Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew

“Some people care too much.  I think it’s called love.”
- Winnie the Pooh

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

We all try our best.  I know I do.  We try to give our dogs a good life, make them happy, and help them feel safe and secure. We work through behavioral issues as best we can.  We read books.  We watch videos and tv shows about dog trainers and behaviorists, each vilifying the others, everyone contradicting each other.  So who’s right?

Your dog.

Orion and Sparta.  Brittany Graham Photography

Orion and Sparta. Brittany Graham Photography

Your dog is constantly communicating with you. You need only to be sensitive enough to notice what they are trying to tell you, and suddenly it becomes crystal clear.  Take away the background noise, turn off the tv, put down the book, and pay attention to who has the best information on what your dog needs:  your dog.  

Things Your Dog Wishes You Knew

1) We are simple.  We don’t apologize for being simple, just as we don’t apologize for being dogs.  We will never understand your human need to over-complicate the most simplest issues.  We are not stupid, but we do prefer being in the moment.  We don’t worry about what may happen tomorrow.  We are your best friend.  We mean you best friend…you know, the kind that will tell your that the outfit your wearing does indeed make your butt look big.  We don’t worry about giving offense because we never take offense.  We love you enough to never be anything but sincere. Now please go change your outfit.

OrionS

2)  We are always trying our hardest.   I know I sometimes get anxious and nervous when I see another predator dog while we’re out on a walk.  I don’t mean to be a jerk, I’m really just afraid that vicious creauture puppy might try to kill you.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember that you’ll protect both of us.  I’m not trying to be bad, I’m actually trying my hardest to be the best body guard friend I can be.

Brittany Graham Photography

3) I ask a lot of questions.  Please answer them.  You may think they’re stupid, but they mean the world to me.  So seriously, now, is the mailman trying to kill us?  If you’d just answer the question, I could stop barking.

10308283_832990790064261_2457400682443452031_n

4) We don’t understand punishment.  We understand “yes” and “no”.  When I understand that the answer to my question about chewing on your shoes was “no”, please let it go.  We don’t understand punishment or discipline.  If it makes you feel better to punish me, though, then I love you enough to let you.  But it confuses and frightens me. I’d feel much better if you’d just answer my questions and move on.

My Sparta

5) Give me what I need, and I’ll do anything you want.  All I need from you is the basics for life, and some Piloting, Activity and Work.  Don’t pick and choose when giving me what I need.  Give me all those things I need,and I’ll do anything you want, like, stop chewing on your shoes, for instance. If nobody Pilots me, then I guess I have to do the job myself.  I really don’t want to be a leader and Pilot everyone, though. Please don’t make me.

Brittany Graham Photography

6)  Keep me forever.  I’ve only got a short time to live compared to you, please let me live it with you.  I can’t help that I shed, or that the new apartment you want won’t let me in.   It frightens me not to have a home, and it takes a toll on me each time I’m bounced from home to home.  I would give me life for you. I ask only that you never turn me away, and keep me always by you.

IMG_55297) And then let me go.  I’m sorry.  I’m so sorry.  I tried not to get old, but it’s hard for me to walk well, and it’s too much for me to come bounding up to greet you like I used to when I was younger.  I know you tried your hardest as well.  You took me to the vet’s office regularly, and made sure I had a good diet and exercise, but now it’s time for me to go.  Who thought we’d have this long together? I’ll be okay. I promise you.

DARWINDOGS_0091

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

New Year’s Resolutions for You and Your Dog

 

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals. – Melody Beattie

As the new year starts, we all take some time to reflect on items we want to work on throughout the next 365 days. It’s a blank book really. We can take on big or small challenges to improve ourselves. So why not take on a resolution or two for you and your dog? It doesn’t have to be anything big. Something small, so you can see progress in your relationship with your dog as well as your dog’s behavior and happiness.

Here are three New Year’s Resolutions that you can take up that correlate to the PAW Method.

Erdman_0082-1

Your Piloting New Year’s Resolution:

Work on a behavior once a week that you may sometimes avoid. So, if your dog has an issue with the squirrels outside the front window, instead of closing the shades, take some time to work with that behavior. Cut out 15 minutes of your day to specifically work on the issue using the 3 steps to piloting: Control yourself, Control the Situation and Answer the Yes or No question.

If your dog is dog reactive, why not choose a day that your dog seems to be behaving well and take your dog on a walk. Instead of turning around or avoiding that trouble dog in your neighborhood, take some time to work on the reaction your dog may have.

This doesn’t have to be an every day type thing. Just consciously make a decision to work on your dog’s little behavior hiccups that you’ve been avoiding once a week. You’ll see the improvement, slower than if you worked on it every day, but it’s important to know your limitations and set yourself up for success.

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Your Activity New Year’s Resolution:

You’re going to hate me when I say this, but here it is: More walking.

If you are an overachieving owner and take your dog for a walk every day already, try adding 10 more minutes to your walk a few days a week. This doesn’t seem like much, but is a good stepping stone to getting even more activity in!

If you’re an owner like me (I will admit to my weaknesses) and don’t get out every day for a walk, increase it by one day a week. So, if you normally go 4 times a week, try 5. Once that seems normal, maybe try adding another additional day. This will not only help your dog, but it might even help you with any other resolutions you’ve made this year. Walking is healthy for both of you!

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Your Work New Year’s Resolution:

You don’t need to train your dog to seek out rare flowers or mushrooms. How about a new trick each month? Spend a few days each day working on a new trick. If you work on one trick a month you’ll make sure your dog has it down and is successful with it. New tricks work your dog’s brain (as well as get some extra Piloting in) and helps you bond with your dog as well. And by the end of the year your dog will know 12 new tricks!

Get creative with it! These are just some suggestions. But take some time to think about how you can improve your relationship with your dog and how you can create a happy and balanced life for your pup.

Here’s to a great 2016!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

Apartment Dogs

 

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

True enjoyment comes from activity of the mind and exercise of the body; the two are ever united – Wilhelm von Humboldt

Having a dog and living in an apartment can be challenging. Notice I didn’t say impossible. I’ve never understood rescues that won’t adopt out to individuals who don’t live in a house with a fenced in yard. There are so many individuals who can provide a dog everything they need without those two requirements.

Porter has only lived in an apartment. There are challenges that come with it and different ways to do things, however, I do not feel as though he’s missing anything. Today, I’m going to share some tips on how to make living in an apartment with your dog successful when it comes to providing them activity.

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

1. Walks

I know, you’re not surprised. But this is so important. Walks are the key to holding everything together. This is a mental exercise as well as a physical exercise. You don’t always have the ability to let your dog out the backyard and run himself tired. So you need to get out there and give them some great physical activity by going on walks. Do what you can. If you only have time for a 15 minute walk, throw that backpack on your dog and get out there! The past few weeks, I’ve been trying to re-frame my outlook. If I’m about to turn on the television, do I have time to take Porter for another 15-20 minute walk? It’s healthier for him and for me. And will get your dog even more activity which is so key to having a balanced dog.

2. Dog Parks

Utilize the dog park as much as you can. If you are worried about it being crowded go early in the morning or on days where the weather isn’t so great. That will thin out the crowd a little. This is a great way to let your dog run lose, play with other dogs and get some pent up energy out. Nothing tires out a dog like another dog. Make it fun and try different dog parks around you so you’re not always going to the same one.

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

3. Phone a Friend

Dog people attract dog people. So, I’m sure you have a friend or a coworker or a neighbor who has a dog as well. Plan a walk together! That way someone else is relying on you and your dog gets to practice walking with another dog. A perfect way to working on your Piloting skills while still having fun and staying motivated.

4. Doggy Daycare

There are days where you can see that your dog just needs to run. They’re antsy and even on the walks they’re struggling to stay with you and pay attention to your corrections. You can tell in their body language they just need to get out! So, take them to doggy day care for a day! It can even be on a day that you’re normally around the house. It doesn’t only have to be when you’re away for the night or the day. Drop them off for the day, let them run around like crazy while you run errands, clean the house, take a day trip and then pick them up! You won’t feel guilty about leaving the house and your pup will be so excited that he got to run around and play with dogs all day. It’s a win win for everyone!

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

5. Use What You Have

Even though you may be residing in a smaller space, you still probably have, well, space. So use it! Play fetch with your dog, work on commands, play the find it game. Use the space you have to keep them stimulated. Get creative with it!

Living in an apartment doesn’t mean you can’t give your dog what they need. It merely means you have to use different tools in your belt. They’ll still have as much fun and love you all the same. Have fun and get out there! Your dog will be just as happy as the next dog.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

 

Game Time

 

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail – Kinky Friedman

Looking for a fun game with your dog?

How about “Find it”? Let’s get started.

What you’ll need:

1. Your dog in a calm state (take them for a walk before if there’s any concern)

2. A toy that your dog likes

Yup, that’s it.

 

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

 

Put your dog in a sit. While your dog is sitting show him the toy and let him sniff it a little.

Keep your dog in the sit and put the toy about 3 to 5 feet away in plain view.

Walk back to your dog and give them their release command (Porter’s is “okay”) and then repeat the phrase “Find it” over and over until your dog makes contact with the toy you had just placed 3-5 feet in front of him. When contact is made give them tons of praise. Lots of “good dog” and pets to go with it.

Practice this a few more times with the same distance. Each time your dog should see you put the toy down. As your dog becomes consistent in finding the toy, go ahead and make the distance longer.

Let your dog watch where you’re putting the toy, but make the distance more substantial. Again, praise each time your dog finds the toy.

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Once you feel like your dog has a handle over what you’ve been doing so far, make it a little harder. Hide the toy behind something. Let your dog see where you’re walking, but then hide the toy behind the couch or a chair, somewhere they can’t see it from where they’re sitting. Repeat the “Find it” phrase until your dog reaches the toy and then praise again.

So now, you get to make it even more challenging! Don’t let your dog see where you hide it. Go in a different room or around a corner.  When you release them repeat the phrase “Find it” until they come across the toy and then praise, praise, praise!

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

Boots & Bee Photography by Brittany Graham

You can always help your dog find the toy by leading them over to the area if you find that they’re having trouble. But give them some time to figure it out! They can do it!

This is a great game to play when the weather is not so great outside or if you think your dog needs some more mental work than you’ve been able to give them recently. Make sure to have fun with it! It will be hard not to. Trust me!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

Surviving a “Teenage” Dog

“Whatever.”

- Me, at 14 years old

10308283_832990790064261_2457400682443452031_n

I got Orion when he was 6 months, which, if you read my blog posts, you already know is the worst age for a dog.  For dogs, it’s the equivalent of a 14 year old girl.  Lots of eye-rolling.  Even more stomping of feet.  You know the drill.  Dogs go through adolescence as well.  And just like with humans, it’s the time where they start to figure out where they belong in society/pack, and to do that, they test boundaries.

The drama

The drama

So I inherited Orion, this little ball of energy, at the worst possible age.  I skipped right over the adorable, fluffy stage, and went straight into-the-mouth-of-hell stage.  And oh, wow did he show it. Orion was never a bad dog.  The thought of a dog as bad is ridiculous.  Orion was a perfectly normal, adolescent dog.  His problem was that he sucked at being a human. Even for a teenager.

On top of Orion hitting puberty was the fact that he was a nervous bundle of energy.  No, his previous owner hadn’t abused him (quite the opposite, actually).  It is just Orion’s nature to be skittish and hyper.  He is a dog who would be ripe for anxiety-driven destructiveness and maybe even biting if not properly Piloted. His teenage “years” were still very trying, but we had our coping mechanisms in place.

1)  Exorcise Exercise Those Demons.  

200 (1)

Most dogs will have problems behaving without adequate exercise, but adolescent dogs in particular need extra activity.  And no, going for a walk around the block doesn’t cut it.  If you’re not tired, your dog isn’t tired.  Even when you are tired, your dog is most likely still ready to go for more exercise.  A walk is mandatory, just so our dog don’t remain insulated, but there are easy ways to get them the exercise they need beyond running yourself into the ground.  Read here for some tips.

2) Take Your G.I. Joes and Go Home.  In other words, know when, and how, to end a stand-off.  Don’t get sucked into a never-ending vortex of behavior.  With Orion, it had to do with the cat.  He was obsessed with “torturing” my cat Echo.  Yes, every time he would do it, I would answer his question (“Can I chase the cat?”  No.)  but wow…at that age they will “ask” over and over and over (and over).  So, how many times to I have to answer him?  One more time.

And then “take your G.I. Joe’s and go home.”

What this means is that I answer his question about the cat once more.  He accepts it (even though I know it will only be for a moment), and then during that moment, I engage him in something else.  That way I don’t have to answer the question anymore because he isn’t asking it.  If he “asks” a question, I must answer it (no bribing him away from the question with treats or whatnot).  However, once he accepts the answer, it is perfectly okay to remove his ability to ask the question anymore.  You can put him in his crate for a bit (usually so you don’t go insane). Give him a little “snack” of exercise, such as a quick round of agility.  Or give him something to occupy himself, such as a kong or even an ice cube.  Anything to keep him from asking the question again.

3)  Work Like A Dog.  Remember, adolescence is a time of learning and exploring.  Is your dog getting enough mental exercise?  Most of the tricks and commands Orion learned was during his adolescent period, and he learned fast.  And always wanted more.  So he uses enrichment feeders exclusively for food.  He learned stupid tricks that still make me laugh (such as using Sparta for an agility course), he learned the  basics (heeling off leash, long distance stay, etc.).  All of these things were taught when his mind was most willing to learn: adolescence.

4) Enforce Calm.  You’ve set them up for success with the exercise and the mental work.  Now you can get what you want – calm.  To get the calm you desire, make sure you are giving them positive reinforcement (petting, affection, treats., etc.) at the appropriate times.  So for instance, if your dog is acting hyper, jumping on you, or “slapping” you with their paw, that is not a good time to give them affection.  Don’t encourage behaviors you don’t actually want.  ”Answer” their question using negative body language.  If when they are calm, you can then reward them.

5) Potty Problems.  For a lot of dogs, puberty can start up problems you thought you had already handled: housebreaking.  No, your dog isn’t suddenly “unhousebroken”.  What happens is your dog is making a bid to become Pilot. How do they do that?  By marking.

Aim high.

Aim high.

Piloting your dog, and using the techniques outlined above, will help with the marking.  Spaying and neutering your dog will help, ahem,…eliminate the odds that they will take up this unsavory behavior.  Basically, if you are Pilot, you have the right to mark things as yours.  The more you Pilot your dog, and answer their questions, the less likely they are to try to claim things. For more information about how to handle this problem, read this article.

6) Keep A Sense of Humor.   Perhaps this should have been first, because it’s the most important.  Your dog isn’t out to get you.  Your dog isn’t “getting back at you”. Your dog is too busy being, well, a dog to concern themselves about how to get even.  Laugh when you can.  Answer your dog’s questions about what is acceptable and what isn’t, but don’t hold a grudge.  As Shakespeare said, “This, too, shall pass”.

Remember, this is just a phase with your dog, but just like human teenagers, how you react to your dog’s adolescence can have a bearing on who they are as an adult.  Enforce your rules with a kind, benevolent (but firm) leadership, and you will have a wonderful adult dog.  But most of all, enjoy the ride, because in the scheme of things, our dogs, though so precious to us, are with us for all too short a time.  Don’t waste any of that precious time wishing to skip to the next age, because every adolescent dog will eventually become a wizened, old dog with a muzzle full of gray sooner than you wish.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Word Games

One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

If you’ve been around the Darwin Dog’s blog post a bit, you’ve probably figured out that we are a bit quirky. Okay….I’m  a bit quirky.  Danika is the more serious of the two of us. But that’s not really saying much.

Danika and I at a recent event.  There was absolutely NO alcohol involved in the making of this pic. Nope.  None.

Yeah, we’re kinda like the Oz Couple.  

We’ve also developed our own lingo here at Darwin Dogs.  You hear words thrown about, like, “Piloting”, and “slamming the door”, but what does it mean?  Well, here you go, a list of words that are commonly used, along with links for more information about each term.

 Darwin Dogs’ Dictionary

Activity Exercise!  Fundamental for a happy, healthy dog.

Think outside the, uh, leash, too!  Orion is doing agility over my leg for a bit of Activity.

Think outside the, uh, leash, too! Orion is doing agility over my leg for a bit of Activity.
Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Cobra-ing When out on a walk, your dog find something terribly interesting and keeps trying to look around you, from one side to the other, like a cobra or a pendulum.
Houdini or Copperfield As in the magicians.  A dog whose owner thinks that their dog’s behavior will never change, but 2 hours with Darwin Dogs and –poof!- behavior problem is solved.  Example:“Hey Danika, how did your session go yesterday?”
“The dog just had a lot of questions, so I showed the owners how to answer them. It was really easy. A total Copperfield session, Kerry.”
Lap Shark This:

Natural habitat: Grandma's lap.  Also found being carried *everywhere*

Natural habitat: Grandma’s lap. Also found being carried *everywhere*

Meerkat-ing or Prairie-dogg When your dog suddenly looks like he rubbed Viagra all over his body: he’s alert and all his muscles are stiff, ears rigid, and perhaps a little furrow between his brows develops.  He’s asking a question about something.  Answer his question.home_meerkat
Negative Reinforcement Answering any of your dog’s questions in a negative fashion, from “Can we go for a walk now?” or “May I please beg?” to “Should I attack that other dog?”.  Not to be confused with “punishment”. Ever.
No No Bad Dog session A dog who jumps, barks, walks terrible on a leash…but deep down is a wonderful dog, who happens to think his name is “No No Bad Dog”. When writing descriptions of the dogs we are working with on our schedules, Danika and I frequently refer to some as “typical ‘No No Bad Dogs’”.55df2e62e7e3343e85c98fcd236fc915
Pavlovian Response (aka, Classical Conditioning) Linking two things together so tightly that when one happens the other is implied.  For example, “salt and __________”.  If you immediately thought “pepper”, you’ve been classically conditioned to always think of those two things together.  Anything can become a Pavlovian response, from a doorbell (indicating someone is here), to my snapping my fingers (which in my house, stand for “no” to my dogs).  See also, “Touch Talk Treat” for another example.
PAW Method Combining Piloting, Activity and Work together to create a happy, healthy relationship with your dog.
Piloting One the three basic things required when working with a dog.  Piloting a dog is merely answering your dog’s questions, so they don’t have to. Answering questions puts money into your Piloting Piggy Bank.
Sparta is asking as simple question ("Should I get up?").  I Pilot her by answering her question (in this case, with a negative). Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham
Sparta is asking as simple question (“Should I get up?”). I Pilot her by answering her question (in this case, with a negative).
Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham
Piloting Piggy Bank The more questions you answer for your dog (i.e., Piloting them), the more money you take out of your dog’s Piloting Piggy Bank and deposit it into yours.  The more money you have, the easier it is to Pilot your dog.
Positive Reinforcement Simply giving a positive answer to a question, or rewarding a dog when trying to catch a behavior so as to have the dog repeat said behavior.  Example: housebreaking a dog requires positive reinforcement. See also, Touch Talk Treat

Orion gets some positive, this time a treat. Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Orion gets some positive, this time a treat.
Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Slamming the Door Using your body language to answer your dog’s questions while on a leash (such as, “Can I react to that other dog?”) by pivoting on your foot, swinging your body around to face your dog entirely.  You look like a door slamming in your dog’s face, thereby answering “no”.
Touch Talk Treat Every time I give my dogs a treat, I give them a gentle pet or touch, along with a soft “good dog”.  Pretty soon, a pet, or a “good dog” tastes like a treat, freeing myself from always carrying around treats in my pockets. It also allows me to mark the precise behavior I’m looking for.  For example, teaching “Sparta” to play dead.  While she was learning, I could tell her “good girl”, and she knew she was on the right track and would be receiving a treat soon if she continued.  See also, Pavlovian Response and Touch Talk Treat
Work Mental stimulation, enrichment…are you making your dog think?
Yo, Bitch-ing When your dog is trying to take Piloting money out of your Piloting Piggy Bank.  Symptoms include: slapping you with their paw, trampling you, pushing you out of your seat on the couch.  Basically, any behavior that would translate to : “Yo bitch, give me a cookie”, or “Yo bitch, pet me”.  Detrimental to your healthy relationship with your dog, as it would be in any human relationship!

Our vocabulary is enriched by each session we do.  It will forever be a growing, living language, formed by our interactions with so many different dogs.  Kinda like….

Only less take-over-the-universe and more dog hair

Only less take-over-the-universe and more dog hair

Yeah….nevermind.

Now, on to the words that I detest.

Bad Yuck.  Your dog isn’t bad.  Your dog simply sucks at being a human.  And guess what….you’re not always the best dog.  Avoid this word (and this train of thought) at all times.
Clicker Dogs communicate with each other without the use of a clicker, we feel you should be able to as well.  A clicker is merely a Pavlovian response.  Click equals treat. Sound theory, but it’s like Communism; it only works on paper.  Where is that clicker when you need it? See Touch Talk Treat or Pavlovian Response.
Dominant, Pack Leader, Alpha, …bleh bleh bleh We’re secure enough in our, uh….masculinity (yeah, or, um, something) not to feel the need to “assert our dominance” over our dog (or anything else).  We are here to answer our dog’s questions about a confusing human world, not to make them “understand their place in the pack”.o094d
Punish Sick, gross, and completely unnecessary.  Punishment is only there to make a human feel better, not to train a dog.  See also, “Bad”.  Just don’t step in it.

The work we do with dogs enriches our lives.  It shines through to our day-to-day lives.  From the fun session we had with a crazy puppy, to the sad, scared, newly-rescued older dog, every training session leaves us enriched, and that has permeated through to our vocabulary, and made its way directly to our hearts.  Open the doors to communication, and amazing things can happen.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Your Next Mission

 

How can you not pet that face? -Brittany Graham Photography

How can you not pet that face?
-Brittany Graham Photography

All I want to do is drink wine and pet my dog – Every Dog-Parent T-Shirt

I came home the other day exhausted. It had been a long week. Nothing particularly bad, just a lot of brain power used and a lot of running around. So, like any normal adult I laid down on the floor. Just sprawled out. I barely made it a yard into the apartment before I was reaching for it.

As I laid down, my four legged side kick made his way over. He laid down next to me gently, trying to get a feel for what was going on. He took some good sniffs to see what kind of energy I was throwing off. Quite honestly, I wasn’t throwing off any. Porter decided that was fine and laid down on his side facing me so that I could get some belly scratches in. And we both laid there, face to face, no distractions.

- Brittany Graham Photography

– Brittany Graham Photography

Sometimes, when I get home I’ll immediately get on my phone. I fall into the habit of checking what I missed within the last hour. This time, there was no phone in between us, no tv, no rushing around to get to the next event, it was just us. And it was perfect.

We laid there, just hanging out with each other for about an hour. Yup, I laid on the floor for an hour and did nothing but pet my dog.

I didn’t miss any earth shattering event by not checking my phone for an hour.

I was able to have an hour of uninterrupted bonding time with Porter.

I was able to recharge my dog-mom sails for the next time he may push the patience buttons.

I found some new and calm energy by taking an hour break.

Nothing but positive things happened in that hour.

We all say it: All I want to do is pet my dog all day. Well, do it!

- Brittany Graham Photography

– Brittany Graham Photography

Take some time to just hang out with Fido and regroup. It will only benefit both of you. Put away all the distractions, electronics included, and just pet your dog. Then see how much better your day gets!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

4 Lessons Learned on Vacation with Porter

 - Brittany Graham Photography

– Brittany Graham Photography

 It is in the compelling zest of high adventure and of victory, and in creative action, that man finds his supreme joys – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Recently, I went on a weekend vacation with Porter and Tall Guy. We ventured down to Hocking Hills for a weekend hiking and hanging out in a cabin. The trails were gorgeous and it was a great feeling to have Porter along for the trip. I loved every minute of it. Below are my 4 lessons learned on my vacation with Porter:

1. Don’t forget the Basics

When we started off on our road trip I was surprised at Porter’s behavior. Normally on long road trips he settles down within the first 30 min and snoozes until we get to our final destination. But, an hour and a half into the drive he was still pacey, panting and whining. We decided to stop for a quick break and I got him out of the car. There was a ledge in the parking lot so I made him jump up and down from the ledge multiple times to wear out some energy. The minute we got back in the car he was all smiles and laid down. I forgot the golden rule: Activity before a road trip. Because he’s always so good in the car I forgot why he’s so good in the car. Because I work him before we start! So, get some Activity in before you start in on your road trip.

2. Embrace the Victories

Porter and I encountered more dogs on our vacation than we usually see in a month. This can be stressful for a dog reactive dog and their owner. I started to feel discouraged when Porter would act in a way I didn’t think was acceptable. But, then I remembered to embrace the small victories. Like that time I was standing on a rock edge and a dog lunged at Porter through my legs snarling and growling and Porter did nothing. He just stood there still as could be. I guess we can call that a huge victory, not a small one. None the less, pay attention to the positives.

porterandme

 3. Know When to Say Enough

Piloting your dog through situations is key. However, Piloting can be exhausting and you need to make sure you’re listening to both your body and your dog. On our second day we did an 8.5 mile hike. It was hot, tiring, and amazing. However, towards the end of the hike I could feel that I was exhausted and starting to get a little irritable around the larger less mannered crowds.

I looked at Porter and I could tell he had slight signs of stress. That’s how I knew it was time to go. I was exhausted and he was exhausted. I could keep Piloting him, but I was going to miss a signal or a sign. Just like when I missed the little kid reach out and grab for him. Luckily enough he paid attention to me and I was able to get him through the situation. But it was time to go because I was no longer on my game. Don’t push it. When it’s time to go home, go home.

 4. Prepare for the Unexpected

Remember that time I wrote a blog post about the 5 Items to take with you on Vacation with your dog? Remember that time I said to bring Benadryl? Yeah… I wasn’t joking.

Our second night on vacation I see an epic battle between Porter and a bee. Ok, not so much an epic battle as much as a bee landed on Porter’s nose, he intelligently tried to eat it and it stung him. As I realized what happened I was already moving towards the Benadryl I had packed. Porter’s nose swelled up a little but within an hour the swelling had subsided since I was able to give him the medication. It’s better to have it and not use it than not have it and need it.

 

A tired pup after a fun vacation!

A tired pup after a fun vacation!

Going on vacations with your dog can be so rewarding. It’s a great way to bond and have new and exciting adventures together. Have fun with it! Take advantage of one of the best friendships you will ever have!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

5 Items to Help You Travel with Your Dog

The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page – Augustine of Hippo

Traveling with your pup can be such a great way to experience new adventures and places together. Whether it’s driving and staying with family or doing an outdoor vacation, your options are endless. But, sometimes traveling can be stressful as well. So here are my top 5 items to bring when I travel with Porter.
collapsible crate

  1. Crate

Porter feels safest when he’s in his crate. He doesn’t have to worry about anything else but his little area, so when traveling to new places that can be overwhelming, I always make sure he has his crate available to him. If it’s somewhere brand new and he could be staying alone for some time, I will bring his regular hard top crate. If he’ll only be in there for sleeping, or is familiar with where we are going, I will bring his collapsible crate. Both help him feel safe and secure in unfamiliar territory.

IMG_1248

2. His Favorite Toys

I will bring 2-3 of his favorite toys with him. However, I won’t put them all out at once. He gets one at a time, that way when another one comes out it’s new and exciting! It also makes him feel at home and gives him something to do. He loves his chew bone and this helps him get rid of any frustration or anxiety.

His favorite blanket

His favorite blanket

3. Blanket

I will make sure to bring a few blankets that smell like home and him. This will make him feel more at home and will allow him to relax more. If he’s in a strange place with all brand new smells, that can become overwhelming and create anxiety. However, if he can find some items that smell like him and home he will be more comfortable and quicker to accept his new surroundings.

 

He especially loves his blanket and his bed at the same time

He especially loves his blanket and his bed at the same time

4. His Bed

I always make sure to bring one of his beds with us as well. If we’re going on a longer road trip, I will put it in the back seat with him to make sure he has a comfy place to sleep. He loves his beds and I know by bringing them along  he wil feel more at home. Bringing small items that smell familiar and are comfortable will make his transition easier.

IMG_3183

5. Benadryl

Don’t underestimate the power of being prepared for the unexpected. Car sickness, anxiety and bee stings can all be helped with Benadryl. When we travel, I always make sure that I have some on me just in case there’s an emergency of some sort. It’s better to be over prepared then be caught by surprise. Make sure you call your vet to see what kind of dosage is good for your dog.

What are your favorite items to bring along when you travel with your pup?

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

Turning Down the Noise

rriverwalk2

Quiet is peace. Tranquility. Quiet is turning down the volume knob on life. Silence is pushing the off button. Shutting it down. All of it – Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

These past few months I’ve been faced with the problem of a running mind. Thoughts everywhere. Some about the past, questions about what I could have done better, worrying about the future and figuring out where I want to be in my life. I’ve been feeling a little uneasy and have found myself questioning and question and questioning. As you know, this can wreak havoc on your mind.

So, last week I made an intention for the day. I told myself, “today you will have an adventure with Porter”. Now, I didn’t put any stipulations on this adventure. We didn’t have to try something brand new, we didn’t have to travel multiple hours to get there and we didn’t have to complete some amazing feat. The adventure could be anything. We just needed to do it together.

We set out for the Metroparks, because let’s be honest, you can always have an adventure there! We started off on our walk and I noticed how the ground covering was coming in. Bright green with yellow flowers everywhere. It was absolutely stunning. And then I saw a little path.

Our view during our walk through the Metroparks

Our view during our walk through the Metroparks

Normally if it’s just Porter and I, I will only stay on paths where other people are. Just a habit I picked up to stay on the side of caution. But that day I looked at Porter and remembered my intention. Adventure. We needed to go on an adventure together. So, we took the path.

The path put us in between beautiful ground covering, trees and the river. As we walked, it was silent except for the birds calling out to each other. I looked at Porter and he was smiling. And I noticed both of our energies immediately come down.

Lots of times we can learn things from our dogs. But sometimes, we need to learn things together. We both walked through the woods silently. You could barely hear either of us moving along the earth and stepping over logs. We were quiet. Silent. Just like I needed my mind to be.

Porter doing some agility in nature!

Porter doing some agility in nature!

We walked and we climbed and we sat by the river. And we were both soundless. Yet, I feel like I’ve never bonded more with Porter on a walk before.

Playtime is great. Playing fetch, throwing the Frisbee, running around the yard. That’s all amazing. But sometimes, it’s necessary to take some time for some quiet adventures with your dog.

rriverwalk4

There doesn’t need to be mountains of stimulation and noise for your dog to have fun. Your dog will have fun as long as you’re on those adventures together. Sometimes, to calm both of you down it’s necessary to go somewhere quiet where you can get your Activity in.

So put out an intention for the day for you and your dog. And know that your dog is always reacting to your energy. Try a quiet path early in the morning and start your day off calm with your pup. It will help both of you mentally and physically.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH