Friday, 15 August 2014

Help! My puppy won't come back!

Elly's a Delta Therapy Dog
On a beautiful New South Wales Spring day I was enjoying walking Elly (my daughter’s Delta Therapy* Dog) around Curl Curl lagoon when I became aware of a woman walking a Staffie puppy. I noticed her as she was giving the puppy a non stop stream of ‘commands’.

The fact the puppy was completely ignoring the owner didn’t curb the torrent of words. Certainly anyone within earshot would have known her dogs name was Zippy…..

Zippy! don’t jump up
Zippy! come here
Zippy! leave it
Zippy! come on, I’m leaving you behind, I’m going home
Zippy! come away, no, stop that, this way
Zippy!! Oh no, opps, sorry she did that (to a passer by she jumped at)

Elly who's 8 thinking she's a pup
Whilst the owner thought she was giving commands, all her dog heard was ‘Zippy bla, bla, bla, Zippy dag, dag, dag, Zippy dag, bla, dag, bla.’

By chance Zippy ran up to me as I was giving Elly a treat, the owner said I could give Zippy a treat too. In excitement Zippy began jumping up (of course!) but I got her to sit and then gave her a treat. I then began chatting with the owner and asked if it was her first dog. It was.

Just then Zippy, who I found was 12 months, started to run towards a couple of dogs – and the owner immediately went to call her back. I suggested she let Zippy go and meet the other dogs.

I didn’t understand why at an off leash park she kept calling her dog back. First of all you're setting yourself up to fail if you call as your dog is running towards others. Secondly, your dog is there to play and interact. She said she called Zippy to stop her jumping up at people (a strategy clearly not working!)
Turbo walking round Little Manly

So this time she let Zippy go. We watched and I waited for the ideal instant to recall Zippy and saw it when, just for a moment, Zippy was standing on her own. Right then, before she found another distraction, I called really loudly and with lots and lots of inflection in my voice:


I put my arms out and how I wish someone had been filming because Zippy, who had met me barely 5 mins earlier, came flying to me in a straight line like a missile. As soon as she reached me I gave her a treat. The owner could barely believe it and said ‘Wow, she’s so good for you!”

It wasn’t magic, it was just that the owner, being inexperienced, was making a number of common mistakes but perhaps the biggest was:


To Zippy her owner was background noise - like us being at home and having the radio on. A training voice has to differ from background noise. If your dog can’t hear you, they can’t respond to you. And your dog won't hear because it will tune out and and ignore ‘commands’ which are given in a continuous monotone.

Talking is fine to reinforce bonds, but with training the command voice has to be distinctive -  loud, clear AND encouraging.

Also, I always work to achieve a relationship where dogs I'm caring for find me more interesting than anything else. This is essential as you need a dog or puppy to want to come to you as you cannot make them do this from a distance. To achieve this they must ALWAYS associate returning to you with good things, fun (play) and/or food (tasty treats, chicken or steak work best).  

Some dogs work for fun, others for food, some for both. Find the key to your dog and you are half way there.

Elly and I were leaving and nearly at the car when I saw Zippy - she’d followed the food/fun person! The owner was calling in the distance - and of course Zippy was ignoring her! So I called Zippy and ran towards the owner calling ‘Zippy!’ using my most exciting voice. Zippy bounced along next to me enjoying this play - which is what it was to her - and as we reached Zippy’s owner, once again she was amazed.

The owner was constantly calling Zippy back in an attempt to stop her jumping at people. But if a child has bad manners at home, would you expect them to behave well when eating out? 

To stop a dog jumping in public you first have to teach them not to jump up at people in the home. This is an issue I help owners with routinely.

Training dogs take patience, time, repetition and commonsense. But if you are new to dogs it really is worth the investment of even one session with a trainer. The reward is results which come fast once you know how to implement effective training strategies.

I’ve trained many dogs and below is a reference from Sarah who owns the wonderful Turbo, an Australian Bulldog. Rather than taking Turbo walkies, Sarah was taken for a daily drag! One session with Turbo and he was walking to heel :-

Turbo the Australian Bulldog who I've trained
Dear Maralyn...

Turbo and I are very grateful we met you. It has  greatly improved our relationship...we  now understand each other ...

and it only takes three little words!!  sit...heel...come...maybe four.. as sometimes I say "lets go"....

I now understand how to control him with a lead.... we have more eye contact as well.
My back is also very grateful to you...

I've even heard people say when passing what an obedient dog.. if only they knew what we looked like before your training!

I've been singing your praises to all my doggy friends...and anyone that will did a magnificent job.

I still let him sleep on my bed as he now knows who is mistress!. But.. he still refuses to wear silk pyjamas......

Lots of licks....Sarah and Turbo
Turbo does love to chew a ball!

Zippy’s owner had a demonstration of what a couple of minutes can achieve when you know what you’re doing.  I gave her my card and very much hope she calls me.

If you are having puppy or dog problems do contact me. A one-to-one hours session is $65 which could be the best and possibly only investment you need to get on the right track with your doggie partnership.

*Delta Therapy dogs. Before a dog can be accepted to become a Delta Therapy Dog there are many tests for not just the dog but also the owner.
Using a willing volunteer as an Elly Chair!
Once they have passed the rigourous selection process the dog and owner make regular trips to aged care facilities, hospices and children in homes.

This whole scheme is run by volunteers and my daughter with many others gives up her Saturday mornings so those who love dogs but do not get to see them due to their situation or illness, can pet them.
Click here for more info on Delta Therapy Dogs

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Jack Russells Rock!

As Perfect Pet Sitter I care for dogs of all shapes and sizes - from mighty to tiny. Whilst I confess, I used to be a ‘big dog person’, the more I care for our smaller breeds the more I see their many charms.

I’ve found some of our little canines are not little at all – they’re big dogs – they just happen to be in small bodies! This is never more clearly shown than with the Jack Russell.  Each JR has a unique personality, yet there’s one trait they all share –  determination!

Perfect Pet Sitter has cared for many JRs and each sit has been memorable for one reason or another.

Sadie the mountain goat bread thief!
There was Sadie, known as a Parsons Jack Russell (longer legs than usual) a feisty and smart cookie. Sadie had the skills of a mountain goat as I found to my cost when one day all that was left of a loaf on the kitchen counter was a wrapper. I couldn’t understand it, then I realised Sadie had jumped onto a chair then across to a stool and from there hopped onto the kitchen counter – where she enjoyed her banquet!

Gail provided our live-in pet minding service for Diesel from Manly, and so I only met him a few times.
Diesel in front on a joint walk with Lilo in Manly
Yet when he saw me in Graham Reserve after a break of 6 months, he came to me like an old friend and I felt honoured and touched by his lovely greeting.

Sie at Mona Vale was another sweetie who loved to run. He would set off at top speed with his little front legs pointing straight ahead at the horizontal – for all the world looking as if he was flying.
I've used this compilation of Sie before, but I just love it - look at his little legs - especially on the far right!
If I could photo shop I’d have put him in a superman costume – would have been very fitting for this super dog.

Then there's Lilo, a dear little girl who is partnered with the large GSP Indi. She had been snappy at the start of my stay but I didn’t let her snarls and growling scare me off !
Lilo, fearless and boundless energy
Once we estabished an understanding she was good as gold. She even put her trust in me by volunteering to come and sit on my lap, which is not something she did often I was told.

And last but not least, Pebbles. Dear Pebbles is actually undergoing treatment for cancer right now yet bearing it like a stoic person, contained and dignified.
Here is Pebbles, just look at those eyes
Her soulful eyes look at you as if she understands everything you say. Overall she has a look of wisdom as if she’s seen it all, been there, done that.

I will always love a big dog, but not everyone wants or has the space for a large hound in their lives. So if you want an active, fearless and great companion, the Jack Russell is a terrific choice. They know their own mind and are no lap dog, but that’s all part of what makes them so special.

Jack Russells, little dogs, but lion hearts – and I have to say they have stolen a bit of mine.

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