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Spokesdog's Canine Couch

A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich

Spokesdog’s Book Review: Idiot’s Guides Puppies

January 3rd, 2015 at 11:48 am by Diane Rich
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By Connie Swaim and Deb Eldredge, DVM
c Diane Rich 2015

There are an overwhelming number of books about puppies on the market that include the usual topics;  choosing a pup, preparing for a pup and training. Some of these puppy books, like this one I am reviewing also include general health care tips.  My personal library includes many of these books as I like to stay informed, learn something new and find puppy and dog books I feel comfortable recommending to my clients and readers.

This Idiot’s Guide on Puppies covers an array of topics and may be a nice addition to your “how to” library.  Some topics in this book are given a paragraph with what I would call quick tips while other topics such as training and health care are more in depth.

Swaim is a trainer and graduate from the well respected Karen Pryor’s Clicker Training School.  This author offers tips on clicker training also called marker training which can be a fun way to teach your puppy new behaviors and is a methodology worth a try.   Swaim also includes training tips using what is called lure and reward method meaning  you lure your pup into a position with a treat then offer that treat or reward when the behavior is completed.  For the experienced puppy owner the techniques,  some illustrated with photos may make sense to some new pet parents but the newbie may still need the help from a professional trainer to help fine tune any timing challenges.

Deb Eldredge, DVM is a graduate of Cornell and has authored 10 pet books. I thought the chapters about general health care which begins with tips on how to choose a Vet to what to expect during the pup’s first Vet exam, what to know about internal parasites, emergencies and first aid and covers important information every dog owner should know before things happen.

The authors included color photographs throughout the book.  I would recommend this book for new puppy parents who need some guidance before the pup comes home and also want to learn some basic training advice.

Published by the Penguin Group

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

A Dog’s New Years Resolutions

December 30th, 2014 at 9:16 am by Diane Rich
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The Top 10

blog food kibbleblog food organic turkey filets
1, I may beg for food but do not know what is best for me. I just want what you are eating or what smells good to me. I am counting on you to know what is best and not give in to me so I don’t get sick or fat.   I know how to manipulate you and can outlast you until you cave.

2.I know you think I am finicky with my meals but really I am just holding out for all the treats you give me during the day which can fill me up. I want to be with you a long time so  please make sure I have a balanced diet

3. I hear my Vet telling you I am overweight and that 50% of pets in this country are overweight, a nice way of calling us fat.  I really, really want to be with you a long time so let’s both watch our weight together this coming year

Tibetan mastiff jetson walking him by water 10-11Fraser Diane hiking sitting on peak

4. Let’s walk together everyday. And, yes I like long walks on the beach.  If I pull you it is not that I am trying to dominate you, I want to explore and you tend to walk too slowly.  Please teach me how to walk with you so we both have fun.  I have heard about hiking and would like to give that a try with you.

real world Fraserwitt,visla goldentraining
My Brain

5. When I was a pup you taught me how to sit and a few other things that I don’t remember.  I am feeling a little lost and even nervous sometimes.  I hope you teach me more things so I can feel smarter and not have you so angry with me for things I do not understand.  I really do want to learn and want to think

Your Friends

6. Your friends seem nice and I like some of them but I am hoping you teach people not to stick their face in my face or think I want them to pet my head.  Do you like people touching your head?  Please ask your friends to respect my space and let me get to smell them first when they come over


7.  I hear people saying how cute I am and they ask you if they can pet me.  Great.  But, please ask them to wait for me to make the first move. I may be uncomfortable with some strangers so if I do not make the first move please please please do not just let them come up to me to touch me.  I really don’t like it and they do not seem to care. I want you to care and to protect me.

Other Dogs
8. That brings me to other dogs we see during our walks.  I hear those pet parents tell you their dog wants to say hi.  I am reading the other dog differently and am asking you, no begging you to say no sometime to these people and let me and the other dog relax first and investigate each other if we choose to.  Do you want strangers to just come up to you on the street and shake your hand or give you a hug?  I know you don’t.  I do not have to say hi to every dog on the street, that is not socializing me, that is telling me I am on my own and I can’t count on you to protect me.


9. I want to spend more time with you.  You are gone all day, come home and seem to prefer to sit and play games with some device on your lap rather than having me on your lap.  I love you and you are all I have.

 My Health
10. Sometimes I am not feeling well and need to see my doctor.  Please don’t wait until I am really sick to take me to my Vet.  I really want to be healthy enough to be with you for a long, long time

Wishing you a health, happy, fantastic New Year

Thank you!
I  want to thank my readers for your continued support all these years.  Your emails are appreciated.   I have covered many topics over the years on my blog but if there is a topic of interest you want me to write about let me know at

I am looking forward to another year with you!

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Tis the Season for Pet Safety

December 22nd, 2014 at 6:22 am by Diane Rich
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20 Safety Tips

O BOY O BOY O BOY Look at all my presents
c Diane Rich 2014

Tis the season full of anticipation, guest lists, wish lists, boarding passes, smiles, angst, online shopping, brick and mortar adventures, procrastination and seeing family and friends.

Whether you are hosting parties at your home, attending parties, traveling or celebrating in a quieter manner it is important to keep your pet’s safety in mind.

c Diane Rich 2014

Quick tips:

  1. Prepare your dog now to prevent him from bolting out of the front door if you are expecting guests or deliveries.   Teaching your dog a solid stay or wait at the door before the craziness begins may prove to be less stressful for all. If you opt out of training then it is best to confine your dog behind a gate or in a crate temporarily while guests arrive and leave.
  2. The day before and day of your party, exercise your dog to tire her out especially if she will exiled away from all the activities
  3. Make sure your guests, especially children are educated on how you want your dog handled.  Children under the age of 8 should always be supervised around the family dog even if the relationship has worked out well to date.
  4. For Fido’s meals while guests are around you may want to feed your dog away from the party especially if your dog has an issue when people are around its food bowl
  5. Should you wish to discourage your dog begging at the table or eating food that could create a tummy upset, remind your guests not to give your dog any human food from the table or counter.  Fatty foods can cause gastrointestinal problems in some dogs. Cooked bones are a no no and may require an emergency Vet visit if your dog scores a bone
  6. If you believe your dog may think your Christmas tree is his personal gift to mark, you may want to create a barrier so the tree, beautifully wrapped gifts and lovely decorations are inaccessible.  Not only can your dog chew on ornaments but may be able to pull a tree over. Secure the tree so it cannot be pulled down.
  7. Cords used for holiday lighting may draw your pup’s attention so be sure the cords are taped down or inaccessible to your canine chewer.
  8. Your pet deserves a quiet zone and guests hopefully will respect that area and leave the dog alone
  9. A new pup is always a magnet for visitors so keep in mind your pup like a human baby has limits.  You can set boundaries for interactions with your new addition but you still should manage those interactions
  10. Keep plants out of reach and keep the pet away from tree water
  11. Alcohol, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisons, onions, garlic, coffee beans are toxic to dogs.  Bread in quantities can expand in a dog’s gut and could be life threatening
  12. Keep your local emergency Vet’s number handy and know the location of the closest emergency Vet clinic
  13. Make sure your dog’s collar includes an ID tag in case the dog bolts out the front door, garage or through an open fence gate.
  14. If you want to share some cooked unseasoned meat with your dog as a few small pieces should not hurt your dog.  but, a dog allowed to overindulge could get quite sick.  Best to stick with the dog’s regular diet
  15. Remember to include your dog on your Christmas shopping list.  Should you choose to give your dog a squeaky type toy supervise the activity so should she get through to the stuffing or squeaker you can replace the toy with a different toy.  If the dog is given edible chew toys, check on that toy periodically to make sure it doesn’t present a choking hazard
  16. If your dog gets cranky with people around his food bowl, toys, bed or doesn’t take treats gently when offered inform your guests so both dog and guests have a wonderful time
  17. If the temperature in your zip code is too cold for you bring the dog indoors to enjoy your warm home rather than enduring outdoor conditions.  Some dogs with super thick fur prefer the cold but still need to be looked after.  Make sure any water in outdoor  bowls is not frozen
  18. Allowing children to chase or harass the dog is ill advised.  Although everyone is busy, this may be a good time to teach children how to pet, love and respect the family dog. Not all dogs are keen on hugs.
  19. Your guests who may have excused your dog’s excited greeting of jumping on them may not be so welcome if wet paws make contact with holiday clothing. Train, supervise or confine your pet so everyone can enjoy the day.
  20. Wrappers and ribbons need to be discarded so pets with a desire to shred paper products are not tempted.

chase xmas collar close up 12-11
c Diane Rich 2014

Wishing you a safe, happy and fun holiday season.

Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Spokesdog’s Product Review; Back Pack for Dogs

December 4th, 2014 at 9:41 am by Diane Rich
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The Approach Pack by Ruffwear
c Diane Rich 2014

Hiking with dogs makes the experience all that more enjoyable and if your dog can carry some gear all the better.  Many years ago I bought a back pack for my previous Doberman but after having him wear it one time and seeing it slip to one side or the other while he navigated trails and steep terrain decided never to do that to him again.  There were no packs on the market at that time that worked well for my deep-chested breed.

product review back pack chest strap
c Diane Rich 2014

If you have ever tried hiking with an ill fitting back pack that doesn’t distribute the weight properly or doesn’t ride well on your particular body type you know how uncomfortable it can be which will certainly affect how enjoyable the hike will be.  So when a representative from Ruffwear contacted me to review one of their popular packs I was interested. I was given a choice of any one of their packs to review and as I am a day hiker chose the Approach pack.

When it first arrived at my office I handed the pack to a friend to observe ease of use and once one figures out how to put this pack on the dog, suiting up is easy. With the Approach pack, you must put one of the dog’s front legs through the chest strap, and then attach the strap under the dog’s chest to the other side of the harness using the snap closure.
You will need to snug it up as needed. This is the key design element to preventing the pack from slipping off to the side and was made to provide load stability and weight distribution.  There are several adjustments to do so the dog needs to be able to stand still until the procedure has been completed.

Originally one of my concerns was a pack slipping off to the side but this pack seemed to balance  fairly well.  My other concern having a short haired breed and exposed skin under the arm pits was if the nylon straps would  irritate and chaff the skin which it did a little bit. That being said, if you do parent a dog with a thick coat like a Husky or Samoyed you still want to check the area under the straps for any matting.

c Diane Rich 2014

There is a padded assistance handle on the top of the back along with a single-piece aluminum V-ring leash attachment point however I would recommend attaching your leash to the dog’s collar.  The pack also offers low-light visibility with reflective trim. The attached saddle bags each have 2 separate zippered compartments to stow an extra leash,  first aid kit, water and other light supplies*

To size your dog you need to measure your dog’s girth at the widest part of the rib cage. My Doberman is an extra large.

I found the pack durable, it fit my dog well and offers enough room in the saddle bags for some gear.  My only issue as I mentioned was some chaffing under my dog’s armpits from the chest strap that rides right behind the armpit.  Ruffwear sells several packs and there are other options.  As I only reviewed the Approach pack  I would definitely recommend this particular model.

* It’s recommended that your dog carry no more than 25% of their body weight in their dog pack. If your dog is new to dog packs, start with a light load and work up to a heavier load as your dog gets accustomed to wearing the pack.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Rescuing the Rescuer

December 1st, 2014 at 11:39 am by Diane Rich
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The Back-Story Of A Rescue Dog May Be Sad But The Future Can Be Bright

c Diane Rich 2014   This 6 year old dog did not work out for the original family so was surrendered at a shelter. He was adopted and going through the acclimation transition.  The new family has young children so more care must be taken to facilitate a safe and loving relationship

Adoption Options
Many pet parents across the U.S. have decided to adopt rather than shop (buying a dog from a breeder) for their next new furry family member. Depending on where you live your choices for adopting the next furry love of your life may limited to your local shelter or you may have additional options through one of many rescue organizations.  Rescue organizations are diverse as some cater to small dogs and other rescues may cater to dogs with special needs.  There are rescue organizations that take in senior dogs and even groups founded specifically for purebred dogs such as our Seattle Purebred Dog Rescue  Unfortunately there is a need for all these safe havens for the discarded, abandoned or stray dog who wait out their time for our love and the stability of a furever home.

Time Is Not Always On Their Side
Millions of dogs every year enter the shelter system and these unfortunate castaways or strays are warehoused with other hopefuls in an overcrowded shelter system. This noisy, stressful, concrete environment may be where they live out their last few days.  Sadly, many shelters due to lack of funding and space and the never ending supply of new dogs entering their system cap the time each dog has in that facility. If that dog is not claimed, adopted or pulled by another rescue within a specific timeline the dog is killed.

No Kill
A few shelters around the country are no kill due to private donations so have the funding to enable that non-profit to tirelessly implement strong marketing efforts to help rehome each of the dogs.  Some shelters with the help of dedicated volunteers offer stimulating activities for the dogs such as some play time with volunteers, leashed walks around the property and even the opportunity for the dogs to have social time with other hopefuls.

@ Shelter/shy dog   c Diane Rich 2014
The dog that is scared and backs off of people is less likely to be adopted.  If the fearful dog is adopted that adopter must know or be willing to learn how to help this dog trust and how to build this dog’s confidence.  It won’t happen overnight but I can promise you it is worth the effort.

Rewarding Journey
Every week I am lucky to work with wonderful new clients who decide to bring one of these valuable dogs into their home as a permanent member of their family. I absolutely love the process of helping both owner and dog develop a great relationship.    Whether the dog presents mild to severe behavioral challenges it doesn’t matter, if the client is committed to the dog I am committed to the client and their new addition as the process and end result can be so rewarding for all.   However, sometimes during this journey the rescuer also needs rescuing which can prove to be both challenging and rewarding.

Transition To A New Home
The transition from shelter or rescue to a new home can be stressful for the new dog.  Some dogs make themselves at home quickly while others take more time to acclimate. Some dogs can take up to around 6 months to acclimate and the new family will learn new things about the dog along the way. While a dog is at a shelter or rescue some, not all canine behaviors are documented, some behaviors may be misrepresented based on how evaluations were implemented and understood and some behaviors may lurk right under the radar.  A dog may also suppress some behaviors while in the system.  Then, when the dog enters the new home behaviors such as shyness around certain family members becomes worse, nervousness around specific stimuli is observed, excessive barking begins, resource guarding around the food bowl or toys that may have been initially forgiven when mild has gained some momentum and is now dangerous. These behaviors may blindside the new pet parent.

Pet Parent Pity
The common emotional ground I observe with many new wonderful families who opened their heart and their home to a dog they rescued can be one of pity for their new family member.  In some cases, the worse the back-story or the more shy the dog the stronger the pity. The smaller the dog the more a well meaning new owner wants to protect, even over-protect and coddle their new addition.  When pity is the foundation of this new relationship many owners with good intentions shower love and attention on the dog trying to make up for what that dog most likely missed before finding a furever home.   Love and attention is an absolute but not to the exclusion of helping that dog build confidence.

shelter/c Diane Rich 2014   Dogs need to be showcased to potential new families and shelters offer different protocol for viewing but I wonder the short or long term effects on the dog of having a parade of people walking by windows or kennels and sticking faces against the glass and tapping
on the glass or sticking fingers through the fencing. 

Coddling Can Cripple
Dogs need our love, support and protection but unfortunately coddling a needy dog can unintentionally cripple the dog emotionally or exacerbate the dog’s discomfort and lack of trust around people, other pets or novel stimuli.  When the rescuer believes they need to compensate for the dog’s past by coddling the dog rather than implementing techniques to help build the dog’s confidence that dog’s timid or defensive behavior can become that dog’s normal.  The smaller the dog the more that timid or fearful behavior is accepted and both species can develop an over-attachment to each other.
rescue buddy s-s 11-14
c Diane Rich 2014   This cutie was recently adopted and upon my initial evaluation presented general anxiousness along with separation anxiety

Personal Void To Fill?
What I have observed over the years is that some people enjoy the dog’s over-attachment to them and deep down take comfort from that dog’s neediness.  When the dog’s behavior becomes too problematic such as excessive whining or barking along with presenting other anxious behavior or the dog begins growling or going after people who are in that dog’s space or when others are near their human, that pet parent may reach out for help.   Help arrives but when the trainer lays out a sound behavior modification plan that plan may be met with varying levels of resistance as some pet parents are conflicted with any follow through due to their perception that building the dog’s confidence may mean it won’t need them anymore.  I am hopeful your trainer explains that the dog WILL need you but that need won’t be based out of fear it will be based out of a strong, trusting relationship.

aya abby d-s 9-14
Puppy on left was one of a litter at a shelter where my clients volunteer. She was scared of other dogs and is now a social butterfly. I brought the trained dog on the right as her calm, social role model.
 c Diane Rich 2014

Relish The Baby Steps Of Progess
It is relatively easy for any person to learn how to train and work with a compliant puppy or older dog.  Being a part of that process is rewarding.  On that other hand and paw it is not so easy to work with any dog presenting behavioral problems because it takes so much patience for many owners to stay the course and accept the fact that the dog’s progress and change may only be realized in baby steps.   It can take even more emotional fortitude from a trainer to address the human equation of that change.  But, I can tell you, it is most rewarding to facilitate mutual trust for dog and family and to be a part of building the dog’s confidence and other skills.  It is incredibly gratifying to help develop a stable relationship between the pet family and dog and the dog and the outside world.

Tips For The Rescuer
1.  Love your new addition which is the easy part and if you observe the dog becoming too needy or overly-attached to you or a family member or becomes overly-anxious when out of your site don’t wait, hire an experienced behavior expert.
2. Don’t believe unacceptable or unhealthy canine behavior will go away on its own.  Training begins the day you bring the dog home.  Get referrals for an experienced behavior expert, not just an obedience trainer from your Vet, the rescue organization or from friends.
3. Spending 24/7 with the new addition can create anxiety issues for the dog if you do have to leave the dog alone at some point.  Imperative to set the dog up for success by implementing the skills to help the dog to learn how to trust you will return.
4. Be honest about your own personal needs with regard to possibly using the dog to fill an emotional void such as the loss of another pet, loss of a family member or close friend, illness, your need to be needed, or plain old loneliness.  Filling a void can be a challenging job description for any dog.
5. With any new dog it is important to pace socialization activities such as introducing your dog to new people, places and other pets. More stimuli is not better.

Controlling My Own Emotions
As I work with so many dogs out of rescue it is easy to feel anger, pity and sadness when I hear some of the back-stories of dogs that through no fault of their own were abused (isolation is abuse) or discarded due to reasons that can easily bring my normally realistically optimistic, positive mood to a screeching halt.  While my heart goes out to these dogs it also has room to love them into stability. If an owner is on board with training and behavior modification strategies they will realize how resilient dogs can be.  A rescued dog can become the rescuer helping other humans and dogs heal.

My Promise To You
I can promise you if you guide your dog through the acclimation process and through proper training strategies, not old school dominance theories,  include structure, pace socialization opportunities, be patient with the process and stay motivated even with progress coming in baby steps and love your new dog not pity or coddle the dog you will enjoy years of smiles with your new furry family member.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC


November 25th, 2014 at 8:51 am by Diane Rich
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Seattle Humane offers 5 tips for happy, healthy pets

The bounty of rich, tempting foods at Thanksgiving can pose health hazards to our four-legged friends, making Thanksgiving a busy time for emergency veterinary clinics. Seattle Humane Society urges pet guardians to follow five common sense tips to keep pets healthy and happy during the holiday fun and festivities:1. Keep the feast out of reach! Agile and creative dogs or cats can capture a special treat from the kitchen counter, trash or even the dining room table.2. Resist offering your leftovers. Rich and fatty foods like dressing, pie, and gravy can lead to serious and painful pancreatitis.

3. No turkey bones! Turkey bones can cause very serious and sometimes fatal consequences for your pet.

4. Plan ahead for pets. Stop by a pet food store and purchase some new dog biscuits or cat treats and then reduce the amount of his regular meal to accommodate the treats he will be getting throughout the day. Remember, biscuits and treats are usually much higher in calories than regular pet food, so having him skip dinner may be a prudent choice if he has been snacking all day.

5. Make a special treat. Some people enjoy cooking for their dog and cat while they are cooking for the rest of the family. Pick up a recipe book just for companion animals at the book store, or just type “homemade pet treat recipes” into your favorite web search engine for lots of interesting choices.


Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

About the Seattle Humane Society
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.
13212 SE Eastgate Way, Bellevue, WA 98005 | Main: (425) 641-0080 | Fax: (425) 747-2985 |

The National Dog Show Will Air on Thanksgiving Day

November 24th, 2014 at 8:18 am by Diane Rich
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Presented by Purina®

Turkey, pumpkin pie, football, family, friends and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade ®  share the day with the National Dog Show.  The 13th  National Dog Show presented by Purina® is expected to entertain over 20 million viewers from noon to 2p.m. in all time zones and will be following the parade on NBC.

The best TV hosts in the dog biz, David Frei and John O’Hurley along with reporter Mary Carillo will be your guides throughout this popular dog show on Thanksgiving Day.
national DS david frei john ohurley 11-14
David Frei and John O’Hurley/SeeSpotRun photo

Mary Carillo with Rufus/ NBC photo
The late, great Rufus was the winner of the 2005 National Dog Show Presented by Purina and winner of the 2006 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show and the first Therapy Dog Ambassador.

If you are too full from appetizers and require a nap before dinner or are chasing children, grandchildren, nieces  and nephews around the house before the feast and miss the show, there is an encore presentation Saturday, Nov. 29th from 8-10p.m. ET

Over 175 breeds vie for Best in Show honors at this competition. NBC sports will feature behind-the-scenes photo and video capturing all of the backstage activity generated by over 1500 primped and preened canine contenders.  For those who prefer a digital application, and on the NBC Sports Live Extra app will include live stream of the entire NBC Thanksgiving Day Show including every breed-winning canine. You can access online video to enjoy highlights via your smartphone, desktop or tablet.

The National Dog is a “benched” show meaning the dogs are on display all day for the visiting public.  Benched shows offer a great opportunity for attendees to meet a breed of interest close up and personal and learn about that breed from a knowledgeable source.

The American Kennel Club has recognized two new breeds making their debut this year, the Coton de Tulear of the non-sporting group and the Wirehaired Vizsla of the sporting group.
national DS coton 11-14   national DS Wirehaired Vizsla 11-14
Coton de Tulear/Steve Surfman photo                       Wirehaired Vizsla/National Dog Show photo

Broadcast and online content will also include The National Dog Show Therapy Dog Ambassador, Butler, the official Weather Channel Therapy Dog. The Weather Channel announced a partnership with American Humane Association and launched a nationwide search to find the perfect therapy dog to help people affected by severe weather.  Rescue dogs from all over the country were nominated and Butler was chosen.  During the weeks and months following a natural disaster, Butler and handler Amy McCullough from American Humane Association will visit schools, hospitals and shelters in communities hard-hit, in order to bring comfort and service.
National DS Butler therapy dog 11-14
Owner-Handler Amy McCullough and Butler/Betsy Dallas photo  

The show will feature two vignettes that highlight Purina’s longstanding commitment to innovation designed to help pets live longer, healthier lives.  One vignette will highlight Purina’s discovery of a nutritional breakthrough that will help pets sustain a healthy brain as they grow older.  The other vignette will feature a different approach to dog food that combines dog owners’ first-hand knowledge of their pet with Purina’s proven nutritional expertise to create a personalized feeding experience for dogs – through a product called Just right by Purina.

About Nestlé Purina PetCare

Nestlé Purina PetCare promotes responsible pet care, community involvement and the positive bond between people and their pets. A premiere global manufacturer of pet products, Nestlé Purina PetCare is part of Swiss-based Nestlé S.A., a global leader in nutrition, health and wellness.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

10 Tips To Help Keep Your Pet Warm And Safe This Winter

November 17th, 2014 at 5:20 pm by Diane Rich
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Yes, it’s that time of year
coats fraser chase on deck

Rain, hail, snow, wind and every now and then a sun break are all a part of winter weather conditions around the country. Breeds such as Malamutes, Huskies, Shiba Inus, Samoyeds, Chessies are better suited than many other breeds for winter conditions but that does mean they can withstand harsh conditions for long periods of time.

1. Outdoor Living
If your dog must live in an outdoor enclosure the dog absolutely must have the opportunity to get away from the elements which includes protection from the wind.  Make sure the dog has access to water 24/7 and that the water does not freeze. A dog house must be well insulated and be raised above ground.  Space heaters can be dangerous if knocked over or if set up too close to a dog but heat must be supplied to the dog house or enclosure for humane conditions to be met. Dogs who unfortunately must live outdoors will need more food than during warmer months.
I strongly encourage you to bring pets indoors during harsh winter weather or if temps drop below freezing. If you are thinking of getting a pet but cannot give them the opportunity to live with you in your warm home, please rethink getting a dog.

2. Canine Couture
 Raincoats are usually made of waterproof or water resistant nylon fabric and some raincoats have a fleece liner which is more comfortable than nylon next to their skin.  Fleece coats are great for cold weather walks, hiking or accompanying you on snow shoeing adventures in the mountains. Fleece coats are best for cold days, not rainy days. Some coats come with a little hoodie to protect your dog’s neck and some coats have a little hole in the neck area for the leash to pass through  to connect to your dog’s collar.

3. Footwear
Booties can help dogs footing when walking on icy roads. Rock salt or crusty snow can cause frostbite or irritate skin or foot pads. Some booties are fleece and some are waterproof. Many of the Huskies entered in the Iditarod wear booties so don’t think your dog is a weenie for wearing booties.

4. Antifreeze Good for Cars Bad for Pets
If you are new to pet parenting be advised that just a small amount of antifreeze is toxic to both dogs and cats. Unfortunately, the taste is sweet which tantalizes pets into taking a sample. Check the floor under your car for leaks and prevent your pet access to antifreeze containers

5.  Packing on the Pounds
Many people who live in cold climates take time off outdoor exercise routines but continue enjoying comfort food so winter weight gain can be the end result of too much pasta. Pets require more food to keep warm but an overweight pet is no better off than an overweight human.

6. Lakes
Although frozen lakes are beautiful, every year 911 is needed to rescue people and in some cases pets who wander out on what seemed to be a frozen lake only to end up in that lake due falling through thin ice.

7. Keeping Warm
Heat sources are a necessity but heat lamps or space heaters can unfortunately be a hazard. Heat lamps have
been known to cause severe burns if set up too close to a pet and space heaters can be knocked over and cause a fire.

8. Heading to a Warm Climate?
Every region in the U.S. is home to specific parasites.  If you winter in Fla. your dog must be on a heartworm preventative so talk with your Vet about parasite control before your great escape.

9. Prepare for Power Outages
Due to winter blizzards, frozen branches falling on power lines and the inevitable interrupted power service it is best to be proactive for outages.  Along with your personal emergency kit should also be a pet emergency kit which needs to include pet food and water for at least 5 days and any prescription meds your pet needs. Including a fleece throw for bedding and an extra coat to keep your pet warm.  You may want to keep your pet’s emergency kit in the car for road travel should you get stuck due to a snow storm.

10. Pass the Salt Please
Ice brings out salt to assist in melting snow or keeping ice from accumulating on walking surfaces. Great for humans, helpful for traction for cars but hard on  canine paws.   If your dog’s paws make contact with treated surfaces make sure
you rinse off any of these salts or chemicals after your walk.

I wish you and your pet a healthy, warm winter season.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Spokesdog’s Product Review; Scorpion Scooper

November 13th, 2014 at 10:47 am by Diane Rich
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Lock and Load

c Diane Rich 2014

Who would have thought dog owners would have so many options to pick up dog poop.  A Scorpion Scooper was sent to me for review and I was interested to give this device a go.

The scooper comes in short, medium and long and is marketed to be easy on your back as you don’t need to bend to pick up your dog’s waste.  The manufacturer also states it is a one handed operation and with one simple squeeze of the trigger the scooper opens to grab the poop then with a little flip of your wrist the poop finds its way into the poop bag that is then strategically placed through the frame so is off to the side keeping both your hands and the scooper clean.

There is a bag holder on the frame for an extra roll of bags should you run short.  If after dark you need light to locate the poop there is a cute removable LED flashlight conveniently attached to the scooper. The manufacturer also states their product can pick up poo on grass or any surface and pick up firm or soft stool. The product overview also states each bag is good for several piles of poo.

c Diane Rich 2014
Large Scorpion Scooper

If you have been following my blogs you know I have a Doberman. His daily poo, usually delivered two times a day has some substance which necessitates the proper equipment.   To date I have always used a large pan and spade scooper.  The large pan holds a quantity of poop and I never gave a second thought to needing two hands to use a scooper.  I am 5’5″ so do not really have to bend to accomplish my mission.

The Scorpion Scooper was as easy to put together and use as advertised however I needed to take 3 passes to pick up Chase’s poo which is rarely huge in volume just a few large pieces. Ok enough of that description, so with bag in place, the first and second pass squished some of the poo awaiting pick up but the third pass completed the mission.  With a little flip of the wrist the poo then made its way through the frame to the awaiting bag and it appeared there was some room to spare for the next round.  However in my attempt to grab another piece the scooper could not seem to grab it all and I needed to make several attempts to clean it up but I decided to continue testing the device. I finally succeeded in getting another piece of poo but in trying to flip it into the bag, lost the prize and it fell back to the earth.   This attempt detached one corner of the bag from the scooper during this last attempt and now there was poop on the scooper so there was no way I was in the mood to reattach the bag.  I decided to quit and grabbed my tried and true spade and pan scooper and the deed was done.

I still think the pan and spade are better options and I hose it off with sanitizer to keep it clean.   The Scorpion Scooper is an option for those who live in an apartment or condo and must leash walk a small dog for daily poops and don’t want to bend over to clean up after the dog.    However one needs to weigh if carrying this light 8 oz. scooper would be cumbersome rather than just using the tried and true sturdy poop bag.

At this time I cannot recommend this scooper.

The price is up to $24.95 with a recurring annual cost for bags at $20-30. For more information go to:

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Spokesdog’s Book Review; Biscuit for Your Thoughts?

November 7th, 2014 at 6:00 pm by Diane Rich
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Philosophy According To Dogs

Photographs by Andrew Darlow

book review biscuit for your thoughts 11-14
c Diane Rich 2014

When I look at animal photography such as the photos taken by Andrew Darlow for his book
Biscuit For Your Thoughts, it makes me want to upgrade my camera, take a class and get serious about this art.

The book is short and sweet and each page opposite one of Darlow’s k9 models offers simple quotes to remind the reader to enjoy the moment.   The book would make a lovely stocking stuffer this Christmas for any dog lover or could be a thank you gift for your favorite dog sitter, dog walker, dog trainer or daycare provider.


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

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