Relax Already!

Never underestimate the power of relaxation. It's a skill that too few people - and very few canines - have truly mastered. I always emphasize the importance of teaching self-control, especially to owners of young and energetic dogs. Having shared my home with a border collie mix for the past four years, it is a skill I can truly appreciate the importance of first-hand. There are numerous ways to teach this important skill, although my go-to method is Dr. Karen Overall's Protocol for Relaxation (from Clinical Behavioral Medicine for Small Animals, First Edition), which provides an excellent systematic method for mastering the three "D"s of a stay - distance, duration and distraction. Additionally, Dr. Overall's basic set-up can be altered to focus on areas of particular concern for a given dog. In this video, Sirius Black demonstrates Day 5 of Dr. Overall's protocol. He has not quite mastered the "relaxed" part of it, as I point out in a few places....
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Site-seeing with dogs

Last weekend, I took my dog out to Mount Vernon on a sunny Sunday afternoon. It was crowded, but we skirted busiest areas, sticking to the woods, the dock, etc. We avoided getting too close to the livestock (despite Sirius's earnest appeal to be allowed to play with the cows). Overall, I think all of us had an enjoyable time. However, as we headed home, I couldn't help but consider questions that I have considered many times before - when and where should your dog accompany you on trips, and how do you make that decision? That night, I posted a few tips on Twitter. However, I wanted to take this opportunity to expand on the comments I made. Today we went to @VisitMtVernon . Love open air places that allow dogs - be around lots of ppl but still have space. pic.twitter.com/PChPmUHjyF — Next Best Pet (@NextBestPet) August 5, 2013   1) Pick your spot. As I said in the tweet above, I...
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Doggy Play

Growing up in a house with one dog (and, for a long time, one dog who didn't like other dogs), I never really appreciated the nuance of dog play. Sure, watch dogs run around a field together and it looks like they're having fun, but I never looked beyond that level. Once I began working in shelters and had more opportunities to watch dogs play, I started to more fully appreciate the elements that go into dog play. That appreciated has only been more fully developed as I have moved into teaching - especially teaching puppy classes, which provide more opportunities for free play than most adult dog classes, as well as the unparalleled opportunity to watch dogs learn to play from week to week and develop their communication skills.* This first video shows two puppies - chocolate lab Molly, 12 weeks, and pekingnese/cairn terrier Spartacus, 7 months - who have just met and are playing for the first time....
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