Eureka! Dog Blog

Dog Training and Behavior weblog

Posts Tagged ‘Dog social events

Articles on Dog Agility

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For the past few days, I’ve been providing comments for a series of articles on dog agility.  Cheryl Spencer has been writing an introductory series of articles on www.examiner.com for people interested in starting to learn agility with their dog.  For a sample article, see http://www.examiner.com/x-11581-Dallas-Pet-Training-Examiner~y2009m5d23-Beginning-agility-training–The-high-jumps or use the link on the blogroll on this page.  Cheryl is writing for people who have not done agility before, introducing the various obstacles.  She recommends agility for a wide variety of dogs, not just the pure breeds that usually appear in competitions.  I’ve been enjoying the fun of providing comments without putting in the hard work of writing the articles!!!

We have been doing an introduction to agility for fun class at Eureka!  The purpose is just to give people and their dogs an opportunity to try out the equipment and see if they want to do “real” agility, and also to spend an hour working and playing with their dogs and socializing.
Playtime at Eureka!You don’t have to have a pure bred dog or do competitive agility in order to have fun with your dog.  Teaching the obstacles and going through the course is fun for both of you, and it helps you learn to communicate with your dog.  We meet lots of dogs with problems because either they don’t get enough exercise or they don’t get out socially with their people.  Agility, even just for fun, gives them outlets and experiences they really need!

Written by eurekapaws

May 25, 2009 at 9:39 am

Mens Sana in Cane Sano (exercise and socialize)

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Dogs at Play

Dogs at Play at Eureka! Canine Behavior Specialists

Recently, we have seen a lot of dogs who suffer from severe problems stemming from lack of one or both of exercise and socialization.  Let’s be very clear about this – dogs need exercise, and they need to meet other people and dogs.

Left alone in their own house or back yard, dogs do not develop an aerobic exercise program.  They spend their time either resting, or getting bored and destructive, or on high alert, threatening anyone who comes too close to their house or yard.  Dogs that very rarely meet other dogs become over-excited when another dog appears – that may translate into excited barking, pulling and lunging, or fearful cowering away.  Typically, the person with them attempts to control this behavior, with the result that it is even worse on the next occasion.

Dog parks are a great way for well-exercised, well-socialized dogs to meet each other.  Unfortunately, some people take their dogs to dog parks instead of exercising or socializing them.  When you take your dog to a dog park, make sure you keep a careful eye out for any out-of-control dogs that you want your dog to avoid.  A healthy dog will run, bark, and want to play (although not necessarily with every other dog) – none of these by itself means the dog is out of control.

Taking your dog for a walk every day, or participating in an energetic activity like agility, will make a huge difference to your dog’s mental and physical health.  Apart from the pure physical exercise, and the bonding between dog and human, a dog who has had the chance to go and sniff and explore outside his own back yard is stimulated and content.  A dog who has not had that opportunity becomes bored, destructive, and difficult to control.

Try to include your dog in your life.  You probably go out to work or to meet people almost every day.  If your dog stays at home, and only ever sees you, she may become fearful or over-excited when she meets someone else.  Again, this behavior makes it less likely that you will include her at the next opportunity.  The more you can introduce your dog to other dogs and people, the more comfortable she will become in those situations, and the more welcome she will be the next time.  There are sometimes public events where dogs are welcome, like parades.  On shopping trips, dogs are often allowed into pet food stores, and to sit outside at coffee shops.  Keep these expeditions fun and brief, and be ready to leave if your dog starts to show signs of stress – the point is to let your dog enjoy the interactions, and learn to be calm when meeting strangers.  Your dog would much rather be with you than home alone!

A dog who gets plenty of exercise and frequent opportunities to meet other dogs and people is usually a dog who is a pleasure to be around.  It is not natural to deny your dog these things, and it often results in behavior problems.  If your dog has severe socialization problems, contact a trainer or behaviorist to assist you in fixing these problems – for your sake as well as your dog’s.

Written by eurekapaws

February 16, 2009 at 10:20 pm

McKinney Dog Pack

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Today we had the first meeting of the McKinney Dog Pack meetup group.  (If you want to know more about it, go look on Meetup.com.)  We had advertised it for anyone in the area who wanted to join us for an on-leash social event and chance to meet other dogs, dog people, and a couple of trainers.  The logic behind it is basically:-

  • We are dog trainers
  • We want to meet local dog people.
  • We see a lot of dogs that are under-socialized.
  • We see a lot of dogs that don’t get the opportunity to go out when their people go out (often because their people are worried about how the dog will react, so it’s a vicious circle).
  • We wanted to have some fun!

Then the response started to get so great we became concerned.  What if a hundred people showed up with out-of-control dogs?  Visions of marauding dogs scaring the other park users.  We limited the meetup group size to 30, and exchanged emails with people who thought their dogs might become scared or aggressive in a crowd.  We asked some of them to hold off for the first meeting, and encouraged others to seek us out at this meeting, so we could help.

In fact, about 15 dogs showed up, and it was a peaceful and friendly gathering.  We separated the small dogs and puppies from the larger dogs, Jan demonstrated doing dog introductions and loose leash walking, and everyone got to do a little solializing.  As expected, some people and their dogs were very skilled, others had a good deal to learn.

Amber Palmer, a local photographer, was there with her dog Sugar, and took photos of the group.  We’re looking forward to seeing those!  Jan and I were there from Eureka!, and one or two of the attendees had clearly had training experience.  Everyone had the chance to show at least one thing their dog knew how to do.

I think it was a good first meeting.  We got a good idea of the kind of mix we would get, and the group was never out of control.  The more meetings we have, the more the established members will be able to help the newer members.  However, next time we’ll go through the loose leash walking again!  (And next time, I’ll get to go on a walk as well.)  Ideally, the group should start to be a regular social event for these dogs.  I’d like to see some of the members come forward with their ideas of how they’d like it to develop.

Written by eurekapaws

February 7, 2009 at 8:02 pm