Category Archives: Dog Behaviors

New Technology!!

We have been having a really good time making videos of the dogs running around and playing, and then posting it on our YouTube channel.  But things have gotten even better!

There is a new app that let’s you film in slow motion or SUPER slow motion and we have been trying it out.  The videos are amazingly clear and it makes Dawg House look like the National Geographic channel.  Seriously.

We are able to witness subtleties and nuances that we never noticed before. It’s a completely new aspect of dog language.

So, we will be posting these videos alongside our regular videos at www.youtube.com/dawghousedogdaycare.  Each of the videos we post are named after the dogs that appear, and these slo-mo videos will have ‘slo-mo’ in the title as well to make them easy to find.

Check back OFTEN to see these great videos!

Nosework

There’s a new sport in town and it’s called Nosework! One of our regulars, Sammy, started a 6 week course in this sport and came to Dawg House right after his class.  He seemed thrilled! He is also one of the dogs that will spend 15+ minutes in the parking lot early Tuesday and Thursday mornings just sniffing, so we’re not surprised!

Nosework has only been around for a couple years, and most competitions occur in California and New Mexico; a local trainer looks to change that.  JJ Belcher teaches the class on Thursday mornings from 9am-10am at Canada del Oro Riverfront Park at 551 W. Lambert Lane in Oro Valley.  He is hoping to expand his class offerings and have a Saturday morning class in the near future.

During the beginning classes, the dogs work with food.  JJ Belcher sets up a bank of plastic bins and places a treat in one of the bins.  The idea is for the dog to find it, and then of course, they get to eat it. Each dog is only given about 5 minutes to do so because it’s important for the dog not to lose interest.

After the dogs have the process down, they move to Q-tips that are dipped in essential oils.  The three scents they use are birch, clove and anise.  And, of course, are given a treat when the scent is discovered. After a dog has mastered the bins, the search area is expanded.  For competition,  the area can be as large as a large parking lot.

The wonderful thing about this type of competitive sport is that any age dog can participate.  From an 8 week old puppy to a senior dog—they only have to use their nose.  It’s a fun and challenging sport for any age and fitness level.

For more information, please contact the Oro Valley Parks and Rec Dept at 229-5050.  They can answer any questions about upcoming classes, and also get you registered if you are interested.

Thanks to Sammy’s parents for letting us know about this great addition to the Tucson dog community!

Lobby Etiquette

In the past several months, we have had many new dogs join our pack at Dawg House, which makes this the perfect time to explain our rules and expectations for our lobby.

When you are in the lobby with your dog,  please make sure your dog is leashed and under your control.  This is for several reasons–first off, the door to the outside can open at any time, leaving a loose dog vulnerable.  Also, as much as we try to maintain a safe lobby, there are items and foods to which your dog should not have access.  The only way to insure they don’t is to keep them leashed and under control.

In addition, we have many dogs that are truly excellent daycare dogs—sweet and friendly, playful and enjoyable, until “Mom” or “Dad” enters the picture.  We have several clients that call from the parking lot for us to remove the dogs from the playroom safely, and others that need a wide berth when entering and leaving.  Because of this,  please don’t approach a dog in the lobby without asking if it’s okay;  but also, please be respectful and move away from the gate as people are exiting. Many of the dogs that attend Dawg House are rescue dogs, and have some real trust issues as well.  They are fearful of strangers, and may even bite if touched when afraid.  We do our best to maintain a calm and conflict free entrance and exit,  so by giving people and their dogs plenty of room, you will help with the process.

What happens when two dogs are in the lobby together? It’s fairly similar to the above situation–many dogs are BEST buddies when they are running around for hours together, loose in the playroom.   Get them on the other side of the fence, or on their lead in the lobby with another dog, and immediate conflict arises.  For this reason, please keep your dog on a short lead and don’t let your dog approach another dog in the lobby; it may not end well.

The final piece of this puzzle is how to handle your time in the intro area/airlock.  Because during pickup and drop off time our entire job is to safely get dogs in and out of the pack, we ask that you remain calm and avoid putting fingers through the fence to touch the other dogs that are present.  We know how completely adorable the pack is, and also how exciting it is to see your dog after a long day of work.  However, excited and high-pitch sweet talking or paying lots of attention to the dogs through the fence, can both cause over-arousal and can lead to conflict.   The dogs will compete with each other to get to the person doling out affection, and actually get aggressive in doing so.  We don’t want to dampen your excitement,  but it will actually help in training your dog to greet you more calmly as well.

We are so happy to have all of you new clients as part of our pack, and also to have the dogs that have been with us for a long time.  We wouldn’t be here without you, and our goal is the same–safe, fun play for the dogs that actually helps build their confidence, and wears them out for the night!

World’s Oldest Dog Died

Not sure if you all saw this past week that the world’s oldest dog died.  Pusuke, who died at the ripe old age of 26! He was a mixed breed that lived near Tokyo, Japan.

Apparently, he was eating regularly and active up until the day before he passed.  He began to have difficulty breathing and suddently wasn’t interested in his food.  Pusuke then passed peacefully shortly after his owner arrived home.  His owner believes that Pusuke waited for his return.

Born in April of 1985, Pusuke was recognized last December as the world’s oldest-living dog by Guinness.

The oldest-known dog on record, according to Guinness, was an Australian cattle dog named Bluey, who lived to the ripe old age of 29 years and five months before it was put down in November 1939.

What an amazing prospect—having our dogs live for 26 years! Sign us up!

New Addition + Gentle Leader

A couple of weeks ago, Christopher and I welcomed a new addition into our family.  She is an almost 1 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd mix.  She came with the name “Miss Bella”, but didn’t seem particularly attached or responsive to Bella, so we renamed her Clio (at the suggestion of my 6 year old niece).  My first dog’s name was Bella, so it didn’t feel right anyway.

The first couple of days when she joined us on our family morning walks,  I leashed up Finnegan with the Gentle Leader that I used every time I walk him.  Clio only weighs 40 lbs, though….how much trouble could she be? I hooked the leash directly to her collar and off we went.

Saw our first bird—she went ballistic.  Saw our first dog behind a fence—she went ballistic.  Saw a dog about 100 feet away—you guessed it.  During the week, Christopher and I walk the dogs alone, and he was having the same experience.  Her form of ballistic was quite graceful and ballet-like…flipping into the air while “singing” in a LOUD falsetto voice. Not what I was going for at all.

So, off to the pet store to get a Gentle Leader.  So many people through the years of owning Dawg House have asked me about leash training.  It is quite common to simply want to go for a nice walk with your dog,  and have it quickly turn into a nightmare.  Reactivity on the leash happens all the time; the Gentle Leader can really help with that.

In addition to preventing your dog from pulling (it works much like a horse bridle and reigns—your dog pulls and he/she ends up pulling herself in a circle, back at you), but it also works with pressure points on the dogs head to give a calming effect.  You have complete control of your dogs’ head as well, so if they are helping themselves to one of life’s many “treats” they may find on the ground, you can immediately pull their snout away.

This gadget really works so well…and most dogs take to it pretty immediately.  Occasionally, you’ll get some protest…but once your dog realizes that putting the Gentle Leader on means WALKIES!!, they get over that pretty quickly.  It also gives the advantage of choosing if you want to simply go for nice walk for exercise and fun, or for a training walk to work on commands and control with your dog.  You can do either immediately, and that changes everything.

So, got home with the Gentle Leader (in a medium! I’ve never had a dog this small since my childhood dog Winston!), put it on her…and her entire demeanor changed.  I think it actually gave her a physical reminder that there were boundaries, and she needed that SO badly.  She didn’t need to be so wild and out of control and it visibly made her more content.

Now…if it would only help to teach her boundaries in the house…”No, Clio, whatever is on the kitchen counter is NOT a snack for you…”

Radiolab: Dogs Gone Wild

RADIOLAB is one of our very favorite podcasts around here, and since this week’s episode focuses on dogs, we thought it might be nice to share! Here’s a description of the episode and link, where you can listen online or download to your ears….

In ourNew Normal episode, we talked to evolutionary biologist Brian Hare about what happens to animals when they get domesticated. In this podcast, we turn that question around and wonder about the remnants of wildness in our household pets.

When Lulu Miller first heard the call of coyotes as a teenager at her family’s cabin in Cape Cod, she loved the sound—it was a thrilling taste of a world that hadn’t been tamed. But one night, she and her family came back to the cabin to find that their much loved, and very domesticated, terrier Charlie was missing. When they called him, they heard a loud yelp from the forest, followed by a chorus of howls … and never saw Charlie again.

Lulu and our producer Soren Wheeler talk to Brian Hare about what he thinks might’ve happened to Charlie and ask him whether a domestic animal can ever really return to the wild. To explain, he tells them the strange tale of the New Guinea Singing Dogs.

Dog Daycare Goals and Perceptions

Dawg House dawgs have individual and diverse personalities, levels of energy, play and relaxation styles, mental and physical stimulation needs. Under one big roof, in essentially one big indoor dog park, we work hard to address all those things. We also try to find out what your long and short-term goals are as the mom and dad, and work toward those!

1. Some dawgs have a ton of energy every day, all day, and need to “get out the crazies” with other dogs on a regular basis. These dogs play hard and fast at daycare and need a human referee to make sure they play safe.

2. Some dawgs are shy or introverted, and need some dawg-and-human time outside of what their mom and dad can provide on a regular basis. Daycare is all about socialization: we specifically work toward the positive socialization of dawgs in a pack environment. Being exposed to other dawgs and humans in an outside-of-the-home environment on a regular basis is important for building confidence and providing mental stimulation.

3. Some dawgs have boundary issues or other social quirks that could use adjustment or refining. Maybe they need reinforcement with training issues like jumping up on people, “demand” barking, a too-aggressive play style, or just learning how to play well with others. We work very hard at Dawg House, refining play styles and setting boundaries in a social environment. We also work hard reinforcing good play styles with positive feedback.

Most dawgs have a little of all of these things in their personalities. Most dawgs could use some reinforcement in their basic training (sit, stay, no bark, down, off), positive reinforcement in their play style (good job, Mr. Pickles!), social exposure to other dawgs in a supervised, safe pack environment, mental and physical stimulation, and just a nice change of scenery with friends.

We know that folks watch the Dawgie Cam from work and home, and often have questions or concerns about what they observe. On any given day, you can watch dawgs playing hard and fast, relaxing in a group nap session, sniffing and wrestling, and you can see how humans regulate these activities.

We get questions about what people see. Maybe Mr. Pickles doesn’t seem to be as perky as usual – this could be that they’re just easing into things, or waiting for a different group to play with, or just watching. Maybe Mr. Pickles hasn’t been on cam after a particularly aggressive play session – this could mean they’re resting in another area, or a human has given them a neutral ‘time out’ to regulate the energy level of the group. Maybe a wrestling match looks a little fierce – not to worry – a human is always paying attention, watching and listening for warnings that things might be too heated.

As “dog behaviorists” we do our best to address both long-term and short-term dog daycare goals. A short term goal might be “I need Mr. Pickles nice and tired tonight because I’m having people over for dinner.” A long term goal might be “Mr. Pickles has been skittish around other dogs, and I want to make sure to reinforce positive interactions with him by bringing him to daycare.”

There are some mis-conceptions about how this works, however. We do try to communicate to new clients that it is best to bring your dog regularly in order that they get used to dog daycare, the pack environment, the human referees, and all that goes with the daily cycle. As dogs become regulars, we try to reinforce longer-term goals like basic training commands, positive play, and how to adjust to an ever-changing pack. Dawgs do need to come on a regular basis in order for these reinforcements to become natural and habitual. They forget, and they get out of practice. A skittish dog that takes a couple of weeks off or has a bad experience at the dog park or on a walk may take a few steps back and need to catch up on their confidence all over. We don’t pressure folks to come more often, but we do emphasize the importance of positive, regular social exposure.

More on how these things work in future blog posts… and we’d love to hear feedback from you!

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