Wednesday Walkies!

IMG_8595Since a good part of my job is walking and exercising dogs, I’ve trained a LOT of dogs to walk politely on leash. Here are a few of my favorite walking tips:

  1. Walking multiple dogs? Use different colored leashes for each dog, that way, if things get tangled, you can quickly and easily tell who is who, and make sure you hang on to everyone. Personally, I don’t walk more than three dogs at a time, fewer if they are large and/or untrained. I can’t control the outside world and if an unexpected deer or horse (it’s happened!) shows up, I don’t want to fall on my face.

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    Color coordinated leashes! These dogs are also all wearing Easy Walk harnesses.

  2. For dogs that aren’t trained to walking on a loose leash, yet, please use some sort of harness or, if necessary, a head halter. This is simple management. If your dog keeps practicing pulling, he will learn that it works! While you are working on your leash skills, using something to prevent most (if not all) pulling is hugely helpful. My favorites are EasyWalk harnesses (these connect in the front), Freedom harnesses, Gentle Leader headcollars, and Halti headcollars. These tools are not something I, personally, would be okay with using forever, but they are great ways of preventing pulling during initial training. And you can give it to someone else who needs it when you’re done with it, or donate it to a shelter. Once your dog is reliable on leash, I suggest switching to a simple, non-restrictive back-attach harness, such as the one Galley is wearing in the top photo. There are many great brands out there, but my favorites are the EzDog Quick Fit, Petsafe Surefit, and the Freedom harness (which has both a front & back attachment).

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    The Easy Walk harness is a front attachment harness that works by turning your dog toward you if he/she meets the end of the leash.

  3. Use HIGH value rewards when you are first working with your dog on loose leash walking. For most dogs, particularly high energy, easily excitable, busy dogs kibble or dry cookies are not going to cut it. Even treats they would normally eat happily at home may get spit out! When your environment gets more interesting, we have be more interesting. Baked chicken, cut up turkey dogs, string cheese, even cheese in a can or cream cheese in a tube are all super high value treats. When your dog gets a little more experienced, you can start to phase in lower value goodies like commercial treats, cookies, and kibble.  stringcheese

If you are struggling with your dog on walks, it doesn’t have to be that way! Reach out for help, and we’ll get your dog on the road to recovery from pulling, even if he/she’s been practicing for years. There is always room for improvement, and your shoulders will appreciate it!

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Foster Friday: 5 Tips for helping your foster dog feel more comfortable.

I have a new foster pup, Devon, and she is adorable:

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While she is adorable(!), she also came with some baggage, just like all dogs, rescued or not. She’s only my third foster, if we’re not including foster fail Pinot…and I hope to do a lot more fostering in the future.

Here are some tips for helping your new foster dog feel comfortable in their new (temporary) home:

  1. Give them a cozy spot: Some dogs aren’t used to being in a house, so crating may be necessary to save your house. Make that spot fun and safe by feeding your foster in their crate, and playing crate games so that they WANT to be in their crate. Covering the crate, always offering a treat for getting in the crate, and not leaving the dog for long periods of time are all good ways to make the crate a happy place.

  2. Feed out of puzzle toys: Maybe not every meal right away, but learning to work on a food puzzle is great mental stimulation for all dogs. Kongs and Busy Buddy toys are just some of the great ones available.kong
  3. Handfeeding: This is a great way of building a bond SUPER fast. Simply prepare your foster dog’s meal, and then take the dog to a nice, low distraction room. Offer them handfuls of food until it’s all gone. You can combine this with training, or you can simply feed them! This reinforces to the dog that you are a wonderful person who makes good things happen. With dogs of unknown origin, this is very important.

  4. Teach them their name: Play the name game! Say the dog’s name one time in an upbeat voice, and feed! Wait for eye contact/ attention before feeding, and try using distractions–for example, handful of food held out to the side. Even if your foster dog is destined for a name change (most are), having a dog that responds to *something* is better than a dog who doesn’t know their name. When your foster gets adopted, tell the new owners about the name game and they can teach their new dog a new name.

  5. Exercise: Walks, playing with toys, and running in the yard are good for the soul, and are some of the reasons fostering is great. Instead of sitting in a kennel all day, your foster dog gets to be…a dog! See below:IMG_2274

If you’ve never fostered before, I definitely recommend it. You get the fun and excitement of a new (short term) dog, but also the benefit of helping out a rescue in need–and seeing the adopters with their new family member is pretty darn amazing!