Monday, July 31, 2006

Natural Flea and Tick control

I don't like the idea of putting toxic chemicals on Smash to try to prevent fleas and ticks. I know that sooner rather than later he will lick his fur and directly ingest bug poison. And more will seep into his skin.

I did some research and found that there are some natural home remedies for fleas and ticks.

The first step in eliminating fleas is keeping his sleeping area clean. Wild dogs don't get fleas because the don't sleep in the same place very often.

I let Smash sleep on a concrete pad that is easily washed and keep his cedar filled bedding brushed off. He likes to rearrange his own furniture from time to time which helps keep the fleas at bay.

Also, there is some research that indicates that healthy animals don't attract as many parasites. Just another reason to make sure I feed him healthy natural food.

For ticks - and we have lots of them in our woods - I am testing an old farm trick - Geranium oil. I put a few drops of Rose geranium oil on his collar. This makes him smell like roses instead of a dog. When first applied the scent is strong so I am not sure it is better than wet dog or not.

There seems to be some reduction in the number of ticks I find on him now. I will continue to evaluate this method of tick control and let you know what I decide.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Calming an excited dog

Using Dog whispering techniques to Calm an excited dog

This past week we visited my in laws. They have a very energetic indoor dog. Some kind of schnauzer. For some reason, this dog and I have never gotten along. I love most dogs but this one has always just annoyed me with his high spirited antics and barking in the house.

On this latest visit he immediately started his annoying jumping and barking when I walked in. At first i tried to ignore him as I usually do but then I remembered the dog whispering that I had been doing with Smash.

Now Smash and I have a very special relationship based on mutual trust, so I was not sure how these techniques would work on a strange dog.

But, when Preston ran up to me and started yelping, I made eye contact with him and made the expressions that I had learned with Smash. It took just a couple of times to see if I meant business but soon and I mean very soon, Preston was sitting calmly beside me. He has never done that before and every one there remarked at the difference in his behavior.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Beat the heat

Preventing heatstroke and dealing with hot weather.

It has been really hot and humid here in east Tennessee this week. So I have been taking extra care to make sure Smash stays safe in the heat.

I am keeping extra water available for him as he drinks a lot when it is hot like this.

When we play, I always take him to the creek so he can splash and play and stay cool at the same time.

He loves to run through the woods after he gets wet.

For more tips on helping your dog deal with the summer heat, see page 149 of Sit Stay Fetch for more info.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Calming trick

Using Dog Whispering to calm my dog.

Today I got to test the calming trick that is explained in the dog whispering section of Sit Stay Fetch.

Smash was taking a walk with me after supper. well first he had a squirrel cross his path. This was almost more than he could handle but he came back to the heel position with just a couple of tugs.

But hen he heard Janice calling us. When he saw her he was so excited that he would not do anything but pull straight for her. Even after we got to her he was jumping and getting the leash twisted etc.

So I bent down and made eye contact with him and made the expressions explained in Sit Stay fetch. Within seconds, he was calmly panting beside us.

We then continued our hike in a calm and relaxed manner. I continue to be amazed at how these little tricks work.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

How to talk to your dog

Dog Whispering?

I learned a long time ago that my dogs respond more to the tone of my voice than to what I say. Much the same as toddlers.

I found that high pitched sounds seem to convey happiness to dogs. And low growling sounds convey displeasure.

Today, I was reading in Sit Stay Fetch about "dog whispering" as they call it. They confirmed what I thought about the voice pitch and explained some more areas in great detail.

I could not wait to try them out on Smash. No surprise that he responded just like they said in the book.

I have always used a high pitch sound to greet him when I come home or go out to take him for a walk.

Also, in Sit Stay Fetch they talk abut the importance of eye contact. I knew eye contact was important when talking to women or employees but I never realized that dogs respond to eye contact. So I started paying attention to Smash's eyes today.

Smash's eyes are almost as expressive as his ears. And making eye contact when giving instruction has made an immediate improvement in his responsiveness.

There are lots great tips hidden in Sit Stay Fetch. I am looking forward to trying some more with Smash.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Accidental leash training

Yesterday while moving Smash's tether from the porch to the barn so he could be with me while I was working, he got an accidental but effective lesson on walking on a leash.

Instead of using his leash to walk him to the barn like I normally do, I just left his tether connected and let him drag it along.

The tether is made of steel cable so it is a lot heavier than his regular leash. So it drags on the ground between his legs.

When he made a lunge after something he thought needed sniffing, the cable popped up and slapped his tender dangly bits.

He has not pulled on the leash since.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Feeding my Dog

How feeding schedules effect leash training.

I used to keep a bowl of all natural kibble available to Smash all the time so he could graze at will. This was put there to carry him over between feeding of the stuff he really enjoys - all natural dog food recipes like the ones found in John Miller's Book.

But after reading the How to Be an Alpha Dog book that came with Sit Stay Fetch, I have made a subtle change in Smash's feeding schedule that has made a huge difference in his behavior.

Timing his feeding like the book says has made him look to me as the pack leader and made a huge difference in how he performs on the leash.

I have been absolutely amazed at how quick the change in psychology took place.

And over the weekend, I got to see how quickly it reverses when one of my boys overfilled the kibble bowl leaving plenty left over for several between meal snacks. Smash was pulling on the leash and trying to assert himself again the next morning.

Who would have thought such a small change in feeding schedules would make such a difference in my dog's behavior.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Smash on Dogster

Smash now has his own listing on Dogster the on line dog community.

See his page at

This is a great community forum to share dog training tips, seek solutions to your dog behavior problems, learn about leash training and see cute puppy pictures.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Training a dog to not pull on leash

Dog Behavior Problem

Training a dog to not pull on leash is important for your safety and the safety of your dog.

My little dog Smash is very feisty and very strong. When he pulls on the leash, you know it.

Even a small dog can make a strong pull if he gets running go at it. A dogs pull can be enough to strain your back or worse yet cause you to slip and fall.

I like to walk my dog Smash in the woods behind our house and down tot the creek. Before I trained him to not pull on the leash, I had to be very careful where I walked. It would have been easy for him to pull me into the creek along the muddy bank.

If you have a dog who pulls on the sidewalk, you could easily be pulled into traffic or in others ways get in a position to injure yourself or your dog.

Training a dog to not pull on leash is one of the first steps to dog obedience training and correcting bad dog behavior.

Clear consistent training and leash practice using sound principles are need to safely learn to train your dog to walk on a leash.

SitStayFetch has some great methods for training you and your dog how to walk on a leash. They teach how to establish the correct relationship between you and your dog to make training easy and natural.

So far, it is working great with Smash. He only pulls on the leash now when he has to go potty really bad!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Dog behavior questions

Some questions about Dog Behavior

How much freedom should I give my dog?

I am working hard to establish the right pack hierarchy with Smash. I know I have to establish myself as the alpha dog, but I also want to have fun with him. SitSatyfetch has a whole bonus book about being the alpha dog that has been really helpful in helping me understand what he is thinking.

I like to watch him run and play but, for his safety, I have to be able to know he will come back when called.

So for now, I am keeping him confined unless I am with him. The benefit of this confinement is that he is excited when I bring out the leash rather than dreading it like my other dogs have.

He wags his tail and runs up for me to connect his leash when we go out to learn to walk on a leash.

I let him run free for a couple of hours the other day while he played in the creek. I thought I might have trouble getting him to go back on the leash but he gave no trouble after I tackled him to catch him on one of his passes by me as I called him.

He gets very excited when he plays in the water and loves to run.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cute Dog Picture

Smash Enjoying some rare time in the house.

He likes to chew on socks.

Smash's big hurt

Why we sometimes call him Lazarus

One afternoon, while I was working in my barn and Smash was playing with his dog friends up the road, he came running up to me in obvious trouble.

In fact , I did not recognize him at first. Who is this red dog? I asked. Then I realized it was Smash covered in blood.

My first thought as I climbed down from where I was working was that he had killed and animal and got covered in its blood. But I soon saw to my horror that he was the one doing the bleeding.

He ran to the house and I followed him. I caught up to him near his water dish and then saw there was a huge gaping hole in the top of his snout just below his eyes. Blood was spraying form two arteries like the black knight in Monty Python's the Holy Grail.

He was too excited to let me hold him. I caught him again in the yard and inspected the wound. He was bleeding so profusely that I had a hard time seeing what was the source. I tried unsuccessfully to put pressure on the arteries to stop the bleeding. When I tried he squirmed away.

I finally got on the phone and got direction to the emergency animal clinic but by this time Smash had run off in the woods. I could not find him.

I began tracking the blood trail but after a couple of hours, I realized I must have been tracking it back to where he got hurt in the first place rather than where he was hiding. I had to give up the tracking when heavy rain started to fall after dark eliminating any signs I could track.

I was very upset that not only had my dog been hurt, but I could not find him. I became very angry as well.

That night I hardly slept at all. I prayed that God would give me some sign that this was what was supposed to be and that every thing was going to be alright. What I really wanted was my dog back, but form all that I had seen and the amount of blood on the ground and on my coveralls, there was no way that little dog could have survived. I assumed he had gone off to die after using his last bit of strength to come home and say goodbye.

Don't worry this story has a happy ending!

The next day I was too depressed to go look for his dead body, but just as I was getting ready to do so, my neighbor called saying he had my dog. I still assumed he meant my dog's dead body, but then he said he is making bad noises.

I quickly ran to the neighbors house and there was Smash running and jumping with the other dogs. He ran right up to me making an awful snorting sound as the air went in and out of the hole in his snout rather than his nostrils.

I thanked God that he was alive. It had to be a miracle! From what I learned in my first aid classes, a human could not have survived that much blood loss - much less a 30 lb dog.

And he was no longer covered in blood. I still don't know where he hid that night. Maybe his dog buddies took care of him. All I know is that I was very thankful to have my puppy back.

After some surgery to close the gap some, Smash still has an extra nostril on top of his snout. We call it his snorkel.

We don't let him run loose just yet as I want to work him through this wanderlust phase. And it is great to see him excited about learning to walk on a leash instead of dreading it.