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July 2011


We are already having a great July at the Hound Huddle. First, congratulations to Sara on her high school graduation! We are very happy and excited for her, but very sorry to know that her days with us are limited as she plans to attend college too far away to commute. We are also happy to welcome a new employee, Courtney, who is helping us out over her summer break. Zayda, her Great Dane attends daycare year round, but Courtney spends her school year teaching English to 8th graders.

According to Wikipedia the “dog days of summer” are the hottest, most sultry days of summer and begin early July. I think it is safe to say they are here! Please remember to have lots of water available for your pets through these hot days and plan ahead if you are taking them anywhere in a car so that you won’t have to leave them alone. Heat stroke can strike dogs in minutes and can be fatal. Essentially, a dog’s internal temperature rises to the point where organsshut down. Symptoms to watch for include excessive panting, disorientation, vomiting or collapse. To help cool your dog down youcan submerge them in cool or tepid water or put them in front of a fan or in an air conditioned room. Remember that some dogs do not know when to quit—you have to make the choice for them.

Stay cool and safe and we hope to see your dogs in our air conditioned room and backyard pools!

Best Regards,
Becky

 

How are we doing? We want to hear from YOU!
We would love to hear feedback from you on how we are doing here at the Hound Huddle! We are putting together a brochure to have available for new customers, so we would love to have your feedback to include in the handout! Email us or send us a message on Facebook with whatever is on your mind! What are we doing that you love? What would you have us do differently?

 

Dog of the Month: Buddy
The dog of the month for July is Buddy, a Border Collie mix! Buddy is one of our regulars and comes almost every Monday, and he is one of our best singers here at the Hound Huddle. He can get the whole group singing along with him, and you can even hear the doggie choir at the opposite end of the building at the clinic! When he’s at home, he loves to sing when sirens go by his house—and sometimes his owners join in, too! When he’s not howlin’ away, he loves taking one of his numerous stuffed animals out of his big toy box and carrying it around the house. Buddy also has a fun birthday on the Fourth of July! Perhaps he likes to sing at fireworks, too? And maybe he’ll get another toy to add to his collection? Happy sixth birthday, Buddy!

 

Product of the Month: Veggie Life Treats
If you have an older dog with hip and joint issues, or are just looking for a tasty treat that also is good for your dog’s health, than Veggie Life Treats are perfect for you! We offer two different varieties of these treats: Vitality contains flaxseed oil and vitamins for eye, skin and coat health, while Happy Hips contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin for maintaining healthy joints. There are multiple flavors available for each, including Chicken and Sweet Potato, Chicken and Banana, and Chicken and Apple! We have free samples available for each treat; ask for one the next time you stop by!

 

Saturday Playtime

Saturday playtimes for small breeds and puppies meet from 9:30 to 10:30. With the fencing inside to separate the dogs by personality rather than by age, all small breeds and puppies under six months are welcome to escape the hot temperatures or summer thunderstorms and run off some energy indoors! Dogs can play outside as well. All dogs must be current on their vaccinations including Bordetella and owners must be present.

 

Clearance Items! We have several items for sale in our retail section that are 40% off! We have numerous sizes of doggie seatbelts to keep your pooch safe in the car, light up collars and leashes you can use when playing outside on a warm summer evening, and so much more. Be sure to check out what’s on sale the next time you stop by!

 

Training
Due to overwhelming popularity, we have added a few more training classes that begin soon! Be sure to sign up soon; spots are filling up quickly!

Puppy Pre-School: 7:30-8:30p.m. Wednesday July 13 - August 17
A six-week course with instruction on socializing a puppy including supervised off-leash play in class. There is also instruction on several obedience commands using positive reinforcement, nutrition and toys, understanding canine body communication and other topics. A written training guide and DVD are included. Please bring a hungry dog, a leash, and great training treats to class. Cost is $90. Taught by Dan Antolec.

**NEW! Rolling Agility Classes
Continuing Students:
7:30-8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June thru August – w/Renee Grittner
**AND/OR**
2:30-3:30 p.m. Sundays, June thru August – w/Renee Grittner
New Students:
1:30-2:30 p.m. Sundays, June thru August – w/Renee Grittner
Would you like to attend agility classes this summer but cannot commit to a 6 week class? No problem! For the busy summer months we are offering rolling agility classes. When you sign up for your 6 lessons you have up to 12 weeks to come for classes. Classes are held on Sundays 2:30 – 3:30 pm and on Wednesday evenings 7:30 – 8:30 pm for continuing students and Sundays at 1:30 for new students. Continuing students may come to either class until their 6 lessons are up. Join any time! The cost is $90 for six lessons. Taught by Renee Grittner.

 

Grooming
As we approach the hottest months of the year, you may be considering giving your long-haired pooch a shorter cut to help them stay cool. Be sure to give the Oregon Pet Spa and Salon a call and they can help you and your pup! Amy is going on maternity leave in early August for a few weeks, but Bree and Camille will still be around to help you out. They’re scheduling up to a week in advance, so call early! Their number is 835-8234.

 

Say hello to Courtney and Zayda!
We have a new staff member here at the Hound Huddle, Courtney! Courtney is a teacher in Evansville and will be helping us out over the summer months! She has been bringing her Great Dane, Zayda, here for the past two years, but now she gets to hang out in the back with the rest of the daycare dogs, too. You can read more about Courtney and the rest of our employees on the “Meet the Staff” page on our website! Feel free to say hello to Courtney (and Zayda) the next time you drop off or pick up your dog from daycare.

 

How are new Hound Huddle Employees Trained, Anyway?

Taking your beloved dog to a doggie daycare is like taking your child to (human) daycare and you may well wonder how the staff is trained and prepared for such a responsibility? It is a fair question and I will answer it frankly. Hound Huddle began 3 ½ years ago with a small staff. Today the staff has grown and the training process has evolved along the way.

If a new employee is hired today (like Courtney), he or she will enjoy the benefit of two training DVDs, the latest of which focuses on the most common questions raised by previously hired daycare employees. A 22-page guide accompanies the DVD as well. There is also an Employee Handbook that covers topics such as daily duties, canine behavior, how to supervise a pack of dogs, how to handle emergencies and daily cleaning duties.

In addition a new employee will be assigned to shadow a trainer, who will use a comprehensive training checklist and the Employee Handbook to ensure that each topic is addressed. The trainer will demonstrate proper methods and skills and help the new employee by explaining things in detail, and quizzing the trainee along the way. When the trainee has demonstrated basic skill and understanding then he or she will be scheduled as an independent employee, meaning they will be capable of carrying out all duties required of a daycare employee. Of course the other employees will help by answering questions and it requires a certain amount of experience to perform the job proficiently, but the training program is a good start and assures basic uniformity in ability.

As part of the evolving training process, I frequently take video and photos of the daycare activities. This has produced a large library of digital photos that help new employees recognize the many dogs and their names, which can be quite confusing at first. Also, filmed video sequences are invaluable for studying dog interaction and communication. When a particularly instructive sequence is captured on film it is made available for staff to study, sometimes with an accompanying document explaining the signs and behaviors. This helps all employees hone their powers of observation and communicate more effectively with the dogs. In turn that helps employees supervise large numbers of dogs more safely.

Employees also maintain communication in the retail and daycare rooms by exchanging information at shift changes and by maintaining two notebooks. The daycare owners also issue directions, seek input from employees, and conduct staff meetings as needed. In addition to ongoing feedback, management also conducts formal employee performance reviews. The web cam in the daycare room also affords dog owners the opportunity to observe the employees and the dogs in action. Feedback from customers is always welcomed.

The result of this combined effort is that daycare employees are better prepared to supervise the dogs and keep them healthy, happy and safe. No doubt this process will continue to evolve and improve over time.

 

Dan’s Dog Den
What Can You Expect in a Dog Training Course?
Over the years I have attended a wide variety of training programs and courses ranging from a simple 1-hour class to a six-month program. The vast majority of my teachers were well qualified, organized, enthusiastic and informative. Those who were not left me scratching my head wondering why I was wasting my time and money. When you pay for training you should receive good value for your investment and are entitled to expect certain things. Regarding dog training there are some things you also should not expect.

First let me address the things that you may reasonably expect from an instructor. The instructor should have some sound basis in knowledge and experience, should have prepared in advance for the class, should be able to demonstrate the skills that comprise the training and explain them to you in simple terms. An instructor should also answer your questions and be patient, encouraging and helpful.

What you should not expect is that the instructor will have every answer to every question, without doing any research. My experience with attorneys comes to mind to illustrate the point. In my previous career I often had conversations with various attorneys and when I posed a legal question, they always referred to a written resource before giving me an answer. That was because they were taught to not give an off-the-cuff response and instead make a good faith effort to give an accurate answer. Your dog trainer should know enough to tell you when they do not have an immediate answer, and should at least try to find the answer for you. If they cannot help you, they should tell you so. Even Patricia McConnell admits in many of her 14 dog training and behavior books that in spite of her three decades of experience and a PH.D in animal behavior, she does not have all the answers. Who does?

Another expectation you should not have is that the instructor will do all the training of your dog for you and that you need simply show up…and at the end of the course you can take home a fully trained dog. Perhaps if you are taking private lessons you will get more one-on-one instruction, but to a large extent the purpose of conducting a training course with several dogs and owners is that the instructor will act as a conduit, conveying as much useful information to the dog owner as possible, from expert resources and experience. In short, a dog trainer must first educate the dog owner in the ways of instructing their own dog. This may be done by demonstrating and explaining things in the classroom, but the bulk of the work must be done by the dog owner. After all, the instructor may only have 60 minutes per class to spend with as many as 10 dogs and at least as many owners at once, but the dog owners have the rest of their lives to spend with their pet and all the time in the world. Training is an ongoing experience and your dog is always watching you and taking note of which behaviors are reinforced and which are not.

Typically a new dog training command or skill requires about 5 repetitions at a time, repeated about 4-5 times per day, for about a week. The exact number of repetitions and days of practice varies depending on the skill to be taught and the ability of the dog to learn, but most of the expert dog trainers and animal behaviorists I have studied use a training formula much like the one I just described. During the practice sessions you may witness some progress and a setback or two, but that is normal. It is also widely held that an 80% success rate is considered acceptable, meaning the dog has grasped the new skill and you may move on to the next one.

If you have a busy schedule you may find it hard to do daily training, so I suggest considering using TV commercial time to sneak in a couple minutes of practice here and there. You probably don’t care much for watching the same commercials ad nauseum and doing a few short practice sessions will get you off the couch and give your dog some attention. Another option is to build dog training into your daily routine. When you are about to let your dog outside, for example, ask for a “sit” and “wait” before opening the door, step outside and call your dog. In a few seconds you will have practiced three obedience commands. When you want to take your dog back inside, repeat the process and sneak in some more painless practice. Be creative in your daily activities and you will find other opportunities to practice training your dog without Bowser being any the wiser. For example, if your dog follows you around the house then take advantage of that by calling him to “heel” and ask him to “wait” every few steps, giving you another opportunity to call him to you. Bingo! You just scored more practice of three obedience skills.

By the next formal classroom session you will impress your trainer by the great steady progress your pooch is making, and you will feel good about yourself. After all, you spent a lot of hard-earned money on your dog and the training course, so why not invest a little free time to get the most value for your investment? Shouldn’t you expect that of yourself?


Dan Antolec

 

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Past Newsletters

June 2011 * May 2011 * April 2011  *  March 2011  *  February 2011 

January 2011  *  December 2010

Hound Huddle · 1145 Park St · Oregon, WI · 608.835.6622 · 608.835.2662 f

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