Monday, October 25, 2010

Kuna Celebrates National Pit Bull Awareness Day!

This Saturday was National Pit Bull Awareness Day and Kahuna's K9s was proud to take part in such a positive event! The Calvert County Humane Society hosted the affair at the North Beach Firehouse in Chesapeake Beach, MD. It was a beautiful day to promote the breed in a positive light!

Kuna, although he's not a pit bull, was my demo dog for Kahuna's K9s. I've mentioned before in posts that Kuna has a big responsibility - he's my bomb-proof dog. From the moment he came home with us, we've been working on his behavior in public and his ability to handle stressful situations with ease. This isn't automatic and he's certainly not done learning - we train every time we leave the house.

My expectations are pretty high:
- walk where I indicate (beside me, behind me, in front of me)
- stay focused on me, despite distractions
- greet with a loose-leash
- wait patiently if I stop
- your mouth is not for exploring when we're working
The list goes on and on!

Well, I'm proud to say: Kuna performed marvelously this weekend!

There were highly-reactive dogs, dogs in costumes, crowds of people, megaphones, speaker announcements, fire trucks, clickers going off everywhere (give a high school student a free clicker and you can imagine the insanity), there was even a little girl with paint on her face looking like a cat, wearing an elaborate costume! It was so detailed, it made me do a double-take!

K needed a lot of breaks and tons of chicken to make it through the event. We even brought his favorite toy and I would take him outside and tell him "you're free!" and play a few games of tug. Then, it was "Let's work!" and we were right back to business. When he was tired, I had his settle mat underneath the table for him to relax on. Towards the end, he was so tired, he jumped up on my lap and fell asleep!

I was surprised with how well he did. At the end of the day, I did a systems check and realized I had a pounding headache, my legs were tired and my face hurt from so much smiling. K was definitely exhausted, but he still had it in him to keep playing a game of tug while all the chaos came to an end.

There was another trainer there, James from Training by Julie (another positive-reinforcement dog training business run by Julie Jacobous - Awesome!) He had his Border Collie with him, who was lazily hanging out in his crate throughout the day. We talked about how our dogs were so well desensitized that it was just another day at the office for them. You can definitely pick out a clicker-trained dog!

I have the high-hopes of taking Kuna to Clicker Expo one of these years. Bringing your dog to a crowded event is a tough decision. Most of the time, it's too much for both the human and the dog to endure. There are the exceptions - some dogs are so well conditioned that they actually enjoy these types of events. Although Kuna did well this weekend, I'm still evaluating him to see if he'd be one of the latter: a dog that loves crowds. It's not just training that will get him there...I need to see that he actually wants to do it. Only time will tell...

I'm very proud of my little guy and a big thank you to John for all his help on Saturday!
They both made me, and Kahuna's K9s, look good ;)

(pics coming soon!)


Monday, October 18, 2010

5 Things Your Dog Should Not Be Allowed To Do

Clients frequently say to me, "I'm sorry, but we tend to let Sparky on the couch." I try not to laugh. Not at them, of course, but rather at the idea that Sparky, a member of the family, should somehow NOT be allowed on the couch!

You see, my dog training "manual" has a very short list of things dogs should absolutely NOT be allowed to do. In fact, I struggled to come up with the following list. 

Below is a list of what I think dogs shouldn't be allowed to do. If you have anything else to add, I'd love to hear your comments!

Your dog should not be allowed to:

1. Eat grapes, onions, large amounts of garlic, mushrooms, chocolate (baker's is way worse than a candy bar from the impulse aisle in the grocery store), etc. etc. etc.

I know. They're eyes are just so adorable when they're begging for food. Here's a quick list to refer to that includes the effects of consumption.

2. Develop behaviors that are inappropriate for your lifestyle and theirs

Let me be specific. If you have small children, it is NOT wise to teach/allow your dog to jump on people.  Conversely, if you do not have children and you don't mind that your dog jumps on people, then jumping is not a behavior you would work on fixing. 

Be prepared to accept responsibility for any behaviors you allow your dog to practice that others might consider unacceptable. If you allow your dog to hump everyone he meets, then don't suddenly decide that's embarrassing, and therefore punishable, when he's humping your 80 year old grandmother's leg.

Notice I also mention your dog's lifestyle. That's so very important to consider and yet, it's commonly overlooked. Understand dog body language. Dog's do not find it socially acceptable for another dog to lunge at them in greeting. This is a doggy-greeting no-no. Therefore, if you allow your dog to practice this you are setting your dog up for a serious (and costly) reality check from another canine. 

3. Go their entire life without any professional training

This isn't a marketing scheme or a plug for Kahuna's K9s (although, FYI, we're offering a discount this month for referrals!).

Dogs are learning every day: 
- Trash can = really stinky, tasty stuff
- Tissues are fun to chew! and so are cardboard boxes, shoes, books, end tables and DVD cases...
- Barking makes the mailman go away

The advantage of professional training: you have control over what they learn!

If your dog is one of those braniacs that practically trained themselves, then consider professional training for a fun activity you both can participate in like agility or Nosework classes.

4. Live their lives in solitary confinement

I'll just say this: Dogs are social animals. Humans are social animals. Therefore, life is so much better when we spend it together. :)

5. Dominate you. 

SIKE! Oh that made me LOL just typing it.  I'm not getting lecturey and I'm not going to delve deep in to this highly controversial subject. Dogs do well with GOOD leadership - I love this quote from some guy named John Quincy Adams about what it is to be a leader: 

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader."

Enough said.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Be the Change - Blog the Change

Blog the Change

Where do I begin!? There are so many changes in the works for the welfare of animals, I can't help but be a little giddy. For all that is wrong in the world, there are people out there fighting to make it right.

I know. It sounds a bit too sun-shiny and optimistic. You may be wondering how I can be so happy when there are losers abusing animals, dirty dog-fighting money being won at the cost of a dog's life, dogs being outlawed because of their seems everywhere we turn, there's another reason for us to lose hope in the human race.

So why am I so happy?? Because there are people out there fighting for the animals. It's apparent that the public is becoming outraged and demanding action, voices are getting louder and we all know there is strength in numbers.  It takes less effort to turn a cheek than it does to open your mouth and say, "I don't like this!!"

Rage on, my fellow animal-rights crusaders! Today is Blog the Change for the Animals Day!