Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Patience with reactive dogs

Patience is the key which solves all problems. -Sudanese proverb

      This applies to all aspects of life , however I think we need to especially remember this when it comes to our animal friends. They have memories and fears just like we do. Sadly they do not understand English and we need to be patient. We need to particularly remember this when it comes to reactive dogs.
     What is a reactive dog?  Sara Reusche, CPDT-KA, CVT, ANWI  states, "Simply put, reactivity can be defined as an overreaction to external stimuli."  Personally living with a semi-reactive dog, I believe just like autism, it is not a disease, but just a handicap that we can work with. We do not turn our backs if a child is autistic or has learning disabilities. We find ways to make that light bulb come on over their heads and we don't set them up for failure . The same principles should be applied to our canine friends. We have to celebrate making it over the hurdles and celebrate the accomplishments, not punish their downfalls.
     In my case and in many others I have seen, reactive dogs are highly intelligent. It is so important to give those pets jobs, structure, and positive activities to celebrate that intelligence.
     There are many tools available for reactive dogs, and also for basic obedience for that matter. In my opinion, there should never be force,violence or hitting in training. Structure and positive reinforcement are the key.  One method that is highly effective in working with a dog, is to not free feed, but make your dog earn their dinner by watching  you , and performing basic obedience such as sit , stay , down, etc.  There are fun ways that will keep them thinking and earn  food. You can purchase puzzle and treat toys and hide their food around the house and teach them to "find".  Rally and agility are excellent activities that allow your dog to bond with you and teach them to pay attention and look to you with trust and joy for commands.

      Please make sure you take all proper precautions with a reactive dog, you want to protect your dog at all cost. If you know there are going to be small children or other dogs at an event and your dog is reactive to them , PLEASE DO NOT take your dog or take the proper precautions, such as bringing a kennel.
 Your dog would much rather feel safe in a kennel than to be thrown in a situation they cannot handle. Do not be afraid to be bold or even rude to protect your dog. If someone bends down to stick their face in my dog's face,  I have no problem telling them, "back off, he cannot handle that". When I teach kids bite prevention, I stick my face one inch from their nose and asking them if it makes them uncomfortable. We need to give dogs that personal space and not be afraid to tell others too. I suggest hanging a small sign on your door that says something like, "please be advised my dog needs space, please give it to him." You are your dogs voice and you need to speak for them.
     Some helpful tools to help you with your reactive dog are handouts and literature from Dr. Sophia Yin A gentle leader is a great tool to take a reactive dog into public. To make sure people are not rude and give your dog the space they need, I found a great snap on leash sleeve in bright yellow that says, "I need space". This reminds people to ask before they pet, so you can instruct them the polite way to approach a fearful or reactive dog. You can find these on this site
     I suggest contacting a kind, reputable trainer in your area that specializes in your problems. DON'T be afraid to ask for multiple references. If a trainer is rough, cruel, or in any way makes you uncomfortable, speak up for your dog and don't allow it. Force will only make matters worse and don't let any trainer convince you otherwise. There are so many positive activities now for reactive dogs. They can now even compete without being exposed to other dogs or people that they may fear in cyber rally and agility.
     If you are in West MI and want a trainer who specializes in reactive dogs and who can assist you with cyber competitions, I highly recommend Dog Blessed LLC. 616-430-0297.
Odin and I wish your pets a joyous stress free life.
 Please feel free to read the first chapter of my book and more articles at www. furryphilosophy.blogspot.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Paws and Remember the Magic of Christmas

Most of us remember the wise words from  Dr. Suess,
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. Maybe Christmas, he thought... doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps... means a little bit more!"
"Well, in Whoville they say - that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day. And then - the true meaning of Christmas came through, and the Grinch found the strength of *ten* Grinches, plus two!" 
     I believe, our pets often share the same message, gifts from the heart mean so much more; it is the laughs, homemade gifts , and the things you did to give back that will resonate the most in your memory. Our pets don't care the price of things, for them it's about the love and fun.
     There is something about Christmas that puts that sparkly fairy dust in the air. We bake ,we wrap, we want to give and make merry. 
      Odin,Raven and I would like to ask that you spare just a smidge of that magic in your heart and merriment and remember to give back in anyway that resonates with your heart.
    Giving back can be not only rewarding but fun. I really enjoy heading up charity pet photos with Santa. It is a evening of laughter, joy and giving back. You cannot help laugh at pets in their Christmas attire and feel their happiness as they know something good is happening. They enjoy getting special goodies thanks to our ever faithful and gracious hostess, Tonya from "Must Love Dogs Boutique and Spa".
     I recently interviewed a wonderful man, 'Grandpa Phil' who was one of the organizers of the first Iditarod. He now lives in Long Boat Key, Fl. and he protects the nests and aids  the  baby turtles to safety every year.  He is 88 years old and still running two miles a day on the beach. I asked him to share some of his secrets of longevity he would like to convey. He said, " If it ain't fun don't do it". He has spent his life enjoying it, but also giving back in ways that were fun for him. 
     Everyone has a talent. Aren't we put on this earth to share the gifts we are given? For example, I love photography and editing and tweaking photos. Every year I take and collect pet photos from others to collaborate a fundraiser calendar.  
       There are so many ways to give back. Follow your heart ,it will lead you. Do you have room in your home for a rescue? The love the can give is priceless. If you search, you can find the breed you are looking for from a rescue. If you can't rescue , please consider volunteering , donating or giving a small part of your heart. In return you will also feel your heart grow and fill up to the top just like that Grinch.

 This Holiday Season,Odin, Raven and I wish you joy, laughter , and unlimited treats for all the furkids. We also wish that all the homeless pets will find their fur-ever home and receive the love they deserve.

Below are suggestions on ways to give back this holiday season and always. Feel free to use my contact info below for more information on any of these:

* Best Pals animal Rescue charity calendar only $10 full of fun furry friends.
* Foster a pet for Christmas
*Volunteer with Heal with a Horse and be fortunate enough to spend time with those amazing creatures. The mission of Heal with a Horse is to enhance the quality of life of chronically ill and special needs children through equine assisted therapy. 
*Be fortunate enough to be in presence of rescued wolves, exotics, and other miscellaneous  rescues by volunteering at Howling Timbers Animal Sanctuary.
*Buy the perfect Christmas gift for animal lovers  of "Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone".  I feel it only fitting since I was given the  gift of memories from the animals to give back to them. $5 from every book sold is donated to the animals with love.  This month (and always on my list to chose from ) I will donate $5 to Best Pals Animal Rescue.
* If these don't resonate with you, remember your heart, it knows the way.   

  Read more Furry Philosophy in my book, “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.” It is available at or by emailing or calling 231-893-1227.  
Find more fun photos and updates by following me on Facebook  “Memory stones by Jodi” and “Furry Philosophy and Memoirs Set in Stone.”