Erin Howes – Trainer, Animal Instincts Dog Training and Obedience

I am SO happy and proud to introduce Erin Howes as an official Animal Instincts Dog Trainer. Erin has been assisting me for about 2 years now and I am so glad to have her on my team.

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I met Erin, about 2 years ago, at a Manitoba Underdogs event. Guess who she adopted from Underdogs?? Josie Jo!!! Remember Josie? You can read about her here if you don’t. She was going through a Vet Assistant program and needed to log some hours so decided to do that training with me. Well, she is so awesome, I hired her on as my assistant as soon as her volunteer terms were done.

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Moving forward, Erin is not only a trainer, but also the manager of my new dog daycamp opening this summer, Wooftopia Dog Training and Recreation Centre. Here she will still be assisting me in some of my classes, but also be teaching her own! Her specialty is training tricks so you can expect some super fun workshops coming up in the future.

Puppy Training Basics

Hey there!

Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote anything! I have been getting quite a few questions from recent puppy adopters about some of the basics so that is what I will be writing about today. I mean really, who doesn’t love a puppy?

Bathtime!

First of all I want to mention a common mistake that is made by puppy owners. Teaching your puppy to shake a paw is SO easy right? However, puppies lack the impulse control to really learn what shake a paw means. Therefore, your puppy will just paw at you until they get something and will continue to do so as they get older, and bigger. This may be cute when they are pawing at you until a young kid comes by and gets pawed in the face…Generally I won’t teach a dog shake a paw until they have good impulse control. Sometimes this can be at 8 months, and sometimes it won’t be until a year and a half.

Ok let’s get started on the good stuff!

Keys to Successful Training

  • Patience – Be patient while training your dog. If you are feeling frustrated, take a break. Your dog will feed off of your energy and thrive in a calm, supportive setting. It is best to train a specific behavior in short periods of time, I usually suggest 3 – 5 minute sessions an evening, and make sure to end on a positive note.
  • Set them up for success – Always start your training in an environment where you are confident your dog will be 100% focused on you. By setting your dog up for success, they will get a better understanding of what you want them to do and thrive.
  • Continually train – Your dog is always learning, therefore you are always training. It can take a dog hundreds of repetitions before learning a behavior. This means that outside your regular training sessions, make sure to always reinforce wanted behavior.
  • Consistency – Dogs thrive on consitency and structure. You need to be reinforcing the behaviors you want every time and make sure that everyone else in the household is as well. If you train your dog not to be on the couch, but your kids always let him onto the couch, your dog will become confused and not know what you want him to do. Consitency is key in successfully training any dog.
  • Using the right rewards – Make sure to find a reward that your dog goes crazy for. This may be a certain type of food, toy, bone, or attention. When using food, toys, or bones, make sure to only let your dog have this during training times, this will make him more motivated to please.
    Food rewards should only be the size of half of your pinky nail, regardless of the size of your dog. Make sure to account for these in your dog’s daily food intake as you will be using a lot of them and do not want to be overfeeding.

House Training

House training can sometimes be tricky, but with some consistency and patience, your pup will get it in no time! There are 2 focuses when house training, to teach the pup to go to the bathroom where you want them to go, and to discourage them from going where you don’t want them to go. Make sure to get an enzyme based cleaner to eliminate the odor if they do happen to go on the carpet, I recommend Nature’s Miracle found at most pet stores.

Until your pup is house trained, you will need to be watching them at all times. Either have them tethered to you, or contained when you can’t be watching (in a kennel or gated area).

  • As soon as you see your foster sniffing and walking around an area, get them outside! Use an excited voice “Come on, let’s go outside!”
  • Once they go to the bathroom outside, make a big deal of it and give them a few treats.
  • REMEMBER if your foster has already gone inside, there is no point in yelling at the pup, or forcing their face into the mess. This will just cause the pup to develop fear issues towards you, or certain places in the house.
  • Once your dog is doing really well at house training, start giving them a little more freedom. If you are in the living room, let them be loose in that room. You can close off spaces with baby gates or x-pens if you need to.
  • REMEMBER set them up for success! Don’t give them freedom too fast as you do not want them to go backwards in the training process!
  • REMEMBER some dogs will go to the bathroom more than once. Just because your foster just went to the bathroom outside, does not mean that you can let them loose in the house. They could go inside a minute later!Bathroom Schedule:
  • As soon as they come out of the kennel, make sure to not give them a chance or they will go where they stand!
  • Before going back into the kennel
  • After a nap
  • After play time
  • 5-10 minutes after eating/big drinks of water
  • Ideally, your foster pup should be going outside every 1-2 hours while you are home
  • REMEMBER, the more freedom you give your pup and the more opportunities they have to go to the bathroom in the house and the harder it will be to train them to go outside.

Nipping

Nipping is a normal stage for your puppy to go through. Puppies explore with their mouths, so it is up to you to let them know what is okay to chew on and what is not. Nipping can also be brought on by teething pains, similar to a human child. To alleviate this pain, you can freeze a wet towel or some teething toys for them to chew. Make sure to have A LOT of acceptable toys and bones around that your foster is allowed to chew on. Dollarama has a great selection of affordable chew toys for puppies.

  • Start out the training right, teach them what you want them to do rather than showing them what not to do.
  • Start by rewarding calm behavior. During play times with your foster, don’t engage the pup until they are sitting and being calm.
  • Completely ignore them if they are jumping at you, even you telling them “no” and pushing them away is giving them what they want: attention. During play times, stop them, wait for calm and then start to play again. A tug toy is a great tool for teaching these behaviors.
  • If your dog is consistently nipping at your heels, try going into a room for 30 seconds, coming out, and rewarding for calm behavior.Or put them in a “positive time out” in the kennel to calm down with a treat or toy.
  • Have A LOT of toys for them to chew on. Different options to redirect them from chewing on your hands, clothes, and other items.
  • Train “LEAVE IT” and “DROP IT”

Nipping

Leave It

  • Start with some treats. Put a treat in a closed fist, once the dog stops sniffing and trying to get the treat out, use your verbal marker, “YES” or click and reward FROM YOUR OTHER HAND. You will never be giving your dog the “leave it” treat. REMEMBER to do this as soon as they, even for a second, back off.
  • Once the dog is consistently leaving the treat alone, start to add the verbal cue “leave it”
  • Once the dog understands the term “leave it”, you can up the criteria using an open hand.
  • Does your dog have that down pat? Now move onto putting food or toys on the floor, “leave it” and then releasing them with your release command. “OK”, “BREAK”, “FREE”, or whatever you have chosen to use.

If you are feeding your dog off of the counter while cooking dinner, or off of your plate while eating, it is making your dog to think that there are treats for him on there, therefore causing him to beg or counter surf. Giving your dog treats from your dinner is OK as long as you wait until you are done eating, and give it to them in their dish or away from the eating situation. REMEMBER that your dog is always learning and you are always training! Once your dog gets really good at leave it, start adding it into your walks when he is trying to eat something he shouldn’t, or is barking at a dog walking past.

Drop It

  • Start with some treats. Say “DROP” and drop a few treats on the ground. Make sure to point to the treats so your dog gets used to your hand being near whatever he is dropping. Do this 5-10 times in a row.
  • If your dog loves toys, start with something that isn’t his favorite. “DROP” drop the toy, pick it up, and give him a treat. If your dog picks up the toy, say “DROP” and offer him something better in return when he drops it.
  • Now, give the toy to your dog. Say “DROP” and offer him something better, either a high value treat, or toy he likes more.
  • Continue to go through these exercises using objects/food of more value to him. If he ever stops dropping the toy, back up a few steps.

Jumping

Jumping is similar to nipping. You always want to set your pup up for success and reward them for the behavior you want. Pushing them down is also rewarding them because they want attention. They jump up to be closer to your hands and face, they are also used to getting treats from above them. Consistency here is key. Make sure the whole family and any visitors now not to give the puppy ANY attention when they are jumping up.

  • Walk away from the puppy, as they come up to you put a treat on the ground in front of them before they have a chance to jump up. This is teaching the puppy that good things come when they stay on the ground.
  • Now continue to walk around and as the pup gets to you, treat on the ground. Continue this for about 3- 5 minute sessions a day.
  • REMEMBER if the pup starts to jump on you, wait them out and reward on the ground when they stop.
  • Make sure to have treats at the front door when you come home or guests come over!
  • If your puppy gets MUCH too excited when people come over, put them in a room or their kennel when they first come. After your guests get settled, let the puppy out and make sure they treat him on the ground and do not give him any attention when they are jumping up or nipping. You can even have your puppy on leash and reward him for calm behavior, ask for sits, etc…..

Well folks this is a great starting point for all you new puppy owners out there! What is my NUMBER ONE RECOMMENDATION FOR PUPPY OWNERS you ask?!?!? Enroll your puppy in a socialization class!!!!!!! Your puppy is at SUCH a pivotal age where anything can change how he sees the world. Socialization is super important to get your puppy used to new people, sounds, objects, surfaces, etc…As well as to teach them focus and basic obedience. Send me an e-mail if you are interested in enrolling your pup in my upcoming classes desiree.mckay@gmail.com or look for a positive reinforcement trainer near you!

Do you have a puppy? What has been the hardest part about training? Let me know in the comments below!

“Squirrel? WHERE?!?” Training a Reliable Recall

Does your dog come when called? Let me rephrase the question. Does your dog come when called immediately, no matter where you are,what you are doing, or what is around you? The majority of the dog owning population will say that generally their dog comes to them when called inside the house, or in the yard, but not as much at the dog park. A response I get when I ask about how someone’s dog’s recall is at the dog park is “Well, they don’t come when I call, but they don’t go too far.” Well, what if a squirrel is across a busy street, your dog gets out the door and bolts. You call for him but he is too distracted by the squirrel. A good recall can save your dog’s life, not to mention is a great training tool!

Now, how do we become more exciting than said squirrel? Depending on your dog’s personality, this can be a long process but by using positive reinforcement, setting your dog up for success, and making training fun, the end result will be worth it.

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Focus

Step 1:

Start in an area with few distractions like a room in your house, or your yard.

  • Get some tasty treats, something soft and cut into pea-sized pieces as your dog will be getting a lot of them.
  • Have your dog sit in front of you on leash, when he gives you eye contact, “YES”, or click (if you use a clicker) and treat.
  • Make sure you reward your dog when he is looking at you, not while he is looking away, or else you are training him that looking away gets a treat.
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.
  • REMEMBER, you aren’t using the word “come” yet.

Step 2:

  • Now start moving backwards away from your dog. Reward for him following and looking at you. Make sure to make it REALLY fun!
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.

Step 3 – Leave It:

  • The next step is to toss a treat, out of his reach, when he goes towards it, he is learning that when he isn’t focusing on you, he doesn’t get the treat. Make a whistle sound to get him back to you, reward for eye contact, say “OK!” and walk on a loose leash to go get the treat you tossed on the ground. This is also teaching your dog to ask permission before running off and playing with that other dog, or chasing a rabbit.
  • Now start walking around and having your dog follow you. Treat for eye contact and focus.
  • Once your dog has this step down, add in some distractions, either the backyard, driveway, or on a walk.
  • Once your dog begins to leave the tossed treat before you give the “ok” cue, start incorporating “leave it”.

Step 4:

  • Now graduate to a long lead. If you have a very strong dog, I would recommend investing in a proper one from the pet store over one from Dollarama.
  • You may need to start inside if your dog is getting too distracted with his new found “freedom”
  • Go through the steps in exercises 1-3.
  • Add in a fun chase game! Say “Let’s Go” or whatever term you choose, and run the other way! When your dog reaches you and sits, reward him. Reward him to getting to you and sitting, and then reward for his continued focus being on you.
  • You can also start incorporating a fun game like tug when your dog gets to you. You never want your dog to come to you, and have the fun stop. Make sure to play a bit of a game or give some free treats before leashing and leaving the park.

Now that your dog is coming to you every time, start incorporating the term “come”. Start inside with no distractions to introduce the cue and move up from there. When you start your dog off leash, go through all of the steps again. REMEMBER if your dog ever stops focusing on you, back up a step, change up the treat or toy, or take a break. Although you are consistently training, specific training sessions should never be more than 3-5 minutes long, depending on the age of your dog.

REWARD your dog every time he comes to you throughout your day. When he comes to you, make it SUPER fun.

Does your dog have great recall? What training methods worked for you?

DNA Results Are In!

I finally sent in Kali and Nanu’s DNA tests and got the results just over a week later. I know many people are skeptical but I believe that they have some merit to them (as it is the same or very similar technology to a human DNA test). You can also purchase the tests from a variety of dog rescues for $10 so buying is contributing to a good cause.

Kali and Nanu

Kali and Nanu

How it works:

Every dog has it’s own unique DNA. The test itself is an easy cheek swab, and then you send it in and they look for DNA matches in their extensive database of dog breeds. DNA my dog claims that they match every breed that is found in your dog. Yep, it is THAT simple!

Once you receive your results, each breed match is categorized into a level. These levels indicate how prominent each breed match is in your dog’s DNA.

  • Level 1 This category recognizes when a dog’s DNA contains a majority of one specific breed (75% or greater). A dog will only report with a Level 1 breed if they have a high percentage match to a single breed in their DNA. Most mixed breed dogs will not usually have a breed in this category unless one or both of their parents are purebred.
  • Level 2 This category reports breeds that may be easily recognizable in your dog. Each breed listed makes up between 37%-74% of your dog’s breeds. Dogs with a large mixed ancestry will not normally have breeds reporting at this level.
  • Level 3 This category identifies breeds that have between 20%-36% of the listed breed(s).
  • Level 4 This category represents 10%-20% of the breed DNA. Dogs with large mixes may have a number of breeds in this category.
  • Level 5 This category represents the lowest level of breed in your dog occurring at 9% or less. These breeds still appear at a low and measurable amount in your pet’s DNA and were likely carried over from several generations.

Results!

Kali was listed as a Husky Boxer mix, and we thought that her more prominent breeds would be Husky and Lab.

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Her Results:

  • Level 2: Alaskan Malamute
  • Level 4: Cocker Spaniel
  • Level 4: Schnauzer

Nanu was listed as a Shepherd mix, and we believed her prominent breeds to be Shepherd, Collie, and maybe some Rottweiler.

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Her results:

  • Level 3: Miniature Pinscher – We were BLOWN away by this!
  • Level 4: Boxer
  • Level 4: Rhodesian Ridgeback
  • Level 4: Rottweiler
  • Level 4: Siberian Husky

Have you gotten your dog’s DNA results? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments below!

Project 48: 48 Dogs in 48 Hours

As most of you probably already know, I am DREAM‘s Spay/Neuter Program Coordinator. We were approached by Sagkeeng Spay Neuter Initiative Program (SSNIP) at the beginning of September asking us to partner with them on running the largest mobile spay/neuter clinic in Manitoba and we jumped on the opportunity. The two most important initiatives of DREAM are spay/neuter programs to help control the animal overpopulation problem, and education programs in schools in Winnipeg as well as the remote communities.

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Project 48 is happening this coming weekend, September 28/29, 2013. We are “fixing” 48 dogs in 48 hours and vaccinating and deworming as many as we can.  Vetting services will be provided by Dr. Keri Rydell’s Mobile Clinic and we will be bringing a group of dedicated volunteers to help out with the recovery and rounding up of stray dogs in the community. Many of the dogs we will be altering will be owned dogs, however we will also be spaying and neutering as many strays as we can coordinate rescue spots for.

Why is heartworm important?
Parasites or worms, live in a dog’s stomach and intestines. They will cause a dog to lose weight and have a bloated belly. Your dog will eat a lot of food, and never gain enough weight if she has worms. Deworming medication is inexpensive and will get rid of the parasites in your dog, saving you lots of money on dog food.

Why is vaccinating important?
Vaccines are something we give our dogs with a needle to keep them from getting sick with diseases like Parvovirus (like a very bad stomach flu that kills most puppies that get it). Vaccines are not expensive, but treating your dog for the diseases will prevent treating them at a vet, which is very costly.

Why is spay/neuter so important?
Spaying your female will help her live a much longer, happier life because she will not be constantly caring for puppies and needing lots of extra food to keep them healthy. It will also prevent big groups of male dogs from coming around your home when your female is in heat, which can be dangerous for your family.
Neutering your male dog will keep him from siring puppies. It will also make him less likely to wander away from home, and he may be less aggressive or territorial. He will not get into as many fights with other male dogs and will not chase females in heat anymore. In Manitoba, the majority of dog bites are from intact males.

If you are interested in learning more about this project please go to http://dreamrescue.ca/project48/. If you would like to donate please go to http://www.spaynneuterinitiativeprogram.com/donations.html.

Have you helped out at any spay/neuter clinics? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!

MUR Adoptable – Josie

Hi friends!

I wanted to share about another beautiful adoptable from Manitoba Underdogs Rescue who has a soft spot in my heart, Josie. If it were up to me, I’d be adding Josie to my pack. Unfortunately my partner is at his dog limit (for now) so I have to settle for co-fostering Josie and helping with her training.

Josie before - note her body is very stiff, her head is down, and her ears are back

Josie before – note her body is very stiff, her head is down, and her ears are back

Before coming into care, Josie was living as a stray in a remote Manitoban community. She was terrified of people and we couldn’t get anywhere near her to catch her, so we had to use a humane trap. Upon arriving to the “big city”, Josie stayed at my house for a few days. I had a “safe place” set up for her including a crate, blanket, food, and water. Crating a dog has a bad rap for being “cruel”, but in reality, dogs need a safe place that is always available for them if they are feeling anxious, nervous, have a special bone to chew, or need to take a nap, most dogs love having a crate.

After an initial behavioral assessment, I determined that there wasn’t a mean bone in Josie’s body, she was just extremely afraid; understandably, as it was her first time in a car, crate and house. You never want to force a fearful dog to do anything, either lure them with treats or wait them out. With Josie, I wanted to take her outside, so I started with offering her food and water, then experimented with some other snacks. During this process I did not give any eye contact, I sat a fair distance away where she didn’t have to walk right to me to leave the room, and I had my side facing her. Body language, both yours and the dog’s, are very important when working with dogs like Josie. Turned out, Josie was a big fan of hot dog buns so I left a little trail of crumbs and eventually she came out of the kennel and off we went into the backyard.

At this point, Josie was a flight risk so even though I have a fully fenced yard, I kept her on leash at all times, even inside the house. Once outside, it was a bit of a challenge to get her back inside. I left a trail of treats going inside the door and turned my back as to not intimidate her, eventually we made it back in, and she bee lined straight for her kennel. That was what we did for the next few days, going out and back in, which got increasingly quicker each time. By the second day, she would even stop to check out the house before heading back to her crate!

It turns out that Josie LOVES other dogs, and her foster sisters have been great influences on her! Dogs can be the best teachers, or the worst, depending on their habits. Josie now walks right inside with my girls because she learned from them that it is safe to walk past me when I open the door. They also taught her to walk on the leash and that it is a fun activity rather than an intimidating, scary one.

Josie fitting right in with my girls at their favorite lookout spot!

Josie fitting right in with my girls at their favorite lookout spot!

Josie has now been in care for just over three months. I continue to work with Josie, getting her used to different items and experiences, like the collar and leash, and checking out new environments. Josie now walks right into my yard with confidence and molds right in with my pack. We even have her coming on our walks and greeting people at the door. Needless to say, when Josie finds that perfect family, she will also come with a couple of humans who will need some visitation rights!

Josie after - note her body language, ears perked, loose body, head and tail up

Josie after – note her body language, ears perked, loose body, head and tail up

Interested in adopting this sweet girl? Check out www.manitobaunderdogs.org/ for more information!

Hope this blog is helpful for those who ever need to work with timid/semi-feral animals. If you’ve had your fair share working with timid/semi-feral animals, I’d love to hear what steps you took to help them transition to life as a pet!

MUR Adoptable – Abby – Separation Anxiety

Hi Friends!

Today I am going to introduce another dog, Abby, that I worked with from Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Abby suffers from separation anxiety, which is fairly common and can often result in some destruction or escaping from the home. We want the bond between us and our pets to be strong, but sometimes the dog can become too dependant on their human, which causes them stress when they are left alone.

Abby has been adopted and is fitting in great in her new home with a family willing to work through her issues!

Abby has been adopted and is fitting in great in her new home with a family willing to work through her issues!

Some common causes of separation anxiety are:

  1. Straight after a change in routine, you may be working different hours, a family member may of moved out, or you might be on vacation or off work spending more time with your dog and then return to them being home for longer periods of time.
  2. When you bring your new dog home, being in a new environment will create some anxiety until they get used to your routine and realize that it is a permanent home. It can take up to a year for your new dog to fully settle in.
  3. If your dog experiences a traumatic event while on their own, a break in, something large falling, a thunderstorm, etc.
  4. If you move to a new house or neighborhood.

Abby’s fosters/adopters had tried putting her in a kennel, but she would not settle down, so they tried containing her in a room. While in this room she broke through the screened in window and when confined again, chewed and scratched through the door. After all of this, they decided to just leave her out in the house and see what happens. She was doing much better but still scratching at the doors and windows.

After meeting with the family and observing Abby, we made an action plan. Unfortunately, depending on the severity of the anxiety, this isn’t an easy fix, it takes a lot of time and patience. We decided to kennel train her, even if not for her to stay in all day but just a safe option for her to retreat to if ever feeling uncomfortable. Sometimes confinement can make separation anxiety worse so I definitely recommend consulting a professional before making any decisions on your course of action.

Training Steps:

REMEMBER: Separation anxiety can be quite serious depending on what level your dog is at. If you are worried about the safety of your dog, or your house, please contact a Force-Free trainer in your area! During this training time, you shouldn’t leave your dog at home for long periods of time. Most people have full time jobs and can’t stay home during the day, so consider taking your dog to daycare until their anxiety starts to get better. These length of time that you dedicate to each step will vary depending on the dog. If ever your dog starts to get anxious, back up a step or two.

  • If your dog becomes nervous while you are getting ready to go out, start putting on your jacket and just staying in the house, or picking up your keys and carry them around with you inside. Go through the actions that make your dog nervous and don’t leave the house.
  • Once your dog is more comfortable with you getting ready to leave, start leaving the room (close yourself off in another) for a few seconds at a time, showing your dog that you will be coming back. REPEAT this step as much as necessary.
  • Once your dog is comfortable with the few seconds, start adding more time closed off in the room. Make sure to switch up the times as well. 2 seconds, 10 seconds, 5 seconds, 8 seconds, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, etc…. Continue to increase the time until you can make it a few minutes.
  • Once that step is complete, start doing the same exercise but out the front and back door. Try to work your way up to 15 or 30 minutes.
  • Now it is time to actually leave! Go run a quick errand, and return. Start small with 15-30 minutes and work your way up to a couple hours. Eventually start with half a day at work and stop in at lunch to let your dog out and have a short play.

Once you are starting to leave your dog home alone for periods of time, distract them with treat games and lots of toys to occupy their time. Separation anxiety happens for the first hour or two that you are gone, so if your dog has something to distract them during that time, they should settle down and go about normal behavior until you return. I would recommend “hiding” food around for them to go and find, if they are too nervous to take regular kibble, try putting some low sodium chicken broth on top or mixing in some mashed sweet potato. Then scatter a whole bunch of bones and toys for them to chew, make sure to leave a mix of stuffed toys, food bones (not too many of these because you want them gaining any weight), plastic bones (nylabones work great), rope toys, anything your dog enjoys.

Through this whole process, make sure your dog is getting a lot of exercise, mental and physical, before you leave the house. Take your dog for a long walk before you leave and when you get home, also do some obedience training for 15 minutes before leaving, teach him some tricks! You can do the basics, sit, down, sit and stay, down and stay, and then move into others like shake a paw, rollover, crawl, bow, whatever you want! The less energy your dog has when you leave, the less likely they are to experience any level of anxiety.

Does your dog suffer from separation anxiety? What techniques worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Getting Involved in Animal Rescue

Interested in getting involved in the animal rescue world but not quite sure how?

As most of you already know, I am very involved in the Manitoba dog rescue world. When I started out, I knew that I wanted to do something to help but lived in an animal free apartment so I couldn’t foster or adopt. I began by helping the foster families walk the dogs, or let them out and feed them if they weren’t going to be home, things like that. Later on I became more involved with helping create the print outs for the adoptables album for the adoption fairs, and once I moved into a house I began fostering and adopted two of my own. Once I realized my true passion for animal rescue I became more involved with DREAM and am currently their Spay/Neuter Program Coordinator and Operations Director. I am also helping the foster dogs and families, from Manitoba Underdogs Rescue, with any training questions or issues.

The DREAM Team

The DREAM Team

Here are some of the many ways to get involved with rescue (not in any order of importance):

  1. Foster – fostering will cost you nothing, and you are directly helping save a life! Fostering is also great for those who are not sure if they are ready to make the full commitment to adopt, or aren’t sure what kind of dog will fit into their lifestyle.
  2. Adopt – Looking to add a pet to your life? Check out your local rescue and adopt! You will be directly contributing to helping the animal community and ending overpopulation and abuse. Adopting a pet is also MUCH cheaper than purchasing one off of the internet, through a breeder, or in a pet store because all of the shots, immunizations, and spay/neuter is included. These can add up to $500 on top of the purchasing fee or more versus the $250 – $300 to adopt a pet. “But what if I want a pure bred or a small breed?” Rescues very often have pure bred animals AND small breeds! You just need to make sure to check out all of the rescues and shelters in your community!
  3. Support a foster family! Help out with walking, feeding, snuggling, and whatever they need a hand with!
  4. Looking to do something from the comfort of your own home? Why not be a reference checker! Phone potential adopters references or phone adopters for a follow up on how their lives are with their newest furry family member.
  5. Donate money, or items such as food, collars and leashes, blankets, newspaper, kennels, etc….
  6. Have a fundraiser – instead of wedding favors make donations in your guest’s names, instead of birthday presents have people donate to your favorite rescue, have a garage sale – get creative!
  7. Help out at adoption fairs! Man the BBQ or take care of the pups, speak to potential adopters, or sell merchandise!
  8. Easiest way to help out? Post and share about dogs and/or rescues in need on your social media platforms and encourage your friends to do the same!
  9. Want to be more involved? Check out what inside positions are available! A rescue is just like a business, but run by volunteers, there are marketing teams, community outreach teams, productions (event planning etc) teams, data entry teams, finance and admin teams, operations (dog intake, foster support etc) teams, and so much more!

Send an e-mail to a local rescue today and find out how you can help! Here are just a few of the many rescues here in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada:

  1. DREAM – Dog Rescue Education and Advocacy of Manitoba
  2. Manitoba Underdogs Rescue
  3. Earthdog Terrier Rescue of Manitoba
  4. Manitoba Small Dog Rescue
  5. Hull’s Haven Border Collie Rescue
  6. Happy Tails Adoption Center
  7. Winnipeg Animal Services
  8. Winnipeg Humane Society
  9. Before the Bridge Senior K9 Rescue
  10. Manitoba German Shepherd Rescue
  11. Manitoba Mutts Dog Rescue

Have any questions on how to get involved? Are you currently involved in rescue? What do you do to help? Let me know in the comments below!

Puppy Nipping

Everyone loves a puppy right? Well, what do you do when that puppy goes through the nipping stage? I have been getting that question a lot lately so I thought I would write about it this week.

This is 4 week old Azzy, him and his siblings will be available for adoption through Manitoba German Shepherd Rescue at 7 weeks!

This is 4 week old Azzy, him and his siblings will be available for adoption through Manitoba German Shepherd Rescue at 7 weeks!

Nipping is a normal stage for your puppy to go through. Puppies explore with their mouths, so it is up to you to let them know what is okay to chew on and what is not. Nipping can also be brought on by teething pains, similar to a human child. To alleviate this pain, you can freeze a wet towel or some teething toys for them to chew.

To help with your puppy’s nipping habit, you are first going to teach them bite inhibition. They start learning this with their littermates at a young age. When a pup bites their brother or sister too hard they yelp and often the play stops momentarily. You are going to be imitating this behaviour so the dog can learn the pain limitations of human skin. This will also help in the future if your dog ever bites someone outside of play, because of fear or pain, they are less likely to bite hard or break the skin. When you are playing with your puppy, let him mouth your hands and as soon as he bites too hard, imitate a yelp or other sound, pull your hand away and let let it go limp. Praise the puppy for stopping or for licking you. You can repeat these steps for about a 15 minute period before moving onto something else. If he will not stop trying to bite you too hard, use a “timeout” method of completely ignoring the puppy until he leaves you alone. Then praise him and keep playing or give him a toy.

When a pup or adult is excited they do not know the difference between a happy human and a mad human. Saying “no” or pushing away still feels like play to them, so do not give any eye contact and keep turning your back to the puppy until they stop. Once your pup starts to decrease his pressure, you can continue to do this process until your pup is putting no pressure on your skin at all.

The next step is to teach the pup that skin isn’t for chewing! You need to have TONS of toys and bones for your pup to chew on around the house. This will be frustrating as you walk around and keep tripping over and stepping on toys, but it will be worth it in the end. Make sure there is always something to pick up and give to your dog when they start to nip at you. This will teach them what is appropriate for chewing and what is not. Start playing no-contact games such as fetch or tug of war, when they start nipping, to redirect their focus onto the tug toy or ball. Eventually your puppy will begin to look for these toys when wanting something to chew on.

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If your pup is chasing you around the house nipping at your legs, go into a room and close your pup out of it. You may have to stay in the room for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or may have to do this a few times before they stop nipping and calm down, but once they do make sure to give them lots of attention and a toy. Reward for the good behavior! Once they begin stopping almost immediately, make sure to have a toy to redirect and reward them.

Are you having issues with puppy nipping? What methods have worked for you? Let me know in the comments below!

MUR Adoptables – Fia “Leave It”

Hello again!

Last week I talked about Manitoba Underdogs’ Adoptable, Fia. In addition to her separation anxiety, Fia was also having issues of counter surfing and garbage can diving. These are common behaviors found in any dog.

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The first step in fixing this behavior was for Fia’s foster mom to take away all of the temptations. Move the garbage outside, closed off in a cupboard, or under the sink, and keep the counter and sink clear of all food, wrappers, and dirty dishes. Anytime she gets to eat garbage, or something off of the counter she is self rewarding and reinforcing the behavior.

To change this habit, we are going to use the “leave it” technique. Once your dog has mastered “leave it” with food and objects inside the house, you can start applying it on a larger scale outside with other dogs, critters, people, or even when barking at something out the window or fence. “Leave it” is also handy for health reasons, choking and disease, when you see your dog eyeing that dead bird on the side of the road, or a bone that fell out of the garbage.

Remember to set your dog up for success; work in an area where your dog will be completely focused on you. If you own other dogs, you will want to keep them in a separate room or space where they can’t distract from your training. Begin without using the term “leave it” at all, once the dog starts to automatically do the behavior you will add in the verbal cue. You never want to use the word more than once, because then the dog won’t understand it, or learn that they do not have to listen to it the first time, they know it will come again.

Teaching Your Dog “Leave It”

  1. Start with some treats. Put a treat in a closed fist, once the dog stops sniffing and trying to get the treat out, use your verbal marker, “YES” and reward FROM YOUR OTHER HAND. You will never be giving your dog the “leave it” treat. If you are using a clicker, once they stop sniffing and licking, click and treat. Remember to do this as soon as they, even for a second, back off.
  2. Once the dog is consistently leaving the treat alone, start to add the verbal cue “leave it”
  3. Once the dog understands the term “leave it”, you can up the criteria using an open hand
  4. Does your dog have that down pat? Now move onto putting food or toys on the floor, “leave it” and then releasing them with the command “OK” or “Break” or whatever you choose to use to release them.

If you are feeding your dog off of the counter while cooking dinner, or off of your plate while eating, it is making your dog to think that there are treats for him on there, therefore causing him to beg or counter surf. Giving your dog treats from your dinner is OK as long as you wait until you are done eating, and give it to them in their dish or away from the eating situation. Remember that your dog is always learning and you are always training!

Fia has found her “Furever” home but if you are interested in adopting check out the other dogs available at Manitoba Underdogs Rescue!

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Have a dog who counter surfs? What did you do change the behavior? Let me know in the comments below!