Thursday, March 20, 2008

I'm 6 Months Old! What's a "fear period"?

Can you believe it? I'm 6 months old. Jenn says that I'm now a puppy "teenager" and this is an important time to revisit all our socialization experiences. It's time to go back and take more field trips, meeting new people, and going to new places. Didn't I do all that already? Jenn says that puppies experience additional fear periods from 6 months-1 year of age. That means that I could get scared and unsure about all kinds of things over the next few months. I need to continue to experience the world so that I will feel safe and confident. Be sure you are continuing your puppy's socialization, even if we don't look like puppies anymore, our minds are just beginning to mature.

Read more about the fear imprint period here.

Compatability in your canine family

Compatibility. I hear Jenn say that word a lot. It's a very important word if you are thinking about adding another canine to your family. Adopting a dog that is compatible with your lifestyle and your family (both human and canine) is vital for harmony in your home.

Think about your lifestyle and if you have the time, energy, and finances to support another family member. Another dog will double your management time, your vet bills, and the time you spend training/exercising your dogs. Make decisions as a family agreeing that all family members will contribute to your new canine companion. Try not to make the dog one person's responsibility (particularly a child).

Take time to meet lots of dogs. Visit shelters, reputable breeders, foster homes, etc. Try not to be spontaneous and don't just adopt a dog because you feel sorry for it. This will be a 12-15 year commitment and spending time and energy to find the best dog for you can't be overstated. A great way to "test drive" a potential match and get information about personalities and temperaments is to become a volunteer for your local shelter as a dog walker. You can have the opportunity to meet many different dogs and learn more about them as individuals.

Jenn says one of the best ways to find your match is getting professional advice from a dog trainer. She/he can help you access individual dogs and how they would fit with your lifestyle and your resident dog/s. Some trainers volunteer at local shelters doing temperament evaluations to help place adoptable in the best homes. These tests are a valuable tool in the matchmaking process and can determine if dogs have underlying behavioral issues.

Don't go by good looks alone. Be sure to think about what the dog's breed or mix of breeds was meant to do. For example, a Jack Russell/Aussie cross is not going to be the "lay at your feet by the fireplace" kind of dog. Most dogs were originally bred for a purpose, and that purpose will have a lot to do with their instincts, drives, energy levels, and the amount of exercise and management they will need on a day to day basis.

Check out Jenn's Reading List for books on selecting the dog for you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My Royal Family

These are my best friends Big Sandy and Bernie. Big Sandy has been my constant companion since I came here to live with Jenn and Eric. She has one fewer leg than I have and half a tail that looks a lot like my tail. It doesn't matter to me that she's missing a leg and it doesn't seem to matter to her either. Jenn says she's 14 years old, but I don't think I believe that. She plays like a dog half her age! Bernie is one cool dude. He's almost 4 years old and is quite reserved with me sometimes, maybe he's not sure how to handle me cause I'm so outgoing. Jenn says that Bernie is like Switzerland. Very neutral. Not wanting to get in the mix. He just likes to hang out and make sure everyone is OK. I like them both so much. Jenn says that all our doggy personalities are compatible. This is really important if you are thinking about adding another dog into your life. Jenn's going to talk more about that tomorrow...

Saturday, March 15, 2008

My Dad is a Movie Star

My dad Jake is getting his first role in a movie. "Marley and Me", a wonderful book (so says Jenn) about a family and their "challenging" Labrador, is being filmed in Florida near where my dad lives. The movie stars Jennifer Aniston, Owen Wilson, and some guy called "McSteamy" and my dad will be in the scenes on the beach and dog training classes. If you read the book you know what I'm talking about. The movie will be in theaters in December of this year.

I'm in the Chapel Hill News!

The Chapel Hill News and Debbie Meyer did a story about Linda Tellington Jones being here, the benefits of TTouch, and how Jenn is using it to train me. Click here to check it out! They even put a picture of me in the story! It shows Jenn using the TTouch technique of a double connection and step-in harness. This is cool. Using a harness gets all the pressure off my neck. Feeling tension on the neck is one thing that really bothers some dogs. It can make them feel trapped or frustrated which can lead to barking, lunging, and out of control behavior on leash. This TTouch technique is one way that you can help your dog to be more comfortable on your walks. Talk to Jenn if you want to know more.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

My Day at TTouch

Quite an exciting day I had with my new friend Linda Tellington Jones. She is staying here with Jenn and Eric while she instructs a 6 day workshop in Tellington TTouch at the APS in Mebane. She created TTouch over 30 years ago to help animals live better with injuries, cope with stress, and improve their health and behavior. Jenn wanted me to go, so I could have the experience with the 25 folks that traveled from all over the country to be here and learn from Linda. I was a bit nervous and frustrated at first, that this wasn't going to be puppy playtime. Linda put me on a balance leash and gave me TTouches over my body. She was very kind and it helped me feel more comfortable. Then she did some TTouches in my mouth (more on that later). I pretty much chilled out from there. Jenn said she's going to continue to give me TTouches everyday. I'm cool with that. Thank you Linda!