Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Certified Mentor Trainer for ABC

I am very excited to announce that I will now be mentor training with Animal Behavior College.  As a former student of ABC, I am very familiar with their curriculum and will be very excited to offer my insights into the next generation of dog trainers.

As a look back, I'm adding a picture of me when I was a student with my mentor trainer, Inga From.  Inga teaches both Basic Manners dog training classes and Positive Reinforcement Hunting Dog training.  If you are interested in positive gun-dog training, please visit her website.
Positive Gun Dogs of Minnesota.  It is very rare to find a trainer who teaches hunting dog classes using positive reinforcement dog training.

Athena & Inga From.

Also see SGDs previous post on Positive Gun-Dog Training.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Breed of the Month--Afghan Hound

Afghan Hound

Color:  All colors.
Height:  Males:  26-29 inches/ Females:  24-27 inches
Weight:  Males:  60lbs/ Females:  50lbs
Life Span:  12-14 years

Breed Health Concerns:  Allergies, cataracts, chylothorax, bloat, hip dysplasia, and cancer.

Coat:  Fine, silky, and thick, with a top layer of long hair (may have lower jaw beard).
Country of Origin:  Afghanistan

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

This beautiful sight hound comes from Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan.  The breed was created to be a guardian and protector to both livestock and humans alike.  The breed was developed to be an independent think, with a coat that withstand harsh environments, both cold and hot.  The Afghan Hound did not leave the region until the turn of the 20th century.  The breed is now prized all over the United States for his beauty and grace he shows in the competition ring.

Although the Afghan Hound has great beauty and grace, he is a goofball at heart.  The Afghan Hound is determined and athletic, and will follow his owner anywhere.  Because he is a dog that hunts by sight, care should be taken around smaller animals.  

Because the Afghan Hound was bred for hunting quick moving prey, this dog needs to get outside and get plenty of exercise often.   The Afghan Hound will thrive on some quality play time (in a secured area) along with several long walks a day.  

For a first-time Afghan Hound owner, a professional groomer is a must.  Because of their think coats, intensive grooming is required.  The coat of the Afghan can only be brushed after being washed so as not to damage the hair.  Extra care must be taken to ensure the dog's long ear hair stays out of food and water bowls.

Socialization at an early age is especially important to reduce the Afghan Hound's large prey drive.  Although very intelligent, the independent Afghan can be difficult to train.  For best training results, be sure to use positive-based training methods.  The Afghan Hound excels at many events including:  dog shows, agility, obedience, and lure coursing.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Trainer Tips--What do your dogs really want to do?

As a trainer, I am familiar with all kinds of dog questions.  One of my favorites is, "what does my dog want to do?"  As in, if my dog could do anything, what would it be?

Your dog wants to run and play, but also wants to be with you.  Dogs enjoy the experience of traveling with the pack.  The best form of exercise for your dog is a well-balanced pack hike.  Notice the way I worded that sentence.  There is a very large difference between a hike where your dog runs wild, and a well-balanced/ organized hike.  You want to be organized, but not overly-so.  Basically, a dog should earn everything from you as the owner, including the right to be let off leash while on a hike.  If you do not trust your dog or cannot control your dog, they have NOT earned the right to be off leash.  In that case, your dog should be secured to a long line (a 20-30 foot leash).  Do NOT use an extend-leash.  The extend-leash always has tension on the line, and encourages the dog to pull.  While on a hike and lone line, your dog should NOT be pulling you.  The purpose of using a long line is to teach a dog how to be off-leash but stay within a certain distance of you.  If you allow your dog to pull on a long line, this lesson will never be learned.

A great pack hike is also fun (and good exercise) for the humans.  You get to see and explore some of the amazing sites Maui has to offer that are right in your backyard.
One of the amazing views from the Village Trails in Kapalua.

Athena with Toby, Nekita, & Caravaggio at Kapalua Coastal Trails.

Important things to remember when going on a pack hike...

Make them wait and calm down.
Before the dogs even get out of your car, they should be made to sit and wait.  My dogs are required to do this EVERY TIME.  The reason for this (and it's important) is because whatever the mind-set your dog is in when he is let out of the car, that is what he will take into that environment.  So if you let your dog out while they are crazy and bouncing all over the car, they will take that crazy into the outside environment.  This is a very difficult mind to control or even be heard by at all.  But, if you take the extra few minutes to make your dog sit and wait to be released until they have calmed down, they will go into the new environment much more relaxed and not be as apt to run off or offer other poor behaviors.

Make sure the pack gets along.
Go with someone (dogs) that your dog already knows and gets along with, or someone you know you can trust.  My dogs are well trained and familiar with how many dogs behave, good or bad, and know how to properly react.  I often use my own dogs to help train others.  The pack hike is one of my favorite activities to bring new dogs into, especially if they have issues dealing with other dogs or running away from the owner.  Using the Such Good Dogs pack is great because my dogs (and other dogs I have trained in the past I also use) know how the hike works and are obedient.  They will run through the field or woods or whatever, but come back to me and check in often.  They are not allowed and have learned to never wander too far away.  I will usually use a long-line (20-30 foot leash) for dogs that are new to the pack hike or particular area.  This ensures that this dog will follow the rules, because he is secured with a leash.  This keeps the new dog from straying too far from the pack.  Dogs who are off-leash have earned the right to be so.  Remember...Safety First!  If you don't trust your dog, have them secured to a long line.  If you don't trust someone else's dog, don't hike with them.

Good Exercise.
There is a difference between just plain physical exercise and mental activity.  Both of these things are very important for your dog.  Many times people like to just let their dogs run around crazy in their backyard or at the dog park.  Yes, your dog is getting some physical exercise, which is important, but they are doing so in a chaotic, undisciplined way.  It is much more important for your dog to engage in mental activity than just plain physical exercise.  Your dog will actually be more tired, and more satisfied with more mental challenges.  Furthermore, a dog who is more mentally focused is less likely to ignore their owner, and get into bad situations with other dogs.  The best way to protect your dog is to TRAIN HIM!

Below are some of the many pictures I have from various pack hikes.  You will see my dogs many times, as they are always a part of this type of dog training.

I love this picture.
Notice that the two further back are on leash,
they had not yet earned the right to be off leash.

Hiking near West Maui Kennels.

Lipoa Point.

We came across these two dogs while hiking the gulch. 

Lipoa Point.

The Village Trails.

The pond at the top of the Village Trails.

Amazing Maui and my dog(s).
One of my favorite things about some of these hikes is posing with my pack for some amazing Maui pictures.  This is a great goal for you to have and work towards.  Then you can proudly display some amazing pictures of you and your pet and show all your friends on the mainland how much fun you have together.  Below are some of my favorite amazing pictures with dogs.

Nekita at Honolua Bay.

Irie, Caravaggio, & Nekita

Beck at sunset.  Honolua Bay.

Athena with Toby at Kapalua Coastal Trail.

Athena with Nekita & Caravaggio near Honolua Bay.
I have a lot of these pictures (me and my 2 dogs).
This is my new favorite.