening added to the fear? But your parents explained that there was nothing to fear, and it couldn't really hurt you unless you stood outside under the tallest tree in the back yard or tallest metal object on the playground.

Unfortunately, we can not explain away this natural phenomenon to our dogs. There is no way of telling them that it won't hurt them, and that the sound is, well that, just a sound.

It is a controversial subject, how to control your dogs fear during thunderstorms, with many suggested measures that can be taken to help alleviate the fearful response. Some suggest ignoring the reaction from your dog, others admit a good distraction works well, while still other are in a debate whether or not comforting your dog has any negative affects.

I was awoken the other night at about 1:15am to a 7 month old baby, roused from sleep by the thunder. Then, at 3:30am, a little dog crept in my room, pacing and shivering because of the weather outside.

What I have found works well is a distraction during the storm, such as a game with favorite toy, or a trick training session with much adored treats. I have also found that allowing the dog to remain in his or her "comfort zone", often times a crate, plush bed, beneath one of their favorite persons legs or a certain room, will reduce some of the worry from your storm hating canine.

At 3:30am, a rousing game of fetch is definitely out of the question, so a trip to the crate, complete with soft bedding, was the option I choose, and what was left of the night remained peacefully quite.

Of course, not all dogs will respond in kind to the above suggestions. If you have a dog who is reactive during bad weather, don't be afraid to try something new to help her out. Get creative, be empathetic and remember to remain calm yourself. If you are afraid of storms, this is just going to exacerbate your dogs reaction, so enlist someone else who can keep it together when the lightening strikes to help you with your dog if you begin to feel panicky at the first sign of rain.

If, at any time, your dog's reactions become progressively worse, seek the help of a local trainer or behaviourist and they can also give you some ideas to try and help your friend through the stormy season.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Jack Russell Rescue in Need of Foster Homes!


Volunteers needed!!!
Foster homes needed for Jack Russells needing a well deserved second chance. Please contact Emily Skelton tomandemily@bell.net or Cathy Chambers at adoptions@russellrescue.org.

Visit the Jack Russell Rescue of Ontario website to see how you can help.
www.russellrescue.org

Friday, April 15, 2011

Can Dogs Heal Dogs?

If you watch TV enough, and you've had a chance to catch a few of the Dog Whisperer episodes, you will mostly have heard the phrase "power of the pack". The main meaning behind this phrase is that dogs can help heal other dogs with issues, but is this really the case? On the surface, it looks great, dogs helping dogs, who wouldn't want a world like that? But underneath, there are some real concerns when average folk decide that they need another dog to help heal their own.

The problem behind this theory is that not all dogs are going to project the correct energy in order to be of assistance to the pooch with behavioural issues. Some dogs do not and will not "bend" to the energy of others, meaning, that even though the dog or dogs you chose to help do the healing are balanced in your eyes, their balance may not be strong enough to influence poor rover who needs help with his issues.

I often hear of advice being given willy nilly from trainers and other well-meaning dog people alike, that recommend the addition of a new dog (adopting a new friend for fido) will solve most issues. Sadly, this is not case, and is usually just an easy way out for some. If the temperament and energy of the dog in need of professional help, is not matched perfectly to the potential new addition, it can have disastrous results; double the trouble if you know what I'm saying.

I am not down playing the power of dogs influencing other dogs, because it can work, and when it does, it is truly amazing to see. But, for the average owner, there is no one helping them pick the perfect rehab dog, there is no one guiding them step by step on how to help the rehab dog influence the troubled soul, and there is no one their to take responsibility when something goes wrong.

I have witnessed dogs who have influenced their needy counterparts for the better, creating a harmonious family life once again. However, I have also witnessed dogs, who though strong and with fairly good energy, succumb to an unstable dogs reactions. This is the result that you do not want, but can be hard to avoid for an untrained owner.

The best option for everyone (including the potential new life-mate) is to train and rehabilitate the troubled pooch as much as possible before attempting to add a friend into the mix. It is easier to control one dog with a behaivour issue, rather than two or three. This way, you avoid the possible chaos of a multi-dog house hold, and it gives your companion what she really needs.

That being said, if you find a trainer out there, with a pack who has the correct energy for rehabilitation, by all means sign up with that trainer and get your dog out there. It can do both you and your buddy a world of good, just remember "don't attempt these techniques at home or without professional supervision" ... usually good words to live by.

Julie Deans ©2011

Monday, April 11, 2011

Rescue Chihuahua Update

Check out the Oakville Milton Humane Society's Facebook page for details and updates on the Chihuahuas rescued from a home in Oakville

OM Humane on Facebook

The shelter could use donations to help these little guys out, so if you are interested in contributing, please visit their website for details.

Oakville Milton Humane

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Labeling & Repetition

Can dogs be taught without the use of treats or compulsion? They most certainly can. I am not down playing the use of reward based training, because it is a fantastic tool, but rather I'm looking outside the box to help our canine companions understand what it is we are trying to convey.

How often do you talk to your dogs? I will venture a guess and say that a lot of you are like me, and babble to your dog throughout the day (sometimes waiting for an intelligent, witty reply that never comes). Talking comes as naturally to us humans as breathing, and though our dogs don't understand a good portion of what we are saying, we still enjoy including them in our conversations.

Now here comes the good part. Although our dogs may not understand our technically one-sided conversations, we can at least help them to get the jest of what we are saying. Really, why not utilize a tool that comes so naturally to us as gabbing. I'm not implying that your dog is going to catch on to why you don't like the Conservative Party, or why you think those shoes make your ankles look fat, but rather they may catch on to single words, or even directive phrases without the use of treats or compulsion.

Labeling and repetition go a long way in training. Think of how we entice babies to say their first word or name their first object. We repeat, repeat, repeat the label of the object, person or thing that it is we are directing them to.

So why can't that work with dogs, why can't we label and repeat without the use of treats for certain tasks or objects? It can, and the key of course, is repetition (and ahhh yes, consistency). You don't need a treat to help your dog learn that "bone" really means his partially destroyed Nyla that's lying in his bed or that it's diner time when you utter the coveted "food" word. All you need is repetition - no clicker, no prong collar, no cookies, just plain old repeating yourself and being consistent about it.

Good timing is also key. Adding a label of the word "bone" to the dogs bone, and then expecting her to understand the word "bone" while the bone sits on the floor, 5 feet away, you are holding a flank steak and a mouse has happened through your kitchen on it's daily stroll is not good timing. Good timing means as you play with your dog, pick up the bone, show it to her, say "get your bone" and hand it over. This doesn't have to be an intense training session. It can be incorporated into play, and used very casually, but the dog will eventually understand that when you say "bone" it means, well, the bone, because the repetition of the word has made a tiny little connection to the object at hand.

You can actually teach more complex tasks with repetition and no obvious reward (though something you may not think is rewarding, most certainly is to your dog ... some dogs like the taste of their own feces). I have taught my little Jack Russell to "get into the arms" so that I can pick her up. And though there is no obvious reward, the repetition simply directed her to carry out the behaviour. I'd pick her up with my hands under her belly, and every time I did I would repeat "get into the arms" until eventually I could hold out both arms, say the magic phrase and she would walk over and stand above my outstretched appendages, awaiting lift-off.

So try it out, it can be a fun and rewarding task for the average dog owner, as it can be done very casually. Although, keep in mind, when casually done, the directive doesn't sink in over night. Take your time, and be patient and you will most certainly see results without begging, bribing or forcing your dog do do anything.

Julie Deans ©2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chihuahuas Rescued


Alerted by someone in the community, the Oakville & Milton Humane Society removed 31 dogs, all chihuahuas, from an Oakville home on Friday April 1st.

InsideHalton Article: 31 dogs rescued from Oakville home

These dogs will be assessed by the humane society and will hopefully be well enough to be featured for adoption. So keep your eye on the Oakville & Milton Humane Society website for more details, and find out how you can help.

Oakville & Milton Humane Society Website

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Trainer is Just as Important as the Methods...Dog Training in Milton

An important and critical part of owning a dog is training him or her to become a good family member and a polite member of society. This is accomplished through simple obedience lessons that can help to greatly improve your dog's behaviour around the house and in public places. A key aspect of training is finding someone who you feel comfortable with, someone who listens to your needs, someone who is fair in their methods to both the dog and yourself, and someone who is willing to devise a program specifically for you and your dog. A good trainer can help you through the learning process and can also help you take your training to the next level if your are willing and able to advance.

Many people choose a trainer or training facility because of location, or solely rely on word of mouth from others without actually checking out the trainer's techniques, methods and practices for themselves. There are some simple ways to get an idea about what your potential trainers methods, and the trainer or facility should be more than willing to accommodate your request. If a facility holds group classes, ask to sit in as an observer during the training. This can help to give you an over all picture of techniques, personality, dog and people skills that this particular trainer holding the class has. Don't be afraid to ask questions after class is out, or raise any concerns that you may have with the trainer before you sign up. If the trainer doesn't offer group classes, ask to set up a time when you can call or email and obtain information on how the trainer works. Request an initial one-hour private lesson (charges will apply for this) to get an overall picture of those who don't offer their services in class settings. This will help you to find out if he or she is right for what you are looking for in a dog trainer.

Ask for references from individuals who were looking for the same results as you are. Ask for the trainers qualifications; are they competing in and sports or activates (and doing fairly well) with their own dogs? Have they had any sort of formal schooling? How long have they been involved with dogs? How long have they been training for (their own dogs included)? Ask what their main training method involves: clicker, positive motivation only, reward and correction methods, compulsion methods only, and choose someone that you think will best compliment you and your dog. If you feel at all uncomfortable with the trainer or their techniques - DO NOT use them. Training should be a fun learning experience for both you and your dog, and you should never be made to feel uncomfortable during class or private training. If you think that your dog is uncomfortable with a particular trainer - DO NOT use them. Training is stressful to a dog, regardless of where it takes place, but adding more stress because a trainer seems to make a dog uncomfortable will only inhibit learning, and your dog may come to associate training with stress only, and this can be detrimental to the process.

Find a trainer who you are comfortable with, who is willing to always keep an open mind and try new techniques if the first or second does not work; not every type of training works the same for every dog. Each dog is an individual, and must be looked at as such when devising a training program for a particular dog. Find one who relates well to not only the dogs, but to the handler as well. Dog training involves an abundant amount of people training, and if the trainer can not relate with the handler or is lacking in people skills, it is going to make it that much more difficult for you and your dog to learn. Find one who is knowledgeable about canines and their behaviour and has some experience in the area that you are looking to train for, be it formal obedience, agility, rally-o or just family pet.Don't be afraid to ask questions, and always keep in mind, training should be a fun process for you and your dog, but you should also expect to come away with knowledge, new ideas, techniques and a better understanding of your canine companion. These will all help you on the road to having and maintaining a wonderful family companion or your next competition dog.

Julie Deans © 2007

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Picking Your New Friend - Dog Training in Milton

Puppy picking is a very exciting occasion. It's less stressful than giving birth, but can be more stressful in the aftermath. Picking a puppy can be a tough decision for families who want to add a new member to their household, but are not sure where to begin.

Well, I say it's always best to begin at the beginning ... so let's start. The best thing to do when you think Rover would complete your family, is to make a list of what breeds you are interested in and why. Why the why you ask? Simple, you need to be aware of why you are choosing the canine that you've got your eye on. Is it because you like their style, and their eyes bring out the colour of your spring wardrobe? If so, perhaps move on to the next breed that you like because their temperament suits your life style. Many times puppies are picked solely based on looks, and though this may work for some, it can be a nightmare for others.

Temperament is key when choosing a pup that will best suit your family, and this is not just true of puppies, this is also the case when choosing an adult dog for companionship. Temperament is essentially who the dog or pup in question is or will be. If you don't want a shy dog, stay away from those who react badly to noise, who cower when touched, or who want nothing to do with you when you are pleading to pet them. If you aren't into the dominant dogs, stay away from those who decide your leg would make a good mounting board or those who thrash and struggle in your arms and refuse to calm down.

Temperament is what you should look at in order to match the dog/puppy to your family. If you are an active family who loves jogging and hiking, don't get a laid back, lazy dog. If you are a family who enjoys couch time and potato chips, grab the dog who enjoys a good nap in the mornings and afternoon.

Be aware that there are breeders out there, if you choose to go that route, that put temperament as number 3 or 4 on their list of priorities for breeding. Ask to see the parents of the litter, as this will be a good indication of what may lie ahead for you. Adult dogs are easier to assess because what you see is basically what you get, but be aware that dogs are contextual creatures and may act different in different environments.

In my humble opinion, temperament should be right up there as number one, beside health, as the most important aspect to look at when putting two dogs together for a breeding. Shoty temperaments or temperaments that don't match the families that picked them, are reasons why many dogs are taken to pounds and rescues. So if you keep temperament as #1 on your list, you should be able to avoid that problem.

Obviously health is a going concern for puppy buyers. Choose a breeder who screens for health issues prevalent in that breed, and who uses proper venues to register their dogs health. Ask to see health certificate from OFA, OVC or PennHip. Research what the issues are in the breed you are interested in, and go in with knowledge rather than ignorance. Don't let the breeder pull the wool over your eyes with statements like, "oh, the certificates are in the mail." or "oh, the vet said my dogs are healthy.".

And make sure that the breeder in question will offer you a minimun 2 year genetic health guarantee covering anything that may come up as hereditary in your new pup. For those going the route of rescuing a canine companion, there is little that can be ensured about the dogs potential health, but make sure that the dog is up to date vaccines, has been heartworm tested, flee tested and over all looks well. It is important to take any dog or puppy to your vet right away to confirm that he or she is in good condition. Most health guarantees require that the dog is taken within the first week in order for the guarantee to be valid. Keep in mind though that guarantees and health testing are not the be-all-end-all, and issues can arise, even from two perfectly healthy, tested individuals.

This is a huge decision for families and should not be taken lightly, so at the very least, be aware of the above in order to better facilitate your decision making. Over all, be prepared with your own research before you decide which puppy to adopt. By being aware of health and temperament, you increase the chance of choosing a dog that will suit your family and be healthy for years to come.

Check out the Volhard Puppy Aptitude Test (developed by Wendy Volhard) for indications about what kind of temperament you pup may have as an adult. Please note, this test is a good indicator of potential temperament, however, due to environments that pups may be placed in, changes during growth and amount of training/socialization a pup may receive, results are not guaranteed.

By Julie Deans ©2011