Let's talk rest!
Usually when I’m talking to clients and people who are new to the higher energy breeds, they want to talk about exercise. What kind? How much? When? Where? Is fetch okay? What about dog parks? 🎾
But there is another half of the equation that frequently gets left behind as we scramble to socialize, exercise, enrich and train.
That is rest, both physical and mental. 💤
Here’s the thing about dogs with lots of energy and drive. They are bad at boundaries. They don’t know when to quit, and they will happily push themselves past their limits.
💤 Puppies need between 18-20 hours of sleep a day.
💤 Adult dogs need between 12-14.
I don’t know about your puppy, but Biscuit sure didn’t sleep 18 hours. It was a job getting him to sleep at all!
Puppies and adolescents are growing and developing. Their bodies need time to rest so they can process all their new experiences, recover from any physical or mental stress, and invest energy into growing strong, healthy bodies and minds.
⚠️If they don’t get adequate rest
⚠️ They are at a higher risk of injury
⚠️ Their bodies can’t recover from stress properly.
⚠️ They are less able to focus, and are more likely to exhibit problem behaviours. Just like us.
The thing is, resting is boring. When you are an active, driven young dog, you have MUCH better things to do than take a nap.
❤ So just like we structure their exercise, feeding and training, we need to structure in some rest, and teach them that taking time to lay low is okay.
So take a look at your dog’s activity over the past few days.
Did they spend all Monday snoozing at home while you were at family Thanksgiving? Or did they spend the whole long weekend partying with their friends? If it’s the latter, give them today off.
Want to know more? Click Follow to continue learning about living and working with high intensity dogs!
Children deserve a safe park. (And yes we know Fluffy is a nice dog but any dog can bite)
People who are scared of dogs deserve to feel safe.
On leash dogs deserve to live their lives without being accosted by off leash dogs, which increases fear, frustration and anxiety.
I want my dogs to be confident and happy.
There are no safety guarantees in life, just as there are no guarantees in behaviour. But when the odds of an incident are so high, I can't ethically take the risk.
So we'll find other parks, other trails.
But it's a shame that good, responsible dog owners have to choose to leave because irresponsible, self centered dog owners won't.
#adoptdontshop sounds good, right?
“Why breed or buy while shelter dogs die”? Well there’s some really good reasons to breed or buy, but more importantly, if you care about dogs in shelters, there is a LOT more you can do beyond sharing (misleading) hashtags
1. Do your breed research.
There are hundreds of dog breeds. Some we know, like Golden Retrievers, others are more rare, like the Large Münsterländer. Every breed is unique, with their own needs and quirks. It is important to thoroughly research any breed (or the suspected or known breeds in a shelter mutt) you may be bringing into your home. A good breeder will tell you the ups and downs of their breed.
They won’t want their dog’s going to a home where they will not thrive. You should know all of the potential health risks associated with your breed or mix, and weigh whether or not you can handle those risks.
Breed also has a lot of influence on behaviour, and there are too many people being surprised by their corgi puppy biting their ankles, or their cairn terrier killing mice in the yard.
Whether you are buying from a reputable breeder or adopting from a good rescue or shelter, know what you’re getting into!
2. Educate friends and family on proper socialization
A lot of serious behavioural problems can be prevented or mitigated by proper early puppyhood socialization. The most critical time is between 3 and (roughly) 12 weeks. During this time, puppies’ brains are incredibly plastic, and they are quickly sorting the world into things that are safe and things that are unsafe. The experiences they have during this time can set them up for life.
Do you know a friend or family member who is looking to get a dog? Talk to them about programs such as Puppy Culture or Avidog, and encourage them to find a reputable puppy class. Puppy class is a huge help for pet owners, as it provides them with much needed support and insight, and provides their puppies with excellent learning experiences.
3. Promote pet friendly housing
In a time of soaring income inequality and a housing crisis, an increasing amount of dogs are surrendered to shelters because their owners cannot find pet friendly housing.
Speak with your municipal and provincial/state level representatives and encourage them to protect pet owning renters.
Share petitions and informational posts about pet friendly housing on social media, and talk to your friends, family and coworkers about the amount of pets being surrendered due to housing instability.
Pets are no more intrusive or destructive than children, and pet owners shouldn’t have to give up their feline and canine family members to have safe housing.
4. Speak up for preservation breeders
A lot of people have an emotional reaction to the idea of breeding animals when so many are in shelters. But in most of the western world, we don’t have a pet overpopulation problem so much as a pet retention problem. Our first three points that we talked about, all of those factors result in dogs being surrendered to shelters, sold on craigslist, dumped, or even euthanized.
People buy dogs they don’t fully understand, fail to provide proper socialization and training, or are forced to get rid of their dog when they move. When someone who thought they were getting a dorky, laid back pet lab realizes their tall, lean, irrepressible field lab is not going to stop destroying things and screaming on the end of his leash, they take him to the shelter. When the cute puppy grows up to be terrified of strange kids and eventually bites a visitor, they take him to the shelter.
These issues can be prevented and mitigated by buying the right breed, from a breeder who follows a scientific socialization process and places their puppies in homes who are able to provide for their specific needs, and then enrolling puppy in a good puppy class. There are obviously no guarantees with behaviour, but we can stack the deck in the puppy’s favour.
Good preservation breeders also have a policy in their sales contract saying any person who is unable to continue to care for the puppy will return it to the breeder, who will either keep it or rehome it with someone else who has gone through their screening process.
Breed clubs also usually have an active rescue network which pulls their dogs out of shelters, tries to identify and locate the breeder, address any health or behavioural concerns and place the dog with an appropriate home.
There’s one more aspect here. Most dog breeds aren’t super popular. For every Australian Shepherd, there is a Smooth Collie, for every Yorkshire Terrier there is a Norfolk Terrier. What happens to the amazing specialized skills and personalities of each of these breeds if we just stop breeding? What happens to the amazing wealth of knowledge their breeders hold? What happens to the communities of friends and fanciers? I, for one, don’t want to lose those.
5. Support organizations that support pet owners
Just as there are no guarantees in behaviour, there are no guarantees in life. No one should have to surrender their dog due to lack of resources.
Donate pet food and supplies to food banks, and support organizations that provide low or no cost vet care. Ask your vet if they have a fund for low income pet owners who are having a hard time covering their pet’s care or medications.
Fight the idea that poor people should have to give up the “luxury” of a pet. (Pets are not luxuries, they are family members)
We in the training industry can do our part by offering scholarships to our training programs, seminars and conferences.
The pet care industry is unregulated, and it is important to be an informed consumer. Here are some questions you can ask your daycare!
1. What is your staff to dog ratio?
Staff to dog ratios are important. One person can only multitask so much, and in order for dogs to be kept mentally and physically safe the staff to dog ratio should be (on average) no more than 1-10.
Some daycares may have a higher or lower ratio for different dogs and staff. (ie: puppies are a 1-2 ratio, experienced staff can handle a few more dogs than green handlers)
2. How many dogs are in each play group?
This can be a tricky question because the answer is “it depends”. There should be a conscientious answer.
A good daycare will curate their play groups to bring out the best in each dog and provide them with good, safe play. Puppies should only be paired with others of the same developmental group or dogs who are known to be safe with puppies.
Dogs should never be placed with dogs they are fearful of, and staff members should always be aware of the dangers of prey drive when selecting playmates.
Dogs with behavioural issues may do best with only one or two playmates at a time, as may dogs who are new to the daycare experience.
Your daycare should give you a well thought out answer that shows they prioritize your dog’s mental and physical safety.
3. What will happen if my dog does something wrong?
There is always the danger that someone may try to “train” your dog using outdated and harmful methods. If your dog jumps up on a staff member, guards a toy or pees inside, you need to know how these situations are handled. Good answers include the staff taking responsibility for the behaviour of the dogs, and training new skills with positive reinforcement training.
Be wary of anyone who uses language such as “dominance”, “calm assertive energy”, “pack theory” or who talk about “correcting” behaviour through the use of punishment, pain, intimidation or force.
4. What will happen if my dog does something right?
In order for behaviours we like to continue being repeated, they have to be rewarded. Your daycare should reward good behaviours with food, praise and play.
5. How do you teach dogs skills like how to sit at the gate?
Staff members should be familiar with science based training methods and utilize them throughout the day to teach all dogs the skills they need to be safe at daycare.
6. What will my dog do all day?
Lots of people think daycare is all play, all the time. But this kind of extended high impact and high excitement activity is exhausting for dogs, and not in a good way.
It can increase stress and can result in an increase in problem behaviours. It can also increase the risk for a fight or bite incident.
Knowledgeable dog daycares balance dog/dog play, human/dog play, mental stimulation like trick training, sniffy walks or puzzle games, and naps.
It is especially important that puppies and adolescents get enough sleep, and they are notoriously bad at taking naps themselves.
7. How do you prevent burn out in your daycare workers?
Burn out and fatigue are big issues in the pet care industry. Contrary to popular belief, working with dogs isn’t just petting puppies. Daycare workers are working a difficult job, usually for a low wage, and are at risk for compassion fatigue.
Businesses should be taking steps like allowing mental health days, not allowing too much overtime, providing adequate training and promoting self and community care.
8. What continuing education do you and your staff take part in?
There are lots of resources available to pet care industry workers. Staff can take courses such as Karen Pryor’s Training Foundations, Bravo Dog Knowledge and Fear Free Happy Homes. They can participate in training and behaviour seminars by science based trainers and behaviourists.
There should be a concerted effort on the part of the business and the individual staff members to seek out quality continuing education.
All staff should be certified in pet first aid.
Remember that your dog’s daycare is unregulated. Be diligent in asking questions and seeking the highest possible standard of care for your dog.
Dear owners of friendly dogs:
Reactive and fearful dogs need your help.
Maybe your dog is fine being approached by new dogs and people. Maybe they love when new friends come running to greet them.
But here's the thing, a lot of dogs are really uncomfortable with this. Maybe they're terrified of kids. Or other dogs. Maybe they're new to their owner and no one knows how they will react to a random strange dog or person.
We need you to help us set a new standard of behaviour for people! Please don't let people touch your dog without asking. Please don't let off leash dogs or adult-less children approach your dog.
Caretakers of fearful and reactive dogs already have enough to deal with. They don't need to be teaching the public how to safely and respectfully interact with their dogs as well!
You can help them so much just by helping teach people that dogs are not a petting zoo, and that not everyone thinks leash laws are optional.
Next time you have your friendly dog out, think about how you and your dog can be ambassadors of respectful dog culture!