Monday, April 30

Introducing Baby to Dog

Babies are still on my mind after a weekend of seeing my friend's new babies and helping a couple of clients prepare for a new arrival and another one introduce their dog to their baby for the first time.  K9 Magazine Blog had a great set of tips on this exact subject.  It is loaded with great information for any expecting or new parents with dogs.

No matter how amazing your dog may be, you never truly know how they will handle a baby coming into their home.  That is why it is essential to prepare your dog as much as you are preparing your home and yourselves.  The information below can help you do just that. 

Start your preparations early
As soon as you know there is a new baby on the way, you and your family will begin to prepare yourselves for the changes ahead. Your family dog will also need to be prepared for the new arrival, as there will be alterations to the home environment and routine once the baby comes into the house.
With a little forward planning, you can get your dog used to the changes well in advance, so that he should hardly notice any difference when the baby actually arrives.
You should start to make preparations four months in advance of the birth – do not leave it until the baby has arrived. The whole family can enjoy the benefits that having a dog can bring by following the advice in this leaflet.
How will your dog react to your new baby?
If your dog has already experienced the arrival of a new baby, and has coped well, you should not have too many problems. However, if this is the first time your dog will be living with a new baby, then ask yourself the following questions:
• What sort of relationship will you have with your dog when the baby arrives?
• Once the baby comes, will you want to exclude your dog from certain areas of the house?
• Does your dog have any behavioural problems? If so, they may get worse once a baby has arrived. You should contact your vet for a referral to a dog behaviour counsellor if you need help.
If you are happy with your dog’s behaviour, then you can proceed with the general advice given in this leaflet.

Before the baby is born

• Handling
Your dog should be able to tolerate being stroked around the chest, shoulders, back, legs, tail and head without any problems. Handling exercises are to be done when your dog is calm and quiet – do not turn these exercises into a game or the dog may learn to wriggle, struggle and play-bite.
• Sounds
Play tape recordings of a baby crying, gurgling and screaming for short periods, and always follow this with something your dog finds rewarding (e.g. give the dog a titbit or have a game). Repeat this procedure until the dog begins to associate the sudden onset of the crying noise with a treat.
• New smells and objects
Get the dog used to baby powder, soaps, shampoos and baby milk by using them in the home in the weeks leading up to the baby’s arrival. Playpens, cots, pushchairs, highchairs and changing mats should be in place before the baby arrives too.
• Exercise
When you walk your dog now, think about how much exercise he gets, if he pulls on the lead, comes back when called or whether he is aggressive to other dogs. Once the baby arrives you will have to manage any problems in addition to wheeling a pram or pushchair. In addition, new mothers may be in some physical discomfort after having the baby, so you will need to make sure that the dog can be physically controlled. If your dog pulls on the lead, you could purchase a harness or a head collar (e.g. a ‘Gentle Leader’) that helps to stop dogs pulling.
See how often friends or relatives might be willing to walk the dog while you are still pregnant. This will give you an indication of the amount of exercise he will receive if you are unable to take him out yourself. If you think the dog will receive shorter or fewer walks once the baby arrives then you need to change the routine a few weeks in advance.
If the dog gets fewer walks he will need to use up his energy some other way, otherwise he will get bored.
Bored dogs are not happy, and they may become stressed and destructive. Don’t try to make up for fewer walks by giving your dog more food treats. You will only make him overweight and unhealthy. Try to compensate for fewer walks by playing more games with him and consider paying a responsible dog-walker to take him out for you.
• Training 
Get your dog used to staying at home without you, by leaving him for short periods initially, and slowly progressing to longer periods. Consider joining a dog-training class. Visit the class without your dog before you book and always make sure the trainer is friendly and uses kind, reward-based methods of instruction without the use of choke chains and punishment.
• Food
A large percentage of accidents occur when babies or toddlers approach a dog’s food bowl, or when the baby tries to take a dog’s bone or chew. Your dog will have to learn not to guard his food bowl and should learn how to take food treats gently – without grabbing the hand.
• Attention
Your new baby will take up a lot of your time. You will have visitors to see the baby, including family, friends, and health visitors. Even the best parents in the world are unlikely to be able to give their dog the same amount of attention once the baby arrives. The dog will feel left out if it does not receive attention after the baby is born. Your dog will quickly learn to do things which force you to take notice of it (e.g. stealing nappies).
The best way to prepare your dog for a change in the amount of attention he receives is to try and reduce any contrast between the amount of attention he will receive before and after the birth. In advance of the baby’s arrival, the dog should be taught to tolerate periods when he does not receive any attention from you.
You should regularly give your dog attention for 20 minutes. Then, when the 20 minutes is up, you should completely ignore the dog for the next 20 minutes (no verbal, physical or eye contact) as should anyone else in the household.
• Toys
Dog toys and baby toys are often made of similar materials. Some toys even make the same kind of noise, such as a squeak. It is not surprising then, that some dogs become confused about who owns the toy.
Limit the number of toys that your dog has to two or three and pick them up and put them out of reach at the end of a game. This will teach your dog that you are the one in charge of the games. In addition, it prevents the baby from accidentally picking up the dog’s toys and putting them in its mouth. Encourage your dog to give up their toy for you whenever you ask. Never be aggressive when you attempt to take the toy from the dog – otherwise you will teach him to guard his toys.
• A quiet place to go
dogs should always have a quiet, safe place to go to whenever they need to rest. This will be especially important to them once the baby arrives and eventually begins to toddle about. Dogs will need to be given their own space. Teach the dog to go to a place (e.g. a mat in the corner of a room). It can be close to you and makes the dog feel safe and happy. An indoor kennel (also known as a cage or dog crate) could also be considered for those times when the dog needs peace.
• Resting and sleeping places
You should decide if you intend to change where your dog currently rests and sleeps, once the baby has arrived. For example, if it lies on your sofa every evening and sleeps next to you in bed, are you happy for this to continue? If not, make all changes well in advance so the dog does not associate the change with the arrival of the baby.
• Health matters
Make sure that your dog is in good physical health. Your dog should also be free from fleas and worms. Any suspicions about illness or developing ailments should be checked out by a qualified veterinary surgeon. Any pain or irritation that the dog experiences will lower his threshold for aggression (i.e. if he is in pain, he will be less tolerant about being handled and more likely to growl, snap or bite).

After the baby is born

• First introductions
When a new mum meets the dog for the first time after coming out of hospital, the dog is probably going to be very excited. The best way to carry out this first introduction will be when the dog is tired – after a long walk and play session. Firstly, the dog should be reunited with the mother when she is not with the baby, as the dog is likely to get excited and jump up at her. Later, the baby should be introduced in a quiet room where the dog has few associations – not in a place where the dog usually sleeps or eats.
• Praise your dog
Associate the baby’s presence with positive, enjoyable experiences for your dog. When your dog is behaving well around the baby, give lots of gentle praise and tasty titbits. The first interaction should be under control with the baby being held in the adult’s arms and the dog allowed to sniff the child. The dog will appear interested for few seconds and will then lose interest. When he backs away you should praise him and give him a treat.
Carry on with the normal daily duties and routine and the dog should accept the new arrival readily.  Dogs will be very patient while you adapt to life with a new baby, so don’t forget to include them.
• Hygiene
People who do not have dogs of their own may try and encourage you to rehome your dog due to hygiene. It is essential that your dog be treated for worms and fleas regularly, using products from your vet. Don’t leave dirty nappies on the floor, as they can cause the dog to wet or mess on that spot. Nappies can also be apdogising for certain dogs, so it is essential that any ‘nappy bin’ has a sealed lid and is emptied regularly. Use antibacterial soap to clean your hands after feeding, grooming, cleaning or playing with your dog.
• Supervision
Do not place the baby on the floor with the dog and never leave your dog unsupervised with a baby, not even for a second. This includes all dogs, even those with an excellent temperament. The use of a screen door for the baby’s nursery allows you to keep the door shut, but still see and hear the baby.
• Toddlers
dog owners should be aware that their baby will soon start crawling and toddling, and that it is important for them to remain vigilant once the child starts to move about of its own accord. It is especially important to provide the dog with a safe place to rest and relax, which is inaccessible to the toddler. This will avoid the situation where the dog is continually followed, cornered and pestered by the infant.
This may all seem like basic common sense, but that is easy to say when you are not the parents expecting.  Life changes very quickly and even more so after the baby, and that is just from a human perspective, imagine how your dog feels.  So it is important to try to get your dog as prepared as possible so they can be as happy about the baby as you are.

This is an issue I am dealing with more and more as a trainer and have had great success.  Much of what I instruct my clients are things listed above, but there are a few other key actions and exercises that can help reduce the anxiety your dog may feel and prepare them for the new addition to the family.

For training on this matter or any other matter, just give me a bark!  BARK!

Friday, April 27

Baby's Best Friend

This week has been an eventful one!  Two of my close friend's had babies, so I now have baby on the brain.  As I thought about what I wanted to do for this Friday blog, I knew it had to include babies and dogs.  Having a doggie best friend growing up is one of the most amazing things.  I feel extremely lucky to have had dogs around me and taking care of me my whole life.

This video is about a little girl and her special German Shepherd friend.  There is a series of these, so if you want to see the little girl grow up with her loyal K-9 friend, just search Ace and Keira on YouTube.  Enjoy!

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something special with your dog.

Thursday, April 26

Strengthen The Bond With Your Dog

A few days ago K9 Magazine had an article entitled How to Strengthen the Bond With Your Dog.  There are so many good tips in this article and all things that I do with my students and even with my own dog.  The overall message is completely in line with reward based training and truly creating an amazing bond with your dog.  For your reading pleasure the article is below, please keep in mind this is a British publication so certain words are spelled slightly different than the American spelling.

Man’s best friend is famous, of course, for his devotion, unconditional love and natural predisposition toward human affection. But for many owners, a little more insight on how to strengthen the bond with their canine friend can certainly reap rewards. Behaviour expert Linda Robins A.P.D.T. explains how to get an even closer relationship with your dog.
Bond between humans and dogs
When choosing a puppy pick a breed that suits your lifestyle. Many people choose a dog for the way it looks. Big mistake! It is well worth seeking expert advice from your vet or a behaviourist. These people see different breeds on a regular basis and will be pleased to advise you.
Young puppies
The ideal age to collect your puppy is in his 7th week. This will ensure you have him at a time when his bonding is at its natural peak.
Spend time playing with your puppy. Socialising is very important from an early age. Carry the puppy (if he has not had his injections yet) around public places. Without a doubt people will be stopping you to talk to and touch your puppy – a wonderful way to socialise him.
Arrange to have plenty of spare time when you collect your puppy. This will give you the opportunity to get house training well on its way.
House training
To house train a puppy without stress or worry means being with him for most of his waking hours, to be able to go outside with him at regular intervals. If you are unable to do this, house training is likely to take a long time and may cause frustration for you, which the puppy will also pick up. This is not conducive to strengthening the bond.
Keep the puppy with you at night. Put his bed beside yours or crate train him and use this as his bed. Having him close to you will help strengthen the bond. Having him beside you will help with house training, as you will be aware of when he wakes in the early hours, as is likely to happen. “Puppies should be carried upstairs, rather than going up themselves as damage could be caused to their joints.”
When I am asked to take a puppy in for house training I crate train (for the night time), and let him sleep next to me. I then get up at around 6-30 AM, carry the puppy outside, and wait with him until he “goes”.
I also take him outside at night at around 12 so he has every opportunity to learn to control his bowels. This 6 hour period can be stretched quickly once the routine is established.
It is important for your puppy’s long-term routine that he learns to be comfortable whilst on his own, so use these first few weeks to teach him this. Give him time out occasionally throughout the day with SAFE toys and SAFE nylon bones. Fill a couple of hollow toys with part of his daily rations. Hide them (in obvious places for a puppy) so he has to search and forage for his food. This will give him pleasure and tire him. Arrange for somebody to pop in a few times each day if you have to go out for longer than 3hrs, to give him time and company and to feed him. A young puppy needs 4 meals daily (more if under 14 weeks and depending on the breed you have). 
When you arrive home do not expect your puppy to be calm. He will be very pleased to see you, will have slept while you have been out and will be expecting some fun and games. Ensure the play is constructive by slotting in some basic commands followed by joyous praise and a game with a ball.
Strengthening the bond with older dogs
Start with basic obedience exercises. Exercises such as sit, down, stay, walking to heel, recall, retrieve or trick training will develop interaction between you and your dog. Use tasty teats or a favourite toy to encourage your dog’s attention and motivation to respond. Guide your dog into position using a treat THEN put the command in.
When out walking, if the recall is not reliable, use a flexi lead as back up if your dog does not come on the first command. When he returns to you, always praise and reward. NEVER be cross if he doesn’t come back. Consider it your fault not his and start the recall training again from scratch.
Teaching a happy responsive recall helps strengthen the bond between you. Do this frequently, praising and rewarding each time Play with your dog in the house. If you have a sensitive dog play on the floor to increase confidence. If you have a bossy/independent dog use constructive play with a toy on a rope.
Retain or strengthen your dog’s respect for you by being fair, rewarding good behaviour. Remember that dogs are conflict solving animals and really want to get it right. By being fair to your dog he will give you his trust.
With some dogs you may have to work hard to achieve this, especially if he has his wires crossed as to what is right or wrong. But with guidance and the proper type of advice and training an amazing amount of improvement is possible. I have turned around horrendous cases and clients have been amazed at the improvement and change in their dog’s behaviour generally. By strengthening the bond you too can improve your dog’s behaviour.
It is not a good idea to send a dog away for behaviour counselling if he does have serious problems i.e. biting visitors/family members. This may lead to increased anxiety/insecurity, resulting in even worse behaviour. When asked to take a case such as this I prefer to visit the dog in his home and meet any people that play an important part of his daily life. These consultations are aimed at enlightening owners on how to strengthen the bond with their dog to dilute and avoid behaviour problems.
Don’t be tempted to send your dog to a large training establishment that may well increase his behaviour problems. However, if you do need to look for residential training make sure your dog lives as one of the family while being treated. When I take in a dog with training or behaviour problems he lives as one of the family with the emphasis on domestic training, to make him socially acceptable.
Strengthening the bond with a rescued dog
Don’t underestimate the lengthy process of rehabilitating a dog that has suffered the stress of re-homing and rescue kennels. Let him settle in, but above all, make sure he understands the house rules from the start. Don’t over indulge him in an attempt to strengthen the bond between you. Give him a week or so to settle in, then start with very basic obedience exercises, rewarding good behaviour. When he comes over to you praise him with your voice and a treat. When he sits freely praise again and reward. Avoid correcting him wherever possible….he may have developed bad habits in his previous home through no fault of his own. Take the opportunity of bad behaviour away.
For example if he steals from the worktops, keep them absolutely clear of anything he may find interesting. He will soon lose the habit if it is non-rewarding to him. If he jumps at visitors put him on the lead. Distract him then offer him a chance to redeem himself with a simple command…praise and reward.
There are endless ways to lose bad habits without being cross with him.
If you have any doubts about your dog’s response to your efforts at strengthening the bond, have him checked over by your vet to eliminate the possibility of medical problems. If a dog is in pain he will not be able to respond well to your attempts at bonding or training.
Before going to an obedience class check out the trainer- are they APDT member? If not ask to see the trainer with their own dogs; do their dogs look happy? Do the other dogs in the class look relaxed and are the other owners interested in listening to what the trainer has to say? By training your dog using positive methods in a fair yet effective way you really will strengthen the bond between you.
 Overall, I don't believe in taking in a dog for training away from the owner, but I do agree there are certain situations that may be the only way to get through to the dog.  Training is never easy nor is the process of creating and maintaining a bond with your dog.  But it is well worth it when you get to enjoy the product of all that work!

For information on training with Bark & Clark, bark on the link:  BARK!

Tuesday, April 24

Dog Park Discussion

Saturday morning I was reading my daily Dogster Blog and was so pleased to see the topic of Dog Parks.  The title was Dog Parks - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?.  I have shared the blog below, I think all the major points are represented.  Take a look and I will weigh in with my opinions after.

Let's Talk: Dog Parks - Love 'Em or Hate 'Em?

When I started research for the first edition of my book, The Dog Lover’s Companion to California, there were just a handful of fenced-in dog parks in the entire Golden State. I raved about these parks and gave them a four-paw rating and lots of space in my book, because they were so dog-focused, so safe from cars, and mostly so unique.
Fast-forward a couple of decades to 2012 and the seventh edition. The world has gone to the dogs. At least the U.S. has. There are thousands of these dog parks across the country -- hundreds in California alone. I’ve had to rein in the descriptions to the point where some are as short as three sentences, and have removed dog-friendly events from the book because there just wasn’t enough room for everything. (The book is 1,006 pages. Big enough!)
Dog parks be great places for pooches to run around in leash-free bliss. But there's another side to dog parks that's not all wags and smiling snouts. Along the way, I’ve had mixed feelings about dog parks. Most people and dogs thrive in them, and they’re huge social outlets for both species. People can take their dog for a “talk” instead of a walk, and the dogs generally seem to enjoy sniffing each other’s tushies and chasing each other around with abandon.
But I’ve seen more than my share of problems at dog parks as well. It’s an occupational hazard when you visit hundreds of dog parks for your job. When a lot of dogs share a relatively small space where they can’t get out, and where people often aren’t paying attention, it can be a recipe for trouble.
There aren’t that many dog parks I’ll take Jake to by choice if lots of other dogs are around. As big and affable as he is, when he enters a park, he seems to attract every dog (not uncommon) and they tend to surround him and try to be dominant on and around him (not so common). It’s like he has a sign saying, “Hump me, guys! And come growl at me, too!” These days, if I’m going to check out a park that’s full of dogs, I don’t bring Jake.
During my visits to dog parks with and without my canine assistant, I’ve seen a lot of happiness and real joy. There’s nothing like watching a dog tearing around gleefully, with her tail high and a smile on her snout. And most of the people who use them are friendly and extremely responsible. They’re invested in their park try to make sure everyone is safe. If there’s a problem, they deal with it.
I’ve also seen my share of the not-so-good side of dog parks: Aggression, smaller dogs being trampled (shaken, not badly injured, thankfully; dog parks with a section just for little dogs helps this problem), and owners who ignore any bad behavior or anything their dog does at all - including pooping.
It can get downright ugly sometimes. Dogs have died in dog parks. Last month, a Siberian husky allegedly killed a Chihuahua at a fenced dog park in Ohio. Dogs and people have been bitten in dog parks. People have even become physically aggressive with other people if they felt their dog was getting a bad rap about something.
Dog parks are unfortunately no strangers to aggressive dog.

A writing colleague and I have plans to meet tomorrow, and when she found out I have a dog, she suggested we meet at a fenced dog park halfway between our houses. Our meeting is to be in the morning, but that’s doggy rush hour -- not a great time for an dog magnet like Jake. So she and I are leaving the dogs behind and grabbing breakfast instead.
But it got me to wondering what you guys think about dog parks. Do you use them? Do you avoid them? Have you had great experiences, terrible ones, or both? Please share your stories. Let’s talk!
 I have not been a dog park supporter for quite some time, but mainly that has to do with the dog parks that are around me in the Los Angeles area.  There are a few scattered around between the valley, west side and Pasadena area that are okay.  But my rule is to stay away from them.

My feelings are not without warrant.  These parks are too crowded most of the time, not all the dogs are safe to be there, meaning they are not properly socialized or out right aggressive and my biggest issue is that the majority of people going do not stay engaged with their dog.

I like that this article points out the three biggest problems that have made dog parks unsafe, owners not paying attention to their dogs, over crowding and aggressive dogs being present.

Look, I have a soft spot for aggressive dogs, especially having a general understanding of how they got that way.  These are not "bad" dogs that should be hidden away from society, but you do have to be responsible so they do not hurt other dogs or themselves.  Which is why an aggressive dog has no business being at the dog park, their interactions with other dogs should be much more regulated than that.  Not just for the safety of the other dogs and people but to help them.

As I said, my number one complaint is that people turn their dog loose and then check out.  To allow your dog to be free and then disengage with them is a recipe for disaster on a lot of levels.  Even if they make all the right choices as far as interacting with other dogs, what if they eat something bad or go home with someone else.  YOU HAVE TO PAY ATTENTION.

But that is just the fenced in dog parks, there is another matter I want to bring up, especially to all of you living Downtown.  Just down the street on 2nd street and Spring Street there is a lawn behind the police station (ironic) and it has turned into an off leash dog park.  Here is my first problem, THERE IS NO FENCE!  I watch dogs run into the street, at least once a day as I walk past this lawn multiple times a day.  I have even had a dog run right in front of my car as I drove by, thankfully I was going extremely slow or I may not have been able to stop in time.

There have been multiple dogs hit and injured and there was talk that one has even died.  Now there are Lost Dog signs up all around the park, I have to wonder if the dog ran off from there. I know people just unleash there dog not knowing if the dog has a proper recall or not.  I have literally watched someone, with me and my dog's help, trap their dog to get them back or the dog would not have come back.

Then there is the issue of dog fights that break out and a majority of the people in the park are not handling it correctly.  If your dog is aggressive, why take him to this park?  Doing an alpha roll and scolding them are not going to stop them from being aggressive again, so when the dog is released they go right back into fight mode.

The last point I will make about this park specifically is the bullying factor.  I do not tell people what to do with their dogs, I will help when it looks like a dog's safety is in danger and if asked I will give my thoughts and opinions, but for the most part I feel that your dog is your dog and you have every right to make the choices you want to so long as you are not hurting your dog.  So when I walk my dog or a dog I am looking after through or by this park during the more down times on leash I do not expect to be told that this is for off leash dogs.  In fact, it is not an off leash zone and to tell me that a public space is off limits to me and my dog just because I don't want to take my dog off leash in an unsafe area is absurd to me.  I have literally been yelled out of the park because I would not take my dog off leash and the one or two dogs that were there wouldn't leave my dog alone as he found his potty spot on the edges of the park. 

My belief is that you do not need to go to the dog park, you can go to a regular park and take a long line for your dog.  If you are trying to get more dog on dog interaction, then invite a friend or two for your dog.  I do this all the time and have a great time and my dog is in heaven.  I know the dogs he is interacting with and I know the people are like minded.  If there are problems of any sort, we are on the same page and take care of it immediately.

So, what about you?  What do you think about dog parks?  If you are a Downtowner, what do you think of the 2nd street park?

Monday, April 23

Visit To The Snow

Yesterday I promised my dog he would finally see snow and I was able to keep my promise!  We got a late start, as I had to work for the better part of the day, but luckily we only had to drive for about an hour and half before I found some suitable snow.  I was so focused on getting my dog to the snow, I didn't really pay attention to the hike I just signed me, my boyfriend and our friend up for.  The dogs (Neville and one of his best friend's Zoe) had no problem with this hike, but for the humans, going almost straight up the side of a mountain is not ideal with no walking stick and appropriate shoes... but anything for our dogs, right?!

It was so much fun!  Watching them chase each other through the snow, stopping only to grab a bite of it here and there.  They climbed on top of the rocks and jumped over huge fallen trees.  It was well worth the effort we but forth.  And what a beautiful way to celebrate Earth Day!

When it was time to leave, like the teenager he is, Neville whined and cried to stay longer.  He was having too much fun for it to be over.  But as we drove away it took about 3 minutes before he curled up in the back seat and was sound to sleep for the rest of the ride home.  Leaving me and my boyfriend to enjoy the amazing views of the sun starting to set as we drove down the mountain.

Such a beautiful and fun day.

Friday, April 20

Happy Early Earth Day!

Don't forget that Sunday, April 22nd is Earth Day!   Make sure you and your pooch get out there and do something good for the earth.  Plant a tree and let your dog dig the whole.  Or organize a beach clean up day while the pooch takes a swim!  There are a lot of ways to be good to our earth and have fun at the same time!

For all of you Downtowner's don't miss out on Pussy & Pooch's Earth Day Celebration sale!  I will for sure be hitting the store to take advantage of the discounts!  Here is what is going on:

Celebrate Earth Day - One Day Sale (In-Store Only)
Save 10% (Treat Rewards Members Save 15%) in-store on select eco-friendly products on Earth Day - Sunday, April 22 – One-Day Only.
We are spotlighting some of the best brands committed to reducing the impact of pets and people on the environment like Planet Dog, Big Shrimpy, West Paw, and More!
Here's a list of what’s on-sale:
Planet Dog | toys
West Paw | toys and bedding
Big Shrimpy | bedding
KittyPod | furniture and scratchers
Better Buddies | bedding
Tipsy Nip | cat toys and treats
Etta Says | dog collars
Organikat | scratchers and cat toys
Go Pet | cat toys
 Sounds good right?!

Whatever you do and however you celebrate, make sure you include your pup and have a fun and safe weekend!

Thursday, April 19

Police Dog Doing It's Job or Going Too Far?

I think I have made my feelings about working dogs very known, I stand in awe of them most of the time.  These brave and selfless souls do everything from guide the blind to protect and serve as police officers.  No matter what the "work" is, it requires a certain temperament and personality from the dog and that is the key reason I respect them so much.  Not every dog could do these tasks.  This is even more the reason I am bringing this clip I saw on the news the other day to you.

I believe that dogs that work in the police field or military, because of the strict training and aggressiveness they must have in that work (same as people), they can take it too far or the training starts to fade a bit and the dog starts to make more of the decisions rather than waiting for the handlers cue.  This is what I felt when I saw this story.

The clip of the news is below, but I watched a local broadcast here and they actually said that the dog would not let go until they cut the shorts off the suspect.  To me that is a little extreme, these dogs are suppose to have release cues.  I believe you can see the handler giving the release cue and the dog is not backing off.  Now, it is completely possible that because the suspect was being aggressive toward the dog or still moving around, he did not let go.  The officer that explains what happened seemed to think it went perfectly well.  Please watch so you can form your own opinion.

Don't get me wrong, I am still a big fan of the work these guys do.  It is a very serious job and one mistake could mean their life or the life of another officer, so I do understand they can't be soft with these situations.  My concern is, is this a dog that needs a break, a training refresher course or is he simply doing his job exactly as they want him to.  I am certainly no expert on this subject, so I am turning to you.  Let me know what you think.

Wednesday, April 18

A Loyal Friend

I'm sure you have all seen this story on the news by now, I have been following it as the tale unfolds, one dog laying beside her fallen friend in the middle of a busy street.  The image of the two dogs is extremely moving and sad.  The word loyalty could not be better illustrated than this image.

Below is the video that was taken by a good Samaritan that had also set up traffic cones to prevent "Grace" (as the rescuers named her) from being hit and her friend from being hit again.  He also called animal authorizes to come and help the two dogs.

After this story broke and "Grace" was taken in by Los Angeles County Department of Animal Care and Control shelter in Baldwin Park, her owners finally came forward to claim her.  "Grace" is actually Maggie.  It took a few days for them to find her,  but she was not micro chipped, wore no identification and was not spayed, so it made it impossible for the shelter to contact the owners.

Apparently Maggie had been missing for a few days and the owners were searching everywhere for her, including the very shelter that ended up receiving her before she got there.  Today, the family will take Maggie home, pending a home inspection.

As for her fallen friend, still no one has claimed her. 

If there is a message that we all can take away, please get your dogs micro chipped or at the very least make them wear I.D. tags and of course, get your pets spayed or neutered.

Monday, April 16

Acupuncture For Neville

Today was the start of something new for Neville, acupuncture!  There are a lot of different thoughts and feelings out there about this treatment, but I have an open mind, especially where treating Neville for his fear and anxiety is concerned.  So when my veterinarian informed me that she was beginning to  perform acupuncture treatments for her patients, it took no time for me to say "yes, please"!

The day started just as everyday does with us, a long walk in the morning and breakfast to follow.  But I was a little more nervous today than any other day, I'm sure Neville noticed.  But by 10am, my nerves were gone and I was sitting in the waiting room of the vet's office trying to calm my sweet guy down.  After a consult and a check up, we were ready to start.  At this point I think Neville was the only nervous one, I was filled with hope that he would get some relief.

As each needle went in, you could see his eyes get heavy and his body relax.  His overwhelming need to get to a hiding place however, did not go away, so I did hold him for most of this.  But our vet went slow and steady and did not push him into anything.  She tried very hard to get him to lay on a comfy bed, but Neville much preferred the floor.  Once the needles were set, Neville was obviously in need of a nap.  So while the needles soaked, Neville laid on the floor and dosed in and out of a nap.  He looked so peaceful!  I sang to him and talked to him so he would know I was there the whole time, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have cared if I did leave.

Before I knew it, time was up and we were ready to take the needles out.  This was quick and easy and Neville seemed to not mind at all.  And then is cuddled with Dr. O'Dwyer and let her give him kisses.  These are things he NEVER does!  He remained relaxed and almost in a sleep state for the next 10+ minutes.

Once I got his harness out, he knew we were going home but his normal shaking did not start.  I figured that we would have until we got home to Downtown before that would start again, or at least I had hoped.  But I was mistaken, even walking through Downtown to get from the parking lot to the apartment did not bring back his shaking fully, it was barely there! This is the first time I have ever walked him with and not seen him shake so bad it looks like he is freezing cold.

I don't know how long this will last for him.  I don't know that he will like it the next time we do it.  But I do know I found something that helps him relax.  I found something that is worth the time and effort to explore to see how this might change this dog that everyone else had given up on.  He is my sweet Neville no matter what the outcome and wouldn't change him a bit, but if this can give him some relief from worry and stress, I will continue for as long as I have too.

For more information on Dr. O'Dwyer and her services, bark on the link:  BARK!

Friday, April 13

Amazing Dog Rescue

I saw this earlier in the week and knew I had to share it with you on Friday.  With the rain making it less than bright and warm outside, maybe this will help make you smile going into your weekend.

I personally believe that the mama dog was making her point well known to her pup with the extra dragging distance.

Have a great weekend and don't forget to do something fun with your dog!

Thursday, April 12

RuPaul's Drag Race Goes To The Dogs!

You will find me watching RuPaul's Drag Race every Monday night, but this past Monday I was even more excited than normal to see not just my favorite Drag Queens, but dogs to inspire them for this challenge!

All four of the dogs seemed pretty well behaved, except for the big Blood Hound that was rather excited by his Drag Queen.  Nothing cuter or funner to me than seeing a big Blood Hound jumping and excited.

The runway fashion that came out of this challenge was great and fun.  The last look, they all modeled with the dog on the runway, it was fun to see how each dog inspired the look.  Some hit the mark and sadly, some did not.

I was thrilled to see the last minute add in for the challenge, a dog inspired musical number!  Imagine Cats, but with dogs!  So cute and so creative.

My favorite was Ms. Sharon Needles, she had a Standard Poodle and worked some boots that you would have though she used the dog's fur on. She was also the judges favorite, as she won the challenge!

It was a very fun, if you have a chance to watch, not only is this a great show you will see some fun dogs too!  At least on this episode...

Wednesday, April 11

Spring Fever Pooch Parade!

The temperature is risin'!  Get your dog out & let's sniff Downtown's air on the side of the city we don't get to very often!  

It brings me great pleasure to announce Bark & Clark's Spring Pooch Parade!

Please join us for the Spring Fever Pooch Parade on May 15th @ 7pm

The evening will start with me, Certified Trainer, Tamara Clark, leading your pooches through the busy streets of Little Tokyo and we will make our way through the lights and people over to the sometimes no sidewalks of the Arts District.  We'll keep your dogs tail wagging with special to-go treats from Pussy & Pooch and, as usual, the evening will conclude with a chance for the humans to sit down, unwind and enjoy wonderful conversation at the dog friendly, Urth Cafe.  So fun!  

Besides the obvious fun you will have, this is a great chance to learn about how to handle your dog downtown and in general with other dogs and humans.  The Spring Fever Pooch Parade workshop's focus will be on you dogs socialization with busy sidewalks and streets and safety where sidewalks don't exist.  As well, we will have our usual education on the approved potty places and how to get your dog to go there. 
The benefit of working your dog in this environment is it helps reinforce their basic obedience and uses those skills to increase their focus on you - not all the distractions. We'll also work  on manners specific to the city, such as sitting at all intersections before crossing; sitting for introductions and the proper way to greet other dogs. 

We teach uptown manners for Downtown dogs! This class is so fun, it's more like an outing... So let's take a stroll through the city and focus on doggy's ability to deal with the public, the lively city and all the other pooches out and about.

I am so excited about this Pooch Parade, I hope I will see you all there and if you can't be there, I hope you will help spread the word!  

Be sure to RSVP by May 8th because space is limited.  The cost is $40/dog.

To sign up for our next Pooch Parade, give us a bark:  Bark!

Tuesday, April 10

Doggie Hugs

Dogster had a great article this morning about dog hugs.  Basically it is saying that a majority of dog owners (in this study anyway) are more likely to hug their dog than their spouse/significant other, relatives, or best friends.  I am guilty of this for sure.  My favorite thing in the day is to hug my dog and then dance with him.  In that moment I feel like both mine and my dog's hearts are smiling.  There is something about the way he wraps his head around my shoulder, it feels like he is hugging back and it makes me feel very happy.

Below is the article, I thought it was worth sharing.

Got dog fur across the fronts of your sweaters and shirts? Not surprising, according to a recent dog owner survey. Blame it on our dogs being just too embraceable to resist.
More than two-thirds (68 percent) of those surveyed say they hug their dogs more often than they hug "certain people" in their lives. Nearly one-third (30 percent) say they hug their dogs more than their relatives, and one-quarter (26 percent) say they hug their dogs more than they hug their best friends.
That's a lot of dog love, and could help explain what (at least to me) seems to be a rise in fur/lint rollers in stores.
But is one dog's affection gain someone else's loss? Does the good old physics law of the conservation of mass/energy apply here? Possibly. The survey of 482 U.S. adult dog owners in the Beneful Baked Delights survey found that 10 percent of women say they hug their dogs more than they hug their spouses or significant others. That probably translates to 10 percent of spouses who would like to be treated like a dog.
So what's so intoxicating about hugging a dog? The majority of owners surveyed say that hugging their dog makes them smile and feel happier. Nearly 40 percent say hugging their dog causes them to forget about the stress in their lives.Hugging isn't just a one-way street, either. According to the survey, more than 60 percent of owners say that when they hug their dog, the dog returns their affection.
I think it's true. Dogs may not hug you back, but they embrace with their eyes and a certain way of leaning and being quiet and in the moment of the hug.
So, am I the only one that hugs my dog?  Somehow I doubt that.  So tell us about it.  Share your story of doggie hugs and how they make you feel.

Friday, April 6

Good News Friday!

It isn't often that we get to read or hear about feel good stories involving Pit Bulls, but today I have one for you.  I will admit it is sad and a bit scary, but it has a happy ending and these usually don't.  Enjoy this heroic story of Kilo.

A Staten Island, N.Y., dog took a bullet for his owner and lived to wag his tail.

Kilo the pit bull was shot in the head as he tried to protect his owner from a would-be home invader posing as a FedEx deliveryman over the weekend, according to The New York Post.
The bullet ricocheted off his skull and exited through his neck, which is likely what gave him a chance to survive.
“This is like, one in a million,” Dr. Greg Panarello, whose veterinary clinic operated on Kilo, told The Post. “He’s very lucky.”
The pup's shooting happened when an intruder tried to push his way into Justin Becker's home in Graniteville, claiming he had a package to deliver, early Saturday evening, the Post reported.

The 32-year-old Becker pushed the armed intruder to the ground, but the suspect's body was already halfway inside the apartment. Kilo stuck his head out the door and the suspect pulled the trigger.
Then he ran off, leaving Becker to cradle his wounded 12-year-old pup in his arms. Becker told the Post his girlfriend thought for sure the dog would die, but Becker said he wasn't giving up on his old friend.
Becker took Kilo to South Shore Animal Hospital, where veterinarians operated on the animal. X-rays indicated the bullet never entered Kilo's skull and it appeared the pooch suffered no brain damage, reports the Post.
Kilo was able to return home to continue his recovery process.

Kilo sounds like an amazing 12-year-old!  What a brave and loyal friend to put himself in harms way.  We are all very happy that Kilo was so lucky and is able to continue to recover at home.

Happy Friday!  Don't forget to do something special with your dog this weekend.

Thursday, April 5

Justice For A Dog In Wrongful Shooting

Dogster brought us a story today that is good news for one of the many wrongful shootings of dogs we have heard about in the last two years.  I've said it before and this story is a great example of it, that some officers have been a little trigger happy when it comes to dogs.  So we are all surprised and elated  when we heard that a Frederick County, Maryland, jury awarded a couple $620,000 in damages for the shooting of their affable chocolate Lab, Brandi.

The incident occurred in late 2010, when Brandi came bounding around the house to say howdy to sheriff's deputy Timonty Brooks. I sincerely doubt you've ever seen a dog who looked quite as affable. (I watched the dashcam footage, and there's no way Brandi should have been considered a threat. I'm not embedding it in this post because it might be disturbing. But here's a link to the Washington Post piece that contains the video, should you want to go there.)
Brooks and his partner had been serving a civil warrant on the son of Roger and Sandra Jenkins. The dogs were barking, and Roger Jenkins told the officers that he'd go put them away. Apparently Brooks somehow took that as a sign that they were aggressive, so when Brandi came out to greet him, he shot first, asked questions later.
The bullet struck Brandi in the area where the front leg connects to the shoulder. She went limping away, tail still almost wagging, looking kind of stunned about what just happened.
"It was very terrifying, because it was like one of your kids being shot," said Sandra Jenkins.
Brandi is 9 now, and never recovered physically from the incident. Her leg is badly damaged, and the Jenkins say it will likely be amputated in coming months. 
Brooks, who "felt bad about the shooting since Day 1," according to the sheriff's department, was clearly way too trigger happy. If you watch the dashcam video, it's lucky he didn't also blast the couple's lumbering St. Bernard as well. In the footage, Sandra Jenkins runs after that dog, trying to get him away from Brooks.
The department has subsequently undergone training regarding dealing with dogs.
The dashcam video is likely behind the large award - $20,000 more than the Jenkins were seeking. You can see a snippet of the video on this WJLA report. (You won't see Brandi getting shot.)

Maybe this award will help trigger-happy law enforcement officers think twice before reaching for their guns when faced with something like a wagging Labrador retriever - or any dog who is not a clear threat.

I would love to hear your feedback on what you think of this case or any other case like this.  Give us a Bark!

Wednesday, April 4

Choking Dog Dials Emergency Number

Petside had a great story about a Basset Hound in the UK that was choking on a telephone cord and ended up dialing "999", their emergency number, and saved his own life!  It is quite an amazing tale.

Like a dog dialing 911 in the U.S., George, a Basset Hound in the UK dialed emergency 999 while trying to free himself from a phone cord, and saved his own life.
The emergency operator received a call and heard nothing but heavy breathing and gasping, so police were dispatched to the house of owners Steve and Lydia Brown immediately, reports The Sun. In the UK 999 is the equivalent of 911.
Turns out poor George had knocked over a land line and wrapped the wire around his neck. He managed to paw on the "9" over and over, trying to free himself. And that he did.
Quite a few dogs have dialed 999 in the past, many by accident.
In 2009, 14-month-old Golden Retriever grabbed the house phone in his mouth and ran into the garden. Dispatchers heard  a man shouting at him, and assumed it was an attack. It was just his owner trying to get him back inside.
In cases of American dogs dialing 911, they are often service dogs trained to reach dispatchers during emergencies.
In 2007, a Beagle named Belle bit down on her owner’s cell phone, hitting the number "9" while he was having a seizure. Since he is diabetic, Kevin Weaver had trained Belle to do just that. He had programmed 911 into the "9" button of his phone. Belle saved his life.
So would American dogs be better off if our emergency number consisted of three identical digits, making it easier for them to “paw” the call?
The number 911 was chosen as the American emergency call-in back in 1968, because it was short, and it wasn't already being used as an office, area, or service code.
However the 999 system is even older, first introduced to London in 1937. The "9" was the easiest button to modify as a number someone wouldn’t be charged for on rotary pay phones of the day. It’s neighbor "0" was already doing the same, as the operator contact.
Perhaps it’s a good idea for Americas to make use of the single-button emergency call options on our home and cell phones… that is after we teach our dogs to only paw in the case of an emergency.
 This story inspires me to store "911" in one of my speed dials so I can teach my dog to dial it in the case of an emergency.  Though I don't think his paws are compatible with the iPhone screen.  Sometimes I miss land lines...

Tuesday, April 3

What's Up Downtown April!

Happy April!  This is my favorite month of the year, both my dog's and cat's birthdays are celebrated in the month, not to mention all the fun Spring time fun that happens!  Speaking of that fun, Downtown has a lot to offer this month!

This weekend is Easter, so if you haven't figured out what you are doing, Downtown has a few fun options.  You can be a part of a day long celebration including an egg hunt at either L.A. Live or The Grand Hope Park.  Or if you are past the age of enjoying an egg hunt, there are several brunch specials at Grand Cafe at the Omni, Chaya, Cafe Pinot and Kendall's Brasserie to name a few.

But that is just this weekend, there is a lot going on the rest of the month as well, including the return of cicLAvia on April 15th!  As well on the 15th, the 2012 Springfest will be happening in Chinatown.  And don't miss the Kids 4 Kids Run/Walk on April 29th.

As always, I am also looking at all the newly opened restaurants, I am really excited to try a few.  The ones that are at the top of my list are UMAMIcatessan at 8th and Broadway, L.A. Brewing Company on Broadway, any restaurant with a doggie valet has my vote!  And finally, Tossed on Wilshire will be a great lunching place.  There are a few more openings as well, but I will be starting with these.

On another note, don't miss all the cool things Pussy & Pooch have going on, including a Pet Communicator on April 21st, sign up today for your consultation!

For a full list of what's going on in DTLA, bark on the link:  BARK!