Becoming a Service Dog

Service-Dog

You may have noticed at a mall, restaurant, or just about any public place, a service dog helping his owner in whatever way he can. Service dogs are more than just lovable companions, many people’s lives depend on their service dogs for emergencies, a sense of relief, getting around, and much more! If you think you’re dog has a good temperament and is eager to please, you may be considering training your dog to become a service animal. Today we will be looking at the process of training a dog to become a service animal and the many things that service animals can do!

 

It’s truly remarkable the amount of ways a service dog can help us. Depending on what they are trained in, service dogs can help detect chemical changes within our bodies that could lead to a possible seizure, or change in blood sugar for people who are diabetic. The service dog we all usually think of is one that helps someone who is blind or partly blind. There are also dogs who help people with impaired hearing, autism, anxiety, even allergies! There are so many people who depend on service dogs to help them get through their day to day lives.

 

The most traditional breeds to become service dogs are German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Poodles. These breeds commonly have an even temperament, are very intelligent and very trainable (meaning they catch on quick to new concepts and are eager to please their handler). But the service dog industry is not limited at all to these breeds, any dog can become a service dog, it really just depends on the individual dog if they have the right temperament.

 

The first step in a dog becoming a service dog is to look at their health. Are they overall in good health? Do they have any major problems that would make it hard for them to work all day? All service dogs must be neutered or spayed before starting the process of training. The biggest reason for this is you don’t want the dog to be distracted while on the job. If you have an intact male service dog pass by a female dog in heat, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for that service dog to think about anything other than that pretty female dog that just walked by.

 

The next step is to find a reputable service dog trainer. You want a trainer that specifically focuses on service dogs as they will know the specifics of what the dog will need to know, and it’s likely that they’ve trained dogs on these exacts tasks many times before. The dog trainer can help you assess your dog’s personality to ensure that they will be a successful service dog. The trainer will help guide you through the entire process of having the dog be calm and relaxed in all types of public places such as the bus, subway, busy malls, as many places as possible to ensure the future handler needing the service dog will not be limited on where he can go. International standard for training a service dog mandates a minimum of 120 hours of training over a 6-month (or more) time period. At least 30 of these hours should be done in busy, public places.

 

The trainer will often break down the dogs training into three parts. The first is ‘heeling’, possibly the hardest thing to teach a dog. The dog must learn to stay alongside his owner without constant commands (not repeating ‘heel’ over and over again!) and the dog must learn to move with his owner no matter how unpredictable his movements are. The dog should be constantly watching and anticipating his owner’s movements. The next part is often called ‘proofing’. This is basically teaching the dog to stay calm in all situations no matter the location, noise level, distractions, etc. Even at a busy concert, the dog has to remain calm and more importantly, remain alert for any commands from his owner. The last part is called ‘tasking’. This is ensuring the dog is 100% on the specific tasks he will have to perform for his owner. Service dog tasks will vary depending on what their owner needs. For instance, someone who is blind doesn’t need their service dog to alert them to noises or alarms, but this would be something very important to someone who is deaf.

 

It’s remarkable the many ways dogs help to improve our lives. Even our companion dogs that don’t work as service animals, make our lives more interesting, help to calm us down, and just make us happy!

What is the Canine Good Citizen Program?

dog smiling with owner

Is your pooch the perfect gentleman? Knows all his manners and loves to meet new dogs and people with a calm demeanor? Your dog may already have what to takes to pass the CKC Canine Good Citizen test!

What is the Canine Good Citizen program? It was created by the CKC (Canadian Kennel Club) in 1989 to encourage responsible dog ownership and the goal being that the dog acts appropriately in various surroundings and situations. The program encourages the owner to use non-aversive training methods, and to strengthen the bond between owner and dog to improve training results as well as overall happiness (for both the owner and the dog). This program also helps improve communities as the dogs are less likely to act inappropriately towards strangers, assuming the manners continue to be maintained after the certificate has been earned. Even people who may be a little nervous around dogs, are typically much more at ease when you tell them your dog is a certified Good Citizen!

For your dog to earn his Canadian Canine Good Citizen certificate (also known as ‘CCGC’), you must set up a testing date with one of the CKC approved evaluators through the CKC website. On the date of the test, you must bring all paperwork for your dog such as proof of vaccinations and license, dog brush, plastic bag, leash and collar (or harness is also acceptable). The test must be done in a public place so that there are some distractions around. The dog is given the Canine Good Citizen Test broken down into 12 steps.

1. Accepting A Friendly Stranger (Owner shakes hands with a friendly stranger, dog must remain calm)
2. Politely Accepts Petting (Evaluator pets the dog, testing the dog for shyness)
3. Appearance and Grooming (Evaluator inspects that the dog is well looked after, coat in good condition, healthy teeth, clear eyes, etc.)
4. Out For A Walk (Owner walks the dog, any tension on the leash is automatic failure)
5. Walking Through A Crowd (Dog remains calm in busy public setting, does not show signs of stress or nervousness, must continue to have a ‘loose leash’)
6. Sit/Down On Command and Stay In Place (Dog must know ‘sit’, ‘down’ and ‘stay’ and able to perform these reliably even with distractions)
7. Come When Called (Dog must know ‘come’ reliably even with distractions)
8. Praise/Interaction (Evaluator observes the relationship between owner and dog when owner gives praise, as well as the dog should be able to calm down easily and quickly after praise is done)
9. Reaction To A Passing Dog (Dog remains calm and not nervous, shy or aggressive when passing a dog)
10. Reaction To Distractions (With distractions present, dog must remain confident and not fearful or overly excited)
11. Supervised Isolation (Evaluator tests that the dog continues to have good manners and respond appropriately to commands from a stranger while the owner is not within their eyesight)
12. Walking Through A Door/Gate (Dog waits for the owner to give the ok before going through gate, dog must calmly walk through door or gate and not charge or pull)

It may seem daunting at first if you are in the early stages of training with your dog, but completing the CCGC program is an excellent foundation towards more fun things with your dog like agility or performance events. Not only does it help give a foundation to training, it also greatly increases the bond between you and your dog as you spend lots of time together practising and training for this test. You will also learn to read your dog’s body language better and it will almost be like you can have conversations together! The Canine Good Citizen program gives you the confidence to take your dog anywhere and know he will be on his best behaviour.

Breed of the Week: Italian Greyhound

italian greyhound

Meet our cute and tiny featured breed this week, the Italian Greyhound! This miniature pooch is super playful and gentle. When they aren’t cuddling up to you on the couch, you can find them bouncing around outside with pure joy!

 

The Italian Greyhound is the smallest of the sighthound group. The breed originated in Italy approximately 2,000 years ago when Italians started breeding naturally smaller greyhounds. Many experts will debate the origin of this dog actually dates back as far as 6,000 years ago as some drawings on ancient Egyptian tombs have depicted a small dog very similar in resemblance to the Italian greyhound. There is even rumor that an Italian greyhound looking dog was discovered in the remnants of the city of Pompeii. Being from the sighthound group, the Italian Greyhound’s original purpose was to hunt for small game.

 

With their natural hunting instincts, it’s easy to see why this dog will often chase anything that moves! The Italian Greyhound can be found either bouncing off the walls and wiggling his body like crazy, or nuzzled into a cozy blanket or lying in a sunspot. Because of their high energy spurts, you want to be sure to give your Italian Greyhound lots of time every day to run around outside and let lose some of that energy. Preferably with some doggie friends as the Italian Greyhound gets along amazingly with other dogs, they thrive having canine friends to play with.

 

Italian Greyhounds makes wonderful family pets and are very suitable for apartment or condo living with their small size (but be sure to get them out to run around every day!). They get along great with kids, and usually tolerant of young kids when socialized properly. As long as the young kids are polite and respectful to the dog, and know not to try to pick them up unexpectedly (Italian Greyhounds are very sensitive to touch and usually dislike being grabbed by surprise) They are very sweet and gentle dogs that also get along well with other pets such as cats. Much like cats themselves as they like to nuzzle up to a warm couch or sleep under a sun beam from the window. Italian Greyhounds will often perch themselves on top of a couch so they can look out the window, much like a cat. But make sure they don’t climb too high, this breed often suffers from broken legs from trying to jump across high places.

 

This breed is very easy to maintain their good looks. Being short-haired, you don’t need to worry about taking them to the groomer for hair trimming. Just basic maintenance grooming like teeth and ear cleaning, nail trimming, baths, etc. Although not hypoallergenic, they do shed very little so hair all over the house won’t be much of a problem.

 

Italian Greyhounds are a wonderful choice for a family pet and get along fantastically with other dogs. The have a contagiously happy and playful personality. If you’re looking for a cute little clown that’s also an expert cuddlebug, look no further than the Italian Greyhound.

Ways Your Dog Says ‘I Love You’

dog heart

It’s pretty easy to see when humans are showing their love or affection for one another, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, etc. But do you know all the little ways your dog tells you he loves you? You may be surprised to learn some of the almost unnoticeable ways your dog is saying ‘I love you’.

 

Yawning (When You Yawn)

When humans yawn from seeing another human yawn we often think ‘yawns are contagious’; but really, it is a sign of sympathy. When you are more attached to the person who is yawning, you are more likely to also feel the urge to yawn as you are unconsciously showing sympathy for the person. Crazy thing is, dogs do the same thing! Recent studies have shown that the more bonded the dog is to the person who is yawning, the more likely they are to yawning. Of course, we also know that yawning in dogs can also be a sign of anxiety or anticipation, so be sure to analyze the situation if your dog is nervous, excited to go somewhere, or just taking the time to say ‘I love you’!

 

Wiggling Their Eyebrows

 

According to the Behavioural Processes Journal, a Japanese Study revealed that dogs are likely to wiggle or raise their eyebrows when they are reunited with someone they like! In the study, dogs were observed when exposed to various toys, strangers and their owner. The results showed that there was unpredictable movement towards the toys and strangers, but consistently dogs would move their left eyebrow in some way whenever they saw their owner! When studied further and discovered that dogs often have the same reaction to other dogs that they know well, this tells us that dogs moving their left eyebrow definitely has a correlation to the relationship they feel they have with the person or dog.

Wanting to Sleep Near You

Whether sleeping on your bed or in his own dog bed near your bed, dogs want to sleep near someone they feel close to and trust. In dog world, sleep is a very vulnerable state, this is why most wild dogs or wolves will sleep in a pack as there is safety in numbers. But you will rarely find a dog sleeping near someone they don’t trust. In their eyes, the safest place to sleep is with you because you are their protector, and they love you for it! It’s a huge compliment when a dog trusts you enough to sleep close to you and definitely shows their love.

 

These are only some of the ways our furry companions tell us they love us. And every dog is different, so your dog may have even more cute ways that he says he loves you that we haven’t discovered yet!

Breed of the Week: American Foxhound

american foxhound

The American Foxhound is one of the oldest American Dog Breeds. Although not a suitable apartment dog, this breed is a fantastic hunter as well as a gentle and easy-going cuddler!

 

The American Foxhound breed was developed in the late 1700’s, but the ancestor breeds (various other hound-type dogs) were brought over to America in the early 1600’s. The American Foxhound that we recognise today, was bred in Virginia, so it is no wonder that it is the state’s official dog breed! The breed was specifically bred to hunt foxes, often the American grey and red foxes. Today, the breed is still almost always used as a working dog. Either helping on the farm carrying heavy loads for the farmer (as this breed has a lot of strength and stamina), as hunting companions (used for tracking foxes), or competing in scent detection trials. This breed hates to be bored so it is best to only get this dog if you have a routine job for them to do.

 

Being a hound, this breed will definitely alert you with that typically hound ‘baying’ whenever he hears a noise. For this reason (as well as their high energy level), this breed is not a good option for small living spaces. The American Foxhound gets very bonded to their owners and enjoy working side by side with them. This breed is typically standoffish with strangers, and should be socialized early to prevent any fear or aggression towards strangers. They typically get along great with young kids, they can get along with other pets such as cats when heavily socialized to them, but they do have a prey drive so you should always use your best judgment.

 

They can be quite stubborn dogs when it comes to training. You should always stay calm, positive and patient with this breed. These dogs respond well to positive training methods, as well as they appreciate being given a reason to what you’ve asked of them. If you ask an American Foxhound to sit, they will look at you first almost like their asking “but why should I sit???? (usually cookies are a good enough reason!). Just be sure to not use too many training treats as this breed loves their food and can easily become overweight if not managed carefully.

 

Grooming needs for the Foxhound are very low maintenance. Being short-haired, they only require brushing maybe once a week. As they are often outdoors, they may need a few more wipe down than other dogs to keep them from tracking mud in the house!

 

The American Foxhound is a sweet and gentle breed, loyal to their family. They will spend all day outside if they are allowed, and their grooming needs are very low maintenance. Ensure that they don’t pig out on too many cookies and that they are getting enough exercise so that your Foxhound stays happy and healthy!

Benefits of Daily Walks with your Dog

dog holding leash

We all know how important it is for our dog’s physical and mental well-being to get their daily walks, but did you know the wonderful benefits that we receive from those walks? Here are some of our favourite added benefits to going for a nice walk with your pooch!

 

Quality Bonding Time

Dogs enjoy walking and exploring new areas with their ‘pack’ or family as this is one of the ways they bond. Even when visiting places they’ve been to just a few days ago, they will still be able to sniff around and get their daily news of what’s been going on and who’s been walking by. To get the most out of your bonding time with your dog, make sure you are fully involved with the walk and paying attention to your dog (not texting a friend or checking emails). To make it more interactive, try asking your dog to sit before crossing any roads, or make a game of it and have him ‘give paw’ when you see a red car drive by. These little interactions will help translate to your dog that you are excited to be involved in this walk with him.

 

Better Training Sessions

If you’ve worked with or seen a dog trainer in action, then you’ve probably seen that a tired dog is much easier to train than a restless one. Many dog trainers will ask for the dog to come to the session after his walk, or include a long walk at the beginning of the training session to let out any excess energy. The walk will also help your dog breathe in that fresh air and release similar endorphins in their brains that humans get when walking, resulting in a calmer dog.

 

Weight Loss Motivation

Waking up to a dog pulling blankets off of you, ready for their walk, can be great motivation to get up off your tush and get moving! If you are looking for a weight loss buddy, dogs can be a great motivator. Once you get into the habit of an hour long daily walk with your dog, it will get easier and easier for your body to get through that hour. And as the weight comes off and it gets easier to move, you can start taking your dog for hikes or bike rides! This will not only help keep your waistline in check, but also prevent your dog from becoming lazy and overweight.

 

It not only benefits your dog to go for a daily walk, it also benefits us humans! Take your pooch out for a walk today and you’ll both reap the wonderful benefits!

Breed of the Week: Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

wirehaired pointing griffon

Looking for a loveable and smart companion dog? Look no further than the amazing Wirehaired Pointing Griffon! They are true family dogs with a gentle spirit, and when it’s time for a family hike, they are right there with you. This dog can certainly keep up with the best of them, but unlike some other high energy dogs, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon enjoys a lazy day too!

 

Although some may debate that the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon breed dates back to the mid 1500’s, the Pointing Griffon that we know and love today actually was developed in the late 1800’s. Similar dogs were around in the Netherlands at that time, creating the confusing on how old this breed really is. The breed was created by an avid hunter and sportsman to have a companion type dog that could work as a gun dog as well as have good speed, stamina and accuracy in retrieving game from the water. This explains why the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is such a well-rounded dog and up for anything!

 

The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon has a rough, wiry double-coat. This coat helps protect them from all kinds of weather and makes them very sturdy dogs. Their coat also adds to their famous scruffy look. The Pointing Griffon sheds year round as well as going through 2-3 heavier shedding cycles a year (depending on the dog). They require regular brushing, about 2 times a week. They will also need to visit the groomer for hair clipping every 6-8 weeks or so (depending on your personal preference for the dog’s hair length). The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is not a suitable dog for pristine homes with white carpets. The Pointing Griffon loves to play and get dirty, if there is a mud puddle outside, you bet your Pointing Griffon has already been in it! These dogs are famous for their eagerness to run through bush and thick forests, resulting in dirt, grass and burrs always in their fur.

 

This breed is fantastic for families. They thrive on doing daily activities with their humans. The Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a very trainable dog that is eager to please his owners. This makes them a suitable dog for novice dog owners, as long as their exercise needs are met. They do enjoy cuddling on the couch from time to time, but too many lazy days will make an unhappy dog. Look to invest at least 2 hours a day of exercise with your Pointing Griffon.

 

The wonderful Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is the epitome of a well-rounded dog. Perfect for families and easy to train, it’s no wonder this dog has such a great reputation. This dog is happiest when he gets to spend the day being involved in his owner’s life. As long as you don’t mind a bit of a dirty dog from time to time, the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon is a lovely companion dog.

Breed of the Week: Dandie Dinmont Terrier

dandie dinmont terrier

Here’s a breed most people haven’t heard of, the Dandie Dinmont Terrier. Known as the gentleman of the terrier group, this breed is very rare and it is a long and thorough process to own one of these dogs. Read on to find out why this dog is so rare and what differs them from the rest of the terrier group.

 

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is one of the oldest recorded breeds in the world, going back as far as the 1700’s. Originally bred in Scotland, the Dandie Dinmont would assist with hunts for badgers and otter. Remarkably, unlike many breeds we have today, the Dandie Dinmont from the 1700’s compared to the Dandie now, are almost completely identical. Breeders have worked very hard to maintain the high standards of this breed and ensure that they have the desired temperament and appearance.

 

The Dandie Dinmont was the first terrier recorded to be given a name, separating it from the other terriers. Up until then, all terrier-type dogs were simply just called terriers. In the early 1800’s, there was a novel written called ‘Guy Mannering’ by Walter Scott. Walter was a proud owner of several Dandie Dinmont Terriers and decided to include them in his novel. In ‘Guy Mannering’, one of the characters was named Dandie Dinmont and this character took his little tan and grey terrier dogs everywhere he went. When people read this book, they wanted their very own little Dandie Dinmont terrier too!

 

With new breeds on the rise, the Dandie became less and less popular to own as they were no longer the new craze. Die hard Dandie Dinmont enthusiasts and breeders have worked hard to keep this wonderful breed going, but even so, anyone looking to own a Dandie will likely have to purchase from a breeder in Scotland and be put on about a two year waiting list.

 

Although from the terrier group (who are known for their high energy), the Dandie is surprisingly low-key and with about two walks a day, he is quite content to spend the rest of his time on the couch. They get along amazingly with other dogs. Once they find a doggy friend they like, good luck calling him in for dinner! Dandie’s are big goofballs that love to play for hours upon hours.

 

The Dandie Dinmont Terrier is a non-shedding dog, but he will still require trips to the groomer to have his hair trimmed to the Dandie hair cut or for an all over shave. The Dandie hair cut leaves a large ‘topknot’ on the Dandie’s head (almost like he’s wearing a large hat!). Because this terrier is built with such short legs, their stomach is very low to the ground and will get dirty often! Be sure to always have some pooch shampoo stocked at home!

 

This little terrier is known for his ability to adapt too many different situations very easily. They aren’t fussy dogs, as long as they get time to run outside for a bit every day, they are quite content living in an apartment or condo.

 

If you’re ready to bring an easy going but playful dog into your home, be sure to get in touch with a Dandie Dinmont breeder or rescue! Although there may be a long wait time till your little guy comes home, it will be worth having this wonderful dog in your life!

Dog Friendly Birthday Cake

dog eating birthday cake

Looking for ways to make your wonderful dog’s birthday even more special? Why not make him/ her a homemade birthday cake (completely safe for dogs to eat!). Here is a simple recipe to make your dog’s birthday unforgettable!

 

Makes one 8??? round cake

 

Cake

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

3/4 cup applesauce

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling!)

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 egg

 

Frosting

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

 

To make the cake, grease an 8??? round spring form cake pan. Whisk your dry ingredients together (whole wheat flour and baking soda). In a separate bowl combine the wet ingredients together (peanut butter, applesauce, pumpkin puree, vegetable oil and egg). Combine your wet ingredients with the dry ingredients until just comes together (don’t overmix). Bake for 30-40 min at 350 degrees F.  Cake is done when a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean.

 

When the cake is cool, whip together the greek yogurt and peanut butter until thoroughly combined and use as frosting for the cake. If you want to go a step further and personalize your pet’s cake, you can melt down some carob chips to pipe ‘Happy Birthday’.

 

Even though this cake is delicious, make sure your dog doesn’t eat too much at once! A 1/8 slice of this cake is a reasonable serving size for a medium-large breed dog. To ensure you don’t have so much leftover, invite some doggy friends to share in your dog’s birthday festivities! Just be sure to check for any doggie allergies first!