Tuesday, May 24, 2011
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
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
Friday, May 13, 2011
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.
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:
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
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. *
Check out the website and see how you can get involved.
Friday, May 6, 2011
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
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.