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Dumb bell 101

Having a good dumb bell that fits your dog’s mouth correctly can make the difference for how well your dog picks up, holds and delivers. Sometimes your current dumb bell will fit your next dog and that is great! But a change in breed or the same breed but opposite sex or just the smaller or larger size of the dog will require a different size of dumb bell. My golden retriever sized dumb bell was not going to do for my cocker spaniel so a new dumb bell was required. I did some research and am sharing what I found. I ended up buying three different types of dumb bell so that I could try each kind. I will post dumb bells as an item for the All Things Dog Room Store.

A plastic dumb bell is most common and is useful for dogs that like to chew. The wood dumb bell is lighter and tends not to bounce as much when thrown. The combination dumb bell is well, good for dogs that chew and has less bounce.

Dumbbell Sizing:  

The ends should be big enough so that it is flush with the end of your dog’s nose.  This will prevent your dog from bumping his nose when retrieving it.  

The bar length should be short enough so that your dog cannot throw it to the back of their mouth.  This will help prevent chewing.  One way to measure bit length is to place a dowel in your dog’s mouth just behind the canines and mark on either side where your dog’s lips touch the dowel. Measure between the lines.

The bar diameter should be small enough so that your dog’s mouth can close comfortably, but large enough that it will not spin when your dog picks it up.

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Pullers dog sport

Today the All Things Dog Room provided space for Vancouver’s Christine Harris, owner of Cool Tugs toys and Wild Ones Dog Training to introduce the Pullers dog sport. COVID-19 precautions were in place – masks and distances and were respected by all.

This interactive and energetic sport will appeal to those that love to run and play outdoors with their dogs. The sport is popular in Europe and is catching on in North America. Here are a few photos from the indoor portion of the workshop.

Christine Harris with her Malinois dog

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Go big or go home

With the strange events of 2020, namely Covid 19; I had to make a decision about All Things Dog Room. We all loved the Room but in a time of required social distancing, the space became too small to serve our dog community classes and events. As luck would have it a new space in the building came available allowing the Room to double in space. We now have more than 2000 sq feet to play in! So, exactly a year after the first Room opened we are now open in the new space. I hope that you enjoy it as much as my dogs and I do!

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Making the most of an Obedience Seminar

Throughout the year some of the top achieving Obedience Trainers make themselves available to give seminars to their fellow dog trainers. These trainers come from our local community or from anywhere in North America. We are fortunate that these people are willing to share their skills and expertise. Their goal is to help us; and our dogs be better performers.

Attending a seminar is expensive. The presenter is paid; there are travel and accommodation costs as well as a venue to pay for. The Club or person hosting, spends alot of time scheduling, organizing and needs to make it worth their while.

Make the most of your attendance at a seminar.

Auditing: (you attend and observe without your dog). Audit spots are less expensive than Working spots. That does not mean they are not as valuable. If you are new to the sport or the presenter is unknown to you, Auditing is a good idea. You can learn alot watching the working dogs, their handlers and the presenter. If you like what you see, next time book a working spot, often the presenter will be returning in the future.

Working spot: (you attend with a dog and are on the floor). If you have a working spot you will have the opportunity to answer a questionnaire about your dog, your current skill set and what you are wanting help with. Give some serious thought to your answers. Be specific on what you want help with, try to narrow it down to 2 or 3 things so that you are not overwhelmed. In your training sessions leading up to the seminar really assess and develop a goal – where you would like to be with your dogs training in the next 6 months to a year. Remember, the presenter may not know you or your dog. They can only go on what you have told them and what they see in front of them at the time.

At the Seminar. Give your full attention, arrive on time, be ready with note book and put your phone away. Check with the organizer first if you are wanting to video and check if it’s ok to share your video on social media, it may not be. An important tip; check your ego at the door. The presenter WILL find flaws in your training and those flaws could be ones you didn’t even know were there! That’s why you are attending, to learn and improve. There could be parts of the presenter’s training philosophy that do not mesh with yours. That’s ok but be open to new ideas; try them, you might be surprized. Conversely if you have a working spot and you are uncomfortable with any piece of a session just sit it out.

After the Seminar. Review your notes and any video of you and your dog’s work. Think about how to incorporate what you have learned into your training sessions, your current short term goal may have shifted. If you are a person that attends seminars often, identify any “gems” that you got from this particular seminar. If you enjoyed the weekend and got “some great stuff”, say so. That high achieving presenter appreciates feed back too!

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MERRY CHRISTMAS and thoughts on kindness in the dog community

In the last week I have been reading posts by people in the dog community using the social media platform to beat each other up with hurtful comments.

In one instance a man reached out to a breed club for advice on his submissive peeing pup. A big man with a naturally booming voice was scary to this little pup. Some responses were blaming him (for being a big guy??), accusing him of harsh treatment. Telling him he should give the dog up. Poor guy, likely a gentle giant who loves the little puppy. A few, myself included gave him some constructive help. Simple things like spend time sitting on the floor, lighten your voice, carry cookies in your pockets. Take him with you everywhere. He took the advice to heart and guess what?, that little spaniel is warming up to his person.

Closer to home, this morning I was reading about a dog person in our local community that tragically lost a client’s dog. It was hit on the highway and died. While there may be a myriad of points to nail this guy on – lack of a proper fence, too many dogs, inflated ego regarding his abilities and frankly his hot headed, aggressive and threatening responses to a client’s negative comments made me wonder what kind of a trainer he really is.. But, I also have to note that in the same week just down the road from where I live a little bully breed dog was hit on a road just off that same highway and died, recently a pair of poodle mix dogs got out of their yard and haven’t been seen since. Even closer to home, even though we went to a lot of expense putting up a secure fence around our property, little Gus managed to get under and went “walk about” for 3 hours, lucky for us he did not go to a busy road.

In an age of PETA, breed bans, purely positive vs balanced training camps, the SPCA’s determination to stick it’s nose in every aspect of dog ownership, we need to know the risk we are facing. We could lose our canines and all the sports that we enjoy doing with them. Whether we like it our not, we are in this together. As the saying goes, “United we stand, divided we fall”.

While different groups or individual’s outlook on dogs and dog training may not mesh with mine. I have to believe, that everyone in our dog community is part of the community because they love dogs. No one is just “in it for the money”, the money is just not that good 🙂 Modeling good dog stewardship with your well trained, well adjusted dog as well as mentoring new folks will have a greater impact than ugly, judgmental posts. Maybe that is a simplistic “Polly Anna” view but there you have it.

On that note, I wish you all a wonderful Christmas time filled with laughter, peace and puppy dog fun from the All Things Dog Room crew!

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Training goals, what’s it all about..

Recently a new trainer said to me, “my goal is to get a perfect 200 score with my dog”. A lofty goal for a green handler with a green dog! But .. never say never. We all have our own way of approaching training goals, some reach for the stars, some hope for the best. Neither in my opinion is wrong, depending on the person and the dog at the end of the leash.

My own goals tend to be fluid, the final goal might be an OTCH or an OTCH X but I like to break it down into bite size pieces. This month my goal was to get at least one Open/Utility Combined pass towards Trula’s OTCH X title. We achieved that and have 4 more to go. My other goal was to learn and get comfortable with the Open 18B Change of Positions exercise. While this cost us a second and maybe a third combined leg, I did learn how to do this exercise in the ring. So, two goals achieved while being, somewhat in conflict.

The dog in front of you may drive the direction of your goals. Yesterday I played with Gus in the training room, we did bits of heeling, Novice, Open and Utility exercises. At one point I stood in the middle of the room in tears watching the little guy. Happy, fun, fast, smart and such a desire to please. He is a wonderful obedience dog and I had lofty goals for him. But, because of his anxiety, created by a brain damage causing illness he had as a puppy, I can never put him through the stress of a trial. After getting over feeling sorry for myself, I’ve decided on a new goal for this little dog and I. I will train him through all the levels and video tape his Novice, Open and Utility with one of the few people he is confident with being his judge. And, maybe I’ll make up a special ribbon and trophy just for him. :))

However you manage your own goals and aspirations, I wish you good luck and hope that both you and your dog have fun along the way!