Episode #80 Your Ultimate Guide to Get Found with Local SEO
Episode #68 with Santa Claus
Episode 23 with Gr. 5 & 6 Students from Argyle School
Are you a pet parent and animal lover who believes you would never surrender a pet? Have you heard stories in the news about animal shelters and rescues being overwhelmed as pets are surrendered?
Do you find yourself automatically blaming COVID? Assuming that these pets were surrendered because they no longer fit people’s lifestyles?
Tune in today to learn the rest of the story. COVID impacted so much more than the health of millions of people; it also impacted family units, living accomodations, finances and our support systems. When families are choosing between groceries and dog food or school supplies, gas and a necessary vet treatment, sometimes the choices are not so clear.
For anyone who has lost a pet, surrendered a pet or made these impossible choices; it is heart-wrenching.
Our guests today are Louise Yates, a retired dog kennel owner and animal welfare volunteer as well as Jennifer Berg, accredited force-free dog trainer.
To learn more about the supports in our community:
- Canine Action Project
- CC RezQs
- Saskatoon SPCA
Resources for Pet Parents:
- Cooperative Care by Deb Jones
- The Whole Dog Journal
- The Power of Positive Dog Training 2nd edition by Pat Miller
- 101 Things to Do with a Box by Karen Pryor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4_VzNv7TC9U
- Julie Naismith
- Dogs That
- Pod to the Rescue
- Worry Less, Wag More
- Disorderly Dogs, Paws & Reward Pawdcast
- The Bitey End of the Dog
- Drinking from the Toilet
To connect with Louise @ Living Sky Honey:
Connect with Jennifer @ Oberhund Dog Services:
Jenn’s e-books can be purchased or downloaded here:
Teach Your Dog How to Be Alone
Pawsitively Purrfect, 4637 Rae St, Regina
Ebooks can be purchased here:
Teach Your Dog Manners Around Guests
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR ALL DOG OWNERS TO KNOW: LEARN HOW TO READ YOUR DOG.
Google “Canine Stress Signals” and look at the illustrations of dog body language.
Learn them so you can understand your dog’s emotional state.
In today’s episode, we’re tackling the tough conversation of dogs surrendered, unwanted behaviors and support for pet parents in our communities. We’re going behind the scenes with a local dog trainer, and an animal welfare enthusiast to deconstruct the recent media coverage on shelters and rescues being overwhelmed.
Welcome to The Secret Life of Community Show. I’m your host, Barb McGrath, Google girl and local business cheerleader. Let’s get started.
Today, we’re doubling the fun with two experienced and insightful guests on the topic of animal welfare. Louise Yates is a former dog kennel owner and volunteer for the past 20 years, along with Jennifer Berg, who has been providing force free science based dog training and behavior modification services for over 17 years. Welcome, ladies. Thank you for being here.
Well, thank you for inviting us.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Absolutely. Louise, can I get you to tell us a little bit more about yourself as we’re getting started?
Sure, my hubby and I owned and operated K-Lane Kennels, we actually just retired after doing it for over 20 years in the first part of May. And through all those years, I have been involved in several volunteer projects within animal welfare locally and internationally. And currently, I have a new dog. He has been with us for three months. And he’s about a year and a half old. And I’m training him to do search and rescue volunteer work. So hopefully one day he’ll save somebody’s life. That’s an aspiration we’re working towards.
Exactly. And that is fantastic. And in fact, this story of how the dog came into your life actually goes right along with our topic today. So once Jenn’s had a chance to introduce herself, maybe you want to tell us a little bit more about how he came into your life.
Okay, awesome. Jenn, take it away. Tell us a little bit about yourself. And what does force-free, in science mean like, what does that actually mean to me as the pet owner?
Okay, well, I’m a force-free, science based, humane dog trainer. And I’ve been doing that for over 17 years now. What do I do and what is a force-free, humane, science based dog trainer? Well, basically, it’s about learning to train dogs, communicate with dogs in a way that is not using intimidation, or coercion or any equipment that causes any kind of discomfort. And it’s basically teaching them the behaviors that you want them to do and possibly avoiding behaviors you don’t want them to do.
So if I was to translate that into the parenting realm, force-free, science based would be just like back in the 60s and 70s kids were spanked, but now, it’s not so cool. So the same thing. Dogs were trained to fear or to experience pain to change behavior. And so the idea is supporting the dog through the learning process without having to be afraid without having to, you know, be worried if he or she makes a mistake. Is that kind of a guess in a nutshell?
Yeah, and setting them up to succeed, and then reinforcing that rather than setting them up to fail and then punishing or correcting it. So it’s giving them a fair chance, rather than not doing that. Don’t do that. Don’t do that. It’s more like, I’d like you to do this. Good job. I’d like you to do this. Good job. So there’s just a matter of time before hopefully before the dog training community gets on board with that. I mean, there are groups of us who are already on board with that. And you know, started 20 years ago, 30 years ago, even but, you know, that change is hard. And change takes time. And sometimes there needs to be a law or sometimes there needs to be some sort of barriers to doing the alternative.
Exactly. Yes. And for anybody who listens to the podcast regularly, I talk about our fur babies quite regularly. And in fact, they’ve, you know, interrupted the odd recording and made an appearance at the odd time. And so some have heard our stories about our rescue and what we think may have happened in the past versus the work that we’re doing now. We’ve seen some really positive results. And we’ve seen our rescue, decompress, and it’s because we’re using exactly what you’re talking about force-free, science based. He trusts us. He trusts us in a completely different way than I think he was able to prior to being rehomed. So
And it’s great that you mentioned that connection to how children were raised to dogs because I find it really interest thing that, you know, people get it that you’re not supposed to spank children, and you’re not supposed to wring them out, you know, I grew up in those 60s and 70s. And I remember kids getting the strap in school and all of that, and people know that now, they don’t do that anymore. But then those same people will come home with a dog and do some of the aversive methods. So, you know, making that shift is, is a big step, if, if all someone has ever known is a more violent approach, then that’s what they take. And there’s so much you don’t use the same methods with your dog as with your kid, and you’re gonna, you’re gonna go to much better places in your relationship. Exactly.
Yeah. And I would like to jump out of that just a little bit, that the basis is also not so much, as well as the intention, but also, you’re able to understand your dog more because of what you’ve learned. And so you can understand their behaviors and say, Oh, that’s actually the dog being afraid or anxious. It’s not bad behavior. They’re not doing it on purpose to spite me. So by understanding how your dog, what your dog is communicating and their emotional state that can change the way you train completely.
Absolutely. Yeah. You know what that is the number one thing that I have noticed, as we’ve worked with Frankie, is his communication skills. He’s constantly communicating. And now that we know what we’re listening for, oh, my God, that dog has so much to tell us. Absolutely. Okay, Louise, we need to jump back to you. We need to hear a little bit more about the dog that joined your family a few months ago.
Well, Seamus is an Australian cattle dog. And he was bred by a very reputable breeder in Ontario. You know, he had the genetic testing and all of that. So it was a good breeder, not just somebody who decided to turn out some puppies. And he was adopted into a lovely family in Ontario. But unfortunately, the marriage dissolved, and the couples split up. And instead of living in a big house with a yard, and a couple with a child, he ended up living in a Toronto apartment that was quite small. And Australian cattle dogs are working groups, they are designed to work and think and be busy and be active. So it just really wasn’t the life for him.
And after our other dog Spec passed away, I knew I wanted my next dog to be a working dog, a volunteer working dog with search and rescue. So I knew what I was looking for in a new dog. And I also know how much work puppies are. So it just worked out perfectly that one family’s struggles led Seamus to come live with us. And I hope to give him a happy-ever after ending. You know, by giving him a good life and giving him all the course free training and hopefully one day he’ll save, save some people out there too. So it’s a bit of a storybook ending, I hope for him. But it’s a really good example of how sometimes people get dogs or cats in their houses and families. But sometimes life has a way of making it impossible to keep that happen, you know, to keep that relationship or to make it where it wouldn’t be fair to the dog or cat to keep staying in that situation.
Even though you know this, the woman who had Seamus absolutely loved him, we sent her updates and pictures. She absolutely adored Seamus, but she knew that she couldn’t give him the life that he deserved. So, you know, it’s a really good example of, you know, all the best intentions when people get a pet sometimes don’t always work out.
Exactly. And that’s exactly where we wanted to have the conversation today. So that is a beautiful segway. We’re hearing stories of, you know, pandemic puppies, and they’re being returned to shelters. They’re being returned to the Humane Society. Can either one of you confirm whether or not that’s actually true? Or are those just suspicions and stories in the media right now? Do you know?
Well, I only know from what I’ve read in the news, and there was a globe that sorry, Global News did a really good article, and they interviewed the Regina Humane Society in the Saskatoon SPCA, and both said yes, they are receiving a lot of animals right now. And they’re not blaming this on COVID or COVID puppies or anything. COVID Kittens, they’re blaming it on economics.
People are surrendering their pets because they can’t afford to keep them because maybe they had a great business or job before COVID hit, but they don’t anymore. And we all know what inflation is doing right now. So if You’re buying, you know, I noticed, when I was picking up some cans of dog food, it used to be able to get some higher quality dog food for like, three to 3.50 a can. Now it’s six – 6.50 a can, right?
So you know, when you see those kinds of price increases, and families will be struggling financially, before the pandemic hits it, it can be overwhelming, you know, and so, you know, some people can’t afford to buy groceries for their families or braces for their kids. And if they have a pet, it’s like, you know, it’s it’s, it’s easy for people who’ve never lived in their shoes to judge if they have to surrender or rehome their pets, but until people are living that reality of maybe economic instability, or or having health problems or health crises or, or marriage breakup, you know, stuff happens, right? It’s really important that the animals get the best care. And sometimes rehoming is an important part of that.
Yeah, absolutely. You know, the flip side of that is, even when life doesn’t necessarily happen, because our lives have changed. And Jen, of course, we’re back in the workplace. We’re busy again, we’re doing lots of things. Now, sometimes the behavior starts to come out. Now, are you talking to families who, you know, they’re having more behavior challenges, because they’re having to leave? What are you hearing from your clients? And how can you support them?
I would say, I won’t know for sure until maybe September, but it sounds like it’s on the same level as it was the past year.
Okay, so so far, we’re on par? And are you seeing more of the separation anxiety type behaviors from those that have called? Or? Or is it something different? Like I’m, you know, I’m trying to pinpoint because of the stories that we’ve seen in Louise, as you referenced, so global did a story here in Regina, as well as Saskatoon, and they also did one in Calgary. The three stories were somewhat similar, but there were some unique nuances, obviously, in each marketplace. So Jen, from a training perspective, are you hearing differently? Are you needing to support your clients differently?
Not really, it’s the same. It’s teaching them how well usually it’s teaching them how to teach their dog how to be alone, or they are, the problem has become so bad now that it’s become a severe case of separation anxiety. And so then it becomes a more complex problem.
So yeah, exactly.
And one more thing I’m getting to is that a lot of time, a lot of people are now starting to have guests in the home more than they had before. And so their dogs either have never had guests in the house because they were pandemic puppies, or their dog wasn’t very good before and now hasn’t had practice for that for the last year or two. And now they’re trying to go back to the way things were and it’s like a sudden change. So.
Yes, exactly. Okay, let’s just talk about language here for a second you guys. We’ve used the word animal welfare, we talk about shelters, rescues rehoming. Can you help the audience understand what’s the difference between some of these terms? And animal welfare must encompass more than just dogs? So that’s cats and guinea pigs and rabbits, like that’s animal welfare across the broad spectrum, is it not?
Yep, I would say that you have animal welfare as the umbrella piece over top of sheltering and rescue and a whole lot of other community services out there. And when people think of rescues and shelter, they think about adopting an animal, but they may not understand everything that goes in behind the scenes with with that, you know, a shelter is obviously a physical building, that houses animals and in order to have an animal shelter where you’re taking in animals, you have to be able to feed them, give them water, give them the the necessities of life, veterinary care, enrichment, all kinds of things that go with it.
And within a facility, there’s all kinds of biosecurity needs, I say, it’s kind of like a cross between a school and a hospital where if they’re not meticulously clean and sanitary, then disease can happen and that sort of thing.
Rescues tend to be smaller, they tend to be organizations that accept a limited number of animals of a specific type. You know, for example, cc rescue is a local rescue and they do work with First Nations communities. In Saskatoon there’s a small dog rescue And all they do is small dogs. Other organizations do breed specific rescues. So they might only take Australian cattle dogs, for example, or mixes of them. And then some just are, don’t discriminate that way, but are selective, they tend to, I find, they tend to take in more puppies, because generally speaking, puppies are easier. You know, they, they’re, they’re cute, they don’t come with, you know, some of the baggage sometimes. And some of that baggage that might be there, as Jen mentioned, isn’t the dog’s problem. It’s it’s people stuff of, you know, people working working with the dogs.
And then within the animal welfare umbrella, there’s lots of other things that go in there. For example, the Canine Action Project is a group in Saskatchewan and they do on reserve, spay neuter programs. Again, there’s socio economic elements that come into play here if a community doesn’t have access to veterinary care, because it’s remote, and the financial situation is tough. It’s really, really difficult to spay and neuter your dogs and cats. So that group is dedicated to helping that targeted population.
When I look at a group like the Regina Humane Society, they do the sheltering, but they are also the municipal impound and handle bylaws for the city and have tons of community programs. They’re going to be opening a new animal community center in harbor landing next year. And it’s, it’s, it’s like, this is a very cool thing, because it’s through the educational programs for kids to come and learn about some of the things that Jennifer was talking about with force-free training.
You know, it’s like if people do what their parents did, so if these kids can come in and learn about, you know, better ways to communicate with animals and better training and things like that, then they’ll grow up to be better pet owners in the future. So the education piece is huge. And also the community service part. Again, with the Humane Society, they’re a big support to the Regina police service, to fire, to victims of domestic violence, they have all of these programs, well, not just programs, but you know, if the the Regina police are going to a drug house, and there’s a dog in it, they’re calling the Regina Humane Society to come in and help get that dog out.
And people don’t think about those kinds of layers. Or if a woman is, well, not just a woman, but if a family is experiencing domestic violence, the Regina Humane Society will help get the pet to care so that the family can get care because often people will stay in difficult family settings because of the pet. So animal welfare is very big, it’s very tied with a lot of other social socio economic issues within a community. They tend to focus, you know, there’s a link between violence between animals and people. So you know, if you get the socio economic things right, you can fix a lot of the animal issues in the community. And then, you know, frankly, then the sheltering and the rescue needs can be reduced as well.
When we think about the support that families might need, whether they’re experiencing economic difficulties, whether they’re experiencing behavior difficulties, is a humane society someplace I can go for support? Tell me about some of the support that is in the community. And Jen, obviously, you have a training business. So tell us a little bit about the work that you do and how you can support families that might be looking for it.
Well, they have a ton of outreach programs. For example, they have the low income spay neuter program. So if people have a pet that they and they are having, you know, have a household income that meets certain thresholds, they can get the their pets spayed or neutered, which, you know, again, if parents are struggling to feed their their kids, and keep their host going if they can get that spay or neuter looked after there’ll be less puppies or kitties but ended up being homeless down the line. And with that comes tattooing and vaccinations. And as a bundle.
They also have a food pantry program where if people are struggling with getting pet food, they can reach out because they don’t want people to have to surrender their pets. And sometimes it might be just that a family needs a little extra support for a short time. They’ve got different programs that can help them out. You know, within targeted communities, they’ve got outreach programs where they’ll go into the community and hand out leashes and food and pet supports as well. So they’ve got a lot of things going there. And they also if they have you know when people donate extra foods, and you can hear that when people…
Have something to say about
When people donate extra food Then things that they can’t use, they share it with the rescue group. So none of it ends up going to ways.
Jenn I’ll turn it back to you to tell us a little bit about some of your programs.
Okay, well, the way I sort of support the community right now, with dog owners, the community of dog owners, I have a training business and I run a specifically probably the most important or the two most important are the private online concert, the private consults, which can be online or outdoor in person. And then I give people hands on one on one, that kind of thing.
And then the other one is the outdoor group dog walk class that I have, which really allows people to enjoy their dogs in a very normal everyday event where we’re just walking in a nice park area. And so I can help them with their individual needs. So some dogs react really excitedly to other dogs or other people or bikes, or skateboards, or rabbits or squirrels.
So I basically help guide them through the difficult process of trying to get their behaviors under control a little bit, but also making sure the dog is an owner having a good time and enjoying their dog. And it’s not a very it’s not an expensive class, it’s something that’s sort of long term because, you know, training is an instant usually. So it’s very, very affordable and very thorough. I’m looking for unstructured, yes, and it adapts to the needs of the different people attending. So that would be my two ways.
And I will vouch for Jennifer’s walking group, because I take Seamus to it once a week, and it is fantastic.
Now the other two things that I know are that you have Jen, and I don’t know how you distribute them, but you’ve written a couple of ebooks. And for someone who is feeling the pinch, how would they talk to you to get a copy of those ebooks?
Well, they are widely available. So pretty much anywhere where you get an ebook, you can find the titles. And you can also find them on my website oberhund.com. So the first is to teach your dog how to be alone. And that’s a step by step guide, it can be read in an afternoon, and it takes you through the different stages of lessons to take your dog to learn how to be alone.
And then the other one is to teach your dog manners around guests. So those were the two that came out of all of the calls that I was getting from when the pandemic started, basically, but also I had been getting those calls before, but I just thought, you know, I just need something that’s very inexpensive, but very to the point. And it’s something that people who can’t afford or don’t want to do a private consultation and take the private class private lessons and go through it that way, they can get this book and get a start at least so.
And it’s a good complement to a private session as well. So for people, for example, for the dog, for people who have dogs who have very extreme behaviors, you know, this book isn’t necessarily going to solve that problem, because that’s a complex problem. And you would need some guidance from a professional usually so but it’s but nothing in the but nothing in the books, or I guess everything in the books does complement a private session with a professional to deal with a very complex case.
And I just want to add there is sort of going back to our first conversations about force-free. Not every dog trainer is created equal. And I like to put it in terms of, you know, sometimes new trainers will come out and they can teach your dog how to sit or stay or walk as a heel or that sort of thing. But when it gets to the more complex issues, then you need more complex instruction from the people that are supporting you.
And it’s really important that the people you choose to help you and your dog and your relationship and their behavior, have the same philosophies as you do with your pets. Because, you know, we talked when we started this conversation about sometimes people still do things to dogs that are a little bit what I would call mean. And so when you’re working with a trainer or a behaviorist, just, you know, make sure that you know what you’re signing up for. And if you ever do contract with somebody to help you and you don’t feel comfortable with some things that they might suggest that you do with your dog, or that they do to your dog, you can leave you can say no, just because you’re paying somebody for a training service doesn’t mean that you have to stay if it’s not meshing with your values of how you want to work with your dog.
And I would add that you may save your money in the long run. If you do let that money go and find a better way or a way that’s going to work better for your situation, because to undo a lot of the damage can often be much more expensive and much more time consuming than to just have not gone through with the rest of the two classes you had left or whatever it was.
And just just to add to what Louise said. The dog training industry is completely unregulated. So anybody could call themselves a dog trainer. It’s a terrible situation for consumers. It’s really It’s almost criminal, I would say, because there’s really nothing for them to do they have they’re on their own, they’re trying to figure out well, you know, it’s like if you hired a plumber, you would have an expectation this person knew what they were supposed to do, and it has the training. But dog training, it’s not that way.
So and then also to add what Louise mentioned was, people do what they know, and they don’t know what they don’t know. And when people know better, they do better. So a trainer is always a good trainer and will always be learning and always be open to new ideas and changing their ways if they find a better way and stuff. So, you know, when people know better, they do better. So there’s no judgment. Unless they intentionally do it because they know what’s wrong, and they’re hurting dogs on purpose. Like that’s, you know, I don’t think a lot of trainers are like that. I think they’re doing the best that they can with what they know.
All right, ladies, we are totally out of time, but thank you to you both for joining me. On that note, if you would like to sell your story, you have to tell your story. And there’s no better place to start than being a guest on The Secret life show.
If you’d like to be a guest, email me at Barb@abovethefold.live or just reach out on our Facebook or Instagram account @abovethefold.ca
I’m your host Barb McGrath, Google girl and founder of the Get Found for local program. Remember, you were charged for your success. Don’t keep it a secret. Bye for now.