Tag Archives: basic training

Little Italy, Boston, MA -Abby & Emmie

north-end-boston-sept-17-20161Yesterday, Saturday, was a gorgeous day so we decided to go to Little Italy, also know as the North End, in Boston, MA.  Cynthia and I agreed that we are going to do our best to see as much of Massachusetts as we possibly can while we live here.  When we lived in Maryland, DC was a 20 minute drive from home and we failed to see a lot of it and so we don’t want to make the same mistake again.

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Abby, “I am posing, therefore I want a treat.”

We took Abby and Emmie for a nice walk around Little Italy, and Cynthia found 2 bakeries, forgot the names, where she got some delicious bread.  I am sure we’ll be heading that way many more times in the future.

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Abby and Emmie, “No more pictures. We are tired.”

Our trip was about 3 hours long, let’s not forget the traffic coming and going, and afterwards everybody was tired, thirsty, hungry and sleepy.  After we all had a nice lunch, we took a well deserved nap.  And that’s what I call a well spent Saturday.

Dog Training & Behavior Tips

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Abby, “I am sitting perfectly. Could I get my food now, please?”

If you want to start your puppy or newly acquired dog on the right path, these are some of the things I recommend pet parents to do:

  • Start working on training and behavior modification as soon as you get your dog
  • Set rules and boundaries so your dog knows what is not acceptable
  • Be consistent and give clear instructions
  • Provide your dog with adequate physical and mental exercise
  • Get the whole family involved in raising this puppy/dog
  • Give structure to his every day life
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Abby, “Wow! So many things to see and smell.”

One thing, I’ve realized after training a variety of dogs, many pet parents forget to do is expose their dogs to different environments, people, sounds, etc.  Abby is sensitive to sound just like many other dogs therefore she goes everywhere I can take her.

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Some pet parents have told me, “I don’t know why she doesn’t behave.  She went through 2 obedience classes.”  Well, the answer is simple, training was provided, but behavior modification was not.  Training and behavior modification is a lifelong commitment and process, but take my word for it, the bond you develop with your dog and the enjoyment you’ll get from living with a balanced canine companion is priceless.

Abby, A Force Of Nature

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Perfect sit/stay and eye contact. You go Abby!

As promised on my last post, I will show you what Abby does prior to giving me that perfect sit/stay and eye contact.  Why?  So you are aware of all her antics and refrain for saying to your furry kid, “You should be like Abby.”

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Marcela, “I am pointing at the spot I want her to sit and stay while giving me eye contact.”

Abby, at the beginning, does comply and follows my hand.

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Abby, “Ha, ha. I am so happy I am going to eat that I can’t contain my excitement.”

Abby then decides that she must first show me how excited she is by jumping all over her bed and ignoring my hand signal.

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Abby, “Mom, your finger smells delicious.”

Abby’s enthusiasm, this time, is less because she’s learned that the sooner she calms down the faster she’ll eat.  At the beginning she used to jump up in the air.

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Abby, “Ok mom, I am due being funny. Could you please feed me now?”

She finally settles down and at such time she is rewarded with a meal.  Believe it or not, that exuberance Abby displays every time I feed her is something I enjoy seeing and hope that she’ll continue to display.  Just like many pet parents out there, there are some things that I don’t want to change in Abby because it makes me happy and she looks adorable doing it.  Happy Holidays!

The Name Game – Is It Important?

Walter, a handsome Australian Shepherd.

Walter, a handsome Australian Shepherd.

Let me start by answering the question above.  Yes, the name game in training a dog is extremely important.  This is always the first command I work on before moving on to any other command.  Why is it important?  For the simple reason that if you don’t have your dog’s attention, whatever command you are giving him will fall on deaf ears and you will end up angry, frustrated and aggravated while your dog will be completely clueless about what is going on.  The above picture of handsome Walter is the perfect example of a dog not paying any attention at all.  He did not want any thing to do with the camera.

namegame2A lot of pet parents would give a command when their dog is exploring his environment.  Is this a good time to do it?  No.  He will just learn to ignore whatever command you are giving him because you don’t have his attention.

namegame3Do you give a command now?  Yes.  I called his name, Walter, and he gave me that beautiful eye contact.  At this point, you could give him a command, but not before you get his attention.  At the beginning, work only on the name game, and reward your dog with a treat, petting him, etc.  Don’t move on to any other command until your dog looks at you every single time you call his name.  I’d suggest you start doing this indoors and later on move on to doing it outdoors.  Make training fun for you and your dog.  Enjoy your weekend.

Alex’s ACL Injury – 15 Months Later

alex3upIn November 2013, Alex injured her ACL and I was beyond scared.  So scared that I was ready to put her through surgery, but my better half, Cynthia, talked me out of it, and even today I am glad we made the right decision for Alex.  Please, bear in mind that neither Cynthia nor I are vets nor pretend to be one, but we made the best choice for our furry kid Alex, taking into consideration her age, recovery period, chances of getting full recovery, and expenses.

At the beginning, Alex wore the brace featured in the above picture all the time, except for bed time, of course.  She had tons of bed rest and this was easy to do because at the time of her injury she was already 11 years old so she loved to sleep.  This is not an easy task to accomplish if you have a young dog.

alex1upNowadays, Alex does not use her brace when she is at home anymore.  She wears it only when we go out and when we visit family.  Because of her ACL injury I changed a few things in order to help her heal and keep her free of pain.  Here are a few of the changes I made for her:

  • Walks – I try to get her out 2 to 3 times a day, when the weather is not too cold, for about 15-25
  • Diet – Alex eats 75% human food, 25% kibble
  • Bed – I got her an orthopedic bed
  • Sun bathing – Sunbathing, in moderation, is excellent for her injury
  • Heating pad – I put a heating pad on her during the evening.  This accomplishes two things: it keeps her warm; and it helps improve her mobility
  • Supplements – Omega 3 and Osteo-Pet total joint care

I cannot complain.  Alex is doing great and she is about to turn 13 years old in May 5th.  I still cannot believe it.  My girl is a tough little cookie.

Staying In Maryland

staymd1The above cutie pie is staying with us this weekend.  She is very laid-back and although she is an only furry child, she does great with my dogs.  I’ve realized that just because some dogs have no other “siblings” it does not mean that they will be anti-social with other dogs.

staymd2After weighing all our options, we decided that it was best to stay in Maryland.  It took us a while to figure it out, but thanks to Alex and Bella we realized what was best for all of us.  Have a great weekend.

CEFNI by Sara Jane

I usually don’t collaborate with other bloggers when it comes to writing a post because what I write is based on my experiences, education, and point of view, but this time I made an exception because this has to do with rescuing dogs, so here it goes:

My names is Sara Jane, I volunteer for a wonderful German Shepherd rescue charity called Cefni and Alex has been kind enough to let me tell her followers a little bit about our charity. We aim to prevent dogs from being taken to pounds where they face being put to sleep within seven days of entry. We work with a range of animal shelters to allow us to help dogs throughout the whole of the UK and Northern Ireland, but we need you.

To enable us to help as many dogs as possible we need dog lovers everywhere to spread the word. This is why I have started to write a blog for Cefni.  The page is in its early stages but will include top tips about keeping your dog happy and healthy, interesting snippets of information for fact junkies and most importantly regular updates on dogs that are currently look for homes. All we need you to do is follow the blog and share it with as many people as you can; post it on facebook, email it to all your friends or like Alex, ping me a comment and give me a chance to reach your blog readers with posts like this.

If you are really passionate about joining our ranks there are many ways you can get involved from fostering a dog while we look for its forever home, to designing products and merchandise we can sell to raise charity funds.

For more information please visit my blog:

 http://cefnigermanshepherdrescue.wordpress.com/how-can-you-get-involved/

To finish I’d like to tell you a few of our success stories. Duke’s pet parent, contacted Cefni because she was having major issues with him and was looking for Duke to be rehomed. German Shepherds are amazing creatures but without the correct guidance they are very often misunderstood. Duke’s owner agreed to join Cefni training classes with Duke while we looked for a new home for him, after some months training she decided to keep Duke at her home forever. This story illustrates one of the many ways Cefni can help German Shepherds stay in happy family homes.

Max came to us at just three years old, he was very adorable and hug, a big baby, everyone who came into contact with him instantly fell in love. However months later he was still in our care, this can happen when a dog is very large. Sometimes, like Max, dogs stay with us for many months out of no fault of their own. For this reason we try to put dogs in foster homes while we look for their permanent home, even the best kennels can be very stressful, if prolonged this can physiologically damage even the calmest dog. In the end Max charmed his way into the heart of his forever owner who now believes bigger is always better even when you’re talking about a large breed like German Shepherds.

Basic Training Part II – BARCS ID# A21561474

certificateBella completed her Basic Training/Good Manners class on Saturday, 3/01/14 and to say that we are proud of her would be an understatement.  With Casey, my first dog, I took Obedience I, Obedience II, and Canine Good Citizen.  With Alex, my current furry kid, I took Obedience I.  Why do I do this?  What’s the point?  These are questions I’ve been asked by a few pet parents, and my answer to them is:

  • A trained dog is a better behaved dog which in return makes sharing your life with her a joy rather than a burden
  • Training allows you to manage your dog better in different settings, not just at home, but for that to happen you need to incorporate training into your every day life
  • You can take your dog to family reunions or gatherings, and/or she can be the “hostess” when you have people over

bellaThere are a lot of more reasons for your dog to have, at a minimum, basic training under her belt, but it’d be too long to list them all.  For those pet parents that have dogs classified as aggressive/strong breed or whatever other term they are using now, basic training is paramount, and, in my opinion, essential.  Living with dogs should make your life better and more enjoyable, but you, as the pet parent, need to do your part.  Congratulations to our foster dog, Bella, for working hard to get her Basic Obedience certificate.  This cutie is still available for adoption.  If interested, please contact BARCS.

One Month With Bella – BARCS ID# A21561474

1monthToday, Monday, is exactly one month since we picked up Bella from BARCS, and to say that she has changed a lot would be an understatement so I’d like to share her progress with you and hope to get some feedback.

Walking – She did not know how to walk.  She pulled every which way, and she was so bad at it that while attempting to walk her a day when we had a lot of snow on the ground, I ended up flat on my back while holding on for dear life to her leash and at that moment I said, “That’s it, I give up on this dog.”  Yes, I actually said that.  I never had a dog be that bad at walking.  That day while talking to my girlfriend, Cynthia, she mentioned me flat on the white snow while dressed in dark clothes and you know what we did?  We laughed like crazy.  Nowadays, Bella, for the most part, walks next to us.  That is progress:-)

Feeding – While I put their food together, at the beginning, Cynthia had to put a leash and collar to restrain her from going to the other dog’s area while they were still eating.  Bella also used to make this grunting/piggy noises that would start as soon as she saw me take our their dishes.  What about now?  She still makes those funny noises, but not until she hears the kibble going in her little dish, and we restrain her by using voice commands.

Pacing – Even after we took her out for a walk, she would pace in a frantic way.  She had a lot of anxiety and pent-up energy in her.  Now she seems to be much more relaxed and comfortable, and the amount and intensity of her pacing has greatly decreased. I love to see her walk around the house relaxed and content.

Training – Bella is attending a Basic Training class that will last 5 weeks, and to be really honest, I thought she was going to be the worst student ever.  Sorry, but that is how I really felt, but you know what?  On our first class, last Saturday, she did great.  She got almost all the commands correct, received compliments from one of the trainers, interacted well with people and one child.  I was so proud of her.

1month2Doggie manners – She almost stepped over Alex when they were sunbathing on the deck.  Right now she is more aware of her surroundings, but she still needs some fine tuning in this area.  She also, once, took a Nylabone from Alex’s mouth.  Alex just looked at me like, “What was that?”  I don’t allow Bella to do that because that can cause a fight.

I will probably start taking her to BARCS adoption events in the near future.  With that in mind, let me share this with you.  A student from Animal Behavior College told me that she volunteered for an adoption event for, I forgot the name of the organization, sorry, and the dog she was handling after a couple of hours made her hands red and raw from pulling.  That is something I want to avoid with Bella.  When she is ready to go to an adoption event, I want people to see the amazing girl she really is and not walk away because all they see is a hyperactive, crazy, out of control dog.  I will not set her up to fail.  It is up to Cynthia, Alex, and I to do the best that we can to get her ready to go to her forever home, but not until she is ready.

If I were asked, how’s it living with a foster dog?  I’d reply, “You will never have a dull moment, and you’ll have plenty of laughter, lessons learned, tears shed, frustration, and moments when you question your own sanity for embarking in such a difficult, arduous, sometimes, heartbreaking journey, but this was something I have wanted to do for a long time, and I am fortunate enough to be able to do it now.”  So, the succinct answer to your question would be, “Challenging, heartbreaking, and rewarding.”  I know, I know.  I could have started with that.  Have a great week.

Basic Training Part I – BARCS ID# A21561474

basictraining1Years ago, I took Casey, our first dog, and Alex, our current dog for basic training, and I truly enjoyed the classes and the time I spent with my dogs doing our “homework.”  I think that living with a dog should be an enjoyable, enriching, learning experience, but we, humans, must do our part.  How?  I’d say start by enrolling your dog in a basic training class.

basictraining2Bella and I went for our first basic training class today, Saturday, and to be honest, all I was thinking as I was driving to that class was, “Please, don’t let her be the worst dog/student in that class.  I’m not asking for much, am I?”  Well, to my surprise she did great.  Although everything around her was new, dogs, people, location, etc., she was able to focus and did almost every exercise right.  She also met other people including children and got a couple of compliments from the trainer for doing such a good job.  To say that I was over the moon would be an understatement.

Anyway, Bella and I were given homework to do so we’ll be busy working on the following: recall, sit, down, push-ups, and one trick that I forgot what it was called, sorry about that.  Have a great weekend.