Tuesday, December 29, 2009

No Reward Marker

A No Reward Marker is a signal or cue to a dog that is paired with punishment each time the dog gives an incorrect response.  This marker should motivate the dog to try something else, and stop presenting the current behavior, or mistake.

The best example of using a No Reward Marker is simply saying an "Uh-oh" when the dog makes a mistake, and trying again.  It is important to remember not to get frustrated when your dog makes a mistake.  Stay calm, try again.

When we teach our dogs a clear system of communicating with us, we can easily point out the behavior we are looking for.  Dogs experience the world quite differently from humans.  Dogs communicate mainly through body language and some small vocalizations, and learn through their senses of hearing and smell.  Never assume your dog just knowns what behavior is good or bad.  We must clearly communicate with our dog what we expect from them, and mark behaviors we like.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tail Blanket

My dogs seem to cuddle more than you would think any dogs ever would.

Today's cuddling question:  Will your tail help keep me warm?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Breed of the Month--Jindo


Color:  Brindle, red fawn, white, gray, black, black and tan.
Height:  Males:  19.5-21.5 inches/  Females:  17.5-19.5 inches
Weight:  Males:  40-50 lbs/  Females:  33-42 lbs
Life Span:  12-14 years

Bread Health Concerns:  none reported

Coat:  Double coat, dense, soft undercoat and a stiff, medium-length outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Korea

Although there is no certain history for the Jindo, it is believed that the Jindo has existed on Jindo Island off of Korea.  In Jindo county, the Jindo Dog Research and Testing Center believes that this breed is a native hunting dog that has existed there going back millions of years.  Korea passed a Jindo Preservation Ordinance in 1962 to protect the breed.  When the Olympics were held in Seoul Korea in 1988, a Jindo walked in the opening ceremony.

Although the Jindo is energetic and independent, he is an extremely loyal dog and enjoys being a constant part of the family dynamic.  The Jindo must be given proper exercise and mental stimulation, he is very energetic and likes to be outdoors as much as possible.

The Jindo needs plenty of daily exercise and prefers to be outdoors.  Although the Jindo does not care for water, if properly trained he can make an excellent companion for biking, running, or hiking.

The Jindo needs only occasional brushing except for times of heavy seasonal shedding.

Consistency, patience, and positive reinforcement are all important to properly train a Jindo.  Socialization is very important.  Getting angry or frustrated when trying to train a Jindo will get you nowhere.

Yes...this is a Jindo with a Lion
(Korean Zoo, 2006)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Stages of Learning

There are four basic stages of learning for dogs.
1)  Acquisition
2)  Automation
3)  Generalization
4)  Maintenance

During the Acquisition stage of learning, a dog learns the a particular new behavior is rewarding through prompting and shaping.
Shaping  is basically teaching a dog through small steps.  An example of this would be trying to teach a dog to go on his matt or place.  Place the matt a few feet from the dog and wait for the dog to look or take a step toward the matt, reward.  Next the dog steps away from the matt, you do not reward.  It is basically like playing the game "Hot or Cold."  As the dog moves closer to the matt, keep rewarding.  When the dog works out in his mind that this is what you are looking for and makes it all the way to the matt, greatly reward for a job well done.  This is using shaping.

Capturing a behavior is basically waiting for your dog to do something you like, then rewarding him for it.  An example of this would be waiting for your dog to naturally "wipe" his feet after going number two, and rewarding him for the behavior.  Capturing a behavior is catching your dog in the act of a desired behavior and rewarding them for it.

During the Automation stage of learning, the dog automatically will give a specific behavior to a cue without being lured or prompted.  An automation response is when the dog moves into the down position every time you say "down."

During the Generalization stage, the dog learns that the response should be the same, no matter if a different person gives the cue, or if the cue is given in a different location.  Dogs do NOT generalize well.  Owners should practice all known cues in as many different places with as many different people as possible.

When a dog is complying consistently with a cue in many situations 90-100% of the times, he is in the Maintenance stage of learning.  You can feel comfortable that your dog has an understanding of the cue once he has reached the maintenance stage.  When the dog makes a mistake, you must go back to practicing an easier version of the cue, or "Go back to Kindergarten."  

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Homework Dog

Our dogs generally want to hang out with us no matter what we might be doing.  Today Nekita decided my boyfriend needed some help with his homework, although she doesn't seem to find math very interesting.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Breed of the Month--Chinese Crested

Chinese Crested

Color:  Any color or combination of colors.
Height:  Males:  11-13 inches/  Females:  9-12 inches
Weight:  Varies, no more than 12 lbs
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, patellar luxation, dental problems, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, and skin problems (hairless).

Coat:  Two Types:  1) Hairless, has a silky, soft, flowing hair on head, feet, and tail.
   2) Powderpuff, has a double coat with a short, silky undercoat, and a soft, straight outer coat.
Country of Origin:  China/ Africa

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The hairless breeds of today have evolved from mutations that have occurred in past pariah-type puppy litters.  With such a unique appearance in the dog world, they Chinese Crested came to be very popular in Africa, China, Mexico, and Spain.

Many people fall in love with the Chinese Crested because it is affectionate, lively, and playful.  Proper socialization is very important in this breed to keep him comfortable with strangers and more outgoing.  This breed likes to dig and climb.  The Chinese Crested has a hare foot, making it able to hold food, toys, and even people.

Chinese Crested dogs get some of their energy out by following family members around in their daily routine, but do need a good walk daily as well.

Chinese Cresteds have no odor and are very clean.  The hairless kind needs to be bathed on a regular basis as well as have oil and/or creme applied to help protect it's skin.  The Powerpuff variety needs regular brushing, as the undercoat will become matted if not tended to.  Both types are naturally resistant to ticks and fleas.

The Chinese Crested will comply with basic requests and responds well to positive training.  Making training a game for the entire family will help this breed have fun and learn more quickly.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Types of Reinforcement

There are two types of reinforcement:
1)  Unconditioned reinforcement
2) Conditioned reinforcement

An unconditioned reinforcer, or primary reinforcer, is something that is necessary for the dog's survival, or something the dog very much likes, and therefore, the dog does not need to learn that this thing is rewarding.  Not each unconditioned reinforcer will have the same value for each dog.  Some examples of unconditioned reinforcement include:  food, air, water, shelter, toys, praise, and petting.  The dog (NOT the owner or trainer) determines what their unconditioned reinforcers are.

A conditioned reinforcer, or secondary reinforcer, is something that does not inherently mean anything to the dog.  The dog learns to associate the conditioned reinforcer as a good thing.  Some examples of conditioned reinforcers include:  walks, food bag noise, toys, "good" or "yes," the sound of a clicker, and the doorbell.  The best example of teaching a dog a conditioned reinforcer is using the "good" or "yes" cue to mark behavior.  Using this cue at the instant your dog performs a desired behavior increases the communication between human and dog.  The dog learns to make a positive association between your marker word (good or yes) and a food reward.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Breed of the Month--Collie


There are two types of Collies:  Rough coat Collie, and Smooth coat Collie

Color:  Tricolor, sable and white, blue merle and white, may have tan or white markings.
Height:  Males:  22-26 inches/  Females:  20-24 inches
Weight:  Males:  45-75 lbs/  Females:  40-65 lbs
Life Span:  14-16 years

Breed Health Concerns:  hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, eye anomaly, and dermatomyositis.

Coat:  Collie, Rough:  Double coat with a furry, soft undercoat, and straight, harsh outer coat.
Coat:  Collie, Smooth:  Double coat with a furry, soft, dense undercoat, and a flat, hard, short outercoat.
Country of Origin:  Great Britain

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

Both the Smooth and Rough Collie have the same breed history and the same current breed standard.  The Collie comes from centuries of of guarding and herding dogs that worked hard for their masters.  Most people think of the fluffier Rough coat Collie when you mention the breed's name.  The breed was made even more popular by the famous dog, Lassie, in 1954.

Their noble and intelligent nature makes both types of Collies excellent pets for families that will be loyal and fair to their dog, and never use harsh punishments.  The Collie is known to be very loyal.

The Collie requires plenty of daily exercise and enjoys going for long distances.

Both the Smooth and Rough Collie require a good amount of grooming.  Regular brushing is necessary, and in Rough coats, you must be aware of problem matts forming in the long fur.  The Collie is a seasonal heavy shedder.

If you approach training a Collie in a respectful and positive way, this breed is a joy to train.  Collie's must be socialized from puppies to avoid them developing a shyness in the future.  The Collie will greatly excel in activities such as agility, herding, obedience, and therapy.

Rough coat Collie

Smooth coat Collie (above & below)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Breed of the Month--Super Mutts

A friend of ours travels around the country on a weekly basis.  During his travels he has seen many things, but none as exciting as this one.  He discovered a litter of puppies in California that they call, Super Mutts.  These dogs are more along the lines of an African wild dog, or Australian dingo.  These dogs are mixed with so many different types of breeds, they have gained the name, Super Mutt.

Although many people swear by their purebred dog, I am a huge fan of mutts (a mix of more than one breed type of dog).  All my dogs throughout my life have been mutts.  Mixed breed dogs are better-suited pets for many dog owners because of their general easy-going nature.  Most mixed breed dogs tend to have less overall health problems as well.

This is our friend's "Super Mutt," named Trash.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Conditioning Behavior

There are two behavior-conditioning styles:  classical and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning is basically a dog understanding a simple association.  The most well-known illustration of this is "Pavlovian conditioning."  We all remember the story of Pavlov's bell, salivation, food association.  Basically Pavlov started ringing a bell before the dog was being fed.  During classical conditioning, the dog learns that the bell leads to the smell of food, which leads to the dog salivating, because the dog then receives the food.  After classical conditioning the dog responds to the bell by salivating, because he has learned to associate the sound with food.  The dog is now anticipating food at the sound of the bell.

Operant conditioning is teaching a dog that this particular behavior, will have this particular consequence.  This is something a dog must learn to do (sit and wait for food), as compared to something the dog would do naturally (like salivate for food).  Sitting and waiting to be fed is not something a dog would do automatically, it is something they must learn to do.  Because the dog does not receive the food when he does not sit, he learns that sitting and waiting to be fed will get him the food instead.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Learning Theory

There are basically three essential elements to teaching a dog to learn.
These are:  motivation, reinforcement, and punishment.

Motivation is a need (conscious or unconscious), desire, or drive that incites a dog to produce some behavior or action.  A dog must be properly motivated to change behavior.

Reinforcement are actions, events, or items that positively or negatively increase or eliminate a behavior.  There is positive reinforcement and negative reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement basically means the dog works for you to get things he desires.  Positive reinforcement involves rewarding the dog the instant he performs the desired behavior.
Negative reinforcement means the dog is working to avoid something the dog considers unpleasant.  Negative reinforcement is the removal of something unpleasant the instant the dog performs the desired behavior.

Punishment is use of a penalty.  There is both positive and negative punishment.
Positive punishment involves a negative consequence the moment the dog engages in an undesired behavior.  You are adding something negative.
Negative punishment involves removing something the dog likes when the dog engages in an undesired behavior.  You are removing something the dog likes.

A helpful way to think about these things is this...positive means you are adding something...negative means something is being taken aways.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Breed of the Month--French Bulldog

French Bulldog

Color:  Brindle, fawn, white, black, tan, liver
Height:  12 inches
Weight:  Males:  28 lbs/  Females:  24 lbs
Life Span:  10-12 years

Breed Health Concerns:  allergies, intervertebral disk disease, stenotic nares, hemivertebrae, brachycephalic syndrome, elongated soft palate.

Coat:  Soft, smooth, short, fine, and glossy.
Country of Origin:  France

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The bulldog originated in England.  Craftsmen moved from England to France during the Industrial Revolution, bringing their toy bulldogs with them.  Once in France, these dogs were mixed with several French breeds, creating what is now known as the French Bulldog.  Around 1898 the argument over "rose ears" versus "bat ears" was won by the fans of the "bat ear" look and is a notable trait in the dogs today.

The French Bulldog, affectionately known by the breed's lovers as "Frenchies," is a wonderful playmate and companion.  This dog is affectionate, inquisitive, and playful.  Frenchies get along well with other dogs and pets of all kinds.  This breed has a shortened muzzle and do have a tendency to drool and snore.

The French Bulldog is more than happy to go with their owners anywhere, but does not require a large amount of daily exercise.  The short muzzle of the dog can make it hard for him to breath and therefore should not be overexercised in the heat.

The Frenchie needs only occasional brushing and is kept clean easily.  The breed's wrinkly face must be kept clean to avoid possible infection.

To get a Frenchie interested, training must be made especially worth while to the dog.  The French Bulldog is good-hearted but can have a very stubborn streak.  Harsh training is this breed is strictly discouraged, as the dog will just shut down.  To keep a Frenchie interested you must do something to help bring out the extrovert in the dog.  Socialization is very important for a Frenchie from a young puppy and throughout his life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Canine Body Posture

Canine Body Posture

Dogs actually assume that we understand their communication system.  Considering this, it is important to understand what a dog is saying to you with his body language.  Recognizing these simple, and sometimes subtle dog signals can help train your dog more easily.  Although dogs do communicate somewhat through vocalization and facial expressions, body language is most important.  The following is a list of basic dog body postures.

Relaxed Body Posture
The dog's tail is down, but the head is up.  The ears are up but not forward and the head is high.

Alert Body Posture
The dog's tail is straight out and he stands tall on his toes.  His ears will be forward and the mouth closed.
A dog that is engaging in the body posture is indicating interest.  This posture can be helpful to notice in training, because this posture means the dog is aware of something, but has yet to decide what to do about it.  That's where you would come in.

Offensive Threat Posture
The dog's tail is up and stiff and he stands forward and tall on his toes.  His hackles will be up, ears forward, and nose wrinkled.  Look for the stiffness and stillness in the dog's body.
A dog that is demonstrating this posture is aggressive and ready for attack.  This position will often be accompanies by a growl.  When around a dog displaying this type of posture, avoid physical corrections and try and use a food reward to regain his focus.

Defensive Threat Posture
The dog's tail will be tucked, and the body lowered.  His hackles will be up, ears back, and nose wrinkled.  The dog's pupils will be dilated and the corners of his mouth back.
A dog engaging in this posture is being self-protective.  Dogs displaying this posture are showing fear.  These dogs would prefer to run away, but may bite if cornered or provoked.

The dog's tail will be down, ears back, and body lowered.  The dog will be panting with the corners of the mouth back.  He may sweat through his pads.
It is important to know when your dog is experiencing stress.  When this happens during training, it is a sign to take a break, and then continue at a slower pace.

Passive Submission
The dog's tail will be tucked, his eyes looking away, and he will roll onto his back.
You often see this posture in young puppies greeting other dogs.

Active Submission

The dog's tail will be down, ears back, and the body lowered.  The dog will lick at the corners of the mouth of the superior human or dog and make groveling movements with his forepaws.
It is actually a good thing to have a dog that is generally submissive.  I reward submissive behavior with a nice belly rub.
(Dog on left in picture is showing Active Submission)

Play Bow
The dog's tail is up and wagging, ears up, with his mouth open.  The dog's front end is lowered as if bowing.
The Play Bow indicates that a dog would like to play.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Breed of the Month--Bedlington Terrier

Bedlington Terrier

Color:  Blue and tan, blue, liver and tan, liver, sandy, sandy and tan
Height:  Males:  16-17.5 inches/  Females:  15-16.5 inches
Weight:  17-23 lbs
Life Span:  11-16 years

Breed Health Concerns:  copper toxicosis, cataracts, patellar luxation, retinal dysplasia, and renal cortical hypoplasia.

Coat:  Thick, crisp, linty, with a mixture of soft and hard hair, tendency to curl on the face and head.
Country of Origin:  Great Britain

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The Bedlington Terrier comes from the mining area north of England, and has the longest traceable pedigree of any terrier.  The Bedlington was probably cross bred from a sighthound (Whippet) and a scent hound (Otterhound).  These dogs were supposedly used by poachers and gypsies to catch game.  The breed was originally known as Rothbury's Terrier (or Rothbury's Lamb).  The Bedlington is capable of everything from swimming, to ratting, to running down hares.  He became very important to miners who used them for rats living in the mines.  The first Bedlington Terrier Club was formed in 1877.  This dog's lovable and loyal nature made him popular in the company of ladies.

Today the Bedlington Terrier is described as having the body of a lamb with the heart of a lion.  The Bedlington is intelligence, talented, and has plenty of exercise.  As with many terrier breeds, the Bedlington does not easily turn off the warrior in him when threatened or challenged.

Bedlington's like to run and need several vigorous walks each day to stay happy.

These dogs shed very little, but their coats must be clipped regularly.  Show dogs of this breed require extensive grooming.

The Bedlington is a quick learner who enjoys trying to figure out what the owner wants him to do.  The terrier instincts keep this dog alert, but loyal.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Common Canine Parasites

Common Canine Parasites

External Parasites:

Fleas are the most common type of external parasite for dogs.  Dogs suffering from a flea infestation can have blood loss and itchy skin.  A dog may even contract tapeworms if fleas are left untreated.  Many dogs and human get allergic reactions from fleas.  Symptoms can include hair loss and intense scratching.  Although fleas can be treated with over the counter products, please use caution as some of these products can be very toxic.  Ask you veterinarian for advice.

Ticks can cause anemia, paralysis, and Lyme disease.  If your dog has been in an area where ticks may be prevalent, always check you dog's coat over at the end of the day.  Your veterinarian can prescribe your pet proper prevention, like Frontline.  These medications are usually applied once monthly.
To remove a tick from your dog can be somewhat challenging for some people.  There are many suggested ways to do so.  The easiest way I have found is to run a cotton ball in soap like dish or hand soap, apply the cotton to the area where the tick is attached.  The soap will make the tick release his grip and you can then remove and dispose of the insect.  I like to flush them down the toilet...just to be sure.

Mites come in many different types, and sometimes people recognize this parasite as "mange."  Ear mites are very common.  If your dog appears to be shaking his head or scratching his ears a lot, take a look inside.  Ear mites will look as though the dog's ears are extremely dirty and black, and may have an odor.  You must take your dog to your veterinarian to resolve this type of parasite problem.

Scabies is actually caused by a microscopic mite that burrows beneath the skin.  This condition spreads very rapidly and can also be spread to humans.  Symptoms include hair loss (especially near the face, ears, legs, and elbows), and intense itching.  Immediately seek veterinarian help if you suspect your dog has Scabies.

Internal Parasites:

Heartworm is caused by a bite from and infected mosquito.  The parasite enters the bloodstream and works its way into the heart, where it will mature.  Heartworms can reach lengths up to 12 inches.  Dogs infected with this parasite will suffer from coughing weight loss and will tire very easily.  This parasite can be fatal if not treated.  Monthly preventive pills are available through your veterinarian and are highly recommended.

Tapeworm, Hookworm, Roundworm
These internal parasites are most commonly found in puppies, but can occur in dogs of any age.  These worms may cause weight loss and diarrhea and will be detectable in the dog's stool.  Talk to your veterinarian about prevention.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Brush your teeth

Did you know your vet recommends that you actually brush your dog's teeth?  Part of keeping your pet happy and healthy is also keeping your pet's mouth healthy.  You veterinarian will usually have some free samples of tasty dog tooth paste for you to try, it's meat flavored.  Dogs like meat, they like the flavor of meat toothpaste, which is both helpful and hurtful.  Although your dog will not fight as much when you attempt to brush their teeth, they tend to lick to try and get the flavor.  But as with any dog, they more you do something, the less sensitive your dog will become to it.


Hey, what you got there?

I can't lick it when it keeps moving!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Breed of the Month--Great Dane

Great Dane

Color:  Black, blue, brindle, fawn, mantle, harlequin
Height:  Males:  30 inches/  Females:  28 inches
Weight:  Males:  119 lbs/ Females:  101.5 lbs
Life Span:  7-10 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Hip dysplasia, cardiomyopathy, bloat, cervical vertebral instability, osteosarcoma, and lymphoma.

Coat:  Thick, short, and glossy
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

The origins of this breed are not exactly known, but believed to have been descended from a type of mastiff and possibly Irish Wolfhound.  Danes originally served as boar hunters, war dogs, and bull baiters.  The Germans refined the breed and declared it the national dog of Germany in 1876.

Today the Great Dane is more of a lover than a fighter.  The Dane retains a powerful protective instance for his family, but is very playful, affectionate, and patient.  The Dane enjoys children, but sometimes his size can be dangerous when leaning affectionately towards small children.  Great Dane's are very people oriented.

Although the Great Dane is quite large, he does not require a lot of exercise.  The Dane is happy with the normal walk twice per day.  The Dane is happy indoors and enjoys just hanging out with his family.

The Great Dane is an average shedder, and will require regular brushing, but the short coat is easy to care for.

The Great Dane can be somewhat of a challenge to train.  The Dane is intelligent, but was bred to be an independent thinker.  Holding the Dane's attention requires creativity and high rewards in training.  Socialization is very important to start as a young puppy with Great Danes.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

General Canine Vaccinations

General Canine Vaccinations

It is important for every dog to have a regular veterinarian and regular yearly check-ups and vaccinations.  All dog will need these regular vaccinations to participate in any obedience class or before attending the dog park...
         ...Distemper, Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parainfluenze, Parvo
2) Bordatella
3) Corona
4) Rabies

Distemper is a viral disease that is highly contagious.  Distemper can be fatal.  Symptoms include lack of coordination, seizures, and uncontrolled twitching.

Hepatitis is a virus that is highly contagious.  It is spread by contact with infected saliva, stool, or urine. Symptoms include discharge from the nose, eyes, and mouth, red eyes, and fever.

Leptospirosis is spread through contaminated urine.  It is a bacterial disease that can cause kidney, liver, and digestive tract damage, and is often fatal.  Symptoms include bloody diarrhea, red eyes, vomiting, abdominal pain, a brown coat on the tongue, and ulcers in the mouth.

Parainfluenza, more commonly known as "Kennel Cough," is a highly contagious viral disease, caused by several different viruses.  Symptoms include a dry cough and nasal discharge.

There are two kinds of Parvo:  1) Enteric (diarrhea form), 2) Myocardial (cardiac form).  Canine Parvovirus is a viral disease.  Parvo attacks a dog's cells like lymph nodes, bone marrow, and the gastrointestinal lining.  It can affect the heart of young puppies.
1) Enteric Parvo symptoms include appetite loss, vomiting, diarrhea, and depression.  This virus must be treated quickly or it can be fatal.
2) Myocardial Parvo can cause sudden death in puppies.  A puppy who does recover from Myocardial Parvo may develop heart problems that could lead to a shortened life span.

Bordatella is a non life-threatening form of Parainfluenza, however it is very dangerous to young puppies.  Symptoms are a dry, hacking cough and some nasal discharge.

Corona can affect dogs of all ages.  This contagious viral infection is spread by fecal and oral secretions.  This disease is also very dangerous to young puppies.  Symptoms include diarrhea (usually orange-yellow colored and foul smelling) and loss of appetite.   This disease can be fatal.

Rabies is a virus that affects the central nervous system of a dog's brain, and is often fatal.  There are two forms of rabies.  Paralytic Rabies may appears as only minor changes in a dog's behavior, weakness and poor coordination, before paralysis sets in.  Furious Rabies is noticed by extreme behavior changes like aggressive and attack behavior.   Although we do vaccinate our dogs against Rabies, if you have ANY inclination that your dog has come in contact with a rabid animal, take them to the vet immediately!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Breed of the Month--German Shepherd

German Shepherd Dog

Color:  Black, reddish-tan, tan, gold to light gray markings, solid black, solid gray,
(white is not accepted by the AKC)
Height:  Males:  23.5-26 inches/  Females:  21.5-24 inches
Weight:  Males:  66-88 lbs/  Females:  48.5-70.5 lbs
Life Span:  10-14 years

Breed health concerns:  Allergies, bloat, elbow dysplasia, Cushing's syndrome, epilepsy, glycogen storage disease, hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism and exocrine pancreatic insufficiency.

Coat:  Medium-length double coat with dense, straight, harsh, outer coat and thick undercoat.
Country of Origin:  Germany

Visit the American Kennel Club for breed standards and more information.

One of the most recognized breeds in the world is the German Shepherd Dog and is well known for its adaptability, intelligence, and trainability.  The "father of the breed" was Rittmeister Max von Stephanitz.  Von Stephanitz promoted German Shepherds in the German Shepherd Dogs club (founded in April 1899), from 1899-1935.  He encouraged the breed's use in the military and for police during World War I.

Today the German Shepherd dog severs in many ways including:  police work, army work, search and rescue, scent discrimination, and as guide and assistance dogs.  German Shepherds are very loyal dogs, intelligent, and brave.  Shepherds are great with children of all ages and instinctually tuned into their people family members.  This is one of my favorite breeds.

German Shepherds are very energetic and intelligent dogs that require daily vigorous exercise.  Shepherds must be mentally and physically challenged each and every day to remain healthy and happy.

The Shepherd requires regular brushing to keep its dense undercoat under control.  The Shepherd is a heavy seasonal shedder.  It is not recommended to bath Shepherds too often because it will deplete the essential oils of the skin and coat.

Shepherds thrive on training.  Shepherds have been used as service and police dogs for many years.  They also excel in sports like herding, agility, and obedience.  Shepherds are very quick learners and appreciate people that keep them challenged.

Monday, May 11, 2009



This term tends to be thrown in your face a lot if you're a dog owner.  Everyone from breeders, rescue personnel, and veterinarians will tell you to socialize your dog.  This is very true, proper socialization is vitally important to raising a well balanced, well mannered dog.  The problem is that many people are confused by the term.

Proper Socialization:  Is teaching a dog to not react to stimuli by desensitizing him to every day things.

This means the more experiences your dog has in a good, positive way, they less they will react to things that are unfamiliar with them.  All of these experiences should be introduced at a pace the dog is comfortable with.  Do not force a scared dog, let him take his time and become comfortable with the situation at his own pace.  A dog (and especially a puppy) should always appear happy and relaxed during socialization.

Another way of thinking about proper socialization is to literally desensitize your dog to regular sounds and occurrences.  Things like cars, skate boards, and bikes.  Also people who are different:  short, tall, wearing a hat or glasses, etc.

Improperly socialized dogs tend to be over-reactive or shy.  They withdraw from people and sometimes flinch or freeze.  Many improperly socialized dogs suffer from anxiety.  Poor socialization can also lead to aggression.  

Monday, April 27, 2009

Painted Puppy

So when Caravaggio was a puppy, he wasn't always the most well behaved.  He got into many things over the years, but this is one of the most interesting.  My boyfriend, Adam Considine, is an oil painter.  He paints beautiful abstracts using oil on linen.  Caravaggio decided he wanted to help paint one day and grabbed the tube of paint for himself.  This is Caravaggio with his newfound blue mustache.

Look close to find the blue lipstick.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Dogs who cuddle

Who says dogs never cuddle?
I think my dogs know they were meant to be brother and sister :)