Client spotlight: Fitz and Gretel

Congratulations to our January client spotlight, Fitz and Gretel!

fitz-and-gretel

Fitz and Gretel are such charmers!

We go a long way back with these two! Fitz was one of my very first Delightful Doggies clients, a dog walking/pet sitting client as we used to offer those services in the beginning. Gretel was adopted later, so I’ve known her since she was a puppy.

I hadn’t seen these two for a while until I was asked to do day training with Gretel in November. She struggles with being leash reactive towards other dogs, and she and I did training walks together to work on this problem. In December, Courtney and I started working with both of them as we wanted to help support their very-busy parents and address other problems.

These two have had lots of changes in recent history, including moving to a new neighborhood with more construction and violators of leash laws, and adding a set of human twins to their family! We have been working a lot with not only having less stressful walks, but learning how to be calmer in the home. Gretel in particular has done great with the mat work we’ve done with her, and we’ve been working on desensitization and counterconditioning plans to items that cause them to bark. And we LOVE having the best fun with them–they are very sweet and sensitive pups!

Fitz and Gretel are blessed to have parents who love them dearly and are dedicated to their well-being and happiness. We are doubly blessed to get to work with all of them, and I cannot think of a more worthy client spotlight to kick off 2017.

Thank you for entrusting us with your training needs!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

New video: Ginger and Game of Thrones

We just uploaded a new YouTube video of our client, Ginger, a corgi who has a challenging time controlling her impulses when certain items are on TV: exciting sports events, action/adventure films, and everyone’s favorite, Game of Thrones!

In this video you will see me working with Ginger while we go through an episode of Game of Thrones. I’m using a VERY high-value treat (hot dogs) to pair with the show and its exciting elements to desensitize and countercondition her response to be more calm. We can then also reward calm behaviors like coming to me, disengaging from the television, looking at me, and sitting.

We love working with dogs on being calm and confident, and hope you will contact us if we can help you!

Happy Training,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

2016 client retrospective video

In 2016 we were able to assist more than 125 dogs and their owners with their training and behavior needs.

Thank you for choosing Delightful Doggies! Best wishes for a wonderful 2017,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

December 2016 clients

It’s hard to believe that 2016 is about to close out. It’s been an amazing year! We worked with 118 clients and their dogs with training and behavior modification this year. From Chihuahuas to Irish Wolfhounds and everything in between, it’s been a wonderful variety of people and dogs who have not only contributed to our small business endeavor, but to their own long-term health and happiness together. Thanks to ALL of you who entrusted us with your needs, and who continue to refer us to others in our communities. We love being able to do what we do, and your support helps us continue on this path we love so dearly!

You can click on the below photo icons to visit our December 2016 Flickr album; if you click on the slideshow button on that web page (top right computer/play icon), you can view them in a fun slideshow format. Don’t forget to LIKE and follow our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts. We also have an Instagram account!

Kerry and Murphy Luna Lexi Gyrus Fitz and Gretel Goldi Bronco Strider Guillermo Leo Morrie Lola Vader Kuma Gulliver Ngala Knuckles Bella Joey Tippy Rhodie Molly Tuti Jasper

Thank you, and Happy New Year!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Murphy and Kerry the Irish wolfhounds

Congratulations to our December client spotlight, Murphy and Kerry the Irish wolfhound pups!

murphy-and-kerry

Murphy and Kerry, ready for training!

Murphy and Kerry are working on their basic skills training in our Delightful Doggy Finishing School program, which covers how to do clicker/marker training, understanding dog body language and how they learn, and all the basic cues and basic problem solving skills all dog owners need in order to live peacefully and happily with their dogs. Their parents are very hardworking and dedicated, and are really building a beautiful bond with them!

At seven months old, they are certainly the largest puppies we’ve ever had. All puppies should be in training, but because of their large size it’s really good that they are learning how to be more calm and not jump on others. They have been doing excellent at learning how to walk with their parents and navigate the ranch on which they live. Their next big goals are to understand how to come when called with more distractions, and to better understand boundaries. We have no doubt they will do great, as their parents are doing their due diligence in foundations and proper management, and practicing their skills so they get stronger.

It’s a real pleasure to work with puppies and new owners who want to do what’s best for their dogs and learn the basics so they will hopefully not have to come back to us to solve problems or undergo behavior modification! We enjoy how much love and devotion their parents have to them, and the other animals under their care. Thank you for choosing us to help you teach these two sweethearts!

Happy Training,
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Teaching your dog to love his crate

Crate training is an important element in dog training. There are many reasons to crate train: to assist in house training young puppies and keep them safe when you’re unable to actively supervise, to give a dog a place to go that is safe and where no one will disturb him, to give your dog a break so he can relax. Those who participate in dog sports and classes also need crate training skills so the dog can be put away when not in competition or actively working. If you must evacuate in an emergency or your dog needs a medical procedure, confinement may be a necessary part of such situations. Your dog may need crate training just so he’s prepared for these possibilities, even if you don’t plan on actively using a crate for much of your lives together.

Some dogs adjust more easily to others when it comes to crate training. Anxious dogs can often have a hard time being confined as well. First and foremost, going slowly and positively is key in having successful crate training. If a dog finds the crate VERY scary, then you may want to take off the door and not worry about closing it for a while. As he’s able to stay in for longer periods, you can gradually shut it little bits at a time. By starting simple and working up to that point, and then gradually extending the time the door is shut, you can build his trust. Going too far too fast will only work against you!

charlie-kong-tieout

Charlie enjoys a Kong tie-out in his crate

I have put together a list of tools and strategies that can help with crate training your dog; they revolve around making it a GREAT place to be, at his level of comfort, as well as teaching behaviors we want.

  • Choose a proper placement. The placement of the crate is important. It should provide some privacy and be in a place that is comfortable for the dog to be able to relax, but not sequestered in the basement away from the family. Choosing a happy medium is important.
  • Feed meals in the crate. Your dog does have to eat so make it work for you! Putting meals in slow feeder bowls can also help him stay longer.
  • Hide goodies for him to find. I like to sneakily put in high-value treats, awesome chews and enrichment toys for dogs to find in the crate. If he doesn’t see me put it in there but he walks by and realizes what’s in there, it’s like the crate is actually making those things happen there, and makes it a really great place!
  • Use a Kong tie-out. Kongs and other toy enrichment where a dog has to lick food can be great for using in a crate. It’s not only a fun way to work for food, but licking can help a dog relax. The only problem with using enrichment toys is that a dog can go in for a toy and take it out! Kong tie-outs are a great solution for this. If you use a string or a section of a wire metal hanger that has a knot/bend at one end, you can feed it through the Kong from the larger hole to the smaller hole so it catches and hangs out of the small hole end. You can stuff and freeze your Kong accordingly, and then use the string or metal to affix it to stay in the back of the crate so your dog cannot go in and take it out. It also helps make the back of the crate the most rewarding place to be! A colleague of ours in Colorado Springs, Angie Neal, has a great video on making Kong tie-outs you can view here.
  • Reinforce calm and good manners. Barking, whining and pawing at the crate means you are ignored. Being quiet, calm, even sitting means you will get out. Most times if you are patient enough to wait for the behavior you want and then give the dog what he wants, and you are consistent with these outcomes, then he will know what is expected and will likewise be consistent in giving you what you want. Start where the dog can be successful and build on it. For instance, if the dog is having a hard time and barking a lot, I would ignore and wait for just a few seconds of quiet and then let him out. Over time, I can wait for longer periods of quiet, as well as more calm behavior.
  • NEVER use the crate for punishment. While a crate is a very good way to help puppies and even older dogs learn how to settle on their own and as management to halt unwanted behavior, you should be very conscientious of how you use the crate to these ends. If you’re putting your dog forcefully in the crate without anything good, you’re really setting yourself up for making the dog associate the crate with you being angry and them being isolated. It’s better to ask him to go in and give him something good for it, even if he just finished doing something you consider naughty!

If you’re facing serious difficulty acclimating your dog to his crate, don’t continue to push ahead without help. If it’s causing major anxiety or aggression, continuing to crate your dog can ultimately work against you and we advise consulting us or another qualified professional for help.

Happy training!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

November 2016 clients

November was another month filled with wonderful clients. It certainly helped me move past the loss of our beloved Uma, may she rest in peace. It has been bittersweet and emotional, and it’s still hard to believe she’s gone. I want to thank all my clients, colleagues and friends who have supported me this month through this loss. I am surrounded by so much love and positivity, and I am grateful!

You can view all our amazing November doggy clients by clicking on the below photo icons to go to our Flickr album; if you click on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon), you can view them in a fun slideshow format. Don’t forget to LIKE and follow our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts; we’d love to interact with you there!

Barney Gretel Lola Dieter Stella Gulliver Stout Parker Murphy and Kerry Sam Morrie Mueller, Kona and Ziggy Bronco Gyrus Leo Roo Winnie Riley Goldi Mochalatte and Katie Strider and Guillermo

Thank you!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Barney the golden retriever

Congratulations to our November client spotlight, Barney the golden retriever!

barney

Barney says, Autumn is amazing!

Barney was born at the end of February this year but he has learned TONS in his very short life! His formal name is Barnabas Digger, Son of Paloma, and he is a English cream golden retriever who is in training to be a therapy dog. He knows how to sit, lie down, stay and come, and he is getting better and better at learning how to control his impulses and deal with distractions. On a recent visit to Aspen Grove, he impressed many shoppers!

Not only is Barney an amazing learner, he is also a consummate charmer. He adores everyone and enjoys all the simple pleasures in life, like chasing a ball, going for a dip in the fountain, and getting lots and lots of belly rubs and butt scratches! He has this funny little quirk, the same one my dog Jasper has, of putting his head down on the ground and extending his butt upwards to get a good scratch! He’s really funny and loving, and you can’t be in a bad mood when Barney’s around!

Barney is a very lucky boy to have such great parents who are very diligent and consistent with training, and he will be an excellent therapy dog! We plan to take his Canine Good Citizen Test early next year. He will no doubt spread LOTS of love and joy to anyone who needs it.

We really appreciate Barney and his delightful parents for choosing us to help with their training needs. It’s been a lot of fun working with them and seeing this pup grow not only in physical nature, but mental nature. Courtney and her dog, Greta May, recently assisted in helping us with teaching him how to walk calmly past other dogs, and she couldn’t believe how great he already is–we all know it can be very hard for friendly retrievers to not want to say hi to everyone!–and he has been doing an excellent job.

Keep up the great work, Barney! 🙂
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Rest in peace, sweet Uma, dear teacher and friend

Yesterday we finally said goodbye to our MaxFund foster dog, Uma.

14115550_10210172894338730_6738637088792410436_o

Such a pretty girl

It was a typical morning; all the dogs had finished breakfast and we were relaxing before taking morning walks. I was on the couch with Hidalgo and Uma. Suddenly Uma raised herself quickly and in such a way as I hadn’t seen before; she typically has twitches and acts strangely due to her being an old dog with neurological issues, but this was different. Her head and ears were extended so straight and upright that her head looked like that of a Great Dane. Thinking it would probably pass, as most things do for her, I asked her if she was ok, pet her, and went back to reading something, but it didn’t pass.

Worried she would have a seizure soon, I put her on the bed on the floor while Chris, my husband, readied the Diazepam. It was apparent at this point that she had lost function of her back legs. Something was definitely wrong—she kept moving her mouth in strange ways, and her head was wobbling. I got treats and she couldn’t seem to even follow them. Her eyesight was at least partially gone, and even her sense of smell seemed off. Yet, she wasn’t having a full-blown seizure. I called the MaxFund clinic right away and was told to bring her in.

400525_10201208018982449_1658888196_n

Happier times with brother Jasper at Garden of the Gods

I carried her into the clinic and the tech agreed that it was probably time for her to go, after we went through what had been happening. At one point while she was on the exam table, she leaned over and her nose landed on the table, and she just let it be there, supporting her head. I’ve seen some really weird stuff at times but this loss of function was some of the weirdest. We put her back on the floor and I waited there with her for a doctor to come in an assess her. I called Chris and told him to come down right away. I just kept petting her and telling her how much I loved her, as she went in and out of sleeping and trying to “come to.” At one point she was so still I thought she might go ahead and leave, and told her it was fine to go.

The doctor who assessed her said her heart sounded much worse and that there wasn’t much they could do for her. We knew it was best to let her go. Likely her heart would fail, and that may be why she had been losing weight. (We had been trying to figure out why she had lost 10 pounds since March but only had some blood work done and were working on scheduling an ultrasound.)

Chris showed up and we spent some time with her before we ultimately watched her leave us, very peacefully, with help from the very caring doctor and tech.

Uma was our foster dog, but she was truly OUR dog.

575615_10200990669068837_1084489787_n

A wonderful moment between Uma and Chris

I met Uma at the MaxFund shelter back in January 2012. I had been coming in to work on training with the dogs, as I was in the beginning stages of learning dog training, and I was going there very regularly. I had also decided to help with washing dogs. I was getting ready to leave one day when I saw her in a kennel—her beauty struck me right away, and many people know I have a bit of a penchant for good-looking herders. I asked a fellow volunteer, “Who is this?!” and found out that Uma had been found left alone in a local dog park, no one to claim her. Some good Samaritans took her in and tried to find her people to no avail, and ended up bringing her in to MaxFund. She had a very gnarly case of arthritis in her front legs, and a bad hot spot on front right paw. No doubt that spot was getting worse, waiting in a shelter kennel.

The following week I went back to see who needed baths. Uma’s was the only name on the list. I gave her a bath and a tech helped me trim her nails. She was such a sweet girl. I knew I had to get her out of there, though I wasn’t committed to adopting, so I convinced Chris to bring her home as a foster, and we did, on February 5, 2012. I was told by the vet that she was probably at least 13 or 14, and that she would maybe have another year or two of life, by how advanced her arthritis was.

Uma’s arthritis and bad heart (congenital heart murmur) were all she really had when we first brought her home. She and my dog, Jasper, who was a little over a year old at the time, got along well, playing in the snow in the yard. While she would still be limited by how bad the arthritis was, she never let it hold her back. We were able to take her out on short romps in the mountains (nothing too long or too strenuous!) and go for nice walks in town, and she and Jasper did love to play every so often.

530845_10200245999732569_1895258573_n

Jasper and Uma play

In late March we were contacted by potential adopters. We did a home visit and they had a great home and seemed to be a perfect fit. The only concern I had were some stairs that weren’t blocked off, and told them they would need to install a door or a very good gate to ensure she didn’t try to go down them and fall; her arthritis made it impossible for her to navigate stairs safely. She was formally adopted by them and we took in another foster, but about six weeks later I got a call from the shelter saying she had been returned, and her front right leg was broken. Apparently the new family had installed a gate, but after coming home one day, found it broken and her at the bottom of the stairs. They returned her because they claimed she had more health issues than we had disclosed, and couldn’t care for her.

I was just anxious to get her back into my home. She had to stay in the shelter a few days so they could clear her medically to be back in my care, so I visited her every day there and told her I was sorry she had to be there, that I would be back to get her out. When we did get her back on May 3, we had to be careful as she was about 20 pounds overweight! With her broken leg/arthritis, we put her on a diet and once the leg was healed, she was able to get enough exercise and lose the weight.

About two weeks after we got her back, I was staying at a client’s home for an overnight pet sitting gig when Chris called me at about 2:30 in the morning. Uma was having convulsions and foaming at the mouth. I told him it was a seizure and to just wait it out, and to get her to an emergency facility, which he did. She had a grand mall seizure, the first we’d ever witnessed. We aren’t sure what started them, but perhaps a bump to the head falling down the stairs, or perhaps that is what caused her to crash through the gate and fall down the stairs—we aren’t sure—but this was the first we knew of, and we started her on meds to control them.

575795_4207160497185_1936774322_n

Lovin’ the belly rubs!

By October of that same year, I was noticing behavior changes in Uma as well. She’d always done fine around other dogs, and I would occasionally take her to dog parks, where she would usually stay to herself, sniffing around the parameter, or just lying down. She wasn’t one to play with lots of dogs, only Jasper occasionally. However, she started to be more like a herder—she would chase after dogs, barking, if they were playing or came into her space, and she would start staring more. There weren’t any problems and she always stopped or was easily redirected, but on Halloween, I noticed her staring more as we entered the dog park, and she went at a Rottweiler in a way that I felt was a little less “playful herder” and a bit more over-reactive, so I removed her and stopped taking her. She also started to become more leash-reactive: not only at dogs, but other people, birds, and random objects (like a recycling bin that was out on a corner).

A mentor trainer I had in the beginning came out to evaluate her and said I was limited in what I could do for her. The reactivity was likely from the seizures/her neurological issues, and training would be unable to really fix the problem because of the health issues compounding it. I was saddened by this news, as I was hoping I could relieve her (and my!) stress about this. I was embarrassed by her reactions and was terrified of her hurting another dog or person, or worse—a child. I avoided as many things as I could on walks with her, and if we encountered over-zealous off-leash dogs, I would drop Jasper’s leash to let him deflect the dog so she wouldn’t be in potential harm’s way.

1609750_10204607405604990_59269628109895808_n

Enjoying a dip in the water

By the following year I had been getting to know other trainers and discovered clicker training methods. I was doing everything I could to learn as much as possible not only for my own professional career, but for Uma. How could I help her? How could I keep her safe and rehabilitate her? I didn’t want her to be so stressed on walks. I wanted her to have a happier life. Finding Leslie McDevitt’s book, Control Unleashed and the Look At That method changed everything! Uma was finally able to learn how to cope with stimuli on her environment, and disengage from it and focus on me. Life changed for us, and I knew that if these kinds of methods could work for her, they could work for ANY dog. It was a true revelation to my life and hers, a revolution! I ironically took a video just this Sunday of her, being so good on a walk.

I would get inquiries about Uma, but when I’d list all the health/behavioral issues (bad heart and thyroid, arthritis and dysplasia that was now moving to the back end, seizures, her reactivity) and the commitments that came with them, it was too much for people. Later down the line it became more intense; as her liver got worse, she was up to medications five times a day, limiting how long Chris and I could be away, not to mention the cost of that plus the acupuncture treatments we got regularly for her. She had an intense routine and while her reactivity got better, her hunting for food never lessened. We had to be very careful about management with her, ensuring things were put away and sometimes even crating her. Everything in our lives had to consider her and what could happen to her.

In fall of 2014 she had a lump that was found to be cancerous. She underwent surgery like a real trooper, and became cancer-free. She kicked cancer’s ass, a true tenacious cattle dog!!!

10685801_10204985815184993_5855765893667311278_n

Kicking cancer in the booty with a BIG smile!

Uma was a real treasure. She was always happy, always had a smile regardless of how painful it must have been to inhabit her body, and grateful for the walks to sniff as much as she could at her leisure. Some days she would surprise you by going that extra block, while a lot of other days it was a simple 20-minute walk around one block. Her spirit was inspiring. We had lots of nicknames for her, like Sassy Britches. She was full of sass and ready to take on the world, despite her frail body.

She taught me so much. I wouldn’t have become the trainer I am without her. She pushed me to learn and grow, and taught me a TON about patience, kindness and persevering. I owe her so much and wish I could have given her more…my heart is so broken today, the house so quiet without her demanding her breakfast or shuffling around to try and find any scraps she can, or to try and scramble on the couch for cuddles. I know I’ll get through this, but right now it’s terribly painful.

13047966_10209051262138626_5397650840641368783_o

Hanging out with her beloved brothers

I will miss Uma terribly for a very long time. But I will also carry on and push through this in her spirit, as she has helped teach me to do. Uma led by example. She never let her pain hold her back from enjoying her life, from always having a smile, and always wanting ear scratches and belly rubs. She lived far longer than the year or two expected, at almost five! Amazing girl.

Rest well, dear Uma-loompa. Take care of our Soup, Buttons and Merlin, and we’ll see you at the Bridge, you playful, lovable pup, you!

Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Holiday training tips

The holidays are just around the corner!

This time of year can be a challenge not only for us humans, but for our dogs. It can bring up a host of behavior problems, too–jumping, countersurfing, begging, destructive behaviors, hiding, and house soiling can be some of the most common. Some of these problems are because dogs are too happy, excited and not in control of their impulses, while others may be based out of fear or anxiety. Punishing dogs for these behaviors usually doesn’t help or work, so I wanted to put together some tips to help both humans and their dogs be better prepared for success!

hidalgomat

Hidalgo has a great default down on his mat!

  • For the fearful dog: Remember, if your dog has a hard time with people coming into the home, with strange new sounds and decorations, and anything in between, that she or he is not doing it because they want to “ruin” your time, but because they are afraid and uncertain! These dogs should be able to have their own space away from the festivities where they can relax. Placing them in another area of the house just for them, with soft music and/or white noise and great enrichment activities can be key to their happiness and less stress for everyone.
  • For the hungry dog: Many dogs find it hard to resist the temptation of items left out on counters and other surfaces. Dogs are natural scavengers, so it’s up to us to manage the environment and teach them what to do. By keeping items out of reach as much as possible, we’ll have less to contend with, and less temptation for them to possibly give into. Beyond that, teaching a default LEAVE IT is key; I love this video from Emily Larlham/Kikopup on addressing countersurfing (and there are several other LEAVE IT videos on her channel too)!
  • For the super-social, I MUST RUN UP TO YOU AND JUMP ON YOU TO TELL YOU HOW HAPPY I AM TO SEE YOU! dog: Jumping and being happy to see you in an exuberant way is all very normal and natural for that friendly dog. You can teach your dog that standing or sitting are much preferred ways of approaching you by teaching and reinforcing these behaviors; I will typically give soft praise and maybe one treat for standing while sitting gets more! By “grading” it this way, the dog can learn that sitting is the most valued way to greet. You can also manage this behavior by keeping your dog on a leash or tether, or behind a gate when guests come over. Management is important so a dog won’t get more practice at the undesired behavior, and you can then prompt for a sit and reinforce it–not only with treats, but by ultimately getting to meet the guest! If the dog breaks the sit, the guest can walk away. Only by sitting does the guest get to come say hi, and give attention.
  • The magical mat: I am a HUGE fan of teaching dogs to relax on a mat, and use it as an alternate behavior in many situations. By having a dog learn a default down behavior on a mat, you can pair it with going there to greet guests, to get their own special stuffed Kong while guests enjoy their meal, and many more scenarios. By reinforcing the dog lying down on the mat, being relaxed on his hip, putting his head down, etc., he will view the mat as a place for doing those calm behaviors. You can also teach him how to go to the mat when the doorbell rings! There are many applications for this tool; we also love this list from The Modern Dog Trainer.

We hope these tips can help you survive this special time of year. Please contact us if you need more help! We do have openings in our schedule, and would love to work with you.

Happy Holidays!
Laura
Owner, Delightful Doggies

%d bloggers like this: