Spokesdog's Canine Couch

A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich

Spokesdog’s Book Review: Decoding Your Dog

January 31st, 2014 at 2:14 pm by Diane Rich
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c Diane Rich 2014

If a dog could write a book explaining how humans think and why we do what we do they would most likely have us figured out as fast as they can pee on a fire hydrant.  I believe dogs would conclude that humans tend to complicate things and they would quickly observe that our ego rules our behavior. They would easily note that humans will repeat behaviors that work and  that we may try to get away with certain behaviors that in the end can get us into trouble from time to time.  Sound familiar?

I received a request to review the book, Decoding Your Dog and after reading the promo material about the book and its contributors, agreed to the read.  I always look forward to reading a book written by credible authors who may shed new light on dog behavior.   Understanding a dog’s behavior and not just wishing for greatness and perfection from our beloved dog is a must to be able to create a sound, sane, successful human-dog relationship.

I find dogs an amazing and fascinating species. Dogs are complex in some ways as to the scope of their talent and  how they assess their world and incredibly simple in other ways.  The simplicity lies in the fact that dogs are keen observers and learn to repeat behaviors that work for them. Confident, independent dogs are super smart although some people believe a brainiac dog that doesn’t immediately comply to an owner’s demands is either stubborn or even stupid. Not true.  Decoding your Dog explores why dogs do what they do.
ear eye milo 11-11
c Diane Rich 2014

Decoding Your Dog is edited by Debra F. Horwitz DVM and John Ciribassi DVM, members of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists along with pet journalist and radio host Steve Dale.    The American College of Veterinary Behaviorists is a small professional organization of veterinarians who are board-certified in the relatively new specialty of Veterinary behavior.  There were many Vet Behaviorists who contributed to this book and support science-based dog training.

The challenge some dog lovers have in understanding their own dog is how to listen with their own eyes when trying to figure out the family dog. This is not new news.  And by listening I mean turning off the internal chat, keep the prejudices or projected reasons for the behavior at bay and just relax and observe the total dog.   Decoding Your Dog explains how the patience of listening to your dog pays off.

Decoding your Dog explains dog behavior somewhat differently than other books on dog behavior but offers similar information about behavior and troubleshooting suggestions one can find from other books as well.  The authors tackle the dominance theory and debunk some of the current opinions on dominance. It was well done and debunking the current dominance myth cannot be addressed enough.  I wholeheartedly agree with the premise of this book that dogs do not want to rule the earth or wake up each day plotting to dominate us or their surroundings.

I also agree with the statement made by Jacqueline C. Neilson, DVM when she states a “leader dog” is calm, cool and collected and usually shows the least amount of aggression.  Dominance doesn’t mean aggression which is spot on in my opinion and something I have preached for years.  Many dog enthusiasts and experienced dog professionals disagree.   Dog owners are told by their trainer, Vet, friend or fellow dog park user that a dog is being dominant because it is managing or trying to control all the dogs at the park. These same people, who are certainly entitled to their opinion offer training techniques to address and correct what is perceived  or defined as “dominant” behavior  to teach the dog a lesson as to who the real boss is in the family.

Steve Dale writes, “The vision for the book was to make available to dog owners scientifically correct information about dog problems and to correct widespread misinformation about dog behavior.”

This book would be a good one for new trainers or novice dog owners who want a better understanding of how their dog thinks and who enjoy reading facts based on current scientific studies.  Much of the information is covered in other books on dog behavior.  I can easily recommend this book as it explains in detail some of the philosophies and some of the techniques I include in my practice every week.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Behind the Scenes with Ranny Green

January 30th, 2014 at 3:38 pm by Diane Rich
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c Diane Rich 2014

New York will be host to the Seahawks and Broncos this weekend for what is sure to be an exciting Super Bowl and a nice lead in to Super Bowl of dog shows, Westminster.   During the Super Bowl we root for our favorite team and during Westminster we root for our favorite dog.

The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show attracts dog lovers and enthusiasts from around the country who look forward to viewing the competition in conformation and this year, agility.   And, like any major televised event, the Westminster dog show is made to look seamless to the television viewer due to the hundreds of people who work tirelessly behind the scenes.  One of the many contributors working behind the scenes is Ranny Green, who lives in Washington state.  This week I had the opportunity to interview Ranny who has been the co-media director at the Westminster Kennel Club for the past five years.

Ranny’s Resume’
Ranny’s impressive resume’ is a blog in and of itself so for now will share just a little of Ranny’s bio.
Ranny was a pets columnist at the Seattle Times from 1973 until the 48-day strike from late November 2002 into January 2001.   Between 1990 and 2001 Ranny was named national pets columnist of the year five times in the Dog Writers Association of America annual writing contest, for newspapers with 150,000 circulation and more. In 2002 Ranny won a prestigious award from the Dog Writers Association of America on a story he wrote for Dog World Magazine about his family’s dealing with their Greyhound’s battle with osteosarcoma (bone cancer).  Last year he was inducted into the prestigious Dog Writers Association of America Hall of Fame at a ceremony in New York City.

The Media Team
I wanted to learn what goes on behind the scenes at Westminster from this award-winning writer to share with my readers.  In speaking with Ranny, I learned his job for Westminster begins long before his plane lands in New York.

Base Camp
Media forms are sent out to handlers and owners beginning each December in advance of this dog show from David Frei’s office in New York. I will refer to David’s office as base camp for the media team once they get to New York and join David’s staff.  David Frei is the co host of Westminster and the media director for the Westminster Kennel Club.  The thousand-plus media forms are then filled out and returned to the media team with information about the dog, handler and special stories the handler or owner would like to make available to share with interested reporters.

Reporter’s Requests
Reporters nationwide are looking for special or unique stories about dogs and handlers who are from their city or local region and will be of interest to their audience.  Upon request, the team tries to match up the reporter and the stories from these media forms.   A daunting task for this media team, as there are so many great stories.  Sorting through all these media forms begins before the team meets up at base camp in New York and continues once on site.

I was one of the reporters requesting such information and Ranny generously provided me with stories about handlers living in Washington state, and from those offerings I interviewed two. One recent blog I wrote was about a junior handler living in Washington state who will be handling one of the 3 new breeds currently accepted by the American Kennel Club.
http://blog.seattlepi.com/caninechat/2014/01/22/local-talent-anna-jane-pearson-is-going-to-westminster.  I will be writing the second story about another local handler soon.

Ranny will be in New York for 11 days and he mentioned that the two days of the conformation show, February 10th and 11th,  will be 18-hour days for the team.  My guess is the coffee pot will be on ‘round the clock for this media team.

Outside of the Ring
Ranny and the Westminster team would like the viewing public to learn about these canine competitor’s lives outside of the show ring. Many breeders or owners give back to their community between dog shows. They may be a registered therapy team and visit patients in hospital or even contribute a talented k9 nose to drug detection.  Mostly, the Westminster team would like the dog-loving public to know that a show dog’s life behind the scenes or between dog shows is like anyone’s family dog that gets to enjoy hikes, fetch games, agility and other dog sports and has a cozy spot on the sofa next to the person who loves them.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC


Nearly 7000 Lives Saved in 2013 Through Seattle Humane

January 26th, 2014 at 11:42 am by Diane Rich
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Record Setting Year 
Seattle Humane Society completed a record-setting year with 6,937 lives saved! Pet adoptions also hit a record high in 2013, with 6,403 dogs, cats and critters placed into loving homes and 128 pets returned to their owner.“We save lives and help complete families, but we don’t do it alone,” Seattle Humane CEO David Loewe said. “Our 1,900 volunteers donated 210,000 hours to help pets in need in 2013. Our community stands beside us every step of the way and we couldn’t do it without them.”Additional highlights from 2013 include:• Nearly 5,647 pets at the shelter received foster care in the homes of nearly 600 volunteer foster parents. They tended to underage puppies and kittens who required round-the-clock bottle feedings; senior pets who needed a break from shelter life; and pets recovering from surgery.
• Nearly 8,000 surgical procedures were performed at Seattle Humane Society’s veterinary clinic, including 2,309 pets spayed and neutered through our programs for low-income families in our community. This program is critical to Seattle Humane Society’s leadership efforts to reduce pet homelessness and suffering.The Seattle Humane Society is setting goals to help even more pets in need and to save more lives in 2014, Loewe said.“The animals are counting on us, the community depends on us, and we will be there for them,” he said.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

About the Seattle Humane Society
Seattle Humane Society has been awarded the coveted 4-star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator for the fifth consecutive year! Founded in 1897 to bring people and pets together, Seattle Humane Society provides incredible companion animals for adoption 7 days a week, pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more.

Local Talent, Anna Jane Pearson Is Going To Westminster

January 22nd, 2014 at 6:22 pm by Diane Rich
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The Journey to the Dog Show of Dog Shows

chinook Anna National Win 2012
Bill Kohler Photography
Anna and Oscar pictured here with the judge and Cheryl Brown, the President of the Chinook Club of America

Ch. Channahon’s Kikiah Tyee, CM, call name Oscar will be on his first plane ride to New York with junior handler, Anna Jane Pearson in February.   Oscar is a Chinook, one of 3 new breeds now recognized by the American Kennel Club.   I had the opportunity to interview Anna who resides in Western Washington.

Anna won Best of Breed at the Chinook National in December 2012, photo above, out of 30 Chinooks entered. Oscar was the first male to finish and the only Chinook on the west coast with a Championship.

Anna’s Backstory
I wanted to learn about Anna’s journey, how she got started showing dogs and how she first connected with the Chinook.  Anna’s mother has a kennel and has been showing and training Australian Shepherds since 1975 so it is not surprising that Anna caught the handler bug. She said, “I have been showing since I could walk in the ring at 2 years of age.”

Kismet may have contributed to this matchup. I choose to believe in a little bit of kismet, peppered with some luck and then knowing what to do with the opportunity.  So how did Anna and Oscar meet? Anna’s mother teaches conformation classes at a facility in Monroe, WA. and one day at a class Anna noticed Oscar and introduced herself to his owner.   This meeting of owner and a determined junior  handler had a dog show future written all over it.

Anna volunteered to help train the dog and offered to show him.  This Chinook was 2 ½  years old at the time and the breed was still listed in the miscellaneous group. Anna took him to dog shows in Washington, Idaho and Oregon.

Fast forward to the breed’s recognition by the AKC in the working group, Anna’s BOB (best of breed) win at Nationals in 2012 when he was 4 years old and off to Westminster they will go in February.  There are 4 Chinooks competing at Westminster this year.

New York, Exciting New York
This will be Anna’s first time in New York so I asked her what she wants to see and do outside of prepping for the ring.    She and her mom will do the tourist thing and see the Statue of Liberty, the 911 memorial and she wants to be in the audience at the Katie Couric show.  Prior to the dog show, she will accompany David Frei, the co host of the Westminster Dog Show for some media opportunities which may include a photo shoot at Central Park.

Breed Overview
As a trainer I had to ask Anna about the breed’s temperament and what family would be a good match for this breed.   Anna told me the breed is loyal, friendly with people, and intelligent.  Some dogs in the working group may be a little aloof with strangers but Anna told me Oscar was not aloof.  She also said the Chinook is “an endearing breed” and picked up training very quickly. How could he not with Anna as his trainer.  According to the AKC, the Chinook is not a protection breed and does not make a good guard dog.

Anna adds, the Chinook is a powerful breed that would be best suited for an active, athletic family who can meet this breed’s daily exercise needs and is experienced with dogs.   The breed is intelligent and wants to learn so training and socialization should begin early.  Anna suggests the breed is best suited for families with older children.  The Chinook is not high maintenance with regard to coat care but does shed, so brushing is important.  The males can weigh 80-100 pounds and females 60-80 pounds.

Fun Facts about the Chinook According to the American Kennel Club:
1. Chinook means warm winter wind in Inuit
2. The Chinook is one of the few American dog breeds, bred in New Hampshire
3. The Chinook was bred from Mastiff types, Shepherds and the Greenland Husky
4. The breed was created to pull a sled which with New Hampshire winters could be an asset when car travel is impossible

Recognition of a New Breed by the American Kennel Club
I did not know how a breed becomes eligible and recognized by the AKC so went to our own Ranny Green for the answer.  Ranny is an award winning writer about dogs, was a long time columnist for the Seattle Times and is a member of the media team at Westminster. More about Ranny in an upcoming blog.

Recognition of a breed can be years in the making and some of the criteria for recognition by the AKC includes;  generations of breeding must be documented,  a national club must be in place and meet strict AKC requirements and there must be sufficient interest in the breed throughout the U.S.

Anna’s Future
Many breeders, handlers and trainer’s lives revolve around dogs. I wanted to know about Anna’s future goals. She was clear that she wanted to continue with her mom’s kennel and do some professional handling.  Anna said handling dogs is not going to be a full time profession as she wants to go to school to become a lawyer.  She said she has fulfilled the requirements to become a Junior’s Judge in AKC and eventually wants to become a breed judge.

Anna asked me to include a link to help her fundraising efforts with expenses at Westminster and I am happy to provide that link.  The link also provides more information on Anna.

I thoroughly enjoyed my conversation with Anna.  Good luck at the show!

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Your Veterinarian; Love em or Leave em?

January 20th, 2014 at 7:13 pm by Diane Rich
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Tips to Help You Choose a Veterinarian
c Diane Rich 2014

Some pet parents are very clear about what they are looking in a Veterinarian;  someone who is empathetic, kind and interactive with their animal, doesn’t rush through exams, knows how to work with a shy, nervous, anxious or cranky patient (the dog),  politely answers your questions and is skilled at their job. These owners want a connection and will drive miles out of their way to see a trusted Vet as it makes them feel their dog is in great hands.

Other dog parents seem quite satisfied with a Vet who has a clinic within close proximity to them so they do not have to drive too far. They are satisfied with a general overview of their dog’s health.  These owners hand the dog off to a tech or staff person and sit in the waiting room until their dog is returned to them. They ask few questions, pay for services rendered and leave the clinic. This person doesn’t love their dog any less than the person who wants to be part of the whole process of their pet’s health care,.  They may just feel when told all is ok that is good enough or may feel a little intimidated by their Vet or the environment.

c Diane Rich 2014

 For those new pet parents looking for a Vet or for those people who think it is time to make a change, here are some tips:

1. Recommendations are key.  Ask a friend, your breeder, foster care volunteer, shelter personnel, dog trainer, groomer or pet  sitter who they would recommend.  On line reviews may be a start but don’t be taken in by glowing reviews as reviews are not always legit.

2. Look at the clinic’s website as to what services they provide and hours of service.

3. Is the clinic privately owned or owned by a corporation? Is it a clinic where you can establish a relationship with one Vet or will you get the first available Vet on any given day?  The end result may be satisfactory but the fee differential between a private practice clinic and a corporate owned clinic could be an eye opener.  Although some privately owned clinic fees could also make you flinch when you are ready to pay your bill.

4. Is the clinic a member of AAHA, American Animal Hospital Association? This membership indicates the clinic has met certain criteria and standard of care.

5. Is the facility clean? Cleanliness should begin in the parking lot, continue through to the waiting room and exam room.  Unless you ask for a tour you will usually not see the operating room and pre op or post op areas

6.  Is the clinic’s business model by appointment only or do they take walk in clients on a first come, first serve basis?  Which do you prefer?

7. Some clinics provide 24 hour emergency care in addition to their normal day to day care.

8. You can price shop by phone for some services asking for general rates for routine exams, general dental cleaning, neuter and spay and a fecal float which tests for parasites. You need to ask if the fecal test sample is read in house or sent out to a lab.  To compare apples to apples you must ask what the total cost includes or excludes. You may be quoted one general price over the phone for a surgical procedure but that quote usually does not include exam, pre-op blood work or post op care, possible boarding and medications.

9. How many Vets work at this practice?   If you need care on your Vet’s day off will you be taken care of?

10. Is front desk staff congenial and are you treated with respect?   Vet practices are usually very busy, phones ringing, techs and assistants checking people in and out or getting your pet from you for weigh in before taking them to an exam room.  Some receptionists and front office staff can handle the pressure and are amazing with clients and patients and others should find another line of work.

11. Do they offer multiple pet or senior discounts?

12.  Do you know what a complete exam should include? Some Vets do the bare minimum to get you in and get you out of their exam room and other Vets take time to make sure they offer your pet a full nose to bum to feet exam.

13. If you parent a purebred dog you may feel more comfortable with a Vet experienced with your breed

Are You a Good Client?
If you can find a Vet you like it is helpful to be a good client. Be on time for appointments even though your Vet may be running late.  If your Vet is continually late you may want to nicely discuss it with your Vet rather than getting angry with the staff.  If the tardiness continues for reasons outside of emergencies, you may want to look around for another clinic.

When our furry family member is sick or injured it is very easy to feel helpless.  That total dependence on your Vet to “fix” a condition, help you decide on expensive pet care or even help you decide on when that right time is to put the end to your pet’s suffering can be challenging. That feeling can bring out all sorts of emotions.  Your Vet doesn’t have all the answers.  And some Vets have better animal skills than people skills.  Finding that right Vet  or staying with a Vet is a personal decision based on what is most important to each individual pet parent.  You are not married to your Vet so staying or going to another clinic is in your hands.
c Diane Rich 2014
Many Vets have the dog weighed prior to an exam

Some Vets are amazing and go beyond the norm and even when exhausted from their busy day, take their personal time to contact you to see how your pet is doing after a procedure.  That is rare.  If you find one of these Vets, hang on to them.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Westminster is More than a Dog Show

January 18th, 2014 at 8:57 am by Diane Rich
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An Interview With David Frei

David Frei  c Diane Rich 2014

David Frei, the director of communications and co-host of The Westminster Kennel Club’s
All Breed Dog show said  “this event is more than just a dog show, this show is a celebration of the dogs
in our lives.”  I had the opportunity and great pleasure to talk with David Frei over lunch yesterday
about this prestigious event.

David became the host of this exciting dog show in 1990 when he resided in the Seattle area. His new job
meant commuting back and forth from the NW to NY so in 2002 he decided to move to New York.

Largest Entry to Date
This is Westminster Kennel Club’s  138th year presenting an all breed dog show with the  largest entry  since 1990 of 2845 entries.  Add to that the first ever Master’s Agility Championship  and NYC will host more than 3000 dogs or 12,000 paws in February.

Show time
David told me that Westminster will be televised live on the west coast which is another
first for Westminster.  Look for the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show on
February 10th at 5p.m PT on CNBC  and  February 11th at 5p.m. PT on the USA channel
If you miss either of those times the show will  be repeated at 8p.m. each of those days.  Other options to catch the show would be live streaming video on the website and on the Westminster app, and social media.

Our NW
The Northwest is home to many breeder, owner, handlers and this year out of the 2845 entries for the all breed show, Washington State has 73 entries.

New Breeds
David mentioned the new breeds accepted by the American Kennel Club are :
1. The Chinook
2. Rat Terrier
3. Portuguese Podengo Pequeno

Masters Agility
Purina Pro Plan, Fox Sports 1 and Westminster are teaming up to present the 1st Masters Agility Championship on Feb. 8th, the Saturday preceding the prestigious all breed dog show. It will be on Fox sports  4-6p.m. PT.

To find the channel location of Fox sports 1 in your area, log on to:
http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/find-fox-sports-1-on-your-tv and enter your zip code and cable provider. The Masters Agility Championship is open to dogs competing at Excellent or Masters level.   The agility event at New York’s Pier 94 is the opening act on Westminster weekend. The Masters Agility Championship has 225 entries, 6 entries coming from Washington State..

Although AKC is a registry of purebred dogs, the Masters Agility event is accepting what AKC calls, All American Dogs a new title that defines the mixed breed category at this agility event.  Lori Sage, a north westerner from Oregon will be one of the judges.

The breeds not yet accepted by AKC that will compete in the Masters Agility competition are the Miniature American Shepherd and the Spanish Water Dog

Fun Facts
1. Entries in 187 breeds
2. Labs, the most registered AKC breed since 1991 has 76 entries
3. Entries have come from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 13 foreign countries
4. New York has the most with 272 entries
5. California follows with 239 entries
6. Canada leads the foreign entry with 115
7. Entries from outside the U.S.A include Mexico, Japan, Australia, Brazil, Italy just to name a few
8. Westminster has been televised since 1948
9. Best in Show will be judged by Ms. Betty Regina of Texas
10 Breed groups include Toy, Non-Sporting, Working, Herding, Hound, Sporting and Terrier Groups

Show Dogs are Real Dogs
David would like the public to realize that “show dogs are real dogs with real lives” when not competing in the show ring. They don’t just sit around looking pretty and primped waiting for the next dog show.  If you think about it, a human athlete outside of practice and the sports season actually has a life. Show dogs, when at home get to kick back with their people, play fetch in the back yard and some are registered therapy dogs putting smiles on the faces of individuals who benefit by unconditional canine love.  Truth be told, show dogs have naughty moments, shed on clothing and furniture, steal food off countertops, sleep on the sofa or their person’s  bed and yes, some may even drink from the toilet.

Your Dog is Best in Show
So whether you share your life with a purebred or All American mixed breed dog, sit back enjoy the Westminster Dog Show and Master’s Agility Championship, root for your favorite canine  and hug the dog you’re with.  As David Frei beautifully states “the dog that shares your couch and your life  is truly the Best in show.”

Westminster website is: www.westminsterkennelclub.org

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Separation Anxiety?

January 12th, 2014 at 10:13 am by Diane Rich
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Or Is It?

c Diane Rich 2014

 With regard to dogs, separation anxiety or S.A. is a psychological term used to describe behaviors presented due to a pet’s stress and anxiousness brought on by separation from that pet’s owner or caretaker.

Severe Cases
The behaviors presented can be mild to severe.  A severe case could be one where the dog cannot cope with her person being out of site at all, follows that person from room to room and falls apart if that person leaves them alone at home or sometimes alone in a car.

Mild Cases
Some pups or newly adopted dogs may present mild S.A. behavior in their new home.  As they become more comfortable in their new surroundings they learn to manage quite well without being their person’s shadow.  A mild case that can become a more severe case could be a situation where the dog is fine as long as that person is somewhere within the home but when that person leaves the house, the dog’s anxiety level increases to a highly agitated state.  Some dogs may cope well if their person leaves them for short periods rather than all day.

Professional Help May be in Order
There is quite a bit of information on separation anxiety online which may give you some guidance to assess  your dog on your own.  S.A. unfortunately is a common label given dogs that present certain behaviors usually in the absence of an owner. Just because your dog destroyed a pair of your favorite shoes when left alone, that particular act may not mean your dog suffers from S.A.. So, if the dog is misdiagnosed as other variables are not included in the total evaluation process and the owner opts out of professional help and behaviors become unmanageable, that dog unfortunately may find its way to a shelter.

A Few Behaviors That May Be Related to S.A.
The behaviors owners believe are due to by S. A are usually barking, howling or whining heard when that owner is just outside of their home. Or upon returning home, the owner may see the dog has had accidents in the house or destroyed anything from a shoe or dog bed to chewing through drywall.  The owner may even hear from neighbors, or by an anonymous note the dog has incessantly barked or howled for hours on end.

axel ripped up pillow in car 9-10c
c Diane Rich 2014

Is S.A. inherited, a trait more common in certain breeds, a behavior the dog developed before the new owner purchased or acquired the dog or something an owner inadvertently created?  Pet parents who find it endearing to have an overly attached dog contribute to this problem.

For the answers, my suggestion is to talk with an experienced Veterinary Behaviorist or a trainer who is a behavior expert so you can get an accurate evaluation of the dog and an evaluation of your relationship with the dog.  Otherwise someone could just slap a label on your dog and may make suggestions that either will not work or could exacerbate the problem.

Why is it imperative for a pet parent to get an accurate evaluation from a behavior expert?  If an owner punishes their dog for behaviors that the dog presents due to stress and anxieties the condition usually worsens.

Your Vet may recommend medication to help calm the dog in your absence but if the Vet just throws a pill at the problem without referring you to a behavior expert you and your dog will most likely fall short of a successful outcome. The medication may take the edge off, but meds alone will not help the dog learn to cope with specific anxieties without the implementation of a sound behavioral modification plan that is monitored by a specialist.  You may be able to find a Veterinary Behaviorist in your area who can not only prescribe medication but give you a specific behavioral modification plan and will closely monitor results.

No Quick Fixes
I have worked with S.A. cases for many years and find it incredibly rewarding to help dogs learn to cope with their environment and everyday life.  I am hopeful if your dog has been carefully evaluated by a behavior expert who finds that the dog does suffer from  separation anxiety, you have the patience to see it through with their help.  There are no quick fixes. Improvement or total success will take as long as it takes with a proper diagnosis, treatment plan, tweaking the plan if necessary and your due diligence and love.

Should you parent a dog with separation anxiety I wish you good luck and patience.

Speaking woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Socialization Defined

January 5th, 2014 at 11:06 am by Diane Rich
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play bow chase kiki astro 12-12

c Diane Rich 2014 

Socialization for humans is defined in part as a process providing an individual with the skills and habits necessary for participating within his or her own society.  Socialization for pups seems to be generally defined by many dog lovers as the act of meeting and playing with other dogs.  I would like to elaborate on that definition.

Your Pup and A New Life
I have always defined socialization as a full circle process whereby the pet owner calmly and confidently exposes the pup, without force to new sights, sounds, smells in various environments.  Included in this important process is giving the pup the opportunity to meet and play with appropriate, social dogs.  In addition, the pup should be also exposed to a variety of people which includes supervised introduction and interactions with children.

dennys flier puppy school shiba child

This time sensitive socialization process also needs to include giving the pup access to different surfaces to walk on indoors and outdoors, objects to climb on or over or through like an agility tunnel, a raised platform or even boulders to summit.

c Diane Rich 2014

c Diane Rich 2014

Road Trips
The first two car trips may be a bit intimidating to a new pup.  The first car trip is usually to your home which is a new environment. The second car trip is usually to the Vet.  So frequent, fun car trips can help put a new pup at ease. The pup should ride in a crate that is secured to prevent it from tipping over.

c Diane Rich 2014

Window of Opportunity
Some canine behaviorists state there is a small window of opportunity to get the new pup acclimated to life.  That short window is up to 12 weeks of age.  Other behaviorists state the window for exposure is by 16 weeks.  There are  some breeders who hold back a pup until that 12th week , so if this is the case, you will have some work ahead of you to play catch up.

Can socialization after the 12th or 16th week make up for lost time, sometimes yes and other times not so much?  I have worked with many older pups and dogs of all ages with limited social skills that found their way into the shelter system or made their way to a foster home. I have also worked with older pups and adult dogs that stay with a breeder past their 16th week for one reason or another before that dog is sold. If the owner understands how to help this new addition, confidence can improve through proper introduction to all aspects of their new life.   Either way patience, love and understanding without pity will help pave this road.

Critical Points To Remember:

  1. Socialize and make it a fun, positive experience
    Dog lovers want to pet, hold or love on a pup.  It is best to set limits during these interactions so the pup isn’t overwhelmed by too much stimulation. If the pup is over stimulated too often s/he could develop behaviors at some point such as avoidance or  withdrawal around people leading to a fear of people.  Fear is one underlying factor that may lead to aggressive behavior towards people or other dogs
  2. Understand the pros and cons of early socialization with other pups
    Some Vets are still adamantly opposed to puppy classes for pups with only one or two rounds of vaccinations. However, Vets who specialize in behavior such as the members of the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior believe that “it should be the standard of care for puppies to receive such socialization before they are fully vaccinated.”   The reasoning behind the statement is weighing the fact that dogs presenting behavioral problems are dumped at shelters, and proper early socialization and training may help prevent behavioral problems and shelter overload. So, you may want to weigh the risks of early exposure against potential behavioral issues down the line.
  3. Puppy Classes
    When properly  run puppy classes can be a wonderful learning opportunity for your puppy.  If you attend a puppy class the trainer should require proof of vaccinations and a recent  fecal test with a negative result.
  4. Class Size
    It is best to find a trainer who offers small classes and manages the social interactions when it is time for puppy play
    bentley puppy class 7-11
    c Diane Rich 2014
  5. Purchasing a pup from a breeder
    If you buy from a breeder, find one who handles the pups from birth and offers some type of enrichment in their environment.
  6. Socialization should to continue into adulthood

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

$20 Neuter Surgeries For Dogs and Cats At Seattle Humane

January 3rd, 2014 at 2:26 pm by Diane Rich
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Happy Neuter Year!
Seattle Humane Society & PetSmart Charities team up for Happy Neuter Year

hr bar red
 Get your male dog or cat fixed for just $20 in January. The Seattle Humane Society and PetSmart Charities® are joining forces to provide low-fee neuter surgeries for dogs and cats belonging to income-qualified pet owners in King County. Pets receiving the surgery must be at least four months of age. Each pet will also be given a free microchip identification, and vaccinations will be available at $10 for cats, and $15 for dogs as part of this special package. This discount is for males only.Neutering actually improves a pet’s health! The surgery eliminates prostate cancer in males, and has many other benefits too, such as making pets less likely to roam and get into fights.If you have an unaltered pet or know someone who does, make an appointment online today at seattlehumane.org/fix or call (425) 649-7560. For a list of Happy Neuter Year particpating organizations, please visit http://bit.ly/petsmarthny.Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Seattle Humane Society has received the coveted 4-star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator, for the fifth consecutive year! Founded in 1897 to bring people and pets together, Seattle Humane Society provides incredible companion animals for adoption 7 days a week, pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more. Seattle Humane Society is located in Bellevue, at 13212 SE Eastgate Way.  For directions and more information, visit www.seattlehumane.org or call (425) 641-0080.


PetSmart Charities, Inc. is a nonprofit animal welfare organization that saves the lives of homeless pets. More than 400,000 dogs and cats find homes each year through our adoption program in all PetSmart® stores and our sponsored adoption events. PetSmart Charities grants more money to directly help pets in need than any other animal welfare group in North America, with a focus on funding spay/neuter services that help communities solve pet overpopulation. PetSmart Charities is a 501(c)(3) organization, separate from PetSmart, Inc.

The Real Poop On Pups

January 1st, 2014 at 1:39 pm by Diane Rich
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From a Pup’s Point of View
cDiane Rich 2013

Pups are so darn cute and begin life as innocent beings. They learn so much so quickly.   Some of their mischievous behavior and time intensive requirements may make you question your sanity as to why you brought a pup into your life but then they give you that look, you know the one and you melt forgetting why you were upset.
GSD garan 10 weeks 11-10
c Diane Rich 2013

From the mouth of canine babes, here are some tips for the New Year to help puppy parents understand life from a puppy’s point of view.

1. Please have realistic expectations when I am going through puppyhood.  I know you think I am being naughty on purpose, in most cases I am just  being a puppy. Teach me.

2. Please do not think “I should know better.” I only know what you  have taught me, or let me get away
with sometimes. Please be consistent with what you want from me.
Vizsla Quincy 9 weeks 2-10
c Diane Rich 2013

3. Be patient with me, I am trying to understand what you want.  Yes I can be a handful sometimes,  so can you.

4. I forgive you for your mistakes, please do the same for me.

5.  Yes, I may embarrass you in front of strangers or family but I can also be so angelic and so good they
will think you are the best pet parent in the whole world
toy poodle bear 3-12
c Diane Rich 2013

6. I want you to know that I don’t miss a thing.  My new life is about observation, exploration, testing myself and oh by the way testing you, too.

7. To me your shoes, socks and underwear smell like you.  You are my person so it is comforting for me to chew on them when you leave them around.

8. I love it when I have a thing in my mouth and you run after me flapping your arms like a bird, making loud noises and breathing hard, you are a bit scary at that moment but seem to want to play with me

9. I am not sure why you keep touching me when I eat or why you take away my food and then give it back to me. It makes me frustrated sometimes and I am learning not to trust you around my food

10.  When you walk me and attach some new thing to me that stops me from enjoying new smells it confuses me that you are not enjoying these smells too.  And, you are so slow. Hopefully you can keep up with me.

11.  I do not understand why you play with me so rough and seem to be having fun then get angry with me when I play rough back

12.  I do not understand why when you are angry with me you grab me and hold me down on the ground until I stop squirming. I cannot remember what I did and you are scaring me.  When I grow up and am stronger, you’ll see how it feels to be treated so badly

13. I don’t understand why you leave me all day, alone. Come home and seem to be happy to see me, and then leave me again.  I need you, you are all I have.

14.  The place you took me to with so many other dogs coming up to me so quickly scared me.  I wanted you to help me but you were busy talking to another human.  I am learning not to trust you. I hope we don’t go back there.

15.  I like humans but am not sure why humans  come up to me and stick their hand out or get in my face.  It makes me feel very uncomfortable sometimes and they don’t seem to understand me when I try to tell them that what they are doing scares me. I needed your help but you pulled me over to them making me get too close.  I am learning not to trust you.

16. I really liked it when I did something that seemed to make you talk and act happy.  Thank you for letting me know I pleased you.  I like that.

17. I am confused when you ignore the things you used to like that I did so I am going to stop doing them.

18. I really love being outside in our yard.  I hear what sounds like the name you have for me but then hear you get loud and I think you want me near you.  I had to smell a few things but then when I was near you, you yelled at me.  I thought coming near you was a good thing. I won’t do that anymore if I don’t have to.

19. I hope I am as good of a hunter as you when I grow up.  You always have food for me.

20. I love you and hope I am with you the rest of my life.
lucy chase on bed FR chase chew on toy
c Diane Rich 2013

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

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About Diane Rich

I have been training dogs and their people for over 25 years. I work with pups from 7 weeks old to senior plus dogs and offer basic obedience to advanced off leash training both privately and group classes. Other services include behavior consultations to help both ends of the leash with everything from aggression, puppy/dog manners and public manners to separation anxiety. As a "real world" dog trainer, I take training out of the classroom or home when both the pet and family are ready, and take training to the street. I also offer pet therapy training classes preparing both the handler and dog for their therapy test and future service as a therapy team. I also coordinate several pet therapy programs in the Seattle area. My complete bio, description of services, class dates and on line class registration is listed on my website at www.spokesdog.com.

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