Adding a dog: the Multi-dog household

Life with many dogs can be amazing if you are ready for it!

This is a popular time of the year to think about making the jump to a multi-dog household. Is it the right time for you and your family? There are a few things you should consider before you bring home another 4 legged friend.

Is your current dog “well-behaved?”

I put that term in quotes because my definition of “behaved” might be different than yours. Many people think another dog to “play with” the current one is the answer to their problems. This is not always the case. Your current dog should be considered “easy to live with” before you bring in another.

Your current dog should be:

  • House trained. No more accidents in the house, especially if it is a small dog. No one wants to keep an eye on two dogs at the same time! We would need more eyeballs! Your current pup being able to be crated quietly while you are home is also a plus!
  • Aware of the basic rules in the house. No puppies on the kitchen counters, stay out of the office, or cat box, no rushing out the front door or chewing on the couch pillows. All of these bad behaviors will absolutely be taught to your new pup by your current pup.  It’s much harder to teach two pups who are learning from each other faster than you realize what’s happening.
  • At least 18 months old. Littermate syndrome is a real thing y’all! I do not recommend getting two puppies at the same time to anyone! (Those of you who have just raised a puppy are probably thinking why on earth would anyone want to do that twice!) In a nutshell, Littermate Syndrome is when your puppies bond very closely with each other and do not bond with the people. Puppies speak “dog” very well, and if you are not putting in the time to teach them how to speak “people” just as well, you are in for a world of trouble.

    She is cute when shes sleeping. This little terrorist keeps me on my toes!

  • Dog friendly. It is not fair to bring in another dog into a house where your current dog is not so fond of other 4 legged things. Dogs do not need dog friends in order to live a happy healthy life. (Case in point: Pixie) If your dog has never had good experiences around other dogs, then bringing home another one is only going to create heartbreak. (If you are not sure, schedule an appointment with me, and we can evaluate your situation.)

Be realistic about your lifestyle.

Bringing home another dog to “wear out” your current one is a terrible idea. So many dogs are sitting in shelters right now because people were not honest with themselves about the type of dog they actually wanted in their life. If your current dog is wearing you down, find a good trainer in your area that can help give you some ideas to “drain the tank” a bit. My Instagram (@thefreckledpawdogtraining) is full of enrichment ideas, and things I give my dogs on a regular basis. Maybe it will give you some ideas too.

If your current dog meets all these requirements, and you think you are ready for a new dog, check out this post about where to find your next adult dog. Or this post on finding the right puppy!

Know someone getting a new puppy or adopting a dog this holiday season? Why not give the gift of knowledge with a gift certificate to help them get everyone on the right path from the beginning! Find the gift certificate on my website www.thefreckledpaw.com

Black Friday Shopping: For the Dog (and owner)

Thanksgiving is almost here, and after turkey means shopping for the holidays!

Happy rescue dog under the tree!

I am one of those people who would rather hold a snake than go black friday shopping. (too many “not-dog people.” Y’all are my dog people.)  I will be sitting at home scouring Amazon and all my favorite shopping sites with Pixie beside me since she’s the only one who cuddles.

So what am I looking for this year? Here is a quick guide of a few of the things I think every dog owner needs to have in their possession!

Harness

I like the Freedom Harness by Two Hounds and the Balance Harness by Blue9. All my dogs wear a Balance Harness, but I like the safety and no-pull function of the Freedom Harness. If you have a bit of a puller on the leash then go with the Freedom Harness.

Long Line

I’ll be looking to upgrade to biothane this year since cotton and nylon tend to get heavy when it gets wet, and my dogs love the water! If you are looking for something a little less expensive, cotton or nylon still get the job done!

Treat Bags

Y’all have seen my “fanny pack” made by EzyDog. This was a christmas present a few years ago, and my favorite treat bag for wearing everyday! It’s got all the pockets and compartments that I need to get through the day training your dogs. It’s held up to everyday wear and tear like a champ, but I wouldn’t expect anything less from Ezydog.

Another great option that doesn’t break the bank is the Rapid Rewards pouch from Doggone Good. This was my first training pouch as a serious dog trainer. It held up pretty well until Pixie’s leash got wrapped up and broke the clip. I could have easily bought the belt that goes with it to eliminate that problem.

Some other places I can spend a ton of money

Ruffwear – God help me when they have stuff on sale! I have more unnecessary Ruffwear purchases than I care to admit to. I have bowls, bumpers, balls, cooler coats, backpacks, harnesses and so much more. Very geared toward hiking and trail running, the quality is definitely there and can certainly get you through the neighborhood.

Clean Run – Not just for agility equipment, although that gets a good chunk of my money too. They have a great supply of toys and treats for general training aid. They also have a wonderful library full of training books by the industry greats, such as Leslie McDevitt and Denise Fenzi.

Two Brothers Dog Wash – For my local folks. This is where I get all my snacks and food for my pups. They are super committed to excellence in service and products they carry. If you are worried from all the dog food recalls and treats being manufactured in China where the regulations are lax, fear not at Two Brothers. They make sure everything they carry is sourced responsibly and safely to keep your pet healthy and happy. They also carry my recommended products: Annamaet Pet Food and Treatibles PCR treats

Show off your pups new toys on my Facebook page or tag me on Instagram @thefreckledpawdogtraining

 

 

Don’t read this: Dog Training is Boring!

Yeah you read that right! Dog Training, when done correctly, is really boring. Dog Training is slow, behavior modification is even slower, and (i need a stronger word than) boring!

We got as excited as grass…

Excitement usually means something went wrong.

Let’s look at one of the cases I am working right now. We are reintroducing the household dogs together after a string of ugly fights. They have lived in different houses for 6 months now and recently they have started to be in the same place at the same time. Here we are in our giant field with the dogs on opposite ends. They see each other, and nothing happens. They continue to walk and sniff, and still nothing. No explosions, no barking, just some side eye, and hot dogs.

So boring!

When working on sport skills with my own dogs, our training schedule looks very similar week after week because our training sessions are very short, and include many of the same tasks. It’s taken me months to teach Cargo to pivot into a heel position. The tediousness comes from having to break this seemingly simple task into many different moving parts and raise her criteria so slowly that she doesn’t realize she’s doing something harder than she did a minute ago. Too big of a jump and she quits, too small of a slice and she gets bored. (All while making sure she loves working with me. Dog training is not as easy as it seems)

This is good dog training. This is good behavior modification. When something exciting happens, the train has skipped the track.

That one time I met Victoria Stillwell at a conference!

Good dog training will never have a television show because people want to see the action, and the excitement of sudden changes. Effective dog training doesn’t have the action shots or the suspense that good television has. Remember that show “It’s Me or the Dog” with Victoria Stillwell? There is a reason that was only done once.

Keep plugging along with your goals for your dog. It’s the small successes that we get the most excited about. Those little things become big things, and the next thing you know you are texting me saying “nothing happened!” and we cry and scream and get very excited!

 

Muzzle Training and the “bad dog” myth

 

Intern Jon and I had a close call this weekend. Thankfully, we know this dog had some scaredy issues with unfamiliar people and we have trained him to wear a muzzle while out in public. Jon got just a bit too close to me while I was telling my pupper friend what a great job he was doing, and pup reacted in a barking snapping way. Jon picked up his long line from the ground and turned away, effectively diffusing the situation. This pup is fine with me in his space occasionally, but new people, and fast movements raise lots of concern. We do what we have to, to keep everyone safe.

 

Now, this is a familiar situation for most people when they see a muzzle on a dog.

“Danger Will Robinson, Danger!” 

I don’t want you to assume that just because a dog is muzzled, they are a bad dog, and want to rip your arms off as soon as they see you. Sometimes dogs just make bad decisions about their environment and when dogs try to recover from those bad decisions, they use their teeth. Using teeth is not socially acceptable in our world, (can you imagine if we bit people we disagreed with?) so we have to help them make better decisions.

Sometimes we just need some help

I am currently working with a rescue dog who gets very very excited when he sees 4-legged friends. He lives with another dog, and a bunch of cats so he is not the barking, snapping type, he is the “sing the song of my people” type. When he is meeting other friends, he wears his muzzle and a long leash just to keep him and the other dogs safe. Once the initial excitement is over, the song of his people has finished and he is a pretty chill dude. Watching the beginning of the process you might think he’s a psycho mess!

I’ve also muzzle trained dogs who like to eat things on the road while they are out for a walk. Some dogs have serious gastrointestinal issues that if given the wrong food can require hospitalization. There are also those dogs who want to swallow things like rocks or sticks in much larger pieces than they should. Muzzles allow them to go out in the yard, and for walks while staying safe.

I’ll do a Facebook Live this Wednesday about training a dog to accept a muzzle. Make sure you like my facebook page so you don’t miss it!

Nature Trails: the best dog training

Those of you who have been working with me recently, know that life has been a little chaotic here at The Freckled Paw. I’ve been a little more ‘just get through’ instead of my normal ‘planning everything in advance.’

Stephen, the travelling dogs, and I just got back from a weekend in the mountains where I had a chance to recharge. There is no cell reception in West Virginia. Seriously! There was no obsessively checking emails, no listening to podcasts and wondering what my next business decision needed to be. It was just me, my dog, my husband, and the cold. (I jumped from 85* when we left to 53* in the woods, and 40* for a soccer game.)

It was just what I needed. I reconnected with my dogs joy of sniffing new things. Cargo got to experience a creek and bear poo for the first time. Opie climbed fallen trees and found a critter den (we had to pull him back up the side of the mountain) They got to be dogs playing in the mud, and I enjoyed every minute!

Finding poo in the clearing

Science tells us that being in nature is good for our mental health, stress level and loads of other things. Read more here! I think its a safe assumption that our dogs benefit the same way.

 

So why are we not walking in the woods?

As dog owners, we forget that dogs are not people and we try to make their lives as easy as possible to help make our lives as easy as possible. We scoop kibble into a bowl for feeding times, forgetting that dogs are scavengers by nature. There is no scavenging for that kibble in a bowl that is set down in the same place every day. In the woods dogs get to use their nose to track, and collect information like they would if they were out on their own.

Now,

our dogs have been domesticated enough to know that they are not wolves and should not be chasing bunnies in your yard for dinner. Allowing them to

do some normal doggy things in the woods allows some of that instinct to be expressed in an appropriate setting.

 

I had forgotten how much I enjoy being in the woods with my dogs. I think the dogs have missed their time in nature too. We got carried away with life this summer and our weekly walks turned into monthly walks, into no woodland walks at all.

That changes today!

Climbing and sniffing

This week I will be getting back into the habit of walking in the woods every week. I am going to challenge you to do the same thing, and see what benefits you start to see as we get closer to the new year. Keep up with the challenge on my Facebook page. Show me where you are walking every week.