Jul 172014
 
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Below, you can see the most recent photos of the park area at 54 Richardson Road.

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(Many thanks to the Town of Chelmsford DPW for clearing it)

The engineering consultant, Places, Inc., is working with the DPAC on finalizing design and engineering documents for a Planning Board hearing. The hearing with the planning board is currently scheduled to open on August 13, 2014. We would also like to note that the North Chelmsford Water District has been satisfied with the concepts brought forth to date.

May 092014
 
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The Walgreens Dog Rally will go on tomorrow (May 10) as planned, 10AM-3PM. Walgreens is located at 86 Chelmsford St., in Chelmsford, Ma 01824.

Demos are as follows:
11:00-11:30-Ann Benard, Heart of Gold, will demonstrate Pet Reiki and Massage
11:35-12:05- Shane’s Anti-bullying group will perform a dance routine & singing
12:10- 12:40-Laurie Myers of Community Voices will speak about her work with Wena, a courthouse assistance dog.
12:45—1:15-Jennifer Winiarz will demonstrate Flow Wanding
1:20-1:50-Beth Logan, our volunteer trainer for the “Training on the Common” Series, will demonstrate various rally exercises with her dog Ginger.

We have vendors — Kids are Cool Stuff, Nutra-9 pet food, Mary Kay Cosmetics, Velata & Scentsy Candles, Pampered Chef, WelcomeDog, Rub My Belly Animal Massage, a sports vendor, and a couple of other kids’ vendors.

We’ll have lots of raffles — gift cards from Agway, Chelmsford Animal Hospital, Margarita’s Mexican Restaurant, Grooming emporium, Outback Restaurant, Flatbread Pizza, to name a few.

We’ll also have a wide variety of baskets and bags which have been donated to us, as well as a one-night stay at a Double Tree Hotel.

We’ll begin a silent auction of a clock made from a piece of the Purple Beech Tree that was taken down from the Chelmsford Town Common last year.  The auction will run to the July 4th Country Fair, which is also held on the Town Common. The winner will be announced after the parade.

Hotdog lunches, the Walk-A-thon and Coloring contest for the kids, and lots More! And amidst all this excitement, Brian Henderson will entertain us with music & song.

See you at the Rally, and thank you for supporting the Chelmsford Dog Association and the Chelmsford Dog Park at Richardson Rd.!

Apr 212014
 
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When you shop at smile.amazon.com, Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase price to the Charity of your choice.

Since the Chelmsford Dog Association is now a registered 501c3 organization, we qualify to receive these donations!

When you are asked what charity, choose your own and enter “Chelmsford Dog Association (Chelmsford, MA)” in the box. Amazon will then provide you confirmation of your choice.

Learn more about the AmazonSmile Program

 

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Dog Park Etiquette

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Mar 062014
 
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Dog Park Etiquette

Dog parks can provide exercise and socialization for dogs, but they can also provide problems if dog owners are not paying attention.  This is no different from a playground for children. A group of children playing can turn into shoving and crying if children aren’t taught how to behave and parents don’t watch for signs of trouble.  And all parents need to clean up after their children to keep the playground safe.

We all want the dog park to be the fun time for our dogs.  A little understanding of dog behavior and an alert eye is all it takes for good dog interaction.  A little personal responsibility for the park is all it takes for the park to stay nice and clean.

The first step is to only bring dogs to the park that are relaxed around strange dogs. I have two wonderful dogs.  One of them loves other dogs.  The other has been bitten in the past and is nervous.  He shows his nervousness by barking and growling.  Some may say this is aggressive, but listening to his growl, you will hear a whine.  That whine is the sign that he is scared and unsure of the other dog.  I do not bring him to places where strange dogs play.  He has a few dog friends that visit and I don’t push him to meet more.

My friendly dog can be overly friendly but I have taught her to approach other dogs slowly.  She will roll over if the other dog shows any sign of concern. This is a good trait for a dog because rolling over is like saying “I am not a threat and just want to be friends.”

My neighbor has a dog that lunges and pulls on the leash when he sees other dogs, cars, bicycles, etc.  This lunging is a sign of aggression.  It could be from nervousness or a more malicious. Either way, like my nervous dog,he should not visit a dog park.

Here are some signals that your dog is being friendly:

  • Approaches other dogs slowly
  • Approaches from the side (even if headed toward another dog, the final few steps should involve moving toward the side of the dog and then turning toward them)
  • Wagging tail
  • Play bow
  • Rolls over or allows other dogs to sniff
  • Barking in a playful manner (you need to know your dog’s different barks)
  • Not paying much attention at all (this doesn’t mean your dog isn’t interested, just that he is not concerned with the other dogs and therefore, he doesn’t need to focus on them)

Here are some signals that your dog is uncomfortable or not ready for a dog park:

  • Whining
  • Growling or unfriendly barking
  • Ears pinned back
  • Ears very forward
  • Tail up (if normally down)
  • Tail tucked between legs (usually means he is scared)
  • Sticking his head between your legs (He’s looking for you to protect him. Do so by leaving the park.  He will love you for it.)
  • Showing teeth
  • Lunging or charging other dogs
  • Bumping his shoulder into another dog
  • Stealing toys
  • Jumping on people
  • Jumping on dogs’ backs

(See our FAQ on dog body language)

If you have a dog that may not be friendly enough for the park, you can help him improve. Try bringing him to training classes.  Also, try bringing him to the park but do not enter it. Just let him sit in the car and watch the dogs.  If he is calm, on the next visit, let him walk around the parking lot on leash.  Do this and the training until your trainer says that the dog is ready for the dog park.  (You want to get other people’s comments on the dog because we are all biased toward our wonderful animals and it is easy for us to miss something.)  Then only let him in when there are just a few dogs.  Even dogs that like other dogs can be overwhelmed in a crowd.

Here are the signs of a good owner and supporter of the park:

  • Only brings dogs friendly to other dogs and people
  • Always picks up after his dog
  • Watches his dog and other dogs for possible problems
  • Throws trash in receptacles
  • Lets others know if their dog needs picking up after
  • Never leaves the dog in the park without adult owner supervision
  • Picks up any toys or Frisbees if any dog shows possessiveness (even just 1 dog)
  • Removes dog immediately, at any sign of trouble
  • Keeps the dog leashed except in the fenced area of the park
  • Licenses the dog (just visit town hall for a form)
  • Donates to and/or volunteers for the park

Working together, the Chelmsford Dog Park can be a great place for our friendly dogs to exercise.  Dogs that struggle with social situations are always welcome to walk in our other public lands on leash and under their owner’s control.

By Beth Logan, CDA volunteer trainer

Mar 032014
 
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To Feed or Not to Feed:
That is the Training Question

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The pains and whines of outrageous hunger
Or to take arms against a sea of trainers
And by opposing end the starvation . . .

Forgive me, Shakespeare, for having some fun.

Most trainers have taught us to not feed our dogs before training. The thought was that a hungry dog was motivated to please you for the food rewards.

Then why don’t we send our children to school hungry and reward them for learning with portions of their meals? It’s because science has shown the importance of a good breakfast (good refers to both quantity and glucose balance). The brain in humans primarily uses glucose for energy and generally consumes approximately 25% of the body’s supply. Studies have shown that tasks requiring self-control deplete a person’s glucose level, thus making it more difficult to do subsequent tasks.

Two scientists decided to research whether the valuable breakfast affects seen in humans also happen with dogs. (The resulting article by Holly Miller of Universite de Valenciennes et du Hainaut-Cambresis, France, and Charlotte Bender of the University of Kentucky, USA, was published in the November 2012 issue of Behavioural Processes.) The scientists used the speed and accuracy of dogs searching for food as the task to determine the breakfast effect.

The study involved 14 dogs (although one dog was dropped during trialing for failing to perform the search) including males and females, pure breeds and mixed breeds.  All were privately owned and healthy. They also spent two weeks in the study facility being trained via positive-reinforcement to perform a 10-minute sit-stay and food searching. The size of breakfast for each was calculated to be half the necessary daily intake based on the dog’s weight.

Each dog was tested for two days – one day as a fasting dog and one day as a breakfast dog. Before the search test, the dogs were asked to perform a 10-minute sit-stay exercise and were promptly rewarded with a piece of hot dog and praise from the experimenter. Dr. Miller had previously shown that this type of self-control exercise depletes a dog’s energy level and inhibits a dog’s ability to perform certain tasks including searching. This is analogous to the affects that self-control tasks have on human glucose levels and subsequent tasks.

The dogs were divided into two groups – one group performed the search task 30-minutes after breakfast and the other group 90-minutes after breakfast. All dogs were also tested after fasting for 12 hours.

The search task involved finding a warm slice of hot dog placed in one of six containers. The dog watches the experimenter place the hot dog and then must select the container within 90 seconds. This task is repeated 36 times over a 50-minute period. Some dogs did stop performing part way through the session but not enough to statistically alter the results.

The results support the value of breakfast. As the chart shows, dogs tested 30-minutes after breakfast performed better than when tested after fasting. Dogs tested 90-minutes after breakfast showed little difference. This is consistent with humans’ response to breakfast. Glucose levels increase then decrease after breakfast and human task performance correlates to the glucose levels.

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Being a person that gets irritable and less able to focus when I am hungry, I can appreciate the results. It also makes me consider other questions.

  • If we feed our animals only once per day, should it be in the morning instead of the evening? (Will it also help with weight control as seen with humans?)
  • Does the breakfast advantage apply to other dog sports and competitions?
  • Is there value in feeding a little bit before each event to maintain a more level glucose balance during a day of competition?
  • What is the right amount of feeding before a competition?  Eating too much can make one lethargic.  Eating too soon before running can upset a dog’s stomach as I learned when one dog vomited in the agility ring.

Hopefully, there will be more experiments on food and training. In the mean time, I am doing some of my own. My female dog has energy spikes after breakfast, after dinner, and after training when treats are given. One would expect her to be tired after training but that only happens during high intensity training (e.g., 4 or more agility runs of at least 10 obstacles in one hour). During competitions, she runs slowest from 1-3 pm. Therefore, I’m experimenting with feeding ½ of breakfast about 20-30 minutes before our first agility run of the day and feeding ¼ of breakfast before each of the subsequent runs.

My older dog is much less food motivated than when he was younger but he behaves like he is hungrier around mealtime. We give him stomach medicine about 30 minutes before meals so his hunger may be anticipation of the meal (Pavlov’s dog effect with the pill instead of a bell). The lack of interest in food when training may be due to stomach issues. For him, giving the stomach medicine and feeding at least a portion of the meal might increase his food motivation through calming his sensitive stomach. I am still experimenting, but I am proposing this as an example of the importance of understanding your dog and his mental and physical health when determining the best approach.

Every person is different and every dog is different. It is worth trying a variety of approaches with your dog and seeing which works best. And yes, I ate lunch before writing this so I would be sharp for my readers.