Friday, August 30, 2013

"Dog"umentaries: Films for Dog Lovers

For any and all dog lovers out there, there are tons of great dog documentaries. We have compiled a list of all of the ones we are calling “must watch” films. Some of them are eye opening, forcing you to look to things in a new perspective, others will bring a smile to your face and some will break your heart, but all of them are perfect for an evening of cuddling with your pup.

Tough Love
This film explores the notion of and popular belief in the alpha dog theory. It explores the concept of whether or not humans should be exercising dominance and corrective training over the animal we call “man’s best friend.”  It compares corrective training to positive reinforcement training, and examines how training and understanding dogs has evolved and why we must move forward with modern positive dog training. This film comes on high recommendation from Morris K9 Campus Head Dog Trainer Robin Lash.

Beyond the Myth
This documentary looks specifically at the Pit Bull and what myths and misconceptions plague the breed; from breed specific legislation to the media’s misconception of Pit Bulls. It challenges the common myths about the breed and is an eye opening experience for any dog lover. 

Shelter Me
This film looks at dogs adopted from shelters and shows the positive impact shelter dogs can have on the lives of not only the people that adopt them, but those that interact with them on a regular basis. It follows the journeys of three different sets of dogs, beginning with a pair of stray dogs and their struggles from being picked off the streets to finding their forever homes. The second story looks at shelter dogs currently being trained as service dogs by inmates at a women’s prison, and the impact these dogs have on everyone involved. The final story looks at a group rescuing shelter dogs and training them to be service dogs for soldiers suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). These uplifting stories will touch the hearts of any animal lover.

Dogs Decoded
This film examines the science of the bond between humans and dogs and what makes dogs such great companion pets. It’s a great film that helps put science behind why humans and dogs are so closely attached, how our pets play off our emotions and how that allows them to understand us. 

Even though this film is not about dogs, we felt it had to be included on this list. It tells the story of a horse trainer, the relationship he has with his horses and how having an abusive childhood changed the way he wanted to treat animals. This moving film shows what an amazing bond an animal can have with an owner.

These next two documentaries are not for the faint of heart. They are graphic at times and can be heart breaking, but are both eye opening and deeply moving. 

Shelter Dogs
This documentary looks at the lives of shelter dogs and how there is not always a happy ending for every dog that gets sent to a shelter. The film looks at the ethics of animal shelters and shelters’ decision to euthanize dogs. It can be a tough movie to watch, but it is extremely eye opening and beneficial.

Dealing Dogs
This undercover film was shot at a rural dog farm, a place that produced lots of dogs at a quick rate. It exposes the horrific conditions that these dogs live in and the business of dealing dogs, from selling dogs for testing to puppy mill dogs. With its honest undercover angle, this doc can be difficult to watch, but is truly moving.

There are so many great films out there about dogs that any dog lover would enjoy. So grab your pooch, curl up on the couch and watch one of our favorite dog documentaries.

Monday, August 26, 2013

DNA Testing: Can YOU guess Lexi’s Breed? Enter to Win!

Adopting a rescue dog can be rewarding, but it often leaves pet owners asking themselves what type of dog they’ve brought into the family. Many rescue dogs are mixed breeds, and although shelters can often guess at a pet’s lineage, adoptees are left to wonder: what type of dog is my pet? 

Usually the question leaves an owner trying their best to make an educated guess. But wouldn’t you prefer to know what your dog’s DNA says? The Wisdom Panel Dog DNA Test allows you to get scientific results on what your pooch is with something as simple as a cheek swab. 

The test will compare your dog’s DNA to the DNA of over 200 different breeds and determine their breed mix. The test is easy and simple; all you do is swab your dog’s cheek, send it to the lab and in two to three weeks you have results based on their scientific DNA comparison.

We are often asking ourselves these questions about mixed-breed pets who visit Morris K9 Campus. Curious to put The Wisdom Panel to the test, we swabbed one of our own!

Meet Lexi: the two-year-old rescue dog of Morris K9 Campus owner Joanne Morris. Lexi joined the Morris family last year, and ever since everyone has been curious about what breed mix this beautiful girl might be. Lexi has been swabbed and the test has been sent to the lab, but the question remains, what type of mix is Lexi? For the next month we are looking for our readers to make your best guesses of what type of dog her DNA will say she is. 

Think you know what Lexi is? Leave us your guess on our blog, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest before 11:59 pm on Friday, September 20th. The person who guesses closest to her actual breed will receive a $50 gift certificate to Morris K9 Campus as well as a Morris K9 Campus gift basket! Be sure to check out our social media pages over the next few weeks for clues about Lexi’s behavior that could help you make a more educated guess.

Good luck!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Agility Release Cues - Off the Body vs. Verbal Do You Understand the Difference?

If you practice agility with your dog, have you ever wondered why your dog breaks the start line even though you've told them to stay?
Here's something handlers don't always think about: When we ask our dogs to stay, how long do we expect them to stay there? How do they know when they are allowed to move? What do we do to let them know they can move? All of these questions are the reasons for "release cues". 
A release cue is a word, common words are "okay", "free" or "break", that releases or lets the dog know they can move off of a stay. In agility, we use release cues for multiple behaviors.  The most common place for a release cue in agility is at the start line. The start line is the first obstacle in a course, usually a jump. Most handlers will leave their dog in a stay and walk past the start line so that they are ahead, and have a physical advantage over the dog. This is called "leading out". 

A very common issue handlers have in agility is their dog breaking the lead out position before they are ready to release them. Unfortunately, many handlers blame their dog or get upset because their dog did not wait to be released, when really the whole time they have been training their dog to release off their body movement, rather the verbal word. 
How does that happen? When teaching your dog a release word, many handlers will pair a hand movement with the verbal word. If the dog is always released with a moving hand and verbal, they are going to look for the moving hand more often than they would listen for a verbal. Dogs are very physical, and while of course people have been teaching dogs verbal commands for years, a body cue is always going to be stronger.
If you find your dog breaking when you haven't released them, make sure you aren't releasing with a body cue. To test for this, you can practice releasing your dog with no movement, and rewarding after they have broken and gotten to you.
Livvy's handler leads out, looks at her, does not move, and uses the word "ok" to release her

When you lead out, it is a good idea to have your dog stay for different amounts of time. Sometimes you can release right away, or other times stand and look at them for a few seconds before releasing, so they get used to your signal rather than the amount of time. The release word is key, so if your dog understands that the release word is when they can break their stay, they should not break on a body cue.
We are pleased to have Christina, one of our instructors at Morris K9 Campus, as a contributing writer for A Dog’s Life.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Double Trouble: Why Two Dogs are Sometimes Not Better than One

There is so much joy a new puppy can bring you; those cute puppy dog eyes, puppy breath and that playful carefree demeanor. So what happens when you fall in love with two new puppies instead of one? Do you adopt those cute little puppies, or do you resist the urge you have to adopt both and consider all of the facts first? A single puppy is a lot of work and, although two puppies can sound wonderful, they are also twice the work.  If you really want two pooches, first consider your motive behind wanting to get them. Today we are going to debunk the common reasons why people say they want two puppies, and why two puppies might not be the best idea for your family.

My dog needs someone to keep them company while I am gone.

Dogs do enjoy the company of other dogs and other people, but it’s also important to remember what can go on while you are not home. Double the dogs mean double the trouble; hours of being home alone could mean hours of mischief for both of your pets. Another good thing to keep in mind is that dogs from the same litter that grow up together usually bond closer with each other more than they bond with any human. This is commonly known as littermate syndrome, and can lead to issues when training.  Since training can usually bond a human and a dog, consider whether two dogs will be excited to work with you in class, or more interested in what their littermate is doing.

Since they are the same age, it won’t be much more work.

Getting a second dog means twice the amount of work, if not more. When it comes to training, housetraining, and vet visiting, it means you have to do twice the amount of what you expected to do with one dog. It is recommended that you bring your new dogs to training class separately, that means clearing at least two different class times in your schedule. It also means that when you are house training two dogs, if you spotted an accident, would you know what dog it was? Remember that having two dogs doubles your load of work. Do you have the time for both of your pooches?

My kids each want their own dogs, so I need to get two.

This idea sounds nice, but in reality you are going to be the one responsible most of the time for the dogs. Don’t let your kids be the deciding factor in getting a second dog. Your kids can share and bond with your pet in different ways. Look for classes that are offered that involve children, like our Kids Training Dogs class at Morris K9 Campus; it’s a great way to train your pet while helping to establish a connection between your child and your dog.

If I don’t take home the other dog, no one else will.

Don’t adopt a second dog out of sympathy. Remember that a dog is a 15 year commitment that shouldn’t be made just because you feel sorry for another dog. Adopt your puppy from a no-kill shelter and you can make sure the rescue will find the other pups a good home. If you are getting your dog from a breeder, don’t worry, the breeder will keep looking to find a suitable home.

Getting two dogs at the same time can be difficult, regardless if they are puppies or adult dogs.  Usually a good rule to go by is to wait at least 6 months in between getting dogs. This makes sure that your dog has time to adjust to their new household and that they also have time to bond with you. If you do end up getting two dogs together, it best to consult a local trainer for advice. Trainers can be helpful for anything from housebreaking to how they should be left when they are home alone. A puppy can be fun, but it’s also a lot of work, so make sure you are prepared before brining your new puppy home.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Give your Dog some TLC!

Dogs need lots of TLC (Tender loving care). As much as your pup needs TLC, there is another kind of TLC that is just as important. We’re talking about Tags, License, & Chip;  three things that could keep your dog protected and safe in case of an emergency. According to Home Again, one in three pets will go missing at some point during their lifetimes. Are you doing everything you can to make sure your dog will return home safe? If you make sure your dog has their TLC (Tags, License & Chip), it will greatly improve the chances of your lost dog being returned home.

ID Tags
Your dog should be wearing current ID tags at all times. An ID tag can be the fastest and easiest way to help a lost pup find their way home; anyone can read the tag and give you a call. Remember to replace the tags when they become worn out or if you change any of your information, like your phone number or address.
Your ID tag should have all of the important information needed on it, including:

  • Dog’s Name
  • Phone Number: This should be the best phone number to reach you. You also can include more than one in case someone has problems contacting you.
  • Hometown/Address: Some people may feel that putting their full address is too much information, but it can be the easiest way to return a dog. If you don’t feel comfortable putting your address, you can just list your town. This way, whoever finds your dog can contact local vets or administrators in the area to help them get in contact with you.
  • Medical Information: If your dog has medical needs, it’s always beneficial to put these on their ID tag. This way if someone has trouble getting in contact with you, your dog’s medical needs can still be met.

It is a legal requirement to make sure that your dog is licensed in your town. Not only will licensing your pet help return them if lost, it helps local authorities track pet population numbers and ensure that dogs in the area are properly vaccinated for rabies. Another added benefit of registering your dog is most towns offer little to no cost vaccination clinics, but only if your dog is licensed.

Microchipping has the ability to bring any dog home no matter the distance your dog has traveled. The chip is small, about the size of a grain of rice, and is inserted in between the dog’s shoulder blades. Neither you nor the dog will be able to feel the chip, but in the case that they get lost, a simple scan by a machine can pull up all of your information. Veterinarians and shelters across the country are equipped with this machine; any dog that comes in as a stray first gets scanned to make sure they are not lost. Microchipping isn’t expensive, and can save your dog’s life. Since it is implanted under the skin, there is no fear about it falling off like a typical ID tag. Just like normal ID tags, however, it’s important to keep your information up-to-date with the company you registered the microchip with and to make sure you keep up with any fees.

With a little TLC, you can make sure the odds are in your favor if your dog ever runs away or gets lost. All three things are important to assure the safe return of your pooch in any bad situation.