Posts Tagged ‘Golden Retriever’

Cold Weather Blues

January 5, 2010

This is the time of year (at least here in NE-Ohio…) that we all love! Okay, maybe not. I’m sure there are some of you that like to ski, snowmobile, shovel snow, and all the other fun winter sports! It’s also a time when many dogs love to go out and play!

My two dogs are loving the snow. For some reason, Lexi HAS to bite the snow as she runs around bounding over snow drifts. She and Shayna love to wrestle in the snow.

I’m often asked about dogs being outside and how long and about sweaters or covers and such. First, your veterinarian is a great source of information on how much exposure your dog might handle, but even then, guidelines are likely all you’ll get.

It’s a balance between your outside temperature, wind factors and your dog’s size, coat and activity level. A four pound hairless dog at 6 degrees sitting on your porch in the wind is going to last about 3 minutes. Okay, I really don’t know how long, but we have to use common sense! There are many dogs that have dual coats; the under coat for warmth, the outer coat for shedding water, etc. Maybe you have a short-haired boxer that only weighs 35 pounds. Say it’s only 30 degrees outside, but the dog is your jogging partner. If it’s not windy and you actually jog, your dog may very likely generate enough heat to not get cold during your run. However, if you cool down/walk the last 3 minutes to your home, your boxer could get chilled as they try to make the transition.

Shayna

There is no one right answer. Both of my dogs are basically built for colder weather. Big, furry, dual coated dogs. But I just don’t leave them out forever either. The other day, they were at a friend’s home. It was about 28 degrees or so. They played outside for almost 90 minutes with another German Shepherd and they never stopped running. They made a bee-line for the water dish when they did come in, but LOVED being outside playing!!

Lexi

Quite frankly, I’ve never quite understood how dogs react to temperature. My old dog, Buddy, was 1/2 Golden Retriever and 1/2 Yellow Lab. In the summer, he would go outside and lay in the direct sunlight in the gravel driveway when it was 80 degrees. Then he’d come inside and sleep by the air conditioning vent. Go figure!

My advice: Read up on your breed’s capabilities. Use common sense. Keep an eye on your dog.

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Time for Thanks

November 19, 2009

Well, as everyone else in the world seems to be doing, let’s offer some thanks.

Many of you know that I’m going through life changes recently. Some are easy, some are very, very hard. I am very thankful for friends that help hold me up and support without judgment.

One of those friends is covered in fur. I truly feel that we are blessed by our dog-friends. I know it’s one of the strongest reasons many of us are so close to dogs. They seem to know when we need more attention. As I’ve moved my life and business to a new location, she’s been more clingy.

Since I’ve had Lexi, my German Shepherd, she’s been pretty indifferent. Murphy, my Golden Retriever, was always under my feet. Lexi, in the middle of the room. Murphy loves it when you’re right in his face and being cuddly, Lexi couldn’t care less. But since the move, she’s more at my feet. Moves to where I am a lot. This is all relative, by the way. She’s still not like Murphy, but still way more attentive than before.

At first, I thought it was all new surroundings and missing Murphy, as he stayed behind. And while I still believe that, I also believe that she senses my need for a good, non-judgmental friend. And if not, that’s the role she’s filling.

I hear stories all the time about dogs knowing when to cuddle up, or pay extra attention to owners, so I know I’m not totally off my rocker! (I hope)

If you’re so inclined, comment a story about your pooch and its attentiveness or a way it has helped you through tough times.

The blog is going to take next week off due to the number of things going on around us next week. Give thanks for our furry friends!

The Difference Between Dogs

October 21, 2009

Seems I hear a hundred dog stories every week. From the cute ones to aggression issues to pains in someone’s life to just about everything in between.

While I am in transition and will end up with one dog, right now regular readers know I have a Golden Retriever (Murphy) and a German Shepherd (Lexi). They are so totally different, yet in many ways the same.

Murphy is a four year old boy. Think of most any toe-headed, rambunctious 4 year old boy and you have Murphy. Lexi is just over a year old. She is the consummate princess. Everything about her is “little girl” from the way she eats to the way she walks.

I’ve written before about how watching them play is like watching a Ferrari and a Pickup truck. They are a hoot to watch.

The very interesting thing however is how differently they approach situations. My oldest son loves to play with my dogs, especially when it involves teasing. So last night he gets out a small radio control car and is running it around the floor. Murphy has got to chase it no matter how many circles and twists the car makes. Lexi couldn’t care less; isn’t scared of it, pretty much just indifferent, and walks away.

When playing Lexi lays down immediately to conserve energy. Murphy stands there and pants. While I was working at my new office the other day, I took the dogs over and same thing: Lexi lays down across the room and watches; Murphy stands three feet away… and pants.

I’ve actually missed them this week as I spend lots of time remodeling. Sorry this is a short post, but I am jammed trying to get the remodeling finished. Hopefully, I’ll be finishing up this weekend and can get back in the swing of things next week.

Thanks for your patience!

Stories You Hear at Dog Events

September 29, 2009

Ho boy. How long THIS blog can be. I’ll try and keep it under 10,000 words. Okay, a LOT shorter than that! Spent most of Sunday at the “Mutt Strutt” event that supports the Stark County Humane Society.
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But first a really cool dog video I just saw. Think our furry friends don’t think or feel??
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofpYRITtLSg
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I observed a lot on Sunday. Several hundred dog owners and the requisite number of pets makes for very interesting entertainment. Was it Yogi Berra that said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”?

A guy with two Golden Retrievers, both at least 80-85lbs. walks down the middle of where we’re set up with booths. We all know Golden’s are very strong. He can barely hold them back (as in: can BARELY control them). He’s got a death grip on both leads. A lady in a booth holds out ONE treat for the two dogs.  One moment here:
    Really? Do people THINK anymore? Do people observe and try to use common sense? “I know, here comes a guy with two dogs barely under control- I think I’ll tease them, then be surprised when they tow the owner over to my booth and jump up on me.” OBVIOUSLY, “NO” to both questions.
The guy is actually smiling as this all happens. Either he is clueless, or the strain of pulling on the dogs just LOOKS like a smile! “Obedience” doesn’t fit here. Weird.
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A guy with a dog that barks at other dogs every time it sees one (see previous observation on HUNDREDS of dog owners). So the dog pretty much barked at everything. You can tell he’s very frustrated. He’s using a Halti (which in my opinion are pretty much worthless) and the dog is barking. So he pulls the dog back to him, makes him sit, closes his mouth with his hand to get the dog to quit barking, and pets him (giving affection). Then they asked me why he continues to bark. Let’s review:
1) Using a collar that provides pretty much no real control over a dog.
2) When the dog barks, YOU close his mouth instead of training him to quit barking.
3) Giving affection to the activity you’re striving to stop.

Note to owners: you don’t give affection when the dog is misbehaving. Never. Ever. Well, unless of course you wish to NOT correct the behavior. Remember that affection to a dog is better than ANY treat you can give. Give affection to support good behavior.

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A lady whose designer dog barks at everything holds the dog to give it security- so it quits barking: rewind to above. Dog barks, owner picks up dog, pets dog (“Good Girl, Sassy!! Thanks for Barking!!!”) Owner puts dog down only to be surprised when dog barks again. See above three points.
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To the guy with the 110lb. German Shepherd who was as gentle, quiet and well-behaved as they come: THANK YOU! And to the guy with the Pit/Boxer mix of the same description: THANK YOU, TOO!

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When I get home my two dogs, Murphy & Lexi, are running around the yard playing and wrestling. I’m reading a book, occasionally watching them. Suddenly I hear a different bark. There’s a cute little retriever mix running in the yard with my two. It’s not real sure it wants to play, but it wants to play. Thirty seconds later comes the young gal owner from a party down the street, calling for her dog to come to her. Short story is I tell her to squat down and pet Murphy. Sure enough, the dog being a golden mix realizes Murphy is getting more attention and comes over to get his share. I pretty much figured that would happen. So she grabs her dog and thanks me. As she pulls the dog up the driveway with her hand on the collar (yes, I wonder where the lead is too…) she starts to smack the dog and tell him what a bad boy he is.

If you read my blogs you know I preach about NOT punishing your dog. She must not be a reader. I called her back. I asked if I could ask a question, “Sure,” she said. I asked, “If I called you over here and gave you a dope slap, how likely would it be that you’d come back over, even if I use a really nice voice?” “I probably wouldn’t,” she said. “Exactly,” I said, “So when you call your dog and you get a hold of it, and you smack him, what do you think his motivation is to come to you next time?” She didn’t say anything but got the point. I told her that while it may seem very (humanly) backwards, even though the dog ran, when you catch him, praise him for coming and being a good dog.
1) Maybe next time he won’t run as quickly or as far.
2) Maybe next time he’ll remember getting petted and praised and come more quickly?!

Till next time!

Please Don’t Help Me Train My Dog!

September 8, 2009

Or Please DO!

Make up your mind, Grant! Do you want help training your dog or not!?

Great question. Many of the dog obedience problems we see as professional trainers are caused by owners that don’t understand HOW to train their pet. That makes sense. Most people haven’t been trained professionally to train dogs. Arguably, the simplest/best thing you can do to help your dog is provide a consistent environment.

A month or so ago, we adopted Murphy. Murphy, our Golden Retriever The people we adopted Murphy from had given him the “uncontrollable” tag. Maybe you saw this “uncontrollable” dog in the video with the baby? Well, anyhow, on our first walk (later the day we brought him home) that I took Murphy on, a couple streets over I saw a couple with two Golden Retrievers out in their yard. Of course you have to stop and swap dog stories. As I approached, one of them basically told me their dogs weren’t really well behaved (great). I noticed they were giving their dogs some watermelon as a treat. So, when I got close, the guy asked if Murphy could have a bite. I told Murphy to sit. While I’d worked with Murphy a bit, we were still getting to know each other. Remember, I’d just gotten him. So as I tried to get Murphy to obey, the guy holds out the treat about six inches from Murphy’s nose. Hmm… Brand new owner vs. nose/treat; guess who wins? So I’m standing there saying, “Sit Murphy, Sit” and this dufus gives Murphy the treat. Had Murphy sat yet? NO. And the guy wonders why his dog misbehaves?

Lesson 1: Don’t reward your dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON’T help me train my dog!

Murphy is still learning borders (no electric shock collars or electric fence, just command/recall). Murphy is also the typical Golden-“I love people and getting petted”-Retriever. When my next door neighbor has guests and Murphy is out, he has to go see people. He’s getting better, but cannot help himself YET. So, as the people (that know Murphy) got out of their car, I was able to stop him twice with, “Murphy, no” or “Murphy, sit”. Now, One would ASSUME that when that owner over their is telling his dog to sit and not come over here, the people would KNOW that I: 1) Want him to obey ME; and 2) stay in his yard. So what do they do? They get out of the car, bend over, slap their thighs, and say, “MURPHY!!”   REEEALLLY??? This is where in a cartoon you see the steam coming out of someone’s ears. So now Murphy is next door getting more attention than he deserves (none in my book- he didn’t obey) and as the guy sits there and pets him, I’m continuing to say, “Murphy, YARD; Murphy, YARD” (We use ‘yard’ as a return call as opposed to ‘come’). And the guy pets Murphy and says to him, “daddy’s gonna be mad, you shouldn’t be over here!” (yes, and continues to pet Murphy).

Lesson 2: Don’t reward MY dog for unwanted behavior! To this guy: Get a clue and DON’T help me train my dog!

Or, could you help? If someone you know, or quite frankly even a stranger on the street, is working their dog, or trying to achieve a given behavior, please don’t work against them! I cannot believe how often I am working a dog (and it’s obvious, trust me) that someone walks up to pet the dog and doesn’t ask, just interrupts the whole process. Dogs need consistent, repetition. A dog like Murphy that hadn’t been expected to obey (see “This Dog is Uncontrollable“) that is also a people pleaser doesn’t need to have a session interrupted!

Breitenbach Winery Labor Day Party and Dog Show Saturday we were at a “pet event” where we had a table/booth.  We always have a jar of treats out for people to give their dogs. I’ll be the first to admit that this is highly hypocritical. I rarely give my dogs treats (they really DON’T need them) and seldom/ever allow them to get them from strangers. That said, it helps draw people to the booth and is the friendly thing to do (?). Anyhow, first I’m amazed at how many people come up, take a treat and ask if they can give one to MY DOGS. REEEALLLY??!! I’m sitting here for three hours and wasn’t able to give my own dogs a treat? Thanks for stopping by and saving me/my dogs! Sigh. “No Thanks” I always say. Saturday, this lady responds, “Oh, it won’t hurt them” and proceeds to give the treat to Murphy who was totally relaxed lying at my feet. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!

Lesson 3: Don’t reward MY dog (period!)! To this lady: I’m not even sure what to say that would be remotely professional. “Stay home” comes to mind.

Sigh.

Sorry if this blog is somewhat a rant, but that’s what blogs are supposed to be: “What’s on my mind” right now. I hope you all had a great Labor Day weekend. Back to the grindstone!

This Dog is Uncontrollable!

August 19, 2009
Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy at Sunrise

Murphy, our Golden Retriever, was adopted a while back from a couple that “Can’t handle this wild-unruly dog”. You can read the story here: Our New Family Member. We’ve worked with Murphy using our standard methodology. As with the shoe-maker’s children, I don’t get as much concentration with Murphy as I would like. That said, the changes in his behavior are dramatic!

In case you don’t go back to the article above, when we went to adopt Murphy he was in a really small house with owners that wouldn’t walk him because he pulled so badly, jumped on everyone, and more. Murphy now has the run of the yard with Lexi, our German Shepherd. He still has a tendency to ‘blow through’ our yard border (no electric fence, just on-going obedience training) when he sees our neighbor lady out (he DOES love people), but is easily recalled now with just a whistle.

However, two things happened today that let me know Murphy is truly “in a different place”.

A friend stopped by today. He’s never been to my house and so Murphy has never met him. While Murphy was very, very excited, he never once even acted like he might jump up. Nice for the dog that “couldn’t be handled”.

Second was the gal that does some in-office administrative work for me. She always brings her baby. While getting ready to leave, she put her little boy down on the floor by Murphy (She knows Murphy!). Slowly he crawled over to the little tyke and very respectfully showed interest. The video isn’t great and will be re-processed, but you can see Murphy here and watch his reaction to the baby. And look at Murphy’s tail: a constant “I am sooooo happy” wag!! thump, thump, thump. Just remember this is the dog that “didn’t know how to relax or settle down”! Most facinating to me was when the baby reached for Murphy was his reaction to the reach and then his reaction when the BABY pushed on his head. I nearly cried! HOW COOL!!

Moral of the story: with the right training and attention, most dogs can learn basic obedience and learn respectful rules!

I think the video is proof!

The GULP Follow-Up #2

August 17, 2009

It’s now been about two weeks (give or take) with Murphy on the “Rock” diet. Okay, not a rock diet, but using the rocks in his food to slow him down. (See Dog Food and GULPing” and “The GULP Follow-Up” if you’ve recently joined our blog pack.)

We’ve an interesting development that I didn’t expect. When we first got Murphy, our Golden Retriever, he always had really Bad Dog-Breath. I’m talking, “You’re a nice dog, but PLEASE don’t pant anywhere near my face” bad.

One night I was on the floor playing with Murphy and noticed his “dog breath” is gone. I don’t mean it’s better. I mean he no longer has “it”. I can only assume from my vast experience with this technique (yes, the first application), that it’s due to his digestion of the food being better. What a great side effect!

Do You Own the Smartest Dog in the World?

August 11, 2009

I consider myself lucky. I get to work all the time, working with folks in their homes (I love people!) and their dogs (I love dogs!). I also get to work with two of the smartest dogs in the world. I know; I know – EVERYBODY thinks their dog is the smartest. -Okay, except for that lady that called last week, but I digress.

But, I have proof! CNN posted this article about how smart your dog may be. I happen to own a German Shepherd (Ranked #3) and a Golden Retriever (Ranked #4).

This very interesting article also talks about “recent” breeds, vs. “older” breeds. First remember that everything is relevant. But by “recent”, they were talking about breeds like Collies and Retrievers. Huh? They are compared to breeds like hounds that “just needed to be fine tuned, as they already did what humans wanted”; kill food. All we had to do was intercept the food. Huh? (again).

Hmm… I have a problem with this part. I’d have to check my evolutionary chart, but I don’t remember natural selection creating hounds, German Shepherds, or Chihuahuas. No, at some point 10,000 years ago, some hunter befriended a wolf pack when they realized the wolves would take down the moose and provide food. I’m thinking one day the hunters selected a more tame pup from a litter here and a litter there and bred something a tad more docile, but that retained the hunter instinct.

In the 1950’s some Russian scientists did a fascinating study with foxes.  (There is also a documentary of sorts on this that I’ve seen on cable). As they bred for more tame foxes, many things started happening to them. Read the article, it’s very interesting. A quote from the article: “…selection for behavior implied selection for physiological characteristics that would have broader effects on the animals’ development.” Trust me that hounds are just as “made” as a Collie.

At some point in our history, (I’ll happily be proven wrong here and retract…), all of our canine friends were wolves. We’ve selected and selected and quite frankly forced development that likely never would have happened in nature. Be realistic; what are the chances for survival in the wild for a tea cup Chihuahua? And to be even more honest, I’m not sure how long many of our “bully breeds” would last out there either.

But I started out talking about intelligence. I’m constantly amazed by how much we humans project onto our canine friends. Yes, some dogs do take longer than others to learn. But approached in the right manner, I really believe that your dog can learn. They may struggle, but given consistent, repetition and a human determined to help the pooch learn at its pace- the pooch will learn. Even one of my favorite shows, “MythBusters” did a segment on “Teaching an old dog new tricks”. Don’t say, “My dog can’t learn” or “My dog is dumb”, etc. You’re starting with the assumption of failure! Assume your dog WANTS to learn, WANTS to please.  It does!

 So, grab YOUR intelligent dog and have a blast! It Can learn!

The GULP Follow-Up

August 3, 2009

Last week we gave you a tip about helping your dog slow down when eating. I love acronyms like the military does. Not that they mean much in our case, but they are fun. Last week I was struggling for an effective “definition” for G.U.L.P. Quite frankly mine sucked. My amazing editor, Michele, saved my sorry excuse for one with, “Gobbles Up Large Pawfulls in Seconds”.

This week, I thought I’d post a short follow-up about our success. First off, I’m beginning to believe that while you can help a dog not eat as fast. I’m not sure that you “break” them of that. We’ll see. However, our challenge was to get our Golden Retriever, Murphy, to actually, maybe taste his food as he GULPed it down.

If you remember, getting the dog’s saliva involved in the process is important, so the more they chew dry food, the better. So while we were out on the motorcycle last weekend, we looked for various spots to get some well washed rocks. A nice stream or river bed near you may work. My editor, Michele, also suggested a craft store/Wal-mart or wherever you can buy rocks for those fountain things. We even saw some around a railroad bed. An obvious note of caution here; beware of where (and what for that matter) you pick up! I’d use something non-chemical (no soaps, etc) and scrub the rocks a bit before use.

And of course, as we all know, size does matter, so again- only get larger rocks that your dog could not possibly swallow. For those of you wanting more details, we’ve posted a page with pictures on our site. The obvious thing here is that the more the dog works to get to the food, the longer they’ll take to eat.

I posted 15-20 seconds for Murphy to eat, but I really don’t think it took that long. Before I could walk 25 feet into my kitchen, he was done. The end result is Murphy taking well over a minute to eat. I know I feel better that at least his digestion should be improved!

A couple interesting tid-bits not on the website. Lexi, our German Shepherd, seems to like rocks. So now as soon as Murphy is done eating, I have to pull his bowl, or I find Lexi ‘borrowing’ his rocks. It’s aways something, eh?

Dog Food and GULPing

July 28, 2009

Wow! You know that old saying about how a certain person has probably forgotten more than that rookie/whomever will ever know? Saturday, we were at the Hartville Elevator (feed/seed/etc) to help celebrate their 100 year anniversary. ‘Twas neat to see the old building with original wood floors and such; if they only could talk, eh?

They had free hot dogs and all kinds of stuff to give away, local FOX Cleveland weatherman Dick Goddard (a big pet supporter) was there, as were a couple hundred friends and neighbors.

During a lull in activity, we struck up a great conversation with a nearby vendor from the JOY pet food company (see cool announcement later…), Chip Kohser. Chip has been in the dog food business since right after dirt was invented. Amazing information.

We know training, Chip knows dogs and digestion. Chip had great insight to dry over wet dog food; while it all goes through their mouth (I know it sounds obvious, it does make a point…), slobbering down wet food requires less chewing and thus less saliva to swallow as it is already pretty wet. Dry dog food on the other hand, requires that the dog chew which creates more saliva which aids in digestion. Now, your dog’s diet (especially if older), may require wet food on the advice of your vet. But if that is not the case, consider a switch to dry.

You all know Murphy, our Golden Retriever, from previous posts. Murphy G.U.L.P.S. (Gobbles Up Large Pawfulls in Seconds) food. I mean it is gone -“NOW”. Two cups of food in under 20-30 seconds. Lexi, our German Shepherd, takes a good minute or two. I asked him how to slow Murphy down. I’m sure you’ve seen the fancy bowls with dimples that make the dog work harder for a bite. Chip suggested finding some real, honest-to-God work river stones (in a large enough diameter to your given dog – that is, large enough so the dog doesn’t break a tooth in their hurry to GULP). These river rocks/stones would naturally be smooth, worn and (one hopes) clean. In our case, we’re going get some a little larger than the diameter of a 50 cent piece. You put enough of those in your dogs bowl that they have to nudge around in the bowl to get to their food. Any time your dog stops to look or is nosing around, they will likely chew and then take longer to eat. What an awesome idea! (Visit our website to see how it worked out for Murphy.)

Well, on to our announcement: we’ll soon be a dealer for JOY dog food. Please drop us a line if you’re in the general Canton, Ohio, area. We’d be pleased to include your needs in our initial order!