Tag Archives: dog blog

Clancy Honks Horn to #FreeTheKees! 1/4 million Signatures Delivered, but Need More Help

8 Jun

Clancy the Keeshond honks his horn to get your attention to keep writing/calling New York State officials to keep the momentum going to rescue the 60+ remaining Keeshonden and other dogs being neglected at Marjorie’s Kennel in Harpursville, NY.  Last Tuesday, a group of dedicated Keeshond lovers and several of the Keeshonden that were lucky to be rescued in 2013 from Marjorie’s puppy mill, traveled to Albany, NY.  They delivered nearly a quarter million signatures on the petition to Governor Andrew Cuomo to enforce Charlemagne’s Law and to look for answers into why Marjorie’s Kennel is still allowed to be in operation.  See a brief report on the local news here and keep updated on events through the Free The Kees Facebook page.

One of the lucky Kees that was rescued from Marjorie's Kennel in 2013 stands on the mountain of binders that contain 222,000+ signatures and tens of thousands of comments on the Free The Kees petition.

One of the lucky Kees that was rescued from Marjorie’s Kennel in 2013 stands on the mountain of binders that contain 222,000+ signatures and tens of thousands of comments on the Free The Kees petition.

Survivors of Marjorie's Puppy Mill still dealing with a variety of health problems

Survivors of Marjorie’s Puppy Mill still dealing with a variety of health problems

Rehabilitated Survivors of Marjorie's Kennel outside of New York's Capital Building helping to deliver the petition

Rehabilitated Survivors of Marjorie’s Kennel outside of New York’s Capital Building helping to deliver the petition

Food and Agriculture representative accepting delivery of the 222,000+ signatures on the Free The Kees petition

Food and Agriculture representative accepting delivery of the 222,000+ signatures on the Free The Kees petition

A lucky one of the 101 that was rescued and rehabilitated asking for help to free his relatives out of Marjorie's Kennel

A lucky one of the 101 that was rescued and rehabilitated asking for help to free his relatives out of Marjorie’s Kennel

See more pictures, read about this important visit, and sign and share the petition here:  Free The Kees change.org petition and Albany visit summary

We still need people to keep the pressure on to show New York that we are not going away, so please keep sharing the Free The Kees petition and sign it if you haven’t already.

By overcoming the lackluster laws on puppy mills and at least forcing state officials to pay attention to Marjorie’s Kennel, which is on the list of 100 worst puppy mills in the United States again (page 29), it will be a huge step for all dog lovers to make progress in relinquishing the pain and suffering that all dogs in puppy mills are enduring.

When you have some time to spare, please do one or more of the following to move the effort along (the following is from the Free The Kees Rescue Site) :

Call Assemblyman Bill McGee, of Ag and Markets Committee. He is preventing the animal cruelty laws from being placed in the NY state penal code section so that law enforcement officers will be required to know what those laws are. Please call 315-361-4125 to ask Assemblyman McGee to allow those laws to be placed into the penal section of the NY laws. UPDATE:  It was brought to my attention that there’s an alternate number for Assemblyman McGee… 518-455-4807.  Law enforcement officers need training in animal cruelty laws, which they are not currently getting.

Fax, email, or mail a letter to Governer Cuomo:

Governor Cuomo’s Contact Information:
Fax: 518.474.1513
Email: gov.cuomo@chamber.state.ny.us
Mail: The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor, State of New York
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

We feel that fax is the best method because it is the most direct.

 A basic sample letter:

 To: Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York

From: [Name and contact info]

 Please enforce Charlemagne’s Law and Free the Keeshonds from Marjorie’s Kennel in New York.

 Sincerely,
[Your full name]

 Feel free to include any images from the Free The Kees website.

 You may also contact the Attorney General:

Office of the Attorney General
The Capitol
Albany, NY 12224-0341

Website

The body that conducts inspections and determines if the kennel is compliant:

NEW YORK STATE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND MARKETS

DIVISION OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY

10B AIRLINE DRIVE, ALBANY, NY 12235.

On behalf of the 60+ neglected dogs left behind at Marjorie’s Kennel that are continuing being bred for profit, we thank you profusely for any help or attention you bring to the cause.  Keep in mind, that Marjorie had close to 200 Keeshonden in her “kennel” originally.  She sold many of them, presumably to auction to be part of other puppy mills, put down many of them due to their exceedingly poor condition, and then had promised to turn over the remaining 101 Keeshonden to rescue.  She turned over 50 to Keeshond Rescue in late 2013 and decided to keep the last 51 to continue her business of breeding them for profit.  Learn about the story here.

A snapshot of some of the urine stained, matted, unsocialized Keeshonden at Marjorie's Kennel

A snapshot of some of the urine stained, matted, unsocialized Keeshonden at Marjorie’s Kennel

Here are links to a couple of videos showcasing the mission of what’s been accomplished and what still needs to be accomplished:

Free the Kees rescue of 50 Keeshonden in December 2013 – PLEASE NOTE, DONATIONS SHOULD NOW BE MADE TO 

Free the Kees
1801 Willis Avenue
Perry, IA 50220

This fund is a 501(c) Non Profit.
PayPal is: freethekeesfund@gmail.com

More donation details:  http://www.keesrescue.com/#!donate/ctzx

More before and after of rescued Kees from Marjorie’s Kennel:

P.S.  Hope you enjoyed Clancy’s trick of the day video (honk the horn) to also bring attention to the Keeshond Symposium coming up this Saturday!

Clancy holding paws with Christian, a lucky

Clancy (on right) holding paws with Christian (on left), a lucky “NY 101” rescue from Marjorie’s Kennel #FreeTheKees

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Video

Dog Tricks Tips and Clancy, the Trick Dog Champion video

2 May

Trick training is one of the best things you can do with your dog.  It stimulates their mind, builds a stronger bond between the two of you, and gives them a “job” to do (not to mention how much fun it is to hear the “oohs and ahhs” from spectators).  Trick training should always be a fun time with your dog!  You must never get frustrated (just quit that session if you start to feel any change in your demeanor) and always set realistic goals in a training session.  It does take patience, a lot of positive reinforcement and time.  However, before you know it, your dog will catch on and be happy to have learned something that pleases you.  Soon, I will write a full article on dog tricks, the benefits of training, some tips and more videos of other tricks that Clancy knows.  For now, enjoy seeing some of the things that your dog may be capable of!

I’d like to share with you the video I submitted as part of Clancy’s Trick Dog Champion   title application… I had to keep to a certain format for the application’s sake, so Clancy does have many more tricks up his furry sleeve!  Before you watch, please keep this in mind:

Clancy had to demonstrate in this lengthy video that he could perform the foundation of many dog tricks:  Coordination, Mouth Targets, Paw Targets, Finding the Scent (this section is kind of long because you had to do this multiple times in a row without being edited), Being able to work at a Distance from you, using only Silent cues, and then you finally get to the really fun tricks…  demonstrating a behavior Chain and Expert level Tricks (which some were also performed to demonstrate other categories of the application.)  I will eventually compose highlight videos of Clancy’s best tricks…  many of which didn’t fit in this trick dog champion title application video.  Check out our FUNanimal Twitter and/or Facebook page to be alerted when one is posted on YouTube!

While I am proud to brag that Clancy is the first titled “Trick Dog Champion” Keeshond (and was the first Intermediate, Advanced and Expert titled Kees 😉 ), I’d like to give a shout out to A*Starz Through the Looking Glass, aka “Allison”, for being the first ever titled Trick Dog (novice) Keeshond.  Thank you, Donna Stekli, for introducing me to the sport of dog tricks.  Congrats to the other titled Keeshond Trick Dogs out there and everyone that “does more with their dog”.

Keeshonden are super smart and may test your patience with their bad behavior they are capable of when they are bored…  teaching them tricks is the perfect way to stimulate them and to distract them while having FUN (Keesies are all about FUN!)

So please have fun watching (I hope to get some “oohs and ahhs” out of you) and check back here occasionally for more information and to see more videos and posts of Clancy’s tricks and other going on’s.  Please be sure to watch the last few minutes of the video for the best tricks.  Enjoy!

(I do offer trick training classes in my new pet services business, FUNanimal Pet Services, LLC.  If you’re interested and in the DC area, please let me know!  Clancy and I are also available to do trick shows…  so if you want to liven up your party, get-together, workplace or any event with the fluffiest, cutest (IMO), and smartest dog around, let me know!)

 

Rally for Rally Obedience! An Introduction to the FUN Sport of Dog Obedience

5 Apr

Clancy Rally trial ukcHeel. Sit. Stay. Come. “Boring…” may be what your dog is thinking as it mechanically completes the requested actions from their master. While an obedient dog is to be respected in the community, especially in competition, it may not be very fun for many dogs. Fortunately, there is an alternative (or just a fun extra dog sport to be involved in!)

It’s RALLY Obedience!  Watch Clancy and I in a Rally trial here:

What is Rally Obedience? Imagine being in the competition ring and being able to talk as much as you want to your dog, even in your puppy-wuppy voice if you wish! Pat your leg to encourage your dog to stay with you, repeat the commands to your dog if you need to and just be as silly as you want, to RALLY your dog as you follow a course of signs indicating what you’re supposed to do. It’s so much better than trying to remember an obedience course and listening to a judge telling you what you should do.  You can even say “re-do!” when you know you’ve messed up and want to re-do the station.

Stacie&ClancyRally11

Rally should be fun and encouraging! Clancy and I working as a team in our first AKC Rally trial.

That’s what makes Rally Obedience fun and a great way to either start in or enhance your teamwork skills to improve in any dog sport. Rally is a relatively new dog sport focused on success in obedience in a more relaxed setting than regular Obedience. It is offered by various governing bodies. Clancy and I compete in both the American Kennel Club and the United Kennel Club since that’s what’s offered in our area.

In Rally, there is a course composed of signed stations that tell you what to do. Your dog heels beside you as you approach the signs that range in telling you to turn in a specific direction, circle, or giving your dog a command or series of commands. Clancy loves that we can have fun together through the excitement of my voice and the encouragement in moving my arms. I enjoy the challenge of having to quickly read the signs and remember what they said… having to ensure I complete all parts of the station while being mindful of my positioning…  and being sure to sound upbeat and positive to keep Clancy motivated!

It’s also fun that any dog over 6 months of age is welcome to compete, you just need to register with the organization (mixed breed dogs can do this too!)IMG_6873

Rally course mapIn Rally trial competitions, you will be given a map of the course when you check in. Before your class level starts, you will have at least 10 minutes to be able to walk the course and should practice with an “imaginary dog”. (Your real dog should either be crated or held by someone outside of the ring at this time.)

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You get to walk through the course before your competition level begins and ask the judge any questions!

RALLY COMPETITIONS (Trials)

The ring steward will call you “on deck” when you are next to enter the ring to be sure you are ready to approach the “Start” sign as the previous dog exits the ring.

A Rally exhibitor on deck to go in the ring next.

A Rally exhibitor on deck to go in the ring next.

When you approach the “Start” sign, you have your dog sitting (or standing) to your left in heel position. The judge will ask “Are you ready?” (now take a deep breath and make sure your dog is focused on you), and when you reply, “Yes”, they are able to start judging you and you can no longer touch your dog. The judge will say “Forward” and you then tell your dog to heel as you head to the first station. A timer begins as soon as you pass the “Start” sign.

In both the AKC and the UKC, you begin the course with the perfect score of 100 points. Points are deducted throughout the time you are in the ring anytime you and your dog are not exhibiting the ideal vision of a Rally run. These could include if your dog is lagging behind while heeling (though it is nice that unlike traditional Obedience, they aren’t looking for “perfect heel position”), not responding to a command or taking an excessive amount of time to obey your command, or handler errors such as having a tight lead, slowing to the dog’s pace, performing part or all of a station incorrectly, touching your dog, etc.

The judge is looking for you and your dog to walk briskly and most importantly, work together as a positive team. Harsh corrections (such as jerking the leash or yelling at your dog) will be severely penalized and may “NQ” you (Non-Qualify). Be sure to read and to understand the Rally regulations of the organization that you are competing in (they do vary slightly, along with the signs) AKC Rally Regulations and Description of Signs

AKC score sign

Scores are posted next to your armband number after your run. Times are not disclosed until after placements have been announced.

A qualifying score in the AKC and UKC is 70 points. At any point during the course your deductions put you lower than the 70 points qualifying score, you are then marked “NQ” and are excused from the ring. Sometimes, depending on the judge and how busy the schedule is, they may let you complete the course as a training opportunity. At the end of each Rally level, the judge will ask all those that received a qualifying score back into the ring to award them all a Qualifying Score ribbon, which also means you earned a “leg” towards that level’s Rally title. They will also award those that received their third “leg” a ribbon for receiving a new title. The judge will then announce the 1st place, 2nd, 3rd and 4th place winners based on the highest scores. IMG_7017

 

If there is a tied score, the tie is broken by whoever had the fastest time (which is the only reason they time you.) Only twice has time been a factor for Clancy and I… which is suspenseful because while you can see what everyone’s score is ahead of time, you don’t know the times and just have to wait to hear the placements from the judge.  If the judge isn’t too busy, you may approach them after the awards presentation for your class and ask them what stations did you lose points on so you know what you need to work on for next time.

Clancy and Stacie earn their AKC Rally Novice title and 1st place!

Clancy and Stacie earn their AKC Rally Novice title and 1st place!

MORE RALLY SPECIFICS AND TIPS

Rally Obedience is a fun way to train your dog obedience and a variety of additional listening skills, for there are a large variety of exercises and many of them defy the set traditional Obedience exercises. Call front Rally signFor example, the “Call Front, Finish Left, Forward” exercise. While you are heeling, you tell your dog to “come front” where they walk past you and do a U-turn to sit directly in front of you. You then tell your dog to return to heel position by doing another U-turn on your left, HOWEVER, unlike traditional obedience where the dog should immediately sit on your left automatically, you start moving forward as soon as your dog clears your path before they had a chance to get into the heel position, which makes the dog have to catch up to you to heel by your side.

Some of the signs can be difficult to understand Double left about turn Rally sign which is why it’s always good to either take a Rally Obedience class or participate in “run-thru’s” which are often held by local dog training or kennel clubs (often you don’t even have to be a member, you just pay a fee to do a run-thru and instructors or knowledgeable volunteers will answer any questions you have and correct you if you make a mistake.)  Join Clancy and I for Rally Run-thrus!  Check out our FUNanimal Meet-up Group.

Stacie&ClancyRally8Rally sign for picWell, I could go on and on and on about Rally Obedience (and I will), but the goal of this article was to introduce you to this fast growing sport that serves not only as a wonderful foundation to get you ready to compete in other dog sports, but it is a fun way to train your dog to want to listen to you and strengthens your bond. I also find that Rally Obedience offers new challenges you don’t see in other dog sports. Having to focus on the signs and remember exactly what they said (it’s an entirely different experience in the competition ring… you and/or your dog may suddenly seem like you’ve never done it before… the sign says do a circle to your left and you circle to your right, or the dog doesn’t seem to remember what “sit” means).

Clancy tied for 1st place in Rally Advanced, however we had the slower time so we took the 2nd place honors.

Clancy tied for 1st place in Rally Advanced, however we had the slower time so we took the 2nd place honors.

Not to mention all the distractions you could encounter in the competition ring that you don’t see in practice runs or at home. Such as a wooly caterpillar crossing your path so your dog stops heeling to investigate and finds it more interesting than listening to you… (ahem, Clancy!) Or new smells draw your dog’s attention away from you, or loud noises, or just other dogs. That’s why it is best to practice random exercises during your travels with your dog. While you’re shopping at the pet store together, suddenly do a “come front, finish” exercise… while you’re taking a walk past a barking dog behind a fence, suddenly do a 360 degree turn while telling your dog to look at you instead of the barking dog.

Repetition, repetition, repetition in a variety of settings with a treat that you can give your dog quickly (and that they can consume quickly) as soon as you get the desired behavior from your dog, will eventually get you to where you want to be.  The more you do it, the better you’ll both get!  Do not give up on your dog!

Even spending just a couple minutes every day practicing a move or two will make you a better team!

Even spending just a couple minutes every day practicing a move or two will make you a better team!

Being owned by a Keeshond, I have learned you also need to share in the sense of humor they have. They are fun-loving dogs that want to please you, but also just want to have fun. Especially with emotional breeds such as the Keeshond, Rally Obedience is a wonderful way to increase your dog’s focus, your trust and bond, and enhance your training while meeting lots of great people!

(Live in the DC area? I have just started a Meet-up group through Meetup.com to practice Rally Obedience and traditional Obedience (with other fun dog stuff in the works).  Learn more at www.Meetup.com/FUNanimal or on my business website: www.FUNanimalPet.com)

Rally Obedience… Another way of being your dog’s best friend! ~ SSB

Clancy and I at RNC

 

P.S. Look for future blogs targeting the different levels of Rally Obedience.  ALSO, Coming Soon: I will share my experience of competing in the AKC Rally Nationals Competition in Harrisburg, PA with Clancy that was on Friday, March 28th!  Thanks for reading!

Dock Diving with “The Flying Fluff-ball” (and your dog can do it too!) Part 1

30 Jul
Ultimate Air Dogs dock diving competitions...   On left:  Clancy waiting his turn to dock dive at "The Andersons" in Ohio. On right:  Clancy dock diving at Maryland Dogfest.

Ultimate Air Dogs dock diving competitions…
On left: Clancy waiting his turn to dock dive at “The Andersons” in Ohio.
On right: Clancy dock diving at Maryland Dogfest.

“Here is a treat that you never see in the sport of dock diving… a Keeshond!” exclaimed Milt Wilcox, the founder of Ultimate Air Dogs dock diving, to the audience as I lead Clancy onto the dock platform leading to the approximately 40 foot long pool.

Clancy watching a Lab jump in the Extreme Vertical dock jumping competition

Clancy watching a Lab jump in the Extreme Vertical dock jumping competition

While you will see a lot of Labs and lately the Belgian Malinois dominating the dog dock diving sports, the dynamics of the professional dock diving leagues encourages any water loving dog to join in the fun. Every kind of dog has a chance to not only enjoy just participating in the sport, but also there is ample opportunity to actually compete for recognition and prizes (in some cases), because of the jumping distance divisions. This allows Sheepdogs, Dachshunds, Great Danes and even the Yorkie to enjoy the cheers of an audience as they fly weightless through the air before submerging themselves in a cool body of water.

Two years ago, while cleaning up the spilled water around Clancy’s water bowl, I questioned myself “why did I choose the puppy that was digging the water out of the water dish?” (Which when given the opportunity, he still does to this day!) Perhaps it was a sign of destiny. Just one week after bringing our new Keeshond puppy home, we headed to the lake house my husband grew up at in Michigan. Our 9 week old Kees puppy took to the lake immediately and he went for his first swim.

Clancy has always loved the water...  any dog who who enjoys the water can enjoy dock diving!

Clancy has always loved the water… any dog who who enjoys the water can enjoy dock diving!

At nearly 6 months old, Clancy loved swimming and retrieving, but couldn't be convinced to jump off of the dock yet.

At nearly 6 months old, Clancy loved swimming and retrieving, but couldn’t be convinced to jump off of the dock yet.

Several months later, we vacationed on another lake and Clancy immediately was eager to get in the water. We did get him a life jacket to give him more stamina in the water. All that fur can weigh a Kees down! We tried to encourage him to jump off the dock into the water, but instead he would run back to shore and then swim out to retrieve his stick.

The following summer, we returned to my mother-in-law’s lake house in Michigan and wanted to see if we could get Clancy to jump off the dock into the lake. We ran down the dock with Clancy at our feet and jumped in ourselves. Clancy put on the brakes and bowed at the end of the dock, barking ecstatically at us in the water just ahead of him. I slapped the water and encouraged him to jump in. The “Velcro dog’s” (one of a few nick-names for a Keeshond) desire to re-attach himself to us took over, so Clancy stopped barking and took the leap of faith!

One of Clancy's first dock jumps....  July 2012

One of Clancy’s first dock jumps…. July 2012

As I talked about our vacation to a local dog lover, they encouraged me to try the sport of dock diving and told me about a facility that had the regulation size dock and pool that had open practices not too far from where we lived. Just for fun, I headed there with Clancy, not even considering competition. After all, I thought a Keeshond could never be in the same league as the Labs, Retrievers and other “sporting dogs”. Well, Clancy didn’t know he was a “non-sporting” breed and leapt off the dock with just as much enthusiasm!
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As Keeshond owners know, we get all kinds of attention when we’re out in public with our unique smiling fluff-balls. Seeing a Keeshond take part in dock diving makes everyone do a double-take! “That fluffy dog can’t swim, can it?” Yes, he can swim very well! “You can’t let that coat get wet, it will take days to dry!” Actually, it dries quite quickly and as long as you groom him before getting wet, it’s not difficult to turn him back into a big fluff-ball. Everyone enjoys seeing the transformation of the dry Kees versus the wet Kees too! It’s almost like one dog goes in and a different dog climbs out… with gallons of water pouring off the coat. Probably the biggest workout of it all for Clancy is the climb out of the pool with his saturated coat adding all that extra weight.

Clancy's  transformation of being a  dry Keeshond to wet to mostly dry again in less than a half hour!

Clancy’s transformation of being a dry Keeshond to wet to mostly dry again in less than a half hour!

Socializing with the dock dog enthusiasts, they encouraged me to compete with Clancy. I learned there are a few different dock diving organizations in the United States which are Ultimate Air Dogs (UAD) (www.ultimateairdogs.com), Dock Dogs (www.dockdogs.com) and Splash Dogs (www.splashdogs.com). While there are some differences in the rules and other logistics, they all offer multiple divisions in order to allow dogs to be competitive at the level they jump. This encourages any dog to be able to participate. For the “Novice level” jumpers range from 1″ (yes, I said one inch!) to 9’11”, “Junior division” jumpers are in the 10′ to 14’11” range, “Senior division” is from 15′ to 19’11” and so on. There’s even a “lap dog” league for the small dogs to not get their egos hurt, though some of those lil’ guys can fly! The top 5 dogs from each division at the end of each weekend event then get to compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in a divisional finals. Clancy recently won 2nd place in the Junior division at the Ultimate Air Dogs Maryland Dogfest event!
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During the Maryland Dogfest event a few weeks ago, Clancy was acknowledged by the owners of Ultimate Air Dogs for having the longest jump on record for a Keeshond, at 12 feet and 10 inches! While there have only been a sprinkling of Keeshond appearances in the professional dock diving world, it is still a fun record to have!

Another fun recognition feature offered in professional dock diving are titles. There are varying qualifications within the different dock diving entities, but a benefit of competing for titles in UAD is if you are registered with the United Kennel Club (UKC), then you also earn titles and points towards dock diving championships in the UKC. Clancy just earned his Ultimate Air Dogs and United Kennel Club Junior Division dock diving title in July 2013 in Maumee, Ohio. (Someone actually caught Clancy on video jumping over 12 feet and put it on YouTube!) UAD founder/owner (and ex-Detroit Tiger’s World Series winning pitcher), Milt Wilcox, confirmed that Clancy is the first Keeshond to get a dock diving title with UAD! (He’s the judge and emcee in these UAD videos too!)
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On a future blog post, I will dive a little deeper (pun not intended, but it is funny) into comparing the different dock diving organizations and will offer some insight on how you can give your pup the opportunity to fly!  If you’re looking for a fun way to enjoy the warm weather with your dog, or perhaps a little out of the ordinary competition, consider dock diving with your fur-pal. If you have a Kees or other long-haired breed, just be prepared for at least a 6 foot splash and shake zone!

Dock diving – Another fun thing for Best Friends to do together! Be your dog’s Best Friend! ~ SSB

Clancy, "The Flying Fluff-ball"!!!

Clancy, “The Flying Fluff-ball”!!!

Make Your Dog an Ambassador for all of Dog-Kind!

29 May

Clancy enjoying an outing at a family gathering and hanging out with a friend's dog. A well-behaved dog is often welcomed into friends and family's homes.

Clancy enjoying an outing at a family gathering and hanging out with a friend’s dog. A well behaved dog is often welcomed into friends and family’s homes.

Dogs are man’s best friend. So are you being your dog’s best friend? Best friends do everything together. Do you and your furry bff go to parks together, go to stores together, go to friends houses together, do activities together such as going for a swim, participating in dog sports such as agility, tracking, obedience or the like? While you have work, family, TV, and other entertainment to occupy your time, you have to remember that all that your dog has… is you! So, you don’t think your dog is capable of joining you in activities outside of your home? It’s true that in order to go out and about with your dog, your dog must know how to behave in public (and wouldn’t it be nice if they knew how to behave at home, too?) With some time and patience, any dog can learn to behave.

Clancy (about 5 months here) enjoys going to watch hockey games! Since he's well-behaved, I can get away with bringing him to places that most dogs would not be welcomed at.

Clancy (about 5 months here) enjoys going to watch hockey games! Since he’s well-behaved, I can get away with bringing him to places that most dogs would not be welcomed at.

Dogs are always learning… it’s up to you if they learn good habits or bad habits by your level of enforcement. Dogs learn mainly by repetition. They pick up on routines rather quickly (you know they know when it’s dinner time!) By introducing and enforcing some basic rules, your dog can become an ambassador for dog-kind. If every dog was well cared for, sat politely to be petted and posed no threat of danger to people, there would be a lot less fear of dogs and less red-tape in public places. So how do you get your dog to that point?

Clancy earning his Basic Obedience graduation certificate at just 4 months old. Especially for puppies, you have to use positive training techniques and make learning fun! While it's best to start training your dog while they're young, every dog benefits from training, no matter the age!

Clancy earning his Basic Obedience graduation certificate at just 4 months old. Especially for puppies, you have to use positive training techniques and make learning fun! While it’s best to start training your dog while they’re young, every dog benefits from training, no matter the age!

There are so many options when it comes to training your dog these days. There are a variety of dog training classes out there you could sign up for, or have a dog trainer come to your house for private lessons, or there’s a large variety of dog training books and free advice on the Internet. In order to pick the appropriate type of training for you and your pup, you should be aware of the learning traits of your specific breed of dog (it’s as easy as doing an Internet search!) The most important aspect of teaching your dog, is consistency! For example, if you tell a dog to stay and it moves before you release it, you must place your dog back in the original position and tell them to stay again. No matter how many times it takes! You will need to start off with very short sessions (always give them a chance to succeed at a smaller goal before trying a bigger goal) and work your way up to longer sessions over time. If you ask your dog to come and it doesn’t, then you have to go get your dog and make it come. If you are not 100% consistent, then your dog will not be either. This goes for all that interact with your dog.

Clancy and I in our first Rally Obedience trial. You must start with basic training as a foundation to start to train for other dog sports. Participating in dog sports creates a stronger bond with your furry best friend and is a lot of fun!

Clancy and I in our first Rally Obedience trial. You must start with basic training as a foundation to start to train for other dog sports. Participating in dog sports creates a stronger bond with your furry best friend and is a lot of fun!

Before signing up for a dog training class, ask if you could observe a class to see if it would be right for you. Some trainers are all about positive teaching (my personal favorite) where you quickly reward for the correct behavior with a quick word of praise or a click (see clicker training: http://www.clickertrain.com/whatis.html) along with a taste of an irresistible treat. Incorrect behaviors are corrected with a distinct sound such as “aaap!” and an immediate repeat of the exercise until they get it right to deserve their reward. Dogs like to be rewarded! They want to please you and will eventually learn to do what you want with this type of training. It may take longer for some breeds to get it. See on average how quickly your dog learns here (from Stanley Cohen’s “The Intelligence of Dogs”): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Intelligence_of_Dogs

Other dog trainers rely on combinations of techniques that may include corrections with a quick jerk on a choke collar to regain the dog’s focus. The collar used in training or “working your dog” at a dog sport can make a big difference in the dog’s behavior. Some very stubborn out-of-control dogs may only initially respond to a prong collar or the even harsher electric shock collar (this should only be used as a last resort when other training methods have been unsuccessful, please consult a dog trainer before using.)

Clancy doing his "stick 'em up" trick, one of Clancy's many tricks under his Advanced Trick Dog Title. Keeshonden love to learn and perform tricks! All dogs love to learn new things and with even just 10 minutes of daily training sessions, it won't be long before your dog can show off what it knows!

Clancy doing his “stick ’em up” trick, one of Clancy’s many tricks under his Advanced Trick Dog Title. Keeshonden love to learn and perform tricks! All dogs love to learn new things and with even just 10 minutes of daily training sessions, it won’t be long before your dog can show off what it knows!

The keeshond is an emotional dog that does not respond well to harsh corrections, punishments or raised voices. They are smart dogs that enjoy being trained (as long as you keep it fun!) Clancy enjoys doing “Tricks for Treats” everyday and also understands when I get his leather buckle collar out to put on him, it’s time to “work”. I only place it on him when we are doing training or doing an obedience trial. (Other times when we are out and about for fun, he wears his harness.) When I place his show lead on him, he knows that it means it’s time to be a “show dog” and his behavior changes appropriately.

Though Clancy and I will likely never be classified as "athletes", we do enjoy having fun participating in all kinds of dog sports! Here Clancy and I are doing lure coursing. As long as you and your dog have a good bond and basic training, you two can learn to participate in all kinds of dog sports and activities together!

Though Clancy and I will likely never be classified as “athletes”, we do enjoy having fun participating in all kinds of dog sports! Here Clancy and I are doing lure coursing. As long as you and your dog have a good bond and basic training, you two can learn to participate in all kinds of dog sports and activities together!

After some basic manners training, you will be able to bring your dog out and about and start exploring the large variety of dog sports available in your area (you and your dog do not need to be an athlete, it’s just an opportunity to have fun with your dog!) The American Kennel Club offers a “Canine Good Citizen” test that every dog owner should strive to complete with their dog. Here are the test items: http://classic.akc.org/events/cgc/training_testing.cfm Many dog trainers offer prep classes and then give you the opportunity to take the test at during the last training class. If your dog can complete all ten items on the test, they are indeed an ambassador of dog-kind and you should be proud to bring your dog out in public! If every dog was a “Canine Good Citizen”, then there would be less fear of dogs and we would have more opportunities to have man’s best friend with us everywhere we go, making us a better friend to our canine companion.
Clancy proudly sits next to his AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate and course graduation certificate. Every dog and owner should aspire to achieve this to be a confident ambassador of dog-kind! Training to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test (any dog, mixed or pure-bred can achieve this) takes a lot of practice and patience. If at first you don't succeed, try... try again!

Clancy proudly sits next to his AKC Canine Good Citizen certificate and course graduation certificate. Every dog and owner should aspire to achieve this to be a confident ambassador of dog-kind! Training to pass the AKC Canine Good Citizen test (any dog, mixed or pure-bred can achieve this) takes a lot of practice and patience. If at first you don’t succeed, try… try again!

Take Me Out… to the Dog Park! A Guide for all to have a ball at the Dog Park.

4 Mar

Everyone knows that a tired dog is a good dog, and nothing tires a dog out more than another dog! All the romping, wrestling, playing tag, playing keep away and the good ol’ just run with the pack in an open field is sure to give you a peaceful evening, if you take about an hour out of your day to stop by the dog park. Now the dog park isn’t a place for every dog. Your dog must tolerate other dog’s presence at the very least, but you both would get much more out of the experience if they enjoyed being in the company of other dogs. Your dog must also be sociable with people and tolerate children… for you will often find kids running up to pet your dog or trying to initiate play with them.

Clancy enjoying canine companionship at the dog park.

Clancy enjoying canine companionship at the dog park.



Most dog parks are divided into a “Large Dog” park and a “Small Dog” park. If you are nervous that your Maltese may get stepped on by a Mastiff, you have your own dedicated fenced in area separate from the big dogs. However, if your lap pup plays like a big dog, feel free to join in the fun on the big dog side! Before entering, it’s always a good idea to ask the larger dogs’ owners if it’s okay for you to bring your small dog into the large dog side, because some big dogs may not play well with small dogs.
The keeshond plays with the big dogs, so Clancy can only look on and bark "hi" to his smaller cousins.

The keeshond plays with the big dogs, so Clancy can only look on and bark “hi” to his smaller cousins.



Not only is the dog park a great place for your dog to socialize, but for you, as well! You are in a place where you have at least one thing in common with everyone around you… you all love your dogs and most people love to talk about them. Before you know it, you and your dog will make new friends. It often begins with knowing the dog’s name and referring to their owner as “Rocky’s Dad” or “Diesel’s Mom”. You can learn about all kinds of walks of life or there’s plenty of space to keep to yourself if that’s what you prefer.
Dog parks offer fun socialization for both dogs and humans!

Dog parks offer fun socialization for both dogs and humans!



While a dog park is a great place for your dog to socialize and play with other dogs, it’s also a great place for you to bond with your dog and practice training. The large open space is a great place to legally have your dog off leash to play fetch or take a walk together without the tether. It can also be a test for your dog to obey your commands with the distractions of other people, dogs and oh, all the smells! For those that are ready to practice more advanced training (it’s highly recommended that your dog has mastered his commands in a controlled environment first), just be sure you are in a position to enforce your dog listening to you. Also keep the training sessions short, for you don’t want to set up your dog to fail and this should be a place for your dog to look forward to for fun!
Dogs are natural pack animals and most enjoy the company of other dogs.

“Follow the leader!” Dogs are natural pack animals and most enjoy the company of other dogs.

Before heading to the dog park, please know your specific dog park rules and ALSO be aware of these lesser known guidelines for an enjoyable time:

The double-gated entrance to the dog park

The double-gated entrance to the dog park

This Afghan Hound feels a little nervous being on his leash at the dog park.

This Afghan Hound feels a little nervous being on his leash at the dog park.



* Unleash your dog before entering the park – Dog parks have a double gated entrance, not only as a safety measure, but also to allow you to remove the leash in the enclosed area before opening the second gate to the dog park. This will allow your dog to escape from the crowd that usually is at the gate to greet the new dog. Your dog behaves differently on a leash versus off the leash. Dogs may feel trapped being on the leash while other dogs are free around it, which could cause defensive aggression.

*Do not coddle your dog if it’s scared – If you do, you are just reinforcing it’s scared behavior. Be confident, but do not force him into uncomfortable situations. Dogs with their tail between their legs, have the hair along their spine raised or are crouching may need some space and time to get acclimated.

Hi!   Who, or should I say, what, are you?

“Hi! Who, or should I say, what, are you?”

Hi!  Hello!  Who are you?  Aren't you glad that we don't greet each other like this?

“Hi! Hello! Who are you?” Aren’t you glad that we don’t greet each other like this?


* Let your dog be a dog – Dogs jump up on each other, knock each other down, wrestle, growl, snap at each other, and yes, they hump and will sniff each other’s genitals. It is all part of the dog communication world that most humans don’t comprehend, but the dogs are just doing what is natural to them.

Some dogs try to initiate play by wrapping their arm around another dog’s back, which may trigger humping. This is a natural behavior to establish dominance. Most of the time, the dogs will work it out themselves with the humpee warning the humper to stop with a growl or a snap. Let dogs be dogs and they’ll learn from each other what’s acceptable or not much quicker from each other. However, do be ready step in and remove the offending dog if tempers start to flare or it’s going on for more than a few seconds. Excessive humping can cause aggression not only with the participating parties, but trigger aggressive responses from other nearby dogs. Other behaviors, such as growling or snapping should not be interfered with. By yelling and stopping this natural behavior because you don’t like it, it may create waves in their communications with each other. By stopping your dog from growling, you may be teaching him to skip that warning sign he’s giving and he’ll go straight to biting the next time. Dogs have a way of working everything out themselves. However, if things are getting too intense, try distracting your dog with another activity, or create a loud noise, but avoid yelling.
"Whoa!"  Clancy literally runs into an Aussie.

“Whoa!” Clancy literally runs into an Aussie.


If a dog fight does break out (a rare occurrence which rarely lasts for more than a few seconds), encourage everyone to not scream or yell (which hypes up the dogs more). DO NOT try to separate the dogs by putting your hands/body in the middle of them or try to grab their collars, for you will likely get nipped or bitten. The quickest way to separate the fighting dogs, is for each owner to grab their dog’s hind legs (preferably where the hips connect to the body to avoid injury to the dog), lift and drag him straight back (like a wheelbarrow) then turn him 180 degrees to face away from the other dog. If you are by yourself, do the above method to the attacking dog, and tie him to something, then repeat with the other dog if necessary. There are also citronella sprays on the market to aide in stopping dog fights as well. For more information on how to prevent and stop dog fights, please visit http://www.aspca.org/Pet-care/virtual-pet-behaviorist/dog-articles/breaking-up-a-dogfight.

Clancy can't resist being tempted by a child wanting a doggy kiss.

Clancy can’t resist being tempted by a child wanting a doggy kiss.

* Do not let your dog jump on people – Though dog park patrons should be prepared for muddy paw prints on their outfit, this is a basic rule that should be enforced with all dogs all the time. Not being consistent with the “no jumping on people rule” will make your dog inconsistent in obeying elsewhere.

Clancy claiming a water bucket at the dog park on a hot summer day

Clancy claiming a water bucket at the dog park on a hot summer day

* Bring water for your dog – There’s many travel water devices for dogs out there that make it easy to bring water along for your pooch wherever you two go. Your dog will get thirsty quickly and frequently with all the exercise he’ll be getting at the dog park. While some dog parks supply water, don’t assume it will be there or assume others will let your dog drink their dog’s water. Try to offer your dog water in private, for dogs may get possessive of a water bowl.

* Do not bring treats, dog food, or people food into the dog park – Not only will you have a pack of dogs following your every move, but it could cause tension/fights among the dogs. Also, PLEASE know what foods are toxic to dogs such as grapes and keep them away from the dog park. If you must bring treats as a reward for training your dog, try your best to contain their smell, conceal them and give them to your pup in secret.

* PICK UP AFTER YOUR DOG!!! – Not only is it a health hazard to people and pets for doggie doo-doo to be lying around, but no one wants themselves or their dog to step or roll in it then track it perhaps along with roundworm eggs, into their car or homes. Doggy bags are usually supplied at the parks, but it doesn’t hurt to have a couple grocery or newspaper bags in your pocket in case they’re out. We don’t want to ruin our opportunity to enjoy dog parks, so everyone just needs to do their dooty!

Clancy sneaking in a sniff while the brown dog bows down to play with the dog with the tennis ball.

Clancy sneaking in a sniff while the brown dog bows down to play with the dog with the tennis ball.

*Be cautious of bringing toys to the park – Before engaging in play with a toy with your dog or another dog, sit back and observe all the dogs there. Some dogs are toy aggressive, once a toy is introduced to the environment, it could start fights for dogs getting possessive of a toy. Take away the toy if it negatively affects the dog pack behavior.
dogs hanging out Spreading out at the dog park
* SPREAD OUT! – Dogs love their owners and tend to hang out near them. When the owners congregate together, so do all the dogs… which can lead to aggression from too many dogs being too close together. Often dogs like to just play with one or two playmates at a time, and aggression can occur if they feel like they’re being ganged up on. Also, if everyone congregates in the same place on a daily basis, the ground gets worn and muddy in that spot resulting in dirty dogs and ruined grass.

*Know your dog! – Know your dog’s behavior and signals. Watch for signs that your dog has had enough. Dogs can become over stimulated which can cause anxiety and aggressiveness. Also, when your dog becomes tired, they may get cranky. I know when Clancy has had enough when he suddenly becomes barky.

*Always keep an eye on your dog (and any around you)! – Don’t let him crowd the gate making it difficult for others to leave or enter. Don’t let him dig which creates safety hazards. Always be on the look-out for your dog squatting to be quick to pick up any doggie doo. Be mindful of standing near playing dogs so you’re not knocked down. You even need to be aware of dogs lifting their leg to mark you. (Now don’t you really want to hang out a dog park now?)

Watching your dog have fun, meeting so many different kinds of dogs and chatting with other dog lovers makes it fun to visit the dog park.

Watching your dog have fun, meeting so many different kinds of dogs and chatting with other dog lovers makes it fun to visit the dog park.


While I can appreciate the concerns of those that avoid dog parks due to fear of dog diseases or dog bites, please keep in mind that the vast majority of dog park patrons are responsible dog owners. They have their dogs up to date on their vaccinations, have them on flea/tick prevention and have socialized their dogs. Be sure to do the same and follow the suggestions in this article and you, too, can become a respected dog park patron.

Letting your dog play with other dogs and getting fresh air together is another way to bond together.

Letting your dog play with other dogs and getting fresh air together is another way to bond together.

Though it’s best to consult with your veterinarian, until your puppy has completed all the series of vaccinations, it’s advisable to avoid all places where many dogs go until your pup is fully protected. As soon as they are finished, get them out to the dog park to build the necessary socialization skills to grow up to be a great dog!

To find a dog park near you or near your travel destination, ask other dog owners or anyone in a dog related business. Other good resources include your local Parks and Recreation or doing a search online.

Best friends do everything together! Be your dog’s best friend! -SSB

Please share with us! What and where is your favorite dog park and why??

With many acres of land, a lake with a doggie dock and walking trails throughout the fenced in dog parks, this is Clancy and I's favorite dog park!  Located in Michigan.

With many acres of land, a lake with a doggie dock and walking trails throughout the fenced in dog parks, this is Clancy and I’s favorite dog park! Located in Michigan.

Do you have a Neutered or Spayed Pure-bred dog? You can still show them!

15 Jan

While the point of Conformation events (Dog Shows) is to define the best breeding stock of pure-bred dogs, many responsible dog owners would like to compete in the show ring with their pet dog whom they had altered.

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The United Kennel Club offers “Altered Conformation Classes”. Here, my neutered 1 and a half year old keeshond, Clancy, proudly stands in front of his earned ribbons.

When I got my keeshond puppy, Clancy, I decided I wanted to try every dog sport I could with my dog.

Clancy as a 2 month old keeshond puppy

Clancy as a 2 month old keeshond puppy

When he reached about 6 months of age, it was about time to think about neutering my dog to make him a better pet and to ensure I didn’t accidentally contribute to the pet overpopulation problem. However, if I neutered my pup, I knew I would not be able to experience the AKC show ring. So, I decided to hastily enter him into an American Kennel Club (AKC) show that was just a couple of weeks away to see how we would like it. I learned a lot while I was there… including that I shouldn’t have been there in the first place because I had a “Limited Rights AKC Registration” which was part of my breeder’s contract to prevent people from breeding then registering their puppies. I did not know this rule until it was almost showtime, so to gain the experience, I went ahead and showed Clancy anyway since the judges wouldn’t know it until after the event. Clancy and I ended up winning a couple of ribbons, but I did get a letter from the AKC in the mail a few weeks later saying that my wins and prizes were forfeited due to his “Limited Registration.”

Stacking 6 month old Clancy at his first dog show (AKC)

Stacking 6 month old Clancy at his first dog show (AKC)

Though I had little interest in breeding Clancy, I did want to continue to show him. I enjoyed the excitement of being in the show ring and admiring all the other beautiful dogs. Most of all, I enjoyed talking to and learning from the other keeshond owners. So I contacted Clancy’s breeder to discuss obtaining a “Full Rights” AKC registration and was given the option to do so because she believed in us. Responsible dog breeders try their best to prevent people who buy their puppies from irresponsibly breeding them, so I appreciated the trust that my breeder had in me to give me that option. While I thought about the decision (full rights cost more money), I unfortunately discovered that Clancy had a health concern so I decided to get him neutered. There were many other things we could compete in besides Conformation… but here I had such a beautiful dog and I wanted the show ring experience. Then someone introduced me to the United Kennel Club (UKC).

Getting Clancy ready for the show ring to compete against other altered dogs

Getting Clancy ready for the show ring to compete against other altered dogs

In conformation events, the judge inspects each dog to compare it to what the breed standard is. The dog that most closely compares physically and characteristically to what it is supposed to be, wins. Only those dogs that best represent their breed and have had various health testing should be allowed to breed to produce future generations that uphold those standards. (Breeding should ONLY be done with health-tested dogs that closely adhere to the breed standards with the goal to improve the specific breed of dog.  It ends up costing more money than what’s made selling the puppies. It should only be done by knowledgeable breed enthusiasts.) So, that is essentially the reason to show dogs. However, there’s people like me that want to “do it for fun” or to practice for a future show dog career, so it’s wonderful that the United Kennel Club provides an avenue to do that.

Keeshond Speciality at an AKC Dog Show ...

Keeshond Speciality at an AKC Dog Show …

You can easily register any dog to the United Kennel Club (after meeting a few requirements) and participate in all of their events. While “All-American” dogs (aka mixed-breeds) do not have a breed standard to compete against, therefore they can not participate in Conformation, there are so many other sports they can participate in! If you have a pure-bred dog, you can cross-register them with the UKC and participate in Conformation. Clancy is registered with the AKC, CKC and now the UKC. We have participated in two UKC Altered Conformation events and won two Reserve Best in Show’s. (Had to throw in a quick brag!) 🙂 Depending on your area, there may not be very much competition amongst your breed… so spread the word for everyone to show their neutered or spayed dog for even more fun! For more information on UKC Altered Conformation events, go to: http://www.ukcdogs.com/Web.nsf/WebPages/DogEvents/Conformation

Clancy competing in the UKC Best in Show Altered.

Clancy competing in the UKC Best in Show Altered.


Best friends do everything together! Be your dog’s best friend!
~SSB

UPDATE (MAY 2013): Clancy and I recently did 4 UKC events in one day and did great! We got our first 2 legs of our Rally Obedience 1 title and got a Best in Show (Altered) and another Reserve Best in Show Altered! 🙂 🙂 🙂 Here he is in progress of winning Best in Show and then with most of his ribbons he earned in one day:

Clancy rocked the ring and won Best in Show (UKC - Altered)!  He also earned two legs towards his UKC Rally 1 title on the same day!

Clancy rocked the ring and won Best in Show (UKC – Altered)! He also earned two legs towards his UKC Rally 1 title on the same day!

Clancy and I did 4 UKC events on the same day!  Here's the results:  In the morning we earned 2nd place in Rally O1, and Best in Show (altered class)!  In the afternoon, we earned 1st place in Rally O1 and Reserve Best in Show (altered)!  A good day!

Clancy and I did 4 UKC events on the same day! Here’s the results: In the morning we earned 2nd place in Rally O1, and Best in Show (altered class)! In the afternoon, we earned 1st place in Rally O1 and Reserve Best in Show (altered)! A good day!

UPDATE (JUNE 2013): Clancy just received his ALTERED CHAMPION certificate in the mail! Woohoo! He now has ALT CH in front of his UKC registered name.