On these hot summer days, a nice treat for your dog is to give them a homemade pup-sicle.  I learned about these at the Kootenay Scent Hounds nosework trial I attended in May.  I have since made them twice for my dogs and both times they were well enjoyed.  Loki (as always) finished hers much faster than I had hoped and Marley took about 3 times longer!

Pup-sicles are easy to make.  Here are the instructions if you would like to give them a try.


You need a margarine tub sized plastic container.  I used the 500 ml clear plastic deli containers.

Step 1:

Put some kibble, raw food, cooked food, hot dogs, fruit, peanut butter, cheese; whatever yummy stuff you have on hand into the containerP1050781 (800x600)

Step 2:

Cover the food with some water or better yet bone broth.P1050783 (800x600)

Step 3:

Put the containers in the freezer. P1050784 (800x600)

Step 4:

Once frozen, remove it from the freezer and add another layer of food and liquid. Put the container back into the freezer.  Repeat until the container is full.  I initially started with just two layers to try it out.P1050787 (800x600)

Step 5:

Take the pup-sicles out of the freezer,  wait a few minutes until they easily come out of the container and put the frozen treat into your dog’s food bowl and take the bowls outside.

Here are two short videos showing both of my dogs enjoying their frozen treat.

As always, supervise your dogs while they are eating their frozen treat.  Especially important if your dog tries to bring the unfinished treat inside to enjoy on your carpet or bed!

I have had great expectations for over five years now to start brushing Marley’s teeth and to be able to trim his toenails on a regular basis but my progress to-date has been minimal. Marley doesn’t like his mouth being touched and doesn’t like his paws being touched and still does not like having his toenails trimmed.  I have paired the experiences with more liver and canned tripe than I can count but he is still more likely to pull away than to allow me to continue.  After my sessions with Marley, I tend to feel a little deflated by the experience and my enthusiasm for working on the behaviours diminishes; a recipe for a great downward spiral of less practice and as a result even less success.

And then, two years ago, I made a huge mistake with Marley.

Marley needed to have his teeth cleaned.  It had been over 3 years since his last cleaning and I could tell there was a lot of tarter built up on his teeth.  I really didn’t want to have him put under anesthetic because he was approaching nine years of age and I remembered reading somewhere that being put under anesthetic could be dangerous.  While trying to decide what to do, I came across a brochure from someone who did anesthetic free dentistry.  To make a long story short, while his teeth got cleaned it came with a price.  One month later, I went to the vet with Marley for something else and Marley was terrified.  As a puppy, going to the vet was a non-issue.  As an adult, there was some increase in his stress but nothing a few really good treats couldn’t solve.  This time, he was terrified.  I felt sick and utterly heartbroken because I knew right away that the cause was the handling he experienced with the anesthetic free dentistry (I was asked to stay out of the room during the procedure to minimize his stress….that should have been my first clue!)

Even though I realized that Marley is now petrified of going to the vet, I am still having a hard time working through my lack of motivation to train some good husbandry skills and on reducing his stress when entering the vet’s office.  I have thought about why and recognized that I need three things:

1)      Some way to get reinforcement from Marley that what I was doing was working

2)      Some way to be accountable to someone so that I would keep training even if progress is slow

3)      Plans that I can work through so that I do not have to try to figure out what to train, in what order and how to train it.

Over the last two months, I have discovered two resources that I am excited about and that I think will help with the second and third items on my list:

1)      I learned about the Academy for Dog Trainers Husbandry Project and put my name forward to help test the next iteration of their plans.    “The Husbandry Project’s goals are to create, test, refine, and publish training plans to help all dogs feel comfortable and happy at the vet’s office, and with the common veterinary procedures carried out on conscious dogs. These training plans will be accompanied by all the information a dog owner needs to carry out the training: step-by-step instructional videos, troubleshooting information, work plans, and so on.”

2)      I was introduced to the Fear Free certification project.  Fear Free Pets – taking the pet out of petrified.  I have enrolled in the program and am looking forward to earning my certification and learning how to incorporate giving the animal choice into the handling experience.

As for the first item on my list (reinforcement from Marley), I hope that by following the pre-defined husbandry plans and working through the ‘Fear Free’ program that I will  start to see positive changes in Marley’s response to handling and a reduction in his stress when going to the vet.  As a dog owner and trainer, what better positive reinforcement could I receive from my dog than that?

Thanks for reading.

P.S.  I came across an excellent blog post written by Dr. Peter Dobias.   Check out his Complete guide to natural dental care for dogs .  I only wish he would have written it a few years earlier!!

2018-train-for-rewards-buttP.S.S. Thank you Zazie for hosting the #2018 Train4Rewards Blog Party.   Click the image for a chance to read lots of great ‘train for rewards’ blogs!

Training sessions can be planned to run for an hour with lots of breaks but often shorter training sessions make for better learning and its easier to fit short training sessions into a busy day!  An interesting study found that “…what this research was showing is that a dog who had gone through a training session, and then immediately after got another training session to learn a new task, was less likely to remember that original training. In comparison the dogs that had gotten a break of some sort, either to nap, exercise, or play, actually had better memory and performance a week later.”

Fitting in a short training session can be easy to do.  My short training sessions happen right after dinner.  After dinner is finished, both of my dogs always get a little something from the table.  The after dinner treat is something they look forward to each evening (a high value reinforcer!).  I use this to my advantage and will often conduct a one repetion training session with the reward being the treat from the table.  Here is one video of Marley (48 seconds) and one video of Loki (56 seconds) showing one of our short sessions.  They were resting while we had dinner so I had them perform a few hand touches and catch the treat to warm them up before I gave the cue ‘spin’.  The reward was the special after dinner treat and training was finished.

Thanks for reading and happy training.

May is International Dog Bite Prevention Month.  Did you know that the majority of dog bites come from a friend’s dog or the family dog and that dogs never bite ‘out of the blue’?  Don’t be lulled into thinking that it won’t happen to your family.  Any dog can bite and anyone (even you or I) can be bitten.  To understand why, check out, ‘Do Dogs Bite Out of the Blue?’  http://www.dogsandbabieslearning.com/2010/03/27/do-dogs-bite-out-of-the-blue/

Your dog will tell you when they are feeling worried, frightened, or stressed; we just don’t know how to recognize and read the message.  Dogs communicate with their body language.  It is a rich and nuanced language that we will never be able to fully grasp being the verbal communicators that we are but there are some aspects that are easy for us to observe.  Below are a few resources that are well worth checking out (even if you don’t have kids!).

If you have children or grandchildren and a dog, the following video gives an excellent portrayal of what we consider happy childhood experiences with our dog but did you ever wonder what your dog might have been feeling?  Watch ‘Stop the 77’ to gain a new perspective.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABDrhNBwdpk

The ‘Stop the 77’ website provides a wealth of information to help you keep both your children and your dog safe. http://stopthe77.com/  Scroll down and print out the poster ‘Stay Safe around the Dogs you Know’ and watch the fun videos they posted.

On facebook, like ‘Proud of My Dog – dog training’.  Throughout the month of May, I will be posting other resources on how to have fun and stay safe around dogs.

Thanks for reading.

I’m Proud of My Dog

…..well maybe not right now because he won’t come when called, and yesterday he jumped up on my best friend with his muddy paws (I was so embarrassed), and ….

What would it be like to have the ideal dog; the dog of your dreams, to go anywhere with your dog, to be amazed at what your dog can do and to have people rave about how well behaved your dog is.

This may not seem like a reality yet but we offer a variety of group classes and in-home training programs designed to give you the absolute best training experience for your dog.

Serving the North Slocan Valley, Nakusp, Kaslo and the Village of Slocan. Located in the West Kootenays, BC.

 Contact us to learn more