Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Trainer Tips for the Holidays

As we get closer to the holidays, more and more people will be entertaining friends and family in their homes.  With guests can sometimes come unforeseen problems with your pets.  This month's Trainer Tips is intended to help you with some hints to survive the holidays.

Follow the Rules:
Just because its the holidays doesn't mean you should let your dog get away with bad behaviors.  All your normal rules and boundaries you have for your dog (which you should have), should still be enforced.  There may also be holiday rules added, such as:  pets are not allowed to go within a certain distance of the decoration and present areas.  Also alert your guests on how to deal with your pets.  It is always best for someone coming into your home to follow the Basic Rule: No Touch, No Talk, No Eye Contact.  Instruct your guest to completely ignore your dog until you say otherwise.  Guests should not look at the dog, talk to the dog, or touch the dog.  Once your dog calms down and is offering good behavior, you may let your guests say hello, if they wish.  If your dog is one who likes to jump on guests, remind your guests to turn their back and ignore the dog.  It is your job as the owner to gain control.  Plan ahead, add a leash before your guests arrive for easier control.  Stepping on the leash away from the doorway and allowing your guests to enter without being licked and jumped on is always appreciated.

Schedule & Exercise
Dog's thrive on a regular schedule, even if it varies slightly from day to day.  Over the holidays, many of us take time off work and have people over to the house.  This can sometimes cause us to forget the regular schedule our pet requires.  So even though we may have a week or two of planned relaxation, don't forget to keep your pet on their schedule.  This includes feedings, walks, play and affection times, and even rest times.  Don't let the hectic holiday rush affect your dog's happiness.

Also don't forget to make sure your dog has plenty of water.  All the holiday commotion can add stress to your dog's day, and therefore increase his/her thirst.  Be sure to keep your pup hydrated.

BEFORE your guests arrive (or before you leave to go visiting), make sure you have spent some time with your pup.  Don't forget to exercise your pup as much as possible.  Remember the old saying…"A tired dog is a good dog."  It is very true.  If you can wear out your pup a little extra before guests arrive, you will have a much easier time controlling your dog, and your dog will be much less stressed.

Dog Toys & Bones

Make sure your dog has plenty of his own things to keep him entertained.  This includes various toys and chew items that will help occupy him when you want to enjoy your guests.  If your dog has something he enjoys, he will leave you alone, and more importantly, leave your guests alone.  Try Kong toys stuffed with yummy treats and peanut butter, or a good old-fashioned bone.


Pets tend to find new things in the house very interesting.  Adding holiday decorations to your home can be fun, but remember to keep your pets in mind.  If your dog (or cat) cannot be trusted around items such as tinsel, ribbons, bows, plants, and other holiday items, be sure to secure your pet in a separate area when they cannot be supervised.

Every year pets play with and swallow many different types of holiday items.  Many of these items can cause serious problems.  The last thing we all want or need over the holidays is a very expensive trip to the emergency vet.  Keep your pets safe by planning ahead.

Holiday Food
We all enjoy the large amounts of amazing food over the holidays…so does your dog.  Remember that just because dogs will eat dry dog food, doesn't mean they don't like, and want, what you're eating.  Be sure to keep your pets out of the kitchen when preparing and eating food.  Your pets should always wait to get their meal until AFTER the humans have eaten.  This is also helpful because you can then add left-overs to your dog's meal.  I actually use this to help save money.  Sometimes there are just too many left-overs or you have eaten the same thing for too many days.  What then?  Add it to your dog's regular meal.  Notice I didn't say just give it to your dog, especially not from the table.  This will encourage begging, definitely NOT something we want around the holidays (or any time really).  Generally speaking, you can add almost anything to your dog's food.  Obviously if your dog cannot have certain foods, do not give those items.  If you are unsure if something is safe for your dog to have, it is best to not give it to them. Also be aware of the toxins for dogs.

Common Food Items that are Toxic for Dogs:
Coffee/ Caffeine
Macadamia Nuts
Milk & Dairy
Most nuts in general
Grapes & Raisins
many fruit seeds and some skins
raw meat or eggs
Yeast dough

For a complete list of items toxic to pets, visit the Pet Poison Helpline.

This is not a complete list, but covers the basics.  If your left-overs contain these items, I would not recommend giving them to your dog.  Meats, rice, potatoes, and vegetables (without sauce or garlic) are all good things to throw in.  Be sure to mix it in with your dog's regular dry kibble.  If you are unsure if a particular food is unsafe, do not give it to your dog.  Always error on the side of caution when it comes to your pet's safety.

Have a fun and safe holiday season.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Toy Breeds

The Toy Breed group includes:

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Chinese Crested
English Toy Spaniel
Italian Greyhound
Miniature Pinscher
Shih Tzu
Silky Terrier
Toy Fox Terrier
Yorkshire Terrier

The most obvious characteristic this breed carries is its size.  The small size of these dogs can make it difficult for some people to train.  Having to bend over constantly during training can get tiresome.  Also because these dogs are seen as so cute and cuddly because of their size, many owners think that they should not receive the same rules and exercise as a larger dog.  This is a big mistake.  Just because a dog is small, does not mean it doesn't need exercise.  I've known a Toy Breed dog that ran circles around his larger counter-part on a daily basis.  Depending on your dog, this breed may need as much, if not more mental and physical exercise than a dog several times it's size.  Also do not be fooled into that "cute little face" and let your toy breed dog get away with bad behavior.  Everyone thinks the little toy puppy that bites at your face is so cute until they actually make contact.  Just because they are small dogs, does not mean that they cannot cause damage.  Toy breed dogs need the same consideration for exercise and rules as any other dog.

For more information on the Toy Breed Group visit the American Kennel Club's website.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Hound Breed

The Hound Breed group includes:

American Foxhound
Basset Hound
Black & Tan Coonhound
English Foxhound
Irish Wolfhound
Rhodesian Ridgeback

Breeds in this group are easily distracted and have an independent nature.  Dogs in the group may have less drive to please their owners because they were bred to work independently of humans.  These dogs may easily be distracted by scent and movement.  The most important basic obedience cue you can teach these dogs is focus.  This cue is usually verbalized with a "Look" or "Watch Me."

Many of the dogs in this breed group like to bark and howl, as they were bred for.  This can make it very difficult for many owners and I do not recommend this group for apartment dwellers.

For more information on the Hound Breed group visit the American Kennel Club's website.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Non-Sporting Breeds

The Non-Sporting Breed group includes:

American Eskimo
Bichon Frise
Boston Terrier
Chinese Shar-Pei
Chow Chow
French Bulldog
Lhasa Apso
Shiba Inu
Tibetan Spaniel
Tibetan Terrier

The breeds in the this group typically have less in common than other groups.  Members in this group have some characteristics from the working and sporting groups.  Most of the dogs in this group were not bred for labor-intensive purposes and there-fore could be difficult to motivate for training.  It is important to follow the "No Free Luncy" policy training technique.  This means that your dogs must work for everything they get.  Making your dog do simple basic commands like sit, wait, and focus can help your training go much more smoothly.

On the other hand, because the dogs in this group were not bred for anything specific, they can make easier pets for inexperienced owners.

For more information on the Non-Sporting Breed group please visit the American Kennel Club's website.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Terrier Breed

The Terrier Breed group includes,
Airedale Terrier
American Staffordshire Terrier

Australian Terrier
Bedlington Terrier
Bull Terrier
Kerry Blue Terrier
Norfolk Terrier
Miniature Bull Terrier
Miniature Schnauzer
Scottish Terrier
Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier

Wire Fox Terrier

Some characteristics of the Terrier Breed group include a high need for daily physical and mental exercise and tenacity.  This group was bred to be very active, and to not only hunt vermin, but to not back down from them when attacked.  This breed can be especially difficult for a first time dog owner.  Terriers were bred to route out small critters and therefore like to dig and hunt.  This breed of dogs is very alert and agile.  If these dogs are not provided with significant physical and mental exercise in a manner similar to what they were bred for (hunting), it is possible that they may become dog and/or animal aggressive.

To learn more information and for a full list of the Terrier Breed group please visit the American Kennel Club's website.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Herding Breed

The Herding Breed Group includes:
Australian Cattle Dog
Australian Shepherd
Bearded Collie
Belgian Sheepdog
Belgian Malinois
Belgian Tervuren
Border Collie


Old English Sheepdog
Pembroke Welsh Corgi
Shetland Sheepdog

The Herding Breed group has an extremely high need for daily exercise and mental activity.  This group was bred to have a high chase and prey drive, making it difficult for these dogs to become desensitized to the activities of moving objects.  Without sufficient physical and mental exercise, these dogs are highly likely to develop behaviors such as barking, tail and animal chasing, fence running, digging, pacing, or aggression.

Visit the American Kennel Club's website for a full list of the Herding Breed Group and more information.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Working Breeds

The Working Breed group includes:

Doberman Pinscher
German Pinscher
Great Dane
Great Pyrenees

Portugueses Water Dog
Saint Bernard
Siberian Husky
Standard Schnauzer

Some basic characteristics of the working breed include an independent nature, a dominant disposition, and a tendency to become territorial and possessive.  Because these dogs were bred to work independently and do jobs like guarding and protecting people, they tend to become dominant.  It is important for an owner of this breed type to show strong, consistent leadership.  Because of this breed groups independent nature, you may see them as stubborn durning training.  It is important when training these breeds to follow the the training tool of "No Free Lunch" policy.  This means that these dogs must always work for something, and never be given anything for free.  Even if it is something as simple as sitting and waiting to be released to eat their dinner, they must work for it.

Visit the American Kennel Club's website for a full list of the Working Breed Group and more information.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Sporting Breeds

The Sporting Breed includes the following:
American Water Spaniel

Cocker Spaniel
Curly-Coat Retriever
English Setter
English Springer Spaniel
German Wirehaired Pointer
Golden Retriever
Irish Setter
Irish Water Spaniel
Labordor Retriever

Some common characteristics of the Sporting Breed Group include a high need for daily exercise and high distractibility.  A walk around the block every day is not nearly enough exercise for this type of dog. Sporting breeds have been bred to notice and react to everything going on around them.  Having high distractibility offers this breed an advantage to notice and find birds and other game, however can make it difficult for them to focus on basic obedience exercises.

You can visit the American Kennel Club website for more information and a full list of the Sporting Breed Group.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Remembering Nekita

When a family pet passes away, it is important to do some things for yourself to help remember and honor them.  When I had to say Goodbye to Nekita, it was the most difficult time of my life.  It has now been almost a month, and I am finally getting to the point where I am not continually filled with sorrow.  It is important to find ways to help yourself heal after such a loss.  

For me, I have chosen to remember Nekita by getting her portrait tattooed on my arm.  Furthermore, her paw print will remain part of my Such Good Dogs logo, and her picture will remain on our Such Good Dogs car, even when we re-do it.

We also finally received her ashes back last week.  We took the other two dogs hiking in one of Nekita's favorite spots and spread her ashes from the rocks into the ocean.  It was hard and sad and I cried, but it was also very helpful to get a little bit of closure.  Nekita's favorite thing was the ocean, and it brings me comfort and joy knowing that she will forever be part of the ocean.

The spot where we spread Nekita's ashes at sunset.

Nekita's is the middle paw print in my Such Good Dogs logo.

Such Good Dogs car.

Nekita & Caravaggio with the car after a hike.

Nekita memorial tattoo by Monica Painter.

The picture the tattoo portrait was based off.
This is also the picture of Nekita currently on the SGDs car.

Devo, Nekita, & Caravaggio at Kapalua Bay (not long before she passed).

Athena with Nekita, Devo, & Caravaggio.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Goodbye Nekita

This will be my one and only blog for this month, simply because this has been the most difficult month of my life.

On March 8th 2016, six days after her 11th birthday, my oldest dog, Nekita, passed away.  Sadly Nekita had developed an unknown tumor on her spleen that ruptured.  There was nothing we could have done.  Her death was very unexpected for me.

Nekita was the most wonderful, loving dog I have ever known.  Her and I had a very special relationship.  I first got Nekita as a new college graduate after starting my first real “professional” job.  For three years, it was just her and me.  We did practically everything together, including an hour hike every morning and night, visiting friends and family, and even visiting my work on several occasions.  The bond we shared was very close.

When Nekita was three years old, I first met my husband.  When we first started dating, he used to joke about how he actually fell in love with Nekita before he fell in love with me.  That’s just the kind of amazing dog she was.  Everyone that met her fell instantly in love.  In fact, she became known as the “Gateway Dog.”  So many people that met her and fell in love with her then went on to adopt a dog of their own, including my husband (then boyfriend).  He loved her so much, my husband adopted his own dog, Caravaggio.

Nekita continued to be her amazing self and mothered Caravaggio as a puppy.  Their bond grew even more when my husband I first moved in together.  Over the years, our two dogs became inseparable.

After we got married, my husband and I made a huge life decision and moved to Maui, Hawaii.  Both Nekita and Caravaggio were flown from the mid-west to Hawaii.  Nekita has always been a huge fan of swimming and instantly fell in love with the ocean.  Going to the beach and playing in the waves quickly became her new favorite activity.

A few years after living on Maui, we decided to adopt a third dog, Devo.  When Devo was a puppy, Nekita decided to pass the torch to Caravaggio for the “puppy raising” assistant.  Caravaggio stepped up and became the favorite big sibling for Devo.  Although it was obvious that Nekita loved the new addition to the family, as she was getting older she just didn’t have the full energy to keep up with him.

Although her passing did come as a huge surprise to me when it happened, looking back I think it may have been coming.  Over the past few months Nekita had started to really slow down.  I just assumed that she was starting to feel her old age creeping up on her.  Now I can see that her slowing down was probably due to the tumor growing inside her.  I wish I would have made more of the time we had together.

Dealing with the death of a pet is a very difficult thing for any family.  Although I have lost other pets in the past (my childhood dog, 2 cats, and several smaller pets), the loss of Nekita was the worst of all.  The bond we shared was one I can not fully explain.  She was my girl.  She followed me into another room in the house all the time.  She automatically came to the bedroom with me when she knew it was time to sleep.  She was and always will be my baby girl.  I will miss her more than I can possibly say.

When she first passed away, I cried all day for about 5 days.  Worst 5 days of my life.  After that I finally gathered the strength to compose myself and return to work.  It has now been 3 weeks since she passed, and I still have not gone an entire day without crying.  It is getting easier as time goes on, but the pain has not gone away.  I’m sure the pain will not go away for quite some time.

In the meantime I am trying to focus on loving and being there for my other two dogs.  Caravaggio took her death just as hard as I did.  He has been very sad.  Devo is still young, not quite 2 years old, so I think he may not fully understand what happened.  He has been a great in helping keep his big brother happy though.  To help both of them, I have been trying to keep as close to our “regular schedule” as possible.  This has also been difficult for me.  About a week after she passed, I finally returned to my regular morning hour hike with the boys.  As I said before, Nekita was nicknamed the “Gateway Dog” because so many people fell in love with her and then got their own dog.  Along with that, many people on our morning walk know all my dogs and would always stop to pet them, especially Nekita with her happy smile and exuberantly wagging tail.  As if venturing out into the world wasn’t difficult enough, I had to field numerous questions of “Where’s Nekita?”  I broke down and cried every time.  Her fans were very nice and offered their condolences and told me how much they loved her and that they’ll miss her also.

In the end I’m just taking it one day at a time.  That’s all I can do for now.  

I miss you Nekita…and I love you forever!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Trainer Tips--Save money on dog clean-up bags.

So when I got Nekita as a puppy, I quickly realized that I always needed another poop bag.  I used the poop bag dispensers that attaches to the leash for a long time.  These are great, but can get expensive after awhile.  Since I was in need of saving money (as we all usually are), I decided to start re-using plastic shopping bags.  At first I would just shove them in my pocket, which works alright in winter when I have a hundred pockets for things, but not so well in the summer.  Having mountains of random plastic bags in all my pockets started getting irritating and I realized what must be done.

This was something my mom actually taught me when I was little and we got our first dog when I was 12.  Here is step by step instructions on how to roll re-used plastic bags so they fit nicely into your pocket and are less of a hassle.

Grab the bag by the bottom.

Shake the bag out.

Fold the bag in half (lengthwise).

Fold in half again.

Wrap the bottom of the bag around one finger.

Twirl the bag around your finger keeping it tight.

When you reach the top of the bag, find the handles and open them.

Twist the handles around and over the rolled bag.

Twist handles around again.

Pull the bag off your finger.


Note for Hawaii residents:  Since stores in Hawaii do not usually have plastic bags at the check-out, instead make sure to save the plastic bags provided for all your veggies and meat products and use those bags for poop clean up.