Mental Stimulation: Getting the best out of your dog

Did you know, boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in dogs. This makes sense because they’ve been naturally bred to lead very active lives. Wild dogs spend about 80% of their waking hours hunting and scavenging for food. Domestic dogs have been helping and working alongside us for thousands of years, for tasks such as hunting, farming or protection. For example, retrievers and pointers were bred to locate and fetch game and water birds. Scent hounds, like coonhounds and beagles, were bred to find rabbits, foxes and other small prey. Dogs like German shepherds, collies, cattle dogs and sheepdogs were bred to herd livestock.

Whether dogs were working for us or scavenging on their own, their survival once depended on lots of exercise and problem solving. But what about now?Dog Resting on Floor

Today that’s changed. While we’re away at work all day, they generally have not much else to do but sleep. The result is dogs who are bored, often overweight and have too much energy. It’s a perfect recipe for behaviour problems.

How do we fix this problem?

It’s not necessary to quit your job, take up duck hunting or get yourself a bunch of sheep to keep your dog out of trouble. However, we encourage you to find ways to exercise not only their body, but their brain. And because we all lead busy lives, and can’t always hire a Dog Walker or Daycare Service, if you give your dog “jobs” to do when they’re by herself, they’ll be less likely to come up with her own ways to occupy her time, like chewing your couch, raiding the trash or eating your favourite pair of shoes.

Nik Training Dogs

We, at Dharma Dog Services, have been putting this idea to practise with our Social Club crew, with a new program called “Today We’re Working On…”. We know that all of our Social Club dogs already get an abundance of physical exercise they need, and socialisation, at our Daycare, but what about mental exercise? This where we have stepped in. The results? Some very happy, tired, well behaved dogs! And of course, happy owners!

Below you will see some of the exercises that we have been doing with our dogs. Some behavioural exercises, some fun games and tricks – both just as satisfying for you and your dog.

If you want any tips on games you can play with your dog, or leave for your dog to do whilst you are at work, let us know! Or if you have any of your own, I’d love to hear them. We’re always looking for creative ideas, and requests, that we can put into practise with our crew. Learn more about our Social Club here – or like us on Facebook for more videos & updates.

Today We’re Working On… Patience!

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…Listening!

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…Show Us Your Tricks!

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Bringing up the Perfect Puppy

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Did you or your family happen to get a new puppy for Christmas? Puppies can bring the greatest of joys! The affection, and sheer innocence can brighten everyone’s day and add a sense of anticipation to return home from a long hard … Continue reading

Happy HOWLoween Tricks and Treats 3

We’ve reached the spookiest time of the year, HOWLoween is upon us!

Halloween can be a festive and fun time for children and families. But for pets? It may be a different story. Here we have listed a top 10 of doggy tips, so you and your pets can have a stress free Halloween.

Dia de los Muertos 135

1. No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for your pets. Chocolate, in all forms, can be very dangerous, and even deadly, for dogs. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. small amounts of xylitol can cause a sudden drop in blood sugar and subsequent loss of coordination and seizures.

2. Halloween plants are for display, not for your dog:  Decorative plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3. Keep Halloween decorations out of reach: Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4. A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle: Dogs can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire. Curious pups especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames.

5. Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets: Please don’t put your dog in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it. For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause some unnecessary stress for your dog.

6. Your dog loves his/or her costume? No problem! Make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe. It should not constrict the animal’s movement, hearing, ability to breathe or bark. Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night. If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au naturale or donning a festive bandana.

7. Take a closer look at your pet’s costume: Ensure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he/or she could choke on.

8. Keep your dog away from the front door: Unless your dog is highly social & well trained, he/or she should be kept away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours. Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pet, and vice versa.

9. If your dog is the trick-or-treater: If your taking your dog out after dark with you, minimize the chance of an accident by adding reflective tape to your pets costume.

10. IDs, please! Always make sure your dog has proper licensed identification. If for any reason your dog escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increaing the chances that he/or she will be returned to you.

By using this tips, Dharma Dog hopes that you have a stress free and exciting HOWLoween!

Herbs That Are Safe for Dogs

I wanted to share an article I found super helpful that I read in Modern Dog Magazine fall 2014 issue:

There are a few common kitchen herbs that are good for dogs. Canine cancer-fighting, breath-freshening, stomach-soothing herbs that are safe for dogs include rosemary, basil, peppermint, oregano and parsley. Let’s take a closer look at each one individually.

basil

Rosemary (rosemarinus officinalis)
This good-for-dogs herb is high in iron, calcium, and Vitamin B6. Rosemary has also been shown to act as an antioxidant. (Though rosemary is very high in iron, it is not to take the place of an iron supplement if one is needed as there is little data about how bioavailable the iron in rosemary is.)

Basil (ocimum basilicum)
This dog-approved leafy herb, well-known for its delicious role in pesto, has antioxidant, antiviral, and antimicrobial properties. The next time you’re cooking with fresh basil, sprinkle a little pinch of the chopped herb atop your dog’s dinner.

Peppermint (mentha balsamea)
This aromatic herb has historically been used to help soothe upset stomachs, reduce gas, reduce nausea, and help with travel sickness. In addition, research is being done with shows that it may have radio-protective effects and can be used to reduce radiation-induced sickness and mortality in animals undergoing chemotherapy. There is no reported toxicity for dogs although very high doses may result in liver or kidney problems.

Oregano (origanum vulgare)
Best recognized as added flavour for  pizza, oregano is high in antioxidants and flavonoids and is reported as an antimicrobial. This non-toxic herb has been used to help with digestive problems, diarrhea, and gas. Research using oil of oregano has also shown anti-fungal properties. Oil of oregano is more concentrated than oregano, so keep the dosage small (oil of oregano does contain some components like thymol that can be toxic in large amounts or if used for a prolonged period of time). Use may impact the gut micro-flora so you may need to add a probiotic to the diet to build back up the good microbes that you killed off. For oregano drops made especially for pets, check out Orega Pet (oregapet.com).

Parsley (petroselinum crispum)
Another leafy herb commonly seen as a garnish on our plates is a source of flavonoids, antioxidants, and vitamins. It also contains lycopene and carotenes. Often added to dog treats as a breath freshener or used to sooth the stomach, parsley has a long history of use with dogs. Note: “Spring parsley,” a member of the carrot family that resembles parsley is toxic to dogs and cats due to high levels of furanocoumerin which can cause photosensitisation and ocular toxicity.

How to use the herbs*:

Used fresh or dried, adding a small sprinkle (a pinch for small dogs, a teaspoon for large dogs) of these herbs to your dog’s food is a safe way to give them a little boost in nutrition. You can also use them to make your favourite dog treat recipe a bit healthier and more flavourful. The flavonoids and antioxidants found in many of the herbs in this article can help the body’s immune system combat some of the diseases reduced immune function. As noted, however, there are potential downsides and they should be used with care.
Tincture and oils for many herbs are available at your local health or natural foods store. These are usually a more concentrated source, so if you wish to use tinctures, oils or higher levels of fresh or dried herbs, it is best to work in conjunction with your dog’s health care professional. Sometimes the monitoring of a dog’s blood work is necessary to ensure continued safe use. For maximum efficacy, make sure the herbs and spices you use are not old. If the spices have been languishing in your cupboard for years, toss them out and replace them; their health-affirming properties will be diminished if they’ve been kicking around for a while.

* There’s a common saying that “the dose makes poison.” What this means is that anything can be dangerous if it’s fed or used in the wrong amount. If your dog ate only meat, eventually he would get sick since meat alone does not provide all of the vitamins and minerals that dogs need for optimum health. When using herbs the line between safe and not safe can be very fine. It is always advisable to check with your vet.

-this article taken from Modern Dog Magazine

“Bark” is the New “Tweet” Part 2

CONTINUED FROM YESTERDAY…

In yesterday’s blog, I began a discussion on today’s social media for dogs. I started with Woof.co, which is an app for dog owners to document their dog’s story and connect with other dog owners in the area, and Pack Dog, which is a photo sharing dog profile type site and reminds me of online dating! Which is, by the way, how my husband Nik, and I met.

The next one I stumbled upon was Dogster. This is a busy site with so much sensory overload, but once my brain begins sorting the information that’s being thrown my way, I realize it has some terrific, original articles, videos, and funny confessionals. Seems like I could waste a lot of my valuable time browsing all their creative content. Right away I noticed this article: 5 of the Most Common Grooming Mistakes. Seems obvious that most dog owners would know these things, but seriously, there’s so much to know about owning a dog, I figured we could all benefit from the refresher! So I had to share that one with you. This one also struck my fancy, Do You Tip Your Groomer, Dog Walker or Pet Sitter? The writer takes a poll on what readers say is the norm.

Although this page grabs my attention, it somewhat loses my focus as they are pulling me in too many directions at once. It’s not so much about the connection with other dog owners in your proximity but more about spending time with resources, like a dog encyclopaedia mixed with facebook; pretty much everything you might want to know about dogs. They have a magazine and a subscription to email alerts on the latest scoops. I can see Dogster turning my day into a big wasted internet browsing day. I’ll have to remember this one next time my toddler is napping and I’m feeling lazy. “I know there’s laundry to do, babe, but Dogster has a new quiz on how to tell if your cat is a jerk!” I know I know, we don’t have a cat… Prefer cats? Visit Catster…

I really feel like a “Dog Mom” in the dog section of YouPet.com. With a list of most popular dog names to the featured breed of the week, I’m reminded of when I was pregnant with our son Miles, searching the web for sites targeted for mom-to-be’s and baby centre news. These furry babies can be added onto your profile, with photos and zip or area codes to connect you with other dog owners. It’s a networking site with blogs, forums, games, health information, and is not limited to dogs! Oh no, they’ve got you covered for any and all pet mummies and daddies: cats, birds, reptiles, horses, fish and more! You can become a member here. Seems like a great place to exchange ideas and learn about new ways to be the best pet owner you can be.

Finally I want to leave you with some dogs who are extremely popular on social media:

Boo’s Facebook has 37 million followers and his typical status update is a picture of his fluffy face popping out of an adorable canvas bag with the tagline “just hanging around”. He’s the number one dog on the internet, and he’s a 5 year old pomeranian.

naked lounging #noshame

Boo’s Facebook page has a ton of cutesy photos of him just lying around being adorable.

The celebrity dog @Oprahthedog is rapper, 50 Cent’s bitch. She has about 12k followers on Twitter. What a foul mouthed lil fool! Example of post, “Dad is heading to Europe tonight, I am SO having a party while he is gone. Woof woof!”

I don’t know about you but it seems like the ever growing community of dog owners and dog lovers out there want to connect and share about their experiences with each other, just the same way other groups do! So I hope I helped you get a head start with social networking with your dog(s) to join the other 170 million pet owners in North America alone. BOLz! Bark out louds!

-Joanne

“Bark” is the New “Tweet”

The Dharma Dog twitter account, @dharmadogcares, is now being written from the perspective of a dog. “Bark” is the new tweet for Dharma Dog and the posts are a mixture of hilarity, irony and absolutely outrageous.

An example of a tweet from our dog is “I practice barking at the door constantly, my neighbours aren’t supportive of my aspirations. I will keep trying!” We also find our bark

Dog on cellphone

This dog hasn’t figured out how to tweet like our dog yet!

tweets in the form of backtalk, even to @cesarmillan, #BOL Bark Out Loud!

Not sure if you know this, but there is a heck of a lot of social media out there for dogs in today’s world. Many of them are for dog owners to create dog profiles for their pet.

Woof.co is the website for the dog app called Woof by Woof Labs. The clever logo is a dog’s paw with the heel in a heart shape. This app claims it will bring you closer to your dog as well as document your dog’s life through photos, marking its territory and sharing photos with other dog owners in your area. Better back up your iCloud or Android phone regularly to save all your hard work!

The website for Pack Dog almost looks like a dating profile webpage with dog photos and their names showcased in a thumbnail photo collage taking up your entire screen. The eye catching webpage greets you and interacts with you until you can’t take it anymore – add my dog to this beautiful display of canines! At the top it says “PACK” with the tagline, “discover the magic of everyday dog moments”. Enticing enough? Hover your cursor over the button to add your dog and this message pops up, “Pack is the beautiful new photo community for people who love their dogs. Add your dog to get started,” it says. How can I resist? Of course I think MY dog is the most beautiful! BOL (bark out loud). In moments, I joined. The picture I chose? My beautiful husband Nik and his handsome dog, Vegas from our Dharma Dog Team photos. I think it’s time you tried it out and experience it for yourself!

TO BE CONTINUED…

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

 

 

I own a Dog Grooming Shop

I own a dog grooming shop. She owns a bakery. He owns an auto mechanic shop. They own a small restaurant.

Not every business is owned by a mega corporation out to make billions and evade paying their taxes off shore. Most businesses are owned by your neighbours, friends and family members.

When you support small business, such as choosing my dog grooming shop over a mega  corporation, alternatively you help in more ways than you can even begin to realize.

Scenario One: your dog is dirty so you bring him to Dharma Dog Daycare and Grooming. At the end of the groom you are completely satisfied and pay us the requested fee. That money then goes towards paying staff, bills, or helps put food on my table. I take that money and spend it at a local business to purchase bread. That baker then takes that money and uses it to fix her brakes at the auto mechanic shop. That auto mechanic then takes his wife out to a nice locally owned restaurant

lemonade stand

support even the smallest business

which sources its food from a local farmer. That local farmer realizes that his dog really stinks and needs a groom. He calls Dharma Dog and the cycle continues.

Scenario Two: your dog is very dirty so you go to a mega corporation.  At the end of the groom you are satisfied and pay the requested fee. That money goes into their business and will likely LEAVE CANADA. A small portion will help pay wages, this is true. However the majority will actually leave the country to pay share holders etc. Thus ending the cycle. Now the local grooming shop is not able to go buy bread from the local baker due to cost. So he chooses a mega shop where the cost is marginally cheaper. Again the cycle is broken further. The baker has the brake problem but can’t afford the repair. This leaves the baker with squeaky brakes and the mechanic loses a client. The mechanic wants to take his wife out to a nice dinner so instead of supporting a locally owned restaurant, he may be forced to choose a cheaper chain. Now more money leaves the local economy!

In order for our economy to strive and for those around us to succeed and live a healthy life, it is essential that we all make efforts to think globally and buy locally, and support small business. My wife and I were driving the other day when we spotted a little lemonade stand on the corner of Main Street and 34th Avenue. We literally altered our route to turn around a help support a ten year old boy’s small business! And the cycle begins, because that toonie we gave him will likely go to the local corner store on 33rd Avenue to buy some candy 🙂

 

Separation Anxiety and Rescue Dogs

Meet Chalu, a recent member at Dharma Dog Daycare and Grooming.

He’s a shy little guy who doesn’t really have a good sense of comfort with his surroundings yet. We don’t know too much about his past life, but he came to his owners John and David* in the last month.

They love this little guy!

He has made such great strides in becoming more confident, and here are some of the steps that we have taken at Dharma Dog to help him become a better balanced dog.

Originally we limited his interaction with EVERYONE! I just wanted him to get a feel for our shop and listen to and smell all of the excitement and dogs.

Gradually we established trust amongst the human members of Dharma Dog and were able to very gradually expose him to one dog at a time. This was a very slow and methodical process as we were hoping to build fun and calm interactions.

Eventually Chalu was ready to join the group of dogs and was very much the wallflower. He would often choose his kennel as a secure area to hide and watch the group from a distance.

His curiosity continued to peak until he finally decided that he wanted to voluntarily meet the other dogs.

After 4 weeks of Chalu attending we can comfortably leave him amongst the group where he chooses to romp around and play! He still needs his space on occasion and most of the dogs will gladly oblige.

A small victory, but definitely one of the feel good reasons why I like my career.

Keys to success with shy dogs:

1. understand them

2. earn their trust

3. be patient

4. prevent stress

5. reward the great decisions

6. repeat!

*names changed for privacy

 

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