Thursday, February 25, 2010

Training "Shut the Door," part I

Training Daisy to shut the door.

Daisy already knew "Touch," touching her nose to my hand target. From there, we worked on transferring the target from my hand to the piece of tape on the door. The jackpots (excited "Yes!" in the video, followed by multiple treats) are for quicker than average response times or for touching harder or for longer than usual.

Stay tuned for Part II! :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

It's National Pancake Day!

For humans--
free short stack of hotcakes at participating IHOPs from 7-10 a.m. today, mmmm!

For dogs--
homemade pumpkin pancakes (hold the syrup).

Happy Pancake Day, and see you at the trough!!

Outwitting Dogs: great attitude, and a great book!

I'm reading Outwitting Dogs: Revolutionary techniques for dog training that work!, by Terry Ryan and Kirsten Mortensen, and I love it! This is one that I'd recommend to clients; it has tons of very practical, doable tips and techniques for training and management, and the language is friendly and easy-to-read.

So tell me: what are you reading now, or what's your favorite dog book?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Hike Review: Mission Peak

With 2200 feet of elevation change over five and a half miles, this hike is not for the faint of heart. But if you and your pooch are fairly fit, bring lots of water, and pace yourselves, you'll earn a stunning panorama of the South Bay (not to mention big-time bragging rights).

Daisy and I started out at about 8:30 on a Friday morning, from the staging area at the east end of Stanford Avenue in Fremont. We began on an excellent note by making friends with two big labs and an ultrarunner, who encouraged me to come back for the Ohlone 50k in May. ("You already have the perfect dog for it!" True that.) Then, with a preemptory sip of water, we started our slow slog up into the rolling hills. (Well, I started slowly. Daisy ran big circles around me.)

The weather was perfect: bright and sunny, and a cool fifty degrees. Perfect for shorts and a long-sleeved shirt.

Halfway up, we picked our way over a cattle guard, and Daisy saw her first cows up close. In this photo, she's lifting a paw and turning her head away (she also licked her lips several times), a very nice example of canine communication, and what Turid Rugaas calls "calming signals."

There were plenty of other runners and hikers, more than half with dogs, and everyone was chipper and chatty. We couldn't help it; the air up there is intoxicating.

Although we weren't pushing the pace by any means, we reached the summit in a little over an hour ( predicts a five-hour round trip, which would be a relaxing stroll even our spry senior dog could handle), and sipped more water while we enjoyed the view.

And then we ran down.

Trail specs:
Address: East end of Stanford Avenue, off Mission Blvd
Fremont, CA
Hours: 7 a.m. to dusk
Parking/admission fees: None!
Restrooms: Yes, in parking lot at trailhead
Water: Bring your own.
Camping reservations (Ohlone Wilderness Trail): 1.888.EBPARKS
Great hike directions/info at Bay Area Hiker.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Valentine's Day pet photo contest winners!

1st prize
Maria Karunungan
"Maya and Jared"

2nd prize
Teresa Tolone

3rd prize
Michelle Jones

Congratulations to all our cute doggie photo entrants, and happy V-Day!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Are you watching the Super Bowl?

Take the Super Bowl pledge:
Support the pit bulls of New Orleans!

The Sula Foundation is dedicated to fostering responsible pit bull ownership through low-cost veterinary clinics, education and advocacy.

DIY Acupressure for Dogs

Acupressure is a hands-on, fingertip therapy that works by applying pressure to various identified points on your dog's body. It originated over 3,000 years ago as part of a holistic healing system called Traditional Chinese Medicine (or TCM). Chinese medicine holds that all animals have a "life force" called qi (pronounced "chee") that moves through the body through pathways called meridians. Specific points on these meridians that are located close to the surface of the body, then, can be accessed to re-establish balance in the movement of the qi.

Acupuncture is a deep treatment technique that should be performed by a certified veterinary acupuncturist registered with the American Academy of Veterinary Acupuncture or a holistic veterinarian. Acupressure, on the other hand, is something that you can provide for your dog daily, free of charge! While it does by no means replace regular veterinary care, it is a wonderful supplement that can be used to relieve pain, reduce muscle spasm, support healing, and strengthen the immune system.

Starting with a light massage or simple 'petting' will start the acupressure session off nicely. Acupressure can be performed with the dog standing, sitting, or lying down, depending on your dog's natural preference and the particular point you will be addressing. So, when you are ready, you can begin to zero in on your dog's acupressure points.

Once you have found the point, place your index finger or thumb on the point and apply steady pressure with a single straight finger. Try and imagine a slow and even continuum of energy entering his body at that point. It might sound hokey, but it will keep you from poking in an awkward or sudden motion that can startle or confuse him. Slowly increase the pressure and release after 5 to 15 seconds, depending on the body language of your dog. A dog who is ready to be released from a point might tense his muscles, make a sudden movement, or even yelp. Make sure you use your own dog's comfort level as a guide, and by no means should a dog acupressure point be held longer than 15 seconds. More is not better in this case. However, do feel free to treat several different points in one sitting, always repeating each acupressure points on both sides of the body to maintain balance.

If you come across a tender spot on an acupressure point (often marked by a twitch when pressure is applied), simply use a gentle massaging motion to relax the muscle. Then, use the aforementioned acupressure technique to release the tender point. Adding a few counter-clockwise rotations to your finger just before releasing may help in these areas as well. Of course, use extra care and gentleness in these areas on all occasions. Think of long-term health and healing. A small massage and gentle release today and tomorrow may be your canine companion's start on his road to recovery. Keep a record of your work, noting tender areas as well as improvements and you will be amazed at the difference this dog therapy can make!

(information and photos courtesy of and

Monday, February 1, 2010

Last day to submit photos for Valentine's Day contest!

We have some really cool prizes to give out, including an original ink or watercolor portrait of your pet by Berkeley artist Maria Leria; a gift certificate to Holistic Hound; a Rebel Dog t-shirt; and more!

Send V-Day themed pet photos to
or post to our facebook page.

Entries due tonight at midnight!