Thursday, November 28, 2013


Usually this blog is a source of information for many.  I'll answer questions or post interesting tidbits (well, interesting to me any way).  But, today is Thanksgiving, so I'm taking a little break from that.  I could post information on how to keep your pet safe today, but the reality is that many of you have heard all the tips before.  And, if you have any questions, feel free to ask.
Today, I want to take a moment to express my thanks to everyone for all their support in this growing business.  I couldn't be more pleased with all we've accomplished in just under two years, and we would not have been able to do this if it weren't for your help.  I know Thanksgiving is just one day out of the year, and I'm thankful every day for you, but today just seems like the perfect day to really let you know how appreciative I am.

That said, I'm also thankful for a few other creatures in my life: Cody, Lollie, Mo, and Stolte.  My two dogs and two cats do so much to help keep me sane when life seems to be going crazy.  Anyway, I thought I'd tell you a little more about them and why I'm so thankful they're around.

-Mo has been mine since he was 4 hours old (you read that right).  He was tossed in a Walmart trash bin along with his 3 brothers and sisters and was rescued by a woman who happened to notice something strange about the bag they were in.  I was only 16, but I bottle fed them and took charge of the 3am feedings.  He's my needy child, but he's also a constant reminder of what can come when people do a little good.  If that woman had decided to just keep walking, or if the rescue she took them to had turned them away, or if my mom had simply said we couldn't take them in, then he might not be here today.  It took a lot of people doing a lot of good to make up for that one callous and cruel act, but those people exist.  I'm thankful for that.

-Stolte was also bottle fed, although her story isn't quiet dramatic.  Her mother was accidentally locked away from her (it's a long story), and by the time we found her and reunited mother and kitten, the mom wouldn't take her back.  I happened to already know how to bottle feed a kitten (thanks to Mo), so I said I would take her in.  It was my senior year of college, and I was freezing in Minnesota.  I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little depressed.  Stolte made me happy.  She made each day a little easier.  I made friends with new people simply because they wanted to snuggle with a kitten too.  She may be a bit undersocialized and my in-laws may call her demon-kitty, but she loves me and Hans, and she's happy when she's with us.  I'm thankful for that.

-Cody I consider my first born.  I love my cats, but I am admittedly a dog person through and through, and Cody was the first dog who was wholly and truly mine.  He's the reason I went into dog training, and he was my motivation behind opening a kennel.  If Cody had not come into my life I honestly don't know where I'd be or what I'd be doing.  I could write a whole book on all that Cody has given me, but let's just say that I'm grateful for his mere existence.

-Lollie is my court jester.  She came into my life through training, and she makes me laugh on a daily basis.  She is by far one of the smartest dogs I've known, but I'd be eternally grateful if she'd learn to use her knowledge for good instead of evil as I tire of finding new ways to hide food from her.  Whether she's snoring so loud she sounds like a chain saw or whether she's figuring out how to use a Bosu ball as a trampoline so she can grab a pizza box that's resting on a file cabinet that's four and a half feet tall, she is a barrel of laughs.  I'm definitely thankful for that.

OK, so here's the question I'm sure you'll hear more than once today: What are you thankful for?  I, however, am adding a bit to that question.  How does your pet (dog, cat, bird, horse, cow, squirrel, etc) make you even more grateful?  It's important to remember how much they've impacted our lives.


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

New Virus

Have y'all heard about this new virus affecting dogs?  It's called the circo-virus.  In case you don't know what I'm talking about, here's a link:!/newsDetail/23950879

OK, so that article made you panic a bit.  I haven't spent a whole lot of time talking about it, though, because not a lot has been known about it.  Plus, here's the thing, telling a dog owner to rush their dog to the vet if they notice lethargy, vomiting, or diarrhea is like telling the mother of a newborn to rush to the doctor if their kid sneezes.  Yes, lethargy, vomiting, and diarrhea can be serious symptoms, particularly if they're all combined.  However, sometimes a dog is just tired, or sometimes a dog will eat something that does not agree with it.  Plus, generally lethargy accompanies vomiting and diarrhea (I know I don't tend to have a lot of energy when my stomach is upset).

For a less panicky description, follow the link below:

A few things to note in this article:

1) The deaths in Ohio and Michigan have not been definitively linked to circo-virus.  It's not completely ruled out, but I don't like to jump to conclusions.

2) Plenty of dogs have had traces of circovirus in their stool, but have never displayed symptoms.

3) General hygiene and care is the best preventative (until they eventually come out with a vaccine)

Otherwise, while it is good to keep a close eye out, it won't help you to panic.  My best advice?  Talk to your vet.  Really find out about it.  The media is good at spreading hype and panic, so just following news stories is not a good idea.  Do your research, and keep an eye on your dog.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Crate of Doom



Sorry!  Apparently Lollie wanted to say, "Hi!" while I was away from my desk.

Anyway, we have another question today.  Today's question is about a dog who is scared of his new, wire crate.

When we first got Ruger we "crate trained" him. I use "" because I know we could have done a much better job of it but he was happy to go in his crate (that we kept getting larger as he got larger) but about 4 months ago he outgrew the largest airport/carrier crate they made so we had to go to a larger metal collapsible crate. He is TERRIFIED of it, we put him in with treats, we've tried putting his food in there but he won't eat it (days on end), we've tried covering it more like a "den" but he brings the blanket in between the slats and starts chewing on it, we've never put him in there as a punishment (same as his old crates) and whenever we had put him in any of his crates we always put a bone for him to chew on as well as a treat. It's reached the point we are having to full on carry him in the larger metal crate (and at 100lbs it's not easy). What else can we do?

This is a surprisingly easy fix, but it does require a little bit of time and effort.

Step 1: Teach him to simply go in the crate.
The key here is not to force him to stay in it, but to teach him that going in it is fun.  Really, you can do this a number of ways.  You can have him follow a trail of high-value treats into the crate, you can try to get him to take a running start and lead him into the crate, or you can throw his favorite toy into the crate (I would try to avoid simply forcing and shoving him in).  Once he goes in (and this may take some time) give him a huge reward.  I prefer to use a handful of hot dogs or cheese, something my dog really like.  I'll make a big deal of how good he was for going in, give him the treats, and let him out.  Repeat this for a while until Ruger is happily entering the crate.  Remember, he doesn't have to stay in there for any length of time.  He just has to go in.

Step 2: Lengthen his stay.
Once he's happily entering his crate, encourage him to stay in the crate longer by giving him more treats.  I'll generally use an initial command like "go to bed" to get him to enter, and then I lengthen by treating and saying, "Good, good bed."  Of course, you would not go from 0-5 minutes right away.  You may start by having him remain in the crate for just a few seconds, and gradually lengthen his time in there to a minute or two.

Step 3: Shut the door.
Once his time in the crate has lengthened to a minute or so, take it back a step.  Have him go in the crate, treat him a few times for staying in there, then shut the door.  Leave the door shut just long enough to give him a treat through the wires, then open the door.  Once he seems OK with this, return to lengthening his time in the crate, this time with the door shut.

Step 4: Put it all together.
Now is the moment of truth.  See if he will enter the crate, stay in there, and allow you to shut the door all without panicking.  Instead of simply feeding him treats at this point, I would give him something to occupy his time (a Kong or some other puzzle toy is helpful).  He shouldn't stay in there long, maybe just long enough to finish his toy, but by this point he should be able to stay without panicking and without you right next to him.

After following all these steps, Ruger should be able to enter his crate with ease, and you should quickly be able to leave him in the crate while you leave for bouts of time.  I will say, though, if Ruger has issues with even going near his crate, you may need to start with one step earlier.  If he won't even go near the crate, teach him to walk in a heel next to the crate and around the crate until it is no longer scary.  You can also have him down-stay next to the crate and reward him for that.

For most dogs, this a fairly short process and may only take a few days to a week to really get down (depending on how much you work with him).  I have full faith that Ruger will get the hang of things quickly and life will return to somewhat normal soon.

Good luck!