Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Where Dogs Are Welcome

Did you know there are many places where dogs are welcome to join their human family on outings? 

Home Depot
Barnes & Noble
Bass Pro Shop
Pottery Barn 
Gander Mountain

Starbucks will give you a "puppachino" for you furbaby if you have them in the car with you in the drive through. This is a small cup of infused whipped cream. Opie LOVES them and it is a special treat. 

Places that have an outdoor area will also allow dogs - I have taken my dog to Sonic with no problems. 

*Before taking your dog to any of these locations, call first and make sure it is allowed in your area.

NOW - a little inside info for those who may not know this. ALL service dogs are allowed in ANY store or restaurant. Some states (including Texas where I reside) have a  law that states an employee of an establishment can ask if your dog is a service dog and they can ask what duties they perform and no more than that.  If you say yes to being a service dog, they are required to let your dog stay with you. You do not have to have a card, sign, tee shirt, anything special on the dog - because this would be discrimination and it would single you out with a disability. This includes establishments where there is food being served.

PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) would be an example of a disability that would not be readily noticeable. A service dog can perform the duties of calming their owner down in an event they should have an occasion to need it. So all disabilities are not recognizable to the average person.

ADA requirements regarding service dogs

Of course you wouldn't want to falsely take your dog and portray him as a service dog. That is not fair to the people who actually are disabled and it is just outright lying. More than likely it wouldn't take too long for a non service dog to be found out. Unless you have a dog that has almost perfect manners.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Exercising the (Dog) Brain

We all know that it is important for a dog to get exercise. Every.Single.Day.
Did you know it is just as important for them to get brain exercise?  Challenging the brain is very important. If your dog is destructive, chances are they are bored both physically and mentally. 
There are a lot of ways to stimulate the brain but I am going to tell you about one that I just found out about myself and it is GREAT! There are quite a few articles online so I can't take credit for this. 

Here is what you do:

You make a mixture of moist treats - what works best are treats that they are not used to or they don't get on a daily basis. Don't make this while they are in the room with you. You want them to completely be unaware of what you are doing. The mixture I put together was packaged (cooked) salmon and a small handful of Bil Jac treats that were given to me as a sample, so he had not tasted them yet.  

You will need to make sure you use an area that is nice and clean - grassy - not a lot of weeds or debris. You take the mixture and you spread it out over a large area. Not close together and not a lot in one spot. What you want to do is stimulate the brain by having the dog follow his nose. Dogs are sniffers by nature and most domesticated house dogs don't have the chance to use their noses like their ancestors did. Once you are done with the spreading of the mixture - get your dog and take them to the area but don't take them too close to where the mixture is. Let them get a hint of the scent and go to work on their own. Trust me, it won't take long! 

The first time I did this with Opie - he looked like a bloodhound! His whole body was pulling in the scent as hard as he could. He was running in circles and trying to figure out which way to go next. So not only was he working his brain/nose but he was getting physical exercise as well. 

Needless to say, he always wants a nap after he is done "working" his way around the backyard finding all the little tidbits he can. 

It is a great exercise - easy to do - and you can be as creative as you want to be.

Look Out - Another Blog Make Over

Dear Reader(s) I am not too presumptuous to think there are more than one or 2 of you left out there.
Seems my blog is about to go through a change once again. I know that it has gone through more than one make over since I began several years ago, but with me deep into my Dog Trainer/Instructor studies and taking part in several dog forums and facebook pages - I feel like my blog right now (as far as blog style) should reflect the things I am learning and would love to pass on. 
You may or may not know that I have another blog that is devoted to Opie, My American Bulldog - but that is HIS blog. This one will now be helpful tips, ideas I have come across, funny stories or may be even an Opie-ism now and then. 

So - if you are a dog lover, a true pet parent and want to hang with me to see where this goes - the more the merrier. If not, I understand and wish you well!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dog Trainer/Instructor

I have been taking classes online through Penn Foster College for about 3 1/2 months now and am more than half way through it. Each study unit (called a module) covers quite a bit of information and then I have a computer generated test. After so many tests I have a graded project that is human graded and a pretty big deal.  

This is what my study plan has been like in a nutshell: (the blue part is completed)

Sensory Abilities of the Dog
Social Behavior & Communication
How Dogs Learn
Applied Dog Behavior
Testing & Selection of Dogs
Housetraining & Crate Training

Graded Project - Dog Selection

Canine Equipment
Teaching Tricks
Training through Play
Behavior Problems
Basic Veterinary Issues

Graded Project - Behavior Analysis

Dog Breeds
Competition Obedience
Hunting Training
Assistance Dogs
Agility Training
Search & Rescue Training
Recreational Activities with Dogs

Graded Project Agility Handling & Courses

The Dog Training Business, Part I
The Dog Training Business, Part II

Graded Project Creating a Business Plan

Then I am done! 
I have a 98% average right now and I am now on Dog Breeds. 

So what will this mean when I have completed all of this? I will be able to work for other businesses as a dog trainer or instructor, give private lessons or start my own business. I will be able to train in several different areas: basic obedience, agility, service or advanced obedience. 
I hope to retire for my current job in 4 - 5 more years and then have my own business from home. In the meantime, I hope to do private training. 

So far it has been a great experience and I have learned so much. Opie, my American Bulldog, has been my inspiration!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Long Time No Post

It has been quite a while since I have posted on this blog. Why? Well - simple answer - I started another blog giving my dog, Opie, a voice. It is called Opie, The American Bulldog

I got Opie when he was 12 weeks old. I had never owned a dog over 20 pounds in my entire life that lived full time in the house. Talk about a big difference! wow. At this time, Opie is 8 months old and weighs 60 pounds and still growing. He could reach up to 120 pounds. (I doubt that he will, but it is possible.)
Anyway, I did tons of research before deciding on an American Bulldog and felt like it would be doable - I could handle it. I knew I would have to make sure he was fully socialized, had every type of training I could get him in for obedience and I knew it would be costly. The larger the breed, the bigger the expense. 
So - we found our little guy. No, he is not a rescue.  No, I didn't buy him in a pet store or from a backyard breeder, but he is a purebred. We found a family who had 3 children and lived in a small apartment and they had planned on buying a large home with a large fenced in yard but it all fell through and they just couldn't keep him. They were heartsick over it, especially the dad. They actually advertised him on Craigslist - I wasn't even looking for a dog on Craigslist - I have heard of all the horrors of dogs from Craigslist. Anyway, there he was on Craigslist - and they had a fairly hefty price tag on him. Something in those sweet little eyes made a connection for me and I still had to inquire about him. I sent an e-mail asking if he was still available and found that they had just put him on there within the hour. We e-mailed back and forth several times and I told her that I just couldn't pay that much and gave an amount that I thought was fair but didn't think they would accept. Well, they did. We picked him up immediately - shot record included, food, leash, all brand new items - everything they had. Plus his registration papers to transfer into our name. 
I made an appointment right away for our vet and they said he was a perfect American Bulldog. No issues - sweet personality. Very smart. I fell in love immediately. 
From that moment on - I have lived and breathed American Bulldog information. So much so that I even started Penn Foster University online to get my Dog Trainer/Instructor degree. Opie has been such an inspiration to me. I am a member of several AB groups online. Our whole lifestyle has changed due to this dog. We are OK with that! 
Our weeks are filled with doggy daycare, dog parks, trips to Petsmart and Petco. He sheds like crazy, so I have to watch when I wear dark clothing. We exchanged our 2 black leather recliners for 2 extra large recliners. We have baby gates we have to step over. We have to plan our travels around him - making sure we are not gone too long or if we have to be gone over night - we have to make reservations for him at the Pet Hotel. Our house is baby proofed as if a 2 year old lives here.  We have to go walking or make sure he gets exercise whether we want to or not. Every trip we make to any store - the first things I look at are dog related. My favorite stores are pet stores. 
Is it worth it? Sure is!! He has brought tremendous joy to us. 

I would love to hear about your experience with a large breed like the American Bulldog and if you would like to join Opie and I over at my other blog, you are most welcome to do so. I post a lot of photos. For every Opie tale post - I give a Note from Mom at the end. It may be silly to some, but that is ok. It is for fun - - - :-)