The Scoop on Nail Trims

Your dogs nails – is it really necessary to trim them? Are they too long? How often should you trim them? What is the best way to trim them?

Believe it or not, your dogs nails affect their posture and the way they move. Imagine your own toenails being so long that they touched the floor – it would be uncomfortable right? You’d have to change the way you walked in order for your nails to not bother you as much. If a dog’s toenails are too long they tend to distribute their weight differently, and ultimately could cause injury. If your dog jumps off something with properly trimmed nails, they land on the pads of their feet. If their nails are too long they tend to land off balance and could easy slip! Long nails can also affect traction and dogs may slip on linoleum or hardwood floors.

Ideally, when your dog walks their nails should not make a clicking sound. Depending on the breed or structure of your dogs foot there might be sound no matter what, so a better way to tell is to look at your dog’s nails while they are standing still and see if they touch the floor. If they do – chances are you need to trim them!

How often should you trim them? The short answer is: it depends. Many dogs that spend a lot of time running on pavement never need their nails trimmed. They wear them down naturally. For me, once the nails are at a length that I like I trim them once a week to maintain that length. If they are a little too long I might trim them or Dremel them every few days. Generally, once a week is what you should shoot for.

Many dogs dislike having their feet handled – it is a slow process to get dogs to tolerate and even sometimes enjoy nail trims. If you are lucky enough to have a puppy it can be much easier – make it positive from the start! When I first started trimming my dogs nails, I would do one nail and then give him a treat. Do a 2nd nail and give him a treat. If he got stressed or really wanted to pull away we would stop and come back later. It is NOT A RACE! You want to not force nail trims upon your dog. They should be as stress free as possible! I have also given my dogs a Kong stuffed with peanut butter – they are so focused on licking the Kong that they don’t notice me playing with their feet. Again, if they do get upset or stressed – STOP! It is not worth it to stress them out, it will just make nail trims even harder next time.

There are two tools that can be used to maintain your dog’s nails. A clipper – I prefer the pliers style clippers (the guillotine style tend to squeeze the nail and can be uncomfortable). I highly recommend Miller’s Forge clippers with the red handle. You can buy them for about $6 on amazon.com and they are super sharp and do not dull easily. Sharp clippers are a necessity! The best way to clip nails is to take off tiny slivers and whittle down the nail until you can see the quick. The quick is the blood supply to the nail and the closer to the quick that you get, the more fleshy the nail will appear inside. Ideally you will cut your dog’s nails to just before the quick, If you do this weekly it will keep the quick at the same place – if you do it more often (every few days) the quick will recede over time and the nails will become shorter.

Another tool you can use is something called a dremel, or a grinder. These tools are great to use because the risk of hitting the quick is much less – and if you do hit the quick it generally doesn’t bleed more than a drop. I use a Dremel Micro 8050 with a 120 grit sanding band. Many dogs take to the dremel quickly, but most need some time to get used to the noise and the vibration. Again, GO SLOWLY! You will have to condition your dog to the noise and feel of the dremel over time, and soon enough you will be able to grind all nails in one sitting.

For more tips on how to get started, please visit the Facebook group Nail Maintenance for Dogs and/or these two websites:

http://susangarrettdogagility.com/2013/08/cutting-your-dogs-nails-how-important-is-it-really/

http://www.doberdawn.com/doberdawn/dremel.html

Article written by Kelly McDuff

If you are in the St. Paul/Eagan area Kelly offers nails trims! Reach out to BLOF if you are interested!

Check out Kelly’s work with BLOF’s dogs!

 

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Until next time,

Amber

Feeling frustrated while training?

It is not uncommon for people to become frustrated with their puppy or dog while training. In fact, dog training comes with many opportunities for us to be frustrated. We didn’t expect our puppy to chew on everything, bark at everything, or have accidents all over the house. As they age, we don’t expect them to not listen when we give them a command, especially if they have had some training. Even I will admit I have  felt very frustrated while training, but part of the solution to creating good habits and having good training sessions with your dog is to not be the problem!

What does “not being the problem” mean?

  1. Don’t train your dog when you are not in a good mood unless you can change that mood before you start to train. It’s not fair to the dog if your mind is off somewhere else. Chances are, whatever frustration you are feeling will come out in an unwanted outburst, harsh words, or even a leash correction. This kind of frustration can lead to your dog becoming timid, shy, fearful, and/or reactive.
  2. Don’t multi-task while training. We are all busy. You should be able to find the time to train for 10-20 minutes a day (depending on the age of the dog). After all, you are the one that invested in the dog. Put your phone away, turn off the tv and truly focus on committing that time to training.
  3. Many people say to me “but my dog does it at home!” This leads us to think that the dog should know the command we gave them.  Let me fill you in on a little secret…dogs are situational!  This means what you teach them in one environment is not directly translated to the next environment. Every new command or exercise you teach a puppy or dog has to be trained in different environments for them to learn…sometimes going back to the basics even though you may think they know the command.

Our dogs will give us a couple of hints that it’s time to take a break:

  • The dog looks confused. If your dog literally looks like he is trying but just doesn’t understand what you are asking, it is safe to say he is confused. This is where you can help him out with what you are asking so he can be successful.
  • If you decided to go to the park down the street that has a lot of distractions and your dog does not listen to anything you are saying…chances are that you moved too quickly and you need to go to an environment that does not have as many distractions and start from the basics.

What to do if you find yourself becoming frustrated?

Relax and breathe. Frustration and stress can affect our breathing, which affects our body language – something our dogs pick up on very quickly.

Pay attention to your dog’s behavior. Dogs often respond to stress with different signals. Yawning, lip licking, sniffing the ground, shaking, whining, etc. If you feel stressed your dog will automatically pick up on that stress and start to behave differently. If you are to stressed to train…don’t train:)

Most importantly, it’s okay to stop. When things aren’t going well, sometimes the best thing to do is stop training for the day. You can always pick up tomorrow.

As I say “Don’t blame the dog! Train the dog!”

Until next time,

Amber

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re a GOOD dog only at home?

One of the many reasons I teach classes outside is for the exact reason listed in this title. Clients tell me all the time their dog only listens to them at home or only at obedience class that is held indoors.  As soon as they hit the outdoors or somewhere else in the community, their dog does not listen. I wrote this blog to help you with this as you progress through your training.

Think about your favorite local restaurant chain. You love how the restaurant is designed, the food is great and always comes out fresh. The staff are always happy and you always have a great experience at your local restaurant. You go across town to the same restaurant chain and you find the layout to be different, the menu different, and the whole entire experience…different. Not what you expected right?

Apply this same concept to your dog when you are training!

The first thing you need to know:

Dogs are situational which means what you teach them in one environment is not directly translated to the next environment. Every new command or exercise you teach a puppy or dog has to be trained in different environments for them to learn…sometimes going back to the basics even though you may think they know the command.

Helpful Tip #1: Train your dog in a low distracted environment so he has the opportunity to learn what you are asking him.  When you have practiced at home and then go to a class and your dog does not listen it is not always because they are choosing not too. Sometimes they simply do not know what you are asking. The 7 other dogs in the class are a distraction and that distraction is real. It’s also way more fun than being at home where it’s just you and your dog training.

This video is Pac as a puppy in a relatively low distracting environment. Well, except for the birds! He loved watching the birds!

 

Helpful Tip #2: Move at a pace that is comfortable for you and your dog. Once your dog learns it in your house and 10 out of 10 times he does correctly…it’s time to bring it out into your backyard (or another new environment).

  • This is where you can help your dog be successful. Bring in those higher value treats. Check out my blog regarding higher value treats.  Don’t start with major distractions and always jackpot for when the dog has done something correctly in a new environment.
  • Make sure your dog understands what you are asking. If you have not done an off-leash recall at home don’t expect them to do that in your new environment. Remember all exercises you are working on in the new environment should be ones that he already knows and you can now take baby steps to work them in the new environment.

Helpful Hint #3: You have to have patience. Learning all of these exercises in different environments is hard.  Only ask your dog what you know is achievable.

How do BLOF’s classes work?

Training through the BLOF program is designed for just that. Both puppy socialization and basic obedience are held in the same location each class session. I choose a park location that has very little distractions as these are puppies/dogs who are new to training. It’s not fair to expect them to be successful if we don’t set them up for success.

After your puppy or dog has graduated basic obedience you would then move up to our advanced class (if I think you are ready).  This class is designed for dogs who are working on furthering their foundation. Exercises are conducted in a variety of areas to work on proofing and distractions. Each class session is located at a different park to work on such distractions.

This is Orion working on his recall on a long line in my You’re a GOOD Dog! Advanced Class!

 

Training your dog should be fun in every environment! It’s your job to ensure that you are doing just that! Make it fun and set them up for success!

As I say “Don’t blame the dog! Train the dog!”

Until next time,

Amber

Going on a road trip?

Road Trips?

I had the experience of traveling with two of my dogs back to back recently and it was quite the experience! Here are a few tips to help prepare you and your dog for a long distance road trip!

Should my dog be in a crate while traveling?

It is ideal to travel with your dog in a crate. You want to ensure it is large enough for them to turn around in but not be too big that they can slide around in. The crate should have some sort of ventilation so that they are getting air circulation.

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Is your dog ready for a long road trip?

It is important to ensure that you have taken the time to travel with your dog for short distances before you expect them to travel long distances. Assess that they are comfortable and can handle the short distances before expecting them to handle the long trips!

Will my dog get motion sickness?

This goes along with ensuring your dog gets used to traveling in a car. If your dog has a tendency to get car sick limit the amount of water as well as food. Give a light meal several hours before traveling and not right before. I like to give my dogs ice cubes (because they love them) during their road trip.

Ensure you have a travel kit & first aid kit

Bring all of the things you would have at home for your dog on the road as this will help them feel more at home. Food dishes, food, water, crate, treats, collar, leash, ID tags, plastic bags, grooming supplies, rabies/vet records and most importantly a first-aid kit. You can make your own first aid kit or purchase one made just for dogs. I have this first aid kit for my pups!

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Take frequent breaks

If possible plan out where you will stop to take breaks with your dog. I always like to stop and take breaks in unique places. This gives me the opportunity to take photos of my pups on our journey and it gets them out of the vehicle and moving.

Never leave your dog alone in a vehicle

Your dog should never be left alone in a vehicle on a hot day, even with the windows down. It does not take long for the temperature in a vehicle to become dangerous. On the same note, you do not want to leave your dog in freezing cold weather as the dog’s temperature could drop quickly.

 

Help! I don’t know what collar to buy!

There are so many collars in the aisles of the pet store, from fancy, flashy, and expensive to average, simple, and cheap. Some are extremely effective tools in training and some can make training more difficult. This blog will break down a few options for collars and how they are best used.

Flat Buckle Collar:

This is probably the most common type of collar. The flat buckle collar is typically nylon, but can come in leather or other materials. These collars are great for training puppies and can work well for some adult dogs and dogs who may be72344_1.jpg a bit more timid and shy. When purchasing a collar like this, I would highly recommend one that is put on like a belt and has metal hardware. These collars also come with plastic clips, though I would avoid those as I’ve found they tend to break at the most inconvenient times! I like the leather collars myself. Click the link to see a great leather collar.

Martingale Collar:

This collar is very similar to the flat buckle collar as it comes in nylon, leather, and a chain. The martingale collar comes in different sizes, from small to large, and sometimes extra large.  This collar is des61wU38kc0QS._SX355_igned to tighten if the dog pulls and is adjustable.

 

 

Choke Chain:

This dog training collar is a chain that goes completely around the dog’s neck, with two hamilton-extra-fine-choke-chain-dog-collar-10-inchrings at the top.  I refer to this collar as a training collar as it does just that. The choke chain gets a bad name because if the collar is put on incorrectly it literally is choking the dog. To properly put on your dog it should be in the shape of a p.  When you hold it up, ready to go on your dog’s neck, it should form a p, with one ring at the bottom of the P, and the other half way up the long stick of the P.  Otherwise it won’t release after a correction and will choke the dog. Corrections can be easier on some dogs but other dogs it may mean you will be giving a harder correction especially if you are new to training. This collar is only to be used for training and walks. These collars come in different sizes depending on your dog’s neck size.

Pinch Collar:

The pinch collar is also called a prong collar. Links go all the way around your dog’s neck and pressure is distributed evenly instead of constantly being applied to the same imagesspot on his neck like a choke chain.

These collars come in all sizes but for most breeds the fine links are going to work best. The smaller the link, the firmer correction. It is designed to open and go around the dog’s neck. This collar is not meant to be slipped over the head.  If the collar is too small you can purchase more links.

This collar is only to be used for training and walks. It should never be left on the dog. When used properly these are a great communication tool and they are only inhumane when an owner uses it incorrectly. The Herm Sprenger is my favorite brand.

Other Options:

These are collars that I do not use for training.  For some trainers and students, they can work well, but they aren’t my first recommendation.

Gentle Leader

This is a nylon strap that goes around the dog’s neck and one around his muzzle. It steers them in the direction you want them to go.  I personally choose not to use this type of collar as it tightenpetsafe-gentle-leader-quick-release-headcollar-7s and pulls the dog’s head to one side or another whenever he tries to pull ahead of you, which is dangerous for his neck and spine.  As an example, if your dog were to lunge after a small animal or to greet someone on the street, the result of jerking his head to the side like that could cause neck and spinal injury. I do not recommend this collar for any breeds that are prey driven. It is not the best collar for obedience training purposes.

Harness

Harnesses are designed to go around the neck, in front of the shoulders, and behinddog-harness-nylon-chewproof the legs. Most are nylon or leather. This type of collar does not put pressure around the neck, but instead in front of the shoulders. Dogs that have upper respiratory disease or diseases of the throat or trachea are good choices for a harness.

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Rule of 7’s

From the moment my Japanese Akita was born until they day she left for her new home at 12 weeks Claire & Aaron Matthews were consistently working on socializing all of the puppies from her litter with all different kinds of experiences.  My pup was able to experience different environments, sounds, surfaces, toys, and different people all before she was 12 weeks old.

People always ask me what I mean by the rule of 7. This is something that whether I am teaching a group class or doing a private lesson I make it a priority for all puppies to experience at some point before the age of 4 months. Even if your puppy didn’t get to experience all of the rule of 7’s before…it’s never too late to start.

Number 1

Been in 7 different environments. This could include inside your house, your backyard, a training facility, a local park, a local pet supply company, etc.

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Number 2

Have met at least 7 different types of people. People of all ages from young children, adults, and seniors. People with physical and intellectual disabilities. Encourage your dog that wheelchairs or walkers are OK!

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Number 3

Heard 7 different types of sounds. This can include thunder, fireworks, motorcycles, buzzers, alarm clocks, music, etc.

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Number 4

Puppy has played with 7 different types of toys. Toys can range from tug toys, kongs, balls, stuffed animals, squeaky toys, plastic items, etc.

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Number 5

Eaten from 7 different food containers and in 7 different places. This can include their own bowl and your hands. Move the location of the food so your puppy doesn’t get set on eating in only one location.

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Number 6

Been exposed to 7 different types of surfaces. This could include going through a tunnel, going up/down stairs, sand, wood, etc.

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Number 7

Meet 7 different types of animals (if possible). This should be easy if you are in an all breed class for dogs but if you have the opportunity don’t be afraid to have your puppy see horses, cats, cows, sheep, etc.

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When exposing your pup to these new situations take it slow and make it positive. Do not force your puppy do to something or they will end up not liking it at all. Instead, build their confidence with rewards and praise.  A well-socialized pup will be a better-behaved adult dog that will be easier and safer to handle.

Lastly, keep the challenges coming!