Tag Archives: My dog has issues

Steps to Selecting a GREAT Pet Sitter in Tampa

petsittingSteps to Selecting a GREAT Pet Sitter in Tampa

Courteous Canine, Inc. offers pet sitting and we want to make it easier to help you choose a pet sitter. Courteous Canine, Inc. has a network of pet sitters so even if you are located in an area that we don’t current service we can put you in touch with a great sitter. So contact us and know you are getting a prescreened pet sitter that is recommended by previous and current clients.

  • Background Check
    Courteous Canine, Inc. checks the records of each pet sitter making sure that people sent to a client’s home are free of criminal records. Be sure that the pet sitter you are using has been checked for criminal records in all states and counties they have resided.
  •  Pet Safety
    Not only is it important to hire a sitter that is obsessively careful with your pet it is important to check references that the pet sitter has not lost a pet while servicing a client and that the sitter is pet first aid trained. When evaluating pet first aid training make sure that the training was done by a certified veterinary technician or by a veterinarian. Be sure that you and the sitter have paper work in place that clearly spells out which vet to go to in an emergency.
  •  Backup Sitters
    Make sure to hire a sitter who has at least two alternative sitters available at all times in case the original sitter has an emergency. By having three backups in place your pet is guaranteed to get their visit. If a sitter works alone getting a back up can be difficult or even impossible.
  •  Multiple Visits
    If your dog requires multiple visits per day hiring a company that only has one person on staff can be problematic. The pet sitter may be tempted to skip a visit or may logistically be unable to provide all the visits your dog needs. Courteous Canine, Inc. offers multiple sitters all working with pet first aid certifications and background checks.
  •  Sitter Great, Trainer Better
    Ask the sitter you are interviewing if they are a certified dog trainer, this means that your sitter is educated in training, will be able to alert you to training issues and proactively prevent problems. Also our trainers are trained identify signs of stress in your dog which is critically important to providing ideal pet sitting services.
  •  Being hired by a client for Pet sitting is an honor and a great trust, it is one that we value and we commit to providing the best services for our clients in the Tampa Bay area. Happy pet sitting to all!

Upcoming Event at Courteous Canine, Inc.: Fun Day of Dog Dock Jumping and Agility!

Upcoming Event at Courteous Canine, Inc.: Fun Day of Dog Dock Jumping and Agility!

Courteous Canine, Inc.

and Health Mutt Present

A fun day of Dock Jumping, Agility and Free Dog Training Advice

Agility Run Thrus Nested courses Standard and Jumpers (Novice and Excellent) $5 per run $20 unlimited runs

Dock Jumping $5 per five jumps or $20 for unlimited jumps (five jump cycles)

Free dog training and behavior question booth.

Come join the fun May 5th 11 am to 3 pm


Training Services

Tampa Dog Training Tips: If Dogs Played Softball

Tampa Dog Training Tips: If Dogs Played Softball

One of the activities I have missed the most since my move from Cookeville is attending the softball games at TTU. The days of sitting in the sun with one of my dogs at my feet, surrounded by friends, many who also brought their dogs, is a good memory. So this past weekend I was thrilled to be able to attend the 2013 USF/Under Armour Invitational and Showcase in Clearwater, FL and watch the Golden Eagles Softball Women play. I also enjoyed conversation with several of the wonderful softball team supporters from Cookeville who made their way to FL.

As my husband, Jim, and I sat watching the game, we began to muse over what a game would look like if dogs were players (dogs are never far from our minds, not even when we are enjoying other activities). We decided our view of the game with a canine twist might bring a smile to some readers. I used the AKC Breed Description Index as a reference for breed descriptions (www.akc.org/breeds). Legal Disclaimer: all representations are purely fictional and any likeness to any team member is purely coincidental.

Which breeds would be placed in various positions of the team? Let’s start with the pitcher. The movements are focused, very still and watchful, followed by fast movement with grace and speed. Only a Sighthound could fill that spot, so we nominate a Scottish Deerhound as pitcher. The catcher: what better breed to fill that role than one which is rock solid and steady such as the low-to-the-ground English Bulldog who is described as “ferocious and courageous, almost insensitive to pain.” Catching those 80 mph pitches and cleats-first slides into home plate must require at least a little pain tolerance.

The shortstop position will be filled by a Border Collie (aka “the Fun Police”), who “thrives when they have a job to do and space to run.” First and second bases will be filled by terriers. It was more than evident the first base position should be held by a Jack Russell Terrier. Why? “Strong, hardy, earth-working, strong voice, fearless nature.” Second base will be covered by the Cairn Terrier, bred to aid the owners in “ridding the area of pests” (since the second base player helps end those darn double plays). Third base will be covered by the Labrador Retriever, bred as an “efficient retriever of game,” since so many hits go down that line. Labs retrieving balls is a given!

The unsung heroes of the softball game may be the outfielders. They must be fast and able to make quick throws into the infield, so my breed choice for these positions is the Australian Shepherd. Aussies are known as “animated, agile, with strong herding and guarding instincts.” Watching the outfielders going after a flyball yelling “I’ve got it!” and “Mine! Mine! Mine!”, well, Aussies will be naturals.

Book Review: Plenty in Life is Free: Reflections on Dogs, Training and Finding Grace

plentyinlifeisfreeAuthor: Kathy Sdao, ACAAB

Publisher: Dogwise Publishing, Wenatchee, WA, 2012

Most dog trainers are conscientious people who work very hard to stay abreast of the latest protocols, looking for new and improved methods of working with dogs, especially those with issues. One protocol which burst onto the scene several years ago is known as “Nothing In Live Is Free (NILIF),” “Work to Earn,” and a variety of other names. The methodology suggests owners require dogs to perform some behavior on cue in order to receive anything – food, water, access to outdoors, and even attention/affection. Many trainers jumped on the bandwagon and coached their clients to restrict the dogs’ access to everything. Clients obliged and some took it to the extreme, even isolating the family dogs from each other, never allowing them to interact and play. A few trainers and owners are still onboard for the ride, but the ultra-restrictive procedural method is – thankfully – no longer popular with most today.

Kathy Sdao’s recent publication is a brief journey through the events in her life which have guided her into re-evaluating the framework of programs like NILIF and the effect they have on our relationships with our dogs. Questioning the effectiveness and morality of requirements such as “ignore your dog if he seeks attention by nudging your hand,” she explores the weaknesses of such programs and the damage they can cause to the bond.

Not one to merely preach and condemn from the mountain top, Ms. Sdao provides an alternate plan with her S.M.A.R.T. x 50. S.M.A.R.T. is the acronym for See, Mark, And Reward Training, an easy-to-implement exercise which can be adjusted to meet the needs of almost anyone. While she recognizes this certainly is not a panacea for all issues which may befall a dog, it can be an integral part of the plan while other interventions are instituted.

The length of a book is not directly proportional to the wisdom contained within. Plenty in Live Is Free is a quick read at only 93 pages plus 3 additional pages of suggestions for further reading. For those with little spare time to read tomes, this book can validate the move away from coercion and into empowerment, not only for the dogs, but for the people as well. As Ms. Sdao writes: “This might free us to loosen our stranglehold on controlling our dogs’ every pleasure, thereby discovering that despite our deep fear that all would be chaos without us In Charge, all will actually be okay. Radically so. What a relief for us and everyone around us.”



Tampa Dog Training: What’s Wrong With Intelligent Dog Training?

Tampa Dog Training: What’s Wrong With Intelligent Dog Training?

By Eric Brad | Thursday, February 7, 2013 at 8:29 pm

Why not?

The one thing that the dog world is not short on is tribes.  Call them philosophies or methods or techniques if you like, but the dog training world seems to always be divided into tribes that claim to offer the best way to train your dog.  Whether it is Cesar Millan and his “Pack Leadership” style of training, the “shock collar” training that seems popular among sporting dog enthusiasts, or the “Relationship Based Training” advocated by Suzanne Clothier, each of these tribes sets themselves apart from the rest of the dog training world.  Each tribe has its gurus, important books, and a means to identify with others who believe in the same kind of training.  If this sounds a little like different religions, I don’t think that is merely coincidence.

God, they say, is unknowable.  In a very real sense, DOG is unknowable to humans in many ways as well.  We can make our observations, collect our data, and form our hypotheses on how and why dogs behave as they do.  The fact that dogs cannot tell us what they are thinking in any direct way means we are constantly interpreting and speculating on what their behaviours may mean.  Even though science has learned a great deal about dog behaviour and canine cognition/learning, direct access to what B.F. Skinner called the “black box”, the mind of the dog, remains out of reach.  It is often that narrow blind spot that different tribes use to distinguish themselves and set them apart from all of the other tribes of dog training.

“You can sit by the river for years and never get wet”

I had a very talented friend who would frequently use that phrase in reference to older, more experienced people in his field.  At a young age, my friend was, in many ways, more accomplished and better informed in his field than colleagues who had been at it for 20 years longer than he had.  It seems to me that it is not how long you have been doing something that matters but how intelligently you engage and your ability to learn from those experiences.  It’s the same with dogs.  I frequently tell people that I have been living with and training dogs for 30 years, most of those years I did it badly.  It is not an exaggeration to say that I learned more in my first year of using behaviour and science based training than I had in the previous 20 years.

I frequently encounter dog trainers who will use the number of years they have been involved with dogs or the number of dogs they have worked with as their claim to some authority on the subject.  ”I have been [breeding, training, working with, around] dogs for 30 years.  I think I know something about them.”  I’m sure these people do know some things about dogs.

Humans have some remarkable ways of fooling themselves.  One of those ways has been identified in psychology as “confirmation bias“, a process where someone will unconsciously disregard any information that conflicts with their existing beliefs or will focus only on information that supports their beliefs about a particular subject.  Do we really know what we need to know about dogs?

KnowledgeIt seems that you can believe the same incorrect conclusions about dogs for years and never challenge them.  I know this to be true because I did it myself for 20 years.  What’s worse is that it seems people have the capacity to convince themselves that they are better informed as the years pass but they are just selectively choosing the information that supports what they already believe.  There is no reason to change what they know.  If it isn’t broken, why fix it?

If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck…

One of the most confusing things about different dog training methods is that they can appear to give us the same results.  If I tell my dog to “Sit!”, we all know what that looks like and we could all judge whether or not the dog had done the “sit” in response to my cue.  What is more difficult to know from this observation is how I taught this dog to sit.  Did I use Clicker Training?  Natural Dog Training?  Relationship Based Training?  Pack Leadership Training?  Perhaps I even used a combination of these or other methods.  But a “Sit” is a “Sit”, right?  There was a time that I believed that too.

Then I read Melissa Alexander’s “How You Get Behavior Really Does Matter” and I realized that getting the results I wanted was only part of the story between me and my dog.  Like throwing a pebble in a pond, the process by which we teach our dog can ripple into other areas of our lives together.  Frustrating my dog with confusing training might make her unwilling to learn other behaviours or even to respond to known behaviours.  Being overly generous with food rewards for easy training might make my dog lazy or bored or interested only in the food.  How we approach training our dogs really does have an impact on not just the performance of a specific behaviour we train but on our dog’s overall attitude and behaviour in life situations as well.

There are those in dog training who focus on “manners” and making sure that dogs are not “rude” when interacting with humans.  Often their training methods get results and they get them quickly.  Unfortunately, much of what they do involves stopping behaviour.  Don’t jump up, don’t nip, don’t pull on the leash, don’t bark.  These techniques get the desired results and the dog thinks twice before doing the behaviours again.  But then the owners notice something they didn’t expect.  They enroll their dog in an agility class and their dog is reluctant to run and jump and work away from them at a distance.  Why?  Because the dog does not want to be reprimanded yet again for some unwanted behaviour;  he is thinking twice about it.  It’s what they have come to expect from their “manners” training.  Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.

The thinking dog trainer

Good intentions and unconditional love do not train a dog.  Time, patience, education, and a well prepared training plan is what trains a dog.  An intelligent  dog trainer looks for all of the information they can get on all aspects of dogs, behaviour, and learning theory.  It’s not enough to just know how to throw a pebble into the pond, you should also know how ripples work and where they are likely to go before you throw.  Sometimes that means admitting what we thought we knew was wrong and casting old information aside in favour of the new, despite our own cognitive bias.

TogetherMy experience with students has shown me that many of the problems dog owners have happen because they didn’t realize that the solution to one behaviour problem might just create 3 other problems.  Many times these problems come about because the owner has discovered a new tribe of dog training and has followed its principles without looking closely enough at what they were doing and how it affected their dog.  Their search for a solution has led them to a new and different set of problems.  And here cognitive bias can once again fool us into thinking that the new problems are preferable to the old problems.  They have a solution they think is good enough.  Or is it?

We like to call this the “Information Age.”  There are more books, articles, videos, and other information sources available to us today than ever before in human history.  Making the best use of that information is up to us as individuals.  While God remains largely unknowable, our dog is right here with us and we have opportunities each day to interact and discover more about her.  She too is a valuable source of information.  Regardless of what you read or are told about dogs, behaviour, and training, think about that advice and how it will affect you and your dog.

Everyone who trains a dog has different strengths.  Each will develop the skills that they think are important to them and their time with their dog.  The kind of training we do with our dog should not be based on our association with a particular tribe.  Our human need to belong to a group should not outweigh finding the best approach to teaching our dogs and helping them to enjoy a happy, healthy life.  Your choice of dog training methods should not depend on a certain tribe, a charismatic guru, or a commitment to an ideology.  It should depend on the careful, thoughtful efforts of the most important person in your dog’s life.  You.

Until next time, have fun with your dog.

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Photo credits –

Why Not? – Big Grey Mare 2007 From Flickr
Knowledge – It’sGreg 2005 From Flickr
Together – outlier dogs 2009 From Flickr

Recent Eric Brad Articles:

Thank you to Eric Brad for allowing the reprinting of this article!  To visit the original article: http://caninenation.lifeasahuman.com
Eric Brad’s page:  http://www.caninenation.ca