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)

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.

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

 

 

 

 

Hug Your Dog Groomer!

When is the last time that you have trimmed your dogs nails yourself? How about brushed their teeth? Brushed their coat? Given them a bath? A fur cut?

If you have ever done these things on your own chances are you may realize just how difficult and time consuming it can really be. Not to mention stressful. Perhaps you’re one of the lucky ones who have a dog that will just completely relax and allow you to do whatever you might need. For many clients this is only a dream!

Now, just to be clear, I am NOT a dog groomer. I have expertly trained staff with loads of

vancouver dog grooming

Kaori taking a break while working on Mila the golden doodle

experience to handle to all of our shops grooming needs. I am however a canine behaviour therapist and trainer with experience to boot!

I watch all of our grooms closely whenever I have the opportunity, and let me tell you  that it is not easy!!

Typically a client will bring their dog in and request a style, remember, the dog that you know and see on a daily basis may not act like you’d expect when you’re not around. I’ve seen growling, spinning, biting, barking, and even pooping while dogs are being groomed! We make every effort at our shop to keep the environment calm and clean and as stress – free as possible, but on occasion our groomers will have to undo some bad associations that dog’s may have had from previous groomers at other shops. The process at Dharma Dog Daycare & Grooming is usually a smooth one and on occasion so relaxing for the dog that they actually will fall asleep!

I guess I’m really writing this in appreciation of our grooming staff and all groomers who are calm, relaxed, and are able to cope in their high pressure industry.

The next time that you visit your local grooming shop (hopefully it’s ours 😉 ) Just remember that it isn’t an easy job and to say thank you to the hard working groomers out there!

 

Why We Love the Dog Industry

family

Okay, two blogs in one week! Either I’m feeling productive or our shop is slow. Well it was definitely  a busy day so I guess I have the caffeine pumping.

I open the doors here at Dharma Dog at 7:45am. Usually half asleep and coffee in hand I’ll put out our sandwich board facing 57th Avenue, turn on the lights and neon open sign, and finally  get ready for the day ahead of me.

The job may appear fairly simple to the naked eye; you get to play with dogs all day! Not quite. As my clients already know we offer dog daycare, dog grooming, and boarding services. Our clients entrust us with one of if not their most prized and loved companions. It’s a huge responsibility.

Although the job isn’t simple, our goal at Dharma Dog is. We want to create a welcoming environment, built on the foundation of quality service, top grooming skills, and trust.

It’s funny, as I’m sure many companies will list their philosophy in order to attract new clients and perhaps many truly mean what they say. I can only speak for ourselves, and we really truly want all of our customers to be happy with their experience at Dharma Dog.

When a client is unhappy with our service we really take it to heart. I guess that happens when you’re giving it all you’ve got. I’ve actually lost sleep when a client has been unsatisfied because I literally tried everything to appease the situation. Luckily we resolved the issue and it all came down to a miscommunication… isn’t that often the case?

Now, on the flip side of things, you wouldn’t believe how genuinely happy we are when a client leaves satisfied! There are many high fives behind the scene after a client’s left our premises because they gave us a compliment or left with a smile on their face.

We love getting to know everyone and their dogs. Not only is it essential to get to know and understand each dog and their individual personality in order to create as peaceful a daycare environment as possible, but it is also a pleasure to watch dogs develop socially. We often will see dogs who are initially timid quickly develop into fun-loving playful trouble makers 😉

We love seeing our customers walk away after learning something new about their dog, or learning a new health tip. It feels great being able to really help someone out. Oh yea, I am always available for advice during business hours 🙂

Throughout the work day I am a host, a receptionist, a janitor (ewww), an accountant, a marketing executive, a dog behaviourist, a handy man, a computer technician, a sales rep, a scheduling coordinator, a manager, a troubleshooter, a friend, and ally, a sounding board, and a dog chew toy! I’m sure that I left some of the duties out.

The dogs’ owners will stagger in at the end of their individual work days between 2:00pm and 6:45pm and one by one I’ll say hello and goodbye. After all of this, I begin my breakdown of the shop. Sandwich board in. Shop vacuumed, floors cleaned and disinfected, cash out and counted, and finally turn off all of the electronics.

I will usually do a quality check after all of these stages and if everything looks good I can turn off all of the lights and lock up.

As soon as the door is locked I leave the Dharma Dog world behind me and put on my husband and dad hat.

It’s a long day at our little shop, but I always leave happy. Just not as happy as when I get home to see my wife Joanne and son Miles 😉