Thursday, June 30, 2005


I was asked how to go about moving a dog from the bed to the floor.

I will tell you that it will take some patience on your end. From this moment on, the bed is off-limits to the dogs. They can not sleep on it during the day, or even jump up on it with or without you in the bed. It's about consistency, and dogs don't understand why they are allowed on the bed at one time, but not the other. So if you've made the decision to oust the pooch from the bed, it has to be for all times. Paws belong on the floor.

I would suggest as a first step to wash or change your bedding to remove the dogs scent from the bedding. This is important because as long as their scent it on the bed, they will think it's theirs. OK, this is an opportunity to go shopping if you want and buy that really expensive comforter that you've always wanted. The one that you saw but didn't get because "the dogs sleep in bed with us". (Thought I'd throw that incentive out there...)

Next, buy the dog a super comfy bed, and put it near your bed. I throw a couple of old baby blankets on the bed so they have something to dig around in. Dogs like to play with their blankets, so why not. As an added benefit, take an unwashed old t-shirt and put it in the bed too. Your dogs also like to be near your "smell".

From that point on, every time the dog starts to jump on the bed, give them a firm, "no" and then show them to their bed. Pat it and tell them "go to bed". Be firm with the "no", but happy and excited and use a higher pitched voice on the "go to bed". Make their bed fun, and your bed a very uncomfortable place to be. If your dog is used to sleeping with you. You will be repeating this over, and over and over. But eventually they will understand.

Certain dogs understand but will challenge you. Why should they give up sleeping with you? For the challenging ones, you may have to get a crate, and make it nice and comfy, and repeat all the steps above, locking the dog in the crate at night.

I can tell you now, the dogs you have to crate will do ANYTHING they can to get back into your bed. They will cry, whine, whimper and generally keep you awake all night for that final chance in your bed. Don't give in. As soon as you do, the next time it will last twice as long.

And the dogs you don't crate, will try to sneak in bed when you are asleep. As soon as you catch them crawling in bed, firmly tell them "no" put them back on the ground and tell them to go to bed.

It's like breaking up a long-term relationship. Kicking a dog out of the bed is probably one of the most difficult things to do for both human and canine, but in the end, it's for the best.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The Kiss

Dog's don't make good bed fellows!

With the discussion of Boundaries, I just have to mention one thing. Don't let your dog sleep on your bed. Dogs in the wild have a hierarchy. The higher they sleep, the more alpha they are. So simply put, if your dog sleeps in your bed, you are allowing them to be YOUR equal. While this might be just fine for some people and their dogs, I have seen many times where the dog takes advantage of the owner in other aspects of their life, and changing this one behavior and putting the dog back on the floor will alter the negative interaction between dog and human.

So if you are having trouble with your dog in other aspects of your life, and your dog sleeps in bed with you, try putting the dog in a crate or pet bed next to your bed. You may have a few sleepless nights as you get used to this new arrangement, but don't give in. It will be beneficial to both of you in the long run.

Dogs and Boundaries (Personal and Physical)

So after establishing clear communication with our canine friends which includes repetition and consistency, boundary setting is another important training aspect. Our parents set boundaries for us as children, and we set them for our children. Then why don't we do that with our dogs. Dog definately have the intelligence to understand boundaries, they set boundaries for themselves and their young. At a young age, puppies learn quickly how far they can push before the mother corrects them, they learn how far they can wander off, and when they are allowed to eat and when they aren't. These are boundaries established in the wild.

So, why don't we set boundaries for our dogs?

How many of you put food in a bowl for your dogs and just walk away. If you do that you are missing a great opportunity to teach boundary setting. The first type of boundary is a personal one. I don't want my dog to invade my personal space. I want them to have manners and treat me with respect. So, to train the first boundary, put the food in a bowl, the dog must sit quitely in front of you as you set the bowl down, and it may not eat until you give it the command (I use OK - my release command). I vary the length of time the dog has to sit there staring at the bowl before I give the command. But I make sure the amount of time is doable for both of us. I'm not trying to make the dog fail. I just want the dog to understand that I'm in control of the food bowl, and there will be no jumping on me to get the food, eating out of the bowl on the way down to the floor, or any other activity besides a clean sit stay. Then they get their reward, which is their food.

While this is easy to do with dogs with a little bit of training, you may have a more difficult time with small puppies. BUT it's best to start as a puppy. The puppy waits for his bowl to be placed down, and then give them a very short amount of time before you give them the OK command. Then add to it once the dog has learned to sit.

With some of my dogs, I even ask for more. A sit, a dance, a wave, a rollover, then you get to eat. Why not make it a little training session to get their bowl of food. I trained weave poles for agility that way. I set them up outside and the dogs had to do a clean set of poles to get their dinner.

Another boundary is a physical one. I don't like my dogs upstairs. It's saves on cleaning time, makes it easier on our family because the kitchen is up there and I don't like dogs mooching people food, and when people come to our front door, I don't want the dogs to charge to the door barking. So we've set a physical boundary that they can come to the top step, but no further. Setting a physical boundary is simple, just repetition training, and alot of me getting into their space when they put a foot past the top step. This type of boundary setting is really important for you to maintain control of the canine/human relationship. There are simply places that dogs SHOULD NOT be. When you were a kid, did your parents have one room that was off limits to the kids? A fancy room with all the breakables? Its the same premise with your dog, they don't have to have access to the whole house. As long as they have access to the areas that you spend the most time (for us, our downstairs, office, craft room and tv room), it is perfectly fine to deny them access to areas that you don't want them.

One thing to make sure if you are establishing a physical boundary. The boundary may never change. If you pick the top step, then don't think you can change it mid-stream to be the bottom step. If you want to keep the dogs out of carpeted rooms, but you will occassionally let them in the family room on movie night, then you can never again expect to keep them out of the family room. If you set a boundary to keep the dog in your yard, then you can't expect the dog to stay in your yard if you take them outside of the boundary (other than in a trip in the car). Walking the dog out of the boundary, offers the opportunity for the dog to break the boundary because you have done it once. Once the physical boundary is set, it is set for life. Otherwise, you will be retraining it for the rest of the dog's life.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Communicating with your dog.

There is no such thing as a bad dog. There are dogs that don’t understand what is expected of them by humans. Most of the problems people experience with adult dogs come from lack of socialization and bonding skills as a puppy. Puppies that haven’t been given guidelines to follow and haven’t learned what is or is not acceptable to a human are the ones that end up in the pound branded as a “bad dog”. Most of these dogs have a willingness to please and want a human companion, but simply have not been given the appropriate instructions to make their behaviors compatable with living with humans. In short, it is simply a lack of communication between the dog and the owner that creates some of the behavioral problems.

It is important from the time a dog leaves it’s mother that a puppy understands and respects your space. Before a dog leaves its mother, the mother has trained them in sharing personal space; you get too close to me and I’ll growl at you, you get in my way and I’ll run you over. The mother controls space and after a while the puppies learn to respect her space. While the puppies are playing they also learn to respect and control space of their littermates. So when the puppy comes into your home, it is an expert in respecting/controlling space. But humans are not. We think very little about our personal spaces unless someone invades it. And even then, you may get an uncomforable feeling, but not think much of it. When a dog invades your personal space, most people feel nothing. Many people welcome that invasion. But a dog uses that invasion to control and to shape you into doing things that they want.

For example. A dog controls your space by making you take a step back or out of the way. When a dog jumps on you from the front, they have learned that you will take a step back, opening up your space to them. Giving them the control. Even if you say “no”, the dog doesn’t care, because your body language said “yes”. To stop this behavior, instead of stepping back, saying nothing, charge forward, knocking the dog out of the way with your legs and body. Keep walking with conviction and power, and don’t look back. You just said to the dog, I don’t give up my space. A couple times doing that, the dog won’t jump on you. It now respects your space.

An understanding of space can solve many problems. Teaching a dog to “come” has long been a difficult part of obedience training. With a little understanding of space, you can get a dog to have a very consistent come command.

A change of the dog blog...

Since I'm taking a break from going to trials and shows, I've had several people ask me to help them train their dogs. I thought I'd post some dog training tips on my blog. Ideas that maybe will help you understand and train your own dogs. With over 25 years of dog training experience, and dogs that were competing in the highest class possible in agility, and have titles in obedience and flyball, I'll post my ideas and thoughts about training on this dog blog.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New Dog Club on Bainbridge!

I met with a dog friend today. We were talking about how there is a huge lack of dog events on Bainbridge Island.

Just look at the farmers market, or walk downtown by the coffee shops, this place is packed with dog owners that love to take their dogs out in public. You would think with all the dogs here, that there would be more things for people, families and their pets to do. If you've read my earlier blogs, you will see that I started training dogs as a child. It's a good family oriented hobby to get into. It gives your child and your dog a job. Training makes pets better family members, and reduces the number of dogs that end up in the pound.

So during our discussion we decided that we needed to start a Bainbridge Dog Club. Not a stuffy old dog show type club, but a fun club that offers different types of games and sports, get-togethers, training, and just plain old fun. We're all proud of our dogs and want ways to show them off, socialize them, and socialize ourselves with other dog people, so why not?

If you are interested post here, and watch this blog for more information. Our wheels are turning, so if you have any ideas or suggestions, we'd love to hear them.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Pictures of Kishi (allergy dog)

Pictures of Kishi... of course we didn't have the elizabeathan collar on her at the show, but this is how bad she looks right now. I think she is allergic to grass. Wherever her body would touch grass outside is where she is missing fur and is red and itchy. (She was tested allergic to Bermuda grass in Arizona. I haven't had her tested in Washington)

Saturday, June 11, 2005

The reason I'm done with dog shows.

I want to start this off by saying, people who know me know I'm not a quitter. Sometimes I can be too competitive, but I roll with the punches and take the wins with the losses. I never get mad at my dogs because I know they are working for me at the best of their ability whether we have a good or bad day. There is always another day... another win or another loss. Competing is about me spending time doing something with my dogs that both of us enjoy. It's my philosophy for training and competing.

But lately there have been many show days that I haven't enjoyed being there. Or I spend the whole time wishing I was at home watching my child play T-ball, or seeing a movie with my husband. I had been considering taking a break from agility which takes alot of time in training and trialing. But I had decided to give Rally a try with Kishi and if I liked it, I would then try to title Farley and Tama. Rally is a sport that can be trained at home with very little equipment and just some basic training skills.

Well, today is the straw that broke the camels back.

Now being competitive, I understand and accept if I make a mistake in the ring and we are disqualified. I never argue a judges call, because I know they could be seeing something I'm not as the handler. I may not agree with them, but it gives me a chance to watch out the next time and correct it or keep it from happening again. Like constructive criticism that I just paid a $25 entry fee for (it's better than therapy - right?). But what I don't understand is how a judge can look at my dog and disqualify me before I walk in the ring. But before I get into that, let me give you some background.

Kishi has allergies. And I have to admit, they are bad this year. She has very little hair and elephant skin under her arms and along her butt and tail. She is itchy. But she's had them all her life, we do our best to keep them under control, and we work through them. She has agility and obedience titles that she has earned looking as bad or worse than she does today. She is my most trained dog with a variety of really awesome tricks and strong obedience skills. She has a resume of achievements longer than mine. AND, she is so excited to be back out in the ring. She thrives on attention and loves to work. And Rally is the perfect sport for her. It's positive and it's what she likes to do.

So today at the show we showed up at about 9:30am for a 10:10 show time. They told me when I checked in that they were running a half hour late. At 2:00pm our class was finally called to go in the ring. A few HOURS late. Kishi was ready. Her sits were quick, she had that sparkle in her eye that I recognize as her "I'm going to do a good job" look. I was psyched.

We were the next dog up, and Kishi started to rub her butt on the floor. She does that when it itches. If her face itches, she rubs that on the floor. I'm so used to her doing that that I didn't think anything about it. We weren't in the ring yet! Then the judge looked at us and called us in the ring. I went to the start line, thinking she would say "Are you ready". Instead she said, "What is wrong with her, it looks like anal glands to me. I don't want her in my ring. You're dismissed."


I told her "NO! She has allergies, please don't dismiss us. Give her a chance to show you what she can do."

And she said "I've made my decision, you're dismissed. This is a novice class and if she has anal gland problems it will distract all the dogs"

"It's not anal glands. Please let us try."

"No, you're dismissed."

So I went to the superintendant of the show. They said they couldn't do anything, to talk to the AKC rep. I talked to the AKC rep who said that it was judges decision who shows in their ring. If they witness a dog throwing up outside the ring, they can dismiss them. If a dog is limping, they can dismiss them. And I guess if the dog has an itch on their butt, they can be dismissed.

OK, so I paid the money, I drove there (paying for the ferry both ways), waited, waited, waited... for what? To be told that I was dismissed because the judge, who is not a veterinarian, thinks my dog has "anal gland problems", which she doesn't, before I even crossed the start line!

Does this make you want to go to dog shows? Does this make you want to compete? And lately it has been one little disappointment like this after another.

So today, it's official. I'm done with dog shows. I wish I could say I ended on a high note, but such is life. It was quite a disappointment. With a total of over 20 AKC titles on 5 of my dogs, do you think AKC will miss me?