Monday, January 28, 2013

What is leadership when it comes to dog training?

What does it mean to be the leader of your pack?  What does it take to have your dog turn to you for direction with a thousand rabid squirrels running around him?  Here are a few ideas:

  • NOT physical force.  True leaders don't use physical force, because they don't have to.  When people see a dog who is extremely expressive, constantly jostling for status, and hypervigilant about the behaviors of other dogs, they often say, "Oh, that dog's an alpha."  Wrong!  The alpha is the one calmly laying down on the other side of the room.  No one's challenging her.  She has nothing to worry about.  Her authority is solid, and she has nothing to prove.  So when we are wondering how to earn our dogs' respect, we can channel that idea - lead like a true leader, not like someone who is worried about their position.  That is worthy of respect.
  • Protection.  When we take ownership of a dog, we not only take on legal responsibilities in society, but we also enter into a pact with our animal himself.  We promise to protect him.  If we're aware and willing to tell the rude dog charging head on down the block to NOT mug our considerably less playful one, we'll have shown ourselves to be valuable and capable protectors.  If we assume that role, regardless of the other owner's perception of rudeness on our part, we'll let our dog know that it's worth their while to look to us for direction in stressful situations instead of handling them themselves.  Usually meaning acting out, or even fighting.
  • Providing for basic needs.  This is something our dogs can't do for themselves.  In return, they'll give us unconditional love.  

Friday, January 18, 2013

DIY Healthy Dog Treats = Revolution in my kitchen.

Yours truly has just received in the mail a brand new food dehydrator.  I couldn't be more excited.  Now, I've been known to go above and beyond when it comes to treats for the many dogs in my life, but this is different.  I know everyone's not going to make fish brownies (see photo) or liver cakes (both recipes from the book How Many Dogs?! by positive trainer Debby McMullen).  Although if you do make them, your dogs and/or cat will thank you profusely.  (And any humans you live with will threaten to throw up all over the kitchen if you make them again).

Anyway, despite the fun that that activity inspired, there is an easier way!  BUY A FOOD DEHYDRATOR.  Dry meats from your nearest Halal butcher or fruits and veggies from the farmer's market.  They will last forever, they're cheap, and they are HEALTHY.  I highly recommend it.

Not only will this save you money, you'll be doing your dog a favor by avoiding preservatives and other junk that's in store bought treats.  If your dog has a weight problem but you still want to continue the fun training you've been doing, this is a solution.  If your dog has a sensitive stomach, this is a solution.  Hot dogs and cheese aren't the only way to feed your dog something she loves.

And now I have to go - getting ready to dehydrate some goodies for the lovely dogs at the Humane Society tomorrow.

A few days later:  I just came across this warning about various jerky treats being dangerous to your dog.