Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Couch

Today I am an ace sleuth detective. I slip into the furniture store wearing inconspicuous clothing and dark sunglasses, determined not to make another furniture mistake. Purchased less than a year ago, our current couch has turned out to be a “dreaded dog hair magnet.” So under the cover of anonymity, I wander purposely around the store, searching for suitable fabric that will camouflage and repel fur.
Having dogs, and therefore having dog hair, you learn things about material. Parachute nylon-good; codura nylon-bad, very bad. It’s embarrassing watching the kids go off to school after their backpacks and pants appear to have spent the night down wind to a furball tumbleweed. Denim is usually good, but I do not want to live in a denim house. As a grown-up, I long for a real couch, instead of the usual fur and jelly cushions.
At the end of the aisle, I spot Ultra Suede. Very interesting. As I stand there pondering, I’m startled by a voice: “Can I help you?” Then before I can answer, I’m receiving the spiel about the wonders of this new miracle fabric: stain resistant, easy to clean, and guaranteed. “Sounds wonderful,” I say and then excuse myself to the ladies room, only to double back a few minutes later when the coast is clear. Carefully I open my zip locked bag of dog hairs and scatter a few on the sides of the arm. To my astonishment, it looks as though the couch is playing catch with the fur. My mouth is gaping as I witness a perfect couch landing. The hair went south and due west to connect with the ultra suede. Another dreaded pet hair magnet! Could there be above average static electricity today, for some reason? No, this cannot be. I have come prepared and reach into my bag to retrieve a dryer sheet. Palming the “Bounce” like a magician, I stretch my arms and covertly wipe the couch arm, and then drop a few hairs once again. Inconclusive. Back into the bag one more time for the lint brush and tape. The ultra suede passed the removal test unlike some fabrics that just seem to inhale the hair.
Moving on, I methodically test couch after couch. Some seem to be feeding on fur. Note to self; write a B-movie about couches that need dog hair to survive.
I do not even bother with the silk and chintz type materials. Never mind dog hair, they would never pass the kid test. We are a tough family-the kind of family that stain-resistant fabric was invented for.
Moving on, I arrive at the home entertainment couch. It has rocking seats, moving foot stools and hidden compartments. Storage bins could hold a weeks worth of food. The next Noreaster, we would only need to leave the couch for bathroom breaks. I start to feel sea sick, so continue on. Here is an interesting one. They call this brushed fabric. The fabric looks tough, but it’s also very similar to what we have now, and I know that doesn’t work for us.
And then I spot the leather. For a few moments I allow myself to dream of life with this beautiful couch, love seat and ottoman, but then the reality of canine toenails, Koolaid, and the ache in my foot where I was impaled by the ears of the Lego giraffe this morning sets in. We would destroy this couch in no time flat.
My high expectations are gone. I ask for several swatches and head for the car. At home I will double stick tape the swatches directly to the dog’s bed for further observation. Deep in my heart I know we will be a slip cover family for a few more years.

This post was written in 2002!  There are more choices for materials today than there were back then. I may need to revisit this.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Why the dog didn't fetch the shoe - Gooddogz Training tip #1

This is a reenactment Beck is showing you all where I was sitting when I came up with the brilliant idea to ask him to fetch my sneakers.  Sure I could have just reached for them.   Beck has a very good understanding of fetch, bring and deliver to hand. I had never asked him to fetch shoes before.
 "Beck fetch the shoe".

Beck did not fetch the shoe after much asking and pointing, so I picked it up and tried to give it to him.
So I asked him a few more times and the answer was still the same. "NO".
Beck is a very biddable dog when it comes to work, and after all he did want to go out, so he offered up another option that he hoped would get him out the door.

Quoting my daughter.  "The dog has standards. He didn't want to put your stinky feet in his mouth, and he knows where your shoes have been."

This has been a public service for  all dogs from Beck.  The message here is simple.  Sometimes there is a very good reason your dog doesn't want to do what you ask them.  So ask yourself, what can I change to better communicate with my dog and is what I am asking fair.   When I showed Beck that he could fetch laces, and not put his mouth on stinky feet or poop residue he was fine with it. 

Honor the dog.

We have joined the Blog the Change hop.  This is my contribution for dogs.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

3 Simple Tips for Using an Old Collar to Help Your Reactive Dog

 Any time we can lower our dogs stress and  arousal levels we should do it, especially if we have a reactive or fearful dog.  The following tips are simple and have the potential to make a big impact on your dog.Try it and report back!

One -
Desensitize and Counter Condition your dog to the jingle of collar tags.

It is so easy to do this. You MUST start below threshold, at the sound level to which your dog does not react.
For dogs,  life is about associations.  What does your dog think when he hears a collar jingle?
Many dogs equate  jingling tags  with A DOG IS COMING.
Change the association, change the emotion, and make life easier and more predicable for your dog!

  Pair the hidden collar jingle with super high value tasty food.  Do not use kibble for this.  Use  canned dog food, chicken, hot dogs, liverwurst or other equally vile smelly goodness.  Don't skimp here. 

Think open bar, closed bar. When the bar is open, the dog is hearing the jingle and eating.   If the dog stops eating, you have gone over threshold and need to make it softer and or move the collar further away.  You may need a helper for this.

 Step two,   the jingle of the collar is then followed closely by the food. We are changing the dog's association to the noise. It will no longer mean "oh S*#t here comes a big scary dog that may eat me" ,  to "oh goody, something good is coming my way!"  You will need to do this first in your house starting at a low almost too soft hear level and gradually getting louder and louder.  Take your cues from your dogs and go slow! 
 Be sure to bring high value food with you on walks and be prepared for the real thing.

Tape your own dogs tags so they don't jingle,  or buy a pouch that your dog's tags fit into.
 With much thanks to a client in class whose tags we had to tape because her dog was freaking out another dog in my reactive dog class for this one.  She realized that OTHER DOGS were reacting to her dog less on walks when she walked with the tape on, which in turn helped to keep her dog from getting aroused and upset by another reactive dog!  Genius!

Teach your dog to nose or paw target a collar with tags, and or to fetch it.
 I use my dead dog's collars  in class to teach this, and while it used to freak me out, I  now love the idea that my beloved dogs are  still with me in spirit helping other dogs.
 It is a fun game to teach a "send" to the collar.  Your dog will become empowered. The goal of changing the association, and lowering stress and arousal  is achieved via a game, and we all know dogs love games.
                                                                Happy Training!

This post was written for my Gooddogz Training reactive dog students.  You are encouraged to share.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Pet Blogger Challenge - Bring it 2014

Long time no see there peeps.  I have some free time this morning and I am stopping by to answer the Pet Blogger Questions.  There are a dozen prompts that I am following, but I am leaving out the questions so as not to bore you all to sleep.

I started blogging in 1995 for the Portland Press Herald and that morphed into Maine Today.  There is no longer a pet section and everything over there pretty much disappeared into cyber space.  7 years went poof!   But to be honest, it was a bit freeing to move on and not have the time commitment hanging over my head.

The thing I am most proud of on the Gooddogz Blog is I figured out I could upload  photos and blog from my phone.  Yes, I am a simple soul.

While I plan to keep a presence  here, I have vowed to spend less time blogging and more time WRITING A BOOK!  Actually, I am working on two ideas and excited about both of them.  Both are dog centered and pretty damn funny and educational. As the book  gels, I will be posting some snippets on this blog.

This may not be what the blogging community wants to hear, but the lesson I have learned in the last few years of bloggng is that it is easier, and quicker to share my thoughts on the Gooddogz Training Facebook page and write a book that will live long and prosper so to speak, than spend hours and hours on a blog.    When I wrote for the Portland Press Herald, they were owned by a huge corporation and my biz addy would then come up high, if not always first on web searches.  That was a huge incentive to blog.   Blogging to me has become another time suck that I am getting away from in 2014. I will still post photos here and occasional great articles but I am focusing on other things in the coming year.

On the subject of review and give aways, I  have a pile of books to review here that I still have not have had time to read.  There will be a book review with all the books I have coming in the near future.   I LOVE writing dog product reviews and would do that as a full time job if there was such a thing. 

So there you have it. In a nutshell. Blogging less,  Facebooking more  and writing 2 books.  I plan to have a bigger presence on the Gooddogz YouTube Channel this year and   I will be linking to videos on this blog.   Of course that is also while being a single Mom, and a small biz owner and spending lots of time with my two  dogs who don't train  themselves.

Cheers to a productive 2014.