Basic Obedience: Sit/Stay
March has been a great month for us here at Ashling Place. Hadley continues to amaze us with her intellect and eagerness to please. This month, she proudly earned two designations: AKC Canine Community Canine (CGCA) and Therapy Dog. After completing a seven-week training course, which included time spent in public settings such as shopping centers and nursing homes, Hadley was then required to pass a series of tests in order to earn these designations.
In order to pass these tests, Hadley first needed to be able to master a number of basic skills. Of course, impulse control and maintaining attention are two crucial skills necessary, especially since there are a number of distractions that are introduced during the tests to ensure that your dog is able to remain focused on you and the task at hand. Another important skill she needed to be able to master is the “sit-stay”. The purpose of this command that your dog will be able to remain in a "sit/stay" position, even when you leave him, which is handy in a number of situations. We use it when someone visits, when we need to cross the street to get the mail and want the dog to stay in the yard, and even when it’s time to go outside and we want them to sit at the door until we give the release. It is the ultimate demonstration of control and is useful in everyday life.
Leash & Collar
The “sit/stay” is a command that truly is an essential skill for your pup to master, even if you are not interested in pursuing designations such as the Canine Good Citizen or Therapy Dog. We have advanced our training with this command during our field play and practice. Now the girls have to stay in a sit position while we throw the ball, which if you know our girls, this is a very difficult skill to master when a ball is involved. That said, they know to sit, stay, and wait for me to give them the release, which is “find it.” Not only are they exercising their bodies, but also their minds!
If you are interested in pursuing these designations with your dog, then I encourage you to start by learning more by visiting the AKC Canine Good Citizen and AKC Community Canine websites.
Basic Obedience: Attention/Focus
We had an exciting weekend at the Columbus All-breed Training Club Winter Obedience/Rally Trials. After months of serious training, Hadley was able to turn all that hard work into earning an RN title in the Rally Trial events! Rally is an obedience event where you and your dog demonstrate your ability to work as a team as you both navigate through a course of 10-20 signs that display a skill that you and your dog are to perform together. Check out the video below if you want to see Hadley strut her stuff. To learn more about AKC Rally, visit https://www.akc.org/sports/rally/. It’s a fun way to bond with your puppy!
Earning the title this weekend at the trials took plenty of hard work and dedication over the last several months. In addition to going to training classes regularly, we practiced our skills and commands daily. Yet, before we were able to get to that point, I had to make sure that Hadley was able to focus when necessary. Focus is the key to making all training possible. Now that you have mastered “impulse control,” it’s time to teach your pup how to pay attention to you.
8. You should practice this daily in order to make eye contract consistently strong. Be sure that every
time you say her name and she responds, you reinforce it with high-spirited praise such as, “YES, GOOD
Tip: Start adding distractions during your practice. The more distractions around, the more praise you will need to give. You may want to add extra special treats during this sessions to reinforce your puppy’s focus and attention.
This is one of many ways in which you can teach your dog to pay attention on cue. Some like to use commands such as “watch me” or “focus” in place of the dog’s name. Whatever method you use, be sure you are consistent and always use positive reinforcement to ensure success.
Basic Obedience - Impulse Control
How is it possible that we are more than half way through the first month of 2019? It seems like it was only yesterday that we were snuggling up with cute little chocolate fur-balls of ultimate sweetness! Oh how we miss those puppies, but we couldn’t be happier that they have found such wonderful families who love them as much as we do!
This year is set to be an exciting year for us here at Ashling Place Labradors. We are making final plans for not only Riley’s next litter, but Hadley’s first litter, so stay tuned to learn more about future puppies. In addition to blessing us with beautiful, healthy puppies, our Labs are always busy training and competing. Hadley is currently finishing up her therapy dog training and has high hopes of using her Therapy Dog International certification to help others during times of difficulties and challenges. Hadley also aspires to earn her first Rally/Obedience title this year and has been working hard to master all the commands. Riley has already earned one title so far and is excited to get back into the Obedience ring and work towards earning her next title.
All of this talk about training leads me right into the main topic of this article: Basic Training. As I mentioned in our last article, we will be tackling the subject of obedience with an overview of the core basic commands that you and your pup should be working on together. Mastering these commands will help in a number of areas both in and outside your home.
Today I want to focus on impulse control. Helping your puppy learn how to make correct decisions is the foundation to their success in learning all other commands. There are a number of ways to work with your pup on impulse control, including having them wait at the door before rushing through and waiting to eat their food until you give a command. Here is a step-by-step description on how to work with your dog on “impusle control”:
As always, Stay Calm and Hug your Labrador!
As we enter into this holiday season, we always like to pause and reflect on all of the exciting events of the past year. A lot has happened this year at Ashling Place, including the addition of the new dog room and another beautiful, healthy litter from Riley. We couldn’t be happier with the wonderful families that adopted each one of her puppies and are excited to see our Ashling Place family grow, not only larger, but broader as we now have puppies living not only in Ohio, but also in New York and Illinois. From urban settings to farm life, our puppies are happily learning to adapt to their new surroundings with their loving families.
This year we were also able to celebrate some successes in the AKC competition ring. Hadley not only earned her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certification, but she also earned her first leg in Rally Novice, with a 4th place finish at the Licking River Kennel Club Rally Trial. But, that’s not all! Hadley is also currently working on her Therapy Dog Certification. We couldn’t be more proud of her as she continues to grow and mature into a wonderful girl. We expect great things from her in the years to come!
We have much to be grateful for here at the farm and as we celebrate this holiday season, we want to take this moment to celebrate you and thank you all for your continued friendship and support of Ashling Place Labradors!
PS: Be sure to check in soon, as we will be starting a blog mini-series on training tips! We will cover everything from “impulse control” to the various “heel” commands.
We have had an exciting few days here at the farm! We helped Riley welcome into the world 6 beautiful chocolate Labrador puppies on Monday, September 10. Riley and her puppies are all healthy and doing well. It is a miracle to watch Riley's maternal instincts kick in as she tends to and nurtures these most precious babies.
We have had a number of inquiries into the availability of puppies. All puppies have wonderful families waiting to meet them and bring them to their new homes. If interested in learning more about adopting a puppy from a future litter, please email your inquiry to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are often asks what goes into raising puppies? Many believe that the momma does most of the work, and while in theory that is correct for the first few weeks, we are not just sitting back and kicking up our feet. These are very critical weeks as the puppies are helpless - they are born with their eyes and ears sealed shut, so they depend on Riley and us to give them everything they need. While Riley is the primary caregiver of these sweet pups, it is our job to ensure that Riley is getting everything she needs in order to be a good provider and nurturer to her babies.
In addition to making sure their basic needs are taken care of, it is our belief that puppies have needs that extend beyond nutrition and comfort. These first few weeks the puppies will undergo rapid neurological growth and development. We have found that their response to touch and stimulation is incredible, so we begin the socialization during these first weeks immediately. The best way is simply through the human touch. We handle and cuddle the puppies several times throughout the day in order to create a pleasurable connection to the human touch. Furthermore, we use this time to handle their paws and clip their nails.
But, it doesn't stop there...
The first three weeks are considered to be a critical time to begin stimulation exercises. In addition to the daily cuddling time, on the third day through the 16th day, we incorporate early neurological stimulation exercises into our daily routine. These are a series of five exercises that were developed by the US Military to help improve the performance of military dogs and has since become known as the “Super Dog” program. The five exercises completed once daily are:
1. Tactical stimulation (between toes)
2. Head held erect
3. Head pointed down
4. Supine position
5. Thermal stimulation
Extensive research has shown that doing these exercises during this critical time in the puppies’ lives can lead to the following benefits:
1. Improved cardio vascular performance (heart rate)
2. Stronger heart beats
3. Stronger adrenal glands
4. More tolerance to stress
5. Greater resistance to disease
To learn more about the “Super Dog” program, you can access the full article by visiting the Breeding Better Dogs website. Also, here is a quick video to watch and learn more about what these exercises entail.
Be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages for your daily dose of puppy sweetness!
Heathy Garden Treats: Part 2
In our last article, we talked about the health benefits of berries for our canine companions. Now that the garden season is in full force and farmers’ markets are popping up on every corner, we thought it would be great to discuss what vegetables are considered to not only be safe for your pups, but are also serve as beneficially healthy alternatives to those overly processed store bought treats.
As we plot out our gardens, here are some of the vegetables we ensure we make extra room for so that we can share with our fur-kids:
Our girls LOVE carrots! While I am sure they enjoy the taste of carrots, I personally think they enjoy the crunchiness even more. Not only are carrots a low calorie snack, but they are also a great source of fiber and vitamin A. Furthermore, the crunchy texture can also help to support healthy teeth and gums.
Another staple in our garden is celery, which is the perfect low-fat, low-calorie snack for all of our waistlines (humans and canines alike)! Celery provides a number of essential nutrients and vitamins including vitamins A, C, and K; folate; potassium; and manganese. Furthermore, it is an excellent source of fiber. It can pose as a choking hazard, so we recommend cutting it up in smaller pieces to avoid this from occurring.
While cucumbers may not offer a ton of beneficial nutrients to your canine companion, they do offer a healthy low calorie, non-fat treat option with a satisfying crunch. We like to use cucumbers as an alternative training treat on especially hot days as their high water content can help keep your pup hydrated while they are working hard to keep up with you on that afternoon walk.
I consider green beans to be a “super treat” for our dogs. They are not only full of fiber and low in calories, but they are also loaded with beneficial nutrients such such as iron, calcium, protein, and vitamins B6, A, C, and K. It is important to note that while all green beans (chopped, steamed, raw, or frozen) are good for our canine friends, they should be served plain (no added salt or spices.)
If our dogs could talk, they would tell you their favorite season is Fall. Why is that? Well, that is the time of year when we harvest the pumpkins and those are their most favorite vegetable of all! Pumpkin is high in fiber, low in fat and cholesterol, and loaded with beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, iron, zinc and vitamins A and C. Furthermore, it’s high fiber content has been proven to be beneficial to your pet’s digestive tract. One tip though: if using canned pumpkin, please be sure that it is pumpkin puree and NOT canned pumpkin pie. For ideas on how to serve up this tasty treat for your pup, check out our pumpkin treat recipe we shared in a prior article!
As with all things, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, be cautious of over-feeding your pup with any kind of treat, including any of these healthy options.
Till next time, “Keep Calm and Hug your Labrador!”
Healthy Garden Treats: Part 1
It is spring, right? Although it may still feel like winter throughout much of the country, the calendar says that it is, in fact, spring, so that means here at the farm we are gearing up for another busy garden season. The seedlings are growing strong, the flowers are all peaking through the ground, and the buds on the trees are ready to burst open…if only the weather would cooperate.
Like every year at this time, when plotting out the garden, I always take into consideration what fruits and vegetables are suitable for providing healthy snack options for our canine kids. We spend a lot of our day training for the show ring and field, so having a variety of low-fat, low-sugar treats helps to not only to keep their waistlines trim, but also to hold their attention.
Since we are headed into berry season, here is the low-down on our two favorite berry treats we enjoy sharing with our canine friends:
We grow our blueberries in containers located in a sunny spot right outside the kennel. The easy access is perfect for that quick need to reward a good behavior, though I will be honest and say I have also caught one of the girls helping herself to a blueberry or two! But that is okay, as these “superfoods” are not just good for humans, but they also provide an array of healthy benefits for our pooches. In fact, you will find a number of health conscious dog food companies, such as Life’s Abundance, who include blueberries in their food and treat products. Why are they so healthy? Well, to start with, they provide a plethora of vitamin C, fiber, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, all of which help boost your pup’s immunity, strengthens his brain, and helps to fight off cancer.
Another staple in our garden is strawberries. Like blueberries, these sweet treats contain antioxidants, plenty of vitamin C and fiber, and even contain an enzyme that helps to whiten your pup’s teeth. Strawberries are also a great source of folate, potassium, and manganese, all of which support the immune system, help muscles to function normally, and fight cellular damage.
I am often asked about feeding raspberries to our dogs. Similar to blueberries and strawberries, raspberries can be a healthy snack option for your pup; however, we caution you to exercise moderation when rewarding your furry friend with this sweet treat. While raspberries are a great source of vitamin C, K, B-complex, antioxidants, and fiber, they also contain high amounts of naturally occurring xylitol, which is considered to be very toxic to dogs. As with all things, even too much of a good thing can be a bad thing. So, be cautious of over-feeding your pup with any kind of treat, including any of these healthy berries.
Till next time, “Keep Calm and Hug your Labrador!”
Whether you have a lifetime of experience raising Labradors or are planning to adopt your first furry friend, it is always helpful to have resources to turn to when struggling with anything from behavior issues and nutrition questions, to looking for helpful tips on training and appropriate exercises to help keep your pet healthy.
Over the years, I have researched and collected a number of resources to help guide me in the process of raising our Labradors. Below is a list I have complied to help make it easier for you to access these resources when in need for general answers:
Health and Nutrition
The American Kennel Club - The AKC is a great resource for all things dog related. Visit this link to access a number of articles related to your Labrador’s nutritional needs. If you have questions about their general health, you can visit this link to access articles covering a wide variety of topics for all canine life stages.
Dog Food Advisor - This is a great site to refer to when considering what to feed your canine friend. The organization has researched over 4,500 dog food products and offers unbiased reviews and ratings on each of them. You can also sign up to be alerted of any and all dog food product recalls.
Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook. 4th Edition, 2007, written by Debra Eldredge, DVM, and Delbert G. Carlson, DVM. This is an excellent resource for general health conditions. While we always depend on our veterinarians for the care of our Labradors, we find that this to be an indispensable resource when caring for our Labradors.
Exercise and Training
The Labrador Site - We love this website as it is specific to raising and training the Labrador Retriever. There are hundreds of articles that cover everything from basic training tips to behavior modification. Also, you can find a number of product reviews on items such as dog beds, toys, grooming tools, and books. Definitely a site worth “bookmarking”.
Labrador Training HQ - An excellent resource for all things related to the Labrador Retriever, especially when it comes to training your Labrador.
Whole Dog Journal - Although not Labrador specific, this website has numerous articles covering topics related to training and behavior modification.
While there are a number of other resources available out there on the web, we have found these to be our most valuable source of information. Of course, having a good relationship with your veterinary office is extremely important, as they too are an excellent resource for all things related to the care of your furry companion.
Be Calm and Hug Your Labrador
One of the most common questions I am asked (often in a panic-stricken voice) is, “How can I get my puppy to stop chewing my (insert item here)?” And, oh how I empathize because I certainly recognize the plea for a solution. While all of our years of puppy raising has not made us immune to the relentless chewing puppy; it has provided us with some experience and, therefor, wisdom as to what can be done to help deter this destructive habit.
Never, ever, leave your puppy alone to her own devices, with unlimited freedom! The motto on the farm is, “A quiet puppy is a puppy in trouble.” Unless, that is, that puppy is sleeping because she is worn out from all the mental and physical stimulation we try to give her throughout the day. But, even then, we make sure that said puppy is not out of our range of sight.
If we cannot supervise our puppy, then we put her in her crate or an area where she can be protected from herself! And, if we are busy doing chores around the house and would rather not put her in her crate, then I put her on her leash, tie it around my waste, and have her tag alongside me. This works perfectly as her curiosity keeps her engaged in all the “interesting” things I am doing around the house!
Mental and Physical Activity
“A good Lab is a tired Lab,” is a frequent quote we hear in the Labrador community. Nothing could be closer to the truth when referring to a Labrador puppy. Whether 8 weeks old or 8 months old, the Lab puppy is still actively learning about the world around him. Furthermore, all puppies, not just Labradors, learn by putting every new (and old) thing in their mouths.
As he gets older, a puppy’s curiosity, if untamed, can also get him into trouble. A great way to curtail this is to provide him with an ample amount of age-appropriate physical and mental exercise. Here are a few ideas:
* Mix-up your daily exercise. Taking a different direction or going to a different location on your walks can help keep your puppy from getting bored. Adding new sights, sounds, and smells can provide a plethora of new and exciting mental stimulation for him. You may also want to consider mixing up his daily exercise by adding in swimming and a game of fetch!
* Teach your dog a new trick. Daily mental exercises are just as important to your pup’s overall well-being as physical activity. In addition to a regular training regimen to help reinforce the basic commands your puppy has already learned, try adding a new command or trick to your routine. Some fun, yet simple, tricks you can teach him are: high-five, weave between your legs, and roll-over. Visit http://www.akc.org/content/dog-training/tricks/ to learn about other fun things you can teach your pup.
* Add interactive puzzles to your dog’s toy box. There are a number of puzzle-based and interactive toy products available to help exercise your dog’s brain. The extra bonus is that the mental stimulation will help to relieve his boredom (the lead cause of destructive chewing). Check out this article on The Labrador Site to learn about all the available options out there for interactive toys for your puppy.
Despite all of our efforts, there are still going to be periods of time when your puppy (especially your Labrador puppy) is going to have the urge and, oftentimes, need to chew. Your puppy will feel the need to chew in order to relieve the pressure not only during the teething phase, but even after that time, when the adult teeth are still settling into the gums. If you do not have acceptable chew toys around for your puppy, then she will turn to the next best thing: your furniture legs, your shoes, or even that brand new rug you just put in your dining room.
At the farm, our Labs, both young and senior, have a favorite chew toy: the elk antler. We always have 5 or 6 lying around the house, plus a couple extra in storage. The girls LOVE them anytime, but most especially when they are going through a chewing phase or when we are busy around the farm with other chores. The best thing about elk antlers is that they last for a long time, so while they can be pricey, I remind myself about all that expensive furniture I am protecting! We found an excellent resource for these antlers while participating in a recent dog show - Elk Antler Dog Treats. You can find these and other chew treats for your puppy on their website: https://elkantlerdogtreats.com.
While most puppies are chewers, there is no question that the Labrador puppy is one of the more relentless chewers. They are a “mouthy” breed, happiest when they have something in their mouth. While this is essentially unavoidable, taking these steps can help you to redirect your Lab puppy’s chewing energy towards other, more acceptable, behaviors.
As a professional dog breeder and trainer, I am regularly fielding through a numerous questions about how to keep pets healthy with the overwhelming increase of viruses and illnesses impacting the canine community. While the complexity of the issue is frightening, there are a few steps you can take at home in order to help keep your pet healthy during these challenging times:
Second to regular wellness exams, your pet’s diet is the most important step you can take to ensuring his health and well-being. Here at the farm, we feed all of our dogs Life’s Abundance All Life Stages Dog Food. We take a holistic approach to raising our Labrador Retrievers. One of the ways we do this is by ensuring that our dogs are getting the nutrition they need to live a happy and healthy life. This is why we have shied away from commercial pet food brands, preferring homegrown and reliable businesses that care about the product they are creating, and the beloved pets that are consuming it. Life’s Abundance All Life Stages Dog Food not only provides your dog with the essential vitamins and nutrients necessary for long term health, but also contains important pre and probiotics that aid in your dog’s overall GI health and digestion. These key ingredients, including several other needed vitamins, also support your dog’s overall immune system.
To learn more about the importance of canine diet and nutrition, check out our blog series on Dog Nutrition.
At Ashling Place, we like to complement our dogs' diets with Life’s Abundance Wellness Supplement. What we like most about this supplement is that all of the nutrients are sourced from real foods such as chicken liver, cranberries, carrots, eggs, pineapples and several others.
Aching and stiff joints are just as much a part of life for aging dogs as it is for humans. To help provide support for overall joint and connective tissue health, we give our senior dogs Life’s Abundance Agility Formula. This supplement not only helps to maintain healthy joint cartilage and connective tissue, it also aids in the production of healthy synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints. It also features Glucosamine, MSM, sea mussels and hyaluronic acid.
It is our strong belief that overall canine health begins and ends in the GI tract, which is why we supplement our dogs’ diets with Nusentia’s Miracle Enzyme and Miracle Probiotic. Oftentimes, illnesses can be traced back to the imbalance of “good” vs. “bad” bacteria in the intestines. Usually referred to as "good bacteria", probiotics helps to support a healthy immune system and digestive system. Adding the Enzymes to the mix helps during the digestion of their processed food and helps to support a healthy environment in the digestive tract so that the probiotics can do their thing. This duo is especially helpful with pets who may be suffering from mild food intolerances and allergies.
Arming our pets with the proper nutrition, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, is an important step in helping them prevent and fight off illness. If you have any questions about these products, please don’t hesitate to contact us any time. Also, if you are interested in completing a complimentary wellness survey on your pet, please contact us by clicking here.