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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

Happy Holidays!…or were you a bit embarrassed by your dog’s behavior at Thanksgiving and now anxious about Christmas? Your dog was probably anxious too with all the smells of incredible food and the extra carousel of visitors coming and going.

Now with Christmas in sight, in addition to the foodie smells and visitors, the whole house seems to have changed decor too! There are 4 levels of anxiety that you can quickly figure out how stressed out your dog is and if Fido should stay to hangout or if your visitors should be letting Fido have a solo holiday in the other room.

Amber Walker, KPA CTP, Owner & Trainer, Animal Intuitions, LLC. You can contact Amber at 630-53-PUPPY (630-537–779),  Amber@aitrainers.com or www.aitrainers.com

 

When I told my Mom I was writing a blog about giving pets as gifts, she said, “You are preaching to the choir. Your blog followers already know this.” She’s right. So I ask that if someone mentions in passing you that they are “getting so-and-so a dog for a present,” please share this information!

I have 3 short stories to open with:

Story #1: My friend Kim adopted a German Shepherd puppy from Chicago Tails. This 5-month puppy was relinquished because a first time grandpa gifted it to his daughter. She had just had a baby 5 months earlier and he wanted the puppy and baby to grow up together as the same age.

Story #2: My friend Meredith has her dog because a woman gifted her father a Labrador as a companion while he was recovering from knee surgery.

Story #3: A vet-tech friend is helping to re-home a sweet pit bull puppy that was given as a baby gift at an 18 year old’s baby shower.

As an outsider, all of these stories are obvious that a dog isn’t a good match for these life circumstances but every one of these dog presents is a sweet gesture with genuine intentions. No one went in (I assume) and said with an evil laugh, “Ha! Ha! Ha! I will gift you a dog to make your life difficult!” They truly believe it’s a great idea.

The only time a pet is an acceptable gift is if the recipient is fully aware that they are being gifted a dog and have consented. In that case, it may still be a gift but it’s not a surprise. The only time a dog surprise is an acceptable gift is if you, yourself, are personally going to be hand on with the dog, such as a gift to the family member inside your home.

If a dog is being gifted, it’s likely that the recipient does not already own a dog so let me remind you about being a first time dog owner or first time in a long time owner. And if you are the gifter, you probably aren’t donating your time or money to the dog’s new family!

Last year, Americans spent $62.75 billion dollars on their pets. The first year of new supplies for a dog can be about $500-$1000. The first year of new puppy vet bills can average around $1200. Training is required and necessary. Working with a certified trainer in group classes or private training in your home will be hundreds, even thousands of dollars. If you are training your dog without a professional, then swap thousands of dollars for thousands of hours! The first year, for some owners, can average up around $6,600! In addition to the cost, the time needed to invest into a new dog is 24/7. 24 hours a day because with a new puppy or dog, your overnight hours are likely being committed to the dog also in potty training or acclimation to the new home. Just like with children, the dog owner doesn’t get a day off.

Talk to your recipient before you gift a dog or any other living being!

Amber Walker, KPA CTP, Owner & Trainer, Animal Intuitions, LLC. You can contact Amber at 630-53-PUPPY (630-537-8779),  Amber@aitrainers.com or www.aitrainers.com

 

 

Halloween can be a really stressful time for many dogs. They’ve already had to learn to maneuver an environment dominated by humans and then we have these random days throughout our lives where we do really weird stuff! From loud booms on July 4th to totally creepy creatures during October 31st, our dogs endure a lot of potential stress. A ton of dogs will be dressed up for Halloween as they march in pet parades and accompany their humans door-to-door.  There are good, better, and best ways to dress your dog and there are a few things we just shouldn’t do at all.

I would like to add in a really important one I intended to mention but did forget (you’ll see why in the video!). Please do not ever ride your dog. No matter how large the dog, no matter how small the child. This will set the dog up for a lot of potential mental stress and future health issues.

Happy Halloween!!

 

Amber Walker, KPA CTP, Owner & Trainer, Animal Intuitions, LLC. You can contact Amber at 630-53-PUPPY (630-537-8779),  Amber@aitrainers.com or www.aitrainers.com

 

 

A common concern I receive from parents is their dog ignores their small child (from toddler through grade school, even high school). Whether it is the dog pulling on sleeves and pants or jumping on the children, the bottom line is the dog isn’t listening to anything the child is saying.

Most kids only know how to be kids. Kids are loud, fast, darty, bouncy, goofy, and confusing. All of this is interpreted by the dog in a million different ways. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see kids making:

Run Away. Of course a kid isn’t standing there while his dog jumps, nips or chases. The child is going to do what his DNA says to do. Run Away! However, this speaks as more fun for the dog! Instead, we teach children to Be A Tree, while calling or counting loudly. A cue to a parent to intervene quickly. Stop, look at your feet, fold your hands. Start calling loudly to parent. Dogs don’t chase trees. Be A Tree.

Yelling. I frequently hear kids yelling. First they are yelling just because kids can be naturally loud. But that turns into yelling cues to the dog or yelling at the dog to stop the unwanted. Or yelling louder because the dog is ignoring them, but the dog has tuned out the yelling.

Rapid Fire Cues. I hear parents faulty of this but I hear nearly 100% of kids rapid fire at their dog. “Fido! Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit. Fido! Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit!” Usually including a finger point or sometimes a sharp finger to the dog’s shoulder. The dog tunes out the rapid fire cues, I would tune you out too, if you said, “have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch.”

What a dog trainer’s kid does: I started guiding my Little on proper training and interactions around 18 months old with our Hadley, our Yellow Labrador. Up until this point, there was non-stop management and re-direction to keep both kid and dog safe.

Height helps. I used a 2 level step stool. The height helps the kid have some confidence and keeps safe distances from dog to eliminate silly kid reactions if the dog does something unexpected. She would run through our dog’s behaviors with my guidance. Kids love to help with training sessions because they think its magnificent when the dog listens to them. The height also helps the dog learn high value kid treats are tossed to the floor so dog will learn to keep space from kid and turn focus to floor once kid is on the floor.

Delivering cues. She uses both hand cues and verbal cues together. Then she would use only hand and then only verbal. Then she would squeal when Hadley would respond. Ha!

Ask/Wait. My Little learned on the first training session from her stop stool, We ask Hadley ONCE then count to 5 before we ask again. We never rapid fire cues.

Kiss A Hip. My Little always offers our pup love in the morning when she wakes and in the evening before bed, but she will always kiss/hug Hadley’s hip. Never Hadley’s face or mouth. Never her nose or feet. She shows respect to our dog by kissing the least offensive or intimidating part of the dog. The back end!

Stranger Dogs. My daughter would never run up to any dog. She knows to ask permission from the owner before touching. She know to let the dog approach her because not all dogs want to be pet. She knows to pet on the shoulders or hips.

As soon as your child is old enough to understand what you are communicating to them in life, teach them to properly communicate to a dog!

You can contact Amber Walker at (630) 53-PUPPY, amber@aitrainers.com or visit her website www.aitrainers.com.

“Hi Amber, it’s “Noel.” I am on vacation this week and was browsing the Internet and found a cute puppy’s picture at the animal shelter.  I’m going to head over there and pick her up.  I don’t know anything about this breed, can you tell me before I go?”

cute-dogFirst, I’m grateful Noel called me first.  More often than not, I get the call once things aren’t going well about a week or two after adoption or purchase.  After a few questions of Noel’s lifestyle, habits, and honest reasons for wanting this particular puppy, we decided together this dog was *not* a good fit for her.

Unfortunately, a lot of pet purchases and adoptions are made from “really cute pictures online.” Don’t get me wrong, cute dogs sell!  My Instagram page is devoted to cute dog pictures with plenty of followers!  Plus, my next dog is likely a yellow Labrador and I will check out the Internet to see who is out there.  Then make meet and greet appointments based on availability and pictures. Where this goes wrong is “what a cute face! Let’s bring this one home!” Not all breeds are created equal.

Breed research is vitally important before bringing home a dog.  It is truly necessary to match a dog’s breed to your lifestyle. Unfortunately, breed behavior can conflict with owner expectations and management. Though the dog will vary on an individual basis, you should make yourself aware of what their genetic DNA programming is.

Generally, breeds can look like this:

Herding
Job: ability to control movement of livestock
Turns into: easy arousal of movement including children and cars

Workingnational-dog-day
Job: various tasks, guarding, pulling sleds, search and rescue, police, military
Turns into: Resource guarding, protective of person or property, excessive leash pulling.

Hound
Job: Hunt using scent, sight, and speed
Turns into: distracted by smells and easily lose attention to owner, chasing.

Terrier
Job: Hunt and kill vermin
Turns into: Digging, chasing, killing rodents in yard or home such as hamsters and guinea pigs.

Sporting
Job: assist humans with hunting by pointing and retrieving.
Turns into: Carrying things in their mouths like laundry and shoes, possible destruction of items.

Amber WalkerSo, before you bring home the next “OMG that dog is so cute!!!!!,” a little breed research can make or break the happiness and compatibility success of both your family and dog!

Amber Walker is the owner of Animal Intuitions, you can contact her at (630) 53-PUPPY or amber@aitrainers.com or visit her website at www.aitrainers.com.

 

 

 

Amber Walker

Amber Walker, owner and lead trainer at Animal Intuitions, Inc. provided us with some great insight on prong collars and why you will not see them in any Two Bostons stores.

Walking is one of the greatest activities an owner and dog can do.  It builds a great bond and is a good work out.  It can deplete a dogs’ energy lessening unwanted behaviors that a bored dog does like chewing, barking, and digging.  And walking is just plain fun!

Sometimes, we find ourselves not going on walks because our dog pulls, lunges, barks at other dogs, zig zags, and makes the walk horrible.  How can we change all that?  A change of walking tool is sometimes all it takes!

Animal Intuitions or Two Bostons will never recommend the use of prong, pinch, or chain collars and but most important, we want you to understand why.

First, prong collars work. We are not denying that fact.  Function is not the matter of why we don’t like them.  There are three main components as to why we won’t use them, sell them or prongcollarrecommend them: 1. Your dog’s anatomy, 2. their use as a training tool, and 3. the inconsistency with their use.

1. Dog’s Anatomy

Your dog’s neck is actually very delicate and includes the vertical vertebrae, trachea, jugular vein, tonsils, epiglottis, larynx, esophagus, nerves and veins.

Repeated stress (mild to severe) to this area will not only cause pain and problems to the immediate areas being touched but also can lead to neck, back and even eye problems and injuries.  Optical nerves in the neck can cause blindness.

Our dogs appear to not be especially sensitive so we are more likely to use greater and greater force.  By the time evidence of permanent damage is identified, it is too late.

2. A Training Tool

It is especially important to Animal Intuitions, that your dog learns how to walk because we are teaching them to make that decision through positive reinforcement i.e. PAIN FREE.  No human or animal can learn when he or she is in pain.

Our goal is teaching the dog to control himself and the owner won’t need to physically control the dog.

As with any tool, there is a right and wrong way to use them.  More often than not, these collars are used incorrectly.  And even if they are used ‘correctly,’ you still won’t see us using them.

To use positive punishment (adding something [pinch collar] to decrease a behavior [leash pulling]) it must be administered at the correct time.  Timing is important in clicker training too.  Wrong timing in clicker training means your dog gets a free treat.  Wrong timing in a pinch collar ‘pop’ means a lot of confusion for your dog, including the possible association with what the dog sees (dog, child, car, bike, etc.) at the time of a leash pop leading to fear and aggression, “That thing made me hurt and now I will be [insert dog emotion].” It must also be done with enough force to stop the behavior.  OUCH!

3. The Inconsistency

The use of the prong and/or pinch collar is not consistent.  It varies from person to person and from situation to situation.  Take the following for example:

  • The dog pulls and the owner follows (or is dragged) and the dog is positively reinforced for what it wants to do/where it wants to go because the dog still gets to move forward.
  • Sometimes pulling is corrected with a jerk other times it is not.
  • Collars are fitted incorrectly so the dog never gets relief even on a slack leash.

In the end, your dog has been habituated to the constant pressure and it no longer means anything.
It’s possible that the dog may develop a punishment callus.  This causes the owner to escalate the level of correction while the dog is reinforced by pulling to get to whatever he wants and it outweighs the punishment of the pain.

boxerfullharnessSo what do we recommend?  We do want you to use a tool that will be helpful to you and your dog.  There are certainly a variety of options that work for some and not for others.  We highly recommend the Freedom Harness or Sporn Harness.  You can get this at Two Bostons.

Positive Reinforcement is very important to Animal Intuitions’ training team and we want our clients to understand why we are so passionate about it.  AI has trained over 100 zoo and pet animal species with the same training techniques, methods, and science…every time! We can’t wait to show you our successful methods with all your dogs and dogs to come.

For more information on Amber and Animal Intuitions, Inc. visit them at www.aitrainers.com.

Amber WalkerLast month to celebrate National Hugging Day, we had Amber Walker provide the blog: Hugs and Kisses, about pets and hugging safety.  After reading that blog you might have asked yourself, “Ok, so, what body language should I be looking for?” As a follow up, today’s blog will help answer that question.

 

The Presidential Elections have me on my own campaign…I want to create dog-friendly families everywhere!  Most seem to know that they should train their dog and take them on a walk daily, but I am always shocked when the knowledge and education stops there.

I’ve been using the term “Dog Friendly Family” with my clients for a while, and when I Googled it, nothing of significance came up…

Webster Defines a Dog Friendly Family as…Nope, not there.

Google Defines a Dog Friendly Family as…Not there either.6-21705-top-10-family-friendly-dogs6c-1350065750

So until the angry originator knocks on my door…I am taking responsibility for the phrase and creating the definition!

Amber’s definition of a Dog Friendly Family: “An individual or a multiple person family that meets the dog’s individual mental and physical needs, provides a home that accommodates the dog’s safety and comfort, and clearly communicates to the dog while listening and responding to the dog’s own body language.” 

I blogged about why every dog might not want to partake in National Hug Day. How do I know not every dog wants a hug and kiss? Because I am fluent in dog body language and it’s a great idea that ALL dog owners learn that too!

First, reduce the use of labels.  The dog is not fearful, aggressive, submissive, destructive, anxious, nervous, scared, sad, sleepy, hyper, happy, friendly, etc.  Let’s look at the dog’s ears, eyes, tail, mouth and feet to get a larger story.

A dog handler describing a “happy or friendly” dog, is actually seeing:

  • happy-dogOpen mouth, relaxed tongue (in or out of mouth)
  • Eyes looking around
  • Ears relaxed: “floppy” or “up” changing directions listening all around
  • A tail on its own is hard to read, it is best when a tail is read it is combined with other exhibited behaviors, may be stiff or wagging

 

 

A dog handler describing a “fearful, aggressive, nervous, or scared” dog, is actually seeing:

  • Tightly closed mouth (usually dogs grit their teeth before they bite)
  • Lip licking (like peanut butter is in their mouth)dog-scared
  • Heavy panting (outside of being hot or thirsty)
  • Eyes darting (to get away)
  • Ears to the side or flat back or floppy ears against head or pulled back
  • Again, the tail on its own is hard to read, but you may see a tucked tail, stiff tail or wagging tail
  • Some other things you might see is yawning, the tri-pod stance (only standing on three legs), “looking busy” like sniffing the ground at nothing, phantom itches, or excessive water drinking, stiffening, showing teeth, growling, air snapping, biting

After a dog experiences anything above, they should do a full body shake (like a dry dog shaking off invisible water).  This is one most owners see, miss and ignore!  We should instead give this a grand verbal praise.  The dog is choosing to re-set, start over, and relax again.  Body shakes can happen during or after fun play or stressful, scary moments.

There is a ton more to body language but if you start here and become quickly observant with this, your dog will thank you!
If you have questions about training, behavior, or her services please visit her website or email her at amber@aitrainers.com.

This week we are celebrating National Hugging Day…we all love giving and getting hugs!  Amber Walker, Lead Trainer & Owner at Animal Intuitions, LLC is here to give us some insight about pets and hugging safety.  Even if you don’t read this entire blog…WATCH THE FIRST VIDEO BELOW, it really tells a great story.

It’s winter, it’s snowing, it’s cold and the only thing I want to do at night is snuggle my warm, furry coated dog.  And I’m not the only one.  Both my toddler and my husband want to also.  But I have a problem…my yellow Labrador, Hadley, hates to be hugged and she hates to get kisses.  In her perfect world, she would be two feet away from any human.

20160114_173934

“Getting a toddler and a dog to pose for a picture can be nearly impossible, but when you can get a nervous dog and a busy toddler to settle for just a moment, you get a tightly closed mouth, nervous tail wag, and two feet of space in between them! At least they’re both looking in my general direction.”

Now, my 12 year old pup is an extremist when it comes to being anti-hugs and kisses but she’s a shelter dog with a peppered past…and she is not alone!  In fact: MOST dogs and cats, don’t like hugs and kisses.  77% of bites happen in the family home or by a familiar pet and many are a result of too many hugs and kisses.  They can also be a result of a pet tolerating the family’s hugs and kisses and then biting when Cousin Louie visits because he joined in on the undesired hug fest.  This has become such a problem among companion dogs that great resources have been dedicated to helping families understand this misconception.

 

StopThe77www.StopThe77.com has created an awesome video (right on the top on the home page) to show how most dogs really feel about hugs and kisses from the dog’s perspective.

 

 

 

 

 

I have done several TV features for this topic.  One video can be seen here:

 

Dog Gone Safe has a national campaign that teaches children about how to read a dog’s behaviors, signals, and cues, especially when it is in regard to hugging.  You can read one of their many blogs here: http://doggonesafe.blogspot.com/2010/12/dogs-dont-like-hugs-and-kisses.html

 

Yes, yes, yes, you may know of or have a dog or cat that solicits attention, can’t get enough belly rubs, enjoys and loves being hugged by you, even seeks you out for hugs and licks.  It’s not impossible, it’s not unheard of…but for me, as a trainer, the comparison is similar to a frustrated puppy owner telling me they’ve had perfect dogs their entire life and have never had to train a dog ever (I have 2 of those clients right now!) I know those dogs exist too!  But they are not the norm…Most dogs (and cats too) need training just as most dogs and cats do not like hugs.

Remember, you don’t want to hug everyone you meet…Being respectful to our pets regarding hugging is as important as being respectful to our family about something they don’t like!  Read your pet’s body language during a hug before assuming they love it and you may change your mind about how your pet feels.  No one wants their pet to secretly dislike them so it will make everyone much happier!

Amber WalkerLook for Amber’s next guest blog, she will talk more about how to read signs and signals our dogs give us when they are uncomfortable.

 

This weeks blog is from Amber Walker, lead trainer and owner at Animal Intuitions, LLC…I hope you get some good tips to help your dog be Halloween ready!

Hisk and Hark! Draw close and tremble! This is the night when ghosts assemble!

Halloween season is here with crazy costumes and scary decorations everywhere we look.  Many dogs have no issues with them and others 10-2015 Halloween with Leowill be petrified.  It’s so important to me that a puppy is able to brush off a scary situation, that in my puppy classes we have Halloween night every 6 weeks all year long!

I can’t tell you how many owners purposely scare their dogs with creepy masks or devilish costumes because their dogs freak out and it makes the owner laugh…and it drives me crazy.  I already dislike jokes, pranks, and April Fools on humans but to do those things to an animal that doesn’t have an understanding of what Halloween or any joke concept, is just sinister!  If I just described you…I wag my finger.

So! For those of us that want to make sure our new puppies or adult dogs are ready for this season, there are a few things you can do.

***TRAINING TIP: Anytime you can take a neutral situation (nothing bad or good is happening) and turn it into a positive one, you are setting your dog up for future success!

  • Get Halloween decorations out on the floor (if safe and won’t be destroyed by dog) or low and still in your hand in the “off” position, for those with sound and lights.  Allow your dog to investigate it on their own.  Treat or pet your dog for being brave.
  • If the decoration or costume moves or lights up, turn it on from this low/still position and pet or treat your dog for being brave again, now with lights and noise.  You may have to start from many feet away at first.  Bring the object closer as the dog is showing signs of being relaxed or curious.
  • As your dog becomes comfortable with the object, move it around or allow self-moving objects to move at this time.  Pet or treat your dog for bravery and curiosity.
  • If your kids are going to be wearing their costumes all the time, allow your dog to see it in pieces or flat on the floor before the kids are flying around the house in them.  For puppy class, we allow the dog to get rewarded for the mask, gloves, cape, and head piece all separate before the trainer dons the entire outfit as one costume.dogeatingcandy
  • Doorbell!!  Since your doorbell will be ringing every 90 seconds, consider bringing your dog to the front door on a leash, standing there, and ringing it over and over again with a cookie each time it rings.  Allow them to see no one is there, nothing is happening, and the doorbell is actually really boring.  Up til now, there’s a good chance your dog thinks that a pizza rings the bell every single time.  Or for simplicity, put the dog in a different room with Through A Dog’s Ear music, some lavender diffused oil and a white noise sound machine and let them sleep the night away!
  • Keep all chocolate and candy out of reach of dogs especially counter surfing pets.  And keep hydrogen peroxide on hand in case they do get into the candy bowl.

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays.  Make it your pets’ favorite too!!

Amber WalkerAs much as we don’t want to hear it…winter is around the corner.  That means more indoor play with your dog.  Amber Walker, owner and lead trainer at Animal Intuitions, LLC has provided us with this great blog that teaches and reminds us of some rules and boundaries when playing with your pups.

 

We love to play with our dogs!  But just like kids on the playground, dogs have a style of play, preferred time length of play, and particular games they enjoy.

Some dogs love to retrieve, while the other dogs can’t wait for you to throw the ball so they can leave it in the grass.  Some dogs will thrive in a good chase game but it can quickly turn into a game of nipping and squealing.dog-chasing-ball

As in any civilized community, there are important rules to good play.

First, the dog must understand some basic cues such as Drop It, Leave It, Take It, and All Done.  A great way to teach these cues is through the art of play however it is the pet parents’ responsibility to monitor closely while the cues are being taught.  Using something like a piece of chicken to trade for a Drop It cue is crucial for the learning process through shouldn’t be needed down the road.

dog-playing-tugSecond, the pet parents (and especially children!) must have a relationship with the dog before they can dive into safe play.  Sometimes I’ll see a family dog that will listen to Dad with 100% attention but ignore little 6 year old Kayla when she asks the same thing.  It’s really important for our kids to be a part of the training process so the dogs learn that the kids are more than just a play object that squeals, flails, and runs!  This helps facilitate safe play.

Third, recognize the style of play your dog likes best and learn to read their behaviors during play.  It’s not uncommon to see proper and fun dog-dog or dog-kid play turn sour quickly when dog’s signals are not read correctly.

Fourth, follow these general play tips:

  •  ALWAYS supervise play.
  • Don’t push a dog past a play limit if he is communicating that he’s finished.  Look for lip licking, head turning, yawning, and body shakes (like shaking off water).
  • Give lots of breaks during play for water and potty and catching of breath.  Breaks happen naturally but there may need to be forced breaks too.
  • Play should always be fair: no pinning, no cornering, no chasing if the run is to get away.
  • For a child, if play gets out of hand, STOP, cross arms in front of body and stare at feet.  The supervising adult will notice the tree stance and immediately stop in to help.  Instead of screaming, the child can loudly say the parents name or count loudly to get a parent’s attention if they are distracted.
  • Running, squealing, flailing, and yelling will increase the intensity of play and sometimes encourage inappropriate or unsafe dog behaviors.

A couple of rules go a long way…Now go to Two Bostons, pick up a NEW toy and have some fun with your dog!