Category Archives: Blog

Tampa Dog Trainer Brenna Fender: What is UpDog?

4 Way Play Frizgility 10361263_1512780378945583_2448123466868105570_nTampa Dog Trainer Brenna Fender: What’s UpDog?

UpDog is a brand new dog sport organization created by Kat and Jack Fahle, Andrea and Jason Rigler, and Babz Mahony. These dedicated disc doggers wanted to expand their favorite sport to include a wider variety of dogs – and people – than seen at typical disc dog events. Traditionally, while many people enjoy games with discs in their yards, only athletic dogs of certain body types and handlers with great disc throwing distance and skills are very successful at disc dog competitions. UpDog organizers wanted to change that. “We feel that everyone should be able to participate in the game of disc. It’s one of the most fundamental things people do with their dog – play fetch. As such, we’ve created games that allow all levels of people and dogs to play. We’ve helped make the sport more beginner friendly by creating games that incorporate short tosses, by allowing the use of soft discs, rollers [discs that are rolled on their sides rather than thrown in the air], and, in many games – multiple discs,” says Kat Fahle. UpDog’s website says, “UpDog is dedicated to expanding the awareness and participation of people and dogs in athletic endeavors. We want more people and more dogs having fun, playing together. So we designed some fun games built around the opportunity for every dog and human to work towards their own personal bests. You will have fun (Play), you will earn achievements (Achieve), and you and your dog will learn and grow (Expand).”

UpDog offers a variety of games that incorporate elements of agility and flying disc. But extensive training in either sport is not required. If your dog can catch a thrown or rolled disc and/or can do agility jumps and tunnels, you can have a great time at UpDog events. The games offered through this venue are fun in and of themselves, but they also provide a stepping stone to other dog sports. Fahle says, “Not only is it easier to get started in disc via UpDog, the other great thing is that as you play our games you are building foundation skills needed to play Freestyle should the day come you want to try that out. So you and your dog are learning while playing!”

Everything about UpDog is “beginner friendly,” as Fahle says. “If your dog is at the point in his training where he will only return a disc if you have another disc, we have some games that allow multiple discs. Say you can’t throw more than six feet; we have games where short tosses are all that are needed and then once you build your skill set there are more games and more levels to explore. We also allow you to roll the disc, which may allow for a new person to get more distance at first while they learn better throwing mechanics.  For dogs not yet used to hard discs; we allow soft discs!  Say you have a physical limitation that doesn’t allow you to ever throw farther than 6-10 feet; you can stay in level 1 for as long as you need. Simply because you earn enough Ups [qualifications] to move to level 2 doesn’t mean you have to move to level 2.  Conversely, the games and levels offer challenges for even the most skilled disc dog teams as well.  In UpDog, there is something for everyone at every level of play,” says Fahle.

Unlike most disc events, you don’t have to place in your class to “win.” Fahle says, “We’ve built in a system of achievements and UPs so that every person who earns even just one point while playing is rewarded. Each game has achievements that can be earned. Starting this fall, when a team joins UpDog, their achievements will show on their digital profile, which can be shared via social media, linked to on websites, et cetera. Then, as they accumulate achievements, those count towards UPs. These are physical rewards somewhat like dog tags that participants can earn and collect. The earning of UPs also allows teams to move up from one level to the next somewhat like titles in agility.”

UpDog has been very well received in the disc dog community, and it is beginning to make waves among dog sport enthusiasts of all kinds. Even though the first UpDog classes were offered just this spring, the upcoming UpDog event, planned for August 9th in Plant City, filled up all available competition spots in just 13 hours (spectators are welcome). The UpDog team traveled to Kalamazoo, Michigan, recently to present the sport at the United Kennel Club’s national event, the Premier, and it was very well received. The fall will bring UpDog competitions to Illinois, New Hampshire, and Canada. Pretty great for a brand new organization born right here in central Florida!

For more information on UpDog, visit their website at http://updogchallenge.com/ or find them on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/UpDogChallenge.

Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa offers dog training, puppy training, working with aggressive dogs and rehabilitating fearful and shy dogs.  In addition we offer cat training, agility, pushball, Fun Scent Games, disc dog sports and dock jumping. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boarding!

Tampa Dog Trainer Brenna Fender: New Trainer and New Class at Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa!

lisaNew Trainer and New Class at Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa!

By Brenna Fender

Did you ever see a dog do some really cool tricks and think, “Wow, I’d love my dog to be able to do that”? Do you just know that your dog could do amazing tricks if you just knew how to teach him? Courteous Canine DogSmith of Tampa can help you do just that!

Certified trick dog trainer Lisa Morrissey will be bringing her trick training expertise to Courteous Canine DogSmith of Tampa this fall with a new trick training class. This class teaches handlers how to train their dogs to do basic tricks and how to build on them to create more elaborate tricks by luring, shaping, capturing and chaining tricks together. Through the class, owners learn how to teach their dogs enough tricks to earn a Novice Trick Dog title through a sanctioning organization called “Do More with Your Dog.”

What tricks could you learn to teach your dog in this class? Spin, leg weaves, figure eights, paws up, say your prayers, shake hands, wave, take a bow, jump though a hoop, soccer, wipe your feet, and more! Morrissey has extensive experience in training tricks and has won trick competitions with her rescued Border Collie, Brody, who has also appeared in television commercials and on the news. Learn more about Brody in his online resume here: http://brodythebordercollie.weebly.com/brodys-resume.html

Trick training is fun, but it also has lots of value for dogs that compete in dog sports or participate in family life. Teaching dogs tricks provides mental and physical stimulation and exercise, builds canine confidence, and improves the dog/owner bond.

For more information or to enroll in the class, contact info@CourteousCanine.com or visit our website www.CourteousCanine.com.

Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa offers dog training, puppy training, working with aggressive dogs and rehabilitating fearful and shy dogs.  In addition we offer cat training, agility, pushball, Fun Scent Games and dock jumping. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boarding!

Tampa Dog Trainer: Dog Travel Safety

dog traveling

Dog Travel Safety is an important concern

Tampa Dog Trainer: Dog Travel Safety

By Brenna Fender

Dog owners often travel with their pets to competitions, on vacation, or just about town while on errands, but they may not realize that the way they travel can mean the difference between life and death.

Do you drive with Fido loose in the back seat or running around your RV?  Do you pile your gear on the passenger seat?  Things like these can make a big difference in the event of an accident.

The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association states that a 60-pound dog riding in a car traveling at 30 miles per hour becomes a projectile which can hit the windshield – or the driver – with the force of 1,200 pounds. While 82% of Americans wear their seatbelts, only a fraction secure their dog during car travel, which means that, in an accident, a canine companion can become a deadly missile. This endangers your dog, your passengers, and you.

Owners can travel much more safely by securing their dogs (and other loose objects) in their vehicle. One way to do this is by purchasing a crate. The safest crates are made of either hard plastic or metal.  There are pros and cons to each – plastic might be less strong, but metal wires may bend and injure a dog. Noted conformation handler, breeder, and American Kennel Club judge Pat Hastings says, “I believe that a quality fiberglass (plastic) crate is the safest way to travel with dogs. We have stopped at two accidents where the dogs were in wire crates and the impact of the accident broke the wires at the welds. Some of the dogs were killed by the wires and some were just injured but it was very difficult to remove the dogs as the wires were bent inward.” Ruff Tuff Kennels are the latest innovation in travel crate safety, designed specifically with car travel (and accidents) in mind. (Learn more at http://www.rufftoughkennels.com/)  Fabric crates, while better than nothing, provide far less protection than a solid crate.

Placing a crate in your vehicle isn’t enough to make your dog safe – that crate must be secured so that it doesn’t become a projectile in a crash. While the gold standard used to be to use bungee cords, ratchet straps and other methods are now considered to be better suited to assure that a crate will remain stationary.  Do not place loose objects in a crate during travel because these can strike the dog during an accident.

Another way to keep your dog safe is by using a specially-made seatbelt. A properly fitted belt will allow your dog to change positions but will keep animals from being thrown during an accident. Proponents of seatbelts believe that these are safer than crates because animals can impact the wall of a crate during rapid deceleration. However, seatbelts will not shelter a dog from projectiles like a crate will. If you’re purchasing a seatbelt, make sure it is crash-tested and guaranteed.  Recent tests have shown that many seatbelts are useless or downright dangerous in an accident (http://www.forbes.com/sites/hannahelliott/2013/10/28/the-best-seat-belts-for-your-dog/). The new crash-tested car seat might be a better bet for small dogs, but the product is very new. (http://www.mightymitedoggear.com/dog-supplies/crash-tested-dog-car-seats-pupsaver)  Other crash tested options can be found here: http://www.mightymitedoggear.com/mighty-mite/dog-care-travel-gear/car-accessories/safety-harnesses-dog-seat-belts. Be sure that dogs in vehicles are not seatbelted near airbags, which are dangerous for animals and small children.

Many of the crash-tested crates and seatbelts are very expensive and owners may think that there is no use trying to keep their dog safe if they can’t afford these options. But securing your dog in some way is very important to the safety of all involved, even if you have to do so with a garden-variety crate.

Don’t forget to secure your gear as well.  Collapsible chairs, spare crates, training bags, luggage, children’s toys, and other items can all be dangerous if an accident occurs.  Use straps to keep items stationary or pack them in stow away areas within the vehicle.

Other tips for safe travel involve keeping your dog’s head inside the vehicle, never allowing an animal to ride loose in the open bed of a truck, and never leaving any pet in a parked car. These situations are all documented risks to animal safety, with the potential for injury or death.

Many dogs are part of the family. When traveling, treat them like you would treat a family member. Make sure that your dogs are safe and secure.

A version of this article first appeared on USDAA.com.

Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa offers dog training, puppy training, working with aggressive dogs and rehabilitating fearful and shy dogs.  In addition we offer cat training, agility, pushball and dock jumping. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boarding!

Tampa Dog Trainer Angelica Steinker: Helpful Pet Insurance Information

Dog secretHelpful Pet Insurance Information 

It can be hard to find helpful pet insurance information, so today we are sharing a link to a huge chart listing many of the pet insurance companies and presenting a list of client ratings of these companies.  Check it out. 

http://www.petinsurancereview.com/dog.asp

Happy Pet Insurance Shopping, The Staff of Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa! 

Tampa Dog Trainer Brenna Fender: The ABCs of Canine Freestyle

Stevie Leg Weave webThe ABCs of Canine Freestyle

By Brenna Fender

A dog sport that combines obedience moves, tricking training, and dancing: that’s canine freestyle!

Breeds that are good for canine freestyle include… all of them! Because routines are varied, you can showcase your dog’s strong points, whether he is a Beagle or a Border Collie. A strong working relationship and good partnership with the handler are more important than breed.

Canine Freestyle Federation is one of several organizations that sanction canine freestyle events. Their mission statement, in part, is “The Canine Freestyle Federation, Inc. (CFF) is an international organization dedicated to defining and developing the sport of Canine Freestyle and providing the structure necessary to offer competitions and demonstrations.” Read the rest of it at their website: http://canine-freestyle.org/.

Dogs Can Dance is another canine freestyle organization. It offers titling opportunities, not competitions. They offer the Dogs Can Dance Challenge, which has the following mission statement: “Dogs Can Dance Challenge®, a division of Dogs Can Dance® was founded to promote the art and sport of canine freestyle, worldwide, by offering musical canine freestyle titling opportunities. The premise of the Dogs Can Dance Challenge® is based on the following concept; each performance should honor and showcase the dog by emphasizing the beauty and grace of the dog’s natural movements in a manner reflective of the musicality of the chosen accompaniment…. The Dogs Can Dance Challenge® goal is to encourage training of dogs at all stages of their lives and further educate the handlers toward future success.” For more information and the complete mission statement, visit http://dogscandance.com/.

Even dogs that are overweight, retired from other sports, elderly, or have physical limitations can enjoy the sport of canine freestyle. In fact, moving to the beat of music can help shed pounds and increase strength and fitness (for both dog and owner). You can tailor your routine to make it safe for your dog. Check with your veterinarian to make sure that your dog will remain healthy as you train and compete in canine freestyle.

Freestyle began as a dog sport in the late 1980s. It seems to have begun almost simultaneously in several countries. There is no one “founder” of the sport. In Canada in 1991, the first canine freestyle organization, Musical Canine Sports International, was created.

Getting ready to choreograph your first canine freestyle routine? You will need to mix a wide variety of moves together in a smooth routine, taking into account your dog’s strong and weak points. Get help from instructors and the internet while creating that first routine. Check out this article on the subject from the Canine Freestyle Federation, Inc. website: http://www.canine-freestyle.org/articles_choreographyhowto.asp

Heelwork-to-music (HTM) is a category of musical freestyle that involves having the handler and dog very close to each other throughout the routine. In World Canine Freestyle Organization events, heelwork-to-music is described on their website as a routine where “on all moves, the dog and handler team should move as one entity throughout the routine, displaying heelwork and creativity in the many positions and behaviors possible in HTM.” There should be no weaving between the handler’s legs or distance work in HTM events. In other canine freestyle classes, a wider variety of moves is allowed.

Interesting fact: according to their website, the World Canine Freestyle Organization (see “W”) is “a 501 (c)(3) public charity, the only organization to achieve this status in the world of dog/people sports.”

Join facebook freestyle groups (just type in canine musical freestyle and you’ll find many options) or attend seminars to help you learn more about the sport.

Keep freestyle training fun, according to enthusiast Jan Mayr, who has been involved in the sport for 15 years. Happy training sessions will be reflected in upbeat, lively performances.

Leashes are allowed in most organizations in the beginning levels, but more advanced levels of competition require off-leash work.

Musical Dog Sport Association is another organization that sanctions canine freestyle activities. Their mission statement is “is to advance the sport of canine freestyle and to share the joy of the canine/human bond achieved through positive training, enhanced by the artistry of music and choreography. Created by freestylers for freestylers, the MDSA defines Canine Freestyle as a dog sport in which training, teamwork, music and movement combine to create an artistic, choreographed performance highlighting the canine partner in a manner that celebrates the unique qualities of each individual dog. It is built upon the foundation of a positive working relationship of a dog and handler team.” To read the rest of their statement and learn more about MDSA visit http://www.musicaldogsport.org/about

Never correct …. Dogs can create too,” says Mayr.

Organize work sessions around learning behaviors first and then create your routine by sequencing those behaviors together,” says Mayr.

Pairs and team classes are offered in some organizations so you can dance with your friends and their dogs too!

Quiet? Not at a canine freestyle event! While competing dogs are generally quiet, the music isn’t.

Rhythm is significant. Dogs generally have a comfortable, rhythmic trot. Fit your music and routine to your dog’s rhythm rather than to yours.

Selecting just the right music for your dog is important. Choose one that matches with the rhythm of the dog as he moves. Music that suits the dog is important. But don’t choose a song you hate. You’re going to be listening to it many times!

Titles are available in all the freestyle sanctioning organizations.

Uncomfortable dancing in public? No worries! While the handler can dance in many freestyle organizations’ events, it’s not a requirement and it may, in fact, distract from your dog’s performance. Remember that freestyle is about a partnership between a human and a dog.

Video competitions are often an option in canine freestyle. In fact, some freestyle organizations, like Dogs Can Dance, are only (or almost only) based on videos alone; they do not hold “live” events.

World Canine Freestyle Organization, Inc. (http://www.worldcaninefreestyle.org/) is one of several organizations that sanctions canine freestyle events. The WCFO was founded by Patie Ventre, who created it with 13 other people in 1999. The mission statement of the WCFO, according to their website, is “WCFO, INC. is a non-profit corporation, founded to globally promote the joys and fun of responsible pet ownership through musical canine freestyle, both as a sport and an entertainment medium.”

X marks the spot where you can get started in canine freestyle! The Canine Freestyle Federation lists clubs that offer classes here: http://canine-freestyle.org/guilds_class.asp, but if your area doesn’t have a club listed, check with local obedience clubs and schools. Just because a club isn’t listed on an organization’s website doesn’t mean it won’t have great freestyle classes. Don’t forget to look on facebook for clubs near you as well.

You can create freestyle routines for places other than competitions. Mayr says, “Many do freestyle for therapy dog visits.” Can you imagine doing a freestyle routine for an auditorium full of school children? Or in a nursing home lobby? Or for spectators at the county fair?

Zillions of dogs, handlers, and spectators like canine freestyle. Maybe you and your dog will too!

Special thanks to Jan Mayr for her assistance with this article.

A version of this article first appeared in DogSport Magazine.

Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa offers dog training, puppy training, working with aggressive dogs and rehabilitating fearful and shy dogs.  In addition we offer cat training, agility, pushball and dock jumping. Courteous Canine, Inc. DogSmith of Tampa is a full service dog school that offers doggie day care, pet sitting, group classes and boarding!