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Pet Friendly Newsletter - November 2006

PET QUOTES

"Dogs feel very strongly that they should always go with you in the car, in case the need should arise for them to bark violently at nothing right in your ear." (Dave Barry)

"A cat isn't fussy - just so long as you remember he likes his milk in the shallow, rose-patterned saucer and his fish on the blue plate. From which he will take it, and eat it off the floor." (Arthur Bridges)

HAPPY DOGS & SMILES!

"The larger dog is Sam and the smaller dog is Vickie. They always have a big smile for me (especially when I come home from work)." - Jean C. of Alberta

"Maggie (Malti-Su) and Molly (Westie), playing outside." - Linda R.

"Sammy, our dog, with playmate Cosmo the hamster." - Linda C. of Abbotsford, BC

"Oki, our late Terrier companion, was a deaf and blind senior. He had been left to die in the middle of the road having been hit by a car. I rescued him on the spot and provided care. He chose us forever. Once he recovered from the accident he began to smile. This is one of his first smiles - broad, loving and full of life." [Read Oki's story here] - Carmen M. of Massachusetts, USA

CHOOSING A DOG TRAINING OR OBEDIENCE CLASS

We've all seen dogs gasping at the ends of their leads, lunging towards other animals, or knocking people over in their enthusiasm to greet them. Many pet owners say that this type of behavior annoys or embarasses them - and it can certainly make it a challenge to take the dog out in public. This is where obedience training can help dogs of all sizes and all ages.

Dog training is important for many reasons. Dogs who are trained make better pets: walks become more enjoyable; they have "good manners" in the home and with other people and pets; and it helps to keep them safe. Yes, really - for instance, if your dog is running leash-free and spies a wild animal such as a coyote, his first instinct may be to chase it and "play" ... but a firm "Stay!" can keep him where he is and safe from harm.

Friends or family who have first-hand experience with a trainer are a good source of recommendations. Look for a dog trainer who emphasizes humane and positive training methods, and reinforces appropriate behavior with rewards and praise (rather than punishing "bad" behavior). Here are a few other things to consider:

  • Group setting or private training? Most people tend to join obedience or socialization classes, as it gives them the opportunity to observe how other people handle their dogs. It also gives their dogs a chance to learn appropriate interaction with other dogs and people.

    Sometimes, however, private training should be considered. One example is a dog that has specific behavior issues that require a lot of individual attention. Even then, the dog should be able to gradually integrate into a training class with other canines and people.

  • How big are classes? Smaller class sizes allow for more individualized attention.

  • Are dogs of different ages separated? Puppies tend to have different training and socialization needs than older dogs.

  • Does the trainer require proof of up-to-date vaccinations? This is important since dogs can transmit diseases between one another.

  • Can other members of the family attend the class? Everyone should attend, if possible, so that your dog learns to respond to each of you. It also helps to teach everyone how to communicate effectively with the canine member of the family, and strengthens the bond between them.

  • Are training classes available for different needs? For example, there could be classes for puppy socialization, beginners, intermediate, advanced, and special needs (dog aggression, reactive dogs, etc).

  • Ask if you can observe a class before signing up. Do the dog trainers have a good connection with their students, and do they use up-beat, positive, and humane training methods? Do the people and pets look like they're having fun? Do the trainers give everyone attention as needed, as well as encouragement?

Participating in a dog training helps to improve communication between you and your pet, and makes your pet a well-mannered member of the household. Happy pets, happy people!

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