Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Trainer Tips--Dog Backpacks

For this month's Trainer Tips, I would like to talk about Dog Backpacks and how they might be able to help you and your dog.

A dog backpack is pretty much what you think it would be...a backpack that is fitted for your dog.  Dog backpacks come in many different styles and brands.

In choosing a dog backpack, look for a style and color that speaks to you.  The main thing you will want to look for is to make sure that the pouches of the bag do not hang too low on the sides of the dog.  Some dog packs are not made appropriately and hang too low.  This makes it difficult for your dog to walk properly.  A dog backpack that is fitted well will not hinder your dog when walking.

My personal favorite brand of dog backpacks is Ruff Wear.  Although they no longer carry the bags we have, they products are amazing and last long.  Our dog packs are at least 6 or 7 years old and I have not had any issues with them.  They are in great condition for that many years, and we use them quite often.

Of course your local pet store will have other options as well.  It is best to try and bring your dog to the store so you are able to try on the bags to see how they fit.  You may even do this just to get a good idea of what you like, then measure your dog and order online.

Why use a backpack on my dog?

There are many reasons to add a backpack to your dog for your daily walks.  If your dog is very high energy or tends to be quite reactive to people or other dogs in public, adding a backpack can help keep your dog more calm (therefore making it easier to train your dog in these situations).  I highly recommend adding a backpack to any dog that is very high energy.  If you have a hard time wearing your dog's energy out on a daily basis, adding a backpack on your daily walks can help expel some of that excess energy.  

When adding a backpack to a dog, it helps puts their brain in a "working mode."  This helps focus the dog on the task at hand (walking calmly while carrying the bag).  Add water bottles for weight, but be sure to keep the weight as even as possible on both sides.

Both my larger dogs have dog backpacks.  Caravaggio is a certified service dog and has accompanied me with his backpack into stores and other public places.  He carries my items in his bag and I add anything purchased to the bag for him to carry as well.  Service and therapy dogs are known to carry bags to assist their owners.  But just because your dog is not certified as a service dog, does not mean he can't carry things for you.  We also add the backpacks to our dogs when we go on long hikes or for a long outdoor day event such as a parade or swap meet.  Going to the beach for the day?  You can have your dog carry all the things they need for the beach in their own bag! (water, leashes, bowl, poop bags, etc.)
This is Rayne, a service dog.
Her backpack is small and includes Service Dog tags,
but is still a dog backpack.  While she is wearing her bag,
she is in "working mode."

Dog Backpack = Magic

All in all, adding a backpack to your high energy or reactive dog can work like magic to calm them down.  There is training that should accompany you adding the backpack to your dog.  As with any new items, when first putting it on your dog, it should be paired with a treat or something the dog likes so as to make it a very positive experience.  Put the bag on and tell your dog "Good!" while giving them a treat.  If they remain calm, praise and treat.  Disagree with any behavior to try and get the bag off or scratch at it.  The first time you put the bag on the dog, only leave on for a few minutes.

Once your dog seems mostly comfortable with the bag, add it before going for your regular walk.  Have the bag pre-packed with a small amount of weight to start (you can add more as your dog gets used to it).  I even throw my roll of poop bags in the backpack pouch.

REMEMBER:  While wearing the backpack your dog should be in a "working" mind set.  Therefore the dog should not be allowed to play or run wild off leash while wearing the bag.  Remove the bag and give your dog their Release Cue before allowing these activities.  While wearing the bag, the dog should be required to remain calm and in the "working mode" mind set.

This is Hazel.
She is a VERY high energy, 2-year-old Shepherd mix.
Hazel and her mom have been working with SGDs 
on her dog aggression and reactiveness on the leash.
Adding a backpack has helped calm Hazel on walks...
she is becoming less and less reactive to other dogs and objects.

Friday, November 7, 2014

VIDEO: Teaching your dog to swim in the ocean: Step Two

Here is the video for Step Two of teaching your dog to swim in the ocean.  Keep in mind that these videos do go together for training.  Teaching your dog to swim in the ocean Step One should be one day of training.  Step 2 should be done over several training sessions, while also mixing in Step One when your dog is feeling relaxed.

Always remember to stay calm during any training, especially when the training involves something new and intimidating, such as ocean waves.  Take training slowly...ease your dog into new things.  You should never rush a dog that is obviously nervous or afraid.  Don't feel bad if it takes more time than you think it should.  If you do not rush your dog, you will have him loving the beach in no time. Also remember that it's important for the dog to witness you (and if possible other dogs) having fun at the beach.  This tells the dog that this is a fun place to be.  Encourage your dog with praise when they are calm and/or relaxed.

See Step One of Teaching your dog to Swim here.

We hope you enjoy the video...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Doggie Dash!--Dog Apps/ Game

Doggie Dash!

iPhone Apps for Dogs/ Dog Game
Updated:  July 16, 2013

This is a basic run and jump game featuring a dog.  The dog jumps over the spaces between grass patches and around/over enemies and jumps up to collect gems.  

Overall, worst game ever.  This game is hard to control, super boring, and has almost nothing exciting to look forward to.  

Sunday, November 2, 2014

VIDEO: How to teach a dog to swim in the ocean: Step One

Here is the new video on "How to teach your dog to start swimming in the ocean."

For dogs who are new to the ocean, or are seeing it for the first time, the waves of the ocean are the really scary part.  To get a dog comfortable with swimming in the ocean, you must teach them how the ocean waves work.  Doing this helps the dog understand what the ocean does and what might happen and therefore gets them more comfortable with swimming in the waves.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

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.  Our dog, Caravaggio, is part German Shepherd (along with Great Dane and Black Lab).  Knowing a lot about a breed allows you to pick out certain characteristics of that breed in your own dog.  For example, Caravaggio requires a lot of physical and mental activity.  He is also extremely owner oriented.  Caravaggio is a baby for his daddy.

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.  
I consider the Shepherd to be a "Powerful Breed."  Therefore, this is not a breed a would necessarily recommend for a first time owner.  However if the person is ready and willing to put in the extra work and training that the breed requires, this is one of the best breeds out there!

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.

Again this is a breed that requires a LOT of daily physical and mental activity.  Shepherds are considered working dogs and really need some sort of "job" to thrive.  This does not necessary mean they need to be a service dog.  A "job" for a dog can be accompanying you on a few vigorous walks throughout the day, or playing fetch for awhile, or even playing hide and seek with their toys.  They key for the German Shepherd and other working breeds is to continuously keep their minds working.  Sometimes something as simple as carrying a backpack on their daily walks will do the trick.

German Shepherd Police Dog.

Cute German Shepherd pup.

German Shepherd Service Dog.