Hi everyone, I hope you are all getting excited for Doggy Yoga (aka DOGA) taking place this Saturday (July 13th) at 10:30, in Liberty Village Park. This is a free community event, and you are welcome to come with our without your dog.
To see my first DOGA tip, click here.
Today's tip is multi faceted, so buckle up!
Bringing a "pacifier" to DOGA
We know our dogs, and we know bringing them to an outdoor event with lots of humans & other dogs might be a little overwhelming for them. While I gave tips on how to teach your dog to settle (you can see it on the event facebook page under discussion), I wanted to also mention using a pacifier to help keep your dog nice and settled.
What is a pacifier? Well, we all know what pacifiers are with human babies - so why not apply the concept to our dogs. At the school I teach at (When Hounds Fly, they are the bomb), they started a new practice for group classes where dog parents are asked to bring a "pacifier" to class. They are instructed to give the dog the pacifier while the instructor is, you know, instructing. These times can get boring for the dogs, and that's when you get a dog that demand barks/whines/etc. By having the pacifier ready, you are able to appropriately prevent the demand/boredom behaviour from happening in the first place. (If you wait until the dog is barking/whining and THEN give the pacifier, you are reinforcing the undesired behaviour - so the key is to be one step ahead of your pup and "pacify" them when you know they will likely become a little stir crazy).
Anyway! Appropriate pacifiers for dogs are stuffed Kongs, treat dispensing toys, or long lasting chew sticks (like bully sticks/yak cheese sticks/beef tendon etc). These are all wonderful at keeping our dogs busy and pacified. I highly recommend you bring along a pacifier if you know your dog may be getting a little antsy (which like, fair enough haha this is a very exciting day).
Being SAFE with our pacifiers - resource guarding
It would be irresponsible of me to ask you all to bring pacifiers without talking about resource guarding. I am planning on doing a very in depth post/video about resource guarding - but for the purpose of today's post I will keep it simple.
Resource guarding is where our dogs have an item that they see valuable (aka their pacifiers) and will do what it takes to prevent it from being stolen. At the most minor level this involves either gulping the item down, or turning their head away. At a more severe level, this involves growling and even biting in order to protect the resource. Dog's will resource guard from us humans, but also from other dogs. When it comes to us, we can offer our dog a trade in order to get the pacifier back ("hey! here's a handful of treats!" and while dog is eating treats, you remove the pacifier). However, when it comes to other dogs - they don't offer any sort of exchange or trade, and so we need to make sure we have safety protocols in place for our pacifiers to prevent any dog to dog resource guarding.
When we first get to the event, there will be a lot of moving around with people coming in and out. During this time, please just periodically reinforce your dog using treats. Keep the pacifiers safe and tucked away. Once everyone is settled and on their yoga mats I will instruct you that it is time to give your dog their pacifiers. Only then may you give your dog the high value item. It is also critical that you keep your dog ON LEASH, and don't let fido stroll over to another dog's pacifier. We don't want any thieves and we don't want any drama over resources. Keep your dog in your station, and everyone will be set!
So in summary:
Sigh, you guys know how much I hate when you move. Why do you keep doing this to me? Last week we had to say goodbye to our dear sweet Paddy boy, as he and his family left Liberty Village. Paddy meant a whole lot to all of us, and was probably one of your dog's best friends - so I thought we would do a special post to send him off in style.
People always say they are jealous of my job, and I get it. It is amazing. I get to hang out with dogs, but even more than that I get to know and understand them. We become a team, a team that works together to make our days better. I fall in love with every single dog we walk. It really is great. But when the dogs leave? It sucks. It hurts, a lot. These dogs are our best friends, we often spend more time with them than our families and actual human friends. So it is really hard to see them go! And when Paddy left last week, that was definitely the case.
Paddy started walking with us over a year ago, and he VERY quickly stole my heart. 1) Those teeth. Come ON! 2) Every single time I picked him up, kisses were mandatory before putting on his harness and collar. Even when his parents were home, kisses were had. 3) He was a trouble maker, and you know how I love me a good ole trouble maker. Paddy was SO friendly, but when you're that friendly - you're likely to be a very exuberant group walker. He always wanted to play, say hi to all the dogs and people we passed, or hump (LOL). Now there is nothing wrong with any of these things, I encourage the dogs to have a good time and foster time for play - but when it is constant, it makes things harder because the flow gets broken up. But lucky for me, Paddy fell in love with me right back. And he and I started to become this unbeatable team. Every SINGLE friggen time Paddy looked up at me, I reinforced that! YES PADDY YOU'RE SO SMART, HERES A TREAT BUDDY! And I would sing songs for him, so he would think that I am just as cool as all his doggo friends. And pretty soon, he did think that. He never lost his friendly and playful side - but he was able to focus and walk & save the play time for breaks. It was pretty magical. His parents noticed it too, when they let me know they were moving they thanked us for making Paddy the amazing walker he is. He's checking in with THEM, too. And this, this is why I do it. To help make a difference in not only the dog's lives - but in their human's lives as well.
When Maddie joined the team, she also fell right in love with Paddy. Because I mean, those teeth. That personality. You couldn't NOT. We were both very emotional on Paddy's last day. He's probably one of the happiest, if not THE happiest, boys I have ever walked, and I am going to miss that magnetic smile every single day. Keep in touch! Maddie literally sends me at least one video of Paddy per week saying "crying", and if that isn't MOOD I don't know what is. We feel very lucky to have known you, and to have been your dog walkers.
And for the rest of you, please don't move. Thanks.
Let's take a note from Demi Lovato, and stay cool for the summer! Here is what we are doing for the summer temperatures, and some suggestions for you all to help us keep your dogs as cool as possible during this heat!
What WE do:
Our walks in the summer look a lot different during the mild days. We change our routes so that the dogs don't have to travel long distances. This ensures 1) the dogs don't over exert themselves, and also that if a dog does get too hot - we aren't stuck far from home. But never fear! Our walks aren't boring just because we aren't going far. We like to keep things as enriching and great as possible. Some things we do:
What YOU can do:
Okay guys, that is all I can think of for this post. Please let us know what we can do to help keep your pups cool during the summer. And here is Demi Lovato to help get your Friday going!