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Being Your Dog’s Advocate

  • Apr 14, 2015
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When you acquire your dog, you become their advocate. What this means is that you protect your dog from injury, from other dogs, and from themselves. How do you protect your dog from themself? By teaching them the skills to be successful, correcting them in that teaching process when they are wrong, preventing them from being in a situation where they cannot be successful (being ridden by small children, the dog park, being let loose to roam property) and pushing their boundaries so they can cope with the unexpected.

That is your responsibility to your dog, and when you fulfill it, they will pay you back in spades.

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Recommended Foods!

  • Feb 3, 2015
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Your dogs oral misbehaviors are heavily influenced by the dog food you choose! This includes over-barking, destructive chewing, and aggression towards other dogs and people. Also common sense would dictate that when you feed your dog properly (as they would feed themselves) they live long healthy lives! Please take notice that dogs were not meant to live on dry dog food alone (that does not mean to feed them canned food).  In all of our beginning classes, everybody always asks for a list of recommended foods, so I finally sat down and compiled it.

Other sound sources of GOOD information about dog food are Whole Dog Journal, Dog Food Advisor (online) or a great ground-breaking book, “Foods Pets Die For” by Ann Martin.

You will know your dog is not using it’s food properly because they will shed all the time (they should only shed twice a year) they may have bad breath, (also may indicate parasites) more stools out in back yard, can’t learn.

Never buy more dog food than you can use in 3 weeks. Why? because the fat they  spray on the food at the last of the processing starts to deteriorate once the bag is open. If the fat has gone bad your dog may vomit, refuse to eat the food (smart dog) have loose stools, and other stomach and digestive ailments. Be sure to store your food in an air tight container.

1) Victor – great price point, USA made and sourced. Marj uses the yellow bag, Jessica prefers the Ocean Fish formula:

2) Fromm – Old, excellent company out of Wisconsin. Highly recommended!

3) Merrick – excellent food, a little bit pricier if you’re feeding multiple dogs:
Note: I tried the Whole Earth Farms branch of the Merrick brand and didn’t like it, but it’s your choice!

4) Bil-Jac – old company, one of Marj’s favourites, especially the BilJac meat for weaning puppies:

5) Earthborn Holistic – Good, US made food:

6) Evanger’s – excellent food, a little hard to find in Tulsa but worth it!

7) Wysong – the ONLY veterinary diet we recommend!

8) Natural Balance

9) Castor & Pollux (which can be found at Reasor’s stores now)

10) Fresh Pet

11) Natural Instinct

12) Nature’s Variety Instinct.

These others I would feed if the price was lower:


What foods we do NOT recommend!

Purina Pro Plan
Science Diet
Blue Buffalo (We have had a lot of problems with this food recently so it’s made it to this list)
Any of the weird grocery store brands (Ol’ Roy, Gravy Train, Kibbles n’ Bits, Alpo)


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Is Your Dog Lonely Without You?

  • Oct 7, 2014
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The hallmark of dogdom is the art of graceful waiting. Dogs excel at this..they mark the  passing of time by external events not the ticking of a clock. I have never seen a dog check his wrist watch and make a note that you will be home in 7.5 hours or longer if you go to the grocery store for dinner “stuff”. Yes I do think that dogs know when it’s dinnertime, or time to go to class, or the timing of anything in your house that occurs at the same time everyday.

Leaving a dog home alone for hours at a time is NOT cruel ( even in a crate) nor is it un-natural. Waiting for the arrival of the beloved human is the natural state of the dog.

Let me qualify that; leaving your dog “outside” in the heat/cold without proper shelter; or worse chained; NOT ok.

Turned down by a rescue group because you work out of the home? Go get your dog elsewhere!!

There is no formula for the hours a dog can or cannot spend alone including hours in a crate. (no matter what the internet says) (oh I forget; if it’s on the internet it must be accurate)

Think you need a dog walker, pet sitter, doggie daycare, food puzzles, dogs on the television programming, juggler, mime or game director, or race home at lunch or right after work (eliminating a normal life) just to have a dog…NONSENSE!! dogs for year have gladly waited for their owners to come home no matter when…Trust the Dog!!


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  • Jul 25, 2014
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Ok all of you that know me or have attended our classes know  my opinion about walking dogs mindlessly through the neighborhood. That being said before striking our for a stroll with your dog in this heat..please be mindful of how hot the sidewalks get…

Do this test before you start…put your hand on the sidewalk and let it sit there for 10 seconds; now raise it up to the level of where your dog’s belly should be;  feel the heat rising? Now you have an accurate “dogmometer”  Let’s face it no one does well when it’s so hot and no walk is worth having your dog have an episode of can be fatal…or have paw damage from walking on scalding hot pavement. Save your walks for the cooler part of the day..or better yet…do 10 minutes of ArmChair Dog Training and mentally fatigue your dog without heatstroke!!!

Go Forth and Train!

Marj                                                                .

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A collar is a collar is a collar…NOT

  • Jul 15, 2014
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For some reason I find people are bound and determined to continue to use useless collars and harnesses on their dogs. Leads too( see post on the equally as useless retractable leads) I suppose a lot of it has to do with color and patterns and such…and the producers of training collars are getting better at making them in fru fru collars and patterns. Many years ago the “Positive Training” movement decided that “choke chains” were cruel and unusual and just about have made them go the way of the DODO BIRD. So then everyone jumped on using a buckle collar …for training…well in my opinion buckle collars cause more damage to a dogs trachea than a “choke” collar or a martingale collar could ever possibly do.  Buckle collars are like clothes lining a dog..they put pressure only in one spot…the dogs windpipe ….if the dog pulls when walking..all that pressure sits in that spot…so the more pressure the more the dog pulls.and the more damage it does. We have all heard the horror stories of dog hanging themselves with choke collars on and they should be removed when the dog is unattended. But Martingale collars or check collars as they are sometimes called do not choke the dog they put pressure all the way around the neck like a choke collar but they do not tighten all the way so as to cut off air supply should the dog somehow get it hooked on something. Collars that put pressure all the way around the neck allow you to actually teach the dog to walk by  your side or “heel” . You CANNOT effectively teach a dog to walk on a loose leash with a buckle collar or worse with a silly harness…I know they make some “no pull” harness that is supposed to teach your dog to heel…but again I have yet to see it work effectively.

If you leave your training collar (not a choke collar) on your dog he/she is always ready for a training session so that all you have to look for is your leash. If you have to grab your dog quickly and evacuate your house or car you are assured your dog cannot back his/her head out of his collar in a moment of panic.  I would never travel(that means anytime it leaves your house!) with my dog without their training collar on…

When your dog has his training collar on and you put your leash on your dog knows it’s time to “work” ! and gee my dogs get to go with me a lot..they think it’s fun…but it is really “work”.

So do your dog and your self a favor and ALWAYS have the proper collar on so that your dog is ready and able to go with you at a moments notice.

Oh and one more handy hint…if your dog is coming for boarding to my house..don’t even think of bringing it without a training collar on!!!

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  • Apr 9, 2014
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Cute song but a pet store is not where you want to buy a puppy UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES!! Let’s address where to actually buy a puppy ….before I get on this soapbox let me give you some facts about puppies from birth to 8 weeks (the PROPER age to get a puppy)  The mother dog contributes 75% of the puppies genetic makeup and temperament. Meaning if the mommy dog has genetic problems 75%of those problems i.e. hip dysplasia will be passed on to her puppies. If she is afraid of people, is aggressive towards people, afraid of thunderstorms etc. she passes that on to her puppies. If puppies are separated from their mother before 5 weeks they become an aggressive dog risk. The mother dog teaches her puppies “inhibited” bite between the 5th and 7th week. Meaning when the puppy tries to bite hard on his mom the mother dog corrects that puppy so he does not clamp down with his mouth. This is called “inhibited” bite. So when a crappy uninformed breeder sells you a puppy that is under 6 weeks of age you have now purchased a puppy who is at risk to bite you or your kids in the future.  So when you take home this underage puppy and then start playing tug of war, chase me games, wrestle games and you all of a sudden have scars on your arms or your kids are now afraid of the puppy you got especially for them guess where it came from? An ethical, informed breeder handles his/her puppies properly from birth; raises them inside, keeps them clean and matches them to the proper buyer. The buyer then has a great dog that will stay with them until a ripe old age.

So I am going to make people mad or at least I will get them thinking about where to “get” a dog.  We have entered into a trend of being politically correct about where we get dogs…the shelter folks have done a great job in convincing people the only place to get a dog is from a shelter.  “Crap” I  say. I would NEVER suggest that a family with kids (especially under 5; and why are you getting a dog with “little” kids in the house anyway) adopt a dog from a shelter. That’s right  not from a shelter; especially from a shelter that does not “test” their dogs for adoptability; and match them to the proper family for it’s temperament, size, age, etc.  Most dogs are not in shelters because they are “well behaved”  Since 1974 when I started to do dog rescue up until now I have yet to meet someone abandoning a dog that is well-behaved.

Sooo if you are going to adopt a dog for your family of kids you are adopting a dog with “baggage”. You will have no idea about that “baggage” it could be as simple as a barking problem or as serious as a “biting” problem.  So where are you supposed to get a dog you ask? I have no problem with saving a dog that has been abandoned but be thoughtful about where you adopt if from…if you want a Poodle go to a local Poodle rescue. They usually have the dogs living in a foster home and can tell you exactly what the behavior problems are and/or have actually fixed the problems or will assist you in fixing them. They are also (or should be ) good at telling you NO  a Poodle is not the right breed for your family and tell you why. If you gt to a shelter or private rescue group ask if they temperament test…if they don’t know what that is; or say No  simply go somewhere else.

Most shelters have an 80% return rate…

So you have done your research, you have gotten on some reliable websites and you have decided that you want a “Three toed herding dog” where do you go?

What do you ask for or look for in selecting where to get your “Three-toed herding dog”

You can start by contacting your local AKC or UKC kennel club and see if they offer a breeder referral list. Many times these breeders have to sign a code of ethics and maintain certain standards to be on the referral list.

An ethical breeder will only breed a litter every couple of years. they will require you to sign a contract that will guarantee you a genetically sound puppy (because they have tested and screened parents for genetic diseases) and a temperamentally sound puppy according to the breed standard. If something goes wrong with the puppy genetically they will refund your money or replace the puppy.  You may have to agree to spay/neuter the puppy, keep it as a house dog , and/or take it to training. My contract to purchase a puppy from me is 5 pages long.  My adoption contract for a rescue dog is 3 pages long. If I brought a puppy into the world or I rescued a dog; it is my moral responsibility to maintain an interest in that puppy/dog for it’s life time.  Meaning if at ANY time you cannot keep a dog that you have gotten from me it comes back to me immediately.

Now some shelters/rescue groups/ breeders go over the top when it comes to requirements to obtain a dog from them but I would rather have too many than not enough. If you do not feel comfortable with the breeder/shelter/rescue group and you don’t feel that they will be available to answer any questions that you may have then go ELSEWHERE!

What to pay for a puppy/dog? Well that is a huge my opinion a pet purebred puppy (that you must spay or neuter) from an ethical breeder that comes with a guarantee will cost anywhere from $600 to $1,200 dollars depending on the breed. Show puppies are a different discussion. Can you get a nice puppy for $300 dollars sure; purchased with the knowledge that it may have a genetic problem that could be heartbreaking.

Let’s talk puppy description of a “puppy mill” is ANYONE who breeds dogs for profit, does no genetic testing, places puppies too early, or has more than one litter every two to three years.

Common sense would dictate that  you DO NOT  “meet” someone in a parking lot and buy a puppy out of the back of their truck or van or on the side of the road or a Wal Mart parking lot.  The same goes for the internet a great way to let lots of people know you are breeding dogs; but quite often these are puppies from puppy mills, or careless breeders.. ask lots of questions before you have a puppy shipped to you sight unseen, How old is the mother dog, do they show their dogs, why did they have this litter, what type of guarantee do they give; are the puppies raised in the house, have they had at least one round of shots, is this the only breed of dog they raise; do they test for genetic diseases; can you come to their home and pick up your puppy? If they don’t answer yes to these questions or have good answers they are most likely a puppy mill or at best a careless breeder and  these puppies are not socialized, the parents are warehoused and given minimum care and treated like a commodity. You end up with their gross misconduct when it comes to breeding dogs and the only “victim” is the puppy who gets abandoned because you cannot get it house-trained or continues to have behavior problems no matter what you do to correct it.

That being sure whatever dog you purchase, find, inherit, or adopt you buy a crate; use it and immediately enroll said dog in a training class to ensure that the dog is a companion that you will enjoy for a lifetime..

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Thunder Shirts…

  • Dec 5, 2012
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This product is FANTASTIC for shy dogs, anxious dogs, aggressive dogs, dogs that over-bark, dogs that submissively pee,dogs afraid of fireworks, thunder, or their own shadow, dogs that are anxious in the car, train or plane!Product Details

It uses the same idea  as swaddling a baby to make it more calm…

Also the Tellington Touch method to work with dogs with behavior problems includes using the swaddling idea.

The Thundershirt used in conjunction with a great training class can eliminate or dramatically deal with many behavior problems.

You can order the Thundershirt by clicking on this link or call me about including this in your plan to change your dog’s behavior.

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Great Collar to teach dogs to heel!! ( Walk on loose leash)

  • Dec 5, 2012
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The secret to heeling is using the correct equipment. I LOVE this collar…it is inexpensive and works quickly to get your dog heeling so your walks can be productive.Product Details

It is the StarMark Training Collar available for you to order right here …it works for all types of dogs ..from small to large… I do not recommend it for very large out of control dogs till you get them under control…


Go Forth and Train!

Marj the Dog Trainer

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Decidedly Dangerous: Retractable Leashes

  • Nov 10, 2012
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More serious injury and death is caused by these products than any other dog management/training tool, in my experience.. not only do you not have any real control of your dog it is impossible to correct them or make any real headway with behavior problems when walking your dog. Also when your dog is 15 to 26 feet out in front of you they are “bait” for roaming dogs, hooligan kids, etc. Here is a laundry list of Retractable lead horror stories..if after reading this you want to still use one…all I can say is you were warned….
Leash is dropped- your dog frightened by the plastic leash handle now zipping noisily toward him, bolts. The leash seems to chase him. Your dog runs into the street or races blindly away to be lost.

Cord/tape is grabbed- Your grab the cord or tape as it plays out, the injury is immediate, your flesh is cut like meat.

Cord/tape wraps around you (or someone else)- Again, deep wounds but also risk of amputation, especially of fingers.

Clip/collar breaks – When this happens, the leash retracts at full speed and the end of the line that does not go into the handle whips around at top speed. Injuries to eyes,teeth and face result.

These things DO happen! Here are a few real-life stories:
Dog runs ahead of her human into an elevator. Doors close, car goes . Dog dies.

Dog dashes into the road and under the wheels of a car. Dog dies.

Dog runs around his human then bolts after a squirrel. Owner goes to the ER with ankle wounds down to the bone.

Dog bolts after another dog, pulls person over, drags her along the ground, cord gets tangled in her hand. Finger amputated.

Dog walking on the other side of road from person. Bicyclist comes around corner; to avoid hurting either dog or person or both with a tangle; the biker runs bike off the the side. Dislocates both shoulders and breaks a wrist.

Now common sense would dictate that you would not be walking with your dog on the other side of the road…but I do see people using these leads without any regard to the safety of their dog or other people.

Is a little “extra freedom” worth it?
Worth the risk of serious injury or death to you, your dog or someone else?
Please use a regular leash, It’s safer, for everyone.

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Are You Ready for a Disaster????

  • Aug 5, 2012
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OK once again when I don’t think it’s possible for people to be more unprepared for an impending disaster I am reminded that they NEVER are!!!!! At what point when it is all over the news and yes; you can see impending fire headed the way of your home do you decide “Oh Gee I guess we need to get out” and your poor animals are the ones left behind??? GET A DISASTER PLAN people…don’t rely on strangers to gather up your pets and livestock because you weren’t paying attention!! I am making a slight exception for folks away on vacation or if something would happen while you were at work….but again rely on your neighbors to let or help get your animals to safety.
Your disaster kit should include a CRATE yes and guess what your animal should be crate trained….(cats too). a backpack for each animal or one big enough for supplies for each animal. An extra leash, training collar(one they can’t slip out of), collar with extra set of current name tags, food bowls, cat litter and pan; several bottles of water and enough food for six feedings any medications, a few first aid items…benadryl ace bandage, vet wrap, scissors, antibiotic ointment, hydrogen peroxide, some gauze pads, gauze bandages, Rescue Remedy;  a muzzle or old panty hose to make one out of and a space blanket(the kind you use to keep warm or cool;the one with one side shiny) Keep this with your disaster bag for the people in the house. Make a plan with every member of the family so that someone is in charge of gathering pets….and about that …I ran across so many folks in these recent fires that left their pets behind because they wouldn’t come when called; they couldn’t get a leash on them; they wouldn’t get in the car….they didn’t have room in the car..the list was endless with ignorant excuses…What the HELL is up with this….I have been through two prairie fires and had to evacuate ….and I’ll bet I had probably 5 times as many animals to evacuate as any one person…and I didn’t even consider leaving any behind….Don’t write me about putting animal in front of people’s safety…of course I wouldn’t do such a thing…but get a grip people…I worked Katrina picking up dogs chained to dog houses swimming until they couldn’t anymore and drowned….You people with “outside” dogs…get them leash trained…put them in a car..once in a while…GET A PLAN!!!! Or better yet when you find out in a few days that the pets you left behind perished DON’T GET don’t deserve them….

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