Creative Poodle Grooming

August 27, 2009

cindychicken1ok, this has gone a little too far, but you have to admit it’s pretty cool.

To see more poodle creations:

Teach your dog “Sit”

August 26, 2009

Using a clicker and treats


August 25, 2009

When I moved to Malibu California in 1994, I changed my company’s name from ABC Dog Training to Malibu Dog Training to reflect the locale of my new clientele.

After arriving in Malibu, I found the number one issue pet owners needed help with was “housebreaking” (or house-soiling). Within the next few years, I became an expert at housebreaking dogs. My clients had the big-big houses, with big-big expectations from their trainer (me).

They led very busy lives and many of them weren’t fully on board with the concept that they might have to participate in the training of their dogs. Often times the task was delegated to live-in house keepers, personal assistants or the kids. For the house-keepers and assistants, their hands were already full maintaining the homes and lives of their employers. As for the kids, (with a few exceptions) they were living the lives of Malibu kids and training the dog was not first on their list of priorities.

So, the challenge for me was to create a winning formula for the owner, housekeeper, assistant or child so the dog learned good behavior quickly and with the least amount of wear and tear on the dog (and the dog’s care-taker).

When housebreaking is done correctly, the puppies shouldn’t eliminate inside the home (or very few times), and should be eliminating outside in the place of your choosing. With just a few weeks of practice, a young puppy can be 100% housebroken by 10 to 12 weeks of age.

Auggie's a good puppy

Auggie’s a good puppy

The speed at which housebreaking can take, depends on several things; the owners knowledge, the owners attention to the process, the breed, age of dog, where the puppy came from (pet shop, shelter, breeder) and how big your home is. There are many short cuts that can help speed things along. If you’ve had more than 4 weeks of practice with no success,  you’ll need a professional dog trainer to teach you how to train your dog.

Other than calling me to set up an appointment, I’ve made a video tutorial to help people properly crate train their dog.

 Comments are very welcome… Do you have a housebreaking nightmare?

Learning from an Old Dog?

August 21, 2009

2 dogs runningThe only thing an older dog directly teaches a younger dog are a few basic ground rules, like playing on their terms, not stealing toys, food, or sleeping spot (resource guarding). Older dogs understand the importance of first establishing good communication, teaching a younger dog to read their body language. Even a snarl, growl or snap is a normal form of communication. This is why many older dogs will first ignore a young puppy from a few minutes to a few weeks to establish these rules. Of course dog owners do the complete opposite, we spend the first few weeks giving our puppies anything they want.

Younger dogs can indirectly learn some good things from an older dog, a few examples would be-when they follow an older dog onto the grass and around in circles, this triggers the younger dogs need to eliminate. If the older dog is trained to “come”, the younger dog by following the older dog may indirectly learn to come, to the older dog’s name.

Most of the time it’s the bad behaviors not the good ones an older dog influence. Like when an older dog is digging, chewing (or other behaviors) the younger dog might join in. These behaviors are natural dog behaviors, but not every dog displays them, and young dogs can be influenced at an early age. The older dog can also influence where the digging is done or what is being chewed.

How well your older dogs behaves has an effect on which good and bad behaviors they can influence, not directly teach. The second dog gets the least amount of  “proper training”  from the older dog and the second dog needs training the most. Don’t rely on your older dog to do anything, in this case you are the older dog, uh, I mean teacher, they need to learn from you.

Because your dogs are too distracted by each other to learn new things, and the younger dog is more focused on the older dog than on you, they need first to be trained separately before they can learn together, It’s also advisable to separate them from time to time by taking just the younger dog on walks or car rides. If possible have your older dog spend a few weeks at a trusted friend or relative. For faster results practice shorter training sessions using the 1-minute training session.

If you have any comments on this blog, feel free to leave them below.

Boarding Your Dog

August 17, 2009

doginrobePart 1:  As the manager of a Pet Hotel for several years I have some insight and tips to help you find a good safe place for your pet to stay.

Referrals are best; find a friend who likes a particular place, or ask a Vet or any dog business.

When you first call a boarding facility, make sure you ask what the business hours are. I only mention this because many people would arrive at our place after business hours and never called or checked our website to find out. I guess some people just thought because the dogs are there all the time the facility must be open to humans all the time.

Price: Some places charge by the night some by the day; some places have specific  check in and check out times. If they charge by the day, they usually throw in a free bath or at least they should. Some throw in a free bath with several nights stay.  Charging by the night is the best, that way you don’t have to worry about specific check in and out times and your dog can have fun all day before picking them up. Just make clear what your being charged for  before any bookings. The facility I managed charged by the night and no check in or out times. We also offered (for a small fee) after hours drop off and pick-up as late as 9pm.

I used to laugh when clients would tell me other facilities needed to meet their dog before allowing them to board. What are they Dr. Doolittle? Having to meet your dog would only be if your dog was going to be socializing with other dogs, and you can’t tell a dog’s aggressive nature just by meeting them. Usually just a few questions over the phone is enough a knowledgeable dog person needs to determine a dogs aggressive nature, as long as owners were being honest. I could usually tell if something didn’t sound right. If we still had doubts about the compatibility of the dog, we would require them to come stay for a doggy day care session (minimum 5 hours). The fact is some dogs are overly assertive once they get there and then mellow out. Other dogs are really mellow when they first arrive but get more aggressive as the day goes on. There’s a process to determine which dogs are aggressive (or not) without any dog getting hurt, but you can’t tell in all cases just by “meeting” the dog.

If the facility offers doggy day care, it might be a good idea to bring them a few times or for an overnight stay. This helps them get used to the place and people before a longer stay.

Ask the manager if they can show you around. They may not be able to show you the full facility but if they have nothing to hide they should be able to show you enough to satisfy you.  I’ve heard of places that say because of their insurance they are not allowed to let people in. We never had problems with our insurance. I would just ask those people, “You expect me to leave my dog here, without seeing what the conditions are?”

On your dog’s first day of boarding, when you first arrive at the facility, don’t read into your dog’s reaction. Our facility was a great place for a dog to socialize and build their confidence, but occasionally when a new dog came in, they appeared so frightened we practically had to carry them inside. After an hour or so they were running around having the best time. Dogs do adapt quickly to things, especially if the owners aren’t around. It also helps if you find a place with a knowledgeable staff and great clientele with great dogs. Hopefully the managers has a lot of experience working with dogs like a trainer, behaviorist, veterinarian and not someone who just thought it would be nice to open a kennel.

If the facility states they walk the dogs on leash twice a day and when you’re there inspecting the place, you should see dogs being walked. It’s a very time consuming process. Especially if it’s around a holiday weekend, facilities usually double or triple the amount of dogs they have, so walking dogs on leash is almost impossible during those times. Some places will still charge you for the walks but don’t walk the dogs! Our facility had 5 one hour long (off leash) group play times, even a late night play session between 8 and 9pm. It didn’t matter if it was a holiday or not. The dogs all got out and by the end of the day, they were all pooped out.

Keep in mind that the reality of group dog play sessions, on occasion, a dog can get hurt, just like kids at a playground. One dog pushes a dog who bangs into another, like when kids play, every once in a while someone gets a scraped knee.

I will post part 2 at another time.  If you subscribe with just your email you will be notified when I post something new.

Boarding your dog part 2 BOARDING PART 2


August 16, 2009

ShockcollarShock collars are not always the quick fix as people think, dog owners don’t understand how to use them, they usually don’t cure the problem, the dog gets the worst of it and it turns out to be a big waste of time and money. In other Countries they’re called Static collars, because truly its more of a static shock, like when touching something after folding clothes straight out of the dryer, or rubbing your feet on the carpet. If you’ve ever touched a 9 volt battery to your tongue, you know the feeling.  That’s why I’m not totally against these collars, especially if it will keep the dog from being sent to the shelter or from getting hit by a car. However, I would only recommend them if all other options have been exhausted and with the help of a professional knowledgeable trainer.  I would first recommend trying a citronella spray collar, they are actually more effective than the static collars, and much more user friendly.  But before we use any collar, we need to figure out what the direct and indirect causes are for the dogs bad behavior. You can’t be directly or indirectly encouraging, allowing or causing a behavior, then placing some device on the dog and think they magically understands your wishes. This is very confusing and unfair to the dog.
The more you learn about proper behavior modification solutions, the less you need to resort to these kinds of Techniques.

If you would like to be notified when I post new training information, enter just your email address. You can also leave a comment below.
Follow me on Facebook @ Malibu Dog Training

Pet Shops & Puppy Mills

August 3, 2009


Many reputable breeders will not sell their dogs to pet shops. Why? Because breeders take pride in their work and absolutely care where the puppies are placed (homed).  Breeders want to make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, they don’t want their dogs offspring to end up being abandoned or given to a shelter or worst?  Many Pet shops only care if you have the money to pay for the over- inflated priced dogs. I’ve read up to 95% of Pet shops in the U.S. get their puppies from puppy mill type operations and big corporations are backing puppy mills. The sad fact is these operations care more about the money and not about the living conditions of the dogs.  Big Corporations are getting into the action and making lots of money because people don’t think things through before buying a puppy and mostly buy on impulse. Some of the pet shops show what appears to be legitimate paper work from a reputable breeder but you can trace it back to a puppy mill operation. Many new regulations have made it more difficult for pet shops to buy puppies from puppy mills but like everything, they find a way around it.  So unless you have time to do the research I would stay clear purchasing a puppy from a pet shop.  Here’s some advice on what to do and what not to do if you want a puppy.

Don’t be spontaneous! I know that puppy in the window is cute, but all puppies are cute and you dont know without research where that puppy in the window came from.

Do your homework. Getting a dog is a big responsibility and you need the right breed to fit your lifestyle.

Take the family and go to a dog show. There you will learn about the breed you are interested in. Talk to the breeders who know the breed the best. They may even tell you about a litter of puppies that are due in a week or so.

Here are some more reasons to buy directly from a reputable breeder:

1. Puppies are in better living and health conditions.

2. Puppies stay with the mother and litter-mates through the crucial imprint period 6-8 weeks.

3. Most Breeders make sure the puppies are handled by adults and children. They also become familiar with household sounds.

4. Breeders introduce the puppy to the concept of housebreaking; they may have been introduced to a crate. This will make housebreaking much easier for you.

5.  Breeders have a health history of the puppy’s parents. Good sound and healthy parents produce good sound healthy puppies!

Problems that could arise when buying from a pet shop:

1. Puppies may be taken too early from the mother and litter-mates, this can have an affect on their temperament latter in life.

2. In pet shops, puppies can be confined for sometimes weeks. Eating, playing and going to the bathroom all in the same small area, can make it extremely difficult to housebreak them.

3. If the pet shop is getting dogs from puppy mills, those dogs are not the best of that breed. Health risks are usually inherited by parents. The puppy may look healthy, but problems can arise later in the dog’s life. Sick, genetically defective or ill tempered dogs reproduce the same.

Another option instead of a breeder or pet shop, you can always adopt a dog from a shelter. When I trained animal actors we would rescue dogs from the shelter and make them working actors. Adopting a pure or mix breed from a shelter is a good thing.  Mix breeds tend to be more intelligent and have less health issues than pure breeds.

My experiences about this subject is primarily directed to the U.S.A. I am not aware of other countries practices, although I’ve heard from one pet shop owner, that Australia has strict guidelines for pet shops who sell puppies. Let’s hope they all adhere to the rules. (oopps I guess they dont either, read comments below)

Here is a group that works very hard to get the word out about puppymills