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Tie a Yellow Ribbon Around The Old Oak Tree…. Or….

around your dog’s leash if he/she is reactive, or needs space, for any reason.   I love this new idea that’s sweeping around the block these days!

Three of our six dogs have some issues with reactivity.   One is an itty bitty boy (Max) that has had a serious fear of men and strangers since we adopted him.  He came to us with these issues and though we’ve worked with him over the years, we finally had to accept the fact that he’s always going to react negatively to men and people he’s not sure of and it’s up to us to simply protect him and the people he fears most.

Then we got an Australian Shepherd (Raider) from a breeder who had tossed him out into her yard and ignored him completely, outside of giving him the extreme basics of food and water.  He “made the mistake” of having too much white on his ears to be sold as a show dog…  seriously.  *sigh * He was terrified of everything due to six months of being completely ignored!  And I do mean everything.  Everything was a struggle with him, but with training and lots of love he’s a different dog than the one we originally picked up.  However, he has issues with dogs, on leash, that he meets away from home and will growl and snap if they come too close too quickly.  If he’s given some time and they’re not super energetic, then he can accept them.  At home, where he’s comfortable, he’s fine meeting new friends.  He also has had issues with the people at vet’s offices.  It’s a scary place to him!  Once they’re done with his vaccinations, or whatever they’re doing, then he’s fine, but until then and during the exam, I prefer him to be muzzled.  It’s taken a lot of working with him to get him to be okay with them after they’re done with “the scary stuff”, and we’re happy with that – if he can’t ever be un-muzzled during the exam, then we accept him that way.  We also have to watch him around strangers if we’re out at a park or someplace else.  It doesn’t take too much to scare him or make him feel the need to protect us, so we’re always watchful of who and what is around us.  When I take him to work with me, he’s perfectly fine with the people he meets because that’s always been fun for him, but meeting new dogs there is a different story.  Once he’s met them at home, he remembers them when he sees them out and is fine.

Last, but not one bit the least… is our Great Dane, Streifen.  You may have read about him… ha ha 🙂    Sadly, he’s the more sensitive sort of Great Dane and developed some intense fears of strangers pretty young.  Small children are particularly scary to him.   Taking him to work with me where he was around large amounts of people turned out to not be a  good way to socialize him due to his sensitivities.  Too many people in the general public are scared of the giant breeds of dogs, we discovered the hard way.  It won’t always stop them from wanting to approach them either… nope… they’ll approach and ask to pet them and then scream bloody murder in your dogs face, out of the blue…  Yes, they sure will.  Why?  I haven’t a clue, but they do that.  They’ll also let their terrified child scream in your dog’s face when you least expect it and laugh…. Laugh at their child’s terror and the terror your dog feels.  Crazy – yet true.  Streifen was my first Great Dane and I had ZERO idea that they were quite this sensitive/nervous of new situations.  Once I caught on to the fact that he was seriously being scared to the point of it doing damage, I quit taking him to the store I work in.  I kept hoping he’d have more good experiences than bad, but it just wasn’t working out that way.  We often dog sit for people at our house too and it only took one dog meeting to go wrong to do it’s damage in him with meeting new dogs.  He had loved all other dogs until that one bad meeting where a chocolate lab didn’t want to be friends and reacted poorly to him wanting to play.  So now he has issues with new people, small children, and other big dogs.  Made walks with him a bit difficult at best.  So, I decided to walk him only in places where I could control the distance of other people and their dogs so he could still get his exercise and yet not suffer the results of up close meetings.

Having a “yellow ribbon” tied to his leash to warn others to not approach could be a wonderful thing for him – for all three of my fearful/reactive dogs.   I would seriously like to see this information get passed around so that everyone, even people that don’t own dogs, will know what a yellow ribbon means.  It could make a huge difference to the people and their beloved pets that have issues (of any type) or that are learning to be service dogs.  Education is the key!

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I agree completely with Jessica Dolce when she says, “DINOS are GOOD dogs, they just need space!”  

DINOS: Dogs in Need of Space

The Yellow Dog Project – Some Dogs Need Space! 

The Great Dane ♥

554435_328354013905069_104144246326048_812289_707331022_nAs you may have already guessed the Great Dane is one of my favorite breeds of dog.  I would even go so far as to say that they are my number one most favored breed!   I’m not 100% sure of exactly why they’re my favorite mainly because there are so many reason to love them.  It’s hard to pick any one single reason.  Maybe it has to do with the silly fact that Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon as a child? Who knows?!  Whatever the reason, I just adore them!  So comical, goofy, loving, loyal, fierce when necessary, grand, and regal all wrapped up into a single very large canine.

After I fell in love with the breed, and we decided to get one ourselves, I started researching and learning about them. In doing so I, discovered that though they’re most often called a Great Dane here in America,  there’s absolutely nothing Danish about them.  They’re believed to have originally come from Germany and are thought to be a cross between an English Mastiff and an Irish Wolfhound, though dogs that closely resemble the Great Dane have been seen on Egyptian momuments dating as far back as 3,000 BC.  The French naturalist, Compte de Buffon, gave them the name “Great Dane” after he first saw them back in the 1700’s while traveling in Denmark.  The name was apparently popular to the English since it stuck, though the Germans still preferred to call them Deutsche Doggen.

Great Danes come in many various colors, but only six are considered “show acceptable”.  Fawn, Brindle, Blue, Black, Harlequin, and Mantle are all acceptable colors at dog shows.  Blue Merle, Fawniquin, Merlequin, Merle, White,  and Fawn Mantle are a few of the unacceptable colors – unacceptable in dog shows at least.  My sweet fella, Streifen, is one of the Blue Merles and we love him regardless of the fact that his color isn’t accepted by the AKC.  🙂

Great Danes are often referred to as Gentle Giants because of their usual sweet nature.  However, if not properly socialized, or if they have too many negative experiences when they’re young, they can become overly fearful and that sweet nature will “hide” when around strangers.  It’s been my experience that when you have a Great Dane puppy that’s showing fear of a situation, it’s best to get them where they’re comfortable and allow them to choose when to move closer.  They’re very sensitive and often won’t do well with forcing them a scary situation on them.

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Zeus – Tallest Living Dog record holder as of 2011

The title of Tallest Dog in the World is often given to Great Danes.   Currently, a Great Dane named Zeus is the World’s Tallest dog (as of 2011), measuring in at 44 in from paw to shoulder. When he stands on his back legs, he’s 7’4″ – Can you imagine?!?  And we thought Streifen being able to steal items from the top of our refrigerator was impressive!

Because he held the record when I first fell in love with Great Danes, I feel the need to recognize Giant George in this post too.  Giant George  was officially verified by Guinness World Records on February 15, 2010 as the World’s Tallest Dog.

There are so very many things I love about Great Danes, but there’s one thing I don’t like… bloat.  Also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV).  Bloat is the second leading killer of Great Danes.  Cancer is first.  Bloat can kill a Great Dane within an hour and is extremely painful.  Be sure to learn about Bloat and know who you should take your dog to in the event of an emergency.   If you know me,  you know that I HATE BLOAT.

Even with the risk of heartbreak when you are the parent of a Great Dane, they are more than worth it.  I’ve never had as much fun with, or enjoyed a breed of dog more than I do our Great Danes.  They are the most loving, amazing breed of dog in the world  – at least to us 🙂

Streifen - 2 years old

Streifen – 2 years old

What’s your favorite breed?  I would love to hear about it in the comments section!

His Name is Streifen

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and basically…. He owns us  – his family.  Most people own their dogs, but it’s kinda weird with Streifen. It just seems more appropriate to say he “owns” us.  Because of this little fact, I thought it would be nice to introduce you (my readers) to him early on in the life of this blog.  So here is the story of Streifen and how he came to be such a HUGE part of my (and my family’s) life and take over so completely.

Being a dog trainer, I’m around lots and lots of different breeds of dogs and I fall in love with the majority of them.  One day a lady, her daughter, and their puppy walked into a Puppy Class that I was to teach.  Little did I know,  from that point on, my life and the lives of everyone in my family, would be forever changed – all because of that little blue spotted Great Dane puppy aptly named Sky.

Sky was around 4 months old when they started class with her and boy was she CUTE!  Great Dane puppies are just adorable cause they’re all legs and ears for the longest time.

Sky at four and a half months

Miss Sky when she was around four months old.

People get to know me when they’re in one of my classes and they learn really quick that I truly love dogs and care for them as if they were my own children.  This often leads to me “babysitting” their dogs for them when they want to go on vacation and don’t want their beloved furry child sitting in a crate at a boarding facility or vets office.  And it led to that with Sky, which led to me falling hopelessly in love with both her, and Great Danes in general.   It wasn’t long at all before I KNEW I had to have one!  Had to.  Just. Had. To.

Approximately a year later, Sky’s furry mother and father were bred again and well… yeah – I HAD to have one out of this litter.  Had to. Just. Had. To.

Streifen 3 wk puppy

Daddy and his boy

And so my dear husband agreed and we picked out our boy from the litter when he was a tiny 2 weeks old.  We knew one thing, and that was that we wanted a boy.  When we looked over all the puppies available from the litter we immediately recognized the fact that this little fella had a stripe straight down his nose, just like his big sister, Sky.  That was it.  Love at first sight – for all of us.

We had picked out our gorgeous puppy, but what to name him?  We knew we wanted a German name, since Great Danes are actually German Mastiffs, but we didn’t want a typical German name – like Hitler or something.  Oh no.  And I prefer unique names, when possible…   So the consulting with friends started and the search for the perfect name to give to our brand new baby boy was on!   Back and forth, and on and on, and finally, my best friend found the PERFECT name for him – Streifen!  Pronounced with a long i.  The word Streifen is the German name for stripe – and a stripe is what both he and his gorgeous older sister have straight down their noses.  Maybe it’s just me, but I thought that a more perfect name would be impossible to find.

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8 weeks and growing every day!

And my little baby boy grew…

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Streifen and his big sister, Sky

And he grew some more.  He and his big sis, Sky, loved getting to hang out together when we “babysat” her.

The bigger he became, the stronger the hold he took on all of our hearts.

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First Birthday!

And yes, we did have a real birthday party for him, complete with a cake, presents, and hats – which he is proudly wearing in the above photo.

There is just something about a Great Dane that steals your heart so completely.  You’re the owner of a puppy one day and then before you know you’re owned by that same puppy and you know that you’ll never be the same.

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Streifen – 1 1/2 years old and still growing…

So, now you know a little bit about the boy who holds our hearts in his, not so little, paw.  This won’t be the last time you’ll hear about him though… One thing people discover rather quickly about me is that Streifen is one of my most favorite subjects!   He brings us such joy that we like to be able to share little bits of him when we can.  🙂

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Streifen sitting in Daddy’s lap – 2 years old

Do you have a dog you adore?  Comment and let me hear about them!

To Begin With…

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I’m a firm believer in using Positive Reinforcement Training methods.  However, way back when (as they say), I originally learned to train in what is now considered to be the old fashioned way, or traditional method, where the dog learned to “obey” or else it faced some sort of punishment – usually a jerk on a choke chain or pinch collar.  Basically, you “asked” the dog to do something, such as heel, and when it tried to explore or do anything other than walk right at  your side, you would give a quick jerk of the choke chain or pinch collar to let them know they’d made a “wrong choice”.  It didn’t matter that the dog had zero idea what “heel” meant in the first place.  The idea was that the dog would eventually figure out how to not get it’s neck jerked or pinched by doing what you wanted.

Thankfully, people have since learned that there are much better ways to train dogs.  Dogs naturally want to please us and will, provided we use a little bit of our intelligence and figure out the best way to teach them what it is we’re wanting them to learn in the first place.  A dog that is motivated to learn will enjoy the process so much more and therefore be much more reliable.  Plus, it’s just a lot more fun for even us humans when everyone, including the dog,  is having a good time.  🙂

I, and my dogs, are so very grateful to be using the updated Positive Reinforcement Training methods these days and no longer using tired old methods that don’t work as well and certainly do not lend to anyone’s enjoyment.

I hope you enjoy the time you spend here with me and all my furries!  Please be patient as I work to get this blog to where I want it to be.  I’m still not totally sure about the theme, never mind everything else there is to work on with one!  But hang out…. it could be fun 🙂

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