Archive for the ‘dog training’ Category

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17 Jan 12

National Train Your Dog Month ...

by Nancy E. Hassel,

The Association of Pet Dog Trainers decided to pick a great theme for the month of January, National Train Your Dog month.  While you should be training and working with your dog all year, this campaign helps raise awareness of the importance of having a well trained dog.  Here on Long Island we are fortunate to have dog trainers offering all kinds of training methods from one end of Long Island to the other.  There really is no excuse to not take a training class, lecture or at least speaking to a trainer on what may best suit your dog and your situation, become a better dog owner and have a happier dog.

Often time’s dog owners have ‘heard’ things about certain training methods, and already have an assumption in their mind, like the prong collar is horrible and mean, or that they would never ever be able to do clicker training with their dog.  But once they are educated how to properly use ANY type of dog training method, you can see the transformation on their face on what they were originally thinking about. (The Human’s face!)

Every month in our Responsible Dog Owner Class (a dog training and education class for humans only) our volunteer dog trainers from Doggie U K9 Academy and Dog Training 101, go over nearly every type of collar, leash, harness, no-pull harness, etc. and talk about how each is meant to work.  Like not pulling or yanking your dog while he is wearing a prong collar, that they are self correcting, or when to ‘click’ that clicker so the dog starts to associate the click with doing the command correctly and getting rewarded.

I have read recently on some blogs dog trainers bashing each other for their various training methods, and I think this negativity doesn’t help the dog training industry.  I have used treats, positive rewards, and evaluate (over days and weeks) what might work best for each dog.  And let me tell you many dogs react, act differently to different training methods.  I have worked with dogs who could care less if you are holding a filet mignon in front of them – if they are aggressive or leash aggressive they don’t give a bleep what food you have.  It’s not always about food reward.  While most dogs are food motivated, not all are.

I have worked with dogs in the past year, that were so highly aggressive towards humans that most behaviorists would suggested they be put to sleep.  One dog who was so aggressive (territorially so) when she in her house, she came very close to attacking me (and viciously) more times than I could count. She was only like this at the door when I arrived at the house to walk her (the owners were not there).  Why go back and work with the dog?  Because I could see how there was an amazing dog in there – she was fantastic with her owner – super smart and very well trained – but at the door it was almost like she was seriously bi-polar and would go off the deep end.  Once out of the house (with TONS of patience on my part), she was just the most fantastic dog, friendly to people – so well trained on and off leash – it was well, insane.  It did take me four months to get a leash on the dog, FOUR months! Did I mention the patience part?  Once she trusted me, she loved going for walks, listened, watched me for commands, and even was very affectionate and sweet.  This same dog that was trying to kill me at the door – the transformation was awesome.  (This dog was abandoned and her owner was the only one that could get near her, and luckily for her he did and was very committed to working with her).  Oddly enough she ended up being one of my favorite dogs to walk and work with because of how she blossomed.  I don’t take credit for her training – I give her owner all the kudos for it, but if I was not patient and gave up on her I would never have seen her wonderful transformation.  She was a dog that was food motivated and the only way to get her out of the house was to bribe her with treats – but on a walk, she wanted your attention and didn’t need the food, verbal praise and petting she adored.  So it was interesting to see a dog you had to use food with in one instance and not in others.

Most dogs want to bond with you, learn from you, some love to have a job to do – and your verbal reward and attention is all they are striving for.  Think about the drug and bomb sniffing dogs, ever watch what the handlers reward them with? It’s usually some sort of toy, tug toy, ball, handmade toy or something along those lines, not food.  It’s still a positive reward, but it’s not food.

To be a dog owner, and want a well trained well mannered dog – you as the dog owner need to do your research.  Find out about different training methods, interview different trainers, get referrals, and if one trainer doesn’t work out – don’t be discouraged, move on to the next trainer.  I have had people hire me after they went through a dog trainer or two – and I asked what did the other trainers tell you – and often times, I would say, well I agree with what they said, you need to do your homework, work with the dog, etc.  So sometimes it’s not that the first and second trainer you met with didn’t work, it’s that the owner didn’t want to follow their instructions or do the work!  A well behaved dog does not happen over night.  I mean do you expect your human kids to learn to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ by telling them only once to do it? I doubt it.

Another piece of advice would be don’t be scared of trying different training methods – you might go through a couple before you get to the one that you see the light bulb over your dog’s head go off!

You can find many different dog trainers in your area by clicking here.

Winnie & Lucy - Lucy was the dog I was speaking of above. Good Girl Lucy!

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17 May 11

by Nancy E. Hassel,

Festive Fun at Fido Fitness!

This coming weekend, Saturday and Sunday, May 21st and May 22nd from 11am – 4pm each day, Fido Fitness Club will be hosting a ‘Grand Opening Celebration, Street Fair and Adopt-a-thon’ at their location in Woodmere, NY.  This free canine and community event will feature something for everyone in your family, from your four legged fur-kids to your two legged less furry kids.  This festive event will include activities such as: pet, craft and other vendors; pet photography; raffles; training and agility demos throughout both days, (that’s for the dogs!); Low-cost micro chipping; music; balloons and face painting for the human kids; food; animal communication and Reiki sessions; educational information by children’s emergency services and a even silent art auction to help a local dog injured in a recent tragic car accident.

Dog owners in the area and from surrounding areas are encouraged to come by and tour the new indoor dog park, meet other dog owners in the community and see what Fido Fitness Club has to offer – and maybe even adopt a new four-legged family member.  While this event is free to attend, any and all proceeds or donations from the event will go directly to Tavi & Friends a local area non-for-profit animal rescue group.

Co-owners, Ellen Adler and Evelyn Franklin, of Fido Fitness Club wanted to have an event that would be a fun community event bringing together local dog owners and their families, but also wanted to help out a local rescue group.  “We are so passionate about our dogs and all pets in general. Many of our client’s dogs were either rescued from substandard environments or adopted from shelters.  Not all dogs are as fortunate as our canine clients and have a great place to play every day with other dogs. We support Tavi and Friends rescue efforts and really wanted to find a way to help them raise much needed funds and awareness about their wonderful animal rescue group,” stated Co-Owner Evelyn Franklin. “We are so happy so many others are joining us for this weekend celebration.  There will be something for everyone that attends.”

While the event starts at 11am on Saturday, at noon there will be an official ribbon cutting ceremony by local community leaders doing the honors.

“Fido Fitness Club is a perfect fit for our neighborhood – a safe, clean environment to run and play with your dog,” said Co-Owner Ellen Adler.  “We are very much looking forward this fun filled and fur filled weekend!”

For more information on the event go to:

About Fido Fitness Club: Fido Fitness Club is a one-of-a-kind, 4000 square foot facility located in the hamlet of Woodmere, New York. Fido Fitness Club provides a safe, off-leash space for dogs to run, socialize with their owners and other dogs, and spend the day in quality monitored daycare. With easy access to the local train station, Fido Fitness Club is an ideal resource for commuters or anyone who wants to leave their dog in a safe, nurturing environment.  Founded by dog lovers Ellen Adler and Evelyn Franklin, for dog lovers, Fido Fitness Club meets the highest standards for pet-safety and support.  Dedicated to bringing out the best in every dog, Fido Fitness Club amenities are geared to the physical and emotional wellbeing of dogs. At Fido Fitness’s Dog Park, dogs can play off-leash in a safe environment and owners can feel confident that their dog is getting sufficient exercise and playtime regardless of the weather and time of day.  Creating a healthy balance between play and rest, Fido Fitness Club encourages dogs to socialize, explore their natural curiosity, and spend their time engaged in positive activities so when they return home, they are calm, confident, and eager to interact with their owners.  Owners can also view their dog while at the club by the live web cam set up.

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12 Apr 11

4th Year of Free Dog Classes!

Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan recently announced that The Dog Federation of New York and The Town of Islip Animal Shelter have once again joined to offer the Responsible Dog Owner Class.

At a recent meeting, the Islip Town Board renewed its agreement with The Dog Federation of New York to offer the classes in 2011 until April 2012.  The three-hour classes are designed to help educate dog owners learn about basic puppy and dog behavior, training tools and techniques, children and dog safety, dog park etiquette, health and nutrition and New York State dog laws.

“This class is a wonderful opportunity for dog owners to learn from professionals and experts in the field in order to develop a closer bond with their pet, and we hope they’ll have fun at the same time,” said Supervisor Nolan.

“For over 27 years Canine Fence has focused on keeping pets safe at home and we are proud to once again sponsor the Dog Federation of New York’s Responsible Dog Ownership program in the Town of Islip so that residents learn the important responsibilities of dog ownership and how to have good canine citizens,” said Marketing Director, Tracy Scarfi of Canine Fence.

“I am so proud that the Town of Islip is continuing this program into it’s 4th year and thankful for Canine Fence company’s for continued support,” said Nancy Hassel, Founding Member of the Dog Federation of New York and Founder of Long Island Pet Professionals.  “The Town of Islip’s dedication to educating the public on responsible dog ownership and proper pet care has resulted in less owner turn-ins to the animal shelter after a participant has attended the class.  The Town of Islip is leading the way in this humane education program, and we hope more towns will follow. We are looking forward to another great year of educating!”

As a thank you for coming, participants will receive FREE goodie bags, loaded with essential and fun items for dog owners.  This class is for people ONLY—please leave your dogs at home!  Parents are encouraged to bring children over the age of 8.  As space is limited, please call the Islip Town Animal Shelter at (631) 224-5660 or email for a reservation or for more information. (Email is best).

The upcoming schedule for the Dog Owner Education Class is as follows: April 13th, May 11th, June 15th, and July 13th all from 6-9 pm.

For updated information or more about the classes click here.

Pictured (left to right):, Maryflorence Brennan, of Canine Fence; Nancy Hassel, Founding Member of the Dog Federation of New York and Founder of Long Island Pet Professionals; and Islip Town Supervisor Phil Nolan.

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29 Mar 11

The 250-Challenge ...

by Nancy E. Hassel,

Are you in?  After a long, rough winter, if you haven’t already it’s time to get out there with your dog for daily walks!  The 250 Challenge is a 10-week challenge to get us moving again by walking at least 25-miles a week! I know what you are thinking, that is a lot, it’s not really if you break it up into a few miles a day.  With 4th of July just 13-weeks away, don’t you want to have a leaner you?  What about your dog – many dogs are obese in this country due to lack of exercise and overfeeding by their owners.  You know that fun owner and dog look alike contest?  This challenge will be interactive too, just click here and your can add your comments, miles you have done and more.

Many times in our dog education class we hear that the owners only ever let their dogs in the yard, and/or only walk them, if they do for 15 minutes at most. Understanding time constraints, schedules, we all have – but you know a tired dog is a good dog, and daily walks with your dog will not only help ease your stress levels, but mentality stimulate your dog also.  Not to mention bond with your dog.  Many dogs are just plain BORED, and need exercise, attention, training, socialization and fun!  Here are some tips on getting started for you and your dog:

  • How to get started, first of all if you or your dogs have only ever walked down the street, take it slow! You want to build up to a longer distance walk – so don’t over do it for yourself or your dog.  If you dog is overweight, older or is just not used to walking you will want to just add a few minutes to his walk daily: 10-minutes day 1; 15-minutes day 2; 20-minutes day 3; etc.  You might be surprised that your dog will do ok or even better than you expected, and will definitely want to walk everyday.
  • Set up a schedule, if you can only walk before work, set the alarm clock a little earlier – once you go a few days, your dog will become accustomed to and look forward to that daily walk.
  • Get the proper walking sneakers and work out attire for yourself and sturdy leather or cotton 6-foot leash, proper collar with ID. If you are not sure about a training collar or equipment for your dog, contact a dog trainer for help.  Many dog trainers have all the latest products they can show you how to properly fit to your dog and use – and they can help you find the best for your dog.  They could also help you with training if your dog is just dragging you down the street and is the reason you don’t walk the dog!
  • Bring dog treats with you in your pocket or treat holder, a squeaker small enough to fit in your coat and a couple of bottles of water.
  • Change up the route!  As we get bored with the same walking route, so do our dogs.  You may notice your dog get a lot more excited just by going down a different street or down a different path.  This will help keep you motivated.  Check back here for a series on our favorite dog friendly parks throughout LI and secret hiking trails too!
  • Don’t over do it.  If you are not ready to walk 3 or 4 miles a day, your dog may not be either.
  • If you have never taken your dog anywhere, your dog may be super excited and may deter you from taking him again with you.  The more you take your dog, the better he will become.  Don’t give up after a couple of walks.
  • Know your dog, know your breed.  If you have a tiny 3lb tea cup small breed – they may not be able to walk a long distance.  Realize that!  But if you have a small dog, don’t think because they are little they can’t walk far-they do have legs you know!
  • Check your dog’s paws.  With debris on the road from sand from salt trucks and now landscapers, you will want to check your dog’s paws to make sure they did not get a splinter, step in glass, cut or even step on a thorn.  You can do so while on walk or after the walk when the dog is sleeping.   Sometimes dogs are stoic and don’t show pain or an injury, you don’t want to make paw pad or injury worse – so be sure to monitor your dog throughout your walks and afterwards.
  • If you are hiking with your dog, be sure to bring a first aid kit for pets, bottled water and an extra collar or leash – just in case your dogs leash breaks or dog gets an injury.  If you are really hiking somewhere off the beaten path, make sure you have mapped out the local 24-hour veterinary clinic, again just in case.
  • Can’t walk the dog yourself? Hire a dog walker – there are many on LI and can make your life easier.
  • Leave your dog at home – if your dog just can’t do or does not want to walk, (I know a French bulldog that would rather NOT walk at all, and just stay in the house!), grab your ipod and go by yourself or with a friend!  This 250-Challenge is also for non-dog owners. :)

If you are not sure about walking your dog far or don’t know how to properly walk your dog – contact a trainer for help.  Also bring your dog for a check up at to the veterinarian; just like you might want to ask your own doctor before starting any exercise routine, you may want to ask your vet too.  I personally walk my almost 10-year old dog nearly 15 to 20 miles a week and he would keep going further if I let him!  So I will be adding 5 miles to my routine, and most likely brining him too!

Also, if your dog is in great shape and you are adding a mile two extra a day, you might want to give a little bit more food than normal, for instance my dog gets about 2 cups of premium holistic dog food regularly, and on long distance walk days (usually 5 or 6 miles), I will give him and extra ¼ of a cup or so.  With this, you don’t want to over do it either! Ask your veterinarian if you are not sure.

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23 Mar 11

by Nancy E. Hassel,

Springtime and Dog Owner Amnesia

It’s springtime on Long Island, what a beautiful thing!  We can walk our dogs more often now and not worry about slipping and falling on the ice or climbing over huge snow piles.  This past week especially I have personally seen a lot more dogs being walked than I have throughout the winter.  But I have also noticed many dog owners seem to forget the basics of walking their dog or maybe their spring fever has given them dog owner amnesia.

Or maybe you just got a new puppy or adopted a dog and haven’t had a dog in what seems like 100 years, and laws and park rules may have changed.  Maybe this is your first dog ever and you are learning the ropes, here are a few dog walking tips to help you along the way (for both new and old dog owners alike!):

Proper leashes and collars – The best leash is a 6-foot cotton or leather leash; which come in different widths and styles for your type and size of dog. Retractable leashes do not give you any control of your dog or dogs and can cause injury to people and dogs alike.  Most county and state parks require your dog to be on a 6-foot leash by law.  Your dog should have a flat collar with ID and NYS dog license on it, and if you are using a training collar to walk your dog, be sure to get it fitted properly by a professional dog trainer.  Most big box pet stores selling choke, prong, harnesses and other training apparatus do not fit your dog (or know how to) and will sell you wrong size for your dog. Smaller mom & pop pet stores or dog training facilities will have a better idea what to sell you and help you fit your dog in the store.

Greeting another person with a dogASK! Can your dog say hello?  Is your dog friendly? Many dog owners inadvertently just walk up to another dog owner without asking if their dog is friendly or can say hello. While most dogs are friendly and social with other dogs, not all dogs are dog friendly.  Maybe their dog was attacked before and is now terrified of dogs (or the owner is terrified), or maybe the dog is dog aggressive – and now you’re wandering over to the dog without asking.  Maybe they are just working on training techniques or just beginning to socialize their dog.  Ask! And don’t be offended if their dog can’t say hello to yours.

Watching other people’s body language – Did a dog owner you were approaching just cross the street with their dog?  (Maybe to avoid you and your dog).  Are they pulling their dog closer into them, putting the dog into a “heel” position?  Walking closer to the side of the trail at the park to give you more room to pass by?  These could be very easy body language signals that you can look out for – for tell ‘tail’ signs that they don’t want to or cannot greet your dog with theirs.  Pay attention!  Pull you dog closer to you if you see this happening, and for dog’s sake don’t cross the street for your dog to say ‘hi’ after the person just crossed to get away from you and your dog! Again, not all dogs are dog friendly – but those dog owners have the right to enjoy a dog walk in the park just as much as you do.

Don’t over do it the first walk out there, if you have only been walking your dog 10 minutes for the past 5 months, gradually get your dog back into a walking routine. Increase your time and distance a little each day and before you know you and your dog could be walking a few miles a day.  A tired dog is a good dog!

Off Leash parks – are popping up across LI, so there is no need to let you’re dog run loose and out of control where you’re not supposed to because you think he should be free.  An easy rule of thumb to remember is if you can not verbally control your dog off leash, i.e. having the dog ‘come’ on command or recall your dog to you. Your dog should not be running off leash where they are not supposed to!  Go to an off-leash enclosed dog park.  You can find many listed here.

Walking in your town of village – If your dog is out 20-feet ahead of you on a retractable leash and you’re walking through a village of busy town – pull that dog in!  If you see another person coming towards you with a dog or children, retract your dog in to walk next to you – how do you know that person’s dog is dog friendly or if the person is dog savvy?  Some kids are really scared of dogs, so don’t let your dog jump up or run up to a child.

Kids – Parents please teach your children to ask to pet a dog, not to run up to a dog (a bunch of charging children can be very scary to a dog that is not used to it!), and monitor your children around all pets at all times.  If you are teaching your child how to walk the family dog – this is a great idea, just be sure to have control of the situation.  Many times I have seen a kid holding the leash and running with the dog – it may look cute and seem fun, but if that dog decides to run after something or up to an unfriendly dog, it won’t be so cute anymore.  So just make sure you are controlling the situation as the parent, aunt, uncle, guardian, etc.  You want to have fun while out with your kids and dog and educate them at the same time about dog safety.