Tuesday, March 23, 2010

This Inquisitive Canine and His Dog Trainer Mom Are on the Move - So is This Blog

Hello fellow inquisitive canine's and inquisitive guardians!

It's official! My mom the Ventura and virtual dog trainer and I have completed the Great Blog Migration over to our newly updated www.inquisitivecanine.com website. This means that:
  1. Mom and I are now joining blog forces!
  2. Mom and I will be updating our blog directly on our own site.
  3. I won’t be updating posts on this Blogger site anymore.
What does this mean for you? Simple. All you have to do is point your browsers to the new site: www.inquisitivecanine.com/blog where you can read our posts while being able to hang out directly on our home website. Very convenient I must say!

Also – if you subscribe to this via RSS, the new feed is here:

If you receive updates via email, please subscribe at the new blog address:

And please change all bookmarks to:

If you receive via carrier pigeon or retriever, you'll have to discuss details with him or her yourself...sorry, that's out of my scope of practice.

In addition to the new blog address, we also have some really exciting changes to our dog training offerings - I hope you’ll check out our new services and products for enhancing your everyday relationship with your dog.

Thanks for reading my Poncho's Prose blog. I always enjoy your comments and support. Oh, and if you think your canine and human friends would enjoy reading and sharing, please feel free to forward it on. We'll see you over on the new site!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Springing Forward Into Fun Dog Events!

Hello to all of my fellow inquisitive canines and inquisitive guardians. My mom the certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach and I have been so busy with lots of exciting changes here at the office that I've been neglecting my blogging duties. Trust me, I've had lots to say, but for now I just want to drop a quick note (while mom is off the computer) and let you know about some fun and rewarding upcoming events happening here locally:

  • Saturday March 13, 2010: The first annual Ventura Downtown Green Mile run/walk being presented by my good friend Josh Spiker! There are open divisions for humans and even us dogs! The race will start at 8:30am (starting line is on Main St by Cemetery Park / Lincoln school. Check in is at Mission Park, which is where the finish line will be.) The St. Patrick's Day Parade will start at 10am. Light food provided by The Greek Restaurant and Aloha Steakhouse. (OMG! Please save me some steak!!!)
  • Tuesday March 16, 2010: Canine College is one of moms favorite dog manners classes. She teaches this 6-session basic dog obedience course through Ventura College Community Education. Dogs must be at least 4 months of age and owners at least 16 years old. There's also another 6-session course beginning May 4th for those that aren't able to attend this upcoming session.
I know mom is planning on running in the event this Saturday - and she's been training yours truly, so I guess that means if dad can get me out of bed early enough I'll be running it too. I wonder if Aloha Steakhouse or the Greek Restaurant will have any special prizes for us canines? Leftovers perhaps? Hmm, something for this inquisitive canine to ponder.

Friday, February 5, 2010

An Ideal Solution to Animal Overpopulation: Human Accountability

Did you all hear that horrible noise yesterday? It was an intense banging sound mixed with a side-order of grumbling and a dash of whining. This intense display of human communication was coming out of my certified professional dog trainer mom. It seems she came across yet one more article on the issue of the overpopulation of animals in our country. The focus of the Santa Barbara Independent pet related article was actually on the "Chihuahua Explosion" in California - being part Chihuahua myself, it kinda hit home for me.

It obviously hit home for my Ventura dog trainer mom because of how she was behaving: eyes rolling towards ceiling, speaking loudly at the computer asking it questions like it had an answer, grunting a few times and burying her head in her hand - if it wasn't in her hand, her head was against the wall - not a good thing. Being an inquisitive canine I have learned that these cues my mom is exhibiting predicts yours truly needs to take charge. It's all about great teamwork ya know!

Anyway, the "straw" in the article was about "blaming Hollywood" for our increase in Chihuahua's in California. Okay, I agree with the fact that anytime a specific species or breed of animal is popularized via the media then yes, there seems to be an increase in the general population of that animal. So yes, "Hollywood" does have some influence. But to place the blame directly on "Hollywood" is a complete cop-out on the main issue: irresponsible breeding! Now hold up, before all of the comments on the right to breed dogs come flowing in, allow this inquisitive canine to elaborate.

Let's look at this from a more schematic approach: Flowcharts! (Mom and I love flowcharts - they're so handy!) But we're going to work backwards.
  • End result: Millions of shelter animals killed every year!
  • How did the animals end up in the shelter?: Humans didn't want them, humans can't afford them, humans didn't mean for their dogs or cats to procreate, humans weren't paying attention to what their pets were doing. (Hmm, see the "human" trend?) And the "humans fault" list goes on and on...
  • How did the animals end up on the planet?: Humans breeding willy-nilly, humans leaving dogs and cats intact giving him or her the ability to make more of themselves. (Uh, not spaying and neutering!)
Yes, spaying and neutering animals is beyond important. Us non-human animals don't consider the long term consequences, like where are our offspring going to live and how are we going to support our kids? Nope, we just go for it whenever we can - because that's what our DNA says to do. BTW, you humans aren't much different. It's just us dogs and cats aren't able to don a condom before the dreaded act - darn the lack of opposable thumbs!

To me and my dog training mom, we believe folks need to go beyond spaying and neutering - there needs to be a complete crackdown on the world of breeding! Yes, there are responsible breeders out there, but unfortunately the irresponsible ones have ruined it for everyone else.

If pets are considered property then we should be treated as such. Meaning, if a human is going to run a legitimate business selling items to the public (ones that can cause harm to others) then these people need to jump through hoops to make it legal: permits, business license, insurance, written procedures and guidelines, quality assurance etc.

It's not legal for mom to sell the baked goods she makes here at home, so why are humans allowed to make animals and sell them? I mean, if running a prostitution ring or meth lab isn't legal, then breeding animals to make money or because the dog or cat "is cute" shouldn't be legal either.

As for which animals society should be allowed to breed? How about breeding for functional behaviors all of you humans seem to want, as opposed to "jobs" that we're no longer needed for! (Talk about being outsourced!)

Hmm, I wonder if you humans will ever learn from your own behavior? I wonder if humans will ever hold themselves accountable or if they will continue to place blame on others? Something for this inquisitive canine to ponder...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

T-Touch or Dog Massage: Doesn't Matter as Long as the Animal Enjoys it

Me and my ventura dog trainer mom received a Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice question from a blue heeler from South Africa. This inquisitive canine wrote in asking us about some dog behavior issues she is having at home. One of the treatments her mom and dad were using is something called Tellington T-Touch (Tellington Touch, named after it's founder Miss. Linda).

Tellington TTouch - is a specialized approach of massage and other tactile restorative methods for the care and training of companion animals. She uses a combination of specific touches, lifts, and movement exercises which aids in the release of tension while increasing body awareness. It's done by applying circular movements of the fingers and hands all over the body, activating the function of the cells and awaken cellular intelligence - a little like "turning on the electric lights of the body."

Mom and I both like massage. Her friend and massage therapist Miss. Janice takes care of mom and her various aches and pains, while mom and dad take care of lil' ol' me. Whether they give me a rub down after a long day of running, or after taking on the agility course, it all feels good. Getting the blood circulating around, bringing nutrients to various body parts seems like a good idea.

But this inquisitive canine also knows there are some dogs out there that aren't too keen on being touched - at all, especially if they've had some sort of traumatic experience. I myself have had some issues with my hind quarters, long before mom and dad adopted me. I can't tell them the whole story, but I do know they've taken measures with massage and classical conditioning that have helped me.

The dog that wrote in may have had a not-so-pleasant experience with her ears. She's deaf. Her mom and dad aren't sure if she was born that way, which would mean she would have had her ears examined a lot, or if she was traumatized in some way that lead to her becoming deaf. Either way this sweet pup did state she had some issues with her ears being touched. My rockin' dog trainer mom has addressed some of this dogs concerns in our Dear Inquisitive Canine dog behavior advice column, while I take care of the topic of body handling and dogs.

The Plan for Body Handling: To help enjoy having your ears touched I would head down the path of classical conditioning. Have your mom gather tidbits of your absolute favorite edible item (my favorite is grilled salmon). Make sure it’s something you would do back flips over, and if possible, something you only get when you’re doing this training exercise.

Have your mom start with small steps:

  • Touch under your chin, then you get a small treat.
  • Touch your muzzle, treat.
  • Touch the side of your face, treat.
  • Progresses slowly up towards your ears, and that the order of events is: she touches your ear, then you get a treat.
  • No ear touching, no treat.
  • You’ll start to associate the ear touch with something wonderful, instead of being examined or something painful.
Also, make sure she watches your body language. If you’re telling her you’re uncomfortable being touched, she should back up to where you were more comfortable, staying at that level a little longer until you enjoy it and want her to move on.

Since there are other reasons and situations other than belly rubs where dogs would be handled, such as going to the vet or to the groomer, the above steps are a few dog training tips that I'd pass along to make these times more fun and rewarding for any dog! Me included.

Hmm, I wonder when I'm going to have my nails done again? Something for this inquisitive canine to ponder.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

If Humans Only Knew What us Inquisitive Canine's Are Really Capable Of

I received this email through one of the professional dog training groups my mom and I belong to. We had a good midday giggle, and thought you'd enjoy it to. Not sure who the original story teller is - let us know if you know... Enjoy!

A guy is driving around the back woods of Montana and he sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house: "Talking Dog For Sale" He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a nice looking Labrador retriever sitting there.
  • "You talk?" he asks.
  • "Yep," the Lab replies.
After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog talk, he says "So, what's your story?"

The Lab looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government, so I told the CIA. In no time at all they had me jetting from country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.

"I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years running. But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening in. I uncovered some incredible dealings and was awarded a batch of medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just retired."

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he wants for the dog.
  • "Ten dollars," the guy says. "Ten dollars? This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you selling him so cheap?"
  • "Because he's a liar. He never did any of that stuff."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Pet Examiner Columnist Karen Lee Stevens Makes a Great Dog Foster Mom!

Hello to my dedicated Poncho Prose followers. As many of you already know, me and my mom write a dog behavior advice column called Dear Inquisitive Canine - We receive many emails and try to answer as many as we can, but once in awhile I like to veer off on my own to answer an extra one or two. My mom being a certified professional dog trainer knows that sometimes people and dogs need more of an immediate answer, so I'm sure she won't mind if I work a little overtime.

Our friend Karen Lee Stevens is an animal advocate here in Santa Barbara. She is also a columnist, writer and editor, and the founder of All for Animals - a website devoted to resources for animal lovers in Santa Barbara, California (and the surrounding areas). It includes dogs, cats and other pets that are available for adoptions, animal events in the Santa Barbara area, and general information on how you can help animals.

It seems that Miss. Karen had a question for yours truly. Well, she and I share a speciate bond, so I thought it would be polite of me to work a little overtime and write her back. The question she asks has to do with creating pleasant associations for a guest chihuahua she will be taking care of over the holidays. The suggestions I give would work with other dogs (and other animals) too, so I thought I'd pass the word along to all of you.

Dear Poncho - Do you have any dog training tips you can give me about caring for a tiny (5.5 lb.) Chihuahua?! I'm going to be fostering one over the holidays and I'm a little concerned as I have an 11 lb. cat (who's very non-aggressive and actually likes dogs). This pup seems so delicate, and I want to do everything right (such as put a sweater on her, etc.). She came from a terrible hoarding situation in Santa Maria, but is a total lovebug despite her background. Any hints you can share would be appreciated. :) Warmly, Karen

Dear Miss. Karen - Wow, you are one amazing dog-nanny! Me and my certified dog trainer mom Joan Mayer both appreciate when animal loving humans like yourself take the time to not only care for others, but you take the extra time to plan for creating a harmonious time together.

I'd be happy to provide a few dog training tips for you and your new guest. If things work out for everyone, maybe she'll be able to come back for a visit.
  • Allow ALL animals to set the pace of the situation. In other words, don't force the pup or the kitty to like each other. Unless one is in danger of getting hurt, allow each one to communicate in his and her own language, while you and other humans refrain from interrupting the "conversation."
  • Think "chicken"! Or steak or salmon. I'm talking good ol' fashioned Pavlovian conditioning! Whether you're dressing her up in a sweater, picking her up, or when the kitty enters the room, your pup gets little tidbits of chicken. This way she associates all of these things with yummy treats! She'll begin to love each one because each is followed by chicken! For additional information on dogs learning by association, check out this blog post I wrote on creating good first impressions between two dogs.
  • Small doesn't equal toy. Us tinier poochies tend to cause humans to react like we're toys! They often want to grab at us or pick us up and squeeze us like we're stuffed animals. Humans need to keep in mind that we're real live animals that have preferences, feelings and emotions. We have to learn to trust you first. So this goes back to the first two tips: allow your foster chihuahua to set the pace on trusting others. Pair chicken (or some other yummy juicy meat type treat) with the person, place, thing or situation you want us to love, and she should - with time and patience on your part of course.
  • House Training: Take the time to show your guest where the "bathroom" is. She might understand where to potty where she used to live, but possibly not in your home. For house training tips please check out these blog posts.
  • Proper Identification: make sure she's wearing a collar with ID that has YOUR information on it. Even a temporary plastic tag - just in case she gets lost while staying with you, this way whoever finds her can contact you directly.
Well Miss. Karen I hope these dog training tips I've provided for you and your house guest are helpful. I wonder if I'll ever get to meet her? Hmm, something for this inquisitive canine to ponder.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Pumpkin Pancakes Make Perfect Addition to Kong Toy Stuffing Recipe

My doggy sniffing sense is in high gear this Xmas morning....My mom the Ventura dog trainer and Kong toy stuffing extraordinaire is making homemade pumpkin pancakes for dad on this fine holiday morning. So, what does she do with the leftovers? Into the big Kong bowl it goes for yours truly!

Mom doesn't normally share her recipes, but since I was watching closely, and one of our @joanthedogcoach twitter followers asked, I thought I'd share this recipe...Mom will be cool with it because she knows these delectable edibles are a nice addition to use for stuffing into a Kong or as a nice reward for coming when called!

So this is what she did: (Remember, I'm not a professional recipe writer, just a blogger about dog and human behavior)
  • In mixing bowl beat one egg, 1/2 cup water, 3 tablespoons cream, 1/2 cup canned pumpkin, 1 tablespoon brown sugar.
  • Add one and one eight cup buttermilk pancake mix, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice or cinnamon.
  • Mix gently until incorporated, without over-mixing (if you beat it up too much all the air goes away...then the cakes are more like bricks...)
  • Heat skillet (mom uses one of those heavy cast iron skillets), add enough butter to grease the pan, then drop spoonfuls onto skillet - cook until brown, flip, cook until done - Keep warm in the oven until you're ready to chow down!
  • As for toppings, dad only likes butter on top - You can certainly add anything you like. Personally, I'd like lamb baby food or bacon, mom would prefer real Vermont maple syrup or pumpkin butter...
To read more about Kong stuffing ideas check out moms dog training tips blog post.

I see mom putting that leftover piece off dads plate into my treat pouch... I wonder where we're headed? Hmm, something for this now hungry inquisitive canine to ponder!