What can be better than a day in the country side with a group of your friends?
Rachel Jones at K-9 Divine has just that for your dog. K-9 Divine will not only take care of your dog while you are at work, they will also give them a day in the country, running (supervised!) through a fenced-in pasture. We spoke to Borderstan contributor Rachel Jones about her business.
Borderstan: When did K-9 Divine started?
Rachel Jones: I started K-9 Divine 10 years ago as an in-home training business. Six years ago I bought my house in Logan Circle and started boarding dogs. 1½-years ago, I rented the farm and started daycare and boarding at the farm.
Borderstan: Where are you located?
Jones: The farm is located in Harwood, Md., which is near Annapolis. Dogs can also board at my house in Logan Circle and we go to the client’s homes to do training.
Borderstan: What services do you offer?
Jones: We offer daycare at the farm Monday through Friday, boarding at both locations seven days a week and training whenever it is convenient for the client. We also offer boarding with training.
Borderstan: What is the cost of boarding and farm day?
Jones: Boarding is $65 per night or $50 per night for stays over one week. A farm day is $40 or $350 for a package of 10 days or $650 for a package of 20 days.
Borderstan: What makes K-9 Divine different from other dog care services?
Jones: Our daycare is different because it is outdoors on 13 acres. The dogs have lots of room to run and they have enough personal space so they don’t feel stressed out. We also have more people supervising the dogs than most other daycares. Our boarding is in a regular house and the dogs are not caged or kenneled. They are allowed to sleep wherever they want, even in the bed with me! So it is much less stressful than the average kennel or daycare.
Both myself and Amanda Brady, the daycare manager, are professional dog trainers, so we are very aware of dog behavior and body language and can make sure dogs are happy and getting along with each other.
Does your dog steal things, such as shoes and socks — and then force you to chase her around to get them back?
Many owners are faced with this problem, which can start as a silly game and result in the dog becoming aggressive about giving things up. Nip your dog’s kleptomania in the bud before it turns into an aggression problem!
A dog that chews on your couch while you’re not home is not a thief. In this article, we are talking about dogs that steal things in front of you and then run away. For most of these dogs, the “thievery” is an attempt to get your attention, as opposed to a real desire to chew on the object.
Your first line of defense is to ignore them when they have stolen something. Many dogs will drop an object and leave it alone once they realize you aren’t going to chase them. Even if you are sure your dog is going to chew something up, try to ignore him for at least 30 seconds after he’s stolen it and see how he reacts. Also, if the object is something of no value, such as an old gym sock, it is better to let him have it than to continue playing the chasing game.
Many trainers teach you to trade a treat for the object, or tell your dog to “drop it” and then give them a treat. In the context of stealing, however, trading for a treat will only prolong the game for life. Remember that your dog wants attention andor food, so she will certainly continue to grab things if she knows it will get her a treat.
The best way to break the cycle forever is to commit to three weeks of having the house bare of anything to steal. This is hard, especially if you have kids, but it will be worth it in the end. If there is nothing around except dog toys and there are several weeks in which you never have to chase around/yell at your dog, he will forget about the game and move on to another activity.
Crating your dog and keeping him supervised constantly will also prevent stealing.
Teach your dog to engage in nice behaviors in order to get your attention, such as sitting, lying down or going in the crate. Set her up for success by removing the possibility of stealing objects, and you will enjoy a peaceful relationship for years to come.
Many adult dogs have phobias about loud noises, such as thunder and fireworks. This is mainly the result of not being exposed to the noises during their critical period of learning, two to 14 weeks of age. If your dog already has a noise phobia, or you would like to prevent him from developing the phobia, there are steps you can take — and 4th of July celebrations are less than a month away.
Exposure to Stimuli
Puppies need to be exposed to stimuli as soon as possible. When puppies (and humans) are born, their brains are not fully developed. As a puppy’s brain develops and connections are being formed, she must experience a variety of sights, smells and sounds in order for the maximum number of connections to form.
If a puppy never hears a firecracker or similar noise when she is young, she will not develop a connection in her brain that will enable her to process the sound when she hears it as an adult. This can lead to adverse reactions such as urinating, vomiting, intense fear or aggression.
Introducing a Dog to a Loud Sound
The proper way to introduce or desensitize a dog to a loud sound is gradually.
- Do not force the dog into a “scary” encounter with the noise or stimulus. If done properly, your dog should never feel agitated or frightened during the training.
- Start with a very quiet version of the sound. You can actually buy sound files of thunder, fireworks and gunshots.
- Make sure your dog is having a good time while listening to the sound by feeding him treats, playing with a favorite toy or giving him a belly rub.
- Gradually increase the volume (or your proximity to the sound); always being sure that your dog is relaxed.
- If your dog shows any signs of nervousness (ears back, wide eyes, panting, licking the lips, tail tucked between the legs) lower the volume or end the session.
- One moment of panic can derail all of your work, so be sure to proceed very slowly and only increase the volume if your dog appears to be relaxed.
Many dogs escape from their homes and go missing during thunderstorms or fireworks. Take the necessary steps to ensure that your dog is safe and happy during summer storms and festivities.
It is 8 am and you are dropping your dog off at doggie daycare for the day. You are feeling very guilty because you know you’ll be working late and won’t be back to pick up the dog for 12 hours.
In the car on the way to daycare, you tell your dog how sorry you are and assure him that he will have a great time. Once you get there, you give him a hug and tell him goodbye as you hand him to the daycare staff. He looks back at you longingly and tries to pull himself back to you. You say goodbye a few more times and reluctantly leave.
Does this sound familiar? Most people go through this tearful routine with their dog every day, whether they are leaving their dog at home or taking her to daycare. At the end of the day when they get home from work, there is a joyful reunion between dog and human.
Goodbyes and Reunions Cause Anxiety for Dog
In reality, these tearful goodbyes and happy reunions are not helpful to dogs, and actually make dogs feel anxious and worried. In human social interactions, it is quite rude to leave without saying goodbye or enter without saying hello, and humans quite naturally follow these social conventions with their dogs. However, in canine social interactions, dramatic arrivals and departures indicate that something is wrong.
When you say goodbye to your dog, what your dog understands is “This is a serious situation. I need to say goodbye in case I don’t come back.” Similarly, when you have an ecstatic greeting ritual upon arrival, you are telling your dog “Thank goodness I made it home. I was really worried that I would never see you again.”
The more emotional you are during arrivals and departures, the more worried your dog will become. The best thing to do when leaving your dog is to simply walk out the door without speaking or making eye contact. When you return home, try to ignore your dog for two minutes and wait until she calms down before greeting her calmly.
Use a Low-Key Approach
This may make you feel uncomfortable and rude, but it is actually making your dog feel much more relaxed. Low-key arrivals and departures tell your dog “This is no big deal. I’ll be back so soon that there is really no point in saying goodbye.”
It is natural to feel guilty about leaving your dog for the day, but try to remember that your job is to keep your dog calm and relaxed. Dogs don’t understand our language, but they seem to equate a lot of chatter and emotion with a potentially distressing situation. The less you say to your dog during arrivals and departures, the better.
From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.
We’ve all heard the stories of dogs that find their way home after being separated from their owners. Now Borderstan has it’s own variation on the theme, but with a twist.
On April 30, Joey, a resident Chihuahua, went out for an afternoon walk with his dog walker. According to the MPD, the dog walker was then the victim of a robbery near the intersection of 11th and V Streets NW — she was not assaulted though she did fall and hit her head.
During the course of this robbery, Joey managed to slip out of his collar and run away from the scene. This was at 4:12 pm.
At 4:27 pm, just 15 minutes later, Rachel Jones, the owner and head trainer at K-9 Divine (and also a Borderstan contributor), happened to look out her window to see Joey at her doorstep. Joey and his owner are clients of K-9 Divine. Moreover, K-9 Divine is not conveniently located just a block or two away from the scene of the crime. It’s all the way over at 11th Street NW and several blocks south — a full nine blocks away from where the robbery happened.
For Joey to have run that distance in such a short period of time, he must have known where he was going and wasn’t confused or lost. Amazingly, Joey has barely ever been walked from his home to K-9 Divine; he usually travels stylishly by car. He has seen the route from a passing window but nobody would have imagined he knew how to get there on his own. And yet, his survival instinct kicked in during the robbery and led him to what he knew would be a safe place, even at such a distance.
This isn’t a skill you’re necessarily going to want to test out with your dog, but it is an interesting look at the intelligence of dogs. At the same time, let’s all be sure to keep the collars securely fastened on our canine companions.
As we head into summer, it is important to make sure your dog stays cool. Heat stroke can occur after only 5 minutes of exposure to hot temperatures and can be fatal. Here are some ideas for keeping cool in the heat:
- Take your dog swimming. Two options for off leash dog swimming in the area are Shirlington Dog Park in Arlington, Va., and Downs Memorial Dog Park Beach in Pasadena, Md.
- Buy a kiddie pool for your patio or backyard. Even if you have a small patio, your dog will love splashing around in a kiddie pool.
- Make doggie “popsicles.” Freeze chicken or beef broth in an ice cube tray and give them to your dog as a cool treat.
Signs of Heat Stroke
Limit your dog’s outdoor time during peak sun and never leave him in a hot car. If you are worried about them being bored, add some training or stimulating toys to make up for the shorter walks in summer. Signs of heat stroke include heavy panting, difficulty breathing, bright red gums and unsteadiness.
If you see these symptoms, try to immediately cool your dog by placing her in a tub of cool water (not freezing) or using a cold cloth to cool her feet and groin area. If symptoms persist, go to the vet right away.
Summers in DC can be brutal for everyone. Make sure your dog is comfortable and happy this summer!
The beagle is one of the most common breeds found in our local private rescue organizations.
This is because local rescues get dogs from West Virginia, Virginia and the Carolinas, which tend to be hunting or herding breeds.
City dwellers think that the beagle is the perfect size for an apartment. It is important to know what you are getting into before choosing any breed of dog.
Beagles are hunting dogs. They have been bred for hundreds of years to chase foxes and other small animals. This is work they do independently from humans. This means that they are not naturally inclined to take direction from humans or be “team players.”
So expect them to be lower on the trainability scale than breeds that do work together with people, like retrievers or herding dogs. This doesn’t mean they are not intelligent, just that it will take more time and patience to train them. Beagles are also not very reliable off the leash, as they tend to follow their noses and get lost.
Beagles are very sweet tempered and love affection and company. They are good with children and other dogs. Beagles that are raised as hunting dogs live in huge packs in kennels. When they get rescued and brought to the city, they can have a hard time being alone while owners are at work.
Beagles have a very loud bark, and if they feel anxious and express it vocally, it can mean tension with neighbors. Before choosing to adopt a beagle, make sure you have understanding neighbors and a training program in place. As a trainer, 95% of the separation anxiety cases I see are beagles, and all of them are in apartments.
If you are willing to devote some extra time to training and your neighbors can tolerate some noise, a beagle can be a wonderful addition to your family.
It is never too early or too late to begin training your dog. Dogs can learn throughout their entire lives.
The important decision is not whether to train, but what and how to train your dog depending on his age.
Puppy’s Critical Learning Period
A puppy’s critical period of learning is from two to 14 weeks of age. This is the period in which the puppy’s brain is at its peak for learning and absorbing new stimuli. It is very important that a puppy be exposed to as much as possible during this period.
If a puppy does not see something during this time, they may develop a fear of it when they are adults. That is why dogs have “irrational” fears of UPS trucks, umbrellas or certain types of people. When you get a new puppy it is at least eight to nine weeks old, so you have already missed half of the critical period.
A good breeder will have made use of the first eight weeks of the critical period, exposing the puppy to people, dogs, sights and sounds. Beware of a breeder who keeps the puppies isolated in a small kennel.
Your dog can learn basic obedience such as sit, heel and stay at any age, but she has a limited time in which to become socialized, so get her out as soon as possible! If you can expose her to lots of people, animals and different environments you will save her from developing behavior problems as an adult.
More Advanced Commands at Five Months
Dogs can learn easy obedience commands like sit, down and come right away. Advanced commands like stay and heel require a longer attention span and should be left until the dog is at least five months old. Dogs learn best in short, productive sessions of two to five minutes.
The longer you push the training session, the more frustrated you and your dog will become. It is better to do five successful five-minute sessions per day than one 25-minute session.
Training Older Dogs
Older dogs can learn obedience just as easily as puppies, unless they are very ill. The difficulty with older dogs is trying to undo bad behaviors such as barking, jumping or biting that they have been getting away with for years. Dogs learn only by repetition, and the more repetitions they have, the more ingrained the behavior becomes.
Therefore, if your dog has 5,000 repetitions of barking at strangers, a trainer will not be able to reverse that behavior in a day. Your dog will need to have 5,000 repetitions of not barking before he is “cured.”
Don’t let your dog’s age stand in the way of training. There is always positive work that your dog can do, whether he is two months or 15-years-old.
Jumping up is a very common complaint from dog owners. A jumping dog can be anywhere from mildly irritating to quite dangerous, depending on its size. It is very important to stop your dog from jumping for both practical and behavioral reasons.
In any canine society, pawing, jumping and shoving are considered rude and pushy behaviors. All dogs are born knowing that only the alpha of the pack should be able to get away with physical solicitations like jumping and pawing.
When your dog jumps or paws at you, he knows he is being rude and that he is doing something he should not be getting away with. He also knows that he is not the alpha in your household because he can’t obtain food and shelter for you.
Therefore, when he jumps on you and gets away with it, he doesn’t feel as though he’s climbing the social ladder in your family. What he does feel is confused and anxious. Dogs crave an established social hierarchy to follow and when they get mixed signals about the social order, they become anxious.
Training Your Dog
How do you stop your dog from jumping? If she is not reinforced in any way she will stop. This means no petting, shoving, talking or scolding when the dog jumps. A dog that jumps is seeking attention, and he doesn’t care whether the attention he receives is positive or negative. That’s why scolding, swatting or kneeing in the chest doesn’t work.
When the dog jumps, simply push her off with your body (hips, shoulders, legs), NOT your hands, and then ignore her until she offers you a nice behavior like going away or sitting. Once she is engaging in the non-jumping behavior, praise her and shower her with attention. If you are very consistent with this, your dog will catch on to the fact that she gets nothing from jumping and she’ll stop.
Everyone feels that it is unacceptable to have a 150-pound dog jumping on people. However, from a behavioral standpoint, it is just as problematic for a 2 pound dog to jump. All dogs will feel relieved when they are not allowed to get away with jumping or pawing. If you eliminate jumping, you will notice a pleasant change in your dog’s behavior overall. He will become less anxious and will spend more time lying down and relaxing.
Barking is one of the most frustrating behavior problems that dog owners experience. It can be very difficult, if not impossible, to silence a barking dog. It is also embarrassing and problematic to have a noisy dog in an apartment building or on a busy street.
The best way to deal with an overly vocal dog is to first examine the cause of the barking and try to eliminate it. Dogs bark for a variety of reasons and each one has its own solution.
Why is Your Dog Barking?
- Fear: Many dogs vocalize when they are fearful or nervous. This is especially true for toy breeds. The dog is sleeping quietly and then the doorbell rings, immediately sending the dog into a frenzy. She may continue to bark the entire time the visitor is in the house.
- Scolding or punishing her for barking is not only ineffective, it probably increases her nervousness. The solution to fear-related barking is to eliminate or reduce the dog’s level of anxiety through training and desensitization exercises.
- Frustration: A dog that is frustrated may resort to barking when he can’t find a solution to his problem. Solution: examine the source of the frustration. Does he have a legitimate reason to be frustrated? No dog should be tied up or closely confined for long periods of time. Similarly, a reactive dog should not be allowed to stare out the window and bark at everyone who passes. He is not enjoying himself! A relaxed dog would be sleeping in a corner, ignoring the window. Find a quiet, windowless spot for your reactive dog.
- Attention-seeking: Some sources of doggie frustration are not legitimate. Your dog should not feel the need to bark at you when you are eating dinner or engaged in an activity that does not involve her. Don’t give in to a dog that vocalizes to get attention. She needs to learn to wait patiently until you are ready to interact with her. The only way to eliminate this type of barking is to ignore it completely.
- Breed-specific barking: Always research your breed before you get a dog! Some dogs, such as Lhasa Apsos and Chihuahuas, have been bred for centuries to bark at the slightest noise. They may not make good apartment dogs for this reason. Small-breed dogs, hounds and herding dogs tend to be barkers. Training is not very effective against years of genetic selection for barking.
The best solution to problem barking is to attack the reason behind the barking instead of the barking itself. Eliminating the source of the problem will result in long-term success and a much happier dog.
Every dog owner teaches his or her dog to sit. But can your dog sit when it counts: in the elevator, or when greeting children or other dogs? A dog that can sit in every possible context is better trained than a dog that has an incomplete mastery of 20 different tricks.
Borderstan is filled with people and dogs. Having a dog that is too friendly or hostile can be a public relations nightmare.
Neighbors are not amused when your nice Golden Retriever jumps on them in the elevator. Conversely, people are very impressed when your dog calmly sits in crowded areas. If you have limited time to train your dog, focus on getting him to do this one command very well.
To start, hold a treat on your dog’s nose and move it slightly over her head. Give her the treat when her butt hits the ground. Do this a few times in a row. Once you feel that you can reliably get her to sit, add the command. Say, “sit” and then lead her into a sit with the treat.
After practicing for a few days, try it without leading her with the treat. Once she can do it in the house, take it outside and practice in busy areas. Although it is very easy to teach your dog to sit in the house, you may need to practice for weeks or months to make the command reliable around distractions.
If your dog is sitting, he is not: jumping, lunging, biting or chewing. Make a list of your dog’s undesirable behaviors and train him to sit in those contexts. You will be amazed how impressed people are at your dog’s good behavior!
Living with multiple dogs can be both rewarding and challenging. Here are some suggestions to make your multi-dog household run as smoothly as possible.
When making a decision to get a second dog, make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. If your first dog has a behavior problem, the addition of a second dog will not make it go away. In other words, get a second dog because you want one, not because you think your dog wants a friend. Try to work on your first dog’s issues before the arrival of the second dog.
It is also very important to choose the right second dog for your household. Generally, it is best to get a dog of the opposite sex and one that is not the same age as your first dog.
Dogs that have too much in common tend to fight more, as they see each other as competition. If you are getting a dog from a rescue group or shelter, bring your first dog along to make sure they like each other before you bring the new dog home.
Once you have all the dogs at home, set them up for success to minimize fighting. All dogs need some space from each other, even if they are best friends. Make sure you separate the dogs at some point during the day so they can have a break. That might be a good time to spend quality time with each dog by cuddling, grooming or training while the other one is elsewhere.
Feed the dogs separately or at least on opposite sides of the room and supervise them during meals. Even if they are not fighting over the food, one might be eating the other’s share. You don’t want either dog to feel anxious about mealtimes, or to go hungry while the other one gets fat.
Lastly, the dogs have their own social system in the house. It is normal to have some squabbles and some attempts to establish dominance. Let them work it out unless they are making each other bleed. If they are fighting to a degree where one or both dogs are getting injured, keep them separated until you can work with a trainer to resolve the issues.
Dogs enjoy the companionship of other canine friends in the house. Careful planning and management can ensure a peaceful and happy group at home.
I learned very early in my dog training career that not all dogs would eat dog treats, and I was forced to explore alternatives. After a while, I stopped using them altogether. By using a mixture of your dog’s own kibble and human food, you can provide a healthier, cheaper and more exciting array of “treats” for your dog.
Many people are told to never feed human food to their dogs. While it is true that you should never feed dogs from the table, there is no reason why dogs can’t get plain meat and vegetables as training treats.
After all, plain meat such as chicken is much healthier than a “chicken flavored” dog treat. It is also much less expensive. Dogs will be better students if they are highly motivated by the food you use as a reward.
If your dog gobbles down his kibble and needs to watch his weight, consider feeding him a part of his meals through training or in a toy instead of a bowl. This will slow down his eating and ensure that he is not getting too many treats every day. Some other low-calorie treat alternatives are Cheerios, carrots or apples. If you don’t relish carrying around veggies or meat in your pocket, consider buying a food dehydrator. They retail for about $60 and can turn any food into handy dried snacks.
For dogs that are picky eaters or whose anxiety makes them indifferent to treats, choose the smelliest meats and cheeses for treats. Meat from a can, such as SPAM, nearly always works, even with dogs who are said to be “not food motivated.” Stinky cheese such as Pecorino and sharp cheddar is usually a good choice as well. These foods are too rich to use as treats for a long period of time, but can be very useful to solve a frustrating training issue in the short term.
Whether your goal is to get your dog to slim down or increase her interest in training, it never hurts to get creative and explore new foods to use as treats.
The Pit Bull is probably the most controversial breed of dog at present. Several states and countries have enacted legislation against the breed, believing that it is inherently dangerous.
The animal rights community believes that breed discrimination is wrong. Any breed of dog can become gentle or dangerous according to the genetic selection and training of the breeders and handlers.
Pit Bull Terriers were originally created for “sports” such as bull baiting, ratting and dog fighting. They can be very formidable fighters against other animals. The breed was also created to be incredibly docile with humans and wonderful with children.
During the 1950’s the Pit Bull Terrier was dubbed the “Nanny Dog” because they were so gentle and watchful over children. In fact, one of the reasons that Pit Bulls are predominantly used for dog fighting is that they are really the only breed that will tolerate the abuse and rough handling of the humans who engage in dog fighting.
Almost all Pit Bulls are wonderful family pets and are easy to train and gentle with humans. Because they have been historically bred for fighting with other animals, they aren’t great candidates for dog parks or households with cats. Pit Bull owners need to be aware of the high energy level and extreme athleticism of their dogs and provide them with good training and sufficient exercise.
Just as with people, dogs are individuals and need to be judged on their own specific temperaments. Pit Bulls that have been bred and trained for fighting can certainly be dangerous, but the majority of them are sweet and loving family members.
From Rachel Jones. Email her at rjones[AT]borderstan.com. She is she is the owner of K-9 Divine and a professional dog trainer,
No matter how much you feed your dog, she always wants more, especially when you are eating. All dog owners have received desperate pleadings for food at the dinner table. Is begging a necessary doggie ritual? Absolutely not!
The first thing to remember is that dogs are domesticated wolves. Their DNA is still nearly identical to that of wolves. In the wild, food is hard to come by. Wild canids sometimes go for many days without eating, and they must learn to bear hunger patiently.
Pet dogs possess the same level of patience. Unfortunately, most pet dogs do not learn to be patient; by always getting what they want, they develop intolerance for frustration that manifests itself in obnoxious behaviors like barking, whining and jumping.
When a wolf is in between meals, he cannot afford to waste precious calories on unnecessary activities. Therefore, when not actually hunting, wolves try to stay as still as possible. Domestic dogs have the same programming:
They will not engage in behaviors that get them nothing. This is the most important fact to know about your dog. If you do not reinforce your dog for begging, he will stop! Not reinforcing behavior means not paying any attention to the dog when she is engaging in the behavior. Attention can be positive or negative. In order to completely ignore your dog when she is begging, you must avoid all eye contact, talking, yelling, touching or correcting.
In or Out of the Room During Your Mealtimes?
How do you ignore your dog during mealtimes? First, your dog does not always need to be in the room with you when you are cooking or eating. If you have a puppy, put him in his crate or in another room during dinner. This will prevent him from being able to engage in begging at all.
If you want to have your dog in the room while you are eating, you must be prepared to ignore barking, whining, staring or jumping. It will take your dog several weeks to catch on to the fact that he is getting nothing from begging, so you must consistently ignore him every time, no matter how annoying the behavior gets. If you feel yourself losing your temper, it is always better to quietly move your dog to another room than to yell or correct the dog. Punishment is just another form of attention.
Remember that a well-fed dog has no reason to beg for food. If she is doing so, it is because you are reinforcing the behavior in some way. Eliminate the reinforcement and you will eliminate the begging.