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 or Cathy Chambers at

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

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