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!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

…Listening!

Click here to view Video (1)

…Show Us Your Tricks!

Click here to view Video (1)
Click here to view Video (2)

Dog Walking Throughout The Cold Seasons

It’s wet, the sidewalk is completely covered in fall leaves, and the temperature is frigid… It’s a great day to take a walk — if you’re a Siberian husky.

If, however, you’re a Chihuahua, a Yorkie or a human, you’d probably rather take a long nap and hibernate through the cold seasons. But neither rain nor snow should keep your dog from his/or her appointed rounds. Just like mail carriers, they have to go out no matter the weather. Dogs need physical and mental stimulation just like humans do. Yet, a recent survey of 1,000 dog owners found that one in five did not walk their dogs on a daily basis.

So how do you make the winter dog-walking experience as pleasant as possible for both you and your canine companion? We’ve listed a few tips below to keep you and your dog healthy throughout the cold season.

snoop and mercy1. Before anything else, make sure that you’re appropriately dressed. Layer up, layers are the trick of the trade, make sure that your face is covered, wear hats and gloves. Others recommend thermals, and earmuffs. And for icy conditions, consider slip-on shoe attachments that provide traction on ice, such as Yaktrax or Get-a-Grip spikes.

2. And what about the dogs —  Smaller dogs, like Chihuahua’s, Yorkie’s and the more delicate breeds should always have coats on. Big factors are the dog’s breed and length of hair. If you have a husky, they would stay out longer than we would, dogs with thick fur coats can keep your pet warm enough that they don’t need anything. If you do have a larger dog that requires a coat, like a Great Dane, and are on a slight budget, a small trick is taking an extra large adult hoodie and simply cutting the arms out.

3. Are you planning on taking your dog out of Vancouver, into the mountains, for the Winter? Wondering about how to care for your dog in the snow? There are certain dogs that are bred for cold weather, and they generally won’t need anything, but for dogs that were not designed to be in the cold, smaller dogs or even some of the sleeker bigger dogs, investing in some boots to keep their feet warm & prevented from chafing is a good idea. Another concern when you walk your dog is that people put that salt down and that can really eat away at their paws. Salt can be a big problem as it can damage a dog’s paws, leading to infection. And the problems are compounded if the dog licks its paws. However, not all dogs will enjoy wearing boots on their feet. In this case, the most important thing is to clean off the paws with a towel when you get home, ensuring that all of the salt is off their paws.

4. And last, but most definitely not least, Know the limits. Just like us, pets’ cold tolerance can vary from pet to pet based on their coat, body fat stores, activity level, and health. Recognize problems. If your dog is whining, shivering, seems anxious, slows down or stops moving, seems weak, or starts looking for warm places to burrow, get them back inside quickly because they are showing signs of hypothermia, and be prepared as cold weather also brings the risks of severe winter weather, including wet roads and power outages.

“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…

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

 

 

Never Give Up-Dharma Dog Motivation

Here is a truth for all of you out there in Dharma Land… Life can be hard.

Yup, there it is, the truth and a little hard motivation.

We all have good days, and we sometimes have bad ones. Never do we ALWAYS have good or bad. It’s a big pet peeve of mine and for some reason, I feel like many of us might forget that life is supposed to be challenging. If you tear you dress, or spill wine on your shirt, or your girlfriend dumps you, do not say “Why does this always happens to me?” It doesn’t. It might seem to happen often and perhaps it happens to you more than others, however, I can guarantee that it isn’t constantly happening to you. Right this second, are you being dumped? Are you tearing your shirt? Probably not, and if so, why are you reading my blog while you’re being dumped?

Being in business is tough. It really is. It’s like an emotional roller coaster that you’re just trying to hang on to. The other day my uncle said to me “it seems like you have huge emotional peaks and a positive outlook on the business some days, and on others seem low and pessimistic.” This might ring true, but I never ever pity myself, or ask “why me?”  I answered back, “welcome to entrepreneurship.”

I am generally a very positive person, and believe that you can realistically achieve any goal you set out for yourself. I believe that there  is always a means to achieve most goals, as long as you follow a path.

I have peer in business who is a perfect example of how a negative state of mind can just crumble any momentum that you’ve built. Many times I have seen him on the verge of tears, or angry, or yelling, or complaining… Whining! “This always happens to me!” -he’ll whine to whoever listens..and not many people do. It get’s tiring. If I happen to be in his presence when he’s complaining about how things never work out for him I have three standard responses that I guarantee he probably hates hearing as much as I dislike hearing the self-pity he spews.

1. “It gets better. It always does.” – this is my go to very often, especially when I know his machinery will work, or computer’s will be repaired. The fact is, it ALWAYS GETS BETTER.

2. “What are you doing to change the problem?” – This is my response if I’ve heard him make the same complaint before. Why has he not learned to prevent the issue? Learn from your mistakes!

3. “That sucks.Now move on.” – Maybe I’m a little cold about at times, but there is literally always someone in a worse situation than yourself. Are you eating? Do you have a roof over your head? Are you alive? Do you have friends? Family? A job? Try not to focus on the hard times, rather, try to look at what’s going right.

This wasn’t much of a “dog blog” today, and I apologize for that.

Maybe this can help someone out there who just feels like life continually deals them lemons. The fact is life is dealing EVERYONE lemons. Some of us just know that you can use those lemons to your advantage.

Lemonade anyone?

Nik

lemondae

When life give you lemons…

 

Dharma Dog Services is HERE!!

Dharma Dog Services is here!! It’s time to celebrate the launch of a new and exciting step in our business.

It has been quite some time since my last blog post and I feel guilty and lazy because of it. You see, I have been trying very hard to launch the new dog training and dog walking programs properly and we wanted to make sure that we did things right!

First of all, the new website is great! While we do have some edits to make I am very happy with the overall appearance and functionality. Our very own client worked on the design and we are very thankful for his work! Check it out if you haven’t already www.dharmadogserivces.com

Our company now boasts 3 Dog Trainers on staff! 3! and potentially 5 by months end. The trainers will be working directly with your dogs, whether it be walking, grooming, boarding, or daycare. All behaviour consults for the time being will be performed by myself (Nik Fabisiak)

We have also expanded our in-home boarding operation to better accommodate  all of our clients. We hope that you think of us as a home away from home for your pet. Our new full time pet sitter Julie is an amazing person and loves to take her dog Copee on hikes!

Our new Walking service is phenomenal! We boast the lowest number of dogs per person in Vancouver. All staff are CERTIFIED TRAINERS! How can you beat that?

I forgot to mention the newest regular staff member; Joanne Fabisiak! She’s not only my wife, or the mother of my son, but she’s also an incredible office manager. She will keep Dharma Dog Services running like a top. If you like Dharma Dog Services now, just wait until Joanne get’s her hands on it. Talk about efficient, organized, caring service.

And yes, I am very proud! So please do us a favour and try us out, or if you already have, tell a friend because we LOVE what we do!

We look forward to seeing you all come through our doors,

 

Nik 🙂

Dharma Dog Owners

Sharing a laugh at our wedding.

 

 

How to teach your dog the perfect “Sit”

How to teach the perfect sit.

It’s actually not too difficult. Does your dog lift his but off of the ground immediately after being told to sit? Or does he simply ignore your request?

Do you hunch over your dog repeating”sit” “sit” “sit!!” and still nothing?

dog training

This puppy is learning to sit

Let’s work on 3 things:

Your body language

Your patience

and the timing of your reward

When trying to train your dog anything, practice in a quiet and calm environment at first.  You may even want to consider leaving his leash on.

First of all, NO MORE LEANING OVER YOUR DOG! Stand up nice and tall with your feet in a comfy position. By keeping your height elevated and not moving your dog can see that you are in your most confident position. Believe me, they can recognize this.

What motivates your dog? Is it treats? Praise and affection? Toys? Fetch? Most people with have a pretty good idea of what makes their dog tick, and once you have established this we can move on.

Patience: Say the word “Sit”. Don’t ask them, don’t shout it, just say it like you truly mean it. Some people like to implement a hand gesture along with the command and this does help too!  After giving them their command, just wait. Stand Tall, Stand still and wait.  This is where the leash can help with a high energy dog initially as you can restrain his movements.

Believe me that your patience here will pay off! Once your dog does sit don’t reward!!! Not right away at least. To teach a very good sit it is imperative to have the dog stay in the position for a few seconds. Over time you can even push this to minutes! When your’e completely satisfied with the result call your dog out of the position and reward immediately with a treat, or praise, or toy etc.. I taught my dog using fetch as his number one motivator and avoided treats whenever possible.

So remember,

Stand tall and still

Give command

be patient

Let the dog learn that sit really means sit

and reward like crazy when you invite him out of the position!!!

 

Warm regards,

 

Nik

 

 

Our first year of Dharma Dog Services

Gold Vinyl Logo

In honour of our first year of business, I had a golden Dharma Dog logo placed on our desk

vancouver dog grooming

Kaori taking a break while working on Mila the golden doodle

 

Lots of daycare,, Boarding and walking clients

Lots of daycare,, Boarding and walking clients

 

We opened our business while Joanne was 6 months pregant.

We opened our business while Joanne was 6 months pregant.

Dharma Dog Boarding

We bought a house!

 

Nik and Joannes sonny boy

Nik and Joannes sonny boy

Married!!!

Bark! Understand why your dog appears to bark unnecessarily

To understand why your dog barks unnecessarily is a tricky subject.

Barking is something dogs often do to sound the alarm of a potential threat (in his mind).  Unfortunately for you and your neighbours, these ‘threats’ can include squirrels, birds, people or dogs walking by, noises, the garbage man, etc. Dogs may also bark when excited to initiate play, however this isn’t the focus of this blog.

 

A dog that barks at everyday occurrences is not a good watchdog. A dog like this is similar to a car alarm that keeps going off for no reason. People will eventually take no notice, even when he barks for a legitimate reason. He will only annoy the entire neighbourhood.

A good watchdog is one that barks only when something out of the ordinary happens; when someone attempts to enter your property or when there is imminent danger like a house fire.  Dogs naturally protect their territory but you need to teach him what is not a threat to you, your family or the territory.

 

Dogs that bark a lot can be of various personality types.  The very confident dog will feel it is his duty to ward off everything and everybody from his turf.  He is insistent in his warnings and is vigilant in keeping things away.  The timid or fearful dog may be very worried about these scary threats, as he feels vulnerable. He will do everything in his power to keep them from approaching his domain so he or his pack isn’t hurt.  This can even escalates into growling and biting.

 

 

A dog may also be barking to call the pack back to him (separation anxiety) as he is worried for his safety and that of the pack.

 

These are all natural survival instincts for dogs.  Since they are dogs living in a human society, we need to teach them in their own language what warrants concern, what is acceptable barking, and what is not.

 

Things that you can put in place to help the situation include:

 

Don’t react to your dog every time he barks by calling him, going to him, or yelling at him.  You are only reinforcing his ‘calling of the pack’ responsibility.

Provide a safe place for him to sleep and relax when he is left alone.  Patrolling an entire house is a huge job that will require lots of barking.

Provide your dog with a sense of strong leadership from you.  He will feel less vulnerable if he knows you are capable of taking care of him and the pack.  This includes setting rules, getting him to work for you by following and focusing, and not acceding to requests from him for attention, games, coming in or going out, etc.

Understanding the temperament of your dog, the constant messages he’s sending to you and others, and the scope of his concern is paramount to educating him and controlling the barking.  Some solutions that are available to stop barking can possibly make the matter worse. So any gimmicky item (bark collars etc) can actually put a great deal of stress on your dog. Although it stops him from barking unnecessarily he definitely is still feeling the need to bark and will not actually understand that he shouldn’t be.

If you’re frustrated by your dogs barking and require help understanding your pet, I highly recommend that you seek proffessional help. Find a trainer that you’re comfortable with and follow through on their instructions.

Good luck!

 

Nik

dog barking out window

SOme dog’s think that it’s necessary to announce the presence of danger…

Dharma Dog Delectables

Dog Grooming

Dharma Dog Delectables

Yes, you’ve read that title correctly. We are now offering Dharma Dog Delectables, our home made line of treats designed to help your dogs fur shine, and they’re tasty to boot!

We started working on our treats over the last little while and really feel that they are made with great quality organic materials and are gluten free to boot! Many dogs suffer from allergies so we thought it would be a great idea to cover our bases and provide a tasty alternative for those pups.

Some of our flavours are made to taste delicious while others are designed to be beneficial to a nice coat and have some amazing flavour!

We offer:

1.peanut butter and banana treats

2. Organic coconut and blueberry

3. Peanut butter and Bacon (All delicious, high value treat, especially good when training a dog or trying to counter condition perticularily difficult behaviour)

4. Holiday special: cranberry and gravy!

5. Stinky Salmon , very good for the coat, brain, and deliecious!

Come by our shop in the new year to have your dog sample, or if you can’t wait that long come visit us at the Crofton Manor retirement community fair where we will be hosting a booth.

Until next time,

Nik 🙂