1. Alfresco Dining and Your Dog

    August 13, 2017 by Susan Marett


    Summer is in full swing… a great time to grab a meal or drink with family and friends. Add our sunny weather and your dog and it’s just about perfect! What can make it less than perfect? Your dog acting rowdy or rude on the restaurant patio. So what does your dog need to be a great mealtime companion?

    – A terrific sit stay A great “sit stay” is a cure-all for many problems. Would you prefer your dog to sit instead of jumping on the waiter or waitress, hang out patiently before you’re seated at a table, or wait calmly for you to find your phone and car keys? Train a sit stay and these problems (and more) are solved. Sit stay is the command to accomplish all of those goals, and a great way to calmly transition your dog from one activity to another.

    – An understanding of the “place” cue “Place” is a terrific command for settling your dog in one spot. Bringing along a bed or mat, and laying it out at your feet or near your table, clearly defines where you’d like your pup to chill out — and helps you to relax as well! Video here.

    – The ability to “leave it” Ohhh yes… Eyeing that nacho as it moves from plate to mouth, snuffling under your table for the french fry that dropped? “Leave it” cues your dog to back off, to cease and desist, and just generally to forget about cleaning off your plate.

    – Friendliness and steadiness Basic friendliness and a calm demeanor is super important for dining out. Your dog may want to be with you, but may not want lots of activity, loud music, children running by your table, or car traffic in close proximity. Be realistic, and if your dog is already steady in that type of environment — make that reservation! If not, work towards your goal by starting with quieter cafes and restaurants at their slowest times. Read more here.

    – A comfortable spot Your dog needs shade, water, and enough space to lie down comfortably. When you sit down to chow down, make sure that your dog will be comfortable and cool for the entire meal. If your dog is a puppy or a young adult, consider a walk before hitting the restaurant — taking the ‘edge’ off will help him to settle faster. Bringing a stuffed Kong or chew bone along can help too… just like a coloring book for a child.

    Thanks for reading and bon appetit!

  2. Get Your Gear for Great Walks

    May 15, 2017 by Susan Marett

    Dog walks are not always as peaceful as the sweet image above! Training collars and harnesses are just that — training equipment not forever equipment — but they can give us a break from intense pulling and lunging. Training equipment can also give us some behavioral traction with dogs who are intensely excited about meeting other dogs and people — as well as confidence when handling dogs who behave in a frustrated or aggressive manner.

    The Sensations Harness is my tool of choice. You can view the Sensations Harness and look at the company’s fit and size guide here. Why do I like it? Easy to fit, easy to use, and little to no acclimation time for the dog. There are lots of similar, front-attached harnesses out there but this one has my vote! One caveat… if you’re running with your dog, allowing him to romp off-leash, or exercising him energetically in any other way — leave his front clip harness off during that time.

    The Thunderleash is a newer player on the scene and — you guessed it — was developed by the company who produce the Thundershirt. The Thunderleash uses pressure on the dog’s chest to discourage pulling. It has a very simple design and is also easy to use — converting quickly back and forth between a regular leash and a no-pull leash.

    Body Harnesses can be terrific for dogs who are escape artists and easily back out of their collars, but they aren’t the best for dogs who pull on leash. Think about the Iditarod… dogs wear body harnesses with leads attached to their backs. This gives them the greatest capacity to pull the sled forward! One thing we don’t want to do is give our dogs more capacity to pull us… So if your dog pulls on leash, go with the Sensations Harness or perhaps the Freedom Harness for back and chest points of attachment.

    Another important benefit of harnesses… the physical well-being of our dogs. When we discuss pulling and lunging, we generally focus on our frustration but not necessarily on the potential for injury. This article sums it up well: neck injuries (bruising, headaches, whiplash, and injuries to trachea and larynx), eye issues (pressure from pulling can worsen corneal issues, glaucoma, and other eye injuries), and thyroid gland (inflammation). Pain from collars or inappropriate equipment also how the potential to increase behavioral issues.

    Head Collars or Halters include Gentle Leaders, Comfort Trainers, Halti Head Halters, and Snoot Loops. Not all dogs are candidates for head halters, but they can sometimes be valuable when working through behavioral issues such as aggression and reactivity — and for dogs who like to launch love attacks at other pedestrians and pups! There is some potential of injury to the neck if a dog hits the end of a leash hard, or if he is given harsh corrections. Here’s one trainer’s view on using them “Are Dog Head Collars Humane? I Changed My Mind.”

    Martingale Collars are not great tools for preventing pulling, but like regular body harnesses, can prevent flight risk dogs from slipping their collars and completing a few victory laps! Dogs can slip their collars not only because they really do want to run free, but also because they startle easily and try to get away. If you have a dog who is environmentally sensitive (scared by cars, bikers, joggers) or is nervous getting out of the car at new places — a martingale collar could be a good choice. Also called greyhound or limited-slip collars, martingale collars are great for dogs with narrow heads (like greyhounds!).

    Flat Collars simply provide a place to attach id tags and a leash. Need to acclimate your puppy to a collar and leash? Start with a basic flat collar or simple harness and when he’s completely comfortable wearing it, also teach your puppy that collar grabs are a great thing! Last, flat collars are the perfect piece of equipment for a dog who understands loose leash walking and/or formal heeling — no restraint or extra control required!

    What is your preferred equipment when out for a walk with your dog? Let me know what makes your walks more peaceful!

    Written by Susan Marett

  3. The Perfect Canine Host

    October 25, 2015 by Susan Marett

    Having a Dog Who is Enjoyable to Guests, and Enjoys Guests Too!

    We feel your pain! We often talk to clients about the stress of having people over, and wanting your dog to be the perfect host, able to greet politely when friends and fam come to the door, allowing guests to nosh without bothering them, and a cool customer when it comes to hanging out. Here are our quick and dirty problem-solving tips:

    A polite “hello and pleased to meet you!”

    Before your guests arrive, get out the treats. Whoops! Is that a bowl of treats for the guests? Nope, not chocolate but dog treats to get your dog’s attention and a civilized sit at the door. Having your dog’s leash on ahead of time is helpful too.

    Yours is yours and mine is mine!

    Ready to serve? Have a scrumptious stuffed Kong (freezing it makes it last longer) to occupy your dog while you and your guests dine. Think peanut butter, fruits and veggies, plain yogurt, dry treats or kibble. Bully sticks and marrow bones are terrific choices as well.

    Sit down and stay awhile

    Everyone settled to watch a movie or the big game? This is a great time to have your pup on his or own dog bed. Teach a “place” cue ahead of time, asking your dog to go to their bed or mat for just a few seconds to start. Keep it short and sweet in the beginning, gradually building up to several minutes or more. Make their bed a happy place by giving treats on the bed.

    Take a spin around the block

    Get those ya-ya’s out with a long walk or play session before guests arrive. Be sure to allow your dog time to relax and come down off the playtime high — but exercise always helps to curb excitement.

    Got a wallflower?

    If you’ve got a shy dog, it’s okay if they skip the party altogether! Get your shy or nervous dog comfy in your bedroom with an irresistible and longlasting chewbone or Kong. Play calming music such as a Through A Dog’s Ear cd — check out www.throughadogsear.com. Wearing a Thundershirt might help your dog feel cozy too.

    Is your dog having a blind date?

    Meet the new visiting dog out of the house and at the curb for a more low-key intro, then take a quick walk together to ‘get to know ya.’ Having all toys and bones put away before the new dog arrives can minimize potential squabbles and make for a more peaceful time.

    Written by Susan Marett and C.C. Bourgeois, originally published in Beau Magazine’s Autumn Issue 2015