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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Calmly Introduce Your Dog to Other Dogs

One of the most common issues that we experience when walking our dogs is the over-excited dog, and trying to introduce them to other dogs on the leash. No matter what kind of dog you have, they may appear to be so excited that they are going to explode. I have certainly had that problem with my Schnauzer, Cash. There is something about the sight of another dog on a leash that sends him into a frenzy, barking and pulling on the leash and dragging me along. It can be scary, dangerous, yes, and very embarrassing. I hate the looks I get sometimes when people just stop and gawk. But I do appreciate the people that approach calmly and manage to get Cash to be friendly. Those are the true dog lover! Things can rapidly escalate until I feel out of control. I just wish I knew what exactly was going on in that little doggy brain of his, what he is truly feeling and experiencing. Most likely, his behavior is very often a mix of both excitement and stress. However, this is not a great state for either of us to be in when we meet other dogs, as there is a far greater chance that things will go wrong, especially over time if it goes unchecked. Imagine seeing it from the approaching dog's point of view....Cash is barking, pulling, eyes bulging, gasping for scary is that? 

So how do you avoid such a situation? Well, in this post I will explain the options available to you. Then you will have a simple, basic approach to select one of the three and go and practice with your dog. Having a clear plan of action is the first stage to success.

First of all, it is important to be clear that there are ONLY 3 options available. Second, you must have established yourself already as the pack leader – this is vitally important. 

1. Approach the other dog: Your dog is calm and you decide to simply approach the other dog on the leash. Yes, this is the ultimate goal! Remember that you want to reward good behavior, so do not get in the way in this situation. Remain silent as you walk your dog towards the other dog and let them meet. Simply stay out of it and do not upset the calm environment that you have in front of you. Ok, I admit this has seldom happened yet with Cash, but I have noted that the more calm I remain, the more calm Cash is as well.
2. Stay away from the other dog: Picture your dog barking like crazy, completely out of control... this is where your gut instinct knows that it’s best not to go and visit the other dog and you are better off just walking away. Better yet if you can change the direction you are walking before you get close to the other dog. This works well for us most of the time. Sometimes I simply don't have time to work with my dog and try to calm him down, or the other dog may not seem keen on meeting, maybe they look a little unsure, old or small. One other important reason to do this is to show your dog that sometimes you do not get to meet and sniff every dog on the walk. (That's life, so get used to it!)
3. Calm your dog down then make a decision: In other words do some training to calm and distract your dog. After you have done this, then you may choose to approach the other dog or not. The choice is still yours. It is important to remember is that you are taking time out to show your dog that if they calm down (even just a little bit) good things will happen. As time goes on, your dog will learn that the calmer he is, the more chance there is of meeting the other dogs.

So you may be wondering, w
hat is the right option for me? Well, all three options are right at different times. In other words, I still choose all three options for Cash, depending on the situation. Younger dogs in particular will often need a bit more calming than older dogs and this training will certainly pay off in the long run. Which is the case with Cash. When I first adopted him as a rescue, he was only a year old and very excitable and energetic. Now he is almost 3, and he is getting much calmer. 

But remember, as 
mentioned earlier, you really must have the pack leader foundations in place before you can trust how you dog will react in different circumstances. Learning Doggy Dan’s five Golden Rules of becoming the Pack Leader will give you the assurance that you are in charge and your dog is looking up to you and respecting you for all of your decision making. Visit Doggy Dan’s website now to learn how to become the Pack Leader (Doggy Dan even offers a 3 Day $1 trial of the site that YOU can take advantage of, so I suggest the next thing you do today is take a look inside the site!).

Lately I have been busy painting dog portraits. Above is the one I just completed this past weekend. My art teacher has suggested that I start doing pet portraits as a sideline. I love animals and I love painting, so what better way to spend my spare time. If you would like to have a portrait done of your pet, please contact me. I would be happy to work one a special painting just for you! You can also visit my website to see more of my artwork.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bee Stings and Painting

Okay, so it's been awhile since I've posted anything to this blog. I had good intentions of writing something at least once a week, but I was put out of commission for awhile due to one of these nasty little critters. 

A little over a week ago while I was working my job as a caregiver, the sweet little old lady in my care asked me to go outside to the newspaper vending machine around the corner to get her a newspaper. Simple task, I've done it many times before. But this time on my way back I was suddenly stung on the neck by what I believe was a bee. It hurt like crazy, so I put some ice on it and took an antihistamine tablet. I figured that would take care of it.

The next day when I got up the site of the sting was red and swollen, but it was tolerable. However, the second day after the "attack" it was swollen to the size of a golf ball, red, with a rash spreading across my neck and chest. It continued to swell until it felt like my throat was getting tight. My son and daughter-in-law insisted I go to the ER, so he drove me there. One look at me in triage and they rushed me back to a room, gave me a shot and continued to observe me for a couple of hours. The shot was like a miracle and the swelling started going down and I soon started feeling much better. I was discharged with a prescription for an antibiotic, Benadryl, and an Epi-Pen. 

It took about a week before I really started feeling like doing much of anything again, and that is why I haven't blogged for awhile. 

Like me, you probably thought that if you are allergic to bee stings, you would have a sudden a violent reaction, and most people do, but now I know that you can also have a delayed reaction, like I did. But the doctor also told me that since I did have an allergic reaction, if I should get stung again the reaction would likely be much worse the next time. Hence, that's why I now carry an Epi-Pen. If I get stung again, I will have to give myself a shot in the thigh. Sounds like fun, huh? I hope I never have to use it, but it's good to know I have the Epi-Pen just in case. 

So while recovering from the bee attack, as well as my last visit to the dentist (see my previous post), I have been "busy as a bee" painting. I don't claim to be a great artist, but I thoroughly enjoy painting. It's amazing how when you are immersed in the creative process, time flies and you get caught up in the moment. And since everyone's taste in art is different, I figured what the heck, maybe someone out there would appreciate my art. Besides, I am accumulating more paintings than I know what to do with, so if you are interested in purchasing an original, OOAK work of art, you can find my paintings here. All are original works done by me in acrylic paint, most of them are on canvas. So please feel free to check it out. 

Here is a soft-focus landscape that I just completed. 

I have also started doing some dog portraits, such as these.

That's all for now. If you have stumbled upon this blog, I would love to hear from you with any questions or comments you might have. Thanks!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Nuisance Barking

One thing about dogs that can drive you crazy is constant barking. Whether it is a deep shuddering “Woof, woof, woof” or that ear piercing “Yap, Yap, Yap” push your button very quickly. Generally speaking, barking can be a sign of stress, frustration, anxiety or over-excitement, none of which are particularly good for you or your dog.

Remember a content, relaxed dog does not bark!

A common cause of barking can be dogs who are left at home alone. Unfortunately, pet owners often are not aware of the problem until they receive complaints from a neighbor or worse yet, animal control comes calling. Understanding why your dog is barking is key to stopping it so you can actually address the cause of your dog's problem and not just treat the
symptoms. In order to understand this problem, you need to see it through your dog's eyes. Visualize this....your dog is a pack animal, which means there are leaders and followers in a pack. One of the pack leader's jobs is to protect the pack.
So when on Monday morning everybody leaves the house to go to work and leaves the dog at home alone they become stressed… and so would you if you lost your pack! That’s the reason why they're stressed and barking. They are calling out to you to come back. They just are trying to do their job. So, do you see why your dog is stressed out and barking every time you leave the house?

A lot of annoying doggy behaviors like chewing, destroying things, digging, etc., only happen when you are not there. That's correct, these are all symptoms of a stressed out dog who is worried about you not being home and safe. Obviously, your dog can't express these worries to you in English, right? Oh, if only it could be that easy, we could just sit down and have a talk with Rover to work out the problems!

So what’s the answer? Well it’s certainly not by giving them a bone to chew on while you are away. Imagine saying to a parent who is totally stressed that their child is out on the streets…“Calm down, here’s a box of chocolates”! While you may love chocolate, it's not going to work in this situation. Toys, treats and other distractions are not going to solve the problem, they are only an attempt to treat the symptoms. Oh they may work for a short period of time, but not likely in the long term.

So what is the solution? You need to become the pack leader in your dog’s eyes. Once you do this correctly, your dog will not see it as their job to protect you. You will be able to come and go as you please and they will be totally relaxed.
This is the real solution to having a calm relaxed dog. No tricks here, just honesty.

Becoming the pack leader is not complicated, in fact, anyone can do it. But, it's not really something that I can explain in 2 minutes here. However, you take a look at Doggy Dan’s website, he explains very powerfully how to establish yourself as the pack leader and stop your dog from barking when you leave him.

Here are additional tips that you can use in conjunction with becoming the pack leader that will help stop your dog's barking:
• Exercise: Exercise your dog before you leave him – a tired dog is more likely to be relaxed.
• Find the right space: Try leaving your dog in different areas – some dogs will relax more outside, others inside and some prefer smaller areas such as a kennel.
• Fed and watered: Always leave water and make sure that your dog is fed before you leave.
• Pick up the bones: Leave toys around for your dog but not bones.
• Music and TV: Consider leaving music on for your dog or the TV – this really helps my dogs stay calm.
• Dog walkers: A break in the middle of the day can certainly help break up your dog's day.
• Leave calmly: While it's fun to get excited when you leave your dog it's better if you leave calmly. Try to say goodbye 5 minutes before leaving to help him stay relaxed as you go.
• Comfort jackets: Thundershirt is a wonderful product that has worked well for my chihuahua, Chuey. He particularly has anxiety when riding in the car and the Thundershirt has been a great help in this area. While it doesn't work for all dogs, it is worth a try, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the idea that getting another dog is going to stop the problem is something I would stay well away from. After all, the source of your dog's barking is not boredom. Many dogs who bark when their owners leave are the same dogs who will lie around the house doing nothing when their owners are at home.
So, I hope that you now have a better understanding of your dog's problem! I really do suggest that if you are serious about stopping the barking immediately, then please take a look at Doggy Dan's site and learn to become the pack leader. That will be the end of your issue.

To take a free look around the Doggy Dan site.
There is an entire section dedicated to stopping this sort of barking under the dog problem section "Separation Anxiety".
It’s not hard, but you must understand your dog's problem through his eyes rather than human eyes! They do not want more treats or toys, what they want is a strong pack leader.
So get started now, don’t hang around. The sooner you turn things around the sooner your neighbors will be grateful for bringing peace back to the neighborhood.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Torture Chamber

Ever since I started writing this blog I promised myself that I would write a new post at least once a week, usually on Mondays. If I have a lot on my mind, then I might post 2 or 3 times a week. But no way could I write anything yesterday because I was being tortured....for 2 and a half hours! 

After I was led into this special room outfitted with all its fancy equipment, a pleasant lady had me sit in this leather reclining chair and she put a little bib around my neck to protect my clothing from all of the spit, blood and goo to come. Then this guy walked in and cheerfully jabbed a big old needle into my gums several times and left me to sit there waiting for the effects of the drugs he had injected to take hold.

Soon he and his assistant were back to begin the torture process. He grabbed a drill and started whirring away on my tooth. But because the Novocaine did not work well enough, I felt the drilling all the way through my skull and they practically had to peel me off the ceiling, the pain so excruciating. So he grabbed another syringe full of Novocaine and jabbed around with the needle some more.
As I am lying back with the bright lights shining down, I closed my eyes and tried my best to picture myself sitting beside a gurgling stream somewhere deep in the Rockies, in a feeble effort to take my mind off of what was going on in my mouth. But with my mouth propped open with a rubber dam while the dentist drilled away and his assistant held my tongue aside with a piece of gauze (my tongue has a mind of its own and doesn't like to cooperate), I felt like I couldn't breathe or swallow and had to fight the urge to let panic take over.

Long story short, I had to have a root canal and a crown put on a very bad tooth. Anyone who knows me understands how much I HATE going to the dentist. Many times I have said I would rather take a beating than go to the dentist. 

Though it took 2-1/2 hours from start to finish, at least the work was all done in a single visit and I don't have to go back for a long time. I have several crowns in my mouth, but this is only the second root canal I have ever had and this one seemed much worse than the first. 
This was the first time that I have had a dentist make the crown right there in the office, though. There was amazing, state-of-the-art computerized equipment that they used to map out the exact size and shape of the crown, then molded it, "baked" it and glued it in all at this single visit. And it fit perfectly on the first try!

But after all of that, the most painful part of all was checking out of the office. When I handed my paperwork over to the lady behind the desk, she punched some data into her computer and calmly said, "That will be $1800." What the hell! Do I look like I carry that kind of money around with me, I thought. Even though I have dental insurance, come to find out, the coverage is pretty measly and they don't cover crowns or root canals at all....not even a small percentage of it! Fortunately, they agreed to work out a payment plan for me. But it's gonna make the budget super-tight for a long while. 

I still think $1800 is pretty outrageous for a couple of hours in the torture chamber, but I guess they have to pay for all that fancy equipment somehow. 

Anyway, I survived, but I'm still hurting. Today I feel like someone punched me in the jaw, and my wallet is still screaming bloody murder!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

My First Dog

Of course growing up on the farm we had many dogs over the years. While I don't really remember the very first dog my parents had when I was a toddler, my mom has told me stories about it. The dog was a German Shepherd and every time I went outside the dog would jump up on me and knock me down. Maybe that's why I now prefer small dogs, I feel like I can better control them. 
When I was about 3 years old we got a Border Collie puppy. His name was Mickey and he quickly became my best friend. Mickey and I grew up together. While I don't have any photos of the real Mickey, he looked a lot like the photo here. 

Mickey was so smart, he quickly learned lots of tricks like sit, stay, lie down, play dead, shake hands. You only had to show him a couple of times and he seemed to know instinctively what to do. Naturally, he was great at herding our cows and bringing them in at milking time. 

I spent many hours during my childhood hanging out with Mickey and telling him my deepest, darkest secrets. He was a great most dogs are! No wonder they are called "man's best friend."

When I was 14 my parents sold the farm, bought a bar and moved us to town. My dad said Mickey couldn't come with us because he was used to living on the farm. I was so sad that my best buddy couldn't come with us, but at the same time I understood that Mickey was used to running free and he couldn't do that in town. So Mickey went to live out his days on a neighbor's farm. But even though that was almost 60 years ago, I will never forget Mickey, my first best friend.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I Need Help

I enjoy writing, but there is something that all writers need, and which is sorely lacking for me.....readers! Please help me out. If you stumble across this blog and enjoy it, then tell everyone about it, comment, share. I would appreciate it so much! Thank you for your help!

You can generate more traffic too. Just click here.

My Little Loves

More than any other animal, I have loved dogs all of my life. Of course, growing up on a farm there were many animals that I loved`including cows, especially black and white Holsteins, pigs, goats, and horses. 

The little guy pictured here is one of my two current little loves, Chuey. He is a 6-year-old chihuahua and Jack Russell terrier mix, (at least that is what the vet says). All I know for sure is that his momma was a tan chihuahua. Dad could have been any roaming Casanova from the old neighborhood. I adopted him when he was about two months old. We quickly bonded and now he is definitely a mama's boy. Most people when they hear what kind of dog he is, will say, "Oh he must be so hyper." But he is not at all. He is sweet and calm. He only wants to be near his favorite person (me), and if I want to sit and watch TV all day, he is fine with that. If I want to take a nap, he is right there snuggling under the covers. If I want to take a long walk, then he is ready for that too. 

My husband, Josh, was a truck driver and whenever he would return home from a trip, Chuey was the first one at the door to greet him with kisses and hugs. One of Chuey's favorite commands is to give hugs. When I say, "Momma wants a Chuey hug," he jumps up on my lap, wraps his paws around my neck and snuggles. 

Josh passed away from cancer in August 2012. He spent his last days at home under hospice care. All during that time, Chuey rarely left Josh's lap. I think dogs have a special instinct for those things. In fact, the day that Josh passed Chuey never left his lap all day. Amazing! 

Since then, Chuey has helped ease my loneliness and grief so much by his sweet presence.
 Chuey loves his walks. Because he gets cold easily, he wears his jacket whenever it is chilly out. No, he is not spoiled much! 

He does get into mischief at times. He has a particular fondness for digging through the trash and finding paper to shred and scatter. So now whenever I must leave him at home, he has to go into his kennel, which he absolutely hates. As soon as he know it's "kennel time," he runs into the bedroom and tries to hide under the pillow. Even though his little bottom is sticking out, apparently he thinks if mom can't see him, then he is hidden and won't have to into the dreaded kennel. It never fails to crack me up!
When we first adopted Chuey he became the little brother to our 10-year-old Schnauzer, Cosmo. At first there was a lot of jealousy, but they eventually bonded. Sadly, about 18 months later Cosmo died. Chuey was lonely after that, but he and I gave each other comfort. Then a year ago I adopted another Schnauzer, Cash (pictured here). 

Chuey and Cash have become best pals and they play together constantly. They will curl up and snooze together. Now I feel like my doggy family is complete again. 

I call these two guys my "personal trainers," because they make sure I get outside to take long walks and get plenty of exercise every day. 

I have had plenty of different pets over the years, and each one has had such a unique, individual personality. 

I hope to share more pet stories over the weeks to come. I'd also love to hear from you all about your special friends too, so please don't hesitate to share your story.