The Same Mission with More Purpose

The Same Mission with More Purpose

I will be forever honored to say that I once operated a 9000 square-foot facility to care for dogs while their people were away. I’m touched to know that I once led teams of well educated, experienced people with positive vibes who proudly cared for those dogs as if they were their own. I’m grateful I was given the opportunity by the community and their dogs to feel the joy that care has brought me along the way in the past twenty years.

It’s strange not to have my dogs with me during this chapter in my life. I can’t physically see Charley next to me as I bid this location farewell. I’m not carrying Hollywood in my purse as we say goodbye and I can’t hear Kayla impatiently howling at me to get going, but I can feel them by my side as we take down the closed sign off the window at 56776 Mound Road one final time. This feeling is similar to the emotion I’ve felt with so many dogs who have come and gone throughout the years. Those who have left footprints on my heart and on the grounds of this center inside and out.

Katey Grace is my “ride or die” now and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner as we begin this new journey.

Moving out of this facility has not been easy.

Four kitchenettes, two laundry rooms, lots of closets, five offices and tons of heartfelt memories. I swear I could hear Mary say, “Goooood Morning” when I walked in the door, even when the building would become increasingly more and more empty. I could still feel the energy of the dogs all around me. I would walk in the Instructor office and I would be taken back to all the magic that happened in that room that changed people’s lives and kept dogs in their forever homes because of the programs we created in those team meetings with Jordan, Nick, and Abby.

With all businesses and entrepreneurs, you live and you learn.

One thing I’ve personally learned is that the passion for what we do at Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center has always been there, but the purpose seems to come from within. Over time, I’ve felt a strong pull towards something much bigger, and to help more people seems to become even stronger. To give more and to do even more.

We’ve always treated and cared for dogs but what we do and the services we provide improves the quality of life for families and inevitably gives back to the community.

This is important to me.

All of the crates, kennels, pens, bowls and toys were donated. The podium that world-renowned veterinarian and behaviorist Dr. Ian Dunbar once spoke at, is now being used for a young lady’s wedding whose dream plans have now been completely changed due to the pandemic. The brand new office chair at our front desk is now seated at the desk of a young man who took our kids camp eight years ago. He is so excited to bring that chair home to his bedroom where instead of studying on campus, he’ll be starting his semester virtually right next to the shelf that proudly holds the picture of him and his dog from that very class to start his college career.

Fear can play tricks on you. I don’t have any fear.

I’ve always trusted in our mission. I’ve always known that there is a purpose for the mission.

I will continue to follow the signs and clear intuition sent our way because, at the end of the day and two eras, education still comes first. Change is good. It’s good for the soul and it’s what feeds this business.

I’m ready on so many levels to see what’s next for Wag ‘N’ Tails, it’s people, their dogs, and the community.

I’m excited to be offering our unique grooming salon with a new unparalleled learning program filled with teams of talented specialists who are motivated and thrilled about our new beginnings. I’m over the moon about our variety of training services that will continue to prevent fear and aggression. We’re collaborating with so many great businesses and fellow dog lovers on the same mission. I can’t thank our clients enough who have been along for this ride for so many years, and to those who are new to our door, welcome! The best is yet to come with our new home office currently being the Studio location.

Wag on Mound may be closed for the boarding business, but we have so many exciting memories and new stories to be told on the horizon. I will always hear, see and feel the memories of that location in my heart.

You can learn more via the website at www.wagntails.net for ongoing updates. Please join my email communication here.

When One Door Closes, Another Dog Door Opens

When One Door Closes, Another Dog Door Opens

Dear Valued Clients,

I’m writing today to provide you with an update about the impact that Covid-19 has had on Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center and the changes being made as a result of it. Wag has met the evolving changes and needs of dogs and their families for over twenty years in Michigan. The pandemic has caused me to adapt to change and move faster than a Retriever chasing a ball (lost in the woods.)

At the end of March, we started by following all the necessary protocols for the length of time we were allowed to stay in operation. I closed both locations on March 23 2020 to meet continued health and safety guidelines set forth by local and national officials. This was approximately three months that we were considered a non-essential business in Macomb County Michigan.

During this time, I furloughed 100% of my 26 employees and focused on fine-tuning my virtual training service procedures and continued to educate the public the best I could during the stay home orders using videos and Facebook Live events, hoping to give help where needed. This allowed me to continue following all state and federal agencies and diligently research plans for the future of my company for my teams and dedicated clients.  As of today, half of our team will be coming back with different positions and we are safely offering grooming and training services with office personnel working virtually.

All the guidelines set forth by the CDC and recommendations by the Veterinary Association of Michigan are being strictly adhered to and can be viewed here on our website. We will continue to protect our staff, volunteers, and community as we are being continuously guided.

However, the impact of Covid-19 has also forced me to make some difficult decisions. I am announcing today, with a tear in my eye, that Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center on Mound Road will not reopen.

In truth, the expenses would have far exceeded the income. It’s that simple. The employment changes necessary to operate our type of boarding and daily care center would not have been possible.

So…

I’ve wiped the tear and continued to press on.

I’ve never stopped. There was no quarantine vacation for me. It was “operation find a place I can trust for your dogs” that will not only meet your standards but mine too when I realized that this decision must be made.

Today, I’m announcing that my boarding and daily care center journey has come to an end. Although, when one door closes, another dog door opens. Twenty years of business has allowed me to connect with so many others in the animal care industry, to be involved in so many inspiring events that have made such a difference for so many fellow dog lovers and I’ve built lots of new friendships along the way.

During this unforeseen time, I’ve been in touch with Joe Youngblood of Shelby Township Parks and Recreation and also the Mayor of Utica to continue improving our training programs following Social distancing guidelines and a plan to bring business to local small businesses.

I’ve also connected with business owners of local boarding centers and we’re in the beginning stages of offering our one of a kind training programs with outstanding and experienced Instructors at those boarding centers. This will be how Wag will continue to stay involved with your dogs when you travel! I’m designing a consulting and staffing agency for the local boarding, daycare, and grooming centers and we’re quite excited about it.

We know our doghouse on Mound holds a special place in the hearts of our community and we will remain committed to the community where we were founded more than twenty years ago. 

In June we opened our Studio location bringing on three employees and by the end of July, we plan to bring back five more. Regrettably, six boarding positions have been eliminated as a result of the changes. I am exploring other options for those team members. Two Upper Management employees will remain furloughed. My goal is to call them back to fill openings as they become available. The trainers are back in action!

My undying commitment to education for dogs and their people will not end.

While the decisions I’m announcing today are driven by the impact of public health concerns and the economic changes of Covid-19, I’m confident that taking these difficult steps now will allow us to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic and embrace new opportunities to innovate and advance our mission and my purpose. My book titled, Becoming Mindful With Dogs is due to publish this year and the virtual training offered is now nationwide allowing me to assist even more people and their dogs.

Despite all the recent challenges and very long work hours throughout the pandemic, I know our future is bright. Wag ‘N Tails remains secure thanks to the very strong support of our community and the continued and ongoing dedication from our remarkable team of true dog lovers.

I am over the moon grateful that I was able to celebrate twenty years with our team and dedicated clients last year. It’s made packing up the center a little easier, although still bittersweet indeed.

Wag ‘N’ Tails will continue to provide training services to our clients by educating local care teams and more communities using our philosophies of learning with our exclusive referral partners.

We couldn’t be more thrilled to be maintaining our relationships with you and your dogs this way! The same training packages you’ve grown to know and love are on the way, only they will be offered at the centers listed below that I not only personally recommend, but I will be proudly teaching at with the assistance of my top instructors. We are still working out the details so I appreiciate your continued patience.

When you contact any of these facilities for daycare or boarding services, please be sure to tell them that I sent you!

The K9 Club
WOW! Located in Troy, this center is modern and urban. Their team of employees is certified through a national organization held with very high regard called, The Dog Gurus. This center has everything and SO much more! If you are looking for overnight boarding and this city seems a bit out of your way, The K9 Club is worth the drive.

The Dog Ranch – Todd and Monica
Such a dedicated couple with a true love for not only the dogs they care for but their employees, and it shows. This is the place where a dog can be a dog and even go swimming in the pond! A very clean facility with lots of fresh air and that country feeling, I just don’t know if a dog could ask for more.

Happy Dog – Jim Lane
Jim would probably sleep at his center every night if he could, although he has an incredible team for that! Jim found Happy Dog and he and his wife quit their life long careers, moved across town to completely change their lives and dedicate their time to your dog’s daily needs while you work or travel. Jim is devoted and you’ll know it right when you walk in the door.

Feel free to schedule a time to talk with me using the portal here if you have any questions. I have 20-minute phone consultations available using the virtual training option.

Peace and Wags forever,

Christine Fox

CEO and Founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center

How to Groom Your Dog From Home

How to Groom Your Dog From Home

Pet parents are having to keep their dogs looking and feeling healthy and happy without relying on their professional groomer during the stay home quarantine order we are experiencing in Michigan. Home grooming is a hassle (to put it mildly) for even the most patient dog owner.

Bending over the tub can be a real backbreaker, not to mention the clogged drains in the tub. Whether you have a short-haired, typically low maintenance breed or a long-haired dog who requires ongoing and regular coat attention, all dogs can suffer from dry skin and overgrown nails. We’re here to help you!

Here is a FACEBOOK LIVE video with TONS of tips!

When grooming from home, consider doing so at a time when you are most relaxed. The less nervous that you are, the better for your dog. Animals can sense when you’re approaching with apprehension. If you are making the choice to do some home grooming, we’re hoping this tool list will help you, along with reminding you how important it is to remember, you got this! Be confident as best you can and let’s get your dog comfortable.

Home Grooming Tips

  1. Keep your sessions short
  2. Have plenty of treats readily available
  3. Teach cooperative care techniques for handling
  4. Have all the necessary tools best for your breed of dog and their temperament
  5. Deep breaths. You got this!

Bathing Your Dog

  1. Avoid dry skin by bathing no more than once per month
  2. Consider a portable tub. These are great for taking the anxiety out of the experience for both the dog and the handler. Also, you can get all the way around the dog, 360 degrees.
  3. Always comb out the dog’s hair, before the bath to prevent matting of the coat.

Bathing Tools

  1. Give your dog a massage while you bathe can de-shed at the same time when you use a grooming glove.
  2. Use non-toxic all-natural ingredients for your shampoo choices. Never use “people” shampoo!
  3. Consider a two-in-one product that has shampoo and conditioner together in one.

Combs and Brushes for Long-Haired Dogs

Brushing the coat to keep the skin and hair healthy is more important than adding water and soap. Brush – brush and brush some more to help keep your dog’s skin and coat healthy. Keep in mind, brushing only removes tangles from the top of the coat leaving the knots underneath the surface. Be sure to invest in a good comb that gets down to the bottom of the coat.

  • A flat spine comb. We like this one here!
  • Use a gentle pin brush while the dog is still wet. (Adding a conditioner while the dog is wet can assist in working through knots and matted fur!)
  • Choose a pin brush that has rounded ends at the end of the bristles to prevent brush burn or skin irritation.

Brushes for Short Haired Dogs

  • The Furminator de-shedding tool can make shedding worse when seasons are changing.
  • Instead, consider the Zoom Groom made by Kong. This tool also massages as it cleans which dogs really appreciate!
  • Consider a de-shedding tool such as the Sleek EZ here.

Scissors and Clippers

If you’ve washed, dried and brushed and your dog still has a matted coat or their hair is hanging in their face, you may need to invest in a pair of safety scissors that have rounded edges. Using safety scissors can help minimize the danger of using sharp instruments, especially when you aren’t a pro or well practiced!

Keep in mind, we really don’t recommend that you cut your dog’s hair at all, but if your dog can’t see, here are a few trimming tips:

  • Comb the bangs all the way forward and to the front.
  • Sandwich the bangs in between your thumb and forefinger and measure, creating a line that divides.
  • Cut only the bangs that stick out past your fingers.

Pet Clipper Kit

We really would rather that you don’t clip your dog’s hair from home. However, if your pup’s fur is matted and causing severe discomfort this may be your only option. When a dog becomes matted this can cause major behavior changes such as irritability or even depression. Not to mention skin irritations and health problems. You may need to shave your dog and start fresh.

You really don’t need an advanced set of clippers, a standard kit from Wahl which includes a variety of guards comes with a “how-to” guide and styling tips. Be sure to move in the direction of the hair growth to prevent skin burning and always work with the plastic heal of the clippers flat against the dog’s body rather than from an angle. Especially when working near the ears, elbows, and tail areas. You really want to avoid touching thin skin next to the clippers moving blades.  You really need to be careful near skin folds and flaps!

Your dog might look a little goofy since you aren’t a professional groomer, but it’s better to leave the coat a little choppy than to rush to the vet with a puncture wound, especially right now when veterinary appointments are limited. Just getting your dog comfortable and removing the knots is the objective.

Nail Trimming

This process creates a lot of anxiety for so many people – and dogs. Remain calm and consider the following tools:

  • Scratchboard. See this video here with a dog who knows how to use the board, once taught.
  • Clippers with a non-slip grip and safety guard
  • Consider a cordless dremel if you would rather not risk cutting the quick in the nail. Consider this one by fear-free makers called the zen clipper precise. You may need to spend time getting your dog used to the sound. Refer to the cooperative care video above for similar techniques related to desensitization.
  • Have some Kwik Stop Styptic Powder around, just in case of accidents.

Not having access to our pet care professionals that we know and trust is tough, but roughing it hasn’t been easy either. Who cares if your dog is little goofy looking, as long as he or she is comfortable!

How to Best Care for Your Dog During The COVID-19 Quarantine

How to Best Care for Your Dog During The COVID-19 Quarantine

We’ve all heard the clichés, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”; and “It’s what’s on the inside that counts.” If dogs could talk, that’s what they would be saying right now when we look into their eyes underneath their overgrown bangs, talons for nails that click and clack like high heels on the floor, and their hair sticking out from their paw pads. During this time, we need to drop our concerns about their looks and make our priorities all about our dog’s health and happiness. Let “Shaggy” OWN that new look, read more here.

During this world shut down, some people have soul searched and baked zucchini bread to find their health and happiness. Others have barely been able to get by each moment, happy to have the energy to make a bowl of cereal, grab a shower, and not cry all day. Our dogs are feeling this change in life too – through us. Some are ready to party, happy that their owners are home every day, and others are wondering when they’re getting their couch back.
One thing we all have in common? None of us are getting our nails done professionally, and none of us are getting our hair cut at the spa.

Here’s the thing.

Whether your Governor has considered dog grooming to be a non-essential business or not, the bottom line is this, there are some basic care techniques that just have to be taken at home during this time. That’s all there is to it.

I’m not really thrilled about doing my own nails. It took me forever and I’m terrible at using my left hand.  After doing the dishes at least 10 times per day, since eating out has been squashed, plus washing my hands 6,000 times a day, I had to paint them again the next day anyway. I’m over it. All-natural for me; until this ban is lifted.

For our dogs? They aren’t real big fans of the nail clipping by you OR the pros. So here are few home tips that would help the home grooming process all the way around:

1. Make a Scratchboard
My Labrador puppy loves this game and now her nails are nicer than mine. Check it out!

2. Reinforce Cooperative Care Handling
Such a great way to bond with your dog, plus your vet, and your groomer will love you for this one! Check out this video.

3. Teach and then teach some more!
Every time you teach and encourage learning, it reduces stress for your dog, and for YOU! Enrichment activities with game playing before you clip just one nail or brush one part of the coat is a great trade-off!

4. Bathe and Dry at Home
Is there anything better than the zoomies after your dog has had a bath at home?

Check out Melissa Verplank’s videos. For a minimal fee, you can get some real help at home for Doodles, handling matted coats and so much more. She’s amazing!

Consider our Virtual Online Coaching. We can help! Learn more here.

The bottom line is, some of this is just out of our control for the moment from a legal perspective. Groomers are not considered an essential business in Michigan. Business owners are at risk of being fined and could jeopardize their future and their reputation if they break the mandate to accommodate their clients in need. If a grooming appointment is a health risk, veterinarians are available for emergencies and are able to accommodate dogs for emergencies.

When grooming salons reopen, there will most certainly be a new normal with heaps of guidelines to follow. Brian Lane, Founder of Bingos Pet Salon and Groom School in Royal Oak, opened up to his followers about his battle with the virus and how devastated he would’ve been if his parents contracted it from him. There is so much to consider!

Much of the information as professionals that we’re learning has newfound information added from various statewide and national organizations with ever-changing and new “normal” regulations added weekly.

Curbside won’t be unusual, the exchange of transactions will be online for many, and the days of chatting in the lobby will be a thing of the past for a while unless you have a mask on and you’re a six-foot leash distance away from your groomer.

When Groomers get the go-ahead to reopen, it’s going to be worse than the toilet paper madness we all experienced or heard about. Debbie Wales, Owner of Lakeside Dog Grooming in Sterling Heights has hundreds of messages to return weekly. Renee McGee of Kuts and Kisses in Shelby Township said, she’s ready, but it’s been lots of work and preparation for PPE.

Grooming shops right now are managing hundreds of phone calls per week, not including emails and instant messages through social media. Some messages are unkind and demanding for appointments. Luckily, those are the minority of calls. Most clients are being very understanding and patient during this unforeseen time. Grooming shops are ready to get the economy and their scissors moving again, details just need to be in place and all safety precautions will need to be taken by the business and the customers.

The cliché rings true: it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The overgrown hair and the crappy nails? It’s a picture, but not the whole picture. It’s what is on the inside; and inside of all of this, we’re in it together.

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
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COVID-19 Update

COVID-19 Update

StayHome #takeapaws

Due to Governor Whitmer’s executive order, both locations are closed. We appreciate your support and loyalty during this mandated closure.

Let’s stay home as ordered until further guidance is given to get our country up and running again. When that time comes, we will appreciate your patience and understanding as following all recommendations by the CDC will require your patience and careful cooperation.

Also note, that a reopen date will require communication via our client portal on the website in order to schedule our employees, order sufficient supplies and plan accordingly. Please be sure you are receiving emails and make note that the the portal is our primary communication system with employees working from home during this time.

Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to opening again very soon!

Stay well and be safe,

Your friends and team of Trainers and Groomers at Wag

4 Ways to Enrich Your Lifestyle With Your Dog

4 Ways to Enrich Your Lifestyle With Your Dog

So what exactly is dog enrichment and how can it possibly become a “lifestyle ?” Just like it’s root word dictionary definition, “to improve or enhance the quality of,” canine enrichment improves your dog’s mental capacity and enhances his understanding of his relationship with you and the world around him. So let’s make every experience for your dog as enriching as we possibly can by making it part of your everyday lifestyle. It’s so easy to do, your dog will love you for it, PLUS these simple changes can be enlightening ways to bring YOU peace and joy, so why not? 

Since enrichment is part of your dog’s day, it’s part of your day and your pattern in life too. Enrichment is multi-sensory, so this offers us many ways to soothe and stimulate our dogs and at the same time, we’re treating our OWN senses.  Let’s take notice in ways you can add some peace to your every day and at the same time bring wellness and satisfaction to your dog. 

1. Taste

 

Delivered to Your Door

Simply fill dog puzzles with treats or your dogs’ kibble. You can even make your own homemade and healthy treats for puzzle fillers. We love any product made by Kyjen puzzles because they come in a variety of difficulty levels. You can also make your own snuffle matt, or my personal favorite can be found here, that my dog eats from regularly. All of these “store-bought” items can be delivered right to your door. Here are a few more of our favorites, thanks to our friends at Amazon. Kong shares great recipes for you right here,

DIY

Can I get a “HOLLA!” for the “Do-It-Your-Selfers!” After your adventure of finding any of these items from around the house listed below you can stuff them with the food treats of your choice. Better yet, feed your dogs entire meal this way and let the taste enrichment begin!

Save or be on the lookout for:

  • Empty toilet paper and paper towel roll
  • Empty Kleenex boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • PVC tubing
  • Package delivery boxes
  • Wrap treats in a rolled-up towel
  • Use a laundry basket with towels filled with treats

2. Sound

Through a dog ear and classical music creates a lovely energy that dogs enjoy.  It’s good for the soul and would be good for you too! You can find the tunes here. 

3.Smell

Scents can stimulate and calm the senses. Anyone who is “into” essential oils knows this. Scent is powerful! For dogs, they need to get their olfactory going regularly. This is how dogs“read.” Dogs sniff like we “see”, so let’s give them lots to smell about! You can spray scents on bedding or use scents in the air with diffusers and candles. This is great for you too as aromatherapy has been shown to carry many benefits for stress relief and wellness. 

I use lavender, orange, rosemary, and peppermint. Dogs seem to like almond, coconut and vanilla scent. Shelters will sometimes sprinkle dried spices like cinnamon, cloves and ginger on kennel floors to get the dogs sniffing. Explore and “scent” out your favorites together! Maybe having treats in the oven gets your senses going. The world is your enrichment oyster.

4. Mental and Physical Enrichment 

Teaching and training is where it’s at. To me, this is what is all about. When you teach a new behavior or remind your dog how smart they are with the basics, it just feels good. Everyone loves a pat on the back and there’s nothing better than learning a new skill and getting good at it! This gets the endorphins going for both of you. Throw in a nice brisk walk and your day just got better all the way around. 

Life can just look, taste, smell, feel and BE sweeter when you’re engaging all the senses with your dog. An enlightening and enriching way to live life for the entire family, including the dog. 

Check out this video of our trainer Erica and her son Issac home during the #quarantine. In this video, they give you tips to make your day more enjoyable AND enriching with your dog AND your family! #stayhome #takeapaws

Check out the video!

Be sure to join our founder, Christine Fox, LIVE on Facebook, Mondays at 4 PM for more tips. Next week we talk dog grooming products and tricks. Hope to see you there.

Using Medication for Behavior Modification in Dogs: 7 Things You Should Know

Using Medication for Behavior Modification in Dogs: 7 Things You Should Know

Using behavioral medications can make a significant difference in the management of severe behavior problems.  What I like best is that these medicines can help to begin the modification process for cases that would otherwise be very complicated.

I recently attended the Science of Animal Behavior Conference hosted by K9 Turbo Training and Detroit Dog Rescue in Detroit, Michigan. It was the first time in this area where I am proudly from, that several of the country’s top veterinary behaviorists were featured together. 

The speakers included Dr. Theresa DePorter, DVM, MRCVS, DECAWBM, DACVB from Oakland Veterinary Referral Services (OVRS) and Dr. Marie Hopfensperger DVM, DACVB from Michigan State University. Also, Dr. Ashley Elzerman, DVM also from OVRS and Dr. Erica Hawker, DVM from Union Lake Veterinary Hospital.  

This outstanding two-day conference brought together 12 of the best Animal Behavior professionals to focus on evidence-based behavior science to better understand, treat and work with animals in our local community. There was a wide variety of behavioral topics with the most current information science has to offer including: Behavioral medicines – how to know when they are needed and how to prescribe them for best results.  Also, science-based behavior medicine and interpreting canine body language. 

For decades there has been a significant amount of scientific data collected supporting behavior medications for a variety of species including humans and dogs. 

I would like to discuss that data!

Over the course of my career I have personally experienced the positive impact that medicines have for families in need. As long as they are coupled with gentle behavior modification techniques, safe and healthy exercise, and ongoing communication between the family, the chosen force-free trainer and their trusted veterinarian, medicines can be an excellent way to allow your dog to learn more easily in high-stress situations. 

This is my list of 6 things you should know about behavior medicines from my own personal experience and a few extras I recently learned from some pretty phenomenal experts that I thought I would share!

  1. Not all medicines are created equal, but they do indeed exist
    As a matter of fact, many of the same medicines used to treat anxiety for people are used for dogs. Medications can be used for a variety of different behavioral conditions dogs have varying from compulsive disorders such as tail chasing and fabric suckling to noise phobias, aggression, fear, and anxiety. 

Click here for a full rundown on different medications and their uses. http://www.drjensdogblog.com/behavior-medication-first-line-therapy-or-last-resort/

  1. You need your veterinarian to prescribe any medicines
    Ideally, it’s best to work with a board-certified veterinary behaviorist (DACVB) or an experienced veterinarian with a special interest in behavioral disorders. These professionals who are specialized can not only rule out prior medical conditions prior to diagnosing but they can help to assess the advantages and disadvantages of each medication for the individual patient. 
  2. Medicines are backed by scientific research
    There is decades of research supporting the changes that can be made from medication. These medications work by basically changing how the brain transfers information, which affects the products made by your dog’s brain cells. I’m sure a neuroscientist would squirm at my explanation – but that’s the long and short of it!
  3. Medicines are NOT for every dog
    The majority of my clients are able to work with me and no medicine is needed. 

With a nice dose of counter conditioning, a splash of desensitizing and plenty of ongoing maintenance that includes close tracking of behavior, exercise and individualized plans for success, we simply don’t need any brain-altering medicines. 

That is not to say that I don’t have cases that the welfare of the animal is at stake and that there are indeed those times that their safety and comfort will sometimes require a “cocktail” of sorts. Medications should be considered as part of a behavior program only when a qualified veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist determines that the condition of your dog is not falling within normal parameters and/or is not responding to appropriate behavior modification efforts with your force-free experienced dog trainer or behaviorist. Preferably certified with the Certified Council for Pet Trainers, (CCPDT).

When might a veterinarian recommend behavior medication?

  • When a dog is experiencing levels of fear, arousal or anxiety to the point that it’s affecting their quality of life or impairing their ability to learn.
  • When the dog is experiencing generalized levels of anxiety and they are moderately anxious or worried in a variety of different situations.
  • When a dog has physiological effects to stimuli or specific events in life are so intense, learning without medicine is nearly impossible.
  • The dog may become quickly or easily frustrated, agitated or over-aroused. These dogs are usually slow to recover after becoming aroused. 
  1. Medicines can provide relief from mental anguish and suffering
    For dogs who experience severe or extreme anxiety, fear, phobias, and panic, medicines can indeed improve their quality of life and offer relief for the family as well. Medicines can provide relief from mental anguish and suffering.  If a dog is regularly reacting to fear-inducing situations or stimuli with any of the behaviors listed below this is a cause for concern:
  • Drooling
  • Urinating
  • Defecating
  • Attempting to run away
  • Inflicting harm to themselves or others

If your dog reacts like this when fearful, anxious, or agitated It’s our responsibility as pet parents and professionals to act quickly for the welfare of our dogs and their health and safety and to provide relief as quickly as possible. Appropriate medications can sometimes be what’s needed as a necessary first step. Dr. Jen has a great explanation and breakdown of medicines here

Check out the case studies included in this article, also explaining the common misunderstandings of behavioral medication. So many people are under the impression that medications will make their dog dopey, sleepy and unresponsive. Some people may feel that drugs are unhealthy, but this just is not the case. Medication should only be prescribed after a thorough exam from your veterinarian, sometimes including a blood workup and urine analysis. Learn more here: https://todaysveterinarypractice.com/on-your-best-behavior-q-a-the-use-of-medications-in-canine-behavior-therapy/

  1. Medicines can make learning easier
    Medications can help regulate the dog’s physiological state so that learning can take place. Some dogs are in such a state of arousal or agitation this prevents them from being able to learn new behaviors and responses altogether.
  2. Medicines can work!
    How do you know if the medications are working? You should begin to see changes in behavior along with the plan you and your force-free trainer have created. 

Improvements will include a dog who is:

  • Comfortable more often
  • Overall much happier
  • Able to go with you to places with more confidence
  • Able to withstand environmental changes
  • Able to react to stimuli and environmental changes and reactions will be less frequent and intense. Recovery time will decrease as well.

    Medication is not one size fits all. It’s going to take time for your veterinarian, your trainer (the therapist!)  and your family to track what you see so you can continue to communicate with your veterinarian and make appropriate adjustments to the medicines until all of you find the right fit.

You will know when you’ve found the right fit for your pet. It’s a pretty obvious and relieving feeling when the welfare and happiness of your pet has changed for the better. I’ve seen the results with my own eyes and felt it in my heart, time and time again for many families. 

My Charley Boy

My Charley Boy

It’s the Beginning, Not the End

I lost my best friend Charley today
He went to that beautiful place we all come from.
I know he’s still with me,
I can feel him in my heart, like a beating drum.
When I sit at my desk,
I’ll still feel him at my feet
As though ten years haven’t passed
My heart still keeping a steady beat.
I lost my buddy today.
That dog who will always be “the one.”
The soul sent down to shine upon me, brighter than the sun.
When I open any food bag,
I’ll miss the sound of his prance that comes running.
Such a handsome dog with lashes you could only call, “just stunning!”
I lost my companion today.
The one who affected everyone he knew.
With just a glance, a pushy paw, or by sitting backward for a pet, on top of your shoe.
He loved swimming in the summer and craved sniffing lots of trees,
making snow angels in the winter
and rolling in the autumn leaves.
His gentle smile will be missed.
The way he would sniff the morning air,
When we would open up the door,
he would always take a moment, enjoy – and just simply stand there.
Walking through life, literally won’t be the same.
Trails and downtown, they all knew him by name.
I lost my boy today.
That dog I had a special connection to.
The one who carried around his stuffed puppy and was stuck to me like glue.
Such a cool dog, his dad taught him how to give you a wink with one eye
But his time has come and it’s not about “why?”
I thought I could prepare for this day,
I really thought I would.
But nothing can prepare us for our grief like we wish it could.
I trust and know that he’s going to a place with that cool morning breeze,
lots of bunnies and ducks to chase and all his favorite trees.
I lost my soft Golden Retriever today
His day had been decided.
So that he no longer has to suffer
and once again our hearts have collided.
Today is my birthday
The day God brought me here to this life
Now Charley will go home today and continue living his best life.
My heart still beats until we meet again my friend – today will always be extra special – The beginning, not the end.
Charley’s Tribute Video:
https://youtu.be/-V_S_XLKOYo

Bark and Burn – Exercising WITH Your Dog

It was quite a long time ago when I introduced dog daycare to Shelby Township, Michigan. I was so young, so brave, so determined. At that time there were only four daycare centers in MacombCounty. Nothing was gonna stand in my way of launching something so beneficial to our dogs! People thought I was crazy. Daycare for…DOGS? Training classes were common, but no one ever heard of bringing a dog to a center to receive daily care.

When the phone would finally ring at Wag N Tails back then I was so excited! “Thank You for calling Wag N Tails, how may I help you?” I would answer anxiously. I was hoping for another potential success story where I could learn more about a person and their dog who needed my help. The training was always an option, but since forever, a tired dog is a good dog. “How about we start Brandy on a daycare plan once a week since it’s difficult to give her all the exercise she seems to need?”, I would suggest excitedly! I can’t tell you how many times I was turned down, laughed at, snickered at and teased. It was strange to me. At that time I was researching what professionals all over the country were doing.  I just didn’t understand. Everyone else around the nation was benefiting from daycare for their dogs. Why couldn’t the folk’s home in Michigan see the same benefits in their life plan for their pet? Was it budget? Their time? What could it be?

And then finally. Finally, the day came where I remember calling my mom to bring me lunch because I was by myself that day with eleven dogs in the nap room conked out from a hard morning at play! I couldn’t believe it! The phones were ringing away! The dogs were having a ball (literally!) and their parents were thrilled with the outcome! I was doing my part to reduce obesity in dogs, along with helping towards the problem of high energy and anxiety in dogs. My clients were sending their friends and neighbors and, “wa-lah”! Daycare for dogs in Shelby Township was born!

People were happier with their pets, which in turn was reducing the number of dogs given away due to frustration or disappointment. There are now 47 dog daycare centers in Macomb Township, Michigan when years ago there were only a few to choose from. Combining exercise with training is key. It’s the answer that everyone needs, yet it’s difficult for us to always find the time, energy, and patience that’s needed.

Well, here I am again only its 20 years and 10,000 dogs later. I’m launching something new again. Something that most people will laugh it. Once again, I’m brave and determined, not so young anymore, but certainly still brave and determined! Exercising with your dog just sounds ridiculous to so many. I’m sure coming to a Bark ‘N Burn class is gonna make for some great conversation on your lunch break at work.

People might be afraid of what others have to say. Sometimes trying something new can make people nervous. Maybe exercising with your dog seems silly. Whatever the case may be, one thing I can say with absolute certainty. Dogs need to be healthy. Humans need to be healthy. Finding a way to conquer both at the same time? What could be better than that? Having fun with our dogs is just as important as petting them. Bonding with exercise is just as strong of a bond, if not stronger than all the babbling and baby talk we do with them! Why can’t exercising with our dogs be just as normal as putting healthy food in a bowl for them every day?

Bringing something new to our State isn’t always easy, but it certainly is fun! I’m excited. I’m so anxious for that buzz! The buzz that starts when people start talking for their dogs. Telling all their friends how much fun they are having and at the same time burning calories. The same person who laughed at you in the lunchroom at work? She and her Beagle will probably be the first to sign up for the next session!

Wag ‘N’ Tails will be first to launch this program along with so many other great “firsts”!

I predict that we won’t be the last! To all of you dog lovers who are brave, determined, excited and ready to try something new and fun, see you Thursday at the first Bark N Burn Exercise Class! Pumped.

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
5 Reasons to Bond with Your Dog Without Talking

5 Reasons to Bond with Your Dog Without Talking

When you communicate with your dog without talking, this builds a bond as you’ve never experienced before. Dog’s don’t read, and they aren’t born speaking English. Mammals are not born understanding the rules of safety nor do we use words to communicate right away. Just as we don’t expect a young infant to completely understand what we are saying with words, we can’t expect the same from animals right away. It’s the tone of our voice or touch, it’s the look or even just your presence. It’s not always what you say, it’s what you DO.

1. Most dogs don’t understand reasoning or explaining

When a dog comes into our lives, we somehow expect either the new puppy or adopted dog to immediately understand our world and the rules the come with it. Many times, pet parents are expecting a dog to understand our human language – a language that we use to communicate in our existence. 

More importantly, we expect dogs to understand the actual words that we are saying, even when we use 10 -20 words at a time! Dogs know when we are happy, sad or upset based on our tones, our body language and yes, quite a few “words.” As a matter of fact, Scientists have determined that dogs can learn up to 160 of our human words. This is quite an incredible finding.  Although, this doesn’t necessarily mean that your dog will understand why you are so upset about his incessant barking while jumping at the window.  It also won’t mean that your dog will listen when you are outside calling after him to come home after running out the door, especially when he just scurried past the open door of your fence where all the good stuff exists. We can’t reason with dogs using words that coerce or explain the rules in your home.

2. Yelling at a dog is like shouting at a baby

Researchers and scientists have determined that some dogs have the intelligence level of a human toddler around the age of 2 years. This may help to put some things into perspective. If a toddler was to have an “accident,” I can’t imagine an adult thinking that the most effective way to toilet train would be to yell at or scold the baby for better results next time. So, why then would we think that method of communication would be the most effective way to potty train a dog? 

3. Words can have a profound effect

Communication. In our daily existence, we can say things with words that are hurtful to one another. Or we can choose to say things that are profound, loving or perhaps educational and inspiring. There is an endless list of things we can say and ways we can express those words.  Sometimes, words are spoken that you just can’t take back. This exchange of words can have a profound effect on someone. Conversely, you can say things that are loving and those touching words are never to be forgotten. The old saying of, “it isn’t what you say, it’s what you do,” can apply when communicating as well. How we interact isn’t about words all the time, sometimes it’s a look, a gesture, a wave, a touch. 

People who understand animals get this. People who can “talk” to dogs, we never forget. We always remember to recognize our body language along with our words. We are constantly aware of our posture, eye contact, body placement, and hand movements, almost more so than concentrating on what we are saying – with words. When people think that dog teachers or caregivers have a gift, I like to think we have the gift of being conscious. Conscious of our actions just as much as, if not more so, than our words. 

4. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.

The thing is, dogs may be domesticated and “smarter” in a human world, than a lion or a squirrel, but that does not mean that they can reason like a human. Some dogs may be able to put together a certain amount of words and understand what it is we are saying, but some may not. Some people may be able to communicate with their dogs in a way that helps them understand each other, but some do not. When you add the element of non-verbal communication, this to me, is what it’s all about.

Effectively teaching and bonding with dogs is so much more than words. I don’t think I have a gift of being able to communicate with dogs any more than anyone else could. It’s a matter of being aware. Making sure to be aware of your body language, just as much as your spoken words. 

When your dog is barking out the window, shouting at or reasoning with your dog won’t work. When the door to the fence is left open you won’t be able to have a talk when the dog decides to come back home or when you are finally able to catch him. When you find an accident on the floor, just clean it up. Explaining why you are upset because the carpet is stinky and now you’re late for your appointment will mean nothing and certainly will not prevent or treat these problem behaviors from happening again. The dog knows you are upset, it’s pretty obvious because your eyebrows are crunched, you might be hunched over, your voice is louder and the fist shaking is a dead give-away. Although the act of taking off, barking out the window, and pooping on the floor was still fun or rewarding in some way, so you’re carrying on just typically won’t make a difference. Dog’s repeat what is rewarded, but that’s a whole different blog topic!

5. Have the gift without the “gab.”

When a human can “speak” without words? That is just beautiful to me. When a dog understands and learns? Now that’s the gift. 

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
Teaching the Release Word in Dog Training

Teaching the Release Word in Dog Training

When you are communicating with your dog, the release word is the ever-important cue allowing your dog to know when something may start or when it’s finished. If you skip using a release word in dog training, it’s like telling someone you’ve got a great story to tell and then walking away, leaving the person hanging. It’s like saying you’ll be right back, but not coming back. When you don’t use this cue, it leaves your dog confused and wondering what’s next. Or, even worse, the dog just makes his own choice since you didn’t decide what was best or safest at that moment.

As humans, we have all kinds of tools at our disposal to know when something starts or ends. We use our phones, clocks, or stopwatches. Children have the sound of the bell ringing at the end of the school day. With young children, we teach, “Ready? Set! Go!” The choice is yours as to what word you choose to use as your release cue (or tool) to offer your dog the same. Some people say the word “release!” or “free!”,  I use “okay!” for my dogs. It really doesn’t matter what word you use, just be sure to use it.

Here are a few examples of times you can use your release word:

Potty time, not party time

When you use the release word at any door before the exit or entry, this will spike your dogs’ interest, which is necessary for keeping their attention. For example, when your dog is going outside for a bathroom break, ask for a sit, open the door, and use the release word. Unless he’s realllllly gotta go, then that’s just plain mean.

Buh-bye in the car

Next time you unbuckle the seat belt or open the door for your dog to exit your vehicle, require that your dog waits for a hot second, maybe using a “wait” cue. Say your release word and open the door. Safety first. You really should make sure the coast is clear and the situation is safe before your dog goes high tailing it outta there, so excited to see where you’ve taken him.

Chow time

Eating a meal is so much more fun when the food is earned and given with a release. Handing over a meal to a dog without a simple sit and release word, is like the difference between a microwaved pot pie and someone making you a gourmet meal. If you just plop down the bowl, it just takes the pizazz away. Borrrring. Using the release word just makes the meal more thrilling!

Wanna go for a walk?

We’ve all seen that inevitable excitement, the “ants in the pants” run around in circles like a “coo-coo” run-to-the-door madness. We just can’t get enough of a dog’s intense excitement to get around that block, seriously, it’s the best! Next time? Use a simple “watch me” cue or the sit command if you think your dog is feelin’ it, THEN open the door, pause, shoot for some eye contact again, then go for the release word. This is a much better way to gain control before that walk even starts.

Chilling Out on the Furniture

Have you ever finished making a yummy looking sandwich, sat down in your spot in front of the TV, just got comfy and then wham! Therrrrre’s your dog, up on the couch, in your face, and in your sandwich. Simply using the release word for jumping up on the furniture will not only teach manners but it could save your lunch.

Using the release word encourages your dog to basically “ask first.” Using this cue not only teaches your dog basic manners and improves communication skills, but it makes your dog’s life with you more fun and interesting. At the same time, you are ensuring their safety. What could be better than that? This is just one way to make learning fun and teach manners too. Your dog will love you for it!

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
35 Reasons to Use the Leash in the House

35 Reasons to Use the Leash in the House

Teaching a puppy to wear a leash in the house can be a great tool to get you started with teaching basic manners at home. Preventing unwanted behaviors is always more effective than teaching a pup who has already learned that misbehaving is lots of fun! Prevention of misbehavior does require that you think ahead and you’ve got to have your tools ready, especially the leash. Dogs are such soulful and intelligent creatures with an innate willingness to please. They are so eager to learn, so using the leash along with rewards such as treats and play will set you and your puppy up for success. 

Here are a few of my personal favorite reasons I like to use the leash that came to mind while raising our newest puppy English Labrador pup, Katey Grace. 

35 reasons to leave the leash on in the house:

  1. When it’s time to run for the door before an accident happens, you’ve got that leash!
  2. So you don’t have to get off the couch when the puppy is across the room chewing on the leather chair. 
  3. When your puppy is hanging off your oldest dog’s lip and a much-needed break is in order. 
  4. The leash creates a space for monitored play when it’s tied under a piece of furniture to create a safe area.
  5. When a visitor drops by, you’re ready!
  6. It’s there as a tool for teaching when you’re cooking in the kitchen.
  7. It’s there when it’s time for “place!” training when you’re teaching your pup to lay on their bed and chill out.
  8. Teaching fetch! Now the pup has to bring the ball back because you’re using the leash and a treat as a guide. 
  9. Great for boundary training when your pup isn’t allowed in certain rooms.
  10. That leash is there to assist when a puppy is jumping up on you.
  11. It’s there to assist with jumping up on furniture.
  12. It’s there to assist with jumping up on children.
  13. Right there to assist for jumping up on counters too!
  14. Grab it when the pup is crawling underneath in places where she shouldn’t be.
  15. Use it when you need training assistance with anything related to fear so you can walk away together and return on puppy time.
  16. Tie the leash under the leg of a chair in the kids rooms so you can keep a safe and close eye for prevention of misbehavior such as stealing the kids toys.
  17. Tie the leash under the leg of a chair in the master bedroom so you can keep a safe and close eye for prevention of misbehavior such as stealing laundry basket items. 
  18. Tie the leash under the leg of a chair in the living room so you can keep a safe and close eye for the prevention of misbehavior such as stealing the remote or magazines.
  19. Use an eye hook in the wall if you don’t want to use furniture with tether training and create safe areas in various places throughout the house.
  20. Be sure to have plenty of toys, appropriate chew items, and enrichment activities ready when using safe playtime with the leash.
  21. The leash is there to grab for safety if the puppy lunges toward a dropped pill, an important dropped paper on the floor or food they want to gobble up that they aren’t supposed to.
  22. The leash prevents door dashing. 
  23. The leash prevents running inside a closed glass door too! Katey slammed into the sliding door once – she’s quite graceful. 
  24. The leash keeps you from becoming a “collar grabber” and making your pup dislike your hands coming at them! Your hands should always mean love ❤️ 
  25. The leash is great for waiting on the “check in or focus,” when you are walking outside or crossing the street. This is for teaching the puppy to look at you for permission before crossing the street or walking outside the door.
  26. Teach which furniture in the house is fair game, and which isn’t by redirecting with a treat and the leash.
  27. Letting the puppy run around with the leash on in the house gets them used to it so they become more comfortable with leash walking outside when it’s time.
  28. The leash prevents stealing things that don’t belong to them like puppy shoes, socks, glasses and the remote. 
  29. The leash also prevents the game of chase which we all know puppies love. Especially when they take off with your shoes, socks, glasses or the remote!
  30. You can make being next to you rewarding, instead of being away from you more of a positive.
  31. You can put the leash around your waist and have the pup tag along with you for daily chores. This gets the puppy exposure to the home, sounds and movements of the washing machine, opening up a garbage bag in the kitchen, etc. and keeps you close by!
  32. Keeping the leash on, you can pop outside easily for very short introductions to the real world out there and introduce puppy to more noises, sights and smells.
  33. With the leash on, I never have to worry about what my puppy is doing. A less-stressed pet parent makes for a less stressed puppy!
  34. The leash serves to interrupt and redirect to toys that are appropriate and allowed. 
  35. Leash training strengthens the bond between you and your pup! “Come by me, settle and let’s cuddle!” 🐾

Note: Please keep in mind when leaving a leash on in the house, AKA, tether training, the leash is used for short periods of time and it’s never left on if the puppy is unattended. Also, I typically recommend this for pups who will soon be transitioning to more freedom with baby gates or a puppy pen in the house. This technique is used for about 14 days depending on the age of the puppy, the temperament and the circumstances. 

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
Trick Training: 6 Dog Training Techniques for the Learner and the Teacher

Trick Training: 6 Dog Training Techniques for the Learner and the Teacher

These five favorite “go-to” trick training techniques are fun and simple to learn. You will know when the experience of learning has happened for you and your dog when you have continued success over and over. You will both achieve results together building a bond based on trust, communication, and mutual respect. Enjoy the learning process! This is what dog training is all about. Find the technique that works best for both of you, the learner and the teacher!

Not every method will work for every dog or teacher. In time, you will develop cues and hand signals and your dog will begin to understand what it is that you are asking for and trying to achieve. Follow these methods and sometimes you may even use a combination of a few of them, but always going back to this classical conditioning toolbox is your best bet!

Shaping

The method of shaping involves baiting (rewarding) each attempt in the right direction toward success! The key to shaping a desirable response is to reinforce achievable steps and take anything you can get that gets you closer. For example, if you wanted your dog to go to his bed and lay down. You would first reward the dog for just attempting to go near the bed. Since that was so easy, most likely your dog will eagerly attempt to go near the bed once again for another reward! Next, you expect just a tad bit more by expecting the sit cue while being on the bed for the reward this time. Next, you might go for the “down” cue after you hold out and wait for a bit until you get what you’re looking for. With the shaping technique, you’re able to move at your dogs’ pace. Take your time. I never expect too much too soon and always allow the dog to lead when I teach using this method. 

Sometimes with the shaping method, you just need to wait and see what you can get. Let your dog offer what they are capable of. I shaped the fun trick of playing the piano with my Maltese named, Hollywood. I waited it out to see if I could get her to play a few more keys in a row before giving the treat after her first few attempts. Her personality was so funny, she played the heck out of those keys wanting the treat so bad that ever since then when she played that piano she belted on those keys like Elton John every single time! Have fun with shaping, see what your pup will offer. It’s  a bonding time and a learning experience for the learner and the teacher. 

Luring

The method of luring is probably the most popular amongst force-free trainers. This method is easy and involves taking a yummy, (super delicious!) soft, food treat and placing the reward in front of the dogs nose so you can “steer” the dog into the desired position you are trying to achieve. Then, you transition from luring into a hand signal and from that point add your verbal cue. 

Beginner trainers may rely on this method more heavily, while more advanced trainers aim to avoid it when possible. It’s important to fade out a food lure as soon as you can, otherwise, the pup may only comply if the handler is holding a treat near the dog’s nose. 

A few tips with lure training

  1. Try to get rid of the lure as soon as you can!
  2. Use quick marker words like, “Yes!” or “Yay!” if you aren’t training with a clicker.
  3. Always vary your criteria, making it just a tad bit harder each time.
  4. If you expected too much too soon, just go back to where you had success!
  5. If your dog isn’t engaged in your lure, the lure isn’t good enough. Go grab something yummier and stinkier!

Capturing

When you capture a cue, you’re simply giving a reward when a natural behavior is exhibited. For example, when your dog sneezes, you would say, “Good sneeze!” to capture that behavior, name it and reinforce it. This is how I taught my Golden Retriever how to stretch on command. As he’s aging, I want him to stretch after he naps so he doesn’t pull a muscle when it’s time to transition and head outside. I also like him to stretch before walks or car rides. Each day after a long sleep or naps, he stretches, so I captured the behavior. Now I ask with a cue for him to stretch on command. Capturing is meant for behaviors that your dog will naturally do on their own such as yawning, stretching, sneezing, barking, laying their head down or even a head tilt. 

Targeting

“Luring keeps the animal thinking about the reinforcement or the treat, while targeting gets the animal thinking about the task.”  – Karen Pryor

This method is typically isn’t taught in standard force-free dog training courses for the general public. Normally you will see target training used for trick training, agility, rally, pro and competition dog training. Target training is the art of teaching your dog to touch a designated body part to a designated location. For example, your dog would touch his nose to the potty bell or to your finger. Maybe you will target your dog to touch his paw to the palm of your hand. The goal is to prompt a behavior without a food lure. Target training will allow you to teach your dog how to:

  • Ring bells
  • Close and open doors
  • Turn on and off lights
  • Advanced trick training
  • Increased distance cues
  • Locate and easily identify areas or zones
  • Great for sports such as dog dancing, rally and agility
  • Mat, place and platform work
  • Polite greetings

Modeling

Modeling is when you physically manipulate your dog’s body into a position. This method is tempting, however, this can make your dog reluctant to learn and fearful. This method also can delay the learning process since the dog isn’t required to use the motor skills needed to learn on his own. As humans, we don’t learn to drive by having someone press our foot down on the gas pedal, the learning process just doesn’t work like that. 

When you’re attempting to teach a trick or a cue that involves a series of steps make sure you your patience pants on! Nice deep breaths and calm energy will help too. Think of a flower that grows. There are roots underground, then a root and a small bud, and one day a beautiful bloom! Take your time. Everything in nature, including us, evolves and learns in our way and our own pace. Just as you can’t make a flower grow, you can’t make your dog ring the bell and actually learn that this means it’s time to go potty outside. It’s a process – a learning and developmental process.

Engage, teach and have fun together as a team and be careful that neither of you are getting burned out! If so, move on to something easier and go back to a simple cue you know the dog will respond to so you both feel rewarded. End your sessions positive and go back and play again later. It’s better to practice frequently than it is to play and practice for too long and get impatient, bored or frustrated.

About the Author: Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
More Than a Heart and a Home

More Than a Heart and a Home

At Wag ‘N’ Tails, you will be able to engage with other dog lovers, learn more about our passion for education, and discover interesting ways to prevent and treat behavior problems. Dogs need more than a heart and a home – I believe education comes first! I’ve been teaching dogs and their people since 1999 so I guess you can say I feel like my mission and my purpose on this planet is pretty clear by now. Those who work with me and follow me, know how passionate I am about dogs – there’s just no hiding it. I can be with dogs all day, be driving down the road, see a dog walking down the street and come out with all the “awwwww’s!” I can never get enough, just like you!

To me – there is much more to what I do in dog training than just teaching dogs how to learn.

This passion of mine has changed human lives and saved dogs lives. This business has started careers for some and began journeys for something entirely new for others just by starting as a volunteer at Wag.
This isn’t just about dog training. Dogs teach us life lessons too.
“Many times we come together with dogs so they can teach us valuable lessons, just as much as dogs wish to learn from us in return.”
These life lessons will be filled with mistakes that evolve and increase your bond to a level of communication you never knew possible. With patience, consistency and finding your calm, you will be amazed how well you can actually “hear” what your dog is saying without needing words. Learning how to communicate with your dog is a beautiful gift to be cherished!

About Me and Wag

#1.
Trust and Put Myself First

I’ve always listened to the “little voice” inside that guides me. That deep down gut instinct that guides and leads the way. Somehow, (like a dog on a scent!) I get where I need to be in order to continue on my mission. I have to care for myself first in order to serve others the way I do. I might start my day with a news segment, go straight to an intense aggression case in clients’ home and then head to teach a group class and morph into a public speaking mode, but I must find a way to fit in “me” time in between. Whether it’s meditation, writing, a podcast, a quick read, or a yoga class, I make sure to find time for the body, mind or soul to do what I do and “refuel”. It’s truly an honor to be leading teams and mentoring young people who are joining our workforce as well. This is a very emotionally draining career choice and I respect that. In order for me to serve others, I must serve myself first.

 

#2 Connection and Community

Aligning with like-minded people and connecting to them through their dogs is what feeds my soul and wakes me up every single day. Countless times people have said to me that they heard about Wag and our services from multiple sources until they realized they needed to call. I don’t think that’s just a coincidence. I believe in energy, fate, non-verbal communication and sending positive vibes into the universe with one another and most especially through the love of dogs. Dogs are very blessed creatures. They have a way of bringing people together for the greater good. When people are sharing the word about our services to others, this is helping us make a difference and live by the words of our mission. In order to serve dogs, we must first teach their people.

 

#3 Contribution

Partnerships with our local and global partners spread the word on the importance of education coming first. Together with the local rescue partners and businesses we collaborate with, science-based, force-free learning methods will soon become the “norm.” Wag ‘N’ Tails is dedicated to that message and lives by the words of that mission.

Beyond sending support to our local rescue partners, veterinarians, groomers, pet care centers, trainers and supply stores, we are equipping local trainers and leaders with the tools they need, by offering our trainer apprentice programs. Together, Wag ‘N’ Tails and our partners have saved hundreds of lives, donated a variety of comfort and enrichment supplies, and provided education to those in need. 
Contributing to our local rescue partners and businesses just makes sense. Identifying and connecting with purpose-driven leaders who have the same beliefs as we do always brings me back to the beginning – to where and when it all started in 1999. I feel strongly that my business isn’t about competition. We cannot be “competed” with. Everyone, every business, every dog, every person is different. We are all here to contribute. To me, to Wag ‘N’ Tails and my teams, our core values and our purpose is about making a difference with homeless dogs and reducing aggression and fear statistics with kindness, positive vibes, and education. In order to serve our clients, we must serve our partners.
Thank you. Thank you for your follows, your shares and your support! Follow along and join me to learn more and together let’s spread the word about the importance of education. #makelearningfun #trainingfabulous
Be sure to follow me Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube! (I’m a little sillier there!) Search: Christine Fox TV
For information on how you can join our team of dog trainers see here. https://wagntails.net/trainer-apprenctice-program/
Note: I try to keep up with direct messages and emails the best I can! We manage not only the Fox TV Brand but the Wag ‘N’ Tails platform as well. If you require immediate assistance, please call the main office at 586.781.6400. If you have a business inquiry please contact me through Linked-In or email me at christine@wagntails.net. I appreciate your understanding.
Peace and Wags,
Christine Fox
About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
Dog Travel Safety Tips: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Dog Travel Safety Tips: How to Keep Your Dog Safe

Many of our pets travel with us on a daily or regular basis and since this month recognizes National Pet Travel Safety Day this blog is devoted to dogs and their welfare.

Here are a few safety suggestions you may not have considered:  

1. Identification Tags 

When you are heading out the door with the car all packed up, at the top of the “to-do” list should be your dogs collar with updated identification tags. You may want to consider a tag for your destination address as well. Travel Safely! 

2. Seat Belt

Riding with your dog on your lap is unsafe and very distracting. If your dog rides in the passenger seat, the risk of the airbag can be a concern and should be addressed as well. There are many options for traveling safely with your dog such as using a properly fitting safety belt harness. A safer way to travel with your dog is to use a crate, if possible. There are lots of great dog seat belt options and studies that have been performed to give us insight as to why this is so important. You can learn more here. 

3. Paw Safety

So now you are traveling and you get to where you are going safely. Well, let’s say your destination is here in beautiful Michigan where one day it’s sunny, and the next day it’s snowing! You will want to be prepared to keep your dogs coat clean and free from salt, snow and outside debris that can get caught in their sensitive paw pads. There are lots of great inventions out there such as absorbing floor matts, booties, paw balm, and even a traveling mud buster cup that will absorb all the paw moisture in moments keeping your vehicle clean and your pups’ paws healthy and happy. Check it out here! Protecting your dogs paws wouldn’t seem like it’s a top of the list priority until your dog can’t walk from an injury. Not fun! Especially if you’re on the road. Think paw safety!

4. Choosing the Best Leash

There are so many wonderful ways to keep your pet safe while traveling with proper fitting equipment. Some leashes are good for some types of dogs and others are better for different breeds and temperaments. Overall, here are a few things to consider: 

Retractable Leashes: You’ve seen them! Those zingy leashes that you push the button to make it stop or go? Some people swear by them and love them. Others, not so much. It seems people either love them or they hate them! Here’s the thing about safety and that leash choice. People trip and fall with those leashes. They get dropped and the clunky handle can injure a dog. The cord on the retractables can actually cause severe burns,deep cuts and even strangulations.  

Knowing which leash is best for your dog and even how to hold the leash properly can keep a dog more comfortable or even save a life. Your leash choice is an important one, and should be added to the shopping list of important travel items when considering the safety of your pet. A fixed-length leash is best or when traveling if you will be in public and busy places, there are considerations to take into account as well. This Guiding Star adjustable leash is amazing for when you need to loop it around your waist or over your shoulder for hiking adventures, etc. 

5. Understanding Collars

At Wag ‘N’ Tails, we are proud members of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and The Certified Council for Pet Dog Trainers. We believe in science-based dog training practices. We consider any type of collar that uses pain, discomfort, or aversive sensations in any way to be dangerous. Don’t be fooled, shock hurts and it scares and intimidates. Therefore, not only taking a significant risk of injuring your dog, but potentially creating a behavioral problem related to fear and aggression that may truly never be reversed. It’s not worth the risk. Dangerous! These collars are dangerous and unnecessary. Learning how to slow down and understand what your dog is saying to you before jumping right into using a tool that you think will magically get you the results you immediately desire, is more important and safer for the welfare of your dog. 

6. Fanny packs are hot.

If you don’t have one, you need to get one. When you find super cool ones, keep sending them my way! I have one for every outfit. Bring a backpack if you don’t want to do the fanny pack thing, but you need some sort of way to hold all your dog lute! The water bottle, a variety of treats, a travel bowl, leashes, etc. The kids always have their bags and goodies, don’t forget that the dog will need one filled and ready for the car and the road trip adventure too!

Well now, hopefully, you’ve got the ID tags updated and your travel safety belt ready. Don’t forget to pack lots of patience and treats for your trip! That’s really all you need to stay safe – and love of course! Love is all you need. It works, especially with a good leash, the right collar and a filled fanny pack with freeze-dried liver! 

Happy and safe travels to you and your pup!

Check us out on our local news featuring this topic.

Christine Fox, APDT Dog Trainer
Founder and Owner, Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
3 Tips for Communicating Openly With Your Pet Care Provider

3 Tips for Communicating Openly With Your Pet Care Provider

Communication is key for a successful relationship when finding a life long care provider for your dog. As caregivers, we are counting on you, the pet parent to speak on your dogs behalf and your dog is counting on you too! Dogs can’t talk, so if they could speak using words, what would be said? Here are a few things to keep in mind when your pet is under the supervision or care of any professional. 

Remember, one of your ultimate goals is to find a caregiver who will be able to ebb and flow with your dogs changing needs as he or she begins to develop and age. These tips apply when communicating to your veterinarian, groomer, pet sitter, educator, dog walker or pet sitter. 

Remember, you are a partner with your care provider! The only way you can determine what type of care, service, product, medicine, food or even hair brush is best for your dog is when you are using patient, honest and thorough communication. Most especially concerning a loving family member that can’t speak for themselves!

 

1. Jot down notes

Life is busy! Keep track of things you think we should know. Loss of appetite, loose stool, excessive shedding, licking, or limping. Anything physical or behavioral we need to know! If you don’t write down the change, you may either forget or just become accustomed to the difference in behavior at home. Then, the noticeable change never gets mentioned and could be missed by your care provider without your assistance.

 

2. Tell us about changes in your routine

The simplest changes at home can affect your pet. Did the kids go back to school? Recent divorce? Recent move? These types of differences can affect your pet physically such as noticeable differences in their coat, or digestive system not to mention the behavioral effects such as chewing, digging, or possibly an increase in barking. Be sure we know about big changes at home.


3. Multiple Caregivers

Some pet parents have more than one care provider. That’s ok, we get it! Some veterinarians are seen for one specialty, while others are routinely visited for routine care. Some of our clients regularly travel and have a boarding center they might use out of state while they use us when traveling from Michigan. We will sometimes share notes with their boarding centers out of state regarding the pets care. For training, consistency is crucial for success, so open communication between educators is critical, especially if you recently moved or made a change in your training methods. Same with grooming. If your groomer was using one particular product, and then you switch to a new salon, a simple product change can bring on unexpected itching or shedding. Always be open and honest when you use multiple caregivers or if/when you are switching to or from another.

Your goal is to find caregivers you can count on for the life of your pet. Through the ups, downs bumps, lumps, good times and bad. This is life! Having open, honest communication as your pet ages and changes is so important. Your caregiver will appreciate you for this and your dog will love you for it! 

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.

Changes at the Doghouse

Wag ‘N’ Tails was founded on a basic principle and goal : ‘We will strive to reduce the number of dogs given away or euthanized due to preventable and treatable conditions.’ Over the years, while we always kept this mission alive, we also added many additional services to accompany pet parent’s needs. From grooming to boarding and play & train services, we offer almost any dog-related service you can think of. While we are thrilled to have these additional offerings, we are excited about a new revamp and focus on the thing we do best: training. 

The Phones

Currently, our work, team, and business are in a growth phase. It’s exciting, invigorating, and honestly with this growing phase, has come growing pains. And we know the biggest pain for you (and us), has been the phones. So that has changed. It may not be perfect yet, but your continued feedback will help us continue to improve. Currently, we are keeping up with the influx of calls the best we can and we will return your message within 24 hours. On the weekends, we appreciate 72 hours to get back with you. 

We know your time is valuable, so we are making it easy for you to request an appointment at any point during your busy day using our Reservation Request App which can be found on the top right corner of our website.

This convenience allows us as trainers to spend time working and talking with those crucial time-sensitive pet parents. The ones whose dog may have acted out and bit at someone or another dog. The family with a new baby whose dog is overstimulated or nervous. Those cases we at Wag take on that truly can be a tipping point to the pet parents. The training and time that go into these dogs can mean the difference between a happy life or a surrendered dog. Some of the calls we take are heartbreaking or require a significant amount of guidance and time. Many times, this is when you are being routed into our voicemail system and we just don’t want to inconvenience or frustrate you by missing your call!

The Reservation Request App

For service appointments, it’s truly best that you use the reservation request on our website or even shoot us an email to info@wagntails.net.

The downloaded Itunes app we begged liked dogs for you to download previously had too many glitches, this is why we are so excited to announce our NEW software which offers a much more user-friendly app, freeing up your time on the phone and ours as well! Plus this gives us more time to see you in person, which we love! This new feature will be included with our NEW and EXCITING SOFTWARE, read on!

Our Birthday Present – New Software!

 

We are thrilled to announce that we are switching to an AMAZING new software called Gingr. You will be able to access all your dog’s information, report cards, and even pictures; all through your account on the app. This platform can even text us (and we can respond!) plus you can conveniently add your reservation to your calendar, make payments, upload updated health records and SO MUCH MORE! Consider this Wags birthday present. We are SO PUMPED to be offering this to you and our teams, which ultimately is a present for the dogs since everyone will have more time to play and train!

In the coming weeks, we will be rolling this out and transitioning to this software, so watch out for these exciting changes and announcements!

 

As always, we thank you for your feedback and appreciate your patience as we continue to grow and accommodate your needs and requests. At Wag, we are dedicated to our mission of reducing the number of dogs given away or euthanized due to treatable and preventable reasons. We are thrilled to have you on our team as we continue this journey. Let’s make a difference. Together. 

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.
The Dogs Need YOU – Introducing our Trainer Apprentice Program

The Dogs Need YOU – Introducing our Trainer Apprentice Program

Chances are that if you’re on this website, if you’re reading this blog, you care about dogs, their training, and their quality of life. You own one, or know one, or just downright love them. So this message is for you: THE DOGS NEED YOU. Desperately. We need you. That is why we are introducing our Trainer Apprentice Program. For the past 20 years, Wag ‘N’ Tails has been working with and alongside rescues, shelters and foster homes.

Now it’s time for you to step up, and help us save the animals we love.

Startling Statistic

There is one statistic that should, and will stick in our mind: Only 1 out of every 10 dogs keep their forever home. ONE out of TEN. These animals we love, the ones who pull on our heart strings with just a whimper, are rarely able to feel secure. That’s what we want to change. It’s our Mission statement and it’s the cornerstone of everything we believe in. And we know there are many of you out there who feel it too: the need to help the creatures we love.

View our Mission Statement.

An Important Drop in the Ocean

The truth about animals is that there are many issues causing excessive homelessness, abandonment and neglect. Can we fix them all? No. Can we stop every cruel person who abandons a dog? Can we spay and neuter every stray? Can we arrest every animal abuser? No, no and no. We wish we could, but we cant. We can make a difference though. We can make a drop in the ocean of change. We can make waves. Through education and training, we can impact the lives of countless dogs. And that is what this animal training education program is designed to do. YOU will be able to identify fear and aggression in just a dog’s body language. YOU will be able to design your own courses in dog training. YOU will be able to work with shelters and rescues, decompressing dogs as they come out of some terrible situations and learn what love is. YOU will be a part of this important drop in the ocean.

No Shock, No Choke, just Trust and Hope

There are a lot of things that sets Wag apart from our competitors. The biggest is our belief in a force-free, scientific-based approach to dog training. We know there are trainers who believe strongly in the use of correctional training such as prong, shock and choke collars. That’s just not who we are. It’s not we believe in. Trust in any relationship takes time to build and requires mutual understanding. Nothing is different in the relationship between Pet Parent and pet. That is why we call our clients Pet Parents, not owners, because we know that their pets are their family. And trust is essential in any family. Throughout your dog training courses, you will be taught how to use our positive reinforcement methods, and why we use them. You’ll learn counter conditioning and why we never give up on dogs. Where there is trust, there is hope, and we will teach you how to build both. 

Learn more About Us

The Dogs Need YOU - Apprentice Program at WagnatailsThe Simple Truth

At the end of the day, we are all human. We all feel that empathy for the facebook videos of abandoned dogs and we feel helpless. We dream of a world where the horrors some dogs go through didn’t exist. But the simple truth is we are not helpless, and neither are you.

Enroll in our Trainer Apprentice Program and lets change the world of dog training and owning, one pup at a time.

Monthly Specials April 2019

Email special

APRIL 19 EMAIL Specials

Monthly Specials

Save $15.00 off our Puppy or Basic classes with Christine at our New Rochester Location:RARA Center, 500 E. Second Street, Rochester, MI 48307
Classes are:

Puppy Preschool:
Tuesday May 21st at 8:00 pm
Thursday, May 23rd at 6:30 pm

Bark to the Basics:
Tuesday May 21st at 6:30 pm
Thursday, May 23rd at 8:00 pm

Member Special

APRIL MEMBER Specials

Save $5.00 off Confidence Building Class with Abbey
Location: Wag N Tails Studio 53153 Hayes Road, Shelby Twp., MI 48315

Friday, May 10th at 7:00 pm
Limited space available

Save 10% on any retail product

Monthly Specials March 2019

Email special

MARCH 19 EMAIL Specials

Save $10.00 on any Bark to the Basics or Puppy Preschool Group class
Save $10.00 on a Mini Basic or Puppy class with Michael or Abbey
Save $5.00 on a Deluxe or Ultimate Groom with Lyndsey

Not valid with any other discounts or offers. Expires 4-15-19

Member Special

MARCH MEMBER Specials

Save $15.00 on any Bark to the Basics or Puppy Preschool Group class
Save $15.00 on a Mini Basic or Puppy class with Michael or Abbey
Get a free regular nail trim on Monday or Thursday only (Save $15.00)

Not valid with any other discounts or offers. Expires 4-15-19

A Woman in Business… and Much More

A Woman in Business… and Much More

She is many things. She is a mother. A wife. A boss. A sister. An entrepreneur. A woman in business. She is a tree with many branches. And like a tree, she cannot grow and expand unless her root is healthy, happy and focused. So for as many things as Christine Fox is, she also is just that: Christine Fox.

Being a woman in business, Fox has heard the ear-deafening question “How do you manage your personal life and professional life?” But that doesn’t worry Fox, she makes sure all of her branches of life have what they need. Fox’s main focus and biggest advice to all women in business is to carve out time for the one at the root of it all: you.

Since opening Wag N’ Tails at just 28 years old in 1999, Fox has made sure to incorporate “me-time” into her daily work.

“As a business owner, you make a lot of decisions,” Fox said. “You can’t waste time second-guessing yourself, going back over every little thing. You have to go with YOU, and trust your instinct.”

Taking the time to be alone with her thoughts is what keeps Fox in tune with her natural, entrepreneur instinct. Puzzles, reading and her faith keep her balanced.

Fox never imagined that her small doggy-daycare business would transform into what it is today. She reflects on times when her then-infant daughter would nap at the same time as the dogs, and a phone ring could mean disaster for her break time. Fox took her own naps on benches in the daycare, in between walking dogs while pushing her daughter in a stroller. Now, her learning- based business is the forefront of force-free dog training.

So how exactly did she still find time to focus on herself?

“It doesn’t take as long as you think. Each role has a shield, so if I’m coming home from work, I take that shield off in the car, do a breathing exercise for a count of four, and put the next shield on,” Fox explained.

To Fox, her life is filled with many branches. They intertwine, they overlap, and sometimes they’re just downright crazy. But at the end of the day, Christine Fox is more than just a businesswoman or mother, she is a stable fixture; focused, dedicated and ready to continue to take on the world.

Putting the “Dog” in Downward Dog

Putting the “Dog” in Downward Dog

Yoga is everywhere. Your mom does it, your best friend does it, your brother does it. Now, get ready for dogs to do it. Wag ‘N’ Tails is putting the “dog” in downward dog. Yes, we are introducing a Doga class!

Yoga originated from ancient monks observing how farm animals stretched their bodies and stayed limber. They eventually went on to incorporate those very stretches into their daily meditation and prayers, creating the now-common practice of doga. So it’s only natural that we bring the animals back into the mix.

We are teaming up with the AWESOME staff from Updog Yoga to bring you peace, tranquility, and of course, absolutely adorable dogs.

Yoga has been proven to improve one’s body and mental state. Yoga stretches muscles, strengthens the core and helps balance your state of mind through breathing exercises.

So how can you make Yoga even more beneficial? Puppies of course.

Interacting with those adorable fur babies has been proven to increase that ever-important Serotonin level in your brain. Serotonin is the chemical in your brain that makes you happy, and based on how happy we know puppies make everyone, we can say that’s pretty true!

When you pair the benefits of yoga and puppies you get the magical Doga.

So join us for this exciting class and find inner peace, gain strength and get a lot of puppy kisses! Check our Facebook event page for dates and more info here. 

My Dog is My Kid and I’m Proud of It!

My Dog is My Kid and I’m Proud of It!

Now certainly, dogs are not human, we know this. Although, for most people today who truly view their dogs as part of the family I would venture to say that they call their dog their fur baby or their “kid” knowing full well that their canine is most obviously not a human. People use this expression as a way to truly express their outpouring love as being as large as it would be if their dog did indeed only have two feet instead of four! This term of endearment has a way of expressing that we do our very best as pet parents to provide the very best in care and education as we would if our dog were a human.

We Try Our Best to Provide the BEST

When we become parents we learn as we go. There really isn’t a guide book for your individual child because as we know all kids are different. I believe that as a pet parent the same holds true for our dogs. There really is no guide book, instruction manual, podcast or video all about your “dog kid” and how to offer the best education and care there is to give. We do our very best as pet parents to research, ask around, find and provide what we feel is best. The same as we would for our children.


Ups and Downs
Recently, my Godson had just gotten back from the trip of a lifetime.  He proposed to his longtime love of his life, Natalie. The trip – just like marriage and life, as it turns out, had its ups and downs. The planned vacation wasn’t what he had imagined. They weathered a few storms, literally. They avoided wicked wind storms, insane snow falls and unexpected road closures in Lake Tahoe and mud slides in Santa Barbara that you thought you would only see in the movies.

When it was all said and done Natalie was thrilled with the surprise proposal, even though they were “white knuckled” and petrified on the tight and curvy roads on their rental car ride the whole entire trip, she still had a gorgeous ring on her finger, so life was good!

Accidents Happen
When they got home to Arkansas, really all that mattered was beginning their new life as fiancé and future husband and picking up their dear Louise, their one-year-old mixed breed from her boarding center. Within a short amount of time, they discovered that Louise had a severe injury behind her ear. Being a long time owner of a boarding and training center in Michigan, they sent me a picture right away.  I immediately told them they needed to take her to their veterinarian and have the area shaved so the doctor could take a better look. Just as suspected this was a bite wound. It was so deep in fact that it required staples, pain medicines, the cone, and the whole nine yards. Accidents happen – even though we do our very best as pet parents to provide the best care there is to offer.

Communication is Everything
When Dennis called the owner of the boarding center he was quick to reimburse for the costs associated with the injury as though this was no big deal. At that time, in between chuckling over the phone at Dennis, he proceeded to tell him that he was overreacting and that he shouldn’t be treating his dog as a child. He went on to say that one day when Denny and Natalie have children they better prepare themselves for when their child perhaps breaks their arm. He basically told Dennis that he needed to lighten up and deal with it. Certainly, as we are well aware, dogs are not kids and they are not human. But, they are part of the family. Now I don’t know about you, but if this were my child and she was under the care of a person who noticed that her arm was broken and did nothing about it, did not seek medical attention and didn’t even bother to call to notify me – I consider that neglect and abuse. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dog, a child or a snake as far as I’m concerned, it’s abuse and neglect.

In life, we weather a lot of storms. In our careers and human relationships there are a lot of ups and downs and in parenting, it seems we are always unprepared to prepare for the unexpected. Ultimately, it’s the phone call or the communication that matters most. It’s the caring, kind, heartfelt consideration when another human being expresses genuine concern for another person’s loved one. Yes, just like children, accidents do indeed happen, this was about, among many other things, of course, the way the unfortunate situation was handled during and afterward. These aren’t the types of things you can predict when seeking care. All you can do is try your very best as pet parents to provide the best care there is to offer.

How to Find the Right Boarding Care for YOU and Your Dog
As pet parents, we always want to provide what’s best, this young couple had no idea what to look for when finding a boarding center or what questions to ask, most people wouldn’t. All we know is that they are real people, with a real family and real feelings. Not only will the memories of their trip and their beautiful engagement stay forever in their hearts, but this unforeseen event will also stay there too. The most unfortunate thing about this entire story is how it was handled, plain and simple. Dogs are family, they are indeed like our kids and finding a care center that will respect not only the fact that you treat them that way, but also treat your dog as they would their own, is what it’s all about.

 

To learn lots more about finding a boarding center and the likes and dislikes of the variety of care options available, follow the link here.

From Christine:
Thank you to my Godson, Natalie and sweet Louise for the inspiration for this blog. It’s #nationalloveyourpetday, I figured today was the perfect day to share your love and spread the word on the importance of finding #fearfree care when we love our dogs as much as you love Louise and each other.

Hang on for the “white knuckle” ride of life, I can’t make you any promises it will get any easier, but if you move back to Michigan we will be happy to board Miss Louise for you and ease a little of life’s unexpected turns for you for next time! XO –

About the Author Christine Fox, APDT, CTDI and a Pet Sitters International member, is the founder of Wag ‘N’ Tails Dog Activity Center with two locations in Michigan. She has been involved with many pet dog trainer certification initiatives, all based on learning techniques that involve humane practices and the latest in scientific research. Christine also raised a service dog for Paws With a Cause and plans to train her newest pup in therapy work. Through her work with dogs and their parents, Christine has developed many happy and healthy relationships with both humans and dogs in the community.

Pet Sitting or Pet Boarding, Which Choice is Best for Your Dog?

Should you hire a pet sitter or is a professional pet boarding facility the better choice? It’s official, you just booked your long overdue vacation. Ahhh…you sit back, close your eyes. You can just hear the waves crashing. When you take in a nice long deep breath you can practically smell the fresh air and feel the cool breeze on your face. You just start to think about your poolside cocktail and then you remember….the DOG.

Great. It’s bad enough you have to be without the dog for several days, but how will you EVER trust anyone to take care of your dog the way you do? Nowadays there are SO many options, but it’s about what’s right for YOUR dog and what feels right to you. The following pet service options are available in most areas. Let’s explore the likes and dislikes of each so you can make an informed choice based on what’s best for you and your furry family member. You can also learn more here about how much your dog misses YOU while you’re away, by reading more here.

Dog like to make friends too!

Professional Pet Boarding Options

Luxury Boarding Facility
Likes: Some of these centers are so nice, you’ll wish you could stay there yourself. Not only do they come with tons of extras like grooming, training, ball launchers, filled peanut butter kongs, and massages, they also have well trained and experienced staffing on hand at all times.
Dislikes: Depending on your budget, this option may be out of reach for some. Top notch care can come with a top-notch price tag.
What kind of dog does best with this option: Dogs who make friends easily and who prefer not to be alone do well in this environment. Those types who adapt well to change and like a taste of adventure and a vacation of their own so to speak will enjoy this type of stay. It’s best to be prepared with this style of boarding as well, learn more here.

Things to keep in mind: What type of staff training does the facility offer? How do they handle emergencies such as dog fights? What are the methods used for redirection when dogs make mistakes? In other words, do they use time outs, squirt bottles of water, shock collars? Be sure to ask. Also, very important! What is the dog/trainer ratio? How many trainers per dogs being monitored? Subsequently, does the facility have trainers on deck who are knowledgable in canine body language and behavior? This list of questions is important to consider when seeking care from a professional boarding center.

Traditional Kennels
Like: Most likely these establishments have a long-standing reputation in your community. You should be able to get plenty of references.
Dislike: Traditional kennels certainly provide for your dog’s basic needs, but there may not be too many extras available like training, swimming, or socialization with other dogs. If they do, you found a good one!
Like: You get what you pay for, kennels are typically inexpensive. If they provide the bells and whistles be prepared to pay more.
What type of dog typically does best with this option: Traditional boarding is a great option for hunting breeds, easygoing, happy go lucky types who aren’t the type that are easily spooked or anxious.

Veterinary Offices
Like: When you board your dog with your veterinarian you know the care will give you “peace” of mind.
Dislikes: Most of your dogs time will be spent in a cage, other than short walks for elimination.
Like: For dogs with any health issues, especially elderly dogs, this can be a great option since the veterinary staff will be closely monitoring your dog. This may help for future care diagnostics and recommendations to keep your dog healthier!
What kind of dogs do best with this option: Elderly dogs – hands down!  Or those who have medical conditions or need medical monitoring.

Pet Sitting Options

The comforts of home

Dog Walking Services
Dog sitters or sometimes called dog walkers will walk, feed and play with your dog. Many will offer waste removal and house sitting services like turning on the lights and bringing in your mail.
Likes: Your dog walker could be your neighbor’s daughter, your niece, the boy across the street or a professional company. Either way, finding help is usually not too difficult.
Dislikes: On the other hand, finding care during major holidays isn’t easy!
Likes: The price for this care is usually pretty competitive and priced fairly low depending on the service. Some walkers and pet sitters offer training or detailed reports so prices could get higher for those types of extra services or qualifications. Also, many companies are licensed, bonded and insured so they will most likely price higher than the neighbor.
What kind of dog does best with this option: Older dogs or dogs who are set in their ways and routine do well with this type of service option. Also, dogs who prefer not to socialize with dogs or people or dogs who do not do well in the car. Otherwise, this service might be a bit lonely for some.

In-Home Overnight Care
Some of the dog lovers in your community that we listed above may be willing to stay in your home and be your pet sitter for an additional fee.
Like: Your dog will be able to stay in the comfort of his or her own home.
Dislike: With the additional time at home comes the added risk of legal issues. Anytime you have service in your home, it’s best that you are seeking providers that are professionally bonded and insured.
What kind of dog does best with this option: Dogs who are used to having you all to themselves! Dogs with behavior issues such as dogs who are clinically diagnosed with separation anxiety or training issues that require special attention such as anxiety in the car. Homes with additional pets who require care too or elderly dogs who need to stay home.

Overnight Care in a Pet Sitters Home
Many pet sitters have a day job too, so what better than to have your dog stay with them instead of just having the sitter run to your house when they get off work!
Like: Most likely you pet sitter is a dog lover who will have their own pets too. So this means they will most likely be able to socialize.
Dislike: Socialization always includes risk.
What kind of dog does best with this option: Curious and excitable types who are happy go lucky and playful and always game for an adventure!

Friends or Family Members
When your friends or family watch your dog for you, this can be a big stress reducer for everyone.
Like: Nobody knows your dog like you, and your friends and family!
Disklike: Your friends and family aren’t professionals. Even if you are paying them, they will most likely not be able to recognize a problem the way a pet sitter would.
Like: Friends and family will keep in touch a lot! Text pictures and answer all your calls anytime!
Dislike: Accidents can happen and feelings can get hurt. Involving friends and family with our loved ones, is always a consideration when it comes to the care of our pets.
What kind of dog does best with this option: Shy or elderly dogs who do not do well with change.

There are many options when it comes to who will care for our pet. What we say at Wag, is that you should feel the “warm fuzzies.” You will know. Much like a parent seeking care for their child, you will know. It should and will feel right. Tour as many centers as you can or interview as many pet sitters as needed so you can compare. Find the care provider that makes you feel so comfortable you book trip after trip making up for lost time now that you found the caregiver you can trust!

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