The Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer
DOG WHISPERER DOGS,
Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer's Pack
learn, grow, create balance
DOG WHISPERER DOGS
The Ottawa Valley Dog Whisperer Dog Pack
ON THIS PAGE
Pack Leadership in action, Dog Whisperer Dogs, Dog Whisperer Tips, Dog Whisperer food and treat tips, Dog Whisperer dog walk
ABOUT DOGS THEMSELVES
In order to understand why I structure the dog pack's activities the way I do, it is important to understand something of the ancestry of the dog and how essential elements of their original physical and psychological make-up (irregardless of breed) remain an important part of creating, maintaining and sustaining the well-being of the present-day dog.
It is thought that first 'dog' domesticated by man was the wolf - this occurred about twelve thousand years ago. Wolves (both then and now), follow a specific routine on a daily basis. This routine creates a structure that enables them to survive on an ongoing basis; it also creates a need for socialization, team work, respect and cooperation among the members of the pack. The wolf pack's daily routine consists of; (1) work=hunt, (2) eat= reward for work well done, (3) rest and (4) play=affection.
Dogs are still hard-wired to live by this structure of work, eat, rest, and play. The section (in my website) on the Golden Rule explains how we can fulfill these key elements. By following the Golden Rule we can stimulate and maintain a happy, well balanced canine.
To really be happy and well adjusted all dogs need a job. Dogs like to work. Physical and mental exercise is very important to their well being...this need is part of their ancestral heritage...after all, back in time before the canine was fully domesticated it had to work to survive - hunting for food was a first priority. In this day and age the lack of a job is a major contributing factor to canine behavioural issues. A bored canine is an unhappy canine. A dog with unspent energy is like a storm waiting to burst.
As I don't live on a working farm and I am not a K-9 Police or an Avalanche/Disaster Rescue Officer, etc...my dogs need a job. So what is their job? Their job is to follow direction and stay focused when required and participate in pack walks...
THE FIRST WALK OF THE DAY...
Almost ready to go...I have to adjust something before we get going...all doggies are expected to be patient and stay relaxed.
By the Door
Waiting patiently while everyone gets 'leashed and hooked on to my leash belt'. Before I step out the door all of the dogs will shift to move behind me - in this picture Robbie and Sarah are peering out the door.
The morning walk on the road...
Although summer is now behind us, the weather is still good and we can go out on the road. As soon as the winter hits bringing snow and ice our walks will all be on my trails. It is just too dangerous to walk this road in winter. The trails afford us a safe, salt-free and wind-reduced place to walk in the coldest of weather - the snow can be beautiful when it sits on the tree branches, but a heavy snow fall means hard work to cut and pack the trail!
Here is a good shot of the road...
The road our home is located on is the road we walk on. It is a fairly typical country road, narrow with very shallow shoulders. If you look to the right edges of the road you get an idea of how rough the edge of the road is were it meets the shoulder. The road bed is comprised of 'chip and tar' not asphalt...the crumbling road bed at the edges can make for a very rough shoulder. Traffic is very busy during spring, summer and early autumn as this road is the main thoroughfare to the largest and most popular resort on the lake that we live close to. The road also sees a lot of heavy farm equipment, dump truck, transport trailers and logging truck traffic. The speed limit is 80km but people drive anywhere between 80km and 120km an hour.
Jacob starts the walk in a knapsack...
He will come out of his knapsack and walk with the pack in a few minutes time. I wait until the pack is really 'into' the walk before Jacob goes down to walk. This precaution is not necessary on trail walks - Jacob does the entire trail walk on his own four feet. On the road walks, traffic passes by at 80km to 120km - and when it does pass I have the pack shift over to the left completely off of the pavement - the pack then becomes compressed and Jacob could get inadvertently stepped on (or worse) if the pack is not focused on the walk. Once they are settled into the walk Jacob's safety during the 'compression move' is assured.
Off we go...
To walk ten dogs on a busy country road you need to be a calm assertive pack leader! To have a safe, stress-free walk you need the respect and trust of your pack. There are cars whizzing by, almost every house we pass has dog(s), most bark, some aggressively and some run out on the road. I need to have control of my pack as well as be able to control the dogs that run to the end of driveways, charging at the pack and/or running onto the road. The pack needs to remain calm when deer pass in front of us.
All of the challenges of walking on the road...
Are wonderful opportunities to enable your dog's balanced state. Your dog must learn to be comfortable and confident around all manner of vehicles, small and large, slow and fast. My dogs, with my support had to learn how to accept the noise of traffic, barking and charging canines, people and bikes passing by, other dogs being walked (few and far between unfortunately!), wild life, people stopping their cars in order to talk to us, road work, residential construction work etc. To not expose them to all of these things would be an opportunity lost. It also provides an excellent chance for them to work in a positive way together as a pack and gives me the opportunity to gain their respect and trust. I make it a priority to use the road responsibly making certain I do not put the dogs in harm's way and respecting motorists. The tourists are not so respectful (odd as most are city folk and much more accustomed to dealing with pedestrians and dogs), many do not slow down and whiz by a foot away from us...but the local people are now familiar with seeing us - I owe them my thanks as most are very courteous to us. I enjoy having the chance to share a smile with them and wave as they go by…it is a great way to share the joy and focus of a well behaved pack. Unfortunately there are always some people too self-absorbed to lose the seconds it would take to slow down a little.
We rarely ever miss a walk (maybe four or five times a year) - if we do it is likely because the weather is too severe to risk taking the pack out (freezing rain, very high winds, etc.).
On occasion I will forego the second structured walk of the day as the pack may have had a lot of exercise outside while I worked cutting the grass or shovelling the snow etc., or it may be cool out and raining heavily all day and I feel the benefit of the second walk is outweighed by having a second round of soaking wet cold dogs (cold wet is not good for them and can cause arthritis later in life). If they are wet I always dry each one off with a towel). If the temperature is warm (i.e. 12 degrees to 30 degrees Celsius) we will do both walks. On occasions when a walk is missed I may decide that one or more dogs in the pack still need to burn some energy (in a structured manner) so it's treadmill time for those dogs.
Robbie working out.
Stevie working out.
When the treadmill is not in
use it makes a nice dog resting spot.
In the early stages of both Robbie's and Sarah's rehabilitation the treadmill played an important role in helping to expend their excess energy while helping them to focus on something other than excessive behaviour.
I always wait to give the dogs their breakfast after they have their morning pack walk. This replicates the patterns of their ancestors' days; work first and reward (eat) after.
By respecting this sequence I meet their physical and psychological needs supporting a balanced and natural state of being. Food provides opportunity - the opportunity to coach & mentor your dog on social grace and respect.
I expect my pack to wait patiently and politely for their food. I will only present the pack with food or treats if they are in a relaxed, calm state of being. This ensures that they associate reward, food and treats with being in a calm state. Competition and dominating behaviour related to food is not permitted - either directed toward each other or toward me. Each of the dogs has their spot in the kitchen to lie down, and calmly, respectfully wait for their food.
Once the dogs are settled in their spots I put each dog's bowl down in front of them. They are expected to wait to eat until each dog has their bowl of food placed in front of them and then I let them know on an individual basis that they can start to eat. Below you can see Stevie and Zoey waiting for my go-ahead to eat.
Robbie is eating, Sarah is finished...Sarah knows it's ok to clean up around her bowl but she has to leave the space around Robbie's bowl for Robbie to clean up!
TIME TO RELAX
After breakfast it's time to relax...everyone has had their pack walk, in addition, Robbie has had his structured off-leash time and so has Sarah. Everyone is willing and happy to take it easy for a while...they all go off to their favourite spots to enjoy some peaceful downtime.
IF I'M WORKING IN MY OFFICE...
I have lots of company...the office usually ends up being well populated with dogs and the cats. I have plenty of cozy places for them to relax in my office. Peaceful dogs and cats are good company! Sometimes they switch places with each other or someone goes off to sit in another room.
TIME TO GET UP AND DO SOMETHING!
When I'm busy working in the gardens, cutting grass, shovelling snow, raking leaves, bringing groceries in from the vehicle the dogs are free to do as they please in the yard as long as they respect the basic rules - stay off the road, don't wander off, be respectful of each other and anyone passing by. If they momentarily forget any of the rules they get an immediate correction from me and are then welcome to resume informal, off-leash time. They can choose to play, explore within reasonable boundaries or just relax and lie down where they like. My property is not fenced in so they have to be taught to respect the imaginary boundaries I give them.
Informal time around the yard...
Informal time on the trail...
AND NOW FOR SOME MORE WORK
THE SECOND WALK OF THE DAY, we are going on the trail, first a look without me and the dogs cluttering up the view...
In order to maintain the meadow portions of the trail I have to trim the low growing bush junipers once a season, cut the grasses every month, trim the raspberry and blackberry plants and clip back over grown evergreen and deciduous tree branches. If I don't do some trimming of branches, snow and ice will weigh down boughs resulting in blocked trails.
When I first moved to my home there were no trails just tall vegetation and impassable woodlands (fallen trees, fallen branches, ice storm damage, undergrowth and overgrowth). I purchased the property both for the home and the land. I wanted a place were I could have my own on-leash, off-leash dog park.
So I got busy...
I worked at one section at a time clearing the wooded portions and slowly building up a network of trails I could use in all seasons. I am not well versed in using a chain saw and as I am no stranger to hard work...
I used a standard axe, Swedish brushing axe, saws, loppers and clippers to clean up the woods and develop my trails. Safety is always uppermost in my mind so I make sure that the places where the dogs run are clear and clean. I used all the wood I cleared to create a low perimeter 'fence' around the boundary of the trails. I wanted to make sure the dogs knew where the invisible line between my land and my neighbour's was. It also allowed me to redeploy the cleared-up trees and branches in a very green and ecologically respectful manner.
The wooded portions of the trails require regular maintenance to keep them clean and free of debris. We get a lot of high winds and as a result branches and trees come down. When I take the pack for a trail walk after a high-wind incident I make a lot of stops to pick up branches - the dogs, although all leashed to my waist, are very good about being patient, and I am careful to be aware that the branches I am carrying do not come in contact with them. As soon as I reach the 'fence' or one of my wood piles I deposit the branches. I also move fallen trees in the same manner - however if the fallen tree is more than 25 feet long I note its location and take care of it the next time I'm in with one or more of the dogs off-leash.
And here's the pack on the trails...
Jacob has to catch up to the pack - he stopped to make puppy angels in the grass (grass bath). I put cat bells on Jacob's collar so I can always hear where he is. He is so light that his footsteps cannot be heard. When I'm on the trails I have bear bells clipped to my leash belt but even with their clanging I can hear the different pitch of Jacob's bells. It is best to not be looking back on a constant basis and let the 'invisible leash' do it's work. Dogs like to meet their pack leader's expectations - constant looking back generally indicates that you expect and anticipate that your dog is not following you!
A chance to check out all the scents; I don't allow the dogs to stop every time they want to - we'd never get anywhere! I decide when they get to stop and check things out.
IN ORDER TO HELP OUR DOGS REACH A BALANCED STATE OF BEING...
We must first attain that state ourselves.
I am a case in point....a single Mom with a child and multiple animals to look after, a house and property to look after inside and out by myself, while I bring in the sole source of income for my family could be a really bad experience for myself and my dependents if I were not aware of my state of being and how my state of being can seriously effect (positively or negatively) those around me. The first step is to be aware, the next step is to take proactive measures to attain balance.
With all the pressures placed upon us these days it can be a really tall order to just find the time to go for a walk let alone slow our minds down and live in the moment. A walk with your dog is the perfect chance to put yourself in a balanced state and experience the effect this has on your dog. It can be a very interesting case in point...next time you take your dog for a walk check to see what you are thinking about...is your mind focused on all the things you still have to get done in the day, week or month...are you thinking about an unpleasant incident that happened to you that day...if your mind is occupied by such things I guarantee that you are not relaxed and are probably tense or even stressed - you are not experiencing a balanced state of being, and you are likely affecting how your dog feels. If you did catch yourself 'in the act' you are now one step closer to finding balance. Instead focus on something better, like the weather if it's nice, or something you love about your dog, or maybe the scenery - you will feel more calm and relaxed...so will your dog.
If while on the walk I catch myself spending too much time dwelling on all the things I have to do - I turn my thoughts to the moment and focus on enjoying the gift of the walk - the dogs settling in to the pace to work and enjoy themselves, images, sounds, scents and if I'm lucky the sun! This works for me as I am a very visual person, I have always enjoyed plants and trees - wildflowers, moss, rock formations...I love colour, shape and detail. You just have to find what works for you!
Images from the trail
The pack as seen from my perspective...
And now it's time to head home...I have to feed the bunnies, the cats and the dogs!
TIME TO EAT AGAIN!
At Dinner time the pack follows the same rules as they do at breakfast time. If it is summer time, I may take them back outside while I cut grass, etc. If it's winter time and snowing we will go out and I will shovel the snow while they play in it. At other times I have things I must do in the house, in which case they are just as happy to find a nice place to relax indoors.
Later in the evening I will make the dogs' and the bunnies' salads. Many people think of dogs as carnivores, however like humans, dogs are omnivores. If you look at the ingredients in dog kibble you will for example find a wide variety of ingredients such as red meat or white meats (poultry or fish), grains such as rice as well as corn by-products (present in some dog foods as a filler), sweeteners like beet pulp and in the last ten years, fruits and vegetables have become a common ingredient.
Dogs in their natural state will eat some fruits and vegetables of their own accord. My first dog 'Shanny' a German Shepherd x Malamute, would go out and pick the small white mushrooms that would come up in the lawn overnight. I never showed her to do this - I wouldn’t know which mushrooms were safe to eat and which were not! She would also pick her own blueberries, strawberries and raspberries. If she was permitted she would also pick her own vegetables such as tomatoes and green beans. Dogs eat grass as there are enzymes present in the grass that aids their digestion.
All of my dogs pick their own fruit and veggies if permitted just as Shanny did. Twenty years ago when Shanny was just a puppy I came home only to find that she had taken a banana for herself, somehow managed to perfectly peel it - she left the peel on the living room floor (this was how I knew what she had accomplished!) and ate the banana. It didn’t adversely affect her and having seen her previous interest in grass and mushrooms it occurred to me that she might enjoy and benefit from having fruits and vegetables in her diet much as I did. I started to make her a salad everyday - she thought of the salad as a great treat and looked forward to it! The salad included a good vegtable oil, plain yogurt and fish.
If you would like to know more about providing your dog with fresh whole foods you can read this article. If you would like to see a comprehensive list of food stuffs that are not good for dogs you can read this article.
Abby has a green tomato (on the grass in front of her). She asked my permission to pick it. Jacob would like to have it but respects Abby's right of ownership.
Jordie is picking raspberries, after obtaining my permission.
People thought I was nuts! But my intuition said otherwise. I continued to Shanny fruits and vegetables. Several years later the pet food industry began to put fruit and veggies into dog kibble. This new approach from the pet food industry, to dog food started out quietly but soon gained momentum. I knew I wasn't nuts - sometimes intuition and instinct can lead to a positive conclusion much faster than scientific research. Another case in point, I have always believed that second hand smoke from cigarettes is seriously bad for all animals - not just humans. A year or so ago there were reports on the radio and in newspapers reporting that researches had proven that second hand smoke is as detrimental to the health and well being of animal companions (such as a dog or cat) as it is to a humans.
While I am making the salads the dogs go off and relax in the kitchen or living room. As much as they would like to be right there under my feet (so they can catch any morsel that may fall) they know that I expect them to respect an invisible perimeter around my working space. Any one who 'forgets' receives a reminder.
The pack share rest time while I make their salads...
Salads are ready...
Salads aren't for every canine - if your dog has a very sensitive stomach, it may not be a good idea to intoduce fruits and veggies to their diet!
My pack and my foster dogs have never had sensitive stomach issues so they do well on a mixed diet.
If you are going to introduce fresh or cooked fruits and veggies to your dog's diet it is best to introduce each new food one at a time - that way if their is any kind of negative reaction, such as stomach upset or allergies you will be able to pinpoint the culprit.
None of my pack members have any allergies to fruits and veggies with the exception of Robbie.
ON THE MENU TONIGHT...
Ten salads for ten doggies! The ingredients may vary slightly depending on the season - for instance watermelon and cauliflower in the summer and oranges and peas in the winter. The salads in this picture are pretty typical of the dogs' normal fare and include: peas, carrots, apples, blueberries, bananas, watermelon, tomatoes, plain yogurt and mackerel.
Robbie is allergic to peas so he has parsley instead. One day Robbie started scratching more than he would usually. By the process of elimination I was able to pin-point the cause of his discomfort. I knew the scratching was not a result of an infestation of fleas. My next line of thought turned to the possibility that he was experiencing an allergic reaction to something. I thought about whether he had been exposed to anything different in the last few days - either environmental or ingested. There was nothing new environmentally that I knew of so I focused on food. I quickly realized I had recently introduced peas to his salad. I removed the peas from his menu and the itching stopped. He is also allergic to sweet peppers (all colours), I discovered this when I substituted peas for peppers.
Other typical ingredients for my dogs' salads are: pineapple (canned in juice or fresh), blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, pears, mangoes, papaya, sweet peppers, broccoli in small amounts (no more than 10% of a dog's dailt food intake). I also add a good quality vegetable oil such as Canola, or even better Olive oil. The oil provides them with good omega fats. I also include a fatty fish such as canned salmon or mackerel; these are rich in protein and omega fats and ground flax seed - also a great source of omega fatty acids. Other ingredient in their salads include plain yogurt and/or kefir(usually 2% fat) for the protein, calcium and probiotics it adds to their diet, sauerkraut, coconut oil and herbs and spices. It is interesting to note that the pet food industry recently added the active ingredients in yogurt to dry kibble products.
It is important to make sure hard ingredients such as apples, carrots, cauliflower are cut up in small pieces as you would not want your dog to choke on a piece that became lodged in their throat. This happened to Zoey once; his airway was completely blocked. Zoey quickly became unconscious and if I had not administered the heimlich manoeuvre and mouth to mouth resuscitation he would have died in front of my eyes.
My dogs' veterinarians always comment on the packs' healthy coats, skin etc. - their diet has a big part to play in their overall health. I know of other veterinarians who do not believe in 'mixed' diets. As our companion dogs don't get to decide what their diet should comprise of, their human guardians must make the choice for them based on the knowledge at hand and on any mitigating factors such as the individual dog's tolerance to various foodstuffs.
Sarah is asking for my permission to pick a tomato.
It is very important that rawhide be given to dogs only when you are around to supervise. Some dogs are really good about taking their time to chew properly and others are not so cautious and will not chew the entire rawhide properly. They will attempt to swallow larger pieces. These pieces can become lodged in the dog’s throat and cut off their air supply. Most of my dogs are careful, but Robbie is a repeat offender. There have been occasions when I have had to put my hand down his throat to remove a good size piece of rawhide. If you would like to know more about how to choose safe and healthy items for your dog to chew you can read this article.
The rawhide helps to keep the dogs' teeth clean. As an added and nutritious treat, I put natural peanut butter on their rawhide. The nutrients in the peanut butter are good for them. The peanut butter also encourages them to take their time and lick the rawhide, helping to soften it before they chew. I choose natural peanut butter as the only ingredient in it, is peanuts. Other peanut butters include sugar and salt - ingredients that are not so good for your dog.
This basket contains some of my packs' chew toys. The pink toy is Sarah's favourite. If I ask Sarah "where's your Piggy", she will go get this toy and bring it to me. If she has lost her piggy under one of the couches (when she tosses it in the air it often ends up rolling under), she will show me which couch and where along the length of the couch the Piggy is. The blue two tone bone and the orange ball with feet are Buddy's favourites. The pink, orange, red and blue chew toys are soft, durable and non-toxic; they also make a squeaky noise when chomped on at the right place. Even the smaller parts on these toys cannot be chewed off - these are chew toys that the dogs can have unsupervised. The various types of rawhide shown in the basket are all natural rawhide (no chemical flavour additives or food colouring). These are only given to the dogs when I am around to supervise.
TIME TO WIND DOWN FOR THE DAY
The last food item of the day for the dogs is rawhide with peanut butter. After eating thier salads the dogs go outside for a quick 'bathroom break'. When they come back into the house they know its time to settle down and get their rawhide.
Dogs have a natural need to chew. Keeping the muscles of the jaw strong was very important to the dog's ancestors as their teeth and mouth was their main tool to take down prey. Their jaw would also need to be strong enough to tear meat away from the prey they had killed. When puppies are very young their incoming teeth can make their gums itchy and irritated, chewing helps sooth the irritation and helps baby teeth fall out and new teeth to break the surface of their gums.
Providing your dog with the right things to chew ensures that this need is met in a safe and healthy way. Dogs that are in a balanced state of being are unlikely to chew other items such as your shoes or your hands if they have safe durable chew toys and rawhide. The same toys and rawhide also help to keep your dog's teeth clean.
Time for the pack to have their treat!
The packs' rawhide treats with peanut butter - sized appropriately for the larger and smaller pack members.
Sarah and Jacob waiting for their rawhide.
While these guys are chewing...I do the last little bits of preparation required to make my treat ready - it's my turn to eat dinner!
Have a good evening everyone!
Oh, and in case you are wondering,
I'm not cleaning myself...I'm actually
fast asleep and snoring.
Thanks for spending the day with us.
We hope you enjoyed the visit. We will let Robbie have the last word of the day...
TIME FOR ME TO RELAX,
HAVE DINNER AND QUIETLY ENJOY MY CONTENT, BUT SLEEPY ANIMALS...
A day with Dog Whisperer Dogs - this page provides you with the opportunity to spend a day with a Dog Whisperer's Dog Pack, Pack Leadership in action, learn about Dogs Themselves, Dog Whisperer Tips, Dog Whisperer food and treat tips...a road walk, trail walk in the Ottawa Valley, Ottawa, Ontario