Site Update Status

Our website is undergoing a thorough revision and restructuring. During this process, we will be ensuring that all post links and images work correctly, that information is up-to-date, and that everything will be easier to find. However, this also means that some of the pages will be unavailable, edited, and moved in the process.

07 July 2014

  • A simplified mobile version is now available for mobile devices.
  • Post are starting to go back up. All posts we’re keeping will be edited, formatted, and have their images redone. Please bear with us as we get all of the posts back up and maybe you’ll discover something new here or there that you might have missed the first time around.
  • New content will come after the old content is back up, including a virtual tour of our working dog display. In the meantime, make sure you follow us on Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, or YouTube to keep current on posts and updates. (Facebook and Twitter are linked, so the same updates will be on both pages.)

 

Your Questions

Occasionally, we get questions by email or through our website’s comments system from people who need help with a training issue, who would like our opinion on a specific food or behavior, or who just have dog questions in general. We try to answer them all, so if you have any questions, please feel free to send them to us.

In this installment of Your Questions:

The Goodlife Recipe
Should you see a dog’s ribs?
Marrow bones: good or bad?
What does K-9 mean?
How to trim a dog’s nails
How to stop shedding
All-weather leashes
Labs: a good protection dog?
Maltipoos: are there dominant traits?

.

.

Q: What is your opinion about The Goodlife Recipe

We’ve received a number of questions about The Goodlife Recipe from people who are researching the company and people who want to know whether this brand has been linked to health or allergy issues in animals. This makes me very happy because it means that people are doing research before buying a dog food. The Goodlife Recipe is not a new company but a new brand name for pet foods produced by the Mars Petcare Company, which is a subsidiary of Masterfoods. Masterfoods also owns the pet food brands Pedigree, Sheba, Wiskas, and Ceasar, which you may have seen on your grocery store shelves.

My personal opinion about The Goodlife Recipe is that it’s no better or worse than the rest of the grocery-store pet foods you might find along the pet aisle of your local Price Chopper, Costco, Walmart, or anywhere else you regularly shop for groceries. I’m not a fan of most of these foods because they tend to contain large amounts of inexpensive fillers (such as corn).

Our philosophy at DFDK9 is to feed the best quality food that you can afford and that works for your dog. There are many brands of foods to choose from and it’s best to find something that works for your individual dog: something that meets their nutritional requirements, helps maintain a healthy weight, gives solid stools, and gives healthy, shiny coat. Often, this also means finding a balance between a quality food and an affordable price. (For those wondering, we feed Taste of the Wild.) You can get started making informed feeding decisions by learning about dog foods and their ingredients over on the Dog Food Project’s website.

.

.

Q: Is it normal to see a healthy Chihuahua’s ribs?

A: This is one of those questions where you might think giving the answer is as easy as saying yes or no, but it’s actually a little bit more complicated than that. Although you never want to see all of the ribs in a healthy, well-cared-for, in-shape dog, being able to see the last two or even three ribs on a dog doesn’t equal abuse or neglect – it may even point to a healthy, in-shape, working dog.

In your average pet dog, regardless of whether that’s a Chihuahua or a Labrador, you should be able to very easily feel all of the ribs. The correct way of feeling the ribs is to place your hand on the dog’s spine while he is standing, with your fingers pointing downward over the ribcage. In this position, you should be able to easily feel the ribs underneath your fingertips without having to push down hard through a layer of fat. When the dog is standing straight and at rest (meaning, not heavily panting), you should not see the ribs.

Some breeds of dogs, particularly sighthounds, tend to appear very thin when they are at a healthy, working weight. It’s also not uncommon – and actually healthier for the dog – to see working breeds such as German Shepherds and Malinois used by police or in dog sports to be on the thinner end of the spectrum, with the last few ribs visible.

Two healthy, fit dogs in their ideal weight - even though you can see ribs. (Image credit: left, US Marine Corps; right: Wikipedia.)

Two healthy, fit dogs in their ideal weight – even though you can see their ribs.
Photo credit: left, US Marine Corps; right: Wikipedia.

.

.

Q: Are marrow bones good or bad for dogs?

A: Marrow bones are good if they are given raw and under supervision.

Bones of any kind can be healthy and beneficial for your dog: they do a fantastic job cleaning teeth, preventing plaque build-up, providing calcium and phosphorous, and giving your dog hours of chewing fun. They can, to some extent, help firm up your dog’s stools also. (Just as a word of warning, however: raw bones are very messy and should be fed on an easily-cleaned surface or outdoors.)

Bones should always be given to dogs raw. This means that they’re not cooked, baked, smoked, or otherwise processed. (Ditch those nasty, chemical-laden “bones” they sell at the pet store and buy actual marrow bones at your grocery store instead.) Chicken legs and turkey necks, which we’ve all been told for years will kill our dogs, are among the most commonly fed raw bones. As a matter of fact, chicken thigh quarters make up the bulk of most raw feeders’ diet plans and turkey necks do a fantastic job cleaning dogs’ teeth.

Holistic veterinarian Dr. Ihor Basko has a great article about feeding bones, which I highly recommend.

.

.

Q: What is the meaning of K-9?

A: The term K-9 was first used by the US armed forces, where abbreviations are commonly used in everyday language and on paperwork. The term itself is a homophone – a word that’s pronounced the same as another word but may have a different spelling or meaning. In this case, K-9 is a homophone for canine, which comes from the Latin word canis, meaning dog.

.

Q: How do I trim my Husky’s nails?

A: Many dog owners, especially those who are new to owning a dog, are wary of trimming their own dog’s nails because they’re afraid that they will cut the quick and hurt their pet. A good way to learn how to do it at home is to ask your veterinarian or your groomer to teach you how, which is something that a good vet or groomer should absolutely be willing to do for their customers. If you would rather learn in the privacy of your own home, the College of Veterinary Medicine at Washigton State University has a great step-by-step guide with detailed photographs and explanations to help you get started.

A Dremel tool is a great alternative to traditional nail clippers and allow for a smoother, shorter finish – however, it takes some time, patience, and training for a dog to accept the Dremel tool because many dogs are uncomfortable with the sound, vibration, and smell the tool produces. The DoberDawn website has a great step-by-step guide on using the Dremel to do your dog’s nails.

.

Q: How do I stop by dog from shedding?

A: Let me get the obvious out of the way first: there’s absolutely no way to stop shedding completely. Full stop. All living creatures that have fur (or hair) and skin will shed hair and dead skin cells all year long, although some shed more heavily than others and some “blow” their thick undercoats in spring, leading to an increase in shedding.

Although you cannot stop shedding completely, there are some things you can do to cut down on it. Among those, the most important thing you can do is to provide your dog with a healthy diet, necessary dietary supplements, and frequent grooming. Diet plays an extremely large role in having healthy, low-shedding fur in dogs just as it plays a role in having healthy hair and nails in humans and other animals – horses hoof health, for example, is largely dependent on a correct diet. Dogs on high-quality foods that don’t contain unnecessary fillers usually have healthier coats and shed less. Additionally, supplements such as fish oil, coconut oil, and vitamin C are beneficial additions to your dog’s diet and make a difference in the appearance (and amount of shedding) of the coat.

Lastly, frequent grooming also helps cut down on the shedding. Grooming loosens dead hair and gets it out of the dog’s coat, and it also prevents tangles and matting. Even better, it nourishes the bond you have with your dog: dogs within a family group also come to each other for grooming, which not only helps their coats but also helps establish family structure and bonds. The best way to groom your dog depends entirely on your dog’s coat: a double-coated breed may require an undercoat rake, a short-coated breed a bristle brush, and a long-coated breed a wide-toothed comb. Use a tool that is made for your dog’s coat type, that you’re comfortable with, and that works for you.

Grooming tools. Pictures: PetCo

Different grooming tools for different coat types.
Photo credit: PetCo website.

.

.

Q: Where can I buy an all-weather leash?

A: My go-to leash is a simple Schweikert braided leather lead, which is technically an all-weather leash: after all, humans have been using leather for dog leashes and horse harnesses for centuries. The problem with leather is that it requires maintenance and conditioning, especially when it gets wet and muddy, whereas many modern-day materials, such as Biothane, have a similar feel to leather and retain the same grippability when wet, without the maintenance.

Two of those all-weather, low-maintenance leashes are Ray Allen’s RAM-Tech Leather Alternative and Elite K-9’s ASAT (All Season, All Terrain) leads. And then there are tons and tons and tons of companies and individuals producing and selling Biothane leashes, long lines, and collars in every color you might possibly imagine that are not trademarked by a company.

.

.

Q: Is a Labrador Retriever a good defensive dog?

A: A properly bred Labrador Retriever is a happy-go-lucky dog who’ll love all sorts of people. They are not naturally way of strangers or protective of their owners. According to the breed standard, a true Labrador temperament is as much a hallmark of the breed as its “otter” tail. The ideal disposition is one of a kindly, outgoing, tractable nature; eager to please and non-aggressive toward man or animal. As such, a Labrador might bark if strangers come to your home, but I wouldn’t look toward a Lab if you’re hoping to use the dog for protection or the bite sports. Labradors working as patrol dogs or in the sport of Schutzhund are extremely few and far between because that’s just not what the breed is meant to do.

.

.

Q: What are the dominant traits of a Maltipoo?

A: Most established dog breeds have one or more traits that should be expected in a properly-bred dog of that breed, usually related to the breed’s original purpose or function. For example, German Shepherds usually have a strong instinct t herd, which often shows in herding people and nipping at them. This is due to the fact that the breed originated as a herding dog, and dogs with strong herding instincts were naturally bred more to keep this instinct and ability in the breed than dogs that had a low drive for herding.

The Maltipoo, on the other hand, is not a breed of dog but rather a mix of two breeds, the Maltese and the Poodle, and therefore you cannot predict which traits the mixed offspring will inherit. A Maltipoo puppy can inherit any of the good and bad traits of his parents. Although a breeder may tell you that the Maltipoo will be highly intelligent (from the Poodle side), energetic (both Poodle and Maltese traits), and a good-natured lap dog (from the Maltese side), it’s not always going to be these sought-after traits that will combine in a puppy. Maltese can be prone to aggression, excessive barking and very high energy levels. Poodles can have strong prey drive, and can be territorial. All these traits might be passed on to the Maltipoo offspring, too.

Any time two breeds are crossed, there’s never a standard outcome. Although the genetics of the parents play a strong role – dogs who display aggression, for example, can pass this trait on to their offspring – genetic variability and recombination are responsible for the millions of ways the genes from one father and one mother may combine in the offspring: it’s often the luck of the draw. Although the variability and recombination factors also play a role in purebred breeding, there’s a much clearer idea of dominant traits in the breed itself, which was cultivated over decades of breeding, as well as of the individual parents and their lines – IF the breeding is undertaken by a knowledgeable person who has seen, worked, and studied these lines before putting two dogs together for the purpose of creating puppies.

Moonglow Collar

Item: 1″ Moonglow Collar
Cost: $12
Available from: Champion Canine Designs

What it promises: Champion Canine Designs’ Moonglow collars are “designed to provide big reflection for safety at night, and still look good in any light condition.” The collars are made using high-quality reflective materials over nylon webbing, with a heavy-duty D ring to attach the leash and a plastic slide-release buckle.

How it stacks up: I ordered one of the Moonglow collars in “indigo electric blue,” which is bright blue reflective material over a black nylon web collar with a black plastic slide-release buckle and a heavy-duty, stainless steel D ring. The quality of the collar was excellent and it has held up great with wear. The product gets a definite A+ from us.

caution

However … Dealing with Champion Canine Designs was the absolutely worst customer service I’ve ever experienced and I would never recommend this company to anyone, which is very sad because they make a variety of very high quality dog products, particularly seatbelt systems, that I would otherwise recommend were it not for their horrible customer service.

The company was recommended to me in winter 2007 by a friend who had just ordered one of their canine seatbelt systems after seeing the product being used by another friend and asking her for more information. My friend just happened to remember the company when I mentioned I was looking for a reflective collar, and she spoke highly of the quality of the seatbelt system she’d seen an ordered. So, I went ahead and ordered. I think the total came to $12 for the collar and around $7 for shipping since they ship only USPS Ground.

The problem with the company, however, is that they apparently don’t ship at all. It took approximately a week for my purchase to show up on my bank statement, and I still hadn’t received the collar after about a month of waiting, nor did I get an email stating that it had been shipped – only my original order confirmation. Two email inquiries to the company went unanswered. Repeated calls to the phone number listed on their website brought me straight to voicemail, and I never did receive a call back.

My friend eventually received her seatbelt system – about a month and a half after she ordered it – but I started doing some research about this company and found that, apparently, our experiences with this company were not out of the norm. Complaints had been posted online as early as 2004 and as late as 2010. However, another company, USA K-9 Outfitters, appears to be selling the same equipment now and their feedback has been largely positive, so if you’re dying for a good quality reflective collar or car harness, try them.

Fat Or Fit?

Fit vs. Fat

Fit vs. Fat

If you own a television, you’ve seen them: the weight-loss ads. Meals promising you can “eat all the food you like” while trimming down to your “show-off weight,” and pills that help you shrink your excess pounds so you can finally be “the real you” (because your real you naturally is a size 2). These ads would have you believe that you’re nobody unless you’ve got rock-hard abs and can flaunt your skinny body in a bikini without offending fellow beach-goers.

But wait, there’s more … there are now weight-loss drugs on the market targeted at your dog. As an article in the Associated Press declares about Slentrol, a new weight-loss drug for dogs:

Is your Hound round? Too much flab on your Lab? Is your Husky, well, husky? A new drug may provide some help. The government approved the first drug for obese canines on Friday. Called Slentrol, the Pfizer Inc. drug is aimed at helping fat Fidos shed extra pounds.

“This is a welcome addition to animal therapies, because dog obesity appears to be increasing,” said Stephen Sundlof, director of the Center for Veterinary Medicine at the Food and Drug Administration. A dog that weighs 20 percent more than its ideal weight is considered obese. That takes in about 5 percent of the nearly 65 million dogs in the United States. An additional 20 percent to 30 percent are considered overweight.”

After checking to make sure that the article came from a reputable news outlet and not (as I might have hoped) from a satire page, I don’t know whether this should make me laugh or cry. Sure, it would be easy to laugh about the idea of weight-loss pills for dogs, but this isn’t the first product on the market designed to help pets lose weight. Weight-loss formula foods have lined pet store shelves for years.

This is a much bigger issue in society: we’ll throw drugs at a problem to make the symptoms go away instead of actually treating the problem. We don’t just do this when it comes to animals, either. Let’s not forget that we’re at a point in our history where New York City limits soft drinks to those 16oz or under because larger drinks make us fat. Clearly – someone thought that law needed to be in place because people can’t be trusted to make healthy choices.

Diet drugs for dogs might address the symptom (being overweight) but they don’t address the problem (why the dog is overweight). That problem begins and ends with the human who owns the dog. Unless your dogs roam the neighborhood grazing on farm fields and killing game to their hearts’ content, it’s probably safe to say that food that’s making them fat is coming from you, the owner. That’s also where addressing the problem needs to start.

.

.

What’s the “Ideal” Body Composition?

It’s difficult to address the problem of keeping a dog at a lean, healthy weight without first defining what a lean, healthy weight is. Over the years, I have noticed that many people, including a fair number of veterinarians, don’t really know what a healthy weight looks like on a dog and what sorts of things they should be looking for when judging body condition. That’s not to say that these people don’t love their dogs – only that many people view overweight as the ideal. Perhaps that’s because we’re so used to seeing overweight dogs or because people are so quick to call abuse when a dog is thinner than they think it ought to be.

Ironically, it is the Nestle Purina pet food company that came up with the Body Condition Chart in 1997, a copy of which hangs in most veterinary clinics in the country. It’s a great chart consisting of both images and text, and I highly recommend keeping a copy of it handy if you work with dogs or in a setting that involves teaching people about dogs. You can download it by clicking the small preview of it below.

Nestle Purina Body Condition Chart (click to download full version)

Nestle Purina Body Condition Chart (click to download full version)

As you can see from a chart, dogs that are in the 4 and 5 scores are considered to be of an ideal weight: you should be able to easily feel the ribs but not see them, you should be able to see a clearly defined waist from above, and an abdominal tuck behind the ribs when viewed from the side. An easy way of measuring body fat on a dog is by placing the heel of your palm on the dog’s spine, fingers facing down along the dog’s side over the ribs. You should be easily able to feel the ribs with your fingertips without having to press down hard to locate them.

One thing that should be mentioned about this chart is that it measures dogs’ weight when they stand still and are at rest. A dog that’s in good, lean condition may show as very “ribby” when he’s panting hard after vigorous exercise, for example, and both coat color and coat length play an important role in how thin (or not thin) a dog may appear from the outside, which is why feeling for the ribs is a better indicator of body composition than simply looking at the dog.

.

.

How to Keep Your Dog Lean & Healthy

There’s a magic formula to keeping your dog lean and healthy – or getting him there if he’s a little on the heavy side – that doesn’t involve any special diet foods, weight-loss drugs, or other gadgets:

  • Select a Quality Food

    If you’d asked me five years ago what the ideal food for your dog is, I may have recommended the Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet or a high quality, grain-free kibble as your first choices.

    However, I no longer believe that there is such a thing as the ideal food for all dogs. There’s only the best food that works for your dog and that works for you. Meaning: I’ve encountered many dogs who didn’t do well on the BARF diet and I’ve met many owners who didn’t have the time and knowledge to feed such a diet. I’ve met many dogs who didn’t do well on some types of grain-free kibble and many who did. I’ve also met many dogs with owners who loved them but who couldn’t afford $60+ per bag of a high quality kibble.

    My recommendation now is this: do your research and select the best quality food you can afford that works for your dog. If you’re interested in the raw diet, Lauri’s Raw Dog Ranch website is a great place to start. If you’re not ready to feed raw but want to make better choices when it comes to dry or canned foods, the Dog Food Project will help you get started on reading and understanding the labels. As for us, in case anyone’s wondering, we’ve been feeding Taste of the Wild to all of our dogs, including fosters, since 2007.

  • Feed on a Schedule – Don’t Free Feed

    Dog trainers, behaviorists, and veterinarians don’t always agree on things, but ask any of them, and they will tell you that routine is very important in a dog’s life. Established routines help dogs to know what to expect and keep their stress levels low, which is why it’s so important to establish a routine when bringing a new dog into the home or keeping up with a current routine when moving or traveling with your pet.

    Having a feeding schedule is important for a couple of reasons: (1) it helps establish a daily routine for your dog, (2) you are metering how much food your dog gets and can increase or decrease it as needed, (3) you can observe and address feeding-related problems as they occur (for example, gulping down food too quickly or one dog taking food from another), and (4) you may become aware of possible health issues if you notice your dog isn’t eating.

    Free feeding, which is the practice of leaving food out for your dog all day (and filling the bowl as needed) is almost never a good idea. It doesn’t allow you to meter how much food your dog is getting, doesn’t allow you to monitor which dog is eating and which may be not eating due to illness or due to being bullied by the other dog in multiple dog households, and allows food to go stale or breed bacteria (yuck).

  • Limit Treats and Table Scraps

    Look at any dieting website, and you’ll find that one of the top recommendations for loosing weight is to cut out empty calories: things such as sugary drinks, sweet snacks, and junk food. The same rule of thumb holds true for dogs: if you want Fido to slim down to an ideal weight, you’ll want to take it easy on table scraps, sharing your own food, and giving him treats.

    That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use treats in training: research shows that dogs actually prefer to receive treats for doing something instead of getting them for no reason at all, but you’ll need to find a balance between the calories your dog gets from their regular food intake and from their training treats. If you train a lot using food, you’ll want to cut down a little on kibble.

  • Exercise Daily

    Amazingly, a lot of the suggestions for keeping dogs at a healthy weight are the same suggestions doctors, dietitians, and nutritionists have been giving to people for a long time. However, the recommendation of daily exercise is perhaps even more important for dogs than people: most dogs now live indoors and only get their outdoor exercise when their owners let them outside, take them for walks, or take them other places. Aside from causing obesity in dogs, a lack of exercise also causes behavioral issues, such as being destructive, which lead many owners to give their dogs up to shelters!

    One thing about exercise: there’s a big difference between structured and unstructured exercise. Sadly, too many dog owners think that they can simply turn their dog out into the unfenced yard so he will exercise himself: but that’s not how dogs work. A single dog turned out into the yard won’t be running laps. He might play with the soccer ball you’ve given him for a little while, but he’s not going to spend his whole day working off energy. More likely, he’ll get bored and start digging up the flower bed or charging at the fence when he sees passers-by. The best exercise are daily, structured walks (or runs, or bicycle runs) along with off-leash play time in the yard (like fetching a Frisbee) or with other dogs. Swimming is a great low-impact exercise for older dogs to stay in shape or very heavy dogs to start shedding pounds.

Breed Specific Legislation

dangerousdogs

If you own a large-breed dog, such as a Rottweiler or a German Shepherd, you’ve probably encountered people before while you were out with your dog, who were afraid. Not necessarily of your dog in particular, or even of all dogs in general, but of the particular breed of dog you own.

I know I’ve gotten it. The up-to-no-good teenagers loitering at the corner who’d disperse at the sight of my German Shepherd. The moving guy who asked me if “that is one of those K-9’s,” the guy down the street telling his children not to “approach that big, mean dog,” and the little kid jumping behind mom screaming in terror “OMG! Big doooog!”

I also know that my dog doesn’t deserve those comments. While I would like her to be alert and even wary of strangers, I generally encourage folks to come up and pet her, and many do. Dog people tell me what a beautiful dog she is, and parents are in awe when they see that she will lay down on command to be petted by their children. Kids giggle with glee when she licks their hands or will lay down for them when they tell her “down” (with a little hand-signal help from me in the background, anyway).

But she is still a German Shepherd, and in the eyes of some, that makes her a vicious, dangerous dog who needs to be included in breed-specific legislation. Many insurance companies won’t insure you if you own a German Shepherd – even one who’s still a puppy and has never bitten anyone, not even in play.

Most landlords will not rent to you if you own a German Shepherd, either – they’re included in their list of banned breeds. Ironically, a Labrador Retriever is more likely to bite someone (they account for most dog bites in the United States), and the average cat is more likely to ruin a property’s rental value by peeing on the carpets or sharpening her claws on the wall.

You might say that breed specific legislation doesn’t concern you because you don’t own a Pit Bull, a Rottweiler, or a Doberman. Maybe you own a Poodle, a Golden Retriever, or a Jack Russel Terrier – so why worry about it? The reason you should worry about it is that breed specific legislation concerns anyone who owns and loves a dog. You may not have one of the dogs in question, but how would you, as a responsible owner, feel if one day, someone said that your dog was dangerous because of its breed, and that you needed to surrender it to be euthanized within x amount of days.

Here are a couple of further links with additional information that is far more eloquent than anything that I have to say. On top of that, it comes from the dog world: from professional dog trainers and from dog organizations. If you’re going to take anyone’s word this issue, it should be these people’s.

There are many more organizations who oppose Breed-Specific Legislation, but not all of them have their position statements on their website where they can easily be linked. These organizations include working dog clubs, breed clubs, and veterinarians, as well as training and behavior organizations.

Just A Dog

justadog

This beautiful poem has been circulating on the Internet for a while, sadly without the author’s name or a source link. If you happen to know who wrote this, would you please let us know so that we may attribute it correctly?

Just A Dog

From time to time, people tell me: “Lighten up, it’s just a dog.”
Or, “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.”
They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent,
Or the costs involved in “just a dog.”

Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.”
Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,”
But I did not once feel slighted.

Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,”
And in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog”
Gave me comfort and the reason to overcome the day.

If you, too, think it’s “just a dog,”
Then you probably understand phrases like
Just a friend, just a sunrise, or just a promise.
“Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of
Friendship, trust, and pure, unbridled joy.

“Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience
That makes me a better person.
Because of “just a dog” I will rise early, take long walks,
And look longingly to the future.

So for me and those like me, it’s not “just a dog,”
But an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future,
The fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment.
“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me
And diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that, someday, they can understand that it’s not “just a dog,”
But the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a person.”
So, next time you hear the phrase “just a dog” …
Just smile. Because they just don’t understand.

Overheard in Class

For a while, we trained at All About Dogs in Virginia, which is the only facility where I’ve trained that used a levels system for classes rather than your standard 8 week obedience course – and it made a lot more sense. Rather than being pushed through an 8 week class without mastering the skills, each of the four levels required that you mastered certain skills before moving on to the next level, but if you ever felt like you need additional practice on a “lower” level skill, you could always drop into one of the lower classes for practice.

Anyway, because of the way the system is set up, it’s not unusual to see people in class you’ve never met before, which was the case for us in today’s Level 3 class. The class was unusually packed with about 10 dogs, and the three trainers and assistants were keeping an eye on everyone. A chair over from us was a new guy I’d never seen before, along with his happy, goofy Golden Retriever. We were practicing sit-stays and were just about ready to move to down-stays.

Just as I gave the command “Platz!, the German word for down, one of the trainers passed between us and the fellow with the Golden, who remarked to her, “How stereotypical – a German Shepherd trained in German.” To which the trainer replied, “Yes, but Abby’s owner actually speaks German.” That shut him up.

.

.

Do you use commands in a foreign language? Have you ever gotten weird comments or strange questions about it? We’d love to hear your stories about training in another language – please feel free to post them to the comments!

If you’d like to use German commands (or perhaps another language), this post has a handy list of the five most important commands – sit, down, stay, come, and heel – in four commonly-used foreign languages: German, Dutch, French, and Czech.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 475 other followers