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 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.

Who’s Rescuing Whom? What to Think About When Adopting a Dog

Thinking about bringing home a new canine companion? Things to consider when adopting a dog.

What to think about when adopting a dogIn honor of Adopt a Shelter Pet Day (April 30th), I thought it would be an ideal time to discuss ways to approach this life-changing decision. After all, it’s not just your own life that is impacted; it is the inquisitive canine’s life as well.

Here are several things to consider when thinking about adopting a dog of any age, from puppy to older.

First of all, ask yourself, WHY?

Literally, make a list that answers the question, “Why am I adopting a dog?”

And then do some follow-up thinking.

For example, consider what you’ll want your new dog to do as a member of your family. Cuddle on the couch? Take daily walks? Accompany you to work? Be a companion to your children, partner, or another pet?

Once you understand why you you’re adopting a dog, then it’s important to ask how that will work within the confines of your current lifestyle. This may mean a change in your home life is necessary; it may even be what’s behind your why. Maybe becoming more active by walking is something you’ve wanted to do, and a new dog will motivate you to get you out of the house.

Timing is everything when adopting a dog.

If you’ve started a new job, or have plans every weekend for the next few months, you might want to consider waiting until you have the time to help your new family member acclimate to his or her new home and living conditions. Like all animals, dogs are adaptable, but having that extra time to be more involved will be key in helping the transition go more smoothly. Also consider whether or not your immediate future holds any major life changes. Adopting a new dog when you’re about to get married or move across the country could be too stressful and be worth waiting on until you are settled in.

Love is free, but pets are not.

Many shelters and rescue groups make it easy for dogs to be adopted out, with relatively modest adoption fees that range from free to about $200, according to Petfinder. From there, you have to take into account the necessities (basic gear like collars and leashes, food) and consider the luxury items, too. According to Petfinder, average annual costs the first year of owning a dog start at around $766 to adopt and get your household set up for your new pet. Petfinder estimates subsequent years start at an annual average cost of $526 and go up from there, depending on what’s going on in your dog’s life, and how much outside services you pay for (i.e. dog walkers and sitters, vet care, training, etc.) For the most part, dogs are certainly simple, loving creatures who don’t ask for much, but expenses can add up. Make sure you have the financial ability to take on caring for a pet for his or her entire life.

Identify the type of dog you want.

You may have in your mind a certain type of dog that you want – small or large, puppy or older, a specific breed – but keep in mind that selecting the right dog for you and your family is like choosing any other friend or mate. The choice should not be made on superficial attributes, but should really take into consideration things like behavior, temperament, common interests, etc. Truly consider how your new pet will fit in and enhance your life, and vice versa.

To help articulate those aspects of your dog-to-be, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Where will your dog spend his or her days? At home alone, at doggy daycare, with a friend or family member, at work with you?
  • Where will he or she spend nights? In a crate, on a dog bed, in your bed?
  • Will you have time to groom your dog yourself or will you need to find a groomer?
  • Do you entertain a lot, requiring your dog to be around a lot of strangers, meeting and greeting?
  • Are you active, and do you want a canine running partner? Or is your life more sedentary? (Keep in mind a dogs’ size doesn’t necessarily match his or her energy level).

Breed is in the eye of the beholder.

Once you’re clear on the type of dog you want, then you may want to consider a certain breed. In my opinion, however, dog breed descriptions are subjective labels.

For instance, can you determine which breed I’m referring to with these attributes: powerful, fearless, watchful, energetic, friendly, and sturdily built?

What about: calm, affectionate, and friendly?

And then there’s: calm, tranquil, aloof and attentive, yet loyal, and alert.

The three breeds I’ve just described, based on information I obtained off of the American Kennel Club’s website, are Swedish Vallhund, Whippet, and Xoloitzcuintli, respectively.

I randomly chose these particular breeds to show that descriptive words used can overlap between all the groups. My point is that you should consider choosing your dog based not only on physical preferences, such as small or large, short coat vs longer coat but on his or her individual traits — especially personality traits; objective behaviors specifically. Realize that other variables, such as DNA mutations, environmental situations, prior learning history, and current conditions may make it such that your dog acts much differently than his or her breed description would otherwise imply. It also makes it imperative to find out as much as you can about the true nature of the pet you’re considering adopting. Be inquisitive!

April 30th may be the special day we recognize and promote the adoption of shelter dogs, but no matter the when, where, why, and how, it’s important to ask the right questions of not only the organization from which you’re adopting a dog but also of yourself and anyone else involved in the process, such as family members or roommates. After all, you want to do your best to ensure your new inquisitive canine will have a happy life with his or her new humans, and that she or he will return the favor in kind.

 


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

Ringo-Chewy-2

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.

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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!

What to Look for When Choosing the Best Dog Trainer for Your Pet

Finding the Best Dog Trainer for Your Four-Legged Friend

Not all trainers are created equal. Finding the best dog trainer for your dog may take a little more research, but your canine is worth the effort.

Recently I was on a run with a friend, and we were talking about how many dogs we saw along the way, as well as the people who were leading them. It was easy to spot the professionals, as they often had several dogs on leash.Inquisitivecanine_PrivateClient

Still, by observing how the animals were being handled, it was apparent even to my non-dog-trainer friend that not all “professionals” are created equal. Knowing that I’m a certified trainer, she innocently asked, “Is it me, or does everyone think they can be a dog trainer?”

In my experience, my friend’s observation was spot on. Many folks out there think that just because they’ve had dogs, grew up with dogs, love dogs, know dogs and/or watch TV shows about dog training, they know all there is to know about training canines.

That would be the same thing as me saying, “I love to bake, and I live for watching the shows on the Food Network. Once I even won a blue ribbon in a brownie baking competition. So I’m clearly a professional baker.” While you might encourage me to donate treats to your bake sale, there’s no way you’d hire me to make your wedding cake.

InquisitiveCanine_LouisVinnyWhen you work in a specialized field, in order to elevate your status from amateur to professional, training and education is a must.

To help you make an informed decision about who should train and otherwise care for your inquisitive canine, here are a few tips about how to find the best dog trainer for your canine:

  • Ask about training techniques and approach.

Humane, force-free methods for training are the best and only techniques a trainer should use. These go beyond “positive reinforcement,” as there are some trainers out there who use both positive reinforcement (i.e. treats, petting, praise) and “positive punishment” (i.e. collar corrections, alpha-rolls, aversive training collars). This is a contradiction in terms AND in approach, and also sure signs that your pet will at the very least get mixed messages, and possibly be subject to inhumane treatment. Ask specific questions as to which training methods the prospective trainer uses, and under which circumstances.

  • Inquire about education and certifications.

Whether you’re looking for private training for behavior specifics, puppy or basic manners classes, sports-related courses such as agility, Nose Work, and Canine Freestyle, or specialty Therapy Dog courses, professional training is a must. What schools or programs has the prospective trainer attended? Do they belong to groups or organizations that are respected across the industry? Keep in mind that not all dog training organizations are created equal – there are some that anyone can join, whether they are a trainer or not. Others, such as the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, literally certifies people in areas of both training and behavior. They require exams and letters of recommendation, along with continuing education credits for maintaining certifications.

If someone says they became a trainer because they love dogs and are good with them and/or got their DIY training from YouTube videos, you really should think twice before hiring that person for professional services. Also, be aware of the self-titled “dog behaviorist.” A true animal behaviorist holds a graduate degree in that field. This is an important distinction to make – and if your pet requires sincere behavioral modification, be sure that the person you are hiring to work with him or her has the education and experience necessary to truly help your pet.

  • Check that your trainer has both transparency and integrity.

Trust and honesty are important in any relationship, amiright? Trainers worth their salt will admit if a specific case is outside their scope of practice, or they are unfamiliar with the situation presented. For instance, when clients ask me about issues that might have an underlying medical origin, I always refer them to their vet. I often get questions about foods a particular dog should eat. Again, this is a question for that animal’s vet. While I can offer up tips for enrichment activities and how a dog should have his or her meal delivered (i.e. food toys, scavenger hunts, training), I refrain from advising what a dog should eat, since dietary concerns, age of the pet, and so on really influences what is best to feed a particular canine.

  • Similar to choosing any professional that you’ll work closely with, personality, graciousness, and communication are key.

While you want to choose someone your dog likes and trust, you have to share the same sentiments as your pet. It’s not the dogs that call for training needs (although sometimes we wish they would speak up!), it is the people. Just like you wouldn’t choose a nanny to watch your child without seeing how well she or he meshes with your family, you should definitely be conscious of how you get along with the prospective dog trainer, as well as how clearly he or she communicates with you, not just your dog. The goal is to have someone in place that you enjoy and can rely upon but who also makes sure you have all the information necessary to reinforce the work she or he has done with your dog.

My tips for finding the best dog trainer for your dog are just a starting point; here are a few additional resources for you to consider when hiring a dog trainer:

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What do you, or would you, look for when looking for the best dog trainer for your dog?

Just head to the comment section below to join the conversation. And remember, we invite you to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine on our Facebook page. Or, follow us on Twitter – Tweet to us and we’ll Tweet ya back!

Hello, Doggy: Teach Your Dog to Come When You Call

How to Teach Your Dog to Come When You Call

Has this ever happened to you? You call your dog by name over and over… to no avail. Then you open a can of food and voilà! Out of nowhere, you hear the pitter-patter of paws heading toward you at top speed.

How to Teach Your Dog to Come When You Call

As a certified trainer and also a dog mom, I feel very strongly that when it’s “recall” time, ALL dogs (yes, ALL dogs) need to be taught how to respond. There is a right way to teach your dog recall. It’s not just about manners – there are definitely times when getting your dog to come to you is for his safety. And it’s best to teach your dog before you need the behavior – not during. You wouldn’t teach someone a fire drill during a fire, right?

TEACH YOUR DOG A SOLID RECALL

Step 1: INDOORS (with few distractions) 

  • To teach your dog to come when you call, start by backing away from your dog using your happy voice, clapping and praising as he approaches you. Stop, ask your dog to sit (optional), reach in and grab his collar with one hand, and give him a tasty treat from the other.
  • Repeat this several times, until your dog is almost chasing you around and not allowing you to start over again.
  • Now try this at the same distance in a different location, still with few distractions.
  • Repeat the first step, but from 8-10 feet away, even if your dog is doing something else. Reward with the process outlined in the first point (happy voice, clapping/praise, etc.) If your dog doesn’t come to you right away, go to him, lure him back to where you called to him from, then reward using the above steps.

Once your dog has become skilled in these steps, repeat the same exercise in different rooms of the house, especially when he isn’t expecting it, and reward in the same manner. This way, he continues to associate coming to you with wonderful things! After he has mastered this, you can move outside.

Step 2: OUTDOORS 

  • Practice the routine as described above in the same way in a fenced yard or secure outdoor area, keeping your dog on leash for safety reasons if necessary.
  • Begin just a few feet away, progressing to a farther but safe distance.
  • Practice the backing-away recall while out walking your dog on leash. Give the cue when your dog is facing forward, not looking up at you.
  • If you want, you can get a longer leash (long-line*) and practice the same exercises from a farther distance.

*For safety reasons only. Be cautious not to get your dog tangled up in the leash. Do not use this leash for pulling or dragging your dog away from something. 

RECAP: THE RULES OF RECALL

  1. Only call your dog for something pleasant.
  2. Only call your dog if you know he’s going to listen and follow though with your request.
  3. If you misjudged on rule two, save the recall by going and getting your dog yourself, and bringing him back to where you called from, then reward.
  4. Use the cue word once and only once, but be a cheerleader, using additional methods of communication to help get the message across: body language, whistling, clapping, happy talk.
  5. ALWAYS give your dog a huge payoff whenever he comes to you: praise, petting, play and/ treats! (Use higher-value treats during initial training steps, and periodically once the behavior is established.)

Is your inquisitive canine already for an advanced level of recall? Try practicing the Round-Robin exercise: Send your dog back and forth between two or more people in a room or outdoors (in a safe environment). Each person takes a turn calling the dog, performing the reach-for-collar/treat-with-other-hand game. If at any time your dog chooses not to come, the person who called him/her should go over, lure him/her to where they called from, then reward.

Once you’ve achieved total recall with your inquisitive canine, you’ll be the star of the dog park with the most obedient pup around. Now if he could just learn how to change the oil and perhaps run a vacuum cleaner every once in a while…!

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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 – if you Tweet to us, we’ll Tweet back!

Sure Fire Strategies to Teach Your Dog to Greet People Nicely

Teach Your Canine – Strategies for Better Dog Greeting

The holidays are coming, and one of the best parts of this time of year is having friends and family over to celebrate together.

For inquisitive canine parents with dogs that don’t know how to politely greet people, though, having people over often only adds to the stresses of the season.

As a certified trainer, dog lover, and member of the therapy dog organization Love on a Leash, I find a composed dog greeting, be it at home or along the way, of the utmost importance – everyone appreciates a polite pooch.

So let’s get started with strategies for better dog greeting!

Nice Dog Greeting

The goal for Part 1 of this behavior training is to teach your dog better dog greating. They need to learn that sitting or standing to greet you and other family members is much more rewarding than jumping up.

Jump Control, Part 1Strategies for better dog greeting

The goal for Part 1 is to teach your dog Sitting = Attention / Jumping up =Being Ignored

  • First, reward your dog with petting, praise, treats or the toss of a toy whenever s/he greets you with “four on the floor” (all four paws on the floor) or sitting up nicely.
  • Approach your dog, or call him or her toward you, and ask for a sit. Once s/he sits, reward her or him with positive attention.
  • If and when your dog jumps up on you, turn away and ignore.
  • As soon as your dog stops jumping, and his or her paws are back on the ground, turn around to face him or her and reward.
  • When s/he doesn’t jump, pet and praise your dog. If you have treats, give one. If s/he gets too excited and jumps up again, turn your back again and start over.
  • If you turn your back but your dog keeps jumping on your back, try walking away. It’s important that you completely ignore the dog — don’t talk or chide. Pretend like s/he is not there.

Jump Control, Part 2

inquisitivecanine-waltersittingThe goal for Part 2 is to teach polite dog greeting for other people, including friends and strangers.

Whenever possible, teach family and friends the Part 1 exercise and have them practice with your dog. When encountering people you don’t know who are willing to do the Part 1 exercise, the following will help teach your dog to generalize polite manners:

  • Warm up your dog by having her or him sit for you when s/he wants to say “hi” and be petted. Have family members and friends do the same. Then take it on the road.
  • When a stranger approaches your dog (or when you approach a stranger with your dog, after having ascertained that person wishes to be approached), ask your dog to sit. Your dog must stay in the sit position as the stranger approaches to pet her or him.
  • Give a treat to your dog for sitting as the person approaches. If your dog gets up, stop the treats and ask the person to stop or take a step backwards. Your dog will soon learn that if s/he stays seated (or next to you with four on the floor), then s/he receives attention from you and from the person saying hello. Conversely, if s/he gets up, s/he gets nothing. Your inquisitive canine will soon figure out which is the better choice.
  • Keep in mind that walking away from the person, or not allowing the person or other dog to say hello is not intended as a punishment, so refrain from jerking the collar or using an angry voice. The intention is simply to keep your dog from jumping up (before s/he can scare someone or dirty that person’s clothes), and to communicate that s/he lost the opportunity to greet the person.
  • Throughout these exercises, you can turn to explain to the stranger that you’re teaching your dog not to jump. If the person seems interested in the training process or your dog, you can ask that person if he or she wouldn’t mind helping. If so, repeat the above procedure until your dog doesn’t try to jump. At that point, allow the person to pet your dog and say hello.

Is your dog already skilled at this behavior? Make it more challenging by adding in distractions or asking for a “Down” instead of “Sit.”

Now is the perfect time to practice jump control training so that by the time the holidays are here, your rover will be perfectly polite when people come over!

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Watch Me, Walk With Me: Loose Leash Dog Walking 101

Loose Leash Dog WalkingDiscover Loose Leash Dog Walking Tips

Everyone knows you walk with your feet (or paws, depending on your species), but did you know that the secret to successful loose leash dog walking begins with a mutual connection that comes from the head and the heart?

With any DIY dog training, you have to start with an understanding of inquisitive canine behavior. Put your pup on a leash, and s/he’s not going to stop doing what s/he’s wired to do: sniff, explore and investigate. The pull to examine everything that catches your dog’s eye is powerful… literally.

This is why so often we see dogs walking their owners, and not the other way around.

As a certified dog trainer, I appreciate when inquisitive canines trust their humans enough to be able to look longingly into their eyes. I also love to see dogs and pet parents trotting along, side-by-side, enjoying a leisurely walk. These two activities are not mutually exclusive; in fact, building trust through a loving gaze is the first step to training your dog to walk on a leash.

Here are step-by-step instructions to get your pup prepped to be the perfect walking companion:

“Watch Me” ~ Establish Trust
AcademyDog-DalmatianThe first step is to get your dog to learn how to meet and hold your gaze. Eye contact is not “normal” doggy behavior so if your pup takes a while to warm up to this, don’t worry. The following instructions that start with the tiniest glances and increase from there is a process called “shaping.”

  • Have your treats and clicker ready. (To brush up on the magic of clickers and how to establish a Click-Treat [C/T] pattern, click here).
  • Your dog may be sitting, standing or lying down, with as few distractions around as possible.
  • Begin to C/T the moment your dog makes any eye contact with you at all.
  • If your dog doesn’t catch on right away, make kissy noises to prompt him or her or show a treat and then hold it up next to your eyes. As soon as your dog glances up, go ahead and C/T.
  • Shape their behavior by C/T — go from the baby steps of glancing near your face to looking into your eyes.
  • Gradually increase the time your dog looks at you before you C/T.
  • Remember: Once your dog makes eye contact with you, complete each step at least ten (10) times before making it more difficult, such as adding in distractions or asking for a longer time of eye contact.
  • It will be up to you if you want to use the cue word “Watch” or your dog’s name.
  • If your dog seems bored or distracted, lower the bar of what you want and raise the rate of C/T. You can also try using a different kind of treat.

Once you’ve built that trust and your dog is looking to you for more information, you’re ready to move from watching to walking!

“Let’s Go For a Walk!” ~ Loose Leash Dog Walking (LLW)

Taking your dog for a walk should be fun and enjoyable for everyone. Loose leash dog walking means your dog is on leash and calmly proceeding near you, within the length of the leash without pulling, tugging or lunging.

As we all know, this can be challenging for many dogs, especially where there are lots of new places to go, people to meet and other dogs to sniff. It can be challenging for us if we have a dog that enjoys pulling (either to get somewhere or to prevent from leaving a specific location).

With time, patience and consistency, dogs can learn how to walk nicely on leash, making it more pleasant for both of you.

Prep Work

  • Begin by holding the leash with one hand at your belly button – like an ice cream cone – with your arms relaxed. This allows you to use your center of gravity as an anchor to help from being pulled over and to help prevent from pulling back on the leash accidentally.
  • Next, prompt your dog to come to your side. Use a food lure, a happy voice, a verbal and/or visual cue. Say yes, then give a treat.
  • Keep in mind that the leash is used as a safety line, not for controlling your dog. Try not to pull or tug at your dog. Also, it’s best not to wrap the leash around your hand or wrist (prevents injury if your dog does pull).
  • Be sure you’re using appropriate and safe walking equipment, including a front-clip harness.

Practice Walking with Minimal Distractions

  • You may want to do the first few runs indoors, where there are not as many distractions as outside.
  • Give a verbal walking cue, take two or three steps (using a food lure if necessary), stop, have your dog stop (or sit, which is optional), say yes and treat.
  • Continue to practice this step until your dog is offering on his or her own. Then begin to take additional steps, increasing the distance.
  • Add in the “Watch Me” phrase when you stop and also say it intermittently when walking. This teaches your dog to check in with you on a walk and helps remind him or her that you’re out together. This enhances the bond you share.
  • Once your dog understands the concept of loose leash dog walking, increase the pace by walking briskly indoors with him or her on leash If s/he goes to the end of the leash, change direction and keep walking at a quick pace.
  • When s/he comes near you on the side you want her or him to walk, use a cheerful voice to praise. Whenever s/he gets into heel position or puts slack in the leash, say yes and treat. Also, reward for any eye contact.
  • If after a couple minutes you don’t find your dog spending more time at your side or with a slack leash, consider moving to a less distracting area.
  • You may also reward more frequently, delivering the treat in the position you want. The point in doing this is to help motivate your dog to stay interested, as opposed to wandering to the end of the leash, looking for something else to do.

Once you’re comfortable with loose leash dog walking and eye contact, make it more challenging by adding in one distraction at a time.

Before you know it, you’ll be watching your dog walking outside on a loose leash – and best of all, you trained him or her yourself!

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