Why I HATE Retractable Leashes

I know, I know, hate is a pretty strong word that I don’t throw around very often but in this case I stand behind it 100%. I HATE retractable leashes! Why you ask? Let me give you just a few of the MANY reasons.

Ret Leash

  • You have little to no control over your dog. Giving your dog this type of freedom on a walk is TEACHING them to pull on leash. Something I see all of the time that drives me crazy is someone walking their dog on a retractable leash WITH a pinch collar on….These are contradicting each other. The leash is telling them to pull because they have so much slack to do so, but the pinch is painfully stopping them from doing so. If you want your dog to walk nicely on leash, get a standard 6′ or shorter one. This way you are in control and can work on training them not to pull. Not only do these leashes teach your dog bad leash manners, it also undoes much of your obedience training. Getting them to focus on you with all that freedom? Forget it!
  • They can create fear issues in your dog. These leashes are NOT very strong and have malfunctions happen to them all of the time. The mechanisms inside stop working, or the cord snaps at the end and hits your dog. This can cause your dog to associate that hurt with you, something walking by like a dog or child, or walking in general and now they have fear issues. This can also cause them to possibly run away if they get snapped with the end. Another issue is the large handle. If you drop this it will scare many dogs and cause them to run away from you. It is almost impossible to get them back because they continue to run away from the “big, scary, loud thing chasing them”.
  • They cause some pretty serious injuries. Have you ever had one of those lines caught around your wrist or ankle while your dog is running? OUCH! It causes some awful rope burn and really cuts into the skin. Not only can this happen to humans or children, but it can also happen to other dogs causing a fight. This has happened to me before when walking Nanu. Nanu generally is slightly nervous around other dogs but is so good now I don’t really worry about her meeting other dogs too much. We were on a walk last summer at the lake and another, small, dog on a retractable leash came up to say hello. This dog was circling Nanu while they were sniffing and the line got caught around one of Nanu’s legs. This was very painful and caused her to bite this dog on the scruff! Thank goodness Nanu didn’t cause any real damage because that could have ended very differently than it did. I also had to work her confidence back up to meet smaller dogs on walks as she was very uneasy for the next few months after that.

leash injury

  • Unnecessary and unavoidable tension. Your dog is running, thinks he has all of the room in the world and then BANG he reaches the end of the leash. If another dog is around and they are about to play, this can cause the dog to associate this tension with the other dog therefore starting a dog fight. Have you ever tried to break up a dog fight with a dog on a retractable leash? By the time you get to your dog, they are fighting and so tangled in the leash that it is near impossible. Not to mention the damage the leash is possibly doing to either dog or human involved.

Well, end rant I suppose! What kind of leash do you use? 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.

IMG_7013

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.

Leave it

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!

Fia3

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

MUR Adoptables – Fia

Hello Friends!

Today I wanted to share my first training experience with Manitoba Underdogs Rescue where I got to work with a beautiful Lab mix named Fia. Miss Fia came into rescue in May 2013 through a spay/neuter initiative which Manitoba Underdogs organized with DREAM called Beat the Heat. Manitoba Underdogs visited three First Nations Communities in Manitoba to vaccinate and deworm dogs and bring back stray dogs for vetting and adoption. As the Spay/Neuter Program Manager for DREAM, I am a huge supporter of working to fix the dog/animal overpopulation issue. So far Beat the Heat has vaccinated and dewormed over 100 dogs and fixed 15. For more information about Beat the Heat, and ways to get involved, click here.

Fia

Fia came into care with general anxiety towards people; not uncommon for stray dogs coming from remote communities. Fia’s foster mom called me up, we discussed the problems they were having and off I went to help! One of Fia’s issues was with her foster dad. He works out of town for part of the week, not on a set schedule, and when he was in town she was very uneasy around him. Whenever he walked past her she would growl and cower away, she wouldn’t let him get anywhere near her.

When a dog has any fear issues whether it be around people, food, other dogs, or whatever, NEVER force your dog towards it. Look for the signs that your dog is uncomfortable – ears back, panting, yawning, and the whites of eyes showing are just a few of what to watch for. You never want your dog to get to his or her breaking point, which can be avoided if you know what to watch for.

Fia loves her foster mom and treats, so we used those to start making her feel more comfortable around foster dad. We started with Fia a safe distance away from FD, (where she was comfortable), and had him make very small movements, without moving towards her or making eye contact. Movements as small as just standing up, or taking a small step to the side. Every time he moved, FM gave a treat and a big “YES!” Once Fia was comfortable with these movements, FD started moving closer and doing the same sideways movement (still no eye contact), FM treating AS SOON AS he moved and using the voice marker. Remember that this process cannot be rushed and can take weeks or longer depending on the severity of the anxiety or fear. It has been about a month now and Fia is snuggling with FD any chance she gets! She is also greeting new people at the door and LOVES playing with children, she has two human foster siblings.

fia1_sm

Fia is available for adoption through Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Visit their website to learn more about Fia and the other Underdogs available!

Have you experienced working with an anxious dog? Do you have any questions about your dog’s anxiety? Let me know in the comments here!

Positive Reinforcement Training

As you know I am working on becoming a dog trainer. To do this I am sitting in on other trainer’s classes (The Noble Hound Training and Obedience) and working with rescue dogs for Manitoba Underdogs Rescue. Becoming a well rounded trainer means observing different techniques and also reading TONS of books and articles by a variety of trainers. Through this blog I will be mentioning some of my favorites if anyone else is interested in learning more about their furry friend. There are two main methods of dog training, one that emphasizes positive reinforcement (setting up your dog for success and rewarding for the behavior you want), and one that is correction-based training (setting your dog up to make mistakes and correcting them using force such as tugging at the leash, tapping with your foot, using prong collars etc). I will be working on becoming a positive reinforcement trainer!

Positive Reinforcement Training is an ethical and humane way to train your dog. Think about it this way, every time your dog does something you want, you reward him, therefore making him want to continue that behavior because he knows he will get praise, a treat or toy for doing it. If you are punishing your dog for a behavior you don’t want, your dog is going to be afraid of you. There are scientific studies proving that correction-based training can cause more issues for your dog down the road, which as a trainer we want to prevent. Click here for a great article on positive reinforcement training and some tricks to ensure success!

http://www.braveheartdogtraining.net/EastBayDogTrainersHome.html

http://www.braveheartdogtraining.net/EastBayDogTrainersHome.html

Here are some of my favorite trainers/authors if anyone is interested! Patricia McConnell, Jane Killion, Grisha Stewart, Suzanne Clothier, Turid Rugaas, and the list goes on! I will be going into more depth on these trainers and their techniques as we go along so stay tuned!