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Are You Still Training that Dog?

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A local business owner, who sees me often with Sanchez, made a passing comment the other day that really got my attention. He said, “You’re always training that dog.” While he didn’t mean it as a criticism, he certainly didn’t intend it to be a compliment, even though I replied with “Thank you.”  A better compliment might have been, “You are always building relationship with your dog.” But, I don’t think that’s what he saw.

Sanchez is seven and was bred to be a guide dog. He loves to socialize, work, and keep his mind active. I read in an article yesterday that keeping a dog’s brain engaged is the key to a happy, healthy companion. This is very true with Sanchez. His mind is always working and even though he gets a tremendous amount of exercise, it needs to be combined with mental stimulation. I live in a very dog friendly town and he goes almost everywhere with me and loves all the attention he gets. Most locals know him by name. I work with him whenever we are in line at the bank, the hardware store, and when he needs a break from being in a down stay at the Apple Store (where I’m loving all of their classes).

You’ll see in the video that I’m working with him on lifting his right and left paws, one at a time, as he mimics me. And this all takes place at the UPS Store in Half Moon Bay, CA. We are working on incorporating this into a Musical Canine Freestyle routine. One of the things I absolutely love about Canine Freestyle is that we can practice it anywhere, in the midst of various distractions. In the process, he is always learning new tricks that keep his mind stimulated while creating a deeper bond in our relationship. After watching the video, what do you think? Is it a benefit to his life that “we are always training?” Thank you for clicking on comment below and sharing your thoughts.

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Is Social Media Helping Our Dogs?

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Casey Lomonaco teaching Meet and Greet with Dogs 

Casey and I met first on Twitter (where I new her as @RBDT), then at the APDT conference, and then in person at her training center in Binghamton, NY

I was having a conversation with a dear friend. He (and many other friends) have noticed my enthusiasm about social media. He was asking me how much time I spent on it, was it worth it, and what is the ROI (return on investment). The question reminded me of when Sanchez was a puppy in training for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I was his volunteer puppy raiser and I was often asked how much time it took to train him. My answer couldn’t be quantified. It wasn’t a set amount of time every day. Instead, training was integrated throughout every day. He went with me almost everywhere and training and socializing took place all the time. The reason puppy raisers are volunteers is because you can’t put a price on the work they do. It is truly priceless. I feel the same about raising any dog, whether a pet, a working dog, or a service dog in training. And, I feel the same about social media.

I am connecting and communicating with a group of dog lovers who believe what I believe. We are all doing our best to improve the lives of dogs, whether we are dog trainers, own a dog business, volunteer for a rescue organization, work full time in another profession and care for our own dogs at home, or create music for dogs. The support we provide each other and the engaging conversations we have on Facebook is something I look forward to daily. And, when I am out living my life, my eyes and heart are always searching for ways that I can contribute to the conversation and engage with dog lovers. While we don’t all agree on every dog subject – whether it be laws on breeding, ways of training, ways of reducing the amount of homeless dogs euthanized every year – we are all connecting through our love of dogs. And it goes beyond social media.

In my travels, I have had the pleasure of meeting in person many of the same people who I first met on Twitter or Facebook. Breaking bread with them and meeting their dogs makes it that much more real. We share our dreams, help each other with business ideas, and want to know much more about our doglife than 140 characters can communicate on Twitter. We tell our stories, reflecting how life brought us into the Dog world in such a magnificent way. Sharing those stories connects us deeper and makes those moments priceless.

Cost of Tweeting = Time

Cost of Facebook posting = Time

Cost of Blogging = Time

Cost of Connecting with Dog Lovers who want to Improve the Lives of Dogs = PRICELESS!