Monday, May 11, 2015

We've moved!

Hello! We are so glad you happened upon the old Home2K9 Dog Training Blog, but we are no longer here! You can now find our blog postings here, attached to our website. Thank you so much for following along with our training tips and musings, we are so glad to have you as part of our community. Be sure and check out what's new, and let us know what you think! 


The Home2K9 Gang

Thursday, May 7, 2015

An open letter to Owners of Off-Leash, Uncontrolled Dogs.

Dear Ridiculous Dog Owner,

Crap happens. Dogs get out, they run off, they disobey, they require training. Whether we are in a hurry, have been trying our best to manage a behavioral issue, or are honestly clueless about what to do to "fix" our dog's behavior, these things do happen, and they're embarrassing as heck. I empathize. I don't judge you if your dog has unexpectedly bolted out the door, or headed off to follow a hair brained idea in the middle of a park for the FIRST time. Unfortunately, it could be the last time if a car hits it or it gets in a fight, you're still responsible. If it has happened before, mega shame on you this time. If you have not trained your dog, if you do not have control of your dog, YOU are the one putting your dog, AND THE REST OF SOCIETY, at risk. YOU are the one to blame for a dog fight, injury to your dog or others, developmental trauma that carries over and requires extensive rehabilitation for the dog(s), or simply the public hand smack from neighbors or Animal Control when your dog charges another dog and does not respond to your call. YOU. Not me. Not MY dogs, who are leashed, or MY dogs who are in heel position as I pass by your house. I am obeying the law, you are not.

I am not the one who is wrong for obeying leash laws, planning ahead with defensive tactics, and acting as an advocate for my dogs when your dog comes in like a bat out of hell. YOU are in the wrong for having a loose cannon, hanging out freely, waiting for an opportunity to experiment with his ego. If your dog rushes another dog, specifically *barking, *growling, *hackles up and *not responsive to your recall, YOU CAN NOT BE ANGRY IF ANOTHER OWNER DEFENDS THEMSELVES OR THEIR DOG(S). You cannot be defensive or angry that your dog has been yelled at, sprayed with an air can, kicked, or even maced by an ambushed passerby. Your dog may have just had its life SAVED by such an intervention, you do not know how safe those other dogs are that he chose to harass, nor do you know how far your dog will go in his adrenalized state. Clearly, you didn't even expect him to charge in the first place, or you would have kept him contained, correct? Common sense. I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt.

Get your dogs under control. Learn from the embarrassment and don't let it happen again. Cursing an owner who defends their dogs is useless, you have only succeeded in demonstrating where your dog's issues stem from. Leashes, collars, fences, gates, crates, these are your tools for saving your breath, and saving your dog. Please use them.


Owner who WILL kick your dog again if it means saving herself or her dog's lives, and you are welcome to do the same if ever one of MY dogs should happen to be similarly uncontrolled.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Home2K9 Helpful Hint: One-on-one time.

It's really important that you schedule individual bonding and training time for each member of your pack. Every dog requires personal training and focused connecting time with you in order to reach his or her highest potential. Trust, loyalty and leadership, are not transferable and must be earned/established. Even if a dog trainer turns out great results training or rehabilitating your dog for two weeks, you still must do the work to maintain it, and make it matter to your dog through a relationship with them individually. Your time and attention in strengthening the bond between you and your dog one-on-one is priceless. The ability to call on your dog's best work, and to experience the best possible connection with them, depends on that time you carve out for them day to day. Take walks or go for a run with your dogs individually at times. Complete errands, hit up the pet supply store for a treat, and train them one-on-one regularly. It can be hard for some dogs to focus on new and challenging tasks with the energy and excitement of other dogs around, so make sure you're carving out space for your dog to learn and succeed in his training by not always trying to accomplish those things with other pups crashing the party. 

Some dogs really need that sweet stillness with you in order to relax and truly settle in or trust. Be sure you aren't missing out on the magical connection waiting for you both in the one-on-one time. 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

A key "ingredient" to your dog's training success.

Food is fuel. After all our years of trial and error, the human race has absolutely confirmed that food has a dramatic impact on the body's overall well-being, and performance. We know that if we eat right, and take care of our bodies, we feel more clear headed, are able to keep up with hectic schedules, have less stress, experience fewer illnesses, and generally live longer. Depending on our goals (running a marathon, dropping ten pounds, feeling stronger), our recognition of the importance of nutrition inevitably comes into play if we want to experience success in any of those areas. General health and longevity as it relates to nutrition, is obviously quantified when comparing many populations, classes, and cultures. It's pretty evident that if we have the good stuff, we go further. You are what you eat, right? Our dogs are just as dependent on quality nutrition as we are. In order to experience success in the areas of focus, strength, endurance, and longevity, we need to fuel their bodies with the same kind of quality and care we would apply to nourishing our own. If we feed our dogs junk (corn, wheat, soy, over processed kibble with fake flavors additives, or canned food with fake meat parts), then we can't expect them to do their best work, nor can we enjoy their longest possible life. When have frozen dinners, sugar sodas, and cookies/chips ever added up to feeling great, learning well, or winning an Olympics? You may have one friend who can get away with that lifestyle more often than another, but the idea in the pet food industry that one chow can cover a multitude of immune systems and performance needs is just as crazy as believing everyone can do the junk diet and succeed the same. Nutrition is defined as, "the process of providing or obtaining the food necessary for health and growth," so I ask you, are you providing your dog with real nutrition? Have you considered the value of your dog's food, before the cost? Have you thought about the fact that if your pup is a working or sporting breed he/she is in need of food values comparable to a body builder or track star? Your friend's dog might be a delicate flower, genetically intended to hold down a recliner chair and thus requires far less to meet their physical needs, but this alone confirms that dog food cannot be seen as "one-size-fits-all."

Not all kibble is created equal, learn to read labels, and strongly consider a natural/raw diet whenever possible. In the absence of a natural diet, however, even a small adjustment to a better quality kibble can make a big difference. In many cases, the difference between a $20 bag of kibble and a $25 bag of kibble is a fairly significant improvement in ingredients, and a heck of a lot less waste. A simple $5-$10 a month increase in your dog food budget, a couple of Starbucks beverages, will literally improve your dog's performance AND reduce vet bills as you avoid unnecessary health risks throughout their life. Who wouldn't want that? If your dog's food is serving them well, they should have less output, no gas, little/no tear stains on light/white dogs, more satisfied tummies leading to better focus AND more calm. Time and again I see owners struggle to make sense of the pet food industry based on manipulative marketing and emotional sales pitches. Just like the human food industry, we are being duped, sold a lie that is motivated by dollars and not the science of these past thousands of years. It's easy to assume that convenience is still quality, but anyone who has ever cooked a fresh, healthy, homemade meal knows that is not the case. Our dogs are getting products that were created during an economic depression, for convenience, when everyone in the world was barely surviving. The pet food industry was absolutely not putting a hearty tri tip in that canned food back then, and they're not doing it now. We no longer need to live like that, and we're obligated to do better.

I often run into issues of nutritional deficiency as a pretty major contributor to behavior issues, and this missing piece can dramatically redefine success in the areas of aggression, reactivity, excitement and boredom for many dogs in training. Just think about how moody or frustrated you can become when you're hungry. If we don't eat right, we can feel spaced-out, nauseous, irritated, exhausted, even "aggressive" or "reactive." Why would our dogs, these living and breathing beings, be any different? Your dog's primal instincts to hunt and satisfy hunger kicks in no matter what comfy modern home arrangement they might be in, and without satisfaction, their stress mounts. Anxiety and reactivity take hold as dogs feel frustrated and motivated to simply survive, or struggle to respond to sugar spikes and limited protein values. Spats break out between pack mates, we can see snarchiness toward humans based on expectant/aroused mental state, and absolute insanity on walks, can literally be issues that are exacerbated by poor diet. Do we really want to buy Fido some generic (even toxic) chow just to save a few bucks, if it means all that extra pain and suffering on the other side? It's just not worth it. 

Save more money NOW, by investing in good stuff that pays off later. If you're limited to kibble for various reasons, at least look for protein contents of 30% or more if possible, and avoid grain. It's not always easy to find, but think about... dogs are carnivores! Dogs need to eat meat. not salad, or rice and corn. Their digestive system is very different from ours, and meant for a carnivore's (foraging) diet. Give them the good stuff just as you would pursue quality ingredients for yourself. Provide real nutrition for the brain to work better, the body to be more balanced, and life to be enjoyed fuller/longer.