The Bark Stops Here

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, 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.

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  1. Ummmm…. Is “Martta Rose Kelly” Mrs. Martta?
    If not (though I suspect otherwise), she will be PISSED.
    But then this is about dogs.
    So she’ll be THRILLED!!

  2. During Christmas I met not one, but two Miniature Australian Sheperds. Wow, what an awesome breed. One, named Gizmo, was the most adorable dog I’ve ever met. He’d stare into your eyes and you could just see his intelligence shining through.
    Now all I have to do is convince my wife…

  3. i’m wire fox terrier is killing me..i do 4-5 things on that list. I’ve never been able to get number 3.

  4. Apropos of No. 3, I hereby offer my all-time favorite line about dog training: Treat your dog like an person, and he will treat you like a dog.
    Good luck with the Australian sheep dog, Mellon. I hope you’re up to taking three 45-minute walks a day, or you live on a farm. Otherwise, say goodbye to your furniture. The dog will chew it up in lieu of proper exercise.
    I am… walleroo, the dog whisperer.

  5. They don’t, ROC.
    I went to a few dog training classes a few years ago. There were always a few people on the first day who clearly pampered their dogs. You could see the horrified look on their faces when the instructor told them how to administer a “correction”–a sharp tug on the choke collar intended to modify the dog’s behavior. The next week, they were outta there!

  6. They don’t fit with #3. I merely presented them in the last article as a service to people who like to pamper their dogs. Apparently, there’s a market for it.
    We pamper our dog but we don’t go overboard. I’d rather buy her a nice cushy new bed than spend money on a birthday cake, for example.

  7. Too bad there aren’t choke collars for people (I know, I know — I didn’t mean it kinkily).
    MB2: we had the pleasure of living with an Aussie Shepherd / Border Collie mix for 15 years. Luckily, to walleroo’s point, she did not have a very well-developed “herding” gene, so she didn’t require the 3-hours of full-out exercise other dogs in thise breed mix need. Not that she didn’t love her outside time and exercise, she just didn’t obsess on it and could be pretty serene. She was so smart you had to be careful not to rebuke her vehemently — it seriously upset her emotionally. If she was behaving improperly, such as tormenting the cat (a favorite game), all it took was a stern look. She knew. They are great dogs, and when retirement rolls around (it already has, actually, I just can’t afford it yet) and we move to our chateau in the South of France, Aussies and Border Collies are definitely on the list for canine companions.

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