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Winter warning for pets – please bring them inside!

Winter warning for pets – please bring them inside!

When the temperature plunges, I find myself thinking about the plight of dogs who are forced to brave the freezing ice and snow outdoors. I remember when I was a child some relatives had a german shepherd named Brutus. Brutus, by their account, was an “outside dog”. I remember thinking, “why is Brutus an outside dog and our dog is an inside dog? What is the difference?” Brutus was a beautiful shepherd and our dog, Sparky, was a Boston Terrier. I finally decided that Brutus must be kept outside because he was bigger than Sparky was, and that all big dogs must be “outside dogs”.

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It bothered me, as it still does, to think about Brutus and all the other dogs banished to live their lives in backyards. How lonely they must be and it must be miserable for them during bad weather, especially freezing temperatures. It wasn’t long before I figured out that Brutus was an outside dog simply because they didn’t want him in the house. Through the years, I’ve heard this same line over and over from people who have that breed, the “outside dog”…….”he has a fur coat, he won’t get cold, dogs come from wolves and are used to being out in the cold”.

The fact is, dogs did evolve from wolves but dogs aren’t wolves. Wolves know how to survive in the cold. They build dens, eat different amounts and types of food in preparation for extreme cold, through evolution they developed thicker coats and innately know how to adapt to survive the weather extremes. Dogs, on the other hand, have been loosing their connection to wolves for thousands of years, have become domesticated, and depend on us to keep them safe and warm.

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The truth is, dogs can get frostbite and die from exposure to cold weather.

According to experts at Animal Planet, “Decades ago, it was common for dogs to live their entire lives outside. But as our knowledge of canines has evolved, we’ve learned that staying outside 24/7 can be hazardous for a dog’s health. Any dog will suffer if left outside in extremely low temperatures, but shorthaired breeds like Labrador retrievers, Weimaraners, beagles and greyhounds, as well as young, old or ill dogs are most susceptible to hypothermia, a potentially deadly condition where body temperature falls below normal.

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/can-dogs-live-outside-in-all-seasons/

But sadly there are still people all over the country who have dogs living outside 24/7. Their excuses vary and include allergies, the dog is not house-broken, the dog likes it outside, and so on. To those people I say, Please bring your dog inside – especially in a deep freeze like we’re dealing with currently – or try to find him a home where he will be part of the family.

Brutus ended up living a short life, and vanished one day never to be seen again. This is the case for most “outside dogs”.  They don’t normally live a long, healthy life and feel the love and security that truly being a member of the family can bring.

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Shari Strader is the owner of South Paw Pet Services in Norfolk, VA. She has a personal commitment to giving dogs a better life and specializes in positive, reward based dog training. Shari has worked for and volunteered with a number of animal rescue organizations nationally and in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia including the SPCA and Best Friends Network. She has donated time assessing, training, and rehabilitating rescue dogs and has also worked tirelessly in the political arena to lobby for humane legislation to protect animals.

 

5 Tips For Hiring a Dog Trainer

5 Things to Watch Out for When Hiring a Dog Trainer

Whether you’re interested in basic obedience or dealing with a more challenging behavior, there are some things you should be on the lookout for when hiring a dog trainer. If you’ve been scouring the internet looking for reputable dog trainers in your area, I’m sure you realize not all dog trainers are created equal. And a word to the wise – not everything you see on TV is accurate or even appropriate when it comes to helping your dog overcome challenging behaviors.

With that in mind, I’ve come up with a list of words or phrases that, if used by a potential dog trainer, should send you running in the opposite direction. The top three go hand-in-hand:

  1. Dominance
  2. Alpha
  3. Pack leader

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Used decades ago, “dominance theory” and “alpha” methods are based on early tests of captive wolf behavior and have long since been disproved by the very scientists who conducted them. Yet with the popularity of National Geographic’s Dog Whisperer, that outdated punishment-based training method has regained popularity. Before the Dog Whisperer punishment-based, aka compulsion training, was out the door and replaced with scientifically proven methods that are based on studies and endorsed by behaviorists and experts worldwide.

According to Positive Dog Trainer Victoria Stilwell, “The misunderstanding of what dominance is and how it works within the dog world is the single biggest challenge facing our collective ability to develop truly healthy, functional relationships with our dogs. Anyone who has heard a trainer refer to the need for them to be the ‘alpha,’ ‘top dog’, or ‘leader of the pack’ in order to maintain balance and appropriate chemistry between dog and owner has witnessed firsthand just how widespread this hugely misguided misconception has become in our modern culture.”

https://positively.com/dog-training/positive-training/what-is-positive-training/

4. Choke or prong collar – No matter what the trainer tells you, these types of collars inflict pain on your dog when s/he exhibits unwanted behavior. They may seem to work, because the bad behavior stops – at least momentarily. But the question remains whether your dog will exhibit the correct behavior once the painful collar is removed.

5. E-Collar or Remote collar (aka shock collar) – A trainer that uses these collars is administering an electric shock every time your dog exhibits an unwanted behavior. Once again, this is using pain and fear to reinforce ending negative behavior. But neither shock collars nor prong collars teach your dog good behaviors; they only serve to stop the bad behaviors…and only when the dog is wearing the collar.

I advocate using only positive, humane training, which not only teaches your dog to stop unwanted behavior, but encourages the behavior you want him or her to exhibit. To find a positive dog trainer near you, look for those who are members of the Pet Professional Guild. They endorse only force-free pet professionals. Here’s a link to their directory – just put in your zip code.

http://www.petprofessionalguild.com/PetGuildMembers

Good luck and happy training!

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Shari Strader is the owner of South Paw Pet Services in Norfolk, VA. She has a personal commitment to giving dogs a better life and specializes in positive, reward based dog training. Shari conducts individual in-home dog training, clicker training, and offers group obedience classes. She has worked for and volunteered with a number of animal rescue organizations nationally and in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia including the SPCA and Best Friends Network. She has donated time assessing, training, and rehabilitating rescue dogs and has also worked in the political arena to lobby for humane legislation to protect animals.

 

Beyond the Puppy Pad

Beyond the Puppy Pad

When people find out I’m a dog trainer, I get all kinds of questions wherever I go. At brunch this week, my friend Stephen was telling everyone stories about his new puppy – a Maltese named Gus. He’d been potty training Gus using a puppy pad, but he wanted to know how to train Gus to advance from the puppy pad to going outside. I get this question a lot.

 

puppy on puppy padWhen it comes to training your dog, consistency is always key.

Once your puppy is trained to go on the pads inside and you want to train him to go outside, here’s what you do:

  • Take a soiled pad outside and put it on the ground. Put it in the same place every time. (Consistency, remember?)
  • Your puppy will instinctively go to the pad – when he does go to the bathroom on the pad outside, give him lots of praise.
  • Keep doing that over and over. Eventually, remove the pad but take him to the same spot in the yard where the pad was.
  • When he goes outside without the pad – lavish him with praise.

puppy outside

You’ll want to keep the puppy pads around for a while just in case, but now you have effectively trained your dog to do his business outside. The next step – you’ll want to train him to let you know when he needs to go outside. We’ll save that for another day.

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Shari Strader is the owner of South Paw Pet Services in Norfolk, VA. She has a personal commitment to giving dogs a better life and specializes in positive, reward based dog training. Shari conducts individual in-home dog training, clicker training, and offers group obedience classes. She has worked for and volunteered with a number of animal rescue organizations nationally and in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia including the SPCA and Best Friends Network. She has donated time assessing, training, and rehabilitating rescue dogs and has also worked in the political arena to lobby for humane legislation to protect animals.

 

South Paw Dog of the Week – Jesse the Puggle

Meet Jesse……South Paw’s dog of the week. Jesse is a 3 year old Puggle who loves playing fetch and lives with his parents and a cat named George.

 

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Dogs on Deployment – Learn about this Great Non-Profit

Dogs on Deployment

You’re in the military and serving your country. Then, you get news you’re going to be deployed overseas for a year. As if that weren’t enough to deal with, you have a dog and no relatives nearby to take care of him. You can’t give him up and you certainly don’t want to take him to the shelter to face euthanasia. What do you do?

This same scenario happened to the military couple Alisa and Shawn Johnson. They had just adopted their australian shepherd J.D. when they got the news they were both being deployed. They had to scramble to find a place for J.D. while they were gone. It was then they decided to start Dogs On Deployment, a non-profit organization to help soldiers and families find foster homes for their dogs when they have to serve overseas. The organizations’ main objective is to keep military soldiers from having to face the same hard dilemma that Alisa and Shawn did.  Since the organization first started 2 years ago, Dogs on Deployment has helped to place over 225 dogs. Their motto is “For the common love of dog and country.”

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To learn more, visit Dogs on Deployment at: dogsondeployment.org

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Shari Strader is the owner of South Paw Pet Services in Norfolk, VA. She has a personal commitment to giving dogs a better life and specializes in positive, reward based dog training. Shari conducts individual in-home dog training, clicker training, and offers group obedience classes. She has worked for and volunteered with a number of animal rescue organizations nationally and in Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia including the SPCA and Best Friends Network. She has donated time assessing, training, and rehabilitating rescue dogs and has also worked in the political arena to lobby for humane legislation to protect animals.