Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy Holidays!!

Happy Holidays from Jenn, Jet, Bernie, me, and Eric!! Jenn was especially happy this year to have taken our annual Santa Paws picture early, before her accident. Otherwise, we wouldn't have a picture this year. We wish everyone a most happy and (especially) most healthy 2012!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Jenn's Nominated for the DWAA Maxwell Award!

Talk about a bit of good news! Jenn just found out that the series of articles she wrote for the APDT Chronicle of the Dog about the Tellington TTouch Method have been nominated by the Dog Writers' Association of America for their 2011 writing awards. Jenn is a finalist for the Maxwell Medallion for Excellence, in the Subject-Related Series category. Winners will be announced at a banquet in New York City on February 12th. Jenn hopes she will be able to attend.

You can see the entire list of 2011 nominees here: DWAA Nominees List

You can read Jenn's nominated article series on her website, scroll down to "articles by Jenn Merritt": Tellington TTouch Series from APDT Chronicle of the Dog

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Dog Owner Injuries-What Happens to the Dogs??

This has been the most boring month ever! Jenn was in an accident, she hit her head and fractured her ribs and has spent most of the past few weeks recovering and resting. Resting??!! Bor-ing! Resting is just not in a herding dog's vocabulary. And it was kind of freaky to watch Jenn walk slow and weird. We had to be really careful not to bump her or jump up. So, Jet and I have been spending lots of time looking really bored.
Eric's been taking care of us, and no offense, but Jet, Bernie and I cannot wait for Jenn to get back to her normal self. She keeps us all very active with play and training, and fun stuff. So, we've had to adjust to new routines and less activity, at least for a while. So what happens with your dogs if you can't care for them? It's really smart to think ahead and have a plan in place for what you would need to do in the event that you can't care for your dogs.

Here are a couple of tips that can help prepare your dog if you get hurt:

Staying with Friends-Your dog may need to stay with other humans for a while. Eric had to be with Jenn at the hospital and then care for her when she came home. This didn't leave him much time to care for three dogs. So, Bernie stayed with their friend Laura for the first week after the accident. This made things much easier for Eric to manage (taking care of two dogs instead of three). You should have a plan in place for where your dogs would go if you got hurt (with trusted friends, a local kennel, etc.)

Separation from You is OK-It is really important that your dog can function independently from you. If your dog can't function without you, that leaves them completely lost if you get hurt. It becomes very important that other humans can walk us, feed us, care for us. So, it's a good idea to teach your dog to listen and respond to other humans, not just you. Even just establishing a nice relationship between your dog and your neighbors, so if they ever have to come in a let the dogs out in an emergency, the dogs won't freak out. And your dog should learn from puppyhood that being alone is OK.

Leash Manners-I cannot overemphasize the importance of teaching your dog to walk politely on leash. Since leash walking is pretty much the only exercise we are able to get while Jenn is out of commission (no dog park, no play times), it is really vital that someone other than Jenn could take us for a walk, including family members and friends. Please see my previous posts on polite leash walking for more info.
Mental Games, Toys, and Bones-Thank goodness for mental activity! If your usually high drive, high energy dog has to adjust to a new, low key routine, you really need to give them stuff to do. We have lots of mental toys to work on and Jenn had lots of raw marrow bones in the freezer for us to chew on when we needed something to do. Here are more of Jenn's suggestions for good quality mental toys: Recommended Mental Toys

So, there are a few tips for preparing you and your dog for what happens if you get hurt. You may not want to think about it, but it is such a good idea to have some plans in place ahead of time.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Body Harnesses for Better Leash Walking

So we've talked about the importance of teaching your dog how to walk on a loose leash and why prong/pinch collars are a complete "pain in the neck", so what are other options for dogs that need a little more help on leash? The good news is that there are lots of options that don't put pressure on the dog's neck, so their airway/breathing aren't constricted.

Get a Real Leash-OK, before we get started talking about harnesses, the first thing y'all need is a real leash, not a retractable leash, which is downright dangerous.
These things get tangled, make your dog difficult to control, and dogs and humans can get awful rope burns. If you ever want to teach your dog to walk mannerly on a leash, get rid of the retractable leash a get a simple six foot leather or canvas leash.

Body Harnesses-there are lots of different types of body harnesses, but they are not created equal.

This is an H Harness which has a connection on the dog's back. Dogs have an opposition reflex, so when we feel that tension in the leash, we pull forward against it. So an H Harness is basically a sled dog harness. It actually makes it easier for the dog to pull forward and when they pull it elevates them into really bad posture and horrible body language to other dogs. Not a good choice for most dogs. Let's look at some better options.

Sensation Body Harness
-The Sensation has the connection on the dog's chest, which gives you humans more control and reduces pulling by eliminating opposition reflex. We don't feel the same instinct to pull against the front connection and we do with the leash connected on our backs. The Sensation is easy to fit, easy to put on us, and easy to use. This is one of Jenn's favorites and is available online and in pet stores for about $35.
Walk In Sync Body Harness System-The Walk In Sync is also a front clip body harness, but also uses a special leash with accupoints, that provide a boundary for the dog and handler. This harness is a little more challenging to put on, but the fit is outstanding. It does not cut the dog across the shoulders like the Sensation and provides great control. A very well made harness and effective system that retails online for a about $50 which includes the harness and leash.
Freedom Body Harness-the Freedom harness by Wags, Wiggles and Whiskers (a North Carolina company) is a unique front clip harness that uses a double ended leash and an additional connection on the dog's back. The double ended leash is much like what Jenn uses in TTouch. It's a little more challenging to fit, but does work very well for some dogs, especially large dogs that are ingrained pullers. It retails for about $40 and is available online and at pet stores.
So that's a quick run down of my favorite body harnesses. Remember that there is no substitute for also using consistent, reward based techniques in addition to choosing humane equipment. Need more help? Contact Jenn about enrolling in a training class to get you and your dog on the right track. Check out for details.