Dog trainer Fernando “Fern” Camacho of Bloomfield, who has a new book out, “A Better Life with Your Dog,” will be holding two seminars and book signings this month. The first one, set for Thursday, January 14, at 4 Paws Stay and Play in Verona, at 7 PM, will explore the difference between dog whispering versus positive training. The second, set for Saturday, January 16, at Rover Ranch and Spa in Fairfield at 12:30 PM, will feature a dog behavior workshop. Admission to both seminars is $10.
Camacho, who blogs about dog training on his website FernDogTraining.com, came up with “Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions to Make to Your Dog.” They are:
1. Get up a half-hour earlier (so that you can spend quality time with your dog).
2. Stay calm.
3. Treat him like a dog.
4. Help him through his issues.
5. Take him for more (and longer) walks.
I was especially intrigued by #3. What does that mean exactly?
“Our dogs are such an integral part of our families,” he said, “that sometimes we forget that they are dogs and have needs very different than ours. It’s important to meet your dog’s canine needs if you want harmony in your home.”
The three keys needs of dogs, he said, are exercise, nutrition and leadership.
Camacho lives by the philosophy that “a tired dog is a good dog–always.” Exercise is important not only because it helps prevent obesity in dogs, he explained, but if your dog is not getting enough exercise, he will find ways to expend that extra energy such as chewing rugs and destroying furniture. Walking and/or playing with your dog are also excellent ways to bond with your pet.
Exercise, of course, goes hand in hand with proper nutrition based on your dog’s activity level and age. Gone are the days of opening up a supermarket-brand can of dog food and plopping it into a bowl. Today, there are many nutritious choices, Camacho said. There is food for puppies, for senior dogs, for overweight dogs, and for dogs with allergies.
And, as with your food products you buy for your family, read the labels. You want as little in the way of processed food as possible, he said. “I suggest a more meat-based diet for canines, with no grains or other fillers. If you see anything that lists wheat, corn, or soy as an ingredient, avoid it.”
Because dogs are pack animals, Camacho said, they rely on a leader. If a dog owner doesn’t step up to the plate and take on the leadership role, the dog will step into this role, whether he is suited for it or not. “Just like with kids, there has to be rules and boundaries,” he said. If you don’t want your dog on the furniture, begging at the table, or jumping up on guests, you need to set these rules early on.