Level up your dog training skills at FetchFind Academy

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

We’re halfway through Essential Training Skills here at FetchFind Academy, and this was the scene in our classroom the other day:

Essentials 1
I mean, honestly – how can you not love a class staffed by Golden Retrievers?

Essentials is where we really start to train dog trainers – everything they learned in Behavior Fundamentals Online is taken apart, examined minutely, expanded upon, and put into hands-on practice. This is where all of that theory starts to make sense in the real world, and where our students start to become professional dog trainers.

After two more months of practice and projects, our Essentials students will move on to Advanced Training Skills. This is where they will do a deep dive into working with people as well as animals, via a wide range of internships and simulated situations. At the end of four months, they’ll be ready to start their careers as highly sought-after professional dog trainers. We have FetchFind Academy graduates in the top dog training companies, social welfare/therapy/humane education organizations, and rescues/shelters in the Chicago area and beyond (including AnimalSense, Paradise 4 Paws, Anything is Pawzible, Canine Therapy Corps, Pet Partners, Soggy Paws, Hawk City K9, Chicago Animal Care and Control, Safe Humane Chicago, The Anti-Cruelty Society, ALIVE Rescue, One Tail at a Time, All Terrain Canine, and Touch Dog Training). It’s almost impossible to overstate how many doors are open for people with top quality professional education and training – you can work for established companies, join a start up, or start your own business.

Advanced Training Skills is also a fantastic stand-alone program for dog trainers who want to level up their skills and pick up CEUs.

No matter where you originally trained, it’s always a sound career investment to keep your skills sharp and up-to-date. (If you’d like to learn more about joining us for Advanced Training Skills in August, please contact Lynda Lobo at lynda@fetchfind.com.)

If you want to become a dog trainer, we recommend starting with Behavior Fundamentals Online – at only $49, it’s a great way to get your paws wet. And if you ever have any questions about how you can get started in any area of the pet industry, just shoot us an email at hello@fetchfind.com – we’re always happy to help!

 

Dog fights: do this, don’t do that

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By Nicole Stewart, CPDT-KA

In my last post where I discussed what to do when an off-leash dog comes barreling at you and your on-leash dog, I teased you with the question “What do you do if your worst thought comes to be reality: a dog fight?”

Fights can be scary, human or otherwise. However, much of the time, there is more bluster and posturing than anything else. Even those will often end before you have a chance to take action. They can be over a toy, a bowl, or just a dog drawing boundaries. (If only humans had a good way to do this without offense!)

I’ll tell you a little secret – dogs don’t go around looking for fights.

 All that canine body language that we talk about is actually a thing! It’s the way dogs talk to one another to avoid conflict. Most conflicts have been negotiated one way or the other while the dogs are still many feet apart, before we even thought they noticed one another.

However, when the right set of communication happens, or if one dog is saying one thing and the other just doesn’t have the social graces to listen to the other dog (we know people like that, right?), that is when they will bolster themselves up to fight status.

So, how do we get them apart when they aren’t doing it themselves?

Do this:

  • Grab the aggressor by the hind legs (like they are a wheelbarrow). When you get them apart, get them as far from each other as possible.
  • Get water (a hose is best, but a bucket or cup might suffice) and dump it on their heads.
  • If there’s a broom handle, long board, baby gate, or stick, use it to get in between them and get them disengaged.
  • Got an air horn? Try it.

Don’t do this:

  • Don’t get in between the sharp ends (aka, the teeth).
  • Don’t grab one of the dog’s collars (redirection happens).
  • Don’t yell like a banshee on the loose (though it’s hard not to, and I would be remiss not to admit that I’ve found myself having a horrifying out-of-body experience, looking down on myself ineffectively screaming).

Dogfights are dangerous and getting involved can be as well. Use caution. Even your own dog can redirect a bite on to you in the heat of the moment.

The best tactic is to prevent dogfights by learning about dog body language and pay attention when you are out in public with your dog (not on your cell phone).

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Nicole Stewart 250x300Nicole Stewart, CPDT-KA, is the Director of Training at AnimalSense / Paradise4Paws.  She strongly believes that dog training is as much about the people as it is about the dogs. Her favorite place to be is at home with her human family and her steady Clumber Spaniel, Finlay.

This post was originally published in the AnimalSense blog.

Bark management 101

barking-dog

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Most dogs bark, and while barking can sometimes be a behavioral concern it is a natural part of doggy daily life. This is not to say that you shouldn’t worry about problem barking, or that nothing can be done to solve it. Training and management can help improve the behavior, but, unless you have a basenji, your dog may always bark.

While there are some dogs that just bark now and then, barking can become a problem when the dog barks too much, too loudly, or when the barking is accompanied by other undesirable behaviors.

Solving or troubleshooting your dog’s barking problem depends heavily on understanding just what type of barking your dog is doing. This can be done by observing the cause and characteristics of your dog’s barking.

In The Bark Stops Here, Terry Ryan groups barkers into six broad classifications:

Attention-seeking barkers: Characterized by a bark which is high in pitch and accompanied by pauses and moments when the dog looks around and listens for a response from anyone. ASBs are not picky about who they get attention from.

Territorial barkers: Characterized by a low-pitched, intense burst of barking. This kind of barking is usually startling and short lived. It is accompanied by a distinct body posture: the tail is up, the ears and the corners of the mouth are forward, the stance is tall and forward on toes, the hackles are up, and the nose is wrinkled. Territorial barkers initiate barking when a perceived threat enters into the dog’s imagined territory.  (Remember – the dog defines his territory, not you.)

Boredom barkers: Characterized by a flat boring bark with occasional howling directed at nothing. This kind of barking is repetitive in nature and is usually of medium pitch.

Fearful barkers: Characterized by sharp, high-pitched barking accompanied by a distinct body posture in which the dog’s tail is tucked between her legs, the hackles are up, the pupils are dilated, the nose is wrinkled, and the corners of the mouth are back. Barking is initiated by a perceived threat coming close to the dog. For the fearful barker, barking is designed to increase the distance between the threat and the dog. While the dog may step forward while barking, she will usually retreat as well.

Excitement barkers: Characterized by high-pitched barking, accompanied by a great deal of continuous movement, a wagging tail, and variable intensity.

Separation anxiety barkers: Characterized by high-pitched frantic barking, and accompanied by pacing, drooling, whining, scratching, chewing, and howling.

Problem solving devices and methods:

Training: a number of training options can provide help in the barking arena. You can work on “Watch me,” put barking and “Quiet” on cue (see below), and even work on certain calming signals.

Exercise: your dog might not have as much barking energy if she gets to run it off at the beach! Mental exercise is as effective as physical, so if you can’t get outside try some nosework or indoor games.

Medication: pharmaceutical intervention can be a powerful tool for helping dogs who are anxious or fearful barkers. In those cases, the barking is a symptom of something bigger, and when the bigger issue is addressed, the barking often decreases quite dramatically. If your regular vet isn’t trained in problem barking solutions, consult with a veterinary behaviorist. Look for someone who is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists; they have the training and experience to find the best solution for the issues that are causing the barking in the first place.

Debarking: I have never recommended surgical debarking, and I never will. Many vets will refuse to perform the procedure, and it has been banned in several states and many European countries. In addition to being inhumane, debarking eliminates one of the dog’s primary methods of communication. If a dog can’t give you an effective warning bark, he’s more likely to go straight to the biting. Also, a debarked dog can still make plenty of noise; my collie, Whisper, was debarked by her previous owners, and she still barks all the time – it just sounds hoarse and painful.

A note about behavior correction collars:

Citronella bark collars: In some cases, a citronella bark collar can be a helpful tool, when used in conjunction with proper training. The CBC is designed to correct the dog for barking by administering a spray of citronella every time the dog barks. This can be effective because it works on four of the dog’s senses: she hears the spray, she sees it, she smells it, and she tastes it (and she doesn’t like it). It is immediate in its response so you won’t have to worry about your own timing.

This is a “last resort” option, and is not always the best solution, especially if your dog’s barking is related to issues of fear or anxiety. Keep in mind that citronella collars tend not to work consistently throughout the lifespan of the device, which means that the collar either won’t spray at all or will spray at random intervals. This will just confuse the dog, and may end up reinforcing other undesirable behaviors. It’s especially important to consult with a behaviorist when considering a CBC, both to be certain that you’ve exhausted all other options and to make sure that you have the right treatment plan in place.

Shock collars: Don’t be fooled by language that says the dog receives a “harmless electronic stimulus” from the collar. Shock collars hurt, and the likelihood that it will end up reinforcing other, more dangerous behaviors is pretty high. If your dog receives a shock every time he barks at someone walking into the house, he will quickly learn to associate pain with visitors, which can result in aggression towards humans.  There is no guarantee that pain is going to be a deterrent, either; some dogs have a higher pain tolerance than others, and their need to bark may override the pain inflicted by the collar. In some cases the constant shocks may make the barking worse.

How to teach “Quiet” by putting barking on cue:

Some dog owners find success in managing barking by training a pair of behaviors: Speak & Quiet. Here’s how!

  1. Initiate barking by using a controlled bark trigger, like the doorbell rung by your training partner or a knock at the door. You have to be able to control this trigger and make it happen a number of times. Remember, training dogs is repetitive!
  2. When your dog starts barking say, “Bark, yes, good bark!” or “Speak, yes, good speak!”
  3. Take a tasty & smelly treat and put it in front of your dog’s nose and say “Shhh” or “Quiet.” Do not give the treat if your dog continues to bark.
  4. Most dogs will stop barking to take the treat, and when he does this say, “Yes, good quiet!” and give the treat.
  5. Repeat!

Keep the individual sessions short (10-15 minutes), and schedule several sessions throughout the day. Once your dog has learned a good, solid “Quiet”, make sure you reinforce it regularly (two or three times a week). If a new barking trigger presents itself, start over with step 1.  You can find apps with sound effects like sirens, children’s voices, or other barking dogs to use as trigger noises.

 

Summer safety tips for your dogs

slack-imgs.com

Summer has finally arrived, and it’s only natural for us to want to bring our dogs so that they can enjoy the barbecues and festivals with us.

But the truth is that bringing our dogs with us can be deeply distressing to them. Strange people, unfamiliar dogs, loud noises, and toxic foods can all add up to a one very over-stimulated pup.

What can you do to keep your dogs healthy and safe during the summer?

Set up a quiet retreat. 

This is one of the most important things you can do to make life better for everyone in the household. Even if your pets are people-friendly and sociable, it’s possible to have too much of a good thing, and if you are busy entertaining you won’t necessarily know when they’ve had enough. Make sure you have a crate, bed, or travel cage set up in a quiet space, and give your pet a high-value treat (think stuffed Kong) to keep him happy and distracted during the party. If you must have your dog outside, make sure he’s in a cool, shady, protected spot with plenty of water, and check on him often to make sure he’s okay.

Eliminate temptation.

Keep your pets on their usual diet, and don’t give in to the temptation to let them eat table scraps, chips, soda, or alcohol. Aside from the choking hazard presented by chicken bones or ribs, the high fat content of many party foods can cause pancreatitis, vomiting, and diarrhea. When the food is outside, keep your dogs inside. And remember – crates are your friend, especially when you have a dedicated counter-surfer.

Be especially careful when these items are on the menu: garlic, onions, grapes/raisins, chocolate, and anything with xylitol (you’ll have to check the labels carefully; it’s in a lot of foods you wouldn’t expect it to be in, like some peanut butters).

Have your emergency plan ready.

No matter how much planning and management you do, things can still go wrong. Your dog may bolt out the gate when guests are arriving, or jump through the screen when the fireworks start. Know what to do if your dog does go missing and keep that emergency vet information and poison-control hotline number posted somewhere handy.

 

 

Pet-friendly fun in the Windy City!

dog summer

There is nothing we love more than a midwestern summer – unless it’s a midwestern summer spent hanging out with our best pals. If you’re in Chicago, here are some of our favorite dog-friendly venues:

Mercury Cruises – Bring your camera and your pooch for a 90-minute cruise with Mercury! On Saturday and Sunday mornings through the end of September, you can enjoy a narrated historical and architectural tour, complete with dog-friendly highlights. These canine cruises feature safe outdoor seating, water bowls, and a special doggy restroom.

Fido to Go – Summer is a great time for food trucks, and now your dogs can enjoy mobile gourmutt (heh) specialties as well. Fido to Go serves handmade, gluten and allergen-free doggy ice creams, frozen yogurts, and cookies. Check out their next stop by following them on Twitter at @fidotogo.

The Shops at North Bridge – Want to shop with your pooch? Head on over to North Bridge, where the entire mall (except for food venues) is pet friendly. They even have comfort stations, treats, and water on the first and second floors. Bonus: so much lovely air conditioning.

Make sure your dog enjoys the outings as much as you do! For only $5, you can learn how to keep your pooch safe and happy during your summer adventures. Get your I Love Dogs badge here!

Bucktown Pub and Ten Cat Tavern  – There are tons of outdoor patios in Chicago where your pooch can hang while you enjoy brunch or a brew, but if you want your pup to watch the ball game with you inside a friendly neighborhood bar, check out the Ten Cat Tavern or Bucktown Pub (they also have outdoor beer gardens).

Prairie Wolf Dog Park – Chicago has lots of off leash parks inside the city limits, but if you’re willing to head out to Lake Forest you can romp to your heart’s content at the 44-acre Prairie Wolf Dog Park. If you have a dog that likes to run but needs his space, you can enjoy the freedom of trails, open fields, and a swimming hole without having to worry about too much interaction with other dogs.

What are some of your favorite pet-friendly hangouts? Let us know at hello@fetchfind.com!

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ILDGet the I Love Dogs badge for only $5! We’ve hand-picked the 5 most important topics that will take your dog smarts to the next level. These fun, easily-digestible lessons cover the basics of body language and communication, how dogs learn, the top 10 most popular breeds and more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The miracle solution for skunky dogs

dog-1407324_960_720By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

Summer is almost here! We all love those long sunny days and soft balmy nights (it’s our reward for surviving the winter).

What we don’t love is the unbearable stench of a dog who thought that family of skunks was just a bunch of funny-looking cats.

Skunky dogs are not only a hazard for country folks. Skunkification can happen all-too-easily to suburban hounds with big lovely yards, and to city dogs who get taken for romps at the forest preserve.

Tradition has it that a bathtub full of tomato juice will get rid of the smell. Newsflash: it doesn’t. And with a skunky dog stinking up the neighborhood, who has time to source enough tomato juice to fill a bathtub?

But there is a recipe that will take away that smell, and it couldn’t be easier.

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 quart hydrogen peroxide
  • 2 teaspoons Dawn dishwashing liquid
  • Up to 1 quart of water to make a sufficient amount of the mix (you can double or triple the recipe depending on the size and fur density of the dog)

Saturate the fur (be careful around the eyes/mouth); leave on for five minutes. Rinse with clear water. (This is where a friend with a yard and a garden hose comes in handy. Or, in a pinch, check out your local car wash. Some of them now have self-service dog washing facilities.)

I know quite a few people who have used this on their dogs, and it only takes one wash/rinse for the smell to be gone (even if the dog has a dense coat). It’s truly a miracle solution.

If you take your dog on a lot of hikes, it’s a good idea to keep the ingredients in the trunk of your car. Nobody wants to drive home with a reeking dog in the backseat, because that smell does not want to come out of your upholstery. Or your clothes. Or the inside of your nostrils.

I sincerely hope that I never have to use this on my collies. Or my cat. Or – heaven forbid – my child. (!)

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Many thanks to Betsy Lane of PetKiDo; she’s saved a lot of noses – both canine and human – with this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s okay – he’s friendly!

dog off leash

By Nicole Stewart, CPDT-KA

As I was walking down the street the other day, I heard this:

“No! Stop your dog! Get your dog! Nooo!”

and then, “I’m sorry! Ralph! Ralph! Come! Ralph! RALPH!”

As I looked up, I saw a pretty friendly-looking Lab running off-leash towards a woman and her on-leash dog. The woman was obviously frightened about this strange dog heading for her dog. The owner of the Lab collected him in time, and the crisis was averted.

  • Was she worried because her dog is not friendly?
  • Was she scared because she didn’t know if the other dog was friendly?
  • Was she simply vigilant because all dogs are required to be on leash?
  • Was her dog hurt? Did she know the other dog? Did she know the other owner?

Does any of that matter?

Yes, of course it does, but the important part is to know how to manage this situation as it occurs. It’s never ideal because the off-leash dog is a wild card, but here are some ideas to keep in your dog walking toolbox:

  • Have good treats with you on the walk and, if needed, throw them at the oncoming dog. There is a good chance that the dog will take interest in the treats and give you a chance to get further away. Distance may decrease the dog’s interest in you, or give the other owner time to get to their dog.
  • Carry a stick or umbrella with you, especially if this happens regularly. Waving the stick or opening the umbrella may stop the dog in their tracks or get them to retreat.
  •  Don’t forget that a dog may be trained to Sit, Down or Stay, and though you never know what they know in this very heightened context, it’s worth a try to stick out your hand, call out “Sit” or “Stay”. They may stop.
  • Don’t run. This may only cause the other dog’s prey drive to kick in.
  •  Try to stay calm. Your dog is only going to feed off your anxiety and that leash not only connects you physically, but emotionally as well.
  • As a last resort – and it’s not ideal – if the strange dog gets to your dog and your dog is of comparable size, you need to drop the leash and let them defend themselves until you can get help. When one dog is on-leash and the other off, the one who is on-leash is severely handicapped at this point. You need to let them use their whole body to communicate and deal with the other dog.

Do you have any other tips or things that you’ve tried when approached by an off-leash dog?

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Nicole-Stewart-and-Finlay-220x300Nicole Stewart, CPDT-KA, is the Director of Training at AnimalSense / Paradise4Paws.  She strongly believes that dog training is as much about the people as it is about the dogs. Her favorite place to be is at home with her human family and her steady Clumber Spaniel, Finlay.

This post was previously published on the AnimalSense blog. 

Pet sitter stories: that night I slept on the bathroom floor with an Angel guarding the door

chow

By Jamie Migdal, CEO of FetchFind

The year was 1996. I owned a pet sitting and dog walking company and loved doing visits. Even though I had several dozen dog walkers and pet sitters on my staff, there were a few pets for whom only I was able to provide care.

Enter Angel, the 6 year old chow chow. She wasn’t a dog who took to strangers readily, but over the years I took care of her, she became, well, okay with me. Never thrilled., but always willing to allow me to do things like let her in the yard and give her food.

I mostly took care of her on occasions where her owners went out of town, with an overnight here and there. I never loved the assignment but it was my duty and no chow was gonna keep a good petsitter down.

Although, I did learn that a chow could keep a good petsitter in the bathroom all night.

Yes, you read that right. I locked myself in the bathroom all night as a means of protecting myself.

So let’s get the conditions straight. The family just had a baby, and to make things really juicy…they had just moved into a new home.

Let’s remember that this is before I became a dog trainer and I was still a wide-eyed and super-optimistic dog lover. That’s not to say that I wasn’t realistic; I always took precautions, but I certainly never thought I’d find myself in position in which I truly feared for my safety. Had I known then what I so clearly know now, I can’t imagine I would’ve taken on that job with such gusto.

Angel let me in the house with no problem and I went about my business. I let her in the backyard, I refreshed her water, and I gave her food. It was as I made my move to leave the house that she became ferocious – barking, growling, and lunging. It was as though she was a possessed chow. And if you know anything about chows, well…I’ll leave it at that.

I made a move for the bathroom and shut the door as quickly as possible. Unfortunately this was pre-cell phones and pre-dog training career, so I had no handy-dandy treats in my pocket and no way to call for help. Basically, I was screwed.

I slept on the bathroom floor that night, and all the while Angel prowled outside, growling and scratching at the door. I would characterize it as a slightly unpleasant experience.

Her owners came home midmorning to find my Jeep in the driveway and their petsitter hiding in the bathroom. I wouldn’t say they were upset so much as confused. I, however, was not confused at all. Angel wanted to eat me.

What is the moral of the story, you ask? There really isn’t one, unless you take this as a cautionary tale that working with animals requires more than love, it requires education and quick thinking (and, sometimes, a willingness to sleep on a bathroom floor).

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Learn how to speak dog with Behavior Fundamentals Online! It might just keep YOU from spending the night on the bathroom floor. 🙂

Walking reactive dogs: distraction to the rescue!

beagle

By Beck Rothke, former FetchFind Academy and dog*tec Dog Walking Academy instructor 

When I think about working with reactive dogs, I often think about the use of comic relief for intense moments. Essentially, I know that a door out or away from an intense or possibly intense moment is to find a distraction powerful enough to turn the dog’s attention to something else. It’s the same concept as a moment of comic relief and it serves the same purpose.

As a child of the 80’s, I grew up watching sitcoms. What I loved about sitcoms as a kid was seeing people going through hard and emotional experiences, but at the most critical moments, there would be a bit of humor to offset the drama of the hard stuff. By no means did it minimize the impact of the emotional moment, but it did make the moment a bit easier to digest. Incorporating comic relief in to my everyday interactions with other humans – making jokes when the tension is too high or finding humor in less than humorous situations – lessens the tension of the moment and serves to help us throughout our personal and professional lives. While we still experience the intense emotion of the moment, we do so in a more regulated way, allowing us to keep our true focus where it needs to be. It doesn’t ruin our day. The comedy distracts us and we move on. As dog walkers, we all know how well distractions can work and are familiar with the idea of using them to our advantage!

Let’s take a look at using distraction techniques to avoid or get out of hot moments.

Knowing your dogs – Making use of distractions to relieve a reactive dog from an intense situation relies on a full understanding of two important concepts for the dog: (1) what he is bothered by (or is reactive to) and (2) what he loves or is interested in (if the former isn’t too intense). For instance, when we work with dogs who are reactive towards other dogs, we can work to avoid running into other dogs to a certain extent, but not fully. Knowing a dog’s triggers (both the ones to be worried about and the ones that we can use to our advantage) can help immensely when negative interactions cannot be avoided.

Distraction tools – One reliable “go-to” as a distraction for dogs is treats. Most dogs like them and they are easy to have on hand. But what if the dog isn’t interested in the treats you have or is generally unmotivated by them? Indeed, sometimes the dog’s emotional state may render treats completely uninteresting. Well, it’s not as easy, but knowing the dog’s favorite motivators can help provide the right and appropriate level of distraction. One item I always carry with me is a squeaker from an old toy. I put mine in the side pocket of my treat pouch. It’s easy to access this way by just hitting the side of my pouch to squeak the squeaker. Some dogs are very tuned into the sound of crinkling. For this you can use an empty bag of chips in your pocket. Another good distraction might be simply the sound of your voice. Experiment with different pitches and volumes to see what the dog you are walking is most easily attracted to. Use of verbal praise or cues is quite effective in distracting a dog from tempting stimuli as well.

It’s all about timing – As is true with comic relief, one very important factor in implementing distractions is timing. If you are too early, the dog might be attracted to the distraction, but it might not understand why, and worse, it may become bored with the distraction before you have a chance to make use of it. If you are too late, you may unintentionally reinforce behavior (if it’s operant/ learned) or miss the chance to make a difference (if it’s classical/ emotional). So how do we determine the appropriate timing? Take note of each dog’s trigger zone (i.e. where the scary or concerning stimuli is okay as opposed to not okay) and implement the distraction right before the point that is not ok. Practice makes perfect. Use your eyes and ears to determine the dog’s body language or any vocalizations that tell you the interaction (or stimuli) is not okay. Implement your distraction before the dog shows any signs of distress and you’re sure to be on time!

Walking dogs is exciting and rewarding. You can make it even more rewarding for all involved through purposeful, well-timed distractions to set everyone up for success.

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http://dogtec.org/dogwalkingacademy.php

Fun facts about Newfoundlands

newfie

By John Miller

You’ve just got to love a Newfie.  Often thought of as “gentle giants,” these dogs are massive and powerful, yet smart, helpful, and (we think) totally fun to be around (drool and giant furballs notwithstanding).

If you’re fishing for fun facts about Newfoundlands, we’ve got you covered!

They are named after the North Atlantic island of Newfoundland (part of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador) where the breed was originally developed.

There are many theories on the Newfoundland’s origins, – some say they were left by the Vikings in 100 A.D., some say that Newfies are crosses between Tibetan Mastiffs and the extinct Black American Wolf, and the third theory is that the Newfie is a mix of many European breeds.

They share a lineage with modern retrievers. In fact, the divergence can be seen in the distinction between the Greater Newfoundlands (Newfies) and Lesser Newfoundlands or St John’s Water Dog (Labrador retrievers).

Generally around 28 inches tall and 120-150 pounds, they are one of the sturdier dog breeds. Their average lifespan is 8-10 years.

The breed was almost wiped out in the 1780s when Canadian government-imposed restrictions mandated that families pay taxes on their pets.

Newfie genes saved the St Bernard breed in the 19th century. Around 1860, the St. Bernards at the hospice in Switzerland were almost wiped out by distemper. Since the dogs look similar, the monks imported some Newfoundlands to help rebuild the breed.

They were used by fishermen as water rescue dogs. They are extremely courageous, which is one of many reasons they make good rescue dogs.

One of the hallmarks of the breed is an overall sweet nature and gentle temperament.

They have webbed feet. (That’s right, just like a hairy amphibian!)

Their swimming style is less like the traditional doggy paddle and more like a breast stroke.

They have a double coat which keeps them warm in freezing temperatures. The top coat is oily and water repellant, while the undercoat is soft and insulating.

Newfie tails are very muscular and used as a rudder while swimming.

The American Kennel Club lists acceptable Newfie coat colors as black, brown, gray, and black-and-white, while the Canadian Kennel Club says the coat can only be black or black-and-white.

caseySir Edwin Landseer liked Newfoundlands so much that he included them in his paintings. The black and white Newfoundlands were named “Landseer” in his honor.

Their big coat needs a LOT of brushing.

Their strong jaws, big heads, and sturdy frame make them able to pull carts and other heavy objects, as well as drag people, tow lines, and fishing nets through the water.

They’re very athletic (and they can really pack on the pounds if overfed), so they need exercise daily. Swimming is their ideal exercise, because it allows them to cool off and burn calories. They love swimming in cold water, even in the winter.

In 1995, a 10-month-old Newfoundland named Boo rescued a man from drowning without any training or direction to do so.

In 1828, a Newfie named Hairy Man helped save over 160 Irish immigrants from the wreck of the brig Despatch, which ran aground near Isle aux Morts.

Nana, the sweet dog nanny from Peter Pan, was a Newfoundland.

Lewis and Clark’s dog was a Newfoundland named Seaman.

A Newfoundland named Napoleon the Wonder Dog co-starred with baboons in Van Hare’s “Magic Circus” in Victorian London.

Ulysses S. Grant had a Newfoundland named Faithful.

Lord Byron left a burial plot bigger than his own for his Newfoundland, Boatswain. Here is the epitaph on Boatswain’s grave:

Boatswain monument

We’ll leave you with this fun video of 182-pound Roscoe having a good roll on the ice!

 

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john-miller-pawedin-300x276John is an Atlanta native who grew up with four dogs in his family. He is currently finishing his BA at Georgia State University. In his free time, he enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and watching movies.