Kids and Dogs

When dealing with kids and dogs there are a few simple strategies to help your kids feel like they’re helping raise and train your pooch.

Here are a few rules to help you understand the relationship between your child and your dog.

Dogs observe everything. They may not look like it, but they are watching what every member of the household is doing. This helps them find a secure place within the family. I don’t believe in “Pack status” but I do believe in dogs finding their role. They are ultimately looking for a few key behaviours in your family, one of which is CONSISTENCY

baby petting dog while parent supervise

Izzy enjoying a nice scratch from little Miles while under our close super vision

. Kids are often lacking consistency, and dogs will notice this.

How to help your child or children demonstrate consistent behaviour by setting a few key routines.

1. Supervise all interactions between your child and your dog closely. No matter how much you love and trust your dog it is still an animal. Dogs can be unpredictable at times and so can children! Be there to stop any unwanted behaviour from either of them! Never EVER leave a young child unsupervised with a dog, it can be a recipe for disaster.

2. Always have your child enter rooms or doorways first. Because children are small and often will weigh less than the family dog, it’s important to teach the dog not to follow its excitement and bowl the child over while racing  up stairs, or through a threshold.

3. Your kids room is just that! His or her room! Teach the dog that they are not allowed in the child’s room unless you choose to invite them. That goes double for being on the bed. I would recommend against allowing the dog to sleep in the same room as well. Visits and cuddling  are great, but let’s teach the dog that your child is entitled to have their own space in your household.

4. Teach your child to walk your dog on leash, however, it is so important that you have a second leash attached that an adult it holding on to. Imagine if your dog saw a squirrel dart across his path. Is your child strong enough to handle that kind of force? I don’t know about you but my dog loves squirrels, and if your dog isn’t already trained to heal or walk on loose leash this scenario can end up with a crying child who has scraped up everything and a dog that may be on the loose.

5. Once you have mastered some basic commands with your dog, try having your children reinforce them. Teach your children to have your dog “sit” or “down” and have your child reward them with a treat, fetch, or a gentle pat on the head. Remember to supervise this even closely as well.

6. Give your kids responsibility. How does “poop patrol” sound? Not much fun! But it is a reality of owning a dog.  You can also give them basic responsibilities like ensuring that the dog always has a fresh water supply. When your child is older, you can also ask them to be in charge of feeding your dog. Have them ask your dog to “sit” and “wait” and as they prepare the food and place it on the ground teach the dog to be patient and avoid rushing the food. This is vital!

7. Teach your children how to pet their dog. Many younger children like to grab and don’t know to be gentle and kind while handling their pet. At the same time it is also beneficial to teach the dog to be patient with your child. We worked on this from a very young age with our son Miles. He is now 14 months and will gently stroke Vegas. Vegas will also communicate when he’s had enough by walking away. When Vegas walks away we are sure to teach Miles to leave him be.

8. Teach your child to leave the dog alone when eating. Many people like the idea of taking away a food dish while a dog is near it. When I am sitting down to a dinner I would be pretty annoyed if you pulled my plate away from me unannounced!

9. Try to have your child attend all veterinary, training, or grooming appointments if possible. Teach them just how much money, time and dedication a dog really takes. You will help mould your child into a compassionate and caring dog owner.

10. Have fun!!! Show them all of the perks and loyalty a dog brings to the family. Go on awesome walks as a family. Hit some trails, beaches, and general adventures! After a tough day at school there is nothing like having that guaranteed friend who will not leave your side.

 

PS Please be extremely cautious if your child enjoys hugging your dog. I have worked with too many families with children AND adults who have received stitches to face after giving their family dog a hug. This is a matter of miscommunication. Humans hug to show affection while dogs mount by putting their paws around another dog to demonstrate dominance. It can also increase anxiety because the dog is feeling trapped. A flight or fight response. Just be careful to read your dogs signals. If you’re not sure how to, please give me a call for some training 🙂

 

Hopefully you enjoyed this post, please share with friends and family who have children!

Nik

On Leash Trails Can Be Awesome

On leash trails can be awesome! Only if everyone respects the by-laws though.

We had a run-in with the same woman who I wrote about before. Click here for a recap.

Only this time really rubbed us the wrong way.

As we were visiting the creek bed I hear scampering just a few metres away from the bushes. I assumed correctly that it was going to be some off-leash dogs. This wouldn’t

Dog Leash walking

Nik manages to handle these four dogs on leash at our favourite trail.

really bug me except for the fact that the woman who owns these two German Shepherds has literally no voice control over them. The younger of the two shepherds approach my dog very assertively and went nose to nose with him. Joanne had Vegas on leash and I had my son Miles on my back in a baby backpack and I had one of our boarding guests “Charlie” on leash with me. I shouted up to the woman who was probably 20 metres away, “Please call your dogs off they are making my dogs uncomfortable”.

She tried…. but failed.She was still out of sight from the dogs and therefore had virtually no shot of being able to actually help.

The younger of the two dogs tried to mount Vegas, who as I mentioned earlier was on leash and unable to run from this situation, thus creating a very dangerous circumstance. A fight occurred and Joanne and I  both had to break it up. Still, there was no physical sign of the owner as she was too far away to get there in time.

What occurred next surprised and upset me.

Joanne mentioned to the woman “Please keep your dogs on-leash, this is a leash only trail.”

The woman shouted back bitterly “I will NOT! ”

I assume that this upset Joanne, and I let her address the woman. I simply observed the interaction.

Joanne replied, “We take our dogs here with our son because it’s a leash only trail. That’s why we come here.”

The woman, again very angry and bitter yelled this time “EVERYBODY let’s their dog off-leash. EVERYBODY does! I have lived in this area for 20 years and you JUST moved in a year ago. You can’t change the rules! I will not stop taking my dogs here off-leash!”

Now, here are a few important facts:

#1 She owns two dogs, both of which are under the age of 7 years old.

#2 The park is less than 8 years old.

#3 We take the trail a few times a week and she is the only person who we’ve witnessed letting their dogs run-free.

#4 Although the woman lives a mere 10 minute walk from the trail she chooses to drive them to the park because she cannot handle being pulled or tugged on leash. She cannot walk them off-leash either in public because as I have mentioned, she has literally no control over the two dogs.

The back and forth did last for some time and I couldn’t quote it all because it was repetitive. Joanne soon realised that it was like speaking with a brick wall and not even worth her time.

The woman began to curse under her breath  and tell us off as she left.

 

So here are my questions that I pose to you all out in Dharma Land:

Does it matter if she’s lived in the neighbourhood longer than us? Should that allow her to treat us and the rules differently?

Do you respect leash only signs? If not, do you understand why they’re important to follow?

How do we go about dealing with this situation? Do we call a by-law officer? After all my dog was bitten while he was on leash and her dogs were not.

I was going to use today’s blog as a resource for you all to really understand the importance of respecting on-leash or off-leash parks. However, I already wrote that joanne and Mileblog over a year ago it seems. The fact this is the same woman and it’s been a year shows a complete lack of respect for others and a selfishness that I do not admire. Are we so entitled as dog owners that we don’t actually care anymore that our behaviour or our dog’s behaviour might be affecting others?

I was very proud of Joanne for letting the woman know that her behaviour was affecting us negatively and we would no longer take the harassment.

So please understand that a rule that may inconvenience you ever so slightly may be helping many others.

Thanks for reading,

 

Nik

 

 

 

Vancouver’s Best Dog Trainers

Here is my list of Vancouver’s best dog trainers.

This list will be a little biased because I will most definitely include myself 😉

I’m comfortable writing a list like this because we all have a little something to offer. Although I am confident in my abilities to teach and help rehabilitate dogs, I only offer one on one services. This may not be the right fit for some of you. There are also circumstances where I will help you learn to understand your dog better, but you may desire a group setting where you can work on agility!

Here are a few of my favourite Vancouver based dog trainers in no particular order.

Shannon Malmberg  from Zen Dog

Shannon is pleasant to speak with and is extremely knowledgeable. She offers a large group class or private consults if necessary.

Donna Hall From Hot Diggity Dog

Donna is a clicker training wiz and a really nice person who truly cares about the dogs she works with. She’s also a pretty decent poker player 🙂 Unfortunately she’ll be moving to Victoria! : (

Shelagh Begg from Dizine Canine

If you have a “bully breed” she’s an excellent choice!

Dog Smart is an alternative that offers long term training for those of you that feel you’d like constant guidance. Class settings, clicker training and a cool store.

I may as well include Dharma Dog! Call 604-327-3649 or email us at: info@dharmadogservices.com

As a certified behaviour specialist  and member of CAPPDT and of the APDT  I offer a variety of methods but really focus on the natural communication of dogs and learning how to build a lasting bond with them. I believe in a hands off approach and really focus on teaching you to better understand your dog. Recently I made a video of a leash training session.

Dog trainer vancouver

Dog Trainer Nik Fabisiak and his trusty sidekick Vegas

Good luck on your search for a dog trainer, but remember, it’s all about finding someone that you’re comfortable with and willing to follow their direction.

P.S. If your dog trainer makes you fee small and dumb for asking questions I suggest you fire them! No room for ego in any industry, especially dog training! 😉

 

Have fun!

 

Nik

 

 

 

 

A Complaint is Music to my Ears

Many times I hear about service complaints at this place or that. I’ve read reviews on-line, through social media, or heard them through word of mouth.

As a business owner I LOVE hearing a complaint from my customers. Why? Because I learn from them!

As a young dude growing up I would often get into trouble. A lot of trouble. I pushed boundaries, broke rules, probably broke the law on occasion. But I learned from those mistakes. I make an effort to avoid repeating the mistakes as often as possible.

It was easy to learn from my mistakes growing up because I would face the consequences directly. They weren’t hidden from me. I would often see the end result of some of my boneheaded ideas.

As a business owner, it is slightly different. I know our shop makes mistakes, and when I catch those mistakes we adjust our protocols and fix them. We make adjustments accordingly and make a very strong effort to avoid repeating them. It helps us leave work knowing that we’ve given the day our very best effort.

When I find out about a customer being unhappy or dissatisfied with the service I make the same effort to listen to the reason and make adjustments to prevent the issue. If a customer is dissatisfied however, and doesn’t let us know, we wont adjust. The end result is not so good for my little Mom and Pop shop.

Dharma Dog Services

Dharma Dog Services loves happy customers!

We probably won’t see the customer again, and they will likely make an effort to prevent others from trying our shop out! 🙁

Here are some tips to ensure satisfaction no matter which business you go to:

1. Ask to speak to the manager. Don’t be afraid, or embarrassed, let them know you were dissatisfied with the service, or product. Chances are they will be empathetic, and understanding as most businesses strive to achieve a certain standard.

2. Choose your language carefully. I heard a saying before that will help you immensely! “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”  Although you may be extremely upset, try not to be mean. If you’re feeling too angry or overwhelmed try to cool down before addressing the issue with the Manager. They’re a conduit to a solution for you. Try to work with them as a team. Don’t be a pushover but definitely make an effort to communicating your problem or needs versus simply being upset.

3.Give them a chance to fix it. Most problems are fairly small, and if they are a complaint about quality, then it’s definitely in your best interest to let the shop know. Chances are you will be heard, and worked with.

4. If your complaint isn’t being respected, or heard, escalate! If you don’t feel that the owner has given your situation the ol’ college try perhaps it’s time to report the business. or, simply never attend again.

 

Well, here’s hoping that I hear your complaint 😉

 

Nik