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)

Kennels, Sitting, Boarding? – Oh my!

If you’re planning on heading away from Vancouver, and haven’t used a pet boarding facility before, we understand that the process might be a little over-whelming and even worrying for some dog owners. While some facilities still favor the long rows of kennels — where your pet may also have access to a small outdoor run — there are many other options. Here at Dharma Dog, although not bias, we are on team In-Home Boarding!

Below, I will discuss the different options of Pet Boarding, and what may or may not be suitable for your furry family member.

Dog Kennels/Catteries

Happy Dog in a Kennel

If your pet is crate trained, then staying in a crate or kennel will probably make your dog feel ­more secure while away from home. But for pets that aren’t crate trained, staying in a crate or kennel can be more stressful then anything, and may entice your dog to feel like they are trapped. Some boarding facilities keep the pets all together in large rooms, where the animals can interact with each other and socialize, similar to a daycare facility. It is important to ensure that your dogs temperament is suitable for this environment. If your dog is already attending a daycare or Social Club environment during the day, ensure to ask the Office Assistant how they react when left alone, and how they react at the end of their day – Remembering that your dog will not be picked up at the end of each day and may be kept in that environment for a few days, to a few weeks depending on your vacation.

Pet Sitting

There are multiple ways you can use a Pet Sitter in Vancouver. Deciding whether you want a sitter to feed, walk and be available for playtime only is a solid option. Another popular option is to have the Pet Sitter stay in your house, mixing House-Sitting & Pet-Sitting in one. It is easy to think that your dog will be comfortable in his/or her own environment at home, which is extremely true for some dogs, but you also have to consider your dogs need to protect. Having a stranger visit, or live, in your dogs environment can cause your dog to become very territorial, and may make the Pet Sitters stay difficult, and possibly even dangerous. Before you leave on Vacation ensure that you introduce your Pet Sitter to your dogs, maybe even on multiple occasions. Another good option is to schedule a few Dog Walking sessions with your Pet Sitter and dog. This Dog Happy in his bedwill allow your dog to get to know the person looking after him or/her whilst you’re away, and be comfortable around their presence.

In-Home Pet Boarding

While enlisting a pet sitter is a good option, so is in-home pet boarding. In-home boarding involves your dog staying at a pet sitter’s own home while you’re on vacation and can be a great option for dogs who require a lot of attention and love from their Pet Sitters. Unlike Kennels, and hiring a Pet Sitter for visits only, most in-home pet boarding services act like a fun & playful getaway for your dog. Many boarding services will also allow many different placement options for your dog. For example, if you live in an apartment with a low-energy dog, then it’s likely that your pooch will be set up in a similar environment. If your dog is used to having a large backyard with lots of exercise & a furry friend, same goes. Although, in-home pet boarding is our favourite option here at Dharma Dog, we can’t be biased. The main worry with in-home pet boarding can be separation anxiety.
Although anxiety may occur no matter which option you choose, you need to take the right precautionary steps before choosing this option. Just like Pet Sitting, maybe consider introducing your dog to your in-home boarding sitters before you leave. It might also be a good idea to leave your dog with a friend, and let them report back to see how they reacted for the night.

Once you’ve donDog on a vacation, sitting by the poole your homework on potential options, often the best way to select a facility is by asking questions. Find out about the facilities processes, find referrals, reviews and recommendations. And at the end of the day, if you trust your instincts, I’m sure you and your furry friend will have a wonderful & relaxing vacation.

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.

Bringing up the Perfect Puppy

Gallery

This gallery contains 1 photo.

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

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…

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

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Dog Park Etiquette

Dog park etiquette should be discussed more often amongst those of you who like to bring your furry friends for a fun outdoor run.  Here are some suggestions to help make your adventure more enjoyable for everyone!

The first rule of thumb,

 #1 BE HONEST ABOUT YOUR DOG

If your dog has displayed aggression, or has a propensity to take a chomp out of the occasional dog, it’s best to at the very least muzzle him for his safety and the safety of others. You must also decide if the dog park is the most enjoyable environment for him. Some dogs prefer to be left alone, or simply amongst their humans.

#2 BE PREPARED

Although many park spaces may supply water, poop bags, and even bowls, it’s always a good idea to pack your own. You can find collapsible dog bowls at almost any pet retail store, and a ton of biodegradable poop bags too! Your dog might like it if you can bring a nutritional treat to help give them an energy boost too.

portable dog dish

this dog takes a sip out of a portable dog dish. Click the link to purchase through supplier.

 

#3 BE ATTENTIVE

All too often I see people at the dog park sipping their coffee and getting their own social time in. Meanwhile their dog is off stealing sticks from other dogs, humping, playing too hard, or generally being a bully! Now, I’m not suggesting you keep your dog under your thumb, but definitely keep a vigilant eye and be responsible for your dogs actions.

#4 PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG

If your dog decides to leave a big poop bomb outside, pick it up! It’s easy, it doesn’t take a long time, and it will help ensure that you’re setting a good example for other dog owners around you. Afterall, if you’re not picking up after your dog, chances are other won’t either!

cartoon dog pooping

cartoon dog doing what he does best

#5 FOLLOW THE POSTED RULES

Each dog park or trail will have differing rules depending on the municipality and various types of park. Some will allow off-leash dog play during regulated hours, some will allow off-leash play all of the time. However, there are many trails and parks that do not allow any off-leash play and are LEASH ONLY parks, or trails. Remember, just because you love your dog doesn’t mean that others will too! A little jumpy dog is still a jumpy dog, and to be honest it’s not always a great time when your pants are muddied by a random little dog.

#6 HAVE FUN!

Plain and simple, enjoy your time with your dog. Find an activity that you both love whether it’s playing fetch, running side by side, training, or agility. Enjoy the chance to slow life down and enjoy the little things.

5 dogs sharing one stick in the water

these dogs are having a party!

 

Have fun out there!

 

Nik