March, 2011

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Nina Ottoson puzzles for your dog

Here is another great way to enjoy some one on one time with your dog. Nina Ottoson has developed a great series of dog puzzle games from easy to hard, designed to stimulate your dogs puzzle solving skills and encourage healthy and fun interaction between humans and dogs.
Linus, Lucy and ReRun have been having so much fun with these, that we decided to carry them for sale to our clients.
Currently we have in stock Casino, Spinny, Twister and Tornado. If you are interested in purchasing any of these games,or would like us to order one for you, please contact us at

Stereotypes and Lennox’s story

“I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character”, Martin Luther King Jr.

We are still striving to become an enlightened species, and stereotypes, toward other humans or even other animals, remain a huge challenge.

The fact is, dogs have teeth and dogs can bite. The fact is, humans are capable of murder, rape, hatred and inconceivable acts of cruelty to one another, to other beings and to the earth itself. The fact is, color of skin, race, ethnicity, country, religion or any other stereotype cannot predict whether a person will harm another person or not.

The fact is, breed of dog cannot be used to predict whether a dog will bite or not.

Here is Lennox’s story. If you are moved by his story, and that of his family, please sign the petition (link provided below) and please work in our own country to educate elected officials about the inaccuracy and wrongness of breed stereotyping.

Save Lennox

For 304 days 22 hours 47 minutes 53 seconds, Lennox Has Been Locked Up By Belfast City Council Alone & Without His Family.

Hi I’m a 5 year old American Bull dog Labrador cross and Belfast City Council want to put me to death because of how I look, I have never done any wrong. Please can you help me? I want to go home!

On the 19th May 2010, Lennox, a five year old American Bull dog Labrador cross was wrongfully seized by Belfast City Council Dog Wardens from his loving family home where he lives with his owners and his kennel mates. Lennox committed no crime nor did any member of the public complain about him. Three Belfast City Council Dog Wardens came with the PSNI to his home unannounced. The Dog Wardens then told the Police to leave as there was no need for them at the location. The Belfast City Council Dog Wardens then had tea with his owners, smoked cigarettes, chatted, played with the other family dogs after which the Dog Wardens then measured Lennox’s muzzle and rear legs with a dress maker’s tape measure and decided on those measurements without seeking any professional advice that he was possible “Pit Bull Type Breed” and so he was led from his home to be put to death by the Council. Northern Ireland has yet to fully implement the same dog legislation as mainland UK; if Northern Ireland were to complete the dog legislation here then Lennox could now be at home with his family and they would not now be facing legal prosecution. The USPCA said the law in Northern Ireland could be changed simply and rather quickly by an order in Council.

Lennox’s family have done more than required by the law as responsible dog owners who also foster dogs for various Northern Ireland dog shelters. When Lennox was a puppy his owners had him neutered, licensed, insured, DNA registered, Pet Safe registered and micro chipped and although the Belfast City Council have issued a dog licence for Lennox for the last five years and continue to do so today, the Council now find the need to class him as a Pit Bull type dog and murder him. On the day Lennox was ripped from his family home the Belfast City Council issued his owner with a warrant of seizure which was incorrectly addressed and was for another location, furthermore the Council used the ADBA Inc (American Dog Breeders Association Incorporated) breed standards guide to help identify Lennox as possible Pit Bull type. It has now become clear that the Council used this ADBA breed standards guide illegally breaking international and Berne copyright laws as Belfast City Council have never been authorised by the ADBA to use the copyrighted breed standards guide in full or derived version. Since Lennox’s seizure the ADBA have issued the Belfast City Council with ‘Cease & Desist’ orders due to the Council’s unauthorised continued use of ADBA material.

Lennox’s owners have only been contacted once by the Belfast City Council and this was two hours after Lennox had been taken. One of the Dog Wardens who seized Lennox telephoned Lennox’s owner to say “If you do not sign him over to us to be destroyed then you will most certainly lose your job as we will force a prosecution upon you through the courts.” On many attempts the family have telephoned the Council’s Dog Control Manager but to date the Manager has never taken the families call or returned any calls. Lennox’s family have never been told where he is being kept, what condition he is in, what type of care, feeding or regular exercise he receives, if any. Lennox’s family have repeatedly requested visitation to see what condition he is in however the Dog Control Manager for Belfast City Council Dog Wardens Department has continually refused all requests through the families Solicitor. Photographs of Lennox have emerged recently and have been passed to the family which clearly show Lennox in a cold inhumane concrete kennel which is visibly too small, there are no visible signs of a constant fresh water supply, heating, toys for stimulation and the photographs show Lennox sitting upright in a box type bed surrounded by his own faeces with only saw dust for bedding which many dog experts have agreed is harmful to dogs and unsuitable for bedding, yet Belfast City Council Dog Wardens Department have stated they practice humane animal welfare as set out by the DARD (Department of Agriculture and Rural Development). After studying the Animal Welfare Act 2006 it is clear that none of Lennox’s welfare needs are being met at this undisclosed Council contracted kennel.

Local leading MP’s joined in support of Lennox stating in the Belfast Telegraph and other media they were “Appalled” by the seizure and treatment of Lennox and his family. A global campaign which boasts hundreds of thousands of supporters and petition signatures has begun in support of Lennox’s freedom. The ADBA Inc, various Animal Rights groups, Animal Welfare organisations, Veterinarians, Dog Breed and Behaviourist Experts have all gave their support for Lennox’s freedom and many supporters who are regular tourists to Northern Ireland have went further to state they will not return to Northern Ireland until Lennox is returned to his home. The most heartfelt plea of all was heard from Brooke, the owners eleven year old Daughter who is registered disabled. Lennox grew up around Brooke and the two became inseparable. Due to Brooke’s illness she is unable to play each day with other children and so found Lennox to always be there as a playmate and someone to be of comfort to her. Since her best friend was taken Brooke has missed much School due to suffering health and unneeded stress caused by missing her dog. Brooke’s specialist Doctor at Belfast Royal Hospital for Sick Children has also expressed growing concern for the child’s separation from her pet.

We ask for your help to Save Lennox, stop his incarceration and stop him from being put to death by Belfast City Council who wrongfully took him. If you have any compassion you will clearly see that far too many wrongs and errors have been made by the Council in the seizure of this much loved family pet and you will help correct a wrong. Please help this little girl become reunited with her best friend.

Sign The Save Lennox Petition:

New Video of one our our skijor workshops at Devil’s Thumb Ranch at the end of Feb

Many thanks to Aitken, Producer LA Productions, and Tim Carter of for filming, editing and producing the great video of our workshop at the end of February this year at Devil’s Thumb Ranch.

Some ABC’s of training

As a teacher, we are always taught by our students. So, from experience with teaching a variety of dogs sports, dog classes and private trainings, I have realized there are some basic “ABC’s” to keep in mind.

This goes two ways: Getting your dogs attention and giving your dog attention.
The first step of any training program should teach people how to get and keep their dog’s attention in the face of distractions. All training starts here. Put simply, if you can’t get your dog’s attention to begin with, they are not going to listen or observe anything else you are asking them to do or not to do. Getting their attention is best trained by developing a conditioned response, so that the instant they hear their name, they look to you…no matter what. If you cannot get your dog’s attention inside with no distractions, trying to get their attention outside with a ton of distractions will only train them to ignore you. To condition your dog to always give you attention, we start very simple with zero distractions. Our “Squirrel?” class is all about this

On the other end of the leash, people need to pay attention to their dogs. To be honest, I usually observe that dogs pay much more attention to their humans than their humans realize…or give them credit for! Our dogs know our every movement, motion, tone of voice, facial expression, (our) behavior patterns etc. They know us better than we often know ourselves! Yet, most people rarely reciprocate.

I find so many behavior problems arise because people simply get too busy, too preoccupied, too whatever, to pay attention to their dogs every day and as a living part of their family and social structure.

Barking is one of the biggest bad habits that results from a dog being left in the yard or kennel all day unATTENDED. Dogs get bored, or anxious or both, and start barking. Barking becomes a habit for them as addictive as smoking is for humans….and just as hard to break. So prevent the habit from forming to begin with. Train your dog so that they can be left inside reliably and safely while you are gone, don’t leave your dog for tooooo long without you or someone coming in to see them, and don’t leave them in the yard unattended for long periods of time. When they start barking, check for what they are barking about, and then call their name and give them something else to do. If this something else has something to do with a toy, or stick or ball or something else in their mouth, even better, because its hard to bark with your mouth full!

Giving a dog your ATTENTION will also prevent destructive behavior and help nip counter surfing in the bud. New puppies, like toddlers required LOTS of attention. Catching inappropriate chewing in the act and “trading out” the inappropriate object for a toy or bone or something they can chew on is one of the easiest and most effective ways to teach a dog what they can chew on and what they cannot. If you are in a position where you cannot give a new dog or puppy your attention (you need to leave for a bit, you need to get some work done, you need to sleep, you are driving) then having your dog crate trained will be allow you to safely leave them unattended so you can do these things. They will not be getting into things they shouldn’t, eating things they shouldn’t, etc. They are happily in their crates (IF you have done your crate training correctly!) chewing away on their favorite bone or toy or sleeping.

Giving your dog attention is also one of the greatest rewards you can give them. Removing this reward from them can also clearly tell them if their behavior is inappropriate….such as jumping or barking at you. So remember that positive attention is on of the greatest rewards and reinforcements for your dog. Lavish them with attention when they are doing the right thing….and even when they are refraining from doing the wrong thing!

Being a good parent to children involves setting reasonable boundaries and teaching a child to respect them. Teaching a dog or puppy is just like being a good parent.
Decide what your dog will be allowed to do and what not to do first. This is a purely personal decision as everyone is different…some people don’t mind dogs on the furniture, and other people do. The key is decided what YOU want in your life….those will define the boundaries for your dog.

While boundaries are a personal decision, I have found some universal ones to be helpful:
1. greeting manners (no jumping….even when they are a cute puppy!) Use the proverbial “four on the floor”
2. grabbing leashes during walks ( this will be confusing for them if you want to do things like skijoring, canix, rally, obedience or other sports that require them to leave the line alone)
3. feet off of the counter (obvious reasons)
4. nipping during “rough play”
5. grabbing your hand in their mouth while getting a toy or playing (big no!)
6. grabbing a glove….remember, a dog cannot distinguish between a glove with a hand in it and a glove with out. Gloves do not make good toys!
7. Chasing cars/bikes, skateboards, children, livestock…moving things ….VERY hard habit to ever break…and very dangerous. Even working herding dogs are not allowed to freely chase livestock! Their movements are under voice control of their handler and are purposeful and calm.
8. A word about the furniture: my dogs are allowed on furniture and beds (my choice), but they also know the word “Off” which has been taught to them USING POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT so that is it not a punishment, but simply a word to tell them where to go besides the furniture.
So think about the boundaries you want to establish for your dog’s life, teach your dog alternative behaviors to what you don’t want them to do or a place to go rather than where you don’t want them to be….and move on to the next step…

What more can I say? Well, probably a lot. This is such an obvious thing and simple concept….but amazingly difficult for humans to follow. It takes some discipline….on the human’s part…not the dogs’!

For instance, if you don’t want your dog to jump on you or anyone else, dont’ let them. Certainly don’t let them do this as a puppy, even if it is cute then. That puppy is going to grow up fast! Set a boundary of “all four on the floor” in order to get attention, and stick with it.

If you want your dog to wait for your command to get out of the car or go through an open door, this must happen every time (even as your dog gets older and knows this, you still need to do it).

You get the picture. Consistency will make life with you so much easier for your dog. It will reinforce boundaries, remove anxiety from your dog as they will know what to do and what to expect, and remove stressful and unpleasant sessions from the life you and your dog lead together.

Happy tails! and thanks to all of the dogs and their humans who have helped me learn my ABCs!

Dogs help keep humans fit, article from New York Times

We know that exercise is good for dogs AND their humans. Here is a recent article from the New York Times detailing studies showing that dog ownership makes people get and stay more active…and healthy.
Yet another gift dogs bring to the human world. Yes, they are amazing!
Thanks Ben for sharing this article.

Dog Terra Fun this weekend!

The 8th annual Dog Terra event will be happening this Sunday, March 6th, 2011, at the Gold Run Nordic Center from 9:15 am to 1 pm.

Fun for every one is to be had:
Snowshoeing with your dog.
Skijor workshops for beginner and experienced skijorers taught by yours truly here at Skijor-n-More.
Fun skijor race for all abilities.

Agility: This is an open event on a very beginner level safe course. Even if you have never tried agility and have wanted to, this is a great chance to do so. If you are experienced, what a fun way to show everyone you and your dog’s talents!
Flyball: Ever wonder what is flyball and want a chance to learn and try? Terena Thomas of Canine Country School will be our guest instructor for this fun event.
Chuck It throw and catch fun competition.
Free Coffee from Abbeys Coffee in Frisco, plus free donuts and dog treats too!
All proceeds from the event go to Summit County LAPS (League of Animals and People of Summit) which is a non profit organization to raise money to help with veterinary costs for those in need.

9:15 am registration opens
10 am festivities begin (concurrently: skijor, snowshoe, flyball, agility, chuck it)
10:15 am beginning skijor session
11:am experienced skijor session
11:45 am fun skijor race.

Hope you can come and join the fun!

The late great Neewa enjoying past Dog Terra's