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January is National Train Your Dog Month!

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So, did you know that January is National Train Your Dog Month?  Well, it is!  Yay!  As a dog trainer, I love that we have our own month, so to speak.  Training is such an important aspect of owning a dog and often it gets neglected.  So anything that helps get awareness out there is a huge bonus!

The sad fact is that many puppies are given as gifts at Christmas and by February many are being dumped in shelters all across the United States.  Why?  Largely because of a lack of knowledge on how to train the puppy.

Potty training can be challenging enough when you do know how, but imagine what it’s like for those that have no clue!  Then add to the fact that there are so many out there teaching methods that do more damage than good.  It’s a sad situation for many.

Having a National Train Your Dog Month will, hopefully, help get the word out to people who are struggling right now with that Christmas present puppy, and maybe save a few from being dumped at a local shelter.

So, how do you choose a trainer?  Which method do you go with?  Should you do a private class or is a group class better?  All great questions!  Questions I’ll be answering over the next few days, so check back here at Praising Paws!   You know the saying…. Praise will get you everywhere!  🙂

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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! 

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.

first bday

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!

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