Everyday is a great day here at K-9 Coach and Bed & Bark

Ask The Coach – K-9 Coach Q&A

Recently we were interviewed by Our Town Magazine.

You can see the full article online here >>


OTM. How did K-9 Coach begin?

I worked in the veterinarian field as a kennel technician, a veterinarian assistant and a surgical technician for many years. While in college, I also worked with a criminal attorney thinking I would pursue law and even took the LSAT. I realized early on, that law was not my passion, but I always had a passion for working with dogs. I decided to go back to the canine field and began working at a local animal hospital, Powers Ferry Animal Hospital. Over time, I knew I wanted to work more in the training field and decided to put my focus there.

With the support of Andy Smith, DVM at Powers Ferry Animal Hospital, I headed back to school and, within a year, I had worked with dogs in search and rescue, cadaver recovery, drug and explosive discovery, personal protection and basic and advanced obedience. I earned a Masters Certification in Dog Training and Behaviorism, came back to Atlanta and started teaching group classes in the parking lot of Powers Ferry Animal Hospital. It was summer-time. The parking lot was hot, uncomfortable and busy. I had a stand-up, chalk-board easel that said “Classes Forming Now!” It was not ideal in any way and I absolutely loved it! That was the birth of what is now K-9 Coach.

OTM. Your mission statement and philosophy?

Simply put, our mission is to improve the lives of our customers and their dogs. This permeates everything we do at K-9 Coach from our service offerings to our level of customer service.

When our customers are old and reflecting on their lives, we want them to look back to that dog they loved. We want them to smile and remember the relationship they shared. We want them to be filled with happy, positive memories. We don’t expect them to remember K-9 Coach specifically, but we know that those memories will exist, in part, because of our work. If we accomplish that, then we’ve left a legacy worth leaving.

We love that customer service is a number one priority for K-9 Coach. Can you tell us why it has become such an integral part of your business?

In the 15 years since we were founded, we have worked with well over 7,000 families and over 10,000 dogs. They all want what is best for their pups and they all chose us to share in that experience together. We work very hard to honor that and customer service is key in that process. Many companies will say the customer is always right, but we believe that the customer and our employees make a team that together reaches the goals of the customer and their beloved pup.

We believe and train our staff that customer service is what happens from the very first time a person hears the name K-9 Coach all the way through each and every interaction they have with us. Customer service is about more than how you address the inevitable problems that arise in a relationship. Good customer service, for us, is about creating an experience that is worth repeating each and every time!

OTM. Your articles in Our Town over the past few years have enlightened readers on the world of dogs. Why is education so important to your business?

Thank you, we really enjoy writing these articles! What is important to us is that we always improve the relationship between dog and human – not just with us, but always, everywhere. Education is key to that success! It’s all about providing information to enrich lives.

On the public side, we write articles, post blogs, speak at events, do television interviews, etcetera. On the industry side, we develop and deliver accredited educational events that are open to competitors, colleagues, other dog organizations and the public. We’ve hosted over 50 of these events and have brought in the world’s leading figures in animal care, training and behaviorism. If one person reads something we wrote, or sees a presentation we did or hosted, and their dog has a better experience, we all win!

OTM. What makes K-9 Coach stand out from other like businesses in the area?

There are many factors that make us stand out: our 20 plus years of experience in the industry, our relationships with our clients and our suppliers, our incredible team and the innovative and nurturing environment provided for that team. We live here, our business is here, our son’s school is here and our church is here. We embrace our responsibility to the community we love. As a business neighbor, we support local schools, nonprofit and charitable events wherever possible and, since moving to Smyrna in 2008, we have contributed more than 8,000 hours of community service and over $150k in cash and in-kind donations. We believe that our direct involvement and care of the community we serve as a small business is key to our success.

What services do you offer and how do they benefit your customers?

We want to improve the lives of customers and their dogs and so we offer training and behavior modification, lodging, playcare, grooming, retail and other specialty services. All of these are designed to support our mission and, as part of that, all dogs that take part in our services receive complimentary no jump, barking and gate control training to both succeed in our pack and leave even better than when they arrived.

K-9 Coach is a Training and Behavior Modification company first and foremost. From the most basic position, a well-trained dog is a better companion and will live a longer, healthier life. From an extreme position, a good training foundation can be the difference between life and death. Assume that you open your front door and your dog darts out to chase a nice squirrel! As your dog flies toward the street, you yell “Max. Come!” Sure, Max might not come regardless of how much training he has received. But, he’ll be A LOT less likely to run into the street and get hit if he has received training!

We began offering Lodging and Playcare services in 2008 because our training customers requested them. They would take their dogs to board at, or play in, other facilities and, when they returned home, their pups would be less well behaved – jumping, barking, messing in the house, charging through doors and open gates, etcetera. So… we designed our lodging and playcare to incorporate essential social interaction, free-time and structured play, in concert with ample rest opportunities as well as enrichment activities ensuring that our training philosophies stayed at the forefront.

Grooming and Spa services are a natural part of having group play, but they also improve dog’s lives and help minimize behavioral issues. Basically, a clean dog is a happy and healthy dog. And, let’s face it, a clean dog get’s a lot more love and attention from home and in public. From a strict behavioral position, dogs should be able to be handled and manipulated without biting, growling or getting overly anxious. This is another reason it’s important to have regular grooming and vet check-ups from puppy age onwards and it’s why a puppy groom is specifically included in our portfolio of puppy services. Our groomer’s technical expertise help our pups look great and get tons of love. Their care and loving touch help our pups to be more calm, comfortable and relaxed on the veterinarian and grooming table.

Our final service is our Retail products. People may ask how retail serves our mission. First, our store is a convenience for customers. They are already bringing their dogs here and the opportunity to purchase food, treats, toys, etcetera, without having to go elsewhere, is a welcome benefit. Our products also help improve behavior. For example, high quality dog food helps to ensure a long, healthy life, minimizes waste and medical issues and will help in addressing behavioral issues. Think about how much better you feel, physically and mentally, when you eat good foods.

Q. We know that you have a very talented staff on board- thinking it might be a good idea to let the readers know how deep your organization runs with talented professionals.

Our employees are second only to our customers when it comes to our vision. They deliver K-9 Coach to our customers and, as such, drive our success more so than anything else. So, we invest in them.

ALL of our employees can submit for reimbursement any professional development conference, workshop, tradeshow, certification or class fees which they believe will contribute to our mission. I am sure I am forgetting something, but I can currently think of staff with degrees and certifications in animal sciences, behaviorism, biology, customer service, human resources, management, marketing, massage therapy and veterinary technology. For our professional staff (management, groomers, trainers and behaviorists), we require AND pay for a minimum of 20 hours of continuing education every year and so we send them to conferences and workshops where they can hone their skills and receive advanced certifications.

For us, the investment pays off as staff have been featured in and quoted by numerous local and national print and broadcast media. We wrote a national training curriculum for the Humane Society of the United States. We have even been asked to serve on professional and canine specific boards and committees at the local, national and international level. For example, since 2012 we have served on the Association of Professional Dog Trainers Board of Directors. This five-member board leads and oversees the efforts of the 500+ member, international association directing the dog training and behavior modification profession world-wide.

OTM. Can you tell us about the many awards that K-9 coach has received?

We celebrate everyone’s success here and have had a lot of staff receive individual accolades. However, the team rewards are our greatest achievements.

We have been named the Best of Atlanta, Cobb, Smyrna and Vinings Dog Boarding, Doggie Daycare, Dog Grooming and Dog Training every year since 2008. We were the first and are still the only company to ever simultaneously be named Best of Atlanta Daycare, Boarding and Training by Atlanta Magazine. We were awarded the Cobb County Small Business of the Year in 2011 and were a finalist for the US Small Business Administration’s Business of the Year Award in 2012. We are an Angie’s List Super Service Award winner for the last 6 years.

Lessons from the Dog… Father’s Day Thoughts

Each year, at Father’s Day, I reflect for a bit about my son and our relationship. I wonder how I am doing as a dad. Am I loving enough, yet stern enough for him to know the rules and the consequences for breaking them? Am I supportive, but not enabling? Do I help make him feel safe, secure, like he belongs? Am I building his self-confidence, strength and individuality, but not nurturing narcissism? Am I understanding, yet still hold him accountable? Do I lead by example?

As dads, we sometimes share these thoughts and concerns with each other. These are not generally serious, planned conversations, but, rather, impromptu comments or questions mixed in casually with our shared hobbies: sports, music, camping trips, etc…. I recently hung out with a friend whose children are all grown and have kids of their own. I casually asked how they were doing. He shared with me how son #1’s kids were all doing well and how son #2’s kids were all over the place. He said “If you want to know how good you’re doing at it, just look at your dog. Son 1’s (name withheld for privacy) dog is great. He listens, stays out from under your feet, plays with everyone. He’s good. My other son’s dog is a mess – always under your feet, always jumping on people, doesn’t listen when you call his name, runs off, uses the bathroom in the house. He’s a wreck!”

I am not sure that I completely agree with my friend’s assessment, but I do find it interesting. Kids and dogs are certainly not the same! But, they are a lot alike. They both look to you for guidance. They’re dependent on you for their welfare. They seek your approval and affection. They thrive with consistency and predictability. They repeat behaviors that you reward them for.

WARNING – I am not in any position to provide advice for people and their children. However, I can give you a few tips for your pups. If my friend is right, maybe these tips can help in more ways than one.

K-9 Dog Dad Tips for Success….

  1. Dogs Need Structure & Consistency – If you allow Fido to lie on the couch and someone else scolds him for getting on it, you’re going to have issues. Structure, i.e., rules and boundaries, provides a sense security. A lack of these can make life unpredictable and scary. Structure and consistency at home will lead to success away from home.
  2. Dogs Need Attention & Affection – Dogs want to make you happy. If they know that you’re happy with their behavior, they’ll repeat it. The more love and affection they receive, the more eager they are to make you happy. Dogs give back what you give out.
  3. Dogs Need to be Heard – Good communication is key. Your pup will tell you what they are excited, scared, stressed and annoyed about. Learn your dog’s body language. A wagging tail does not always mean that they are happy!
  4. Dogs are not Perfect – Have realistic goals. A good dog trainer will do exercises with a dog hundreds, or even thousands, of times in order to establish predictable behaviors. It takes time – sometimes it takes even longer.
  5. Be Patient… with Yourself – You cannot know everything and you are not going to get it right every single time. If you’re a caring, loving and conscientious pet parent, trust that you will be OK. Making mistakes is part of the process of caring for a dog. Be patient with yourself.
  6. Be Patient… with Your Dog – Dogs, like humans, go through phases. Puppies and adolescent dogs require much more patience than adult dogs. Recognize that bad behaviors can often be a part of their maturation process and an opportunity for you to guide them.
  7. Dogs Repeat Behaviors that are Reinforced – If you want something repeated, reward it. No one works for free! If you see a behavior that you do not want, redirect your pup to something you want them to do and reward them.
  8. Dogs Need Training – A good dog will know sit, down, stay, off and come when called. They will have good manners and self-control. If your pup doesn’t have these essential skills, they’ll be unsuccessful in following the basic behavioral rules of society.
  9. You Both Deserve a Great Relationship Together – A great relationship means that your dog trusts you and is calm and relaxed around you. They are not anxious or scared in your presence. Communications are open, clear and effective.

I hope that the above K-9 points help put into perspective some of the simple things we need to keep in mind to help us be successful pet parents. If you believe as my friend, then I hope the above gives you some insight. Finally, us dads need to stick together. So, whether you’re the dad to a four-legged or two-legged child, thank you and I hope that you have a great Father’s Day!

–Jarrette Burckhalter, Dad and Director of Marketing & Operations for K-9 Coach

A Mother’s Love

When I started K-9 Coach some 15 years ago, I was the mother of four legged kids: Maggie, Mulligan, Munson and Lewis the cat. I have written about them many times. In fact, Maggie is the reason I started K-9 Coach. In the late summer of 2007, my son was born. Munson had passed. Dutch had joined the pack. Maggie, Mulligan and Lewis were old, but doing well. My son will be 9 soon. The pups and Lewis have all crossed the rainbow bridge.

My son LOVES dogs and, although we have and will always have pups, I know that the experiences he had with our dogs early on will be carried his entire life. These memories will paint how he reacts to and treats other dogs. They will influence what he tells his own children about dogs and so on and so forth. I realize now that the socialization my pups received, well before my son was born, AND the socialization he has received with pups, since he was born, all serve to enrich each other now and for future generations. With that, I wanted to take the opportunity this month to provide you with some valuable tips and tools to help you socialize your pups and your children correctly to each other.

General Suggestions… 

  • Set yourself, your dog and your child up for success. If either do not want to approach, accept it. Do not try to coax them.
  • Have a plan. Recreational sporting activities, parks, friends’ houses, etc… are great for socialization, but don’t “jump off the deep end.” Observing these places without your puppy first will help you succeed.
  • Have rules. If children want to meet your puppy, their parents must be present and you should never leave puppy and child together without adult supervision. You don’t want your puppy to accidentally harm your child or vice versa.
  • Know when to say when. It’s about quality, not quantity. Overwhelming a pup with a lot of children will undermine the socialization process. Too much time will just get your puppy too excited and distracted or increase the probability that something will go wrong.

Dog Specific… 

  • If you are treating your pup, give them to your puppy yourself or ask children to toss them on the ground near your puppy so he doesn’t learn to steal food from their hands, accidentally nip them, etc….
  • Do not allow your puppy to interact roughly with kids. This includes nipping, chasing, biting, etc. Kids run. They wrestle. They squeal. When needed, redirect your puppy’s attention with obedience work, games, an interactive toy, etc… We do not want him practicing bad behaviors.
  • Socialize your puppy to children of all ages. Infants, toddlers, 5 year-olds, 9 year-olds, etc… all behave much differently. Be sure to cover all bases so your puppy becomes familiar with many different types of children.
  • If your puppy is nervous around children, or they growl or snap at a child, do not punish them. Instead, redirect them, remove them from the situation and consult a professional, positive reinforcement dog trainer to help you with this process.

Child Specific… 

  • If you are going to allow kids to meet your puppy, coach the kids to “ask the dog” by standing a few feet away and offering inviting body language — avoiding direct eye contact, patting a leg, kissy sound, crouching down, speaking sweetly. Hopefully these lessons will be taken with the child when they meet another dog later.
  • Encourage children to approach your dog calmly and slowly. Even the gentlest and most patient dog can be startled by loud noises or sudden movements.
  • Don’t allow kids to pick up, hug, or heavily pet your puppy. Puppies that are exposed to this can learn that children are no fun.
  • Guide the interaction based on what is developmentally appropriate for different age children.

Socializing your puppy to children is a lot of fun. Not only are you teaching your puppy that children are wonderful, but you’re helping to prevent dog – child bites and you are teaching children that puppies are wonderful. Please remember that if you are having difficulty or are struggling during the socialization process, consult a professional, positive dog trainer as soon as possible.

When I started K-9 Coach, I had a pretty simple goal. I wanted to help people experience joy with their pups. Since then, and even today, this goal is reflected in our work. I hope that you will take advantage of the above information and that it will help you to experience joy today in your family and in the future when your children are teaching their children.

As I close this article, I am reminded of one of my favorite mom quotes – “Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother’s secret hope outlives them all.”Oliver Wendell Holmes

Hound Hazards Around the House

We hope you and your pup had a great St. Patrick’s Day celebration and we hope that 2016 showers you with the ever-present luck of the Irish! However, let’s not leave the safety of our beloved furry friends to luck! This month, we want to help you take care by identifying and discussing a few common household hazards / poisons. In alphabetical order, a few things to look out for include:

1. Antifreeze that contains ethylene glycol is sweet to the taste, but is deadly if consumed in even small quantities. As an alternative, look for antifreeze that contains propylene glycol, which still helps your car, but is much safer for animals.

2. Batteries might keep electronics going and going, but they won’t energize your pet. Mouth ulcers, throat and stomach issues can result from the acid inside.

3. Human Food is often poisonous to pets and you should really employ the old “why even risk it?” attitude.

– Chocolate tops the food warnings, as caffeine and theobromine cause toxicosis and may bring seizures and death. Dark chocolate and cooking chocolate rank highest in harm.
– Coffee has caffeine too, so the toxic danger is an equal issue. What gets you up in the morning may seriously bring your dog down.
– Grapes sound like a great snack, except for the acute renal failure your dog might incur. Your kidneys won’t fail, but theirs might. Raisins are really just dried grapes, so they count too.
– Macadamia nuts are particularly poisonous to dogs, and it’s easy to forget if they’re in cookies and snacks you might be tempted to share.
– Onions kill canine blood cells and resulting Heinz Body Anemia can be life-threatening. Onion powder in food is enough to do this, so attention to ingredients is crucial.
– Garlic isn’t as dangerous as onions, and small amounts may even appear in some dog foods, but in larger quantity it’s just as damaging.
– Alcohol can cause the same liver and kidney damage it does to humans; it can also cause acidosis in your dog and end in cardiac arrest.
– Avocados fall into dispute by dog owners, but even if the Persin in avocados isn’t harmful to your dog, that big center seed is a choking hazard.
– Leftovers, such as chicken bones, might shatter and choke a cat or dog. In fact, cooked bones of any kind may be brittle and hazardous.

4. Human Medications, such as pain killers (including aspirin, acetaminophen and ibuprofen), cold medicines, anti-cancer drugs, anti-depressants, vitamins and diet pills can all be toxic to animals. Keep medicine containers and tubes of ointments and creams away from pets who could chew through them and be vigilant about finding and disposing of any dropped pills.

5. Insect Control Products such as the insecticides used in household pests, bee or ant sprays, as well as those in over-the-counter flea and tick remedies, may be toxic. Most professional pest control companies will have pet-safe alternatives. Also, prescription flea and tick control products are much less toxic than over-the-counter remedies. Pet owners should never use any product around pets without first reading the product warnings and consulting their veterinarian.

6. Landscaping Products such as colored mulch or mulch made from recycled rubber, can be deadly to pets if ingested. Also, chemicals used on lawns and gardens, such as fertilizer and plant food, can be easily accessible and fatal to pets. Make sure to read the labels, look for safe alternatives and always follow the manufacturer direction in terms of storage and post-application contact with pets.

7. Laundry Items, such as detergents and fabric softener sheets, may have ulcerous and fatal consequences for your dog. Highly concentrated laundry detergent packets are even more dangerous.

8. Poisonous Household Plants include Autumn Crocus, Azalea, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Lilies, Oleander, Dieffenbachia, Daffodils, Lily of the Valley, Sago Palm, Tulips and Hyacinths among others.

9. Toys and Chews like squeaky toys, stuffed animals with plastic eyes, bones, etc… can pose a choking hazard to animals. Take the same precautions with your furry friend as you would with a small child and only allow these when supervised.

10. Traps and Poisons must be treated with extreme caution. Just remind yourself of why they exist! Even if you do not use traps and poisons, remember that your neighbor might. Dogs and cats can be poisoned if they eat a rodent who has been killed by poison (called secondary poisoning).

Use the same precautions in poison-proofing your house for a pet as you would for a child. Keep cleaning products in a high, closed cabinet and take the same precautions in the garage and landscaping shed / areas. Essentially, there should be nothing poisonous below counter- level. Read labels. Never use a medication on your pet without direction by your veterinarian.

Finally, make sure you have a PET FIRST AID KIT with basic supplies as well as:

• Phone numbers: your veterinarian, the nearest emergency-veterinary clinic (along with directions!) and a poison-control center or hotline
• Paperwork for your pet (in a waterproof container or bag): proof of rabies-vaccination status, copies of other important medical records and a current photo of your pet (in case he gets lost)
• Nylon leash
• Self-cling bandage (bandage that stretches and sticks to itself, but not to fur—available at pet stores and from pet-supply catalogs)
• Muzzle or strips of cloth to prevent biting (don’t use this if your pet is vomiting, choking, coughing or otherwise having difficulty breathing)

If your precautions fail, and you believe that your pet has been poisoned, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinary service immediately. Signs of poisoning include listlessness, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle tremors, lack of coordination and fever.

Spring Forward!

There’s something about that first warm breeze and knowing that spring is here at last. Thankfully, we didn’t have a harsh winter, and there’s always the chance of a swing of course. But Spring has definitely sprung!

Now is the time to start some projects, to plan more outdoor activities and enjoy the family and our wonderful Georgia weather. It’s also a good time to be aware of some springtime hazards for our furry family members.

If you are planning projects, be sure to keep hazardous materials such as paints, cleaners and solvents safely out of the reach of dogs (and small humans too, of course). And mop up any spills before a curious puppy puts her inquiring nose in it.

When it comes to yard work, fertilizers, insecticides and herbicides can be dangerous if your pet ingests them. Most good products will include warnings pertaining to pets. Follow directions carefully!

Warmer weather means more outdoor trips, open doors and windows and longer walks with more chances for your pet to wander off! Make sure your dog has a microchip and wears a tag with your address, cell phone and any other relevant contact information.

And while we’re all outside, allergies, of course, can affect dogs as well as humans. Dogs can be allergic to dust, plants and pollens, suffering itching and scratching and sniffles and sneezes. Please make sure to have your pet groomed regularly and consult your vet if your dog is suffering from any type of reaction to these springtime irritants.

Finally, at our house, when the clock springs forward, we don’t just check the batteries in the smoke detectors, we make sure we are up to date and stocked up on the essential preventative medications for things like heartworm, flea and tick control, and, of course, our newest “friend” Canine Influenza. Dogs are more likely to be outside, suffer insect bites or meet and play with other doggie friends at the park, or family gatherings at this time of year. Be sure that you are giving your dog the best chance to ward off these often-dangerous hazards.

Heartworm is a parasitic roundworm that is spread from host to host through the bites of mosquitoes. Preventive drugs are highly effective and include over the counter or vet administered treatments.

In Georgia a continuous prevention schedule is recommended and annual heartworm testing is highly recommended for pet owners who choose to use minimal dosing schedules.

Flea and tick prevention can also be highly effective if used consistently. Treatments range from over the counter to vet prescribed treatments. Untreated infestations can be very dangerous for your dog, often leading to mange and tapeworms.

Canine influenza is a respiratory disease that is potentially very dangerous and relatively new to our area. Thankfully, there are new vaccines and vaccines available for this disease. As always, check with your vet on the best course of action for your 4-legged best friend.

If your pup participates in group activities at a facility like ours, make sure that they are following recommended veterinary association protocols and that they have strict immunization policies in place. Prevention is the best defense and that goes for all of us who care for dogs.

Enjoy the beautiful weather and be sure to take a little time to make sure everyone is ready to have fun!

Why Do Puppies DO THAT!?

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This time of year, we begin getting A LOT of calls about puppy behavior. Lots of people get puppies for the holidays and, after the newness wears off, some naturally occurring puppy behaviors begin to take a toll. The following are a few simple hints and tips to help you and your puppy be successful. Also, make sure to see our previous piece on Dog Bonding for additional great ideas.

Chewing/Biting – Puppies chew for two main reasons: to alleviate the pain from teething and as a means of exploration. To help off-set this natural desire, provide your puppy with lots of appropriate and safe chew toys, limit their access in the home to “safe zones” and when you catch them chewing a beloved chair or one of your hands, remove them and encourage play on a doggie toy.

Crying – Having typically been with mom or a sibling, puppies are not used to being alone. Crying is how puppies call their litter mates and mothers – to communicate fear or needs. Make sure your pup has had lots of exercise before you try to leave, give them a safe toy to chew on like a puppy Kong with treats inside and a t-shirt or towel with your scent. Breeders who are knowledgeable will often send home a blanket or stuffed toy that has been with both your puppy and the litter. IF you breeder did this, place that item with your puppy to help provide security. Cover the crate if you are using one, turn on soft music and leave.

Wait 15 minutes, usually the crying will stop. Crying in the middle of the night may signal a need to go outside. Take the puppy outside, let them do what they need to and pop them back in their crate.

Jumping – Jumping is typically a result of a pup’s attempt to be social and often they get rewarded for the behavior, albeit unintentional. By rewarding your puppy before they jump, you will teach them that when their paws are on the ground, you reward them with attention.

Digging – Puppies typically dig for two reasons: boredom or to get to something they desire. Provide lots of appropriate toys to alleviate boredom. K-9 Coach is proud to offer an extensive line to help. If they are digging in a certain spot, take some time and investigate that area of your yard. You may have a rodent issue or other animal that you will need to either remove or limit access in order to prevent the digging from reoccurring.

Fears – Puppies are very young and have fears that parallel that of a toddler or young child. Provide your puppy with support. Do not force them to meet strangers, other dogs or objects if they are showing fear or hesitancy. Slow, positive introductions that are respectful of your pup’s needs are best.

Start Off On The Right Paw!

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The holiday season is upon us and I adore this time of year.

Every year I look forward to this season, enjoying the celebrations and time spent with my family. I also look forward to the influx of puppies at K-9 Coach that follows Christmas and Hanukkah – little balls of flying fur who are in desperate need of training and socialization trailed by new owners who are sleep deprived and a bit in shock as to what the cute little puppy has become: a whirling dervish. Often, by the time we see these puppies, they are already engaged in some behaviors and habits that the new family is not enjoying so much. Last month, we examined the top five things to consider when choosing a pup. If you missed that, look at last month’s Our Town issue or visit us online (www.k-9coach.com) and see our blog section. This month, I focus on bringing a puppy in your home and starting off on the right paw.

Routine – Every dog needs a routine and puppies need a routine even more! Decide when, where, and how the puppy will get exercise, sleep, play, train and potty. REMEMBER – when, where and how. Then decide who is responsible for puppy and when. Stick to this routine, even on weekends. Dogs and puppies on solid routines are faster and easier to housebreak, crate train, teach basic obedience skills, and sleep through the night. Puppies on routines are less likely to have behavioral challenges, housebreaking problems, separation anxiety, or destructive chewing.

Crate – Use a crate from day one. Dogs are naturally den dwelling animals and most puppies feel much more secure and safe in a crate. It is not punishment but, rather, what they would prefer. There are many different types of crates from plastic to metal as well as fabric crates and they all have different pros and cons. Remember that a crate should only be large enough for your puppy to stand up and turn around in as well as lie down but not so big that it encourages soiling in the crate. Feed your puppy in their crate. Give them safe toys in their crate. Put them in their crate at random times throughout the day and night. The crate SHOULD NOT only be used when leaving or at bedtime. If you do this, puppy will accept the crate as their own space, will feel safe in their crate and will be safer as well.

Food – Make sure to bring home the food that the rescue or breeder has been feeding your puppy. You may choose to continue that food, or you may choose to switch to another brand. If you do choose to switch to another brand, make sure you mix the current food with the new food. Gradually switch your pups’ food to the new food over several days to avoid gastrointestinal distress. Choose a high quality puppy food and make sure to feed the appropriate amount recommended on the bag or by your vet.

Space – The single biggest mistake new puppy owners make is giving the puppy way too much freedom, space and full access to the house. Loose puppies are puppies in trouble. Choose a safe area that is puppy proof: no wires, furniture that may get chewed on, rugs or carpets that may be hit with a potty accident or family shoes, etc. You may choose to fence off a portion of your home with baby gates. This is highly effective and easily temporary. When the puppy is not in his or her crate or with you, they can play safely in this space. Leave safe toys and interactive toys as well as a small bed for the puppy to lie on in this space. Often, families choose to create this space where they spend time as a family so as to include the new puppy in family time and make sure the family can watch for when the puppy may need a potty break.

Toys – Puppies are very curious, exploring their world and teething. These all lead to chewed up legs of chairs and tables or even shoes! Provide your pup with safe, interactive toys to both entertain them and teach them to chew appropriate items. Toys that can be stuffed with treats or dinner are perfect for interactive play as well as good for teething. Remember to remove any toy your puppy is chewing up or swallowing and to avoid toys that mimic your personal items or your children’s toys. Giving an old shoe for example, will teach puppy that shoes are acceptable to chew.

We look forward to seeing all the new puppies in the New Year and recommend puppies start training very early before any behavioral issues set in or habits take hold. As always, our off-leash puppy classes run year-round and you can start at ANY time once puppy has received their second round of shots and up until they are 18 weeks of age. And, for those of you who may have missed this window or have an older pup, our Winter Quarter of all our classes will begin in January. So, make sure to visit us and sign-up now.

From our family to yours, Happy Holidays!

Top 5 Things To Consider When Choosing A Dog

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As the holidays approach, many families begin thinking about getting a new pup or dog to share their lives with. On average, a dog will live 10 to 15 years. That’s a big commitment. Every family has their own needs, schedule, personality, space and time limitations, etc… Unfortunately, many families often choose pups based on appearance and not on those characteristics that will make the dog a good fit for their specific family.

You and your potential dog deserve a lifetime of happiness together and we are happy to provide the following to assist you in this goal.

Do you have any children or are you planning to have children? Pick breeds known to tolerate children well – some breeds may surprise you. Boxers, Bichon Frises, Beagles, Labrador Retrievers, Newfoundlands, Pugs, Keeshonds and Collies are good choices.

How active is your lifestyle? Some breeds such as Border Collies, Boxers, Retrievers and all hunting breeds, require several hours of heavy exercise every day – such as daycare or long runs. Other breeds such as Bulldogs, Mastiffs, Pomeranians and Westies have lower exercise requirements.

Do you have allergies? Try these breeds:

  • Bichon Frise, a toy breed. Virtually hypoallergenic, this breed sports a double coat of loose curls with a fine, silky undercoat, and needs skillful grooming.
  • Belgian (or Brussels) Griffon. Comes in two types: rough-coated and smooth. Dogs of this breed with a rough, wiry and dense coat are non-shedding, however the smooth-coated variety does shed.
  • Cairn Terrier. Shaggy outer coat with a soft undercoat. Its natural “bed-head” coat does need careful maintenance, but hardly sheds at all.
  • Portuguese Water Dogs. This strong, muscular breed, once valued as “work dogs” that herded & caught fish, and carried messages between ships, has a single-layered, non-shedding coat.
  • Shih Tzus (correctly pronounced “sure-ds,” not “sheetsue”), meaning “lion” dog. This breed needs daily grooming with a bristle brush, but sheds little hair.
  • Irish Water Spaniels. This breed has long, curly hair and a thick undercoat (to keep them warm in cold water), needs expert grooming, but still sheds little to no hair.

 

K-9 CoachWhat activities do you want to do with your dog? Pick a breed that suits those activities and understand that genetics cannot be changed. Like to train? Pick a breed that needs and desires lots of work. If you want to go to the lake, pick dogs who love to swim. Like to run? Pick dogs that are high energy. Want to go to dog parks? Pick a breed that is historically social.

Check out local rescues and do not buy from the Internet or a pet store. Internet breeders may be puppy mills, selling mentally unsound or physically sick puppies and dogs as well as pet stores dogs. However, many very good dogs are waiting for new homes, and local shelters often have already done some of the training for you. Groups we like include:

• Adopt a Golden
• Angels Among Us
• Atlanta Boxer Rescue
• Atlanta Humane Society
• Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption (APRA)
• Georgia Homeless Pets
• Pets Are Worth Saving (PAWS)

We hope that the above will help you in making the best decision for you and your family. If you would like additional help, please do not hesitate to contact K-9 Coach for one of our Matchmaker Consultations. Just call our training department for more information.

October “National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month”

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Atlanta Pet Rescue and Adoption (APRA), is a non-profit, no-kill shelter dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating dogs and cats so they can be adopted into safe and loving forever homes year-round, but the month of October is set aside to focus awareness on the importance of controlling the pet population and reducing the amount of euthanized healthy, adoptable animals in animal control facilities.
October is “National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month,” and APRA is offering adoption promotions throughout the entire month. APRA focuses specifically on the following areas to help promote pet adoption:

  • Acquiring 75-80% of our population from high kill rate animal control facilities, giving them a second chance at life
  • Spaying/neutering all acquired animals
  • Providing immediate and proper medical care before adoption
  • Providing education on responsible pet ownership to all adopters
  • Careful interviewing to ensure each pet is placed in a home that meets its needs
  • A pre-adoption training regimen for dogs to ensure they are forever home-ready
  • Enriching the lives of cats to enhance their shelter stay

Please consider visiting Atlanta Pet Rescue & Adoption during National Adopt A Shelter Dog Month to find your next new best friend. If now is not the time to add a pet into your family, consider fostering an animal and saving a life!

Adoption Center:
4874 South Atlanta Road
Atlanta, GA 30339

Adoption Hours:
Monday, Wednesday and Friday – 11 am to 5pm
Thursday – 11 am to 7pm
Saturday – 12 pm to 5 pm
Sunday – 1 pm to 5 pm

Additional Information
Phone: 404.815.6680
Email: info@atlantapetrescue.org
Web: www.atlantapetrescue.org

Back to School

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As September approaches again, that means it’s back to school time for many of our clients and their households.

With all the hustle and bustle of getting the kids ready and off for school, it can be easy to forget the dog. Back to school is an exciting time for the family. However, for your dog it can mean loneliness and boredom and a major change in routine. All summer long, there was most likely someone home with your dog — the older students on break, or little ones with a babysitter. Now that everyone is back to their fall schedules, your dog may feel neglected and like someone turned out the lights in his world. This month, we take a look at ways to avoid training and behavioral challenges when school kicks back off.

– Dogs can suffer from depression and separation anxiety – just like their human family members. Symptoms include low energy, loss of appetite, hiding or cowering and unwillingness to play. Separation anxiety manifests can include excessive barking and whining, frantic attempts to escape, destructive chewing, and potty accidents in the house. The difference in these two issues are best illustrated as follows: a dog with separation anxiety will be extremely excited when family members get home while a depressed dog may not greet you at all. If your dog has never experienced “back to school,” prepare early. If your dog has gone through this routine in past years, he may remember it and settle in more quickly. Stick as close to your normal routine as possible. Seek the guidance of pet professionals in severe cases.

K-9 Coach– Changes in family routines and hectic schedules can often lead to a sudden lack of exercise for your pup. A lack of exercise can lead to a host of issues including chewing, digging, barking, howling and more. Make sure your dog gets enough exercise by either doing early morning walks or play sessions or enrolling your dog in a safe doggie daycare. If you choose to enlist a daycare, make sure you research you options early and start your pup in the play groups before your family routine changes.

– Save a special toy that your dog really enjoys and give it to them just before leaving. Interactive toys, that can have treats or meals placed in them, are best. Fill the toy with yummy treats, or your dog’s meal, and head out. Remember, do not make a big production of leaving. When come home, take the toy away and put it up. This way, the toy remains “special.” Multiple interactive toys can be hidden around the house for those long days alone. Make sure to browse our interactive toy section for our favorites!

– Plan after school activities for your children and their pet – play fetch, plan a family game of soccer or go for a hike together. Do some of the games we told you about a few months ago. Encourage your children to spend quiet time doing their reading out loud to your dog! Older children can walk the dog or enroll in a K-9 Coach class to keep everyone working as a team.

– If doggie daycare is not for your dog, and it isn’t for some, have a neighbor or a paid professional check in on them at least once a day. Even a quick 15 minute fetch or snuggle session can alleviate boredom and depression. Before heading off to school, make sure your dog is well behaved and will listen to the visitor. Encourage the visitor to reload the interactive toy for your dog just before leaving to keep them entertained.

As households head back to school, make sure to use the tips above and make sure to stop by K-9 Coach and put your pup in school too! As always, thank you for your business and we look forward to seeing all of you!