Sunday, October 28, 2018

Ready to Try Dancing with Dogs

What Is Canine Freestyle?

Canine freestyle or dancing with dogs is a terrific way to develop a strong, loving relationship with your dog.  You can design personalized dance routines to your favorite music, and take to the dance floor with your dog.

K9 freestyle is a dog sport for pet owners who love their dogs and want to spend time forming a bonding relationship with them, while having fun at the same time.  
K9 Freestyle is a personally designed routine that combines dancing with your dog, using tricks and obedience training set to music.  As your progress through your dance routine, you’ll form a bond between you and your dog, becoming an inseparable team.  
The trick training and synchronized dance routine physically and mentally stimulates your dog, which is great for his cognitive function.

Is K9 Freestyle Physically Demanding?

You create dance routines to suit your physical abilities, so you can make it simple or demanding.  Anyone can participate in dog dancing.  Men, women, young, and old enjoy this dog sport.  The dance routine is set to whatever music you enjoy.  It can be soft, slow, loud, boogie-woogie, or rap.  You decide what music is best suited for your dance team.

Is Dance Experience Required?

No dance experience is required to have fun dancing with your dog.  It’s up to you to decide the dance steps and tricks your team performs.  The dance moves can be as basic or advanced as you want.  Even basic tricks make wonderful freestyle routines.

What Should Your Dog Know before Beginning K9 Freestyle?

The only thing your dog should know before starting canine dancing is basic obedience commands.  It’s always a good idea to attend a basic obedience class before starting any other dog sport, whether it is rally, performance obedience, agility, or freestyle.  Your dog should know basic commands, such as sit, down, come, stay. He should also be friendly around people, and other dogs because freestyle is performed off leash.

How Much Time Should You Spend Training for K9 Freestyle?

It’s up to you  how much time you spend training tricks for canine dancing.  Most dogs learn quickly with just five minutes of training, a few times a day rather than long training sessions.  You teach freestyle using positive reinforcement, not punishment.  This makes the training fun for both of you, making progress easier.

Do K9 Freestyle Competitions Require only Purebred Dogs?

No.  What is great about canine freestyle is that all dogs can participate.  Mixed breeds, purebreds, young, and old dogs have fun competing in freestyle.  National freestyle organizations present titles to all dogs who present winning dance routines.

Canine Freestyle is an enjoyable dog sport for people and dogs of all ages.  Put on your dancing shoes and start dancing with your dog.  You’ll be surprised at the bond you form with your dog and the fun the two of you will have together. 

See an amazing example of this incredible dog dancing routine with Carolyn Scott and Rookie.


Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Clicker Train Your Dog and You'll both be Happy

Getting Ready for Clicker Training

Clicker training is an effective, positive method of teaching your dog basic obedience, advanced obedience, and competition behaviors.  The clicker method uses the theory of operant conditioning, which involves positive reinforcement when your dog performs a desired behavior.  
You use the clicker to mark the correct behavior, so your dog knows what’s expected.  Once you mark the behavior with the clicker, you give your dog a treat right away.  You use progressive steps to train your dog using the clicker method of training.

Your Dog Offers the Desired Behavior on His Own

The crucial element of clicker training your dog is to get the desired behavior without physically pulling, pushing, or dragging the dog.  Your dog should offer the behavior on his own, learning what the desired behavior involves.  Physically forcing him to perform a behavior is a negative approach to dog training. 

An example of rewarding a desired behavior is attempting to teach, “Sit”.  When your dog sits, click and treat.  It doesn’t matter when he sits or where he sits, just click and treat whenever he sits on his own. 

Don’t give a cue for “Sit” yet but continue clicking and treating whenever he sits.  Soon, your dog will be sitting just to get the treat.  When he’s comfortable with sitting and understands why he’s getting a reward, you can add the cue, “Sit”.  It doesn’t take long for your dog to understand the cue and begin responding to the word, “Sit”. 

Click to Mark the Desired Behavior

The key to clicker training is to click at the right time.  Clicking too soon or too late only confuses your dog.  The instant your dog gives the desired behavior, click and treat.  If you give your dog a treat, even a few seconds after the behavior, it won’t be effective.  Your dog won’t associate the correct behavior with the click if the treat is too late.  It’s better not to give the treat at all if you can’t deliver it to your dog immediately. 

Reinforce Your Dog’s Behavior with High-Level Treats

All dogs are different and have different likes and dislikes.  To reinforce clicker training, choose treats that your dog loves.  Most dogs will not work just for praise or a pat on the head.  Treats are considered the primary reinforcement because almost all dogs will work for food. 

Once your dog performs the correct behavior for eighty percent of the time, you can gradually fade out the treats.  If your dog has a setback or becomes distracted by something else, add the treats back to the training.

Advancing Beyond Basic Clicker Training for Distance and Duration

Make the desired behavior harder for your dog once he knows the cue.  Extend the time he has to sit by a few seconds, gradually adding more time. 

When teaching the command, “Stay”, for instance, stand next to your dog while asking him to stay, and click for staying while you stand next to him.  Next, take a step away then come back to your dog, and click and treat him.  
Eventually, your dog will stay no matter how far away you get.  You can apply this method for any of the behaviors you want your dog to learn. It’s great for distance work, targeting, and basic commands like sit, stay and down.

Add Distractions and Continue Clicker Training

Once your dog responds to the cues and the clicker, add distractions.  Distractions are the most difficult obstacle your dog has to overcome.  Begin clicker training with distractions outside in the yard before bringing him to a busier spot. 

When your dog gives the desired behavior when a neighbor is in the yard or a child rides past on a bicycle, then it’s time to move on to harder distractions.  Bring your dog to the park or a public event.  When he gives the correct behavior, click and treat in the same way as when there were no distractions.

You should add distractions gradually, especially with reactive dogs.  If your pup has difficulty with the distractions, go back inside and continue clicker training the basics until he’s more comfortable.

Finally, Fade the Clicker

The final step in clicker training your dog is to fade the clicker.  Begin slowly, using praise as the treat after clicking.  Return to using the clicker whenever you want to teach a new behavior.  You can use clicker training to train your dog for agility, obedience competitions, therapy dogs, or service dogs.

Good luck with your clicker training! 


Image: Elf at the English language Wikipedia [GFDL ( or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

7 Easy Steps to Setting Up a Fresh Water Aquarium

Setting up a freshwater aquarium is fairly simple, but does require following a few steps to get the tropical aquarium environment safe for fish. Don't rush the process, or you could run into a lot of problems with the new fish you buy.

Be patient, making sure the water is the correct temperature, PH, and that healthy bacteria are living in the aquarium tank before adding fish. If any of these things are not done correctly, your new fish won't last very long.

Flickr Kai Schreber

To get started on an aquarium that you and your family can enjoy for years to come, follow these few simple tips:

Supplies You Will Need before Setting Up the Tank Environment:

  • 30 -55 gallon aquarium – don't go any smaller than this. If you are going through all the work of developing an aquarium, you want it big enough to add the fish you would like.
  • Aquarium Stand - Be sure to purchase a stand sturdy enough to hold the tank filled with water. Most people are surprised at the weight of a tank, once filled.
  • Aquarium Tank Canopy – Fish are very active and can jump right out of the tank if it is not covered.
  • Aquarium Light – The lights are available in different tones. Some look like sunlight, cool light, or spot lighting for emphasis on plants or ornaments.
  • Aquarium Water Heater – Tropical fish require a warm environment.
  • Thermometer – These are available as floating thermometers, inside suction thermometers, or outside the tank(stick on- my favorite)
  • Filter – The water must be filtered to remove food debris and keep the water clean. There are a wide variety of filters: under gravel filters, inside the tank filters, or filters that hang on the outside. Check your pet supply store and choose the filter you feel would be the best for you.
  • Pump – You will need this if you are using air bubble wands.
  • Gravel – Choose whatever type of gravel you like. The gravel is important because it actually houses the good bacteria your tank will need to stay healthy.
  • Test Kit - This is a must when first setting up your tank. After the aquarium is established, you won't really need to test it. The test checks the levels of PH, Nitrite, Nitrate, Ammonia, and CO2. Once these levels check in the safe zone, it is time to add fish.
  • Stress Coat – This is added to the water. It helps protect the fish when adding them to a new environment.
Those are all the necessities needed for starting a fresh water aquarium. Now comes the fun part. Choose the decorations you would like for your tank. Once again, pet supply stores carry all types of theme decorations. You can get driftwood, colored gravel, plants, moss, bubble wands, back drops, and various stones.

Time to Set Up the Tank:

1. Place the fish tank stand out far enough away from the wall to allow the filter to hang over. Also, it is best to situate the tank where it will not be in the direct sunlight. This could cause an algae problem.

2. Rinse the gravel to remove any dust particles and place in the bottom of the tank. Slowly add about 2" of water to the tank. Bottled water will not need to be treated, but if you use tap water, use a chlorine remover.

3. Set up the equipment: heater, filter, thermometer, pump if needed.

4. Decorate with ornaments. Spread them out so the fish have enough room to swim around. 

5. Fill the tank with water. Turn on the filter, heater, and pump. Let it run for 24 hours and test the water. Make sure all levels are correct before adding fish. Sometimes, it can take up to a week for good bacteria to grow. If you visit a pet store, ask if you can take a little water from one of their established aquariums. This can help the bacteria grow quicker in your tank.

6. Time to add the fish – Start with only a few hardy fish to be sure your tank is safe. Once you have the fish for a few weeks, add a few more. The typical recommendation is one fish per gallon, so the size of your aquarium will determine how many fish you can have. 

7. It is best to have at least two bottom feeders to help keep your tank clean: cat fish are great for this. You will also want at least one algae eater to keep the algae under control. Choose some peaceful community fish like: neons, barbs, tetras, gouramis and danios. 

Many fish will nip at each other, so be sure to check if the fish you are buying are community, semi-aggressive, or aggressive. You really can't mix these types of fish.

Hope this guide helped you set up the perfect fish tank for you. Now that all the work is done, you shouldn't have to do anything but change about one quarter of the water every couple of weeks. You can also use a siphon vacuum to clean the bottom of the tank of you think it needs it. Enjoy your new tropical aquarium.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Gouramis Are Fun Additions to Your Aquarium

If the fish world had comedians, Gouramis would be superstars. They have so many funny, incredible behaviors that they can put on quite a show in your fish tank. 

You can mix and match different types of gouramis too because they are a docile, friendly fish most of the time. 

The gourami (Trichogaster), also known as a labyrinth is one of the most colorful ornamental fish, and its distinctive behavioral habits make this a favorite fish for aquarists, according to Aquarium USA.  
Different species of gouramis like the dwarf gourami, croaking gourami, chocolate gourami, blue gourami, pearl gourami and kissing gourami can live in the same tank, so you can enjoy all the gourami’s unusual habits.

Gouramis Touch Everything

Gouramis touch everything in the aquarium, using their long, thin, sensitive pelvic fins as feelers to find food, potential mates and maneuver their way through cloudy, muddy water. 
Although your fish tank has clean water, gouramis continue this interesting habit, even touching all the other fish in the tank. If you have gourami in your aquarium, avoid adding fish that nip at long, threadlike fins. All species of gourami touch things, especially the dwarf gourami.

Gulping Gouramis

You may notice that all gouramis reach out of the water for gulps of air, as if breathing.  All types of gouramis gulp the air at the water’s surface, which passes through the mouth into an extra respiratory organ that carries oxygen through a labyrinth into the gourami’s bloodstream. This labyrinth system supplements their gills, allowing gouramis to live in low-oxygen or polluted water. Gulping air is most noticeable in snakeskin gouramis and kissing gouramis.

Gouramis Chirp and Croak

Kissing gouramis make sounds during social interaction by grinding their teeth together. The male croaking gourami chirps and croaks when putting on a show for females. Two males also make the croaking sounds when aggressively facing each other.

Kissing Gouramis Could be Fighting 
Kissing Gourami

Although gouramis touch their mouths together in what looks like a kiss, they are actually displaying aggressive behavior, sometimes known as mouth fighting.  Kissing can also occur during mating or in aggressive situations but gouramis are usually friendly, passive fish. This behavior is most noticeable in kissing gouramis because of their large, protruding lips but all gouramis use their mouths for “kissing” rocks, plants and gravel while searching for food. 

Watch out for Spitting Gouramis

Many new fish hobbyists are surprised when they walk up to their aquarium and their gourami spits a jet of water in the air. Because of the gourami’s ability to gulp air, they can take in water and blow it out above the water line. Gouramis often spit water to knock insects out of the air, snatching them up for food. All gouramis can also jump above the water to grab insects.
If you decide to give gouramis a try, read up on what you'll need for supplies and food. Hope you have a great time watching your silly gouramis.

Image Credits: 
By Jörn (Flickr: küssender Gourami II) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
By Green Yoshi [CC BY-SA 3.0  (], from Wikimedia Commons
2012 Annual Aquarium USA: A Great Group of Gouramis: Jeffrey Howe

Friday, September 14, 2018

Learn about the Fun, New Dog Game: Treiball

According to the North American Treibball Association, Treibball, also known as Driving Ball or Herding Ball, is a new, German dog sport that’s becoming popular around the world.  In Treibball your dog has to herd eight large balls into a soccer net, in 15 minutes.  This dog sport is great exercise for all dogs, large and small, and develops your dog’s concentration and self-reliant thinking.  Treibball is the perfect sport for herding and sporting dogs.
Getting ready for a game of Treiball

About Treibball

Treibball, developed in Germany by Jan Nijboer in 2003, became a competitive sport in Europe in 2007.  Many dog training schools in the United States are adding Treibball to their course offerings, especially in the Midwest and California. In Treibball classes, dogs learn to move large, 22 inch to 34 inch, air filled balls into a net or a pen, and the dog handlers learn how to incorporate distance work to direct the dog. 

The handler signals the dog, guiding him to go out to the balls and wait for the herding command.  The dog handler directs the dog to go right or left to begin herding the balls into the net using a series of hand signals, whistles, or verbal commands.  Treibball is very similar to herding a flock of sheep and is ideal for dogs that want to work.

Treibball Rules

The eight different colored Treibball fitness balls are arranged in a triangle similar to a game of pool, 15 feet away from the goal net.  The dog handler stands to the right of the net or pen and cannot enter the herding area that is the length of half a soccer field.  When the start whistle blows, the dog has 15 minutes to herd the balls into the net.  The dog has to push the balls into the net in a certain color order and the handler directs the dog with distance commands to the correct ball.

Yelling or pressuring the dog in any way results in a time penalty.  More advanced Treibball competitors push the balls through narrow passages and water obstacles.  Beginner handlers and dogs just need to get the colored balls into the pen.  
Treibball is not as easy as it sounds and before beginning Treibball training, your dog should know the basic obedience behaviors sit, stay, down, heel and come.  Treibball requires your dog to work off-leash, so a reliable recall is necessary.  This sample video clip shows a dog owner and her dog in Treibbal training.  The video gives an idea of what is involved in training your dog for Treibball and shows how much fun it is.
Sources that explain more about Treiball:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Do Miniature Goats Make Good Pets?

Miniature goats make wonderful pets.  They enjoy grooming and attention in the same way as a dog or cat does.  Miniature goats are sensitive and affectionate, thriving with the family’s care and company. 

The African Pygmy Goat is the best goat breed to keep as a pet, weighing about thirty-five pounds as an adult and standing about two feet tall.  These small goats are intelligent and easily trained.

Happy miniature goat owners follow a few essentials of petgoat care for a happy, healthy, well adjusted goat. 

Male or Female Goats

All miniature goats are bright, alert, and friendly.  Depending on what you’re looking for in a goat will help you decide whether to get a boy or a girl goat.

Female pygmy goats produce up to two quarts of delicious milk every day.  They’re also odor free and friendly.

Male pygmy goats carry a distinct odor, but you can have them de-scented by a veterinarian.  Male goats should also be neutered because as adults, they do become aggressive and territorial much like a dog.  Once neutered, male miniature goats are very family oriented and gentle.

All miniature goats should have their horns removed, known as debudding, to prevent injury to children and themselves.  They often get their horns stuck into small spaces, causing injuries.

Training a Goat

You can train miniature goats to walk on a leash using the clicker training method. Clickers are very effective training tools, often used for training dogs, dolphins and whales. 

The African Pygmy Goat catches on quickly, learning the behaviors you want.  Goats want to please you because of their sensitive nature. This makes training much easier.

You can also teach your miniature goat the same type of tricks that dog’s learn.  Taking the time to train a miniature goat builds a trusting relationship between owner and pet. 

Miniature goats make ideal pets, and they also trim your lawn and eat weeds. 

Housing for Goats

Miniature goats don’t need much in the way of housing.  All they require is a small shelter from the rain and wind, and a small area for grazing.  You can even let your goat  live in the house with the family. If you’re wondering; Yes, you can housebreak yourgoat.

Feeding Your Goat

Miniature goats are inexpensive to feed, which is a plus for pet owners.  Pygmy goats graze outside, and you can feed them hay whenever they want. 

During the winter, feed your goat grain if he can’t go outside or grass isn’t available.  When feeding grain, only give small amounts depending on how much your goat weighs. Miniature goats can get sick from too much grain, so it’s best to ask your veterinarian or miniature goat breeder for the correct amount of grain to feed.  Also, only feed your goat grain that’s formulated for goats, such as,  goat chow, goat grain, or goat ration.

You can also give your goat dietary supplements. Baking soda helps reduce the acidity of the rumen, which is the first of four chambers in the goat’s stomach.  You can give Selenium to help build antioxidants but only in areas where Selenium is low in the soil.

Vaccinate Your Goat

Like all pets, your miniature goat needs vaccinations to remain healthy.  A tetanus toxoid shot is a yearly shot given to pet goats, and baby goats need a series of three vaccinations for Clostridium perfringens bacteria.  Consult your veterinarian for information on all vaccinations for common goat diseases.


Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Little Lion Dog: Facts about the Lowchen Dog Breed

Lowchen: Little Lion D
ver heard of the Lowchen dog breed?  The During the 1960’s, the Guinness World Book of Records named the Lowchen as the rarest dog breed.  Since that time, Lowchens have increased in numbers, but  only a couple of hundred if them are registered by the American Kennel Club.  

Lowchens look like  little lions and are often called Little Lion Dogs. 

According to the American Kennel Club, the Lowchen has been around for 400 years and was a companion dog during the Pre-Renaissance.  The dogs would warm the feet of ladies of the court.  

The Lowchen's coat was trimmed to look like a lion with short fur on the hindquarters  and a mane around the neck.  It is unknown exactly where Lowchen dogs originated, but it is believed they came from Germany and the Mediterranean. 

Similar to a bichon, Lowchens  weigh anywhere from nine to 18 pounds and stand 12 to 14 inches tall.  The dog’s body is compact and balanced with a short snout and a broad skull.  
His expression is alert and intelligent.  Lowchens haves dark brown eyes, pendant ears, and well-spaced teeth. 
These dogs walk with a spritely gait that emphasizes their long manes.  They carry their tail curved over the back.  
The hindquarters are strong and muscular.  The dog’s wavy, long coat comes in black, lemon, white, or a mixture of all the colors.
Lowchens Have an Outgoing, Positive Nature

Lowchen dogs are outgoing and good with children.  Their positive attitudes make them ideal as a family pet.  They are affectionate and are content to stay around the family. They also get along with other dogs. 

 They are smart dogs and easy to train.  

Traditional  Lion Clip

The Lowchen’s coat needs regular grooming  and most owners give the Lowchen a traditional Lion Clip. The Lion Clip is achieved by cutting the fur to 1/8 inch from the last rib and continuing across the hindquarters to the joint in the rear legs.  
The fur on the front legs is also cut 1/8 inch in length down to the elbows.  Tufts of fur are left on the bottom of the four legs but the feet are clipped.  The dog’s tail fur is clipped 1/8 inch in length but a puff of fur is left on the bottom of the tail. 
If you like the look of lions, a Lowchen could be the dog breed for you.