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The Shell Game

A positive push that has happened for me this year was to see how I could stimulate both dogs and owners during Stay at Home Orders due to COVID.  I’ve done this by having fun getting out of my routine and implementing brain games into my behavior repertoire. I have often told owners that mental exercise such as training, allowing your dogs to smell, and brain games can tire dogs out.  I have seen and gotten reports back from students how this is true. Students who have joined me in my Games class reported that they were spending more time with their dogs and their dogs took a nice long nap after class due to the fun mentally stimulating activities. In this post I want to share a simple, fun, interactive game for both you, your dog, and family,  The Shell Game.  Let me know if by adding The Shell

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3 Keys To Successful Dog Training

Setting boundaries/ guideline/ expectations/ rules, however you want to look at it can help dogs, adults, kids, animals thrive with knowing what is expected of them. Knowing that there are rules, keeps pure and utter chaos from ensuing. Boundaries/ guidelines/ expectations/ rules takes the guess work out of what needs to happen in various situations and in order to get attention. For example, I have found training your dog to ‘sit’ to get attention instead of them jumping can be life changing for both the dog and their owner. The best part of that? It’s not that hard as long as your consistent and follow through. In my son’s Taekwondo dog class their Black Belt Success Cycle is something I have always followed and implement with my students. I feel these are the 3 keys to successful training, setting boundaries, and obtaining goals in life. The key steps are: Know

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Tripods Don’t Stop

A common reaction when people see a three-legged dog is sympathy. (“Poor thing…”) Another is admiration. (“What a brave pooch!”) Both are entirely understandable. For humans, amputation can involve complex psychological and emotional issues. For dogs? Less so. Dogs have no notion of body image, no mental image of what they are supposed to look like. What they care about falls into two major categories: One, whether they are in pain. Two, whether they can do things they love: go for walks, play with toys, eat yummy food, get belly rubs, snuggle on the couch, etc. Nature is kind to animals in this way. A pain-free, well-fed dog with a loving home doesn’t give a hoot that her daily walk happens in the characteristic tripod hop instead of a lope. Amputee dogs, often called tripods, generally lose a limb either as a result of an accident or as a means

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Motivating Your Dog

  Does your dog’s response to cues seem lackluster? You may not have found the right motivation. Like humans, dogs work harder with strong motivation. Here’s how to turbocharge your dog’s drive—whether to come when called or break her agility speed record.   Find What Drives Your Dog We are all motivated to action by different things. Maybe it’s that afternoon caffè latte we promise ourselves if we finish the report, or the massage we feel we earned after a month of gym visits. But the wrong reward would leave us cold. If you wanted chocolate, would you toil for a carrot? What does your dog most want? If in doubt, parade different treats past your dog to see what really gets her attention. Most dogs go nuts for meaty, greasy, and smelly. A few dogs prefer bread-based items. Some dogs, particularly working breeds like Border Collies and some terriers,

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The Best of Dog Times

The Best of Dog Times It’s human nature to get sentimental about the past. When we imagine dogs’ lives 100 years ago, what likely comes to mind are idyllic scenes of working dogs herding sheep on green pastures or bouncing alongside horse-drawn fire engines (thank you, Disney). We forget—or never learned about—the popularity of dog fighting, the widespread animal cruelty of the 19th century, or the out-of-control stray problem that saw thousands of dogs rounded up and killed in inhumane ways. Today, fewer dogs do the jobs they were bred for, but they enjoy endless advantages never afforded their forebears. Take, for example, medical advances in veterinary science over the last 20 years. Not only are there more and better treatments available, canine pain management options such as acupuncture, massage, TTouch, and swim therapy mean that dogs with injuries, arthritis, or in post-op recovery suffer much less. Then there’s the

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Tips for Running With Your Dog

If your dog is healthy, loves to run, and is capable of running a respectable distance, you have the makings of a wonderful running partner—whether Labrador or toy poodle mix. Dogs don’t mind if you rouse them at the crack of dawn and never fuss about runny noses or side stitches. But unless you happen to share your life with a born side runner (like Dalmatians, once bred to run alongside fire engines), you may have to teach your dog the human version of running. Dogs like to go faster than people, check out interesting smells along the route, and chase the occasional cat. If you haven’t done so already, the first step is to teach your dog good on-leash manners during walks. Then proceed to walks interspersed with periods of jogging and finally graduate to full runs. Build distance and time slowly—in increments of 10 minutes, for example—to ensure

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The Many Benefits of Dog Sports

If you think of the practice of dog sports as a competitive and fairly serious business, you’re only about 10 percent right. Just as in human athletic pursuits, the vast majority of dog sports enthusiasts are hobbyists; happy amateurs not much interested in ribbons or plaques. So what hooks people? The numerous benefits two- and four-legged sportsmen alike reap. For starters, a quick alphabetic inventory reveals something for every ability and temperament: agility, caniscross, disc dog, dock diving, earthdog, flyball, freestyle, herding, lure coursing, mushing, nose work, rally-o, tracking, treibball, and weight pulling. An exhaustive list would be much longer, of course, and still wouldn’t include the many fun, creative activity classes trainers, dog facilities, and dog groups might offer. On the two-legged side of the benefits scoreboard, consider the ageless appeal of all this variety. We expect kids to enjoy playing sports with furry friends, but don’t underestimate the delicious

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Beyond Fetch: Games To Play With Your Dog

A game is a great way to exercise your dog’s body and mind, and spend a little quality time together. What’s in your repertoire? Here’s a selection of games you can play indoors or outside: Homegrown agility. If your house is big enough, create a makeshift obstacle course for your dog from rolled-up towels, cardboard boxes, blankets hung between chairs, etc. Or, if the weather is good and you have a yard, build your course outside. Hide-and-seek. Grab a handful of yummy treats or your dog’s favorite toy. Ask your dog to sit and stay, then you go hide in another room. Call your dog and when he finds you, reward him with a treat or a play session with his toy. Repeat until you have had enough—your dog likely won’t get bored anytime soon.  The name game. Get two of your dog’s favorite toys and remove all other toys

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The Many Benefits Of Agility

Think agility is only for serious dog sports enthusiasts willing to spend every weekend on the obstacle course? Think again. Agility can be enjoyed at any level—all the way from the World Championships to low-key backyard training—and you and your dog still reap the many benefits of this fun, bond-building dog sport. For example: Dogs of all sizes and breeds can participate in and enjoy agility. Yes, Border Collies and Australian Shepherds excel at it, but titleholders also include Yorkies, Papillons, Spaniels, and Boxers. You can work the obstacle course at the pace that’s right for you, meaning agility can provide gentle, moderate, or strenuous exercise. Training your dog to navigate agility obstacles using only hand signals and voice cues is a terrific way to improve communication—and further strengthen the bond—between you. Best of all? The fun you’ll have together and the confidence boost you’ll likely see in your dog.

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Treibball

Pronounced “try ball,” this fun new dog sport was born in Germany in the mid-2000s when a Dutch hunting and herding dog trainer, Jan Nijboer, wondered if he could teach high-energy dogs to play soccer. The game boils down to getting your dog (or a team of dogs) to push large exercise balls across a field into a goal. While herding-type dogs and dogs who love chase games are natural Treibball contenders, dogs of any age and breed can take part. As with all dog sports, some foundational skills are important. For Treibball, it’s an advantage if your dog knows sit, down, left, right, and object targeting. Playing the game is simple. Arrange eight exercise balls (some play with fewer) in a triangle in the center of your field and set up kid-sized soccer goals or mark the goal zone with orange traffic cones. The dogs—with handlers using commands like

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