What’s Up With Wade? Guest Post by Devan of Fit ‘n’ Furry: Week 2 With Wade

Here I am in my second week of puppy ownership.

Wade has been getting better about his social skills. I’ve been physically presenting dogs to him, booty-first, in an attempt to teach him how he should properly greet another dog. So far, so good. He definitely prefers big dogs, and tries to play with little dogs, (unfortunately, the little dogs are usually older and don’t want to play anymore).

IMG_1969We’re working on some trick training, along with his basic obedience. He knows sit VERY well, he’s got a down, shake, high-five, drop it, and “hup!” over a broom handle. Detailed post to follow.

Wade’s new favorite things are his toys. We cracked and bought him some stuffed animal toys… He LOVES them!

Using the toys as rewards is perfect as well. That’s how he learned “hup!”

Mostly, I just wanted to post this adorable picture of him…

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New Year’s Resolutions for Fido

At the beginning of every year, we make a pact with ourselves to make the next year better than the last. We pick a resolution and vow to stick to it in order to make a positive change in our life – but, what about your furry companions? Believe it or not, your pup probably has a very similar list of things that they would like to change about their lives (even if they don’t know it!), so when making your New Year’s Resolution for 2012, be sure to include one for your dog as well. By helping your pet improve their life, you may also be completing your goal as well!

Resolution #1: Learn a new skill

Dogs crave mental stimulation, and what better way to give their brain some exercise than to teach them some new commands? Is your pup pulling on leash? Jumping all over your guests? Peeing in the house? Then you will be getting a two-for-one special when you teach your dog a fun “trick” (because that is what all dog training commands basically are!) that will not only give him a way to release some mental energy, but also improve your relationship. A good mannered dog means less stress not only for you, but for Fido as well.

Resolution #2: Spend more time with friends & family

Dogs are social animals that crave companionship not only with people, but with their fellow dogs as well. Making sure that Fido has regular play dates with his doggie pals will not only tire him out, but also give him to opportunity to be a “real” dog. Keeping dogs socialized, especially from a young age, lessens the likelihood of dog-to-dog issues. Also, studies have shown that having a dog lengthens your life, so grab Fido’s favorite toy and have a ball!

Resolution #3: Get healthy

Like humans, dogs need a balanced diet and regular exercise to stay in the best shape possible and live a happy life. Take a look at the ingredients in your dog’s food and make sure that the first thing on the list is an actual protein (“byproducts” don’t count!), and cut out all but the occasional table scrap. Daily walks, runs, or fetch sessions will keep your pup in tip-top shape, give them more energy, and let them live longer lives. Keeping a healthy pet requires a little more time on your part, but your wallet will thank you when you don’t have to make quarterly visits to the vet!

Resolution #4: Help others

It is always rewarding to give back to those that are less fortunate than ourselves, and dogs feel the same way! Don’t keep those big brown eyes and sweet personality all to yourself – sign Fido up to visit your local hospital, special needs school, or assisted living facility to brighten someone’s day. Having a doggie companion while undergoing or recovering from a procedure  can serve as a distraction and make pain more bearable, or help a shy child feel confident enough to read out-loud. To your dog, giving is just as fun as receiving!

Resolution #5: Lose weight

Obesity is a growing and serious problem among dogs, just as it is with people. Overweight dogs have shorter lives, less energy, and are more prone to arthritis. Losing weight is the number one resolution among humans, so take Fido with you on your morning walk or jog and you’ll be fulfilling not one, but two goals! Getting back into shape is always easier with a partner to keep you company and occasionally drag you out of bed on those cold mornings! Getting fit with your dog will not only help your figure, but strengthen your relationship with Fido as well.

Whichever New Year’s resolution (or resolutions!) you choose, we wish you the best success! Even if your resolution isn’t on this list, we hope that your positive change in Fido’s life lasts beyond the upcoming twelve months and transforms into a healthy and happy habit. Make 2012 the year that you and Fido work not only on yourselves, but also on your bond with each other as well. Happy New Year!

Going To The Vet With FitnFurry

Going to the vet can be a very frightening or stressful experience for your dog. Your furry friend may exhibit behaviors that they normally would not in the home setting. These behaviors can range anywhere from a usually timid dog becoming aggressive to a confident dog becoming frightened and scared. These are all behaviors that can be avoided with the proper training and simple exercises. For more on these training techniques and exercises please visit Dr. Kay’s web blog: http://speakingforspot.com/blog, where she gets tips from Jennifer Hack, a Chicago based professional dog trainer and behavior specialist.

FitnFurry is Excited About a New Dog Sport!

There is a new, exciting, detection-style dog sport called Nose Work! It was developed by professional detection trainers in Southern California and is now sweeping the country. There are opportunities to enter competitions in scentwork after you learn it or you and your dog can just do it for fun! It develops their natural scenting abilities by using their desire to hunt and their love of toys, food and exercise. It is a great way for your dog to have fun, build confidence and burn lots of mental and physical energy.

The primary goal of this class is fun. Even if your dog has had little experience playing with toys, with several repetitions of this class they can be transformed. It will give them a good foundation in “find it games” and play in general. Anytime you participate in activities with your pet it helps to strengthen your bond and respect for each other as well.

All dogs work one at a time and will be crated when it’s not their turn. You will start by  setting up cardboard boxes in different arrangements, using the same one to hold the toy or food that you would like them to find. It’s a great class for dogs that need a lot of mental and physical stimulation, but may have a hard time in class with other dogs. They will have an opportunity to build confidence in new environments, and working around obstacles without the stress of interactions with other dogs.

There are  training classes in Nose Work popping up all over the nation. If you think you  might be interested you can check with your local pet care facility and see if they are offering it yet. You and your dog will love it!

FitnFurry Answers the Question “How Important is Training For My Dog?”

Training is the best way to keep your pet safe and establish a healthy relationship between you and your dog. There are so many factors involved with caring for a pet and if you start training at a young age you can save yourself a lot of worries in the future.  Training can make walking your dog more enjoyable, taking them to the dog park safer and  having people over to your house a lot less hectic.

Whenever you start basic obedience training the most important thing you can do is BE CONSISTENT  . Dogs are creatures of habit and any training you do must be re-enforced  regularly in order to stick. So this means you are being trained as much as your dog is.  It’s very hard to resist your cute, adorable, furry baby when he tries  to get up on the couch or bed with you or when he gnaws on your hands but habits like this could mean disaster as he/she gets older. Your dog is happiest when he knows what you want from him so when you train him it helps to strengthen your bond and gives him a way to make you proud.

When you walk a well-trained dog on a leash, YOU are in control at all times and not being dragged down the street. If  you come across another dog you do not have to worry about your dogs reaction. You can enjoy the fresh air together and get some healthy exercise without dreading a misbehaving dog.

When you take your dog anywhere off leash whether it be the beach, a dog park or even  your front yard, basic commands like come, stay or heel can save their life.  You don’t want your dog to chase things unexpectedly or take off in front of a car.

It can be a pleasure having people over to your house when your dogs are well behaved. They won’t jump all over company or try to get out of the house and take off when people are coming and going. Without the proper training some dogs become so territorial that they won’t even let anyone in your home without going crazy.The peace of mind of having a well- mannered pup makes entertaining much more enjoyable.

Having a dog is a long term commitment and a lot of responsibility. As cute and loving as they are, they can also be challenging and maddening, especially if they are not trained. When you take the time to create structure, teach commands  and give your dog boundaries it feeds their desire to please you. It makes them more relaxed when they know what you want from them.. so teach them. Give them positive re-enforcement when they do good and don’t tolerate bad behavior. This means you can’t be lazy and confuse them because sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don’t. There are reputable trainers and pet facilities that can help you. Train your dog, they will love you for it and your life will be a lot easier in the long run.

FitnFurry Looks at Leash Aggression in Dogs

100_2245 There is almost nothing worse than having an uneasy feeling when another dog comes to meet your dog. If you have a dog that has displayed aggression towards other dogs or even people when it’s on a leash it’s important to know what you can do to manage the situation.

There are many reasons that dogs become aggressive and they should be individually assessed by an experienced trainer before starting any “treatment”.  Once a dog displays this behavior it usually means something has already happened to cause them to react this way.  It could be something as simple as the dynamics changing within your household, a dog or human moving in or out, or a traumatic event like being attacked by another dog. The key is how we react to the behavior and understanding  that we may not be able to completely resolve the issue but we can manage it and not make it worse.

One of the most important things is to know your dog’s body language and how to respond to signals.  They need to feel that you are in complete control at all times.  If you are nervous, tense or fearful they will pick up on that and be much more prone to react adversely.  Putting them in situations where they succeed and using positive reinforcement as much as possible can help break bad behaviors.  Be careful using harsh corrections with your dog as they can back-fire, making matters worse.  Try to avoid using prong collars or choke chains because they may associate the pain and this may cause more aggression.  Gentle leaders or martingale collars are more effective.  It takes a lot of effort on your part to recondition your dog and still you must never assume that your dog will not have setbacks.

One thing you can try is finding a spot about 25 feet from where other dogs will be walking by and sit with your dog with some very tasty treats like pieces of hot dog or tasty meat.  Every time another dog comes into view make eye contact with your dog and start feeding the treats and praising. When the other dog is far enough away or out of sight, stop the feeding and praise. You should do this for about 30 minutes several times a week until you notice a change in the behavior.  Eventually you can start to  walk your dog at a distance and repeating the same rewards. The goal is to have your dog completely focused on you and what you want them to do whenever they see another dog.  You want to create a new response. Once you start seeing the desired results you should keep up with this exercise as often as possible. You can give treats a little less every time but keep up with the praise.  If you are consistent you should see results in as little as a few weeks.

Leash aggression can usually be controlled through proper techniques. It is important to be consistant with training remaining in control at all times. Remember, your dog picks up on how you are feeling so try not to get nervous or overreact when you see other dogs coming. Be calm and give praise whenever possible. If you need help, seek advice from a reputable animal behaviorist. The goal is to enjoy your pet and the time you have together.

Last Chance to Donate to the “No Fleas” Flea Market at FitnFurry!

daycare30_stillGetting Excited!

There is only one week left to donate items! The excitement is catching on as many of you have brought in your donations. Great stuff is beginning to come in daily; don’t miss out on the fun and prizes! Make sure your friends and neighbors know about this event; they may have some things they’d like to donate too and you’ll benefit from bringing them in!

What We’ve Received so Far:

Toys, collars, harnesses, leashes, bowls, clothes, beds, doggie back-packs, designer doggie carriers, tire biter toys, a dog house and flea medication. These great donations will provide revenue for our furry friends at the Petaluma Animal Shelter and the Sonoma Humane Society!

What We Still Need:

We need many more donations to make this a success. We could use more crates, beds, slightly used leashes and collars, harnesses, doggie gates, dog or cat bowls, kitty equipment, blankets, toys for dogs or cats and flea medications.

When You Give, Fit’n’Furry Will Give Back to You!

Our wonderful donors have been drawing  from our “Dog House” of prizes. Among the prizes are:No Flea Drawing

~ 1 night of boarding for a dog, cat or bird

~Pampered Nail trim for dog or cat

~A luxurious dog bath

~Great apparel-Fit’n’Furry hats

~A fun-filled day of daycare for your pet

Remember when you bring in a new visitor who donates something you will receive $5 in “Bark Bucks”. If this new visitor becomes a client you will receive a $20 credit on your account once they use our services.

We want to be able to sponsor and give back to two of the organizations that do so much for ‘homeless’ pets. Please help us as we reach out to support them. You can make a difference so please tell everyone you know about this event and help make it a success!!

Thank you for your help. Please keep those donations coming in!

Donations accepted at Fit’n’Furry until October 17th.

The ‘No Fleas’ Flea Market will be held on Saturday October 24th from 9am to 3pm.

Our trainer, Ina, will be there from 2 pm to 3 pm to give some FREE training tips.  There will also be a representative from the Petaluma Animal Shelter & the Sonoma Humane Society.