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.
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!
From Cara Scharf. Email her at cara[AT]borderstan.com.
On most Saturdays, you can find me at the S Street Dog Park. It sounds normal until you learn that I don’t have a dog. I’m a self-professed “dog-park stalker,” one of those people who stands outside the fence, staring longingly at other people’s dogs because I’m not lucky (read, stable) enough to have my own.
Who You’ll Find at the Dog Park
In all my ogling, I’ve noticed that there are a couple of dog and owner archetypes that inhabit the dog park. Here are a few:
- The helicopter owners: Watch out, Fido. These people are not leaving you alone for a second. Find a neat stick? Prepare to be scolded. Want to run with the other dogs? Good luck making it three feet before you’re called back. The helicopter owners rarely socialize with other humans, unless it’s to shake their head in commiseration about bad behavior.
- The social butterfly owners: These owners know everyone else’s name and business. As soon as they arrive, they’re exchanging greetings and asking how your party went last night. This often results in the owners ignoring their dog’s bowel movement or “excessive barking” (which, according to a stern sign, is prohibited).
- The old dog who can’t be bothered: Take a cue from the white hairs on this dog’s muzzle — he or she is not down with the running around and general merriment of the dog park. You’ll find this dog sitting under a bench out of the sun, but you’ll find its owner in the middle of a snarling pack of canines, desperately encouraging socialization.
- The runner dog: The gate of the dog park is hardly closed and this dog is already off, running circles around the pee-drenched grass with several other dogs hotly on his tail. He can also take the form of an instigator, the one who doesn’t mind getting in a scuffle or showing some tooth to prove his dominance. Owners might be too absorbed in their cell phones to notice this behavior, or they’re just not sure what to do about it.
- The little butt-sniffer and the big-butt sniffee who could care less: Self-explanatory… though I should clarify that these are dogs and not humans.
Where do you and your dog fit, or are you a stalker like me?
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.
From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at [email protected].
Borderstan, some of you may have seen scenes like this and I’m not sure where you come down on them, but I’m declaring my displeasure.
I am usually fine with the sight of dogs tied up outside various neighborhood establishments, as it normally involves a 5- to 10-minute foray into the supermarket, pharmacy or flower shop of choice. Fine, you remembered you needed dish soap as you were walking your pet, and combined a quick pop into the store with the rest of the walk. No problem, I hear and understand you.
But do not get me started on the folks who tie their dog up outside a restaurant or bar while they are inside hanging out — inside — with friends, having drinks or even a full-blown meal while their pet is sitting outside, tied to a railing or tree box. My latest such sighting came as I was walking a friend’s dog at night and we turned the corner onto Church Street NW.
My dog was sniffing along and suddenly we heard a pitiful whine coming from a pet tied up in the next tree box, essentially sitting in all the pee and other traces left by earlier dogs, unable to defend himself if attacked, looking and sounding pretty vulnerable and miserable.
For real?! This particular owner couldn’t take their pet back home before hitting the happy hour or getting to their dinner date?
I imagine that sometimes the daily walks can be a drag or an interruption to our other activities; in certain weather they’re downright uncomfortable. But let’s not forget that dogs living in city apartments or condos, with no yard to run around and relieve themselves in, rely on those walks for an essential function, one they’ve patiently and generously learned to avoid doing around our homes. Let’s at least show them the courtesy and caring not to make those moments outdoors become associated with feeling abandoned, exposed and otherwise humiliated.
Finally, kudos to all those caring dog owners who don’t subject their pets to the behavior described above. You are (thankfully!) the rule.