Saturday, August 31, 2013

Do you really know Springfield's laws on dogs?


 I don't normally link my two blogs together, but I feel it is important I reach the largest audience possible. 

Many of you don't know that Springfield, Mo has Breed Specific Legislation. But many of you do know of the legislation because you know someone who has to pay each year to own a dog with with no temperament issues. If you know me... you know someone who has to pay to own a dog with no temperament issues. Why? Because I own an American Pit Bull Terrier (APBT)... actually I own two... For those of you who know me well, you know that it's not my deaf, half paralyzed, 12 year old APBT you have be careful of... it's my smallest dog you should watch out for! Hehe

     All joking aside, please read my most current blog entry on my 
Dog Legislation Education (DLE) blog. 

 Everyone needs to be informed. Feel free to comment and ask me questions. It helps me see how each person feels about power breeds and how I can help educate the public on both sides of the Breed Specific Legislation fence. You can also email me to ask questions anonymously. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

From Unpredictable Puppy to Distinguished Gentleman

An email I received from a student...

When I first came to Sidekick with my baby Boxer, Julius Caesar, he was about nine weeks old.  He was born June 4, 2012 and I got him when he was about 6 or 7 weeks old.  This was my first experience with a puppy as an adult, as I rescued the other two dogs I have had, so I knew it was going to be a challenge!  But he was such a sweet boy!   Little did I know…

The first day of class in Positively Puppies we did semi okay, but we loved a little Weimeriner puppy, Hailey.  Her mom was so great to Caesar and me!  And we only tried to eat Carrie once (nice way to say hello, I know), but the negative behavior seemed to keep progressing and getting worse and worse.  There were several nights that I even asked myself whether or not I should maybe turn him over to rescue or find him another home.  He was starting to become very agitated when you tried to “calm sit” with him and restrain him and even when we were just sitting on the couch he would get an attitude.  Poor Carrie had numerous phone calls and texts all hours of the day and night from me asking if I picked the wrong one.   By about mid-session of puppy class, he started chewing on his “nub” (his tail) and was chewing it raw and did this in just a day or two, so I knew something was wrong.  His housebreaking just wasn’t going successfully and the behavior was horrific, and the nub chewing was just the cherry on top.  I broke down and took him to the vet about this.

After trying to eat the vet, and the vet tech, we found out that he had a pretty horrible urinary tract infection.  I thought to myself, “Great, one more thing to throw into the mix.”  He was prescribed antibiotics and I was told to bring him back at the end of the medication to retest his urine and whatnot.  Apparently he had had this UTI for a while, but all the “potty” problems were seemingly as normal puppies do.

When his round of antibiotics was over, his urine rechecked and clean, Carrie was able to really help me get Caesar more focused so I could hopefully break all the poor behaviors that were present.  We passed Positively Puppies at the end of the session (I think it was more of a no puppy left behind thing!) and moved on to Absolutely Adolescence that ended shortly before Christmas.  In these seven or eight weeks, I worked with Caesar at home and in class with the help of Carrie and her assistants.  Carrie began to think that the poor behavior that Caesar was exhibiting was in direct relation to having the UTI as a little puppy.  Over the course of this session, I asked Carrie several times if Caesar would ever pass his Star Puppy and she kept telling me she wasn’t sure at that point, but he had until he was one year old to do it.  She also reminded me that it was okay if you puppy doesn’t pass, that she even had ones that never passed it for one reason or another.  I felt a little disappointed he might never get to that point, but I settled with the idea that it didn’t mean he was a horrible puppy and would become a horrible adult.

After passing the Absolutely Adolescence class, I decided after the first of the year I would run him through his class again to reiterate the behaviors taught.  I spent a lot of time at home working on stays and other things that I felt like he was a little behind on and he was seemingly doing really well in class and listening better and so forth.  Never the less, he was starting to come out of the bad behaviors and into more positive ones and being friendly to Carrie and my veterinarians—no more eating of the trainer or the vets!  I still, to this day, have to have the vet cut his toenails though, but that’s not so bad as compared to before.

At the end of our last session in February, on Graduation day, Carrie was handing out the diplomas as usual.   She gave everyone their papers and Caesar was the last.  Carrie stopped when she got to Caesar and started with, “I have to tell everyone a little story about Caesar…” and she told everyone where he was when he started and where he was at on that day.  At the end of her story about Caesar, she handed me his diploma and his paperwork saying he passed his Star Puppy.  I couldn’t have been more elated at that point!  I just couldn’t believe that he actually was able to pass!  That was such a huge milestone for Caesar and me and it made all the frustrated days and nights and all the questioning myself about him seem to disappear.  I know he will never be perfect, but he is growing into such a great companion for me and for my senior Boxer, Claireese.

I continue to keep him in training classes and continue working with him at home and he continues to grow into his individuality as a dog.  At nine months old he is a different dog than he was at nine weeks old when we started with Sidekick.  Without the help of Carrie and the others at SKDT and their support I don’t know what my future with Caesar would have been like.  However, I know now that he might never be “perfect” but he is my little boy and he is a joy to have around at home.  And I know that as long as I continue to work with him, he will continue to grow and will continue to become the dog I know he can be instead of the dog we all thought he might be.   I can’t thank everyone at Sidekick Dog Training enough for all the help and support they have given me over the past several months and I know that they will continue to lend my way!

~Piper Lee
Mom to Julius Caesar and Claireese Lee

Caesar is now a year old and has passed his AKC Canine Good Citizen.

It is so rewarding to see what hard work and dedication can do for each of the furry Side Kicks that train through our company.

 Thank you all for trusting Side Kick Dog Training!!! 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Giving medication to an alligator?

Is giving medication to your dog like giving medication to an alligator?
   Medication may sometimes be a necessity, but no one wants to walk around with scars from giving medication to your pet. Even if your dog doesn't agree he needs the meds, we can teach him to think taking them is just another thing you do together as a team. You can do this by using positive reinforcement and taking your time the first few doses. This will help you through your dog's whole life. Believe it or not you can actually turn medication time into no big deal.
      Clicker training is a great way to desensitize your dog to the body handling necessary for vetting. Taking your time is the key. You start way below your dog's threshold and make it a game before "pushing the envelope". Maybe your dog can only handle your hand over their head with no contact... Make it a game. I put my hand near you, you get a click and a treat. Your nose bumps the medicine bottle, you get a click and a treat. Don't get frustrated with slow progress. Body handling will get better with time. You're dog knows when you are upset, and that slows down and possibly moves progress backwards. Ever hear "one step forward, two steps back"? Slow yourself down and give yourself at least 15 minutes the first session. Eventually your dog will be happy to take their medications... Just don't forget the treat for being a good puppy when they are taking their medications like a pro!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

How do you even begin to leave the house with your scared or reactive dog?

Having a scared or reactive dog can be hard to live with. It's somewhat like a catch 22... They are going nuts in the house because they need exercise, but you don't even want to take him out the front door where people can see him act like a nutcase. So how do you take the edge off so that you can get him out the front door? The answer sounds easy, but teaching your dog to handle life better takes dedication. 

Nutrition, exercise, and a training plan are the keys to helping your furry friend learn to deal with life in the outside world.

Nutrition is important because sugar and hormone levels have to be right to make the dog's brain capable of absorbing what you are going to teach him. A dog typically needs to eat a meat based diet twice a day. This will keep your dog from the emotional roller coaster ride foods high in corn can cause. 

Exercise is important for the same reason it is important for humans. It helps lessen anxiety and slows their body down so they are more receptive to the world around them. If they can slow down enough to pay attention to you, you can teach them how to deal with different situations. At this point your dog will be getting mental and physical exercise.

Training is what brings all the components together. A good positive trainer can teach you how to work with your dog in a low distraction area like your house. When your dog understands the games, your trainer will help you to take the behaviors outside. It often relaxes you to know you have a Certified Professional standing next to you.  If it doesn't relax you, then the trainer should remind you to breath and help you to learn how to relax again. If both ends of the leash know what to do, then both ends will learn to go out the door as a team and enjoy life. 

Here is a good article from Whole Dog Journal if you want to read further about reactivity. 

You can also contact Springfield Side Kick Dog Training for further information!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Breed Specific Legislation vs. Dangerous/Vicious Dog Laws


 I know there are a lot of people that don't even know what Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is, so I'll start with that. BSL is legislation is usually put in place, in a panic, when a dog viciously bites or attacks an adult, child, or another dog. This law or ordinance puts restrictions on certain breeds. Restrictions such as... the breed of dog specified has to wear a muzzle at all times off it's property; it has to have a microchip and be registered to the local Animal Control; the owner has to pay a yearly fee to own such dog; the dog has to be on a leash at all times and can never be allowed to run free in it's own back yard; if the dog is outside off leash, it has to be in an 8ft tall kennel with a top on it; ... The list goes on and on. Some of the rules are no big deal, but some get as bad as an entire breed of dog is not allowed in a city, and anyone who owns one will have a short amount of time to re home their family pet in another city or Animal Control will come over and confiscate their dog and have it euthanized.
     Yes, shocking to those of you who own Maltese or Dachshunds... By the way those two breeds are banned in some countries. The most typical breeds that are discriminated against are Pit Bull Types, Rottweilers, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Chow Chows, Great Danes, St Bernards, and a whole list of dogs you have probably never heard of.
     Could you imagine... A dog, the same breed as the one you have at home, bites a child in the face. People are understandably upset. Who wouldn't want something done? The city has to hold and isolate the dog for about 10 days before anyone can start to make decisions on the dog's fate. Now during this 10 days the people in the neighborhood continue to get more and more upset about the dog. Then it starts to spread throughout the media. The whole city starts to get upset. City officials decide this dog is dangerous, so then all of the breed must me dangerous. That's where the panic legislation comes in play.
    Enter the police report... It starts off with the dog attacked the neighbors child in it's own yard. Oh..., well how did the boy get in the yard? The dog owner states that the child has been found in their yard multiple times. They even went as far as to lock the gates. The police were finally called when the child started using his yard toys as a ladder to get in the dog's yard. The parents of the boy seemed to blow off the police warning and think it was cool that the dog and boy wanted to be together so much.  But did the dog really enjoy the visits? The owner of the dog stated that the dog is a retired Search and Rescue dog, a Therapy Dog, and had many titles in agility. This dog had obviously has a ton of training and was friendly. What happened then?
       It is found, after further investigation, that a quiet neighbor saw the whole thing. "I saw the boy climb the fence and start petting the dog. They really look like they enjoy each other's company. It's just a shame the accident happened. I called the owner of the dog and told her about the boy in the yard again. When she came out to tell the boy he needed to go home, it startled him and he fell off of the table he was on. Landed right on the 14 year old arthritic dog. It yelped and turned it's head around puncturing the child's face. Instantly the dog moved and tried to tend to the child. The owner made it to the boy, and I called the ambulance".
     So, who's fault was it? The dog? The dog owner? The parents?
 This is why I do not like breed specific legislation. It punishes the dog and not the responsible party. It was later found that the parents have a criminal history of child neglect and domestic abuse. There was probably some alcohol or drug abuse in there too.
    Due to the panic in the city, the owner had her baby of 14 years, who had saved many people over the years, put to sleep. It was later found to be the parents fault and the child was removed from his home to one where people actually cared. The parents got 2 months in jail and a fine... What? I know, huh!
    This is how it goes in some places. No, this is not a real story, but it is parts of many stories I know all to well. We all know it is wrong, but until enough people get educated about Breed Specific Legislation this discrimination will continue to divide us. It is scary to decide about wanting or not wanting a law when you don't know enough to have an educated opinion. So do some research, all dog people should at least know a little about BSL. Even people who love chihuahuas... We all know how friendly they always are. Hehe. Don't get upset! I own one! I also own two American Pit Bull Terriers and a Pug. And yes, as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer I have to pay to own my dogs here in my city.
     Now, remember the dog in this back yard was the same breed as the one in your house. We have a big deal coming up soon here in Springfield, Mo. We are trying to go from BSL to a vicious/dangerous dog ordinance. Please, start asking questions, don't always believe the media, fight for the responsible owners of the "Power Breeds"! For more information please check out these materials:
                                             The movie "Beyond the Myth"
                                             The book "Wallace"
                                             And meet a few Pit Bulls that have been raised right.

                   PUNISH THE DEED, NOT THE BREED