owner encouragement

Cared For Is Best

As summer draws to a close, I’ve been thinking about the number of conversations I had over the last few months with clients about options for their dog(s) when they go out of town.

And I’ve been frustrated by the number of judgmental comments that have come with those discussions (either with clients or seen online from others).  There are folks who cannot believe owners would choose to leave their dogs in a boarding facility and typically refer to it as “doggie jail.”  There are others who cannot believe an owner would trust a stranger to come into their home while they are away to care for their dog.  And there are others still who cannot believe anyone pays for either service and believe instead that dogs should be left with close friends/family.

So what’s best?  Boarding facility, pet sitter, family friend?

In my opinion, CARED FOR IS BEST.

What does that mean?  It means that what’s best for me and my dog might not be what’s best for you and your dog.  Here are some of my thoughts on the pros and cons of each option:

Pros:
> Boarding Facility: In North Carolina, boarding facilities must be inspected/licensed by the state to legally provide overnight boarding or daycare.  This should give owners confidence in the cleanliness and proper/sturdy construction of their animals’ living quarters.  Boarding facilities also very often provide supervised social/play time for your dog, which can be a great enrichment while you are away.
> Pet Sitter: Hiring a pet sitter allows your dog to stay at home in its own environment, which may be much preferred by some dogs (especially those who may be shy or older).  It would also be assumed that a good pet sitter would be able to give your dog good one-on-one attention.
> Family/Friends: Asking someone close to you to watch your dog can be a lot of fun and usually much cheaper.  This allows your dog to stay with someone it is hopefully comfortable with and who may know its habits well.  As a bonus, they usually don’t charge as much (if anything) compared to a pet sitter or boarding facility.

Cons:
> Boarding Facility:  Depending on the facility, boarding kennels can be somewhat loud and chaotic places with a lot of dogs and limited staff.
> Pet Sitter:  Allowing a stranger into your home may make you feel uncomfortable and it may be hard to be sure that your pet is receiving the type of care and attention you desired.
> Family/Friends:  Let’s be honest, sometimes family and friends who are doing you a favor for free don’t put in the same time and care you might appreciate.

I’ve used all three of these options at some point, depending on my circumstances at the time.  And thankfully, I’ve had almost all wonderful experiences.

At the moment, I choose to leave my dogs at a boarding facility – and my dogs LOVE IT.  The facility is inspected/licensed, the people are great, and my dogs get to play four times a day with other dogs while I’m away.  While Tucker could likely be adequately cared for by a small child, Ellie the Warrior Princess requires a little bit more expertise and focus.  A well run boarding facility, with secure housing, supervised play time, and an employee who will play ball with her, is exactly what she needs to be well cared for and happy.

So please, unless you see a situation that is going to be unsafe for the animal, hold the judgment.  Making sure your dog is well cared for while you’re away is the goal.  How you choose to do that is up to you.

***A word on boarding facilities or pet sitters who keep animals at their own homes.***
Both must be inspected/licensed by the state to be legal!  (Pet Sitters keeping animals in their own homes are actually considered kennels/boarding facilities.)  There are A LOT of folks who are knowingly, or unknowingly, breaking the law in Watauga and the surrounding counties.  Spoiler alert – there are only 5 stand alone kennels in Watauga County who are legally licensed to board (vet clinics with attached boarding are licensed differently).  As of a search on 8/9/19, in alphabetical order, the licensed facilities are: Fetching Ridge Pet Hotel and Spa, Happy Paws Dog Den, Mountain Mamma’s Bed and Biscuit, Pet Prairie Dog Retreat, and Woof Pack Pet Services.

Here’s a link where you can check your own NC county for licensed facilities and view their inspection reports.  Click here.

 

Categories: Blog, dog boarding, Holidays, kennel, Kennels, owner encouragement, Pet sitting | Leave a comment

UltraCell CBD – for Dogs and Humans!

I am a total skeptic about most supplements – but I have experienced some really amazing results while taking Zilis’ UltraCell CBD.  Since this product is also approved for use in dogs (and cats), we want to share it!

This blog’s purpose is to announce these new products that we will be adding to our shop and offering online through www.zilis.com/highcountrycbd.  The UltraCell CBD product and the boosters, Ice and Dream, are safe for dogs.  The other boosters should be used for humans only at this time.

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First, allow me to explain that this product is made from hemp, not cannabis, and it’s THC contents are incredibly low – the bottle I am currently using tested at 0.0155% THC.  I know this because Zilis has each batch tested at an independent lab and then puts a QR code on each bottle so the end user can access the lab results – pretty cool!

Second, I’ll tell you that for me personally, it has done wonders for the symptoms of my anxiety and my productivity levels.  I’ve never even considered selling supplements, but after my husband and I saw the effect it had on me, we decided we wanted to promote the product and tell all of our friends about it!  If you have any personal questions about my experience with the product, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I am also giving it to Tucker, my Labrador.  He loves the taste (I feed him his 6 drops on a spoon) and it has not had any adverse side effects on him that I can tell – which is great since Tucker is such a sensitive boy (epilepsy, irritable bowl syndrome, acid reflux, allergies, etc).  We started giving it to him to see if it would have a positive effect on his seizures.  He typically only has two a year, and his last one was in December, so we’ve got a few more months to wait before we see if the CBD will lessen the frequency or severity.  He does seem slightly more energetic, but he can go through phases of higher levels of energy, so we look forward to seeing if this is a phase or a new normal for him! (UPDATE as of 4/15/2019 – he DEFINITELY has more energy – he’s eager to play, explore, and even be a little more silly than normal!)

I can also share with you a testimonial from one of our clients, Stacy, about her dog Brit.  If you follow our Instagram or Facebook, you’ve seen photos of her.  She has always had some anxiety, but it got worse and became somewhat aggressive after she was attacked at a park.  Eventually she lashed out at one of the family’s other dogs and became very reactive on walks.  She also had recurring shoulder pain and limping from time to time.  Here is what her mom has to say about UltraCell:

“Our 7 year-old Labrador, Brit, has been taking UltraCell for the past month.  She has been more playful and energetic since starting the product.  Prior to starting UltraCell, she had back pain and right front shoulder pain.  Now, she actively plays with our two 5 month-old puppies.  She loves the taste (and so does our puppy, who seems to know when we open the bottle!).  We are very thankful for UltraCell.”

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Brit and her sister hanging out with Ellie at a lesson in September 2018.

I am so excited to see how adding UltraCell CBD oil to a solid training regimen will help some of our clients – dog or human!

We hope to have some samples for sale at our shop as early as next Monday, 3/25/19.  If you’re interested in purchasing one, please let us know!  Remember, our office hours are by appointment only – contact us if you’d like to come by.  828-699-3977  discoverydog1@gmail.com

You can see the dosage chart by clicking this link! 20180830-ultracellpetdosageflyer

Consult your qualified veterinarian provider prior to using this product. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
Categories: Behavior, Blog, dog health, dog training, owner encouragement, training tips | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Freedom is Earned

In my domain, my dogs have always earned freedom.  What does that mean?

It means that before Tucker earned unsupervised free run of the whole house, he had to show good unsupervised behavior in my bedroom.

And before he earned unsupervised free run of my bedroom, he had to show good partially supervised behavior in my bedroom.

And before he earned partially supervised behavior in my bedroom, he stayed in his kennel when I wasn’t able to watch him – because that was the safest place for him (and my stuff).

It would surprise most people to know that Tucker was not left outside of his kennel if I wasn’t home until he was somewhere between 2-3 years old.  Why?  Because I knew his kennel was safe, and when he was an adolescent, I didn’t 100% trust him not to stick his head in a trashcan or steal some kleenex.

I have received numerous calls, emails, and text messages from folks who have provided their dog (usually a puppy) with too much freedom too fast.  Young dogs are like children – they get distracted, they “forget” rules, and they are easily tempted.  You shouldn’t feel guilty for limiting your dog’s unsupervised freedom – it can save you money and your dog injury!  I have heard of dogs destroying couches, digging through walls, and even ingesting foreign objects – all because they were trusted too soon.

But here’s the reality folks – as you begin providing freedom, you may have great success for a while and then your puppy does something very “puppy.”  So what then?  Just like a parent with an unruly teenager, it’s okay to take freedom AWAY again for a time until you feel it can be handled appropriately again.

Exhibit A:

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Ellie just turned a year old this past Saturday.  She’s a firecracker, so she has not been given much freedom yet.  It’s only been in the past few months that she’s even been trustworthy enough to leave in the living room while I walk down the driveway to get the mail.  Lately, she had been showing much improved maturity – so the hallway gate blocking off half the house was used less frequently and fewer doors were closed when she was out of her kennel.

This morning I took a phone call from a client.  I didn’t realize that Ellie was no longer in sight until the call ended – less than 10 minutes.  I found her ripping up Tucker’s bed in the back room.  So what now?!  We’ll take away some freedom – we’ll spend a while using the gate again and closing more doors – and when she has gone a while without an incident, we will slowly begin providing more freedom again.

Restrictions and boundaries aren’t mean folks – they’re a safety net for you AND your dog.  Don’t feel guilty – feel in control!

 

 

 

 

Categories: Behavior, Chewing, crate training, dog training, Ellie the Warrior Princess, freedom, kennel, owner encouragement, Puppy, training tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Purebreds VS Rescues

Purebreds VS Rescues
Please note that this post is geared mostly towards those looking to adopt or buy a puppy – not an adult dog.  I am also using “rescues” to generally refer to dogs of unknown history and breeding – not necessarily purebreds who need a new home or end up in shelters.

As with almost every other subject, people can get very defensive, and downright mean, when it comes to purebreds versus rescues.  So, just in case anyone is curious, here are my two cents on the subject:

BOTH ARE GREAT. 

And here’s why: each owner’s needs, and each dog’s purpose, is different.

Rescues
I love rescues.  They come in all sorts of cool and sometimes funny looking combinations.    I grew up with Dingo, a “pound puppy” who was mostly Golden Retriever and a little bit of who-knows-what-else.  We had her for nearly 16 years and loved her dearly.  As a adolescent, I never dreamed I’d ever grow up to own a purebred dog.  After all, I’d had a great rescue, rescues are cheaper (initially, at least), and there are a ton of them available.  So, how did I come to a place where I now own two purebred dogs?

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Dingo

Purebreds
I love purebreds.  They may be cut from a relatively similar cloth, but they are all still individuals.  I ended up with my first purebred dog, Tucker, because I volunteered to be his Puppy Raiser for Leader Dogs for the Blind.  When he was career changed at a year and a half, they gave him back to me.  During this time, I also had the privilege of becoming good friends with a couple who train Search and Rescue dogs – all of whom just happened to be purebred German Shepherds.

Then I became a dog trainer.  As my business grew, my Labrador (who is atypical in my opinion) decided he didn’t want to have to work every day.  He’s mellow and he’s lazy.  He didn’t seem to enjoy being the one and only demonstration dog or training assistant.  So, we began thinking about our next dog.  And although a working dog will always also be a family dog in our home, our business needs were a huge priority.  I needed a dog with a great work ethic, a confident personality, and a good temperament.  The more time I spent with my search and rescue friends, the more I fell in love with the qualities of the German Shepherd Dog.  And now we have Ellie the Warrior Princess.

Tucker and Ellie

Ellie and Tucker

 

So, if you’re looking for a dog, and you have friends on one side yelling, “adopt, don’t shop!” and friends on the other side yelling, “you don’t know what you’re getting!” how on earth are you supposed to decide what to do?  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Health
    • Most people have heard the statement, “mutts are healthier than purebreds.”  In my experience, that has been true to a point, but not 100%.  My parents currently have a rescued German Shepherd mix and she has had very few health issues so far.  Dingo, however, had poor hips and allergies, and was on arthritis medication for roughly 8 of her 15.5 years.  Tucker is a mess of weird health problems – acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome, poor tooth structure – while Ellie, thus far, hasn’t shown any issues other than a birth defect in her eye (which doctors say isn’t necessarily genetic).  When you rescue a dog, you don’t know their health history.  When you buy a dog, you can (and should!) look at their lineage and health history, but it isn’t a guarantee.
  • Physical Characteristics
    • Some people like big dogs and some people like small dogs.  Some people live on 50 acre farms and some people live in one bedroom apartments.  The size of dog you have, and their other physical characteristics (such as their fur), can have a great impact on your life.

      My dad took me to the pound and let me pick out Dingo all on my own – at five years old.  I wanted a “golden colored” puppy – that was my only requirement.  My parents had no idea how big she would or wouldn’t get and what her temperament would be like.  Newsflash y’all – rescues organizations and shelters GUESS at a dog’s breed to the best of their ability, but when they don’t have any history on a puppy, they are guessing in the dark based on the physical traits they can see at a young age.  Thankfully for us, we had the space and finances to handle what turned out to be a 70 pound Golden Retriever mix – not all families have that luxury.  Another example:  I worked for a wonderful veterinarian for a few years who will readily tell you that guessing a puppy’s breed is not her best skill.  She currently owns an 80 pound hound dog because her son brought home a stray puppy that she thought was a Beagle pup…

      While size is an important factor, another important one for a lot of families is the coat.  If you know a family member is allergic to dogs, you may not want to invest time and money into a rescue who MAY be hypoallergenic when you could buy a specific breed known for that quality or even one who has already been tested and proven mostly hypoallergenic.  And besides that, some people just don’t want to deal with fluffy tumbleweeds floating around their house!

  • Purpose
    • To me, purpose is one of the most important factors to consider in this debate. If you’re looking for a family pet, a companion, or a walking buddy, you may not care exactly how big he gets or what his level of trainability might be for advanced commands.  If you’re looking to train for a specific task or skill, or you need certain physical characteristics because of your environment, you may be wary of adopting a rescue puppy when no certain history is available.

      And do you know what I think?  I think that is perfectly acceptable.  I don’t think either of these sides should be judged too harshly.  After all, if you believe as I do that a dog is a long term commitment, you want to be sure that you’re committing to something you can handle and that serves its intended purpose.  Now, there are always exceptions to the above thoughts.  There are organizations who are willing to take the time to comb through shelters and pick out dogs with certain characteristics to train for high functioning jobs – and that’s awesome.  There are breeders/shops who are in it for the money, who are irresponsible, who sell dogs with horrible health and temperaments and who contribute to our shelter dog problem – and that’s repulsive.

      At the end of the day, you should think long and hard about your decision to adopt OR shop and make the choice that will be best for you, and the dog, in the long term.  Don’t let someone bully you into rescuing a dog with a laundry list of issues that you don’t have the money/time to handle.  Don’t let someone bully you into going to the most expensive breeder in town because they think a dollar sign is the only qualifier of worth and value.  Seek out people on both sides of the road, do your research, and make the decision for yourself.

      Mixed breeds and Purebred dogs

      Between my parents, sister, and myself, we have two rescues and two purebreds.  They are all dearly loved and serve their purpose well.  My sister’s dog Harley, who is a who-the-heck-knows-husky-mix?, fits in well as a patient big brother to my nephew and cuddle buddy for my sister/brother in law.  My parents’ dog Kalli, a shepherd mix, lives a happily introverted life with two empty nesters and has amazing mole catching skills.  And then there’s my kids – the German Shepherd Dog who cries when she doesn’t get to go to the office and the lazy Labrador who enjoys sleeping next to kids at the elementary school while they read.  They all have purpose – they are all valuable – and they are all exactly where they need to be.  

       

 

Categories: Adopting a dog, Blog, Buying a dog, dog training, Mixed Breeds, owner encouragement, Puppy, Purebred dogs, Rescues | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You Matter!

Yes, you!

You matter.  You are important.  And, dare I say it, you are more valuable than your pet.

I know this concept is taboo in today’s society, but I believe it to be true.  Our society has taught us to believe that our dog’s happiness far exceeds the value of our own.  I simply do not agree.  Yes, we should care for our animals and ensure that they have proper food, water, shelter, medical attention, and socialization (and training!).  That does not, however, mean that they get to rule the home and do whatever they please at your expense.

I have several clients who start to look anxious at the very mention of going to the park.  They’ve had so many horrible experiences because of their dogs’ behavior that they experience a stress trigger just thinking about it.  Even the ones who aren’t experiencing that level of stress usually say, longingly, “I just want to be able to go to the park again.”

While there are always exceptions to the rule, I have found that these dogs can typically make vast improvements with a little boundary setting and self-control.  In the image below, you will see my Labrador, Tucker, and a client’s dog, Archer, walking side by side at the Greenway.  We did a few lessons at my shop and then ventured to the park.  Archer’s owner had become very wary of taking him out as he had become very dog reactive and somewhat aggressive.  While at the park, Archer not only walked happily with his new buddy, Tucker, but was able to pass by other client dogs we ran into with much more composure.  It was the first time in a long time that his owner had felt in control enough to walk him around other dogs.

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Tucker and Archer walk side by side at the park.

Interestingly enough, while checking out kennels in my area this month, I saw Archer and his brother at a boarding facility.  Upon telling the kennel owner that I knew him and why, she said, “I just told his owner yesterday that he’d been so much better behaved this time.  Now I know why!”  Boundary setting and teaching self-control can have an effect on so many areas of your dog’s life – and can reduce the anxiety that is often the root of the poor behavior.

So, don’t disregard your own happiness and quality of life.  If your dog is making you miserable – do something about it!  Don’t let our society tell you that setting boundaries and rules makes you a bad owner.  We always want to treat our dogs humanely and with respect, but that doesn’t mean letting them run the show at your expense.  Yes, your dog matters – but YOU matter, too!

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Our dogs are going to have bad days and they’re going to do ridiculous things at times, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t still be enriching your life.  If you’re stressing more than laughing, find a trainer and make a change.  [Picture – me laughing after one of puppy Tucker’s “oops” moments – 2012 – photo credit Beth Anne Ho.]

Categories: Aggressive Dogs, Behavior, dog training, owner encouragement, training tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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