Archive for the ‘Adoption’ Category

Let’s get a dog!

January 18, 2013

I’m on Facebook and (since they are a favorite breed) I belong to several German Shepherd communities. One or two of the groups are always posting questions from members. I’ve noticed several commonalities: 1) MANY questions are about young dogs; 2)  MANY questions are about behaviors or caring for the breed.

As I’ve watched over the past few weeks, it would seem to me that very few people have a clue about what they’ve brought home. I’ll bet some people know about the gas mileage on their car than they do about what behaviors they might expect from a given breed.

As a dog obedience trainer, my phone never rings with someone calling me to tell me their dog is well-behaved, etc. My phone rings when dog behavior gets bad enough, that pain level high enough that people finally realize they need help with their dog’s behavior. Sometimes it’s funny…

“I have a Terrier that likes to dig….”

“My Border Collie chases the kids in the yard and tries to keep them in a group…”

“When my Beagle starts sniffing, he won’t listen…”

and so on.

REALLY!?

You have a Terrier that digs? A Collie that herds? A Beagle that locks out while scenting? I think some people would be shocked that their Retriever likes to fetch. So, first an apology for the sarcasm in this post, but please, please, please, take some…

Time for research…

If you are on Facebook, or other forum/social media site, join some general dog communities, but especially, join communities that about the breed(s) you are considering. Yes, every dog will have an individual personality; my current German Shepherd (GSD), Axle will chase a stick as long as your arm holds out. The one before (Lexi) couldn’t be bothered. But, overall, you’ll learn a lot about certain health challenges of certain breeds, how they need to be cared for, how you need to groom the dog, and if their are benefits to a give breed (low/no shedding; low maintenance; Hypo-allergenic/etc).

You may also learn that having a Golden or a Weimaraner are not good apartment dogs, or why if you live in the country, leaving a Lhasa Apso outside may give some hawk digestive ideas that wouldn’t be an issue with a  Newfoundland or Burmese Mountain Dog.

Axle Playing at Moms Upsidedown

Axle being a puppy!

When you realize your busy schedule is going to be interrupted by a dog that WANTS to work and be exercised every day (My GSD harasses me at my computer around 9am every morning until we go play fetch for even just 15 minutes. He HAS to burn off that energy, trust me!!) and you live in a 1BR apartment in mid-town Manhattan, you may want to reconsider your choices.

Why are they surprised?

“Oh, I’ve just ALWAYS wanted a _____(fill in blank)_____” Great, but now 6 months later you realize that, yes Virginia, your English Bulldog DOES have more energy than the local power grid and you are considering the dog pound.

Do a basic internet search on the breed. Look up Dogs 101 to see if they did a feature on the breed you have interest in. That show is a wonderful resource. Ask someone that owns that breed. Do you know a local veterinarian? Ask your friends for a referral. Call the vet and ask. You may not be able to talk to the vet, but the staff works with various breeds all the time and may help guide you. Look for local clubs/groups that support that breed and ask LOTs of questions! Pet stores have dedicated books and magazines about breeds too. Amazon may help there too.

There really should be few surprises when you bring a dog home. However, so far, this has been mostly about “pure breeds”. In past posts you’ll see I’ve said that when you adopt from a pound or rescue it can take weeks to know the true personality of your pooch. When I rescued Axle in Oct of 2012, I really feel it took me 6 weeks or more to help get him to my “normal”… that is, not dealing with remnants of being a stray or the pound experience.

Add in the variables of a mixed-breed and you do have more challenges. Best to you and your efforts to save lives by adopting!

Grant

Dear Santa, I want a PUPPY for Christmas!!

December 10, 2012

Are you adopting a puppy/dog (kitten/cat?) for Christmas?

Well it’s that time of year again. Our wonderful holiday season is in full swing. And Santa is getting requests from great kids everywhere for a puppy for Christmas. So here’s my thoughts from years of training and observation…

Party time!

I believe the biggest argument against bringing a new pet into the house is the amount of energy during the holidays. So let’s look at that first. We basically have three scenarios: 1) Tiny puppy, right now with his litter-mates and mom. 2) Dog at the pound. 3) Dog with a rescue group/in a foster home/etc.

In my mind, #3 is the most likely built for success. The dog is already in a home/loving situation and used to the hustle and bustle/energy of a home.

#2: Any dog that is in a pound of any kind is under stress- period. It is NOT a loving, stress-free environment. I know shelter workers don’t work there to get rich and have a great heart for pets in general and they do the best they can with limited budgets. But if you’ve ever been to the best pound/shelter, the stress of 36 dogs barking is NOT a loving environment.

And we don’t know where that dog was last week. Running in a field or allotment, hungry? Where the neighbors throwing stuff at the dog, yelling at it to go away? Then they’re taken to a pound with a concrete (cold) floor and walls… you get the picture. STRESS.

I always remind people that the dog they see at the pound is NOT the dog they’ll have in three weeks when the dog is more comfortable in their home- Could be better, could be worse. What is the dog’s medical condition? Were they EVER an inside dog and you want to make it one?

So, look carefully at the situation. Will bringing that dog into your house on Christmas morning be a recipe for success? I think not.

#1: A puppy bought from a breeder. So we go take the 8 week(?) old puppy from it’s warm, comfortable place by his mommy and bring him into your home on Christmas with shreeking children, loud video games and 1000 things that wold scare the fur off a well-adjusted dog. Again, not a good situation.

Serious Questions:

WHY are you getting a dog? Will your kids play with the new “toy (dog)” for 20 minutes until they open the X-Box /Wii/game console with the newest game and forget the dog? (Billy for the 10th time, take the dog out!! But mom, I’m almost at the next level!!) Have you had a dog before? Do you REALLY understand what you’re getting into? With the puppy, remember you’re also taking on potty-training (going into winter), chewing on most anything and more. Have you considered the extended costs of pet ownership? Kennel for in the home/toys/food/flea-tic meds/vet visits/bowls/etc. Have you considered shedding and the type of dog best for your family?

No perfect answer:

Please consider waiting until the blast of energy from the holidays is over. THEN bring your new pooch home. Contact a trainer like Perfectly Pawsible Dog Obedience to help that transition and know what to do. Perform research. Take your kids to a home where theirs games and dogs. What DO the pay attention to.

Best advise I can give you is to be conscious about what you’re doing! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Grant Holmes, Master Trainer (Like us @FaceBook/PerfectlyPawsible)

Knowing When to Say When… Again

January 26, 2010

You might have noticed that our blog posts are getting fewer and farther between… two weeks ago our blog post was titled: “Knowing When to Say When” which carried an announcement of my latest adoptee, a German Shepherd named Shayna, being put up for adoption after more than six weeks of training with the professionals here at Perfectly Pawsible. This post falls under the same objective: after roughly eight months of blogging, it has been determined that writing is not ‘my thing’ – obedience training is (and singing, but that is a topic for another venue).

With the New Year, our old processes were evaluated, and Perfectly Pawsible’s Dog Blog will no longer be written.  I encourage you to become a fan of our Facebook page. Here we will keep you posted of upcoming pet events in and around Stark County, Ohio, and provide tips for pet care as the thoughts arise and the seasons change.

By the way: Shayna is still available. She loves to cuddle, be petted and is nearly always right by my side. She LOVES to get out and run and play, but also is perfectly content to go in her “box” (cage/kennel) and nap for hours. If you might be interested in adopting Shayna, please contact me directly through our website contact page.

Thank you all so very much for your loyalty and friendship!

Knowing When to Say When

January 13, 2010

Well here we are, smack in the middle of winter. If I’ve not mentioned it, I HATE winter. Especially right about now. I know this is Ohio – I’ve been here all my life. Doesn’t mean I have to like the winter weather!!

When to say when?
Beyond the fact that I’m ready to say “when” about winter… let’s talk about responsible pet ownership. In previous blogs, I’ve talked about weather and different variables, but this one is different. As you all know, around Thanksgiving, I found a soft spot in my heart for a young gal at the pound named Shayna. While Shayna is a great dog, being single, continuing to run several businesses AND attempting to have a social life, having two dogs is beginning to take its toll on me.

So when do you say when? You see people with 4, 20, however many dogs in their home and part of me understands how that happens. When you love dogs, you love dogs. I darn near brought another pure-bred German Shepherd home this weekend from a potential dog obedience client that was considering “when to say when”. While the jury is still out on that one, I’ve made a decision that I need to find Shayna a different home.

Shayna

Lexi is perfect for my life style. She’s pretty indifferent and does well by herself. Shayna is a lover. She loves to cuddle, be petted and is nearly always right by my side. She LOVES to get out and run and play, but also is perfectly content to go in her “box” (cage/kennel) and nap for hours. If you might be interested in adopting Shayna, please contact me directly through the contact page on our website. We can chat from there. I promise to contact you as quickly as I can. There will be a fee to adopt Shayna.

So, yes, I knew fully well when I got Shayna that having two dogs would be a challenge and who knows, “Tomorrow” I may do the same thing. But I’d rather rescue a dog, give it great obedience training and place her in a loving environment than the alternative!

Until next time…

 

Don’t Forget About Your Dog!

December 22, 2009

Well, here we are. The time of year that mental health professionals suggest is the most stressful time of the year. From Pastors to PhDs, they say people are on edge, little things become magnified; the presents aren’t wrapped yet, we are over budget, the house is a mess, the kids are off school and misbehaving (‘cause they’ve already played PS3 for 6 hours and are bored) and oh yeah, the in-laws are due in about 20 minutes.

I know!! Let’s get a dog for Christmas!!!

YIKES!

Let’s look at two scenarios…
1) You already have a dog.
Chances are if you’ve had the dog for several years, it may be “used” to the energy speed bump that is the holidays. But if you’ve not done the holiday season with this pack, read #2! Your current dog possibly already understands the energy ball that is his pack. He may just hide in the corner til January 3rd (heck, some years I wanted to do that!) and you may not see much change at all. For you, just be sensitive to all that is going on. The loud parties, or being gone for long periods while you attend them, can stress your pooch; so remember that generally they are at your control for water, food, exercise and the ability to get out and go. Instead of buying your dog that 18″ long rawhide bone that vets say is bad for her, spend 30 minutes today playing and let her feel your touch and your voice. It’s the best treat you can give your dog!

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
– Josh Billings

2) You’re bringing a new dog into your home.
My first advice: Don’t.
Read (re-read?) the above. Imagine being an 8 week old puppy. You were just taken from the best place in the world (your mommy’s warm body, all the free warm milk you can drink, love and a quiet den) to BANG! BAM! Lights! Kids! Loud adults! BANG, Billy got a drum set! YIKES. How would YOU react?

Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.
– Roger Caras

Not much different for a dog from the pound. That dog is already under stress! Then we’re going to introduce it into yet another stressful situation. Trust me, I’d rather have a dog in a warm, loving environment (your home) as opposed to the pound, but remember that it may take 7-21 days before you know that dog! Can you leave it alone? Does it have any health issues? Is it/was it kennel trained? Are you willing to lose MORE sleep as the dog adjusts? Why 7-21 days? For instance, you read in my last post that I adopted Shayna from the Stark Pound. She had some Kennel Cough issues, etc. She is just now feeling well, eating regularly and beginning to play with Lexi. No surprises, but at the 7-10 day mark, your dog starts realizing that they aren’t moving again and start to show their true personality. A dog that was a bit playful at first, may begin to nip or show food aggression as it learns the pack order.

Okay, enough scare tactics, but please remember to give your pooch a safe, quiet place to get away from it all. Remember kennel/cage/den training is NOT mean to your dog. It may be the place they are most comfortable in during this time of high energy. On the other hand, a kennel/cage is NOT a baby-sitter for that 10 hour New Years bash you want to attend.

Remember water, food and exercise. Remember to be thankful that we have dogs to help keep us sane!!

We give dogs time we can spare, space we can spare, and love we can spare.  
And in return, dogs give us their all. It’s the best deal man has ever made.  – M. Acklam

Until the New Year! Have a safe, prosperous, Dog-gone-good holiday!

Adopting a Holiday Dog

December 7, 2009

I had a great day on Saturday. Much of it was spent at a dog adoption day with the Stark County Pound. The event was two-fold: 1) was to help adopt some of the great dogs they have there that need a home. 2) was to help raise money for Friends of the Pound. This organization supports the adoption efforts of the pound. The money they raise helps sponsor (pay for) the spay and neuter of some of the dogs that come through.

It was fun to see all the dogs and how they each react to their environment. One thing I always relate to my dog obedience clients is that if you are “shopping” for a warm and furry companion to bring home: Do Your Homework.

It is so easy to “fall in love” with a dog that somehow pulls your heart strings (more on this in a minute). The dog adoption facilities I am familiar with in this area all have nice areas outside where you can spend some time with the dogs and play/interact a bit. Utilize that space and time to your benefit! I think the first best rule in finding a “forever dog” for your home shouldn’t be like running to the store to get milk, yet I see it happen all the time. People say, “Yeah, we’re gonna run out Saturday morning and find a dog”. YIKES. “Run” says it all. They’re in a hurry. Maybe the parents promised Billy or Susie a dog for whatever reason. The worst thing you can do is rush. When we looked for Lexi, our German Shepherd, it took us over three weeks. We went to MANY pounds and visited many people that were offering for private adoption.

The entire “owning a dog” experience is expensive, in dollars, but in time as well. Tell the kids, “we’ll go looking on Saturday, but we will NOT bring a dog home.” MOST facilities allow you to put a hold on a dog for a few days. It gives you a chance to visit a couple other places and see what else is out there.

Utilize the trip to the pound as a family experience. Use the car ride to talk about responsibilities. Who will care for the dog? How will it be done? Where will you buy food? How much will you have to spend on toys, food, beds, kennels and more. Do you have $500 to spend on a pet in the next six months (you probably will)? There is very little in this world with as big a pay-off as the undying, uncomplicated love a dog has for us, but remember your responsibilities! I LOVE dogs and will likely always have at least one, but understanding my ownership responsibilities, I TOTALLY know what I’m getting in to (usually).

If one of the primary owners (assuming a spousal-type relationship in the home) doesn’t want the dog, ASSUME NOW that person will likely drag their feet to engage and help with care/feeding/training/etc. They may not care as much to be “on” the training as much as you, possibly even to the point of undermining your efforts. Might be a great time to evaluate THAT relationship before you start another one? And just so you know, yes I AM a professional dog obedience trainer, but even though I’m often asked, NO, I DON’T DO SPOUSAL training!! THAT would be interesting, eh? Maybe not!

On the point of starting another relationship… I hear all the time, “Well, our dog has {this issue: Fill in the blank!}, so we’re gonna get another dog to help fix it.” It is NOT the responsibility of one dog to “fix” another one. YOU ARE THE PACK LEADER, it is YOUR responsibility. Yes, a calm-submissive balanced dog can HELP another dog achieve that same energy, but the pack leader and the pack leader alone controls that. NEVER bring a new dog into an unstable pack. And parents, that pack can be just the humans involved and have nothing to do with other dogs. Dogs understand energy and KNOW when they are in an unbalanced home.

Well, I feel like I’m rambling. Dog adoption is something I am very passionate about in many ways as I see the bad side often in our training business. So I’ll finish the story I promised above. During a slow period of “Dog Adoption Day”, I went back to see what larger breed dogs were available. One of our services is to help choose and train a dog for a client then introduce them to their new home with their new skill-set in place. I’ve got a current request for a dog to fill, so I am looking for the “right” dog for this client. Well, THAT dog wasn’t there, but in the first cage was this German Shepherd (probably a mix) with the most beautiful tan/brown eyes that just sucked me in. As a trainer, I can tell a lot about a dog through their eyes, how they watch, what they focus on. Any slight collar tug with this dog (out in that “learn about your dog” area above) and she would look right at me as if to say, “yup, I’m paying attention, what do ya want me to do/learn?” And her personality is JUST like Lexi’s.

You know the ending already, I’m guessing. I now own two German Shepherds. In less than a day, she already has three new commands and is responding to the name I gave her this morning. Wicked smart.

As you think about a dog for a holiday gift, keep in mind the upheaval that is the holidays. Not a great time to bring a dog home. Choose carefully, consciously, and download this PDF, it might help! Till next week.