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!

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…Show Us Your Tricks!

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Click here to view Video (2)

Leash Training with Dogs

Dog on Leash

Dogs are not born knowing that they shouldn’t pull ahead or lag behind on a leash. Here at Dharma Dog we understand that some people find teaching leash manners to be challenging because dogs move faster than us and are excited about exploring their surroundings, in and around Vancouver. Leashes also constrain their natural behaviours and movements, to want to run around or even to stop and sniff. The most critical thing to remember is to never allow your dog to pull. If you’re inconsistent, your dog will continue to try pulling because sometimes, it pays off.

Until your dog learns to walk without pulling, consider all walks training sessions. If you’re doing this at home, keep training sessions short for maximum concentration. And since these loose-leash training sessions will be too short and slow to provide adequate exercise, find other ways to exercise your dog until he’s mastered walking.
Teaching a dog to walk without pulling requires plenty of rewards. Use desirable treats that your dog doesn’t get at other times. Soft treats are also great to use so your dog can eat them quickly and continue training.

If your dog gets wildly excited before you’ve even left for your walk, you need to focus on that before anything else. Walk to the door and pick up the leash. If your dog races around, barks, whines, spins or jumps up, just stand completely still. Do and say absolutely nothing until your dog calms down a bit. As soon as he/or she is calm, slowly reach toward her to clip on the leash. If she starts to bounce around or jump up on you, quickly bring your hands (and the leash) back toward your body, holding constant pressure. Wait until your dog has all four paws on the floor again. Then slowly reach toward her again to attach her leash. Repeat this sequence until your dog can stand in front of you, without jumping up or running around, while you clip on her leash. This may seem like a tedious exercise at first, but if you’re consistent, your hard work will pay off. Eventually, your dog will learn to stand still while you attach her leash.

Choosing the Right Walking Equipment

While you’re teaching your dog not to pull, you should be using a six-foot cotton leash. Retractable leashes, or leashes longer than six feet in length are great for trained dogs, but they don’t work if you’re trying to teach your dog not to pull on leash.

Cotton Leash

Having a retractable leash before your dog is leash trained can cause all sorts of panic. For example, in the above scenario, if your dog is being approached by an aggressive dog, it is nearly impossible to get control of the situation if the need arises. It’s much easier to regain control of – or protect — a dog at the end of a six-foot standard flat leash than it is if he’s 20 or so feet away at the end of what amounts to a thin string. The thin string of the these leashes can also easily break, or cause burns, cuts, or injuries to the dog if jerked too suddenly.

Dogs Who Resist Walking on Leash

Some dogs may actually be reluctant to walk on leash. Instead of pulling, they freeze or turn around and pull back toward home. Often these dogs are fearful, and they need help feeling comfortable when walking on leash.

When your dog freezes, you can try stopping a few feet in front of your dog and waiting. If he shows any signs of moving toward you, say “Yes!” and reach toward him to deliver a treat, showing good behaviour. Praise and reward him only for forward movement. It will also help to walk your dog in quieter areas at first. Instead of walking on a busy road, opt for a quiet residential street or a path through the park. Even sitting on a quiet beach might do the trick to allow your dog to get used to being on leash.

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” 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

Vancouver off leash dog parks

Here are a few awesome off-leash dog parks in Vancouver that you might want to check out!

Vancouver truly offers some of the most beautiful off leash dog parks around. They are abundant!

 

 

Now, before I give you the list you must promise me to be an attentive owner and always pick up after your dog! 😉 No cell phones unless your dog is on-leash!

 

There are many awesome parks in Vancouver, but I’ve chosen to list only the few that are near South Van for now. I will post a downtown Vancouver edition soon!

Please be advised that rules and boundaries do change and it’s best to respected any posted signs in the area.

Here is a complete map of ALL of the off-leash dog parks in Vancouver

Off-leash dog park Vancouver

This is one of Dharma Dog’s favourite places to go play!

 

 

Everett Crowley Park

 

Address: 8200 Kerr Street, Vancouver, on the inner trails

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are all day, all year round.

 

Fraser River Park

Address:

8705 Angus Drive, Vancouver, at West 75th Avenue

 

Rules:

The west side is off-leash all day, all year round. The east side is off-leash all day between October 1st to April 30th; and on-leash from May 1st to September 30th. The river bank area is on-leash only at all times.

 

Fraserview Golf Course Park

 

Address: 8101 Kerr Street; boundaries are from Rosemont Avenue on the north to Kerr Street on the east and from Vivian Drive on the west

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 5am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 

George Park

 

Address: 500 East 63rd Avenue, west of St. George Street

 

Rules:

Dogs are not allowed within 15 metres of the playground. Off-leash times are from 6am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm all year round.

 

 John Henry (Trout Lake) Park

 

Address: 3300 Victoria Drive; boundaries are from the north end of the lake, the ball field on the west, the football field on the east, and the lake to the south

Rules:

Dogs can access the water here. Off-leash times are from 5am to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 

Jones Park

 

Address: 5350 Commercial Street

 

Rules:

Dogs are not allowed within 15 metres of the playground. Off-leash times are from 5am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 

Killarney Park

 

Address: 6205 Kerr Street; boundaries are from the west side of the park between East 46 th Avenue on the north and East 48th Avenue on the south, Raleigh Street to the west and the walkway along the east at the parking lot

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are Labour Day to June 14th from 5am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm; and June 15th to Labour Day from 5am to 10pm.

 

 

 

Kingcrest Park

Address: 4150 Knight Street; boundaries are between East 27th Avenue on the south, East King Edward Avenue on the north, and Dumfries Street on the east

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 5am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm all year round.

 

 

Dogs are not allowed on the playground side of the park. Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 

Musqueam Park

 

Address: 4000 SW Marine Drive at Crown Street

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

 

 

Nat Bailey Stadium Park

Address: 4601 Ontario Street, one block north of East 33rd Avenue on the west side of Ontario Street

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 Oak Meadow Park

 

Address: 899 West 37th Avenue at Oak Street

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

Queen Elizabeth Park

 

Address: 4600 Cambie Street, off East 37th Avenue and Columbia Street

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

 

 

 

Sunset Park

 

Address: 300 East 53rd Avenue at Prince Edward Street

 

Rules:

Off-leash times are from 6am to 10pm all year round.

 

Tecumseh Park

 

Address: 1751 East 45th Avenue

Rules:

Dogs are not allowed within 15 metres of the playground. Off-leash times are from 5am to 10am and from 5pm to 10pm all year round.

Check out this map of ALL of the off leash dog parks in Vancouver:

 

 

Is Socialization Good for My Dog?

As a professional Canine behaviourist and owner of a Dog Daycare I am often asked questions like; how often should I socialize my dog?  Or, I’ve been told that owners want help with their dog so that they can take them to a dog-park or daycare. Well, I have an answer, and some questions for you to help make the right decision for your dog at home.

Yes socialization is important, especially at a young age. However, this doesn’t mean just throwing your dog in a park and having strange dogs meet it so they can play.

Socialization should be custom to each individual dog’s needs. Whether meeting people of various heights, looks, smells, and sounds, or various dogs.

Just like some people, dogs have differing personalities, and it can be unwise to give dogs the wrong type of socialization just because you feel like it needs it.

I’ll give you a more relatable example; some people like to stay at home on Friday night with a good book and a glass of wine, and some people truly enjoy having hundreds of people around them at a loud night club dancing the night away.  If you were to take these examples of people and role reverse their life choices, chances are the person who enjoys peaceful and quiet nights would feel uncomfortable, irritated, and possibly anxious. The same goes for the social butterfly! If you took them out of their element chances are they would feel completely bored and under-stimulated.

So how do I know if a dog is suitable for the daycare environment?

Well, it depends on a variety of factors but temperament is likely the best indicator of which dogs might be perfectly happy sleeping on their bed at home and waiting for you to return from work or taking advantage of a dog daycare scenario.

  1. Age: If your dog is slowing down physically a daycare may not be the right place for him or her.  Most daycares take on dogs of any age. But, for your consideration the average age of Dharma Dog Daycare’s attendees is usually around two and a half years old.
  2. Temperament: Which category does your dog fall under? Timid? Shy? Fearful? Dominant? These types of temperaments may benefit from a slower transition to an active daycare like environment, or perhaps they are simply more comfortable on their own with humans. There are other choices if your dog is unable to attend daycare or the dog-park safely but needs the exercise; Try hiring a private dog walker. Consult your veterinarian or canine industry professionals such as your groomer for recommendations.

 

Dogs that fall under the following temperaments are usually better suited to attend a daycare: submissive, or middle of the pack. Most people have a good idea of what type of personality their dog has, but if you don’t there’s no need to worry because A good facility’s director or a professional trainer or canine behaviour therapist will be able to properly assess your dog’s needs. When in doubt, trust a professional!