This blog is a tribute to Belle, and all the dogs who have come before and after. They are my friends, my companions, my teachers and my students. They bring me both joy and heartache, laughter and tears. There is nothing as sweet as the smell of puppy breathe, and nothing as sad as the final goodbye.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas to all!!!!

Great article from Jim Burwell's PETIQUETTE Blog

How Dog Training Can Keep Your Dog Safe And Happy During Christmas

Now, many of you have dogs that are veterans of many Christmases past, but some of you have concerns about facing your first Christmas with a new puppyor adolescent dog. Then there are those of you who haven’t given safety for your dog a single thought. This post is for all of you!  Here are some tips to consider during the Christmas season to keep your dogs (and cats!) safe:
The Christmas Tree:
  • Keep the water stand covered.  Pine sap mixed with water makes a poisonous drink for your dog or cat.
  • Sweep up pine needles.  Eating pine needles can cause vomiting and gastric irritation.
  • Tie the tree to the wall or ceiling to keep your dog or cat from pulling it over.
  • Tinsel is very dangerous for dogs.  Eating tinsel can cause serious intestinal obstruction that may require surgery if ingested.  Use ribbon up high on the tree instead of tinsel and garland.
  • The smell of a live tree may cause your dog or cat to urine mark.  It may help to bring the tree into an isolated indoor room for a day or so, so it smells more like the home.
  • Your best bet is to use your dog’s obedience skills to redirect any attention he is paying to the tree. Here’s how. Star by having pet treats ready to distract your pet from paying attention to the tree. Then begin working on setting a boundary for your dog by doing “set ups” with your dog on leash as you take him to the tree.  When he sniffs the tree, give him a gentle tug and say “Off” then redirect to a stuffed Kong toy or chew bone and praise him for taking the appropriate item. Soon your dog will see that ignoring the tree earns him praise and toys.
  • Pick up any ornament hooks that fall.  If your dog eats an ornament hook, it can damage the intestines.
  • Better yet, replace ornament hooks with loops of string tied in a knot.
  • Glass ornaments should be placed on the upper half of the tree where dogs and cats can’t reach them.
  • Only use wooden or non-breakable ornaments down low, or better yet, only decorate the top 2/3 of your tree.

  • Don’t hang indoor lighting low, this will keep your dog or cat from becoming entangled in them.
  • Remember to unplug the lights when you’re not home to supervise your dog.
  • Some dogs might also be tempted to chew electric cords or other electric ornaments. Again, it’s best to use training to let your dog know that this is unacceptable.
  • Dogs are very inquisitive and the decorations on presents can be very tempting.  Take ribbons and string from packages.  Consider storing presents in a safe area until right before opening.
  • Don’t place edible presents under the tree—take it from someone who knows! Dogs can smell them a mile away and they will rip them open and eat the contents.  (Jalapeno beef jerky was the culprit and a fast call to the vet!)
  • Don’t forget to give your dog or cat a present.  A stuffed Kong will keep them occupied when guests are over.
  • Don’t EVER give a puppy as a surprise present.  A puppy who grows into a dog is a major, lifetime commitment and owners must be prepared to make the commitment of time and energy it takes to successfully integrate a puppy/dog into a home. However, if you are considering getting a puppy for the holidays, see my post on the right way to add a new puppy or dog to the family. Don’t forget my CD, Puppy Training Sins Every New Puppy Owner Needs To Avoid, it’s like having me in your home!
  • The perfect present to give the dog lover in your life is the gift of dog training. You can buy gift certificates for group or individual training session with me. You can contact me through my website, e-mail me at or call me at (713) 728-0610 to order today.
Dog Activity:
  • Repeat after me: A tired dog is a good dog.  Do not forget to take your dog for his daily walk, especially before company arrives.
  • Give your dog a safe place to go – another room, a crate removed from the activity, somewhere your dog is used to and feels safe so he can escape all the activity.
Have a safe, wonderful, blessed Christmas and hug those pups for me!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Poinsettias are not Dangerous -From Just Labs Magazine

December 2013
Poinsettias are not Dangerous
by Jill LaCross

The dashing plant so commonly found in homes this time of year is not, as was published in our email blast earlier this week, "one of the most dangerous plants found around the holidays."
The mistake was caught by one of our subscribers, who raises Labs and is a horticulturist expert who grows these plants in her greenhouse. I've commonly heard about poinsettias being particularly poisionous for our pets, but there has been plenty of research showing that this is not the case. I thought I'd share what I found with you as it was quite an education for me.
The Pet Poison Helpline categorizes poinsettias as a "minimal" threat and explains: "While poinsettias are commonly 'hyped' as poisonous plants, they rarely are, and the poisoning is greatly exaggerated." Penn State Extension agrees, as noted in a newsletter for master gardeners, "While they are not meant to be eaten by humans, pets or livestock, ingesting poinsettias would probably cause some stomach upset, as would eating most any houseplant. However, poinsettias have undergone extensive testing and there is no evidence that they are toxic or unsafe to have in the house."
That's not to say that poinsettias are the friendliest plant. After all, they are not meant to be eaten. If a Lab were to ingest the leaves and bracts, it could possibly lead to a stomach ache, drooling, or vomiting, but nothing life threatening. The potential harm would occur only if the bracts or other parts were consumed in very large amounts - a quantity that greatly exceeds what would be available at home during the holidays. A study by Ohio State University in 1971 showed how rats did not suffer any adverse effects after consuming high doses of the plant, as noted in this fact sheet fromColorado State University.
We apologize for perpetuating the myth that these beautiful plants are extremely dangerous for our Labs. We can also say, what a relief it is to know that they aren't! And a special thanks to our subsciber who brought it to our attention.