Traveling With Dogs, Stress-Free Strategies

Summertime means vacation time. And for those of you with dogs, you don’t have to miss out. Traveling with your pet is both great for you and your furry friend, but there are a few things you need to consider before packing the treats and hitting the road.

Luckily, New York travel company AllTheRooms is here to help you out. The following are a few tips on how to make travel with your pooch less stressful while ensuring your vacation together is a barking success.

Take a Trip to the Vet

One of the first and more important things to do with your pet before going anywhere out of town is to schedule a visit with your dog’s vet. Ideally, you’ll want to do this with as much advanced noticed as possible (but still within any specifically required timeframes), in case advanced medical care is required. The doc will check to make sure your dog is in good health and suitable for travel. You’ll also want to notify them of where you will be traveling, as your dog might need specific vaccinations.

Confirm Your Mode of Travel and Requirements

The actual journey part of your trip may be the most difficult and potentially stressful time for your pet, so be sure to follow these simple tips.

  • If you’re driving to your destination, think about places you’ll be seeing – and potentially stopping at – along the way. It’s best to not leave your dog alone in the car, especially in a strange environment. Will you be able to bring your dog with you? Will someone be able to watch them? Having another human friend along would be best, so you can tag-team the supervision. Even during shorts stops, like filling up your tank, can cause anxiety if your dog isn’t familiar with their surroundings, so plan accordingly.
  • If you plan on traveling to your vacation spot by plane, train or boat, be sure to confirm with the transport company beforehand that your dog will be allowed on board. Follow any rules or regulations in place and your journey should be much more comfortable for you both. Planning ahead is key!
  • No matter which route or method of transportation, remember your dog’s needs along the way. Breathing some fresh air, stretching their legs, taking a potty break, drinking water – and maybe even consuming a snack can help them feel like they’re getting a little vacay in too.

Plan to Pack Smart

Like you would for yourself and the rest of your family, you also need to plan for what to pack for your pet. Important items we recommend include:

  • An ID tag: Make certain your dog is wearing a collar with an ID tag that contains their name and your current contact information. If locations you’re visiting require a license or rabies tag, make sure you have that with you as well.
  • Paperwork: Take any required paperwork for your pet while traveling. Check you have your pet’s passport allowing them to travel (if required), details of their immunizations and any documents outlining any health problems they have or medication they are taking. These will come in handy if you end up having to take your pet to the vet during your vacation as well.
  • Their favorite item: whether it’s a ball, a blanket or a teddy they’re fond of, be sure to bring it with you to keep your dog feeling happy and relaxed.
  • Something to walk them with: pack your dog’s leash and anything else they would wear for walkies, such as a harness.
  • Toiletries: shampoo in case your pal gets muddy, and their doggy toothbrush to maintain good dental hygiene. Keep any medications they take on you, rather than in a bag, so you can quickly access them if you need to.
  • Food: make sure you pack enough food for the duration of the trip, as well as any treats and chews to keep their tummy full and their spirits happy.

Praise Your Pet

Traveling can be stressful for some dogs and to help them feel at their best, give them lots of positive reassurance throughout the journey. You’ll also want to positively reinforce them for minding their manners during your adventures together. Behaving well in the car, going potty in the right spot, minding their manners in public places (hotels, restaurants, bustling tourist areas) should be acknowledged with lots of fuss! Send the message that they’re great traveling companions. Use toys, treats, and cuddles to reinforce them – maybe even buying them a souvenir.

If your dog acts in a way that’s abnormal for them, they may be slightly stressed. Remember to stay calm yourself so you can think clearly and create a training plan to help. Speak soothingly to your dog and take a break from the journey if necessary.

Bon Voyage

We hope these tips help you and your pet prepare and have a great vacation. Stay organized, positive and safe and you’re likely to have a stress-free getaway with your pooch.


Sage Fitzpatrick is a travel blogger currently living in London. She can be found drinking tea, reading and traveling the world. When she’s not traveling she spends her time blogging about her travels over at A Virtual Postcard.

 

 

 

The Pros and Cons of Owning More Than One Dog

If you’ve been considering bringing a second (or third…or fourth…) dog into your home, you might be asking yourself questions such as “Should I” “Should I not?” As with most new endeavors, it should begin with a plan – of some sort. In the beginning stages of contemplation, your initial plan might begin with a general pros and cons list. So for this specific blog post, we decided to collaborate with fellow animal advocate Allie Cooper of PetPaw&Tail18. She has graciously provided some helpful info to help you start your journey into answering questions you may have.


There are numerous benefits of having a multi-canine household. But this of course also comes with additional responsibilities. The following is a little pros and cons list we’ve developed for dog owners, to help answer the “should” questions, along with any others they may have come up with. 

Pros

Helps Dogs Socialize

PetMD explains that dogs may go into fight or flight mode when faced with strange people, animals, and environment, resulting in experiencing increased stress. Dogs who are not used to being walked in public, seeing new faces and smelling other inquisitive canines might appear shy or even display signs of aggression. It’s very important that puppies get accustomed to these situations early on through force-free puppy classes, where he or she can be introduced to other dogs, people, and situations.

Professional dog trainer and author of Plays Well With Others Pat Miller claims that playtime with other well-trained dogs can teach them social skills. This may result from reading and mimicking appropriate body language and displayed behaviors. Although, it’s vital to ensure that the introduction is gradual and that the older dog they are learning from is well-behaved and non-aggressive. This can help your new puppy become more comfortable, less fearful, and grow into a healthy and happy pooch.

As for older pets, the senior pet wellness article posted by Maryville University adds that they may benefit from getting socialization and companionship, depending on their personality. However, getting older dogs accustomed to other dogs and unfamiliar environments might take more time and patience as they may have already become set in their ways.

More Companionship

Dogs have long been considered man’s best friend and have proven their place as great companions. Having more pets can enhance the physical, emotional and social benefits of pet ownership such as feelings of love and delight. It may also provide more opportunities to create bonds with other pet owners and animal lovers.

More Incentive – and Options for Exercise

Owners will be encouraged to get more exercise when walking or playing with their pets. The study published by BMC Public Health revealed that dog owners added an average of 22 minutes to their daily walk compared to those who did not have dogs. They walked at an average pace of 3 miles per hour which falls under CDC’s prescription for moderate intensity exercise. Considering that lack of movement is linked to obesity, having more than one dog can help owners become more active and health conscious. Furthermore, if different dogs require different exercise durations and methods, owners can provide each dog with what he or she needs while getting twice (or more) exercise sessions themselves.

Cons

Added Expense

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Of course, having more than one pet also means having more than one mouth to feed, more than one cuddly body to groom, and more companions to bring to the vet.

Time Magazine’s report shows that small to big dogs typically cost $1,001 to $1,448 annually. The breakdown does not include fees like spay and neuter services or other types of resources that dogs with special conditions might require.

Increased Risk for More Chaos

Dogs will be dogs. And, when humans neglect them, they will often entertain themselves. Sometimes their choices can be good, like playing with enrichment toys or their siblings. Other times, he or she might decide to partake in behaviors we humans would deem destructive. It is the owner’s responsibility to watch after them, train them, and keep them happy and entertained.

If you have time to go out for walks only once a day, you’ll want to make sure the entire group can go together successfully. If you need to take the dogs’ separately, then you’ll need to adjust your schedule. Will each walk be shorter so you can meet your time commitment? Or, will you need to recruit help?  In addition to our recommendations for hiring a dog walker, make sure this professional can handle caring for multiple dogs at once.

Pawfect Mutt Match or Canine Conflict?

Change can be good, but it can also be challenging. 

If your resident dog is used to flying solo, he or she may look at you in disbelief when meeting their new sibling. On the flipside, he or she might be head-over-paws in love! Take into account there will be an adjustment period – for everyone, dogs and humans – and that the timeframe will be different for each one. 

Training and management can help you all get through the process. If your current dog has behavioral any challenges that need to be addressed, we recommend you do so before bringing another animal into the family circle. (Keep in mind that things can change again once the family dynamic changes).

Final Thoughts

Responsible pet ownership means that you also have to think about how your pets might react to having a new pet in the house. Take some time to weigh these pros and cons before signing the adoption papers, while making sure that everyone — man and animal — is on board for the new pet.


This post was written exclusively for inquisitivecanine.com
Submitted by PetPaw&Tail18

PetPaw&Tail18 runs her own shelter in Ohio with her life partner. She is the proud owner of two beautiful Labradors, Molly and Kiki—Molly being the first rescue of the shelter. She dedicates her life to saving and finding mutts a loving home and cannot imagine not having a dog of her own.

9 Innovative Dog Rescue Programs

Dog Rescue Programs

(and How You Can Get Involved)

Written by Guest Blogger Jordan Smith

In an ideal world, every dog would have a loving owner and a warm home. Sadly, we don’t live in a perfect world, and The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals estimates that 3.3 million dogs enter shelters every year (this number doesn’t include stray dogs who don’t enter a shelter).

But there are thousands of shelters and dog rescue programs working to make our world a little more perfect, and they strive to help every dog find their forever homes. Below, we highlight some of the most innovative and unique dog rescue programs from around the United States. If you live near one, they’re all worthy of your volunteer hours, and if you don’t, they’re always in need of donations.

Muttville Senior Dog Rescue

Puppies and younger dogs get snapped up at shelters, while the older ones often have a tough time getting adopted. Sherri Franklin started Muttville Senior Dog Rescue program in order to change this fact.

Founded in 2007, Muttville has been working for more than a decade to place senior and special needs rescue dogs in homes; the dog rescue program also offers end-of-life care for dogs that are not adoptable. Muttville rescued its 5,000th dog in September 2017, and the shelter now rescues an average of 1,000 dogs a year. While based in San Francisco, the shelter accepts dogs from all over California and places them in homes state-wide as well.

Austin Pets Alive!

As the name suggests, this Texas-based shelter is a leader in the no-kill movement. After looking at the data, staff realized that the average live rate at city shelters was only about 50%. To close this gap, Austin Pets Alive! created rescue programs that focus on animals that might otherwise be euthanized at a different shelter.

They created a Parvo Puppy ICU to treat puppies and dogs with parvovirus, as well as a Dog Behavior Program to support dogs that require additional behavioral attention. Such programs have helped the city of Austin save more than 90% of shelter animals since 2011.

Most recently, Austin Pets Live! partnered with Houston Pets Live! in the wake of Hurricane Harvey to rescue more than 3,000 animals thanks to funds from Bark for Good, an initiative by BarkShop that donates 5% of the proceeds from sales of their adorable dog toys and tasty dog treats to organizations that help keep dogs out of shelters.

New York Bully Crew

Pitbulls have been saddled with a reputation for being aggressive, making many potential owners loathe to adopt a dog from this breed. (As with any dog breed, aggression and non-aggression in pitbulls are greatly impacted by changeable factors such as training, environment, and treatment.)

New York Bully Crew is on a mission to change this reputation. The Long Island-based program specializes in rescuing and rehabilitating pitbulls from around the nation, though they focus a lot on the greater NYC area. While the program was founded to help save pitbulls, Bully Crew won’t turn away dogs of any breed that need help. The program also raises awareness about the cruelties of dog fighting, abuse, and neglect, and runs a text-and-email hotline for reporting these issues.

Greyhound Pets of America

Another breed-specific rescue program, Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) helps greyhounds find forever homes after their racing careers are over. While many think of greyhounds primarily as athletic dogs meant for racing, they are very friendly and non-confrontational, and adapt well to more laidback, post-racing lifestyles.

GPA has various chapters in 25 states, and together the chapters have helped 80,000 greyhounds get adopted nationwide since GPA was founded in 1987. The national chapter does accept donations, but most of the adoption work is run through the local chapters; check the listing to see if there’s one in your state.

Karma Rescue

While Karma Rescue often takes in pitbulls, they also accept other dogs (and the occasional cat) who are looking for their forever homes. The organization runs multiple programs, but it’s perhaps best known for its Paws for Life initiative, a prison-based dog training program available at multiple prisons throughout California.

Over 12 weeks, inmates help train the dogs to receive the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certification, the gold-standard in canine obedience. There’s also a more intense 52-week program in which inmates train formerly homeless dogs to serve as specially-trained companions for military veterans with PTSD. Not only does the Paws for Life program increase a dog’s chances of getting adopted, it also helps the inmates gain life skills and develop empathy.

National Mill Dog Rescue

When it comes to puppy mills, many focus on the puppies (as the name “puppy mill” implies) and forget about the adult dogs that are forced to continuously breed litters. The adult dogs are often confined in cages for years, with little or no medical care.

National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) was founded to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome “retired” breeding dogs. To start off their new lives, every single dog is spayed or neutered, given additional medical care, and bathed and groomed. Based in Peyton, Co., the program is also open to out-of-state adoptions. If you live in the area, NMDR’s work 95% volunteer based, so they’re always looking for extra pairs of hands.

Angels Among Us Pet Rescue

This program is dedicated to saving dogs (and cats) from high-kill shelters across north Georgia. Each animal is placed in a foster home in the greater Atlanta area until they find their forever home; Angels Among Us does not operate its own facility, though the program does hold regular adoption events so potential adoptees can meet multiple foster dogs at once.

Once a dog is transferred from the shelter into Angels Among Us, the pooch isn’t returned to the shelter for any reason. Angels Among Us does consider out-of-state adoptions, and even offers remote volunteer opportunities for those who don’t live in the Atlanta area.

K9s For Warriors

Located in Florida, K9s For Warriors helps both dogs AND military veterans. The program provides service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma. The dogs trained in the program are either rescued from shelters or donated by the public, and they’re given both a new home and a new lease on life through the program.

It costs approximately $27,000 to train and place a service dog, but these expenses are covered entirely through donations, and veterans are never charged a cent. Even if dogs don’t meet the requirements to become a service animal, K9s For Warriors will keep working to help them find their forever homes.

Hope for Paws

Odds are that you’ve seen one of Hope for Paws’ many viral videos of dog rescues. The Los Angeles-based rescue organization has more than 2 million subscribers on its YouTube channel, and has amassed more than 540 million views (yes, you read that number correctly) since its inception.

The organization’s awareness efforts really took off in 2012, when a video documenting the rescue of a blind dog named Fiona went viral. In addition to finding her forever home, Fiona got a chance to meet Anderson Cooper and Kristin Chenoweth on national TV, helping to spread the word about Hope for Paws and animal rescue efforts everywhere.

What You Can Do

Regardless of where you live, there are plenty of ways to get involved and help dogs find their forever homes. Check to see if any of these rescue programs are located near where you live. If not, there are bound to be other shelters and rescue programs nearby; look for no- or low-kill shelters that euthanize as few dogs as possible and strive to place each and every one of them in a loving, comfortable home.

Rescue programs and shelters are always in need of donations as well as volunteer time, including specific items such as beds, blankets, food, treats, and dog toys. Of course, shelters and rescue programs also accept cash donations, and you can support any of the rescue programs listed here by contributing online, even if you live hundreds of miles away.

If you’re looking to get a dog, consider adopting from a shelter or rescue program — if just one out of every 10 Americans adopted a dog, we could almost clear out the shelters. And whether you’re hoping to adopt a dog or already own one (or several), be sure that they’re neutered or spayed. The first step to keeping dogs out of shelters is keeping down the birth rate, and neutering or spaying your pooch is one of the most effective steps in preventing overpopulation, and the abuse and neglect that comes with it.

There’s power in numbers, and if each of us gave just a little bit of our time or money, it would go a long way to helping every dog in the country get adopted. Donate or volunteer today, and start making a difference to the dogs.

How to Find the Right Dog Walker

how to find the right dog walker
Guest Post
Emily Conklin – Gladwire

How You Can Find the Right Dog Walker

If you’re like thousands of other puppy parents, you’re finding it difficult to fit regular walks into your busy schedule. You don’t have to feel guilty about short changing your pooch when there’s probably a dog walker right in your neighborhood who can take up the slack. While getting the kid next door to walk your dog might seem like a good idea in a pinch, enlisting the services of a professional dog walker may be a safer, more sensible approach.

If you don’t know where to look, finding a reliable surrogate who will take good care of your dog can be a challenge. Find the right dog walker with a few simple tips.

Look Locally

Even if you live in a small or mid-sized town, chances are there are a few professional dog walkers or professional dog walking services in your area. You could start by looking on Craigslist, in the local classifieds, or on the internet for the right dog walker. However, dog-centric businesses might yield better results.

Many veterinarian’s offices have bulletin boards located in their waiting room advertising services for pet owners; they may even have a dog walker among their patients. Another place to try is a pet supply store. If there’s a dog park in your area, you might ask other pet owners who they use. Once you get a few names, it’s time to take the next step.

Go Social

Even if you choose a private dog walker rather than a service, chances are that anyone trying to build a business has a presence online. However, anyone can put up a social media page and call themselves a dog walker, so a little investigation is in order. Check popular sites like Facebook and Instagram to get a feel for their business. Look for photos of their walks and the other dogs they walk, including how big of a group they wrangle; if they’re regularly dealing with 10 dogs, will they be able to give yours the attention he needs? Is there feedback and interaction from clients on their pages and photos, or does the page seem relatively static and neglected?

Since we also know that many people put on a good show for social media, look for any links to a business website. If they have one, is it laid out like a reputable business, with information about licensing and insurance? Do they list services or specifics about how they conduct business? It’s also a good idea to Google the dog walker or their company for mentions on consumer sites like Yelp! This is a fairly objective way to learn if they’ve had any complaints about their services or rave reviews, and find out how long they’ve been in business.

Meet First

Much like when you’re looking for a daycare provider for your child or a contractor to work on your home, you should meet with several dog walkers before you settle on one. There’s some opinion out there that dogs know instinctively if someone is trustworthy or not. Arrange a meeting at their home or business, if they have an office. Observe how they approach your pet, and how your dog responds to them. What does their body language tell you? Do they seem calm and confident? Friendly? If you or your dog aren’t comfortable with them, you should probably pass.

You should come prepared with a list of questions so you can determine their routine, where they generally walk, and how they might respond to emergency situations. Some practical questions to start with might be:

  • How long do you walk the dogs, how many walks per day, and how far do you walk?
  • Do you walk in areas with heavy traffic or a lot of distractions?
  • How do you deal with dogs who aren’t well-socialized? Do you walk some dogs separately, or do you take them all together?
  • Do you walk the dogs with dog harnesses or just by the collar?
  • Are you the primary dog walker, or will there be other people walking my dog?
  • Do you have backup arrangements in the case of an emergency?
  • Are they willing to allow you to accompany them on a test walk to see how they handle your dog?

In addition to general questions about the walks themselves, it doesn’t hurt to delve a little deeper into their background and experience as it relates to the job. Points to cover include:

  • Length of time as a dog walker?
  • Any formal dog training classes or certifications?
  • Are they licensed and insured? Can they provide proof of both?
  • Do they have training in canine first aid?
  • Do they have a veterinarian or arrangement for emergency care in the case of an accident or medical condition?

Getting to Know You, Too

An attentive, conscientious dog walker will also have questions for you, or at least express an interest in your pet. Although it’s not a definite reason to pass, someone who doesn’t might be indifferent or neglectful. Honesty on your part is just as important as expecting full disclosure from them. You should be prepared to give them specifics about your dog’s personality, quirks, and any medical or behavior issues. Other important disclosures include how they get along with other animals or children and how they react to loud noises or traffic.

Business Matters

Once you’ve found someone who both you and your pet feel comfortable with, it’s time to get down to business. Get a firm price for services and payment arrangements. Some providers charge a flat rate that’s payable even if your dog misses a week or a few days, others charge by the hour or by the day, and still others charge by the month. Work out a payment schedule that works for both of you. You should also ask about about cancellation policies and other potential expenses or charges that might crop up. Get everything in writing, if possible.

When your schedule and Fido’s collide, it’s time to look for solutions. Luckily, there are many dog-lovers who provide services to help pet parent’s like you give your furry baby the fresh air and exercise they need when you aren’t able. We all want the best for our dogs. Finding the right dog walker is well worth the effort.

 

References

https://www.sfspca.org/sites/default/files/documents/dog-hiring-dog-walker_0.pdf

https://barkpost.com/how-to-find-and-choose-the-right-dog-walker/

 

 

How to Find a Dog Trainer You Can Trust With Your Pup

How to Find a dog trainer you can trust

Whether you just brought home a new dog, or your current canine companion is exhibiting a concerning behavior, you need to find a dog trainer you can trust.

The search for a well-trained, reliable dog trainer is harder than you might think. With so many dog trainers advertising their services on open sites like Yelp, you might find yourself entrusting your precious pup to the wrong person.

How to Find a Dog Trainer

If you’re wondering how to find a dog trainer and who to trust, we can help.

Here at IC HQs, we understand just how difficult it is to find a qualified dog training professional. One person’s website offers one opinion, while another’s recommends something completely different. Friends and family offer their advice only adding to your confusion. How do you filter through all the friendly advice, suggestions, and online searches?

Not to worry, we’re here to help you find a dog trainer by addressing common questions, and providing the information and resources you need, to find the right trainer for you and your four-legged friend’s needs.

Let’s begin with some common questions and concerns.

Are all dog trainers created equal?

No, they’re not. First, it’s important to note that the dog training industry is unregulated. There are no official government bodies that oversee the practice of training dogs. Additionally, there are no official universal rules, policies, procedures or gold standards. This basically means that anyone can call themselves a trainer, and do whatever he or she wants – whenever and however they see fit. Some dog trainers don’t even have a business license!

Thankfully, there are independent organizations that have addressed these concerns, including the Academy for Dog Trainers, Karen Pryor Academy, the Pet Professional Guild, the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT), and International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC).

These groups, and others like them, have developed higher standards of practice on a global level. They screen their applicants, require testing for certification and recertification or membership, and provide educational resources — among other things. Although dog trainers aren’t required to become certified or apply for membership in order to train dogs – certification proves that he or she has become proficient in their craft, following the latest in training research and best practices.

What’s their real training philosophy and approach?

The dog trainer’s approach should be straightforward, transparent, and self-explanatory. If they are claiming their techniques are “the best” and/or “most humane,” then they should have evidence to back up those claims.

Utilizing subjective jargon can be misleading, which can cloud decision making for the pet owner. Is this person describing training methods that enhance the experience for both dog and owner? Does it sound like the experience will be enjoyable for both the dog and the handler? Or, is this person promoting a “unique” approach, while implementing outdated techniques, including those that can cause fear or discomfort to the dog? Keep in mind that while addressing overall goals of the client, training should still be fun throughout the process — for everyone.

What’s with the title?

You are likely familiar with such designations as positive reinforcement trainers, cookie trainers, clicker trainers, e-collar trainers, and balanced trainers – to name a few. As mentioned above, there are no gold standards when it comes to training dogs. However, the person’s title, or what they refer to themselves as, will likely tell you a lot about their methods. For instance, trainers who are certified through the CCPDT will refer to themselves as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer. This title indicates he or she practices positive reinforcement methods as outlined in the CCPDT’s Code of Ethics.

Titles such as “balanced trainer” often means they practice dual approaches. They may combine positive reinforcement with fear-based techniques, including physical corrections (i.e. alpha rolling, kicking, kneeing, collar corrections, choking with a prong or choke collar). E-collar trainers also implement punishment based techniques, with the addition of electronic (shock) collars.

Fear-based techniques are outdated, and the trainers who use them may not have an education on animal learning theory or science-based techniques, are unaware of progress within the industry, and don’t have a grasp on the fallout of coercion and aversives.

Trustworthy dog trainers will use transparent, clear, and consistent content throughout their website and social media pages. Those who use a force-free approach will talk about using whatever motivates the dog to want to participate in the training plan, focusing in on rewarding wanted behaviors, and teaching the dog what the best behavior choice is — without instilling fear.

Those dog trainers who express their use of treats, as well as “dominance” or “corrections”, give a cloudy picture as to what their methodology is. Are they putting a spin on their training approach and using these terms to help market themselves? Do they really have their clients’ best interests at heart? Techniques that risk injury should raise a red flag.

But, which method is best?

Pet owners can choose between force-free, positive reinforcement; mixed training combining both positive reinforcement and punishment; or punishment-based training. The former uses anything that motivates the dog to want to participate throughout their training. This approach teaches your dog the skills to make the right choices while focusing on wanted behaviors.

The latter uses fear-based techniques for the purpose of decreasing undesirable behaviors. This approach focuses on unwanted behaviors and doesn’t teach the dog how to make the proper choices.

For too long force-based techniques have been used, because they were part of our culture. Thankfully, progress has been made over the years, proving that while these training techniques can work, they are outdated and unnecessary for training dogs — or any animal.

Performing a Google search on the fallout of using punishment to train dogs yields several results. The American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior composed a lovely Position Statement on the Use of Punishment explaining the pitfalls and risks when using these techniques. This resource will provide unbiased information along with additional links to reputable studies.

Now that I know what to look for, where should I start?

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of different dog training approaches, you’re ready to begin your search. Searching for a dog trainer is similar to searching for any service-based businesses. Asking for referrals is a great way to find a trustworthy trainer. Veterinarians and other pet owners are a great source for finding qualified professionals.

Yelp is another popular source for finding pet trainers. Just be sure to do your due diligence, read reviews and learn about their approach and methods before committing to their services.

We recommend the following resources (in no particular order) for help in finding a qualified dog trainer:

How do I know I’m making the right choice?

Cyrano the PapillonKeep in mind that humans are animals too. If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts. Conduct an interview, and ask questions. Use your research skills to review their website, reviews and social media to vet them thoroughly before entrusting them with your canine companion.

Whether you’re a first-time or seasoned dog owner, with each new experience brings new needs and goals. Finding a professional dog trainer who will listen to your needs, develop a plan that works for you and your dog, provides proper education, and supports you along the way can lead to a more pawsitive experience all around.

With the right dog trainer, you’ll have more time to be with your inquisitive canine. Use our tips to find a dog trainer you can trust.

Ever since the Inquisitive Canine was founded in 2005, Joan Hunter Mayer’s life has gone to the dogs — and she couldn’t be happier! A certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, Joan not only loves seeing her canine students succeed, but also enjoys empowering dog parents with a valuable education to enhance their relationships with their dogs for life.


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

K9 Nose Work:  One Sport Your Dog May Want to Sniff Out!

k9 nose work trainingWhat is K9 Nose Work?

In K9 Nose Work, dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. It is a growing sport that is based on your dog’s natural instinct to hunt and sniff out prey. This fun activity will benefit your dog by building its confidence and exercise its mind and body.  You will enjoy watching your dog work and it will deepen the bond between you, even if you do not do it competitively.

K9 Nose Work was founded and developed by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot, and Jill Marie O’Brien, all certified experts and highly accomplished in training K9 detection and tracking dogs for law enforcement.  Using their extensive experience in professional canine detection, these three K9 experts developed K9 Nose Work to give people and their pet dogs a fun and easy way to learn and apply scent detection skills.

How Do You Get Started in Nose Work?

K9 Nose Work is fun for any dog and the owner who wants to try it. Neither of you need any obedience or other training. This sport is a game that builds on your dog’s natural abilities. It is so easy to learn because your dog will love playing games that use its scenting instincts to find its favorite treat or toy.

Get started in this fun activity by locating a K9 Nose Work class or workshop taught by a certified Nose Work instructor.  Find the right trainer for you, your dog, and your goals. In Nose Work classes specifically, you should start by taking the Intro class to learn the foundational skills. The subsequent Nose Work class will introduce odor targeting.

When you begin Nose Work training, your dog will start the game by simply finding a treat or toy on its own, with no owner interruption. The dog will continue training that way for three months to one year, depending on the dog’s own pace of learning. During that period, the dog will develop confidence in its ability to achieve success in hunting and scenting. It also builds the dog’s mental and physical fitness, which is vital for your dog’s good health.  All the while your dog is learning new hunting skills in different environments, unimpeded by the owner.

As the dog progresses in its abilities, the search games become progressively more difficult.  They will include odor targeting, introducing multiple containers in the search and the concepts of exterior, interior, and vehicle searches, all of which are part of Nose Work competition events.

Nose Work Competition

If you are interested in Nose Work as a competitive sport, you should take regular classes to make sure you both have the skills needed to be competitive at that level. Once you and your dog become sufficiently advanced, you can participate in mock competitions to test both of your skills. Some owners use an experienced handler to handle their dogs in competition. You can get a lot of detailed information about the competitions time and location from the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™), the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work.  You should go observe them to see what is involved. These competitions are quite demanding. Observing a few of them will help you understand the etiquette and prepare for the challenges you and your dog will face.

Before you are eligible to compete in a NACSW™ competition, your dog must be able to identify the location of the target odor and the handler able to correctly call an ‘alert’ within a three-minute time period. This is called an Odor Recognition Test (ORT). To enter an ORT you must be a member of the NACSW™, and your dog must be registered with the NACSW™.  At an ORT at the first level of competition, you and your dog will have to search 12 identical boxes with one of the boxes containing birch odor.  You must be able to correctly identify when your dog has found the odor box.

After passing an ORT, you and your dog are eligible to compete at the Nose Work 1 (NW1) level. Please note that an NW1 trial is much more complex than an ORT.  At an NW1 trial, your dog must cope with distractions, environmental stressors, larger search areas, and the four elements of competition (container, interior, exterior, and vehicle). Also, your dog should be prepared to go from crate to work several times during the course of the competition.

The next level up is NW2. At that level, you and your dog should expect to find multiple hides in one environment, work through more challenging, less accessible “hides”, overcome food and toy distractions and alert only to odor, and manage a longer, larger search.

The highest level is NW3. This is a professional level of nose work. You and your dog will have to demonstrate that the dog can find an unknown number of hides in a search environment, you or the handler will recognize the search behavior in a dog when no odor is present (if there is a blank room), the dog and handler team can work through even more challenging, less accessible hides with varying heights and containment, the dog can overcome food and toy distractions in any environment and alert only to odor, the dog can manage much longer, larger searches, with the interior searches potentially being 12-15 minutes.

Whether you decide to compete with your dog or not, Nose Work training will enhance the relationship you have with your dog and your dog will become a more confident and happy inquisitive canine.

How to Be the Pawfect Guest — Getting Your Dog Invited Back

imgresWhether your inquisitive canine and you have been invited for a happy hour event at your neighbor’s condo, a weekend at your friend’s home, or a month-long stay at your cousin’s lake house, you want to ensure you get invited back. In the past, we’ve discussed how to help your inquisitive canine be the pawfect host so we thought we’d hit the other end of the spectrum and address ways to set your precious pooch up to be a poster dog for being the pawfect dog guest.

With holiday weekends around the bend and summertime on the horizon, we here at IC HQ’s wanted to share some of what we think are helpful tips to ensure that your canine is a gracious dog guest.

Tips For Getting Yourself — and Your Dog — Invited Back

Make sure everyone is on board with hosting a bow-wow! While the person you’re visiting may give you the thumbs up to bring your furry baby, consider others who may be in the mix during your visit. While Uncle Bob might be totally comfortable around dogs, little Sally may be afraid of them. Additionally, consider leaving your inquisitive canine at home if she or he doesn’t play nicely with other animals (or vice versa, with the pets that belong to the people whom you’re visiting).

Keep it clean and tidy. No matter how gracious your hosts are, creating extra work for them shouldn’t be part of your visit. Cleaning up after yourself is key, and similarly, tidying up after Fido is essential, too. Remember to follow the fur trail, and wipe down, sweep, use a lint roller, or vacuum as you go. This goes for dirt and other outdoor debris, and food and treat remnants as well. You’ll also want to make sure toys are picked up and beds/crates/dog mats are kept in a discrete location and are not tripping hazards. Lastly, ask your hosts how they would like you to leave the place before you leave. Check and double check to make sure you’ve picked and packed up everything, and restored order to any chaos you and/or your canine may have created.

Be like a stealthy Ninja! Are you up at the crack of dawn to take your dog out for a walk or to play in the backyard? How about moonlit walks before bed? Your host might have a different schedule, so keep this in mind when you and your inquisitive canine are roaming about.

BYOS (Bring Your Own Supplies). Pack what you need, without relying on your host to provide anything for your dog — including towels! Dogs are, for the most part, simple creatures, but through domestication, it seems their “essentials” list has grown. Depending on the type of visit, you’ll want to remember to pack what you need, including a leash, harness, collar, bowls, food puzzles, toys, food and treats, medications, grooming aids, waste bags, a bed or crate, and towels.

Reinforce your host’s behavior. Ya gotta love folks who welcome guest dogs into their homes. Show your gratitude from the get-go by giving them, and perhaps even their pet, a little gift. You can also express your appreciation by taking them out for a meal or to some place they enjoy. Lastly, follow up with a handwritten note. (These never go out of style, no matter how hi-tech our society gets). You might even include a photo of your dog at their place as a remembrance, letting them know your inquisitive canine appreciates them, too.

Skills fit for cotillion! Now’s the time for your dog to be at the top of his or her manners game. Being well-versed at sitting, lying down, going to his or her bed on cue, being quiet around distractions, leaving things alone when asked, and politely greeting people (and other animals) should be rock solid. This is no time for teaching new behaviors; this is, however, the perfect opportunity to demonstrate how wonderful your dog is. I would add in leash walking and coming when called too, as these behaviors are always needed, no matter where you go.

Know the boundaries. Make sure your dog and you understand where his or her “bathroom” is, as well as sleeping quarters and lounging locations. Will your dog be allowed on furniture? Even if he or she is, designating a special blanket or towel for your inquisitive canine to use will protect the environment while also subtly conveying to your hosts that you respect their home. When it comes to house training, take your dog to the requested outdoor spot to do his or her business, and then positively reinforce the appropriate behavior — so that he or she knows where to go. You’ll also want to keep a close eye on your dog to help prevent unfortunate incidents.

Help your pup be the perfect dog guest. Visits should be fun and festive for everyone — including the host. A well-mannered inquisitive canine and self-aware guest set themselves up to be invited back every time!


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

Veterinary Nutritionist Dr. Cailin Heinze’s Recipe for Dog Feeding & Treating Success

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A Recipe for Successful Dog Feeding & Treating

Having a conversation about the best choices for dog food and treats is an invitation to open up Paw-ndora’s Box. So before I begin, let me first make it clear that I am not a vet, vet nutritionist or dog nutrition expert. However, I am a certified dog trainer and dog-mom who happens to be passionate about what she feeds her dog and what she uses for training.

Dog Feeding and Treating Done Right

For our new dog, Ringo, hubby and I wanted to start out on the right paw with his dietary needs. Poncho, the original inquisitive canine, had many dietary issues during the last few years of his life. Because of this, we admittedly had some emotional baggage when it came to choosing Ringo’s new diet. But instead of making decisions based on our own learning experience, friends’ opinions and what Professor Google says, we went to the experts.

First we checked with our local veterinarian, whom we adore and respect. She provided us with her recommendations and rationale behind her choices. Because she knew our history with Poncho, she was fully supportive when I asked for a referral to a board-certified veterinary nutritionist with whom we’d worked in the past, Dr. Cailin Heinze. Dr. Heinze is a specialist who teaches at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.

In addition to our formal consultation, I approached Dr. Heinze about being interviewed about dog feeding and treating for this post. The following are highlights from our conversation and include some fantastic tips to help you make informed food and treat choices for your inquisitive canine.

Inquisitive Canine (IC): Mealtime is a convenient time to train, but what about other times during the day when someone wants to work with his or her dog? How important is it for healthy dogs to be on a specific feeding schedule?

Dr. Cailin Heinze (CH): Once a dog is house-trained, then it doesn’t matter all that much when meals are given. The biggest exception would be for dogs with a medical condition, such as diabetes, and for those pets that require medication that must be given either with food or on an empty stomach. While a routine can be nice for the household, most dogs will adjust just fine to variable meal times/training. If a dog’s regular food is used for training, I would suggest measuring it out every morning to avoid over or under feeding if the training schedule changes. Anything left at the end of the day can then be fed as a meal.

IC: When it comes to food labels, there seems to be a lot of confusing verbiage out there — everything from valid statements to marketing garbage. What should dog parents be aware of when they read a label on a can of food or on the side of a bag of treats?

CH: There is actually very little information on labels that tell you about the quality or usefulness of the food. We have a lot of stuff on the Tufts Vet Nutrition website about labels and terms. “Natural” is an absolutely useless term that is commonly used for marketing purposes only. It has a legal definition – not synthetic – but that doesn’t mean anything because there are lots of very dangerous natural things, including arsenic, lead, yew and mycotoxins, to name a few. There are also plenty of safe synthetic ones, including some vitamins and amino acid supplements.

IC: When choosing foods or treats for training, is it best to just use the dog’s own food as the first choice? What if that doesn’t motivate him or her? What other options work without having too much of a negative impact on the dog’s overall nutrition?

CH: If a dog will work for his regular food, that’s great. For otherwise healthy dogs, lean meats normally work well because they are lower in calories and of course dogs usually love the taste. There are also perfectly fine options for “tiny” training treats that are only a calorie or two.

Human foods, such as egg, meat, cheese or peanut butter, may also be good options. Just be careful about the salt, fat and total calories! Human baby food can also work, but keep an eye if there is any onion or garlic in the food or too much fat or too many calories.

IC: Are there ways to enhance or “dress up” a dog’s usual foods? Can you add or change anything or will this throw off the quality of nutrition?

CH: If you keep within a treat allowance of about 10% of the dog’s daily caloric intake, then you should be fine. For a healthy pet, you can add meats, fat and definitely fruits and vegetables to the main diet without much risk of causing big issues. This is assuming you are feeding an appropriate amount and type of regular food that is within the range of the feeding orders for your dog’s ideal body weight.

IC: You mention adding “fat” to the diet. Are you talking about fish oils or nut butters?

CHPretty much anything, as long as your dog does well with fat (some dogs can get upset stomachs or even pancreatitis if they eat too much fat) – chicken fat, lard, olive oil, flaxseed oil, tallow and even coconut oil. Keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way – about 135 kcal per tablespoon. There really aren’t healthy vs. unhealthy fats in dogs because they don’t get heart disease related to saturated fat like people do. As for fish oils, I generally give specific amounts.

IC: If a person needs to change up the treats in order to keep their dog motivated, what is the best approach? Keep within the same protein? Or is it better to stick with the 10% rule and watching for signs of tummy upset?

CH: The latter is fine. It’s probably good to use something for as long as it works before switching, just to avoid exposure to too many protein sources. That could be an issue later if any allergies develop. There is no real evidence that rotating or not rotating food choices makes a difference health or nutrition-wise.

IC: Are there any treat recipes that you would recommend? Or is it best to just go with simple commercial items that are easily accessible?

CH: Most treat recipes that avoid things like onions, garlic, raisins and undercooked animal products are probably fine, so long as you keep within the treat allowance.

IC: What top tips do you want owners to know when it comes to treats/foods for their dogs?

CH: Don’t overdo it. Outside of training, treats are often more important to the owner than the pet. Smaller is better! As an example, the first few bites of that cheesecake you eat usually tastes the best. If you stopped there you’d be thinner and healthier.

***

Well, inquisitive pet parents, as we’ve discovered, dog feeding, treating and training can create a recipe for success, not a disaster. And thanks to Dr. Heinze’s sage advice, we’ve also learned that less is more, keep treats to 10% of the daily caloric intake, and use your dog’s meals to your advantage. And finally, it’s okay to ration out portions and use them throughout the day for training.

When choosing the types of foods, it’s important to read between the lines of the labels and consult with your vet. If you feel like you need additional guidance, connecting with a vet nutritionist like Dr. Heinze is a great option to consider. For additional information, check out their website and Petfoodology blog where you can find a lot of information and resources for making informed decisions about your dog’s dietary needs.

Here’s a question for you, my inquisitive dog friends. How do you use your dog’s food for training? Do you turn dog feeding into training time? Take it on the road with you? We invite you to join the conversation below.


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

Don’t Speak Woof? Understanding Your Dog’s Body Language

Understanding dog body languageTips to Help You Better Understand Dog Body Language

Have you ever wished that you and your dog spoke the same language?

While we don’t share the same vocal language, when you really think about it, we can very effectively and successfully read each other and mutually communicate our needs nonverbally, using body language.

In fact, most of what your dog has to “say” is communicated through dog body language – her facial expressions, body poses and postures. Some of the key areas of your dog to watch are her head, eyes, mouth/tongue, legs, and tail.

For the most part, dog body language is predictive, universal throughout the species, honest and reliable. Sometimes the expressions can be more subtle, but even with an untrained eye, it won’t take you long to learn what your dog is saying.

Observing Dog Body Language

You probably spend a fair amount of time watching and observing your dog already, like when she’s playing and frolicking about, having a grand old time. This is a wonderful thing to do. This gives you insight into what she looks like when she’s relaxed. You might notice things like her ears are in a neutral position, her mouth is open and tongue may be hanging out, her tail is down in a loose position (not rigid or tucked), and her gaze is easy.

How about other times? What about your dog meets someone new? Goes to a new place? When she sees something she’s never seen before? Or hears something she’s never heard before?

It’s important we observe our dogs during these times as well; dog body language will tell you what they’re thinking. For example, if your dog is on alert but not necessarily behaving in a manner us humans would interpret as fearful or aggressive, you’ll notice numerous signs that she’s assessing the situation. In this case, her ears might be pointing forward, as if trying to pick up a sound, her mouth might be closed, her tail up but not necessarily bristled and maybe even moving side to side, and she may also be leaning forward – all of the things people do when we are trying to make a judgment call about the safety of our surroundings.

And there are several telltale (telltail?!) signs that can help clue you in when your dog is alert or aroused, scared or defensive; these may include hackles raised, tail either straight up in the air like a flag (more alert) or tucked under her legs (more concerned), lips curled and perhaps showing teeth, ears either forward or flattened back, and body shifted forward slightly or lowered. Some of these signs indicate defense, whereas others are more friendly. Raised hackles doesn’t necessarily mean the dog is being “aggressive.” On the flip side, a wagging tail doesn’t always mean “happy.” Remember, each dog is unique and different, so the more you get to know your own inquisitive canine, the better you’ll become at reading his or her emotional state – and the message your pet is trying to communicate.

Learning how to sharpen your canine-human communication is easy when you know what to look for.

THE BIG PICTURE:

  • Take a mental snapshot of what your dog looks like (how she acts) when relaxed. This is a great way to establish a baseline of your dog’s friendly behavior.
  • When observing your dog at any given time, look at the entire picture, not just a piece.
  • Be aware of your dog’s surroundings and the possible effects it may have on her behavior. Anything new? Different? Something she might be afraid of?
  • If and when your dog shows any change from that baseline-relaxed appearance, try to determine what the trigger might be, then take note. You may want or need to do some pleasant association training to help your dog relax. The more familiar you are with how she expresses herself, the better able you’ll be able to help her alleviate fear and anxiety and remove her from situations that make her stressed and/or aggressive.

To help you keep track of the various body language your dog displays, and to go further into the world of canine communication, check out the iSpeakDog.org website where you’ll find an assortment of resources to help your communication skills.

What does your dog’s body language tell you? Is there something specific he or she does that you know means something special? Let us know what your inquisitive canine is saying!


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

No Dog Left Behind: Making the Case for Canine Education

Why Society Should Value Canine Education

Education is important — so much so that it’s written into our law… for humans.

In the United States, there are compulsory education laws, which mandate that children attend school (public, private or home) by a certain age, and state they are not allowed to drop out (should they decide to) until a specific age. These laws were developed to help literacy rates, protect against child labor, and to better the population as a whole. Unfortunately, there’s no such law to promote canine education.

Why You Should Value canine educationIf we, as a society, promote the importance of education for people, then I propose that it’s high time we advocate for a similar system for inquisitive canines. Dogs (and other non-human animals) are becoming more a part of our everyday culture. I submit that we will only benefit if we establish similar requirements for our canine companions in order for them to not only adapt, but also to contribute in positive ways and gain wider acceptance.

Why Canine Education Matters

According to this recent Harris Poll, 95% of Americans consider their pet as part of the family – I know I certainly do! So if this is the case, then why not go above and beyond the birthday present, special homemade treats and spa sessions by giving our dogs a canine education that not only enhances their home life but also allows them to become an upstanding member of society?

One reason I became a certified dog trainer was because I wanted to be able to bring my own dog to as many places as possible. My rationale was that if all dogs were well-mannered, then they would be welcomed by more people and into more places, and eventually would help change our “no dogs allowed” culture to “courteous canines welcomed.”

How great would that be? (Bark once if you agree, twice if you enthusiastically concur!)

I know there are some naysayers out there gasping as they read this, and I realize that some places might not be appropriate for dogs (i.e. commercial kitchens, operating rooms for humans, etc.), similar to certain places not being appropriate for young children. However, I believe with the right kind of training, many places that are currently considered off-limits for dogs could be perfectly fine, and even preferable with their presence.

But was does “well-mannered” look like? And what education would be necessary to achieve it?

In my opinion, the same guidelines used for therapy dogs would be a great starting point. Unlike service dogs, therapy dogs must hold an actual certification. This is not to say that service dogs don’t perform specific tasks – most do. However, owners aren’t required to show proof. Therapy dogs, on the other hand, go through detailed training with their handler and then have to complete a certain number of supervised visits where they are observed and given feedback. (Yes, this is a test!) Once these steps have been completed, they provide references and more to complete their application. And, therapy dog handlers are required to carry their membership card whenever he or she is “on the job.”

Organizations That Support Canine Education

There are several organizations devoted to supporting canine education and humans in the therapy dog certification process including, Love on a Leash, Therapy Dog International, and the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen. Each of these programs requires dogs to be proficient in specific skills in order to perform duties to help make people feel happy, relaxed, and safe. These include:

  • Being able to sit, stay, lie down, and come when called around a variety of distractions, and without the use of treats to reinforce them
  • Allowing strangers to pet and handle them, including tugging on ears and tails
  • Being approached by strangers, including those behaving erratically
  • Being tolerant and accepting of loud and/or unfamiliar noises
  • Show no signs of being fearful or aggressive

Wow! Imagine a world where dogs were better behaved than us humans! It seems to me that if these skills are good enough for therapy work, they would be more than sufficient for general public interaction.

And just as children respond best to education with the support of their parents or other loving adults, dogs also thrive when we humans work on canine education with them– and in the process, we become better trained ourselves.

So here’s my question to you inquisitive pet lover: What do you think about mandated canine education – and if we get people and their pups to participate, should society as a whole, welcome dogs into places they weren’t previously allowed? I say, no dog left behind!


Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!