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Big Announcement from Dogs Rock! Vermont

Big Announcement from Dogs Rock! Vermont

A big announcement from Laurie at Dogs Rock! Vermont 🐾

Working with difficult and behaviorally challenged dogs has always been work that I have been drawn to. I have always found myself advocating for the underdog so to speak! Furthermore, working in rescue and sheltering has always been near and dear to my heart. A lot of my experience, and what makes my training so thorough, is that I have spent hundreds of hours working with dogs in and from not such great circumstances and understand the needs of both the dogs and people involved!

It has always been a career dream of mine to work for an organization in which I can use my unique skill set for the greater good- advocating for dogs who have suffered cruelty and neglect at the hands of puppy mills, animal hoarders and dog fighters. Since launching my business, I was blessed with the opportunity to start volunteering with the ASPCA on their Field Investigations and Response Team. After deploying with the ASPCA three times this year to some of their temporary shelters across the nation, I was approached by the ASPCA’s Anti-Cruelty Behavior Team to join them once a month in overseeing playgroups, addressing behavioral concerns, and to become a go-to behavioral floor lead for daily care staff at their temporary shelters.

What does this mean?

Dogs Rock! Vermont will still be up and running! I will be taking on less new clients and focusing more on working more with dogs facing aggression and specific behavior issues. Those still in programs with me, or who have been training with me, are good to go! We will continue to conduct business as usual around my new schedule.

When does this take effect?

I will be deploying (traveling) with the ASPCA approximately once a month for 7-12 days at a time. My first travel deployment is scheduled in about a month.

Can I still refer people to you?

As mentioned above, I will be working in a much more limited capacity than previously, and therefore will be focusing my work less on puppies and basic obedience, and more on dogs with behavioral needs. If you have friends or family looking for basic training services, the Vermont Dog Club in Essex Jct is a great place to start or visit Vermont Professional Dog Trainer’s Network for other area trainers that I would recommend in the area.

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Thank you all for your continued support and for choosing to follow me for your dog training, behavior consulting and relationship building needs. My new role with the ASPCA is a dream come true for me and I am honored to be a part of it! Stay tuned for further updates!

-Laurie

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Montreal BSL is Back

Montreal BSL is Back

Montreal pit bulls have lost again.

After the passing of breed specific legislation (BSL) laws in September, the Montreal SPCA spear-headed a suspension of the laws, citing that they were too vague in wording, discriminatory to the dog-owning public and would lead to the euthanasia of behaviorally sound animals.

The Montreal Court of Appeal overturned the majority of the suspension on Friday, Dec. 2, citing that the laws were largely put in place for public safety and therefore could not be suspended.

What this means:

  • All pit bulls or “pit bull-type dogs” must wear muzzles outside
  • All pit bulls or”pit bull-type dogs”must be on a 4″ leash or less outside
  • All pit bulls or “pit bull-type dogs” must wear harnesses outside
  • All pit bulls or “pit bull-type dogs” must have a special registration

What this does not mean (but could in the near future):

  • All pit bulls or “pit bull-type dogs” will be euthanized once they enter the sheltering system

 

Professional dog trainers recognize that dog bites are a serious issue facing communities across North America, especially in major urban areas where dog populations tend to be higher.

However, breed-specific legislation has been proven to be ineffective in controlling the amount of dog bites sustained to the public. In fact, many municipalities across North America are repealing their BSL laws as they are beginning to understand the negative impacts it’s causing in their communities.

And contrary to popular belief, the majority of dog bites and attacks occur within families or close friends and know the dog who has attacked them. These bites and attacks are largely contributed to a lack of education in canine behavior and a lack of supervision of children around dogs.

The ban put in place in Montreal specifically targets the American Staffordshire terrier, the American pit bull terrier, and the Staffordshire bull terrier, any dog containing any mix of any one of those breeds or any dog that looks like it may physically contain breed characteristics of anyone of those breeds.

Science has repeatedly proven that you cannot designate a mixed breed dog as a specific breed based on how a dog looks. DNA testing is the only true way to determine the true genetic makeup of a dog.

If the suspension is fully repealed, this ban will result in the euthanasia of behaviorally sound animals completely suitable for family living. Families who are unable to comply with the restrictions required by the new ban, for financial or resource reasons, will not only lose a part of their family due to these new laws, but will have to live knowing that their family pet was euthanized based solely on how he looked and not on his actions.

Rather than imposing a band which will take up community time and resources it would be better to allocate that funding towards low-cost spay/neuter, low-cost annual medical care for pets and low-cost dog training for owners.

What can you do to help?

Take a look at this article, Here’s How You Can Help the Victims of Montreal’s Pit Bull Ban, for suggestions and ideas of how you can make a difference right now in Montreal.

Consider making donations to local rescues, such as All Breed Rescue Vermont, who have already begun moving dogs out of the city and to Vermont.

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The Moose and The Motorcycle

The Moose and The Motorcycle

You’ll commonly hear dog trainers talking about the importance of socializing your dog. Because all dogs are different, some are more likely to be social on their own than others. Regardless of the social nature of your dog, fearfulness can still develop towards people, objects, other dogs, specific locations and various situations.

Depending on how well you know your dog, you instinctively begin to predict things that may make your dog fearful, such as loud noises or fireworks, and prepare for those situations. Other times, you may not know a trigger before it happens.

New things are scary

Take my newly adopted pup Moose as a case study. We’ve been a team for about two months now, and I’m slowly starting to figure out things that make him nervous, such as young puppies and screaming children. I keep a list in my head and know that if I will be around any of his fear triggers to bring my special treats with me. It’s important to give your positive interactions through times of stress. But, you can’t expect to just have treats on you everywhere you go, right? Right.

When walking out of a building the other day, Moose makes eye contact with a yard ornament that moves, and has bright colors, and he totally and completely wigged out. I mean, he bellowed out the loudest bark I’ve heard so far. He then proceeded to start growling and backing up. He backed up so hard, he slammed himself into the door.

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Day two. Even from this far away, you can see his focus on the yard ornament and if you look even closer, you can see his hackles raised.

Here I am, walking out of a building, carrying my jacket under one arm, a cup of coffee in my hand, a binder full of training paperwork under my other arm and now a dog having an epic meltdown in a parking lot full of people and other businesses.

The easiest thing for me to do in this circumstance would have been to drag him to my car which was not very far. Above being a dog trainer, I am a human, so yes, I thought about it. However, avoiding situations doesn’t accomplish much and there’s no learning involved in that, so where’s the fun?

So I place/drop all of my things on the sidewalk, turn him around and walk back into the building. I give Moose a moment to calm down so he can focus on me. Once his brain has come back to reality, I ask him for sit and give him some pets. I connect with him. This is important. I’m still here for you buddy.

We venture back out the door, and I remind him, “Moose, I’m still here.” I speak softly to him and encourage him to follow me.

We take some time walking towards the thing. He is doing okay with some reassurance, but stops again about 15 feet away and has another fit. Patience is key. We take about two steps back and I ask him again for some eye contact and a sit (this is where foundational training also becomes so important). He looks at me, he looks ahead, he looks back at me and gives me a slight tail wag. At his pace we continue.

It took some time for him to feel comfortable going up to it, but eventually he did. He sniffed it, and backed up. He looked at it a bit. I reassured him it was okay. He sniffed it again, turned away from it. He still didn’t trust it fully, but he began to accept it.

Finally, he came to his own conclusion he’s uncomfortable with it, but willing to tolerate it’s presence. On this good note, I said, “okay, let’s go dude”, and we headed back towards the car. The next day, we repeated our exercise. On day two it took us about half the time of day one. Progress!

 

Why is it important to have taken the time to do this with my dog? 

  • We just worked through a fearful situation together
  • He learned how to do something other than become reactive to something he is scared of
  • We just spent time bonding by working through a problem together

 

Socialization and why it’s important

You’ll often hear dog owners say whole heart-idly that their dogs is fearful of men, or brooms, or newspapers because they must have been abused or suffered at the hands of a terrible hat-wearing man with sunglasses that liked to read newspapers and occasionally raise them over their dogs head. But what is actually more likely, is that the dog may have had a lack of exposure to sunglasses, hats or large objects moving above their heads. In Moose’s case, it was obvious he had never seen anything like this spinning lawn ornament before. Without ever having a good experience to relate these things to, the dog has nothing to base it’s reaction on. By basic means of animal survival, it’s smarter to be cautious of something until you know it does not pose a threat.

So taking what we now know into consideration, understand that fearfulness in dogs is absolutely normal. In fact, dogs that are over confident tend to be the ones that professional trainers keep an eye out for. However, for dogs to survive and continue to develop in our society and our societal standards we must work with them to either prevent fearfulness by socializing them as youngsters, or we must work to counter-condition their current fears through positive associations. The more your dog is exposed to in a positive way, the easier it becomes for them to overcome their fears in situations down the road.

Too much socializing?

Believe it or not, some dog owners make the mistake of going a bit overboard with socializing. I often hear from dog owners that they were told to take their dog everywhere with them as a puppy and to make sure to get them used to being around other dogs at a young age. What I actually see happen are puppies taken to overwhelming situations such as Church Street in Burlington or to the big dog section at the Shelburne Dog Park for “socializing.” For dog trainers, there’s nothing more heartbreaking than seeing well-meaning dog owners traumatizing their dogs at young ages by flooding them with situations they are not developmentally prepared for. Every time I see a puppy get pinned at the dog park or jump back at the sound of a car horn on a busy road, I cringe. If the owners seem open to helpful feedback, I typically will engage in a conversation with them then and there. However, not everyone is always open to feed back from a stranger in public. Side note: The one thing that makes a trainer’s job difficult? There are dogs everywhere, but you can’t help every dog or owner you see.

Tying it all together

At the end of the day, the goal here is improving you and your dog’s amazing relationship. Each person-to-dog relationship I work with is unique and requires a different pace, structure and attention. Watching a dog’s trust build with their owner is my favorite part of what I get to do. Listen to your dog. Don’t ignore their fears and don’t force your dog into situations they are unsure of. Truly love your dog and your dog will love you back.

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Vermont Dog Festival to feature Dogs Rock! Vermont

Vermont Dog Festival to feature Dogs Rock! Vermont

This Saturday, dog lovers alike will converge in Ensoburg Falls, VT for the first ever Vermont Dog Festival! Dubbed as a “fun, family friendly event that caters to our canine counterparts.”

Laurie Lawless of Dogs Rock! Vermont is excited to have been offered a spot to speak at the event. Laurie will have the opportunity to spend 15 minutes discussing positive reinforcement and relationship building in dog training with Emily Lewis of A Click Away Dog Training.

As a member of Vermont Professional Dog Trainers, a group made up of dedicated Vermont Professional Dog Trainers who strive to provide the most up-to-date scientific training methods to their clients and their pets, the sheltering and animal welfare community and service and working dog groups, Laurie is excited to present this topic to the dog-loving Vermont community.

The full day event will feature local rescue dogs, games, vendors and more! Please come find Laurie and her new pup Moose at the festival! She will be stationed at the Vermont Professional Dog Trainers booth.

Laurie is looking forward to meeting you! RSVP on Facebook to let her know you are coming!!!

 

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Transport Pups – Raising Awareness in Rescue

Transport Pups - Raising Awareness in Rescue

As a potential adopter it is important for you to know of the major changes in the animal welfare and sheltering world over the past decade, particularly in the North East . There are many theories as to why our shelters are running out of “adoptable dogs” and why it’s almost impossible to find litters of puppies in the sheltering system here, but the bottom line is that it is happening, and shelters and rescues from all over the North East are pulling their dogs up from the South or over from the Mid-West by the thousands.

What do you need to know when you are looking at adopting a transport dog or a dog that was already transported North:

Vaccination informationIs everything up to date? Dogs over 16 weeks need a Rabies vaccination, and can receive them as early as 12. All puppies should have a completed vaccination series for Distemper before transport- key word here is should. Many rescues don’t finish the series which can start as early as 6 weeks, because they want to get the dogs up here as soon as they can. Foster and shelter space is limited and dogs are killed by the thousands in these shelters. But, Parvovirus is scary. Very scary, and also deadly. If the puppy you are adopting is in the middle of the series, this may be fine, just be diligent and get to the vet for your own check up as soon as you have the pup! Also, until the series is done – please stay away from pet stores and dog parks where other dogs go.

WORMS – All rescues should be deworming their dogs, regardless of where they came from. But, I can tell you now, there are so many types of worms out there. Go get a fecal, and deworm again. And again in 6 months. And probably again. Trust me on this!

Heartworm Tests – More and more dogs are coming up north with Heartworms, which is an incredibly dangerous parasite. In very young and elderly dogs it can be deadly and incredibly painful to go through treatment. Surprising to many adopters, Heartworms that are not fully developed many will not show up on initial testing! That’s correct. Puppies and dogs alike can test negative during their first screening, only to come up as positive six months later, after they’ve been running around the Northeast and possibly infecting other dogs. Always re-test your dog roughly about six months after obtaining your Southern/Midwestern Transport buddy.

Temperament Testing – This is crucial to ask a rescue or shelter. What is their evaluation process? Almost all rescues and even some shelters are volunteer run and don’t have professionals on hand when making decisions about pulling dogs. It takes years of experience to be able to see what behavior suppression looks like or to understand when a dog is being reactive due to stress, but isn’t actually aggressive. Temperament tests are designed for professionals to be able to put pieces of a dog’s actual personality together – not to set dogs up to fail, but to set adopters up for success with their new pup. Ask them – how do they pick the dogs that they pull? What is their definition of aggressive? How do they screen for aggression? If you have questions ask a professional!

Adoption is hands-down one of the most rewarding experience you’ll ever be a part of. And what gets better than saving a life? But, before taking the plunge, educate yourself on the process and be knowledgeable of what is happening behind the curtain before your new pup arrive at your local shelter or transport drop-off location!

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