Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hounds for the Holidays! Keep Rover Safe!

Holiday times can be joyful or a source of stress for all of us, and that goes for your dogs, too! With some advanced planning and a little training, you can make things more festive and fun for Fido and less stressful for you!

Things to Keep in Mind Throughout the Holiday Seasons
Dogs can be very sensitive to changes in their environment and routines. When family members take time off from work and school, house guests come to stay, or other visitors roll through the home in droves, you need to try to preserve a few of your dog’s routines, such as regular meal schedules and walks, exercise or play sessions.

If there’s considerably more activity than usual, plan some quiet times for your dog as well. The added stress and excitement of holiday festivities can increase your dog’s thirst too, so make sure your dog has plenty of fresh water to drink.

If your dog is the excitable or anxious type, he might benefit from an over-the-counter remedy, such as Rescue Remedy, to help keep him calm down and relax. Ask your veterinarian about his or her recommendations as well as how much you should use and how often. Comfort Zone DAP (Dog Appeasing Pheromone) can also help maintain your dog’s calm demeanor. DAP mimics the effects of a pheromone emitted by nursing female dogs, thought to calm the puppies. It can be delivered through a wall diffuser (similar to an air-freshener plug-in), a special collar impregnated with the substance, or can be directly sprayed on bedding or a bandana worn by your dog.

Holiday D├ęcor: Dog Safety Issues
Holiday trappings help to maintain the merry mood but can be fraught with dangers for your dog. Here are some things to watch out for:

  • Christmas Trees

  • Tinsel, popcorn strands, and other garland-like decorations can cause serious internal injuries if ingested, and these are just the kinds of things that curious dogs can’t resist.

  • The ribbons, string, and other wrapping accessories found on gifts can be very problematic as well. These can lead to choking or strangulation for a curious pup.

  • Water at the base of natural trees can contain anti-freeze and other preservatives that are deadly to your dog.

  • All Christmas trees should be firmly anchored to the wall or ceiling to prevent it from being toppled by an inquisitive pooch.

  • If you can’t avoid all these things, try encircling your Christmas tree and gift display with an exercise pen to keep your dog away but still allowing you to enjoy your holiday cheer.

  • Electrical Cords

  • Make sure these cords are well-secured, so your dog doesn’t make a chew toy out of them. Consider using cord containers or running them through PVC to avoid having your dog chew on them when you cannot supervise it.

  • Snow Globes
    While many are still made of glass, others can be found in chewable plastic with plastic bases. Chewed plastic shards from broken globes can be life-threatening. Many globes also add an anti-freeze-like substance to the water inside to slow the movement of the snow inside, so a double danger!

  • Scented candles
    Candles can be attractive because of their smell, taste and texture. Make sure they are perched on high shelves out of Rover’s reach! Never leave a lit candle unsupervised as they are easily knocked over and quickly become a fire hazard.
Who’s at the Door?
No where does the average family dog get into so much trouble as at the front door! Inappropriate greeting behaviors, door-dashing, and just over-the-top excitement can make the front door a source of stress for everyone during the holidays. Here are some ideas for making the doorway a safer place:

Train polite greeting behaviors
Practice! Heavily reinforce ‘sits’ and ignore jumping up. Turning your back on a jumper can work very well too. For added control, tether your dog to a heavy stationary object to prevent him from following you or jumping on your back as you turn away. Practice with lots of different people and practice in your doorway area to make sure your dog knows it where he’ll need it! You can also teach your dog to wait behind a boundary line away from the door entryway or teach him to go to a particular place, like a dog bed, while guests enter the home.

A safe place
If you haven’t had time to train for all the comings and goings at the door, it’s always good practice to have your dog crated, securely fastened on a tether, or on a leash while guests are arriving or departing.

Taming the Mob
Entertaining guests can make the holidays merry, but it’s important to remember how visitors can be stressful for our dogs.

Avoid visiting pets
Unless your dog is already great friends with your visitor’s pets, it’s a good idea to suggest your guests leave their pets at home. Having multiple animals in the home presents management challenges you may not be prepared to handle amidst all the other distractions you’ll be facing.

Keep snacking to a minimum
Make sure your guests know not to feed your dog from the table. Lots of fatty tidbits handed out by well-meaning visitors can also lead to a dangerous bout of pancreatitis or intestinal upset. If your friends can’t help but offer your dog a treat (who can resist!), have a portioned supply of his special treats or even his kibble on hand that guests can use instead.

Clear the area!
Keep a watchful eye for plates and cocktails left at dog level. Since good intentions are prone to fail with so much going on, consider confining your dog to his crate or another room while your guests are bustling about (make sure he has something wonderful to do while he’s there) just to make sure he doesn’t get into trouble.

Dogs and kids don’t always mix!
Holiday gatherings can be very over-stimulating for dogs and kids alike, so never leave the dog alone with any little people, even his own kids. Interactions between the dog and kids should be strictly supervised by an adult who’s dog-savvy enough to know when your dog needs a break.
Finally, if your dog is prone to fearfulness, anxiety or over-excitement when company is around, his crate or private place is best to keep him calm and safe.

Train In Advance!
Great manners are always made, not born, and it can be fun to work with your dog on the life skills he’ll need to be the life of the party. Here are a few things you’ll want to incorporate into your training plan:

“Sit and wait” or “down and wait”
Great skills for your dog to learn! Taught positively, these exercises help your dog relax and enjoy his calm and relaxed participation in a family gathering. They can also prevent unruly door greetings and eliminate door-dashing.

“Place” or “go to bed”
This cue basically involves teaching the dog to proceed to a specified place and wait there for further instructions. Use this one to keep him away from the food table during meal times, which prevents begging and discourages guests from passing your pooch tidbits under the table.

“Leave it”
An invaluable tool for any dog owner and can help head off a dog who’s aiming for a gift basket, dropped food item, or just about anything else. Trained positively, your dog will gladly disengage from just about anything you’ve assigned a “leave it” to.

Counter-surfing counter-measures
Already confirmed counter-surfers should be confined away from the action, since the high temptation, high distraction environment of a holiday party will be more than they can bear! But if your dog still hasn’t scored off the counter yet, using “leave it” training will go a long way to helping your dog understand that counter-surfing doesn’t pay!

Bring on the noise!
Many holiday celebrations include noisy displays such as fireworks that can drive your dog batty. Start preparing in advance by playing fireworks sound effect recordings on your home stereo. Start the volume at a very low, almost imperceptible level until you’re sure that your dog is comfortable; then crank up the volume half a click. Continue progressing at that rate until bombs bursting in air are no big deal for your dog. If you have a dog who’s already acutely sound-sensitive, find a good trainer or behavior consultant with experience in this area to help you get ready.

DAP with Comfort Zone
Rescue Remedy
ASPCA Animal Control Poison Center 1-888-4-ANI-HELP
Premier’s Manners Minder

Friday, December 9, 2011

OUR CLASSES! Training Group Classes

Training Bothe Ends of the Leash for over 25 years!

All of our classes are limited to 6-10 students. Theses small classes provide for individualized attention. Many classes are offered more than one day per week, allowing clients to attend one or both for the same fee. It's like two classes for the price of one. All classes are taught using only positive methods, including shaping and clicker (if owner perfers) training.

Our classes cater to your own personal needs and goals.

All classes listed below are also available in Private Lessons either at your home or at our training center.

All are offered on a rolling admission/open enrollment...allowing you to begin NOW! (pre-registration needed)

The class below are always available...they are offered year round, (excempt Agility)!


Manners 101
This 8-class provides the foundation, the building blocks for a great realationship! You and you pup learn all the basic skills needed. Sit, down, come, stay, walk politley on a leash, polite greeting of people and other dogs, and so MUCH MORE!

Ideal for puppies, young dogs, just recued/adopted dogs, all ages!

Meets: Tues and Sat.

Therapy Dog Class
This 12-week class focuses on preparing the handler and dog for any therapy environment. This class is ideal for both the novice and experienced handler.

Meets: Weds and Sat

Agility for Beginner and Intermediate
This 10-week class will allow you to explore the fastest growing dog sport. Learn skills with sequencing obstacles and the footwork needed to be successful in the sport of agility.

Meets: Warm weather months....

Trick, Targets and Games Oh My!
This on-going class will cover tricks such as roll over, play dead, wipe your nose and yes, READ . . and so much more.

Meets: Fri

Graduate Handling and Training
This 6-month class focuses on advanced skill building and using ultimate distractions while maintaining focus, advanced social skills--- all off leash! and so much more.

Meets: Sun

Off-Leash Extravaganza
This 10-week class is truly an off-leash class. It provides all the skills needed for off-leash handling and control.

Meets: Sun

Problem Solving Classes and Lessons
Maybe your dog is jumping on everyone or growling, begging, not coming when called, or acting aggressively toward other dogs or people. We help you find the needed solutions to these common issues that dog families face.

Meets: Customized to your schedule

New classes, including Scent Workshops, Frisbee, etc. starting all the time. Call for more information. 413-559-7011

Other Services
Overnight Care ~ Nail Trimming ~ Visit our Shoppe ~ Private Lessons
Board and Training ~ Residential Education
Workshops ~ Seminars
Leading the Way offers doggie daycare and all types of training, including private, group classes and a residential training program. Behavior assessment and modification is done using ONLY positive methods focused on shaping behavior.

We have over 25 years of professional experience, dedicated to enhancing the relationship of both ends of the leash, through knowledge, compassion, and building long term relationships with our clients, both two and four legged.