Saturday, March 30, 2013

Nose Work for Dummies

Hide half your dog’s food in different places in your house.  He’ll tire himself out using his nose to find it!  Dogs are hardwired for hunting and enjoy doing what they do best.  So he’ll be satisfying a crucial part of his daily needs as well.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Doggies on Diets

Does your dog have to watch his figure?  Retire his food bowl for a while and use his food for training.  Feed it to him during his morning walk, for example, to reward loose leash walking.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's not magic... it's liverwurst

Having trouble keeping your dog’s attention?  Use better treats!  When in doubt... break out the liverwurst.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Adopt, Don't Shop!

Adopting a dog from a shelter has benefits over buying a dog from a breeder, no matter how reputable.  There’s ups and downs to both options, but with 5-7 million pets being surrendered to shelters in the U.S. each year and 60% of them ending up euthanized, adopting is a much better idea.  Plus, there’s no better feeling than taking a dog out of a shelter for good!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What to Tell Kids

A great thing to tell kids is that when a dog is growling, playing too rough, or doing anything else that makes them uncomfortable, they should stand like a tree.  This means crossed arms, downward gaze, planted feet, and no noise or movement.  This is dog language for “Please go away.”

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tip of the Day: Dog Warnings

When a dog’s body goes stiff, that means she’s uncomfortable.  It’s a warning - in dog language, it means, “Don’t come any closer!  I don’t want to have to defend myself, but if I’m scared enough, I will do it!”

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Look for Letters.

When evaluating a trainer, look for one with credentials.  And be wary of those who don’t use food!  Not using food in dog training is like having bad eyesight but refusing to wear glasses.  It’s a tool, use it right and you will have more success!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Tip of the Day: Food is Food

There’s no difference between “human” food and “dog” food.  Dog food is made of the same things as human food!  Plus, dogs will never learn the difference.  They can learn that food on the table is not for them, but it’s not because they perceive the food as different from the food that they eat.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Dogs Don't Lie

Dogs aren’t capable of deception.  If they’re doing something, they’re doing it for a reason.  Once you can identify how your dog is being rewarded for his behavior, you can use that information to change it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Tip of the Day: Your dog can talk better than you think.

Pay attention to what you’re dog’s telling you.  That way you’ll figure out why he behaves the way he does.  This is crucial to finding a way to change any behavior that is not conducive to your lives together.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Consistency is Key

Consistency is key.  It’s better to let your dog pull on the leash all the time than let him pull only some of the time.  If he’s allowed to pull sometimes, the pulling behavior will actually become stronger than if he were to be always allowed to pull.  It’s like gambling - if you won every time, the excitement of the game would be diminished and it wouldn’t be as addictive.  Instead, it would be like a job.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tip of the Day: A Walking Quick-Fix

Make sure you’re using the right walking equipment for your dog.  The right harness or mantle can make all the difference in your dog’s leash behavior.

Why Real Trainers Don't Guarantee Results

You can never guarantee results of behavior modification if the behaviors you're trying to modify have an emotional cause, as all extreme behaviors do.  How silly would it be for a psychologist to guarantee results for a patient suffering from severe anxiety?  I think we could all safely say that psychologist is a quack.  The reason is that you can never know the boundaries and all the complex factors in a being's emotional makeup.  So how can we say we can pick out the ones that are effecting a certain behavior and address them effectively?  We can do our best and often have great success, and at the very least we hope to provide some comfort.  But we can never guarantee anything.  Professionalism prohibits us from being disingenuous, and guarantees are most certainly that.

So, no trainer who aims to address the actual emotional causes of a behavior (the only way to get lasting and healthy change), can guarantee results.  But here's the thing - some trainers CAN guarantee a change in behavior, because they DON'T address the root cause.  Instead, they use pain, fear or intimidation to change a surface behavior, exacerbating the underlying emotion that causes it.  Sure, a psychologist might be able to get a person to kick a drug habit by threatening his life.  But will they be able to stop that person from jumping off a bridge spurred by the underlying emotion which has probably been made worse because of the fear of pain or death at the hands of the psychologist?  This may sound extreme - but the fear of death is ultimately what trainers who use pain are tapping into with dogs.  Physical pain is life-threatening to them, and causes deep fear.  If your dog is stressed and pulling on the leash, put a prong collar on your dog and she'll stop pulling because she's afraid of the pain caused by the sharp metal edges digging into her neck.  She'll learn to suppress that behavior.  But she'll still be stressed.  And that stress WILL find an outlet in ANOTHER behavior.  And it will be a less predictable, more extreme behavior - often a much more dangerous one than pulling on the leash.  That's why even though it is tempting to go with a trainer that guarantees results, it's a huge, bright, waving red flag.  Opt for honesty and compassion and you'll be doing right by your dog and yourself.   

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tip of the Day: What are you telling her?

Be aware of your body language and tone of voice.  Your dog is watching you for signals - tension in your body and voice are signals to your dog to be afraid.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Dog Park Blues

Taking your dog to the dog park might have the opposite effect you might expect.  Instead of tiring him out, it may rile him up.  Many dogs don’t enjoy dog parks - often there are many dogs confined in a relatively small space along with all their owners.  This can create a very stressful environment that will remain with the dog long after, which can manifest in stress-related behavior issues.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dog Bite Prevention PSA

Check out this cool (though somewhat scary) PSA to prevent dog bites:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Tip of the Day: What should she DO?

You’ll have more success training your dog if you think in terms of what you DO want him to do as opposed to what you do NOT want him to do.  For example, what would you prefer he did instead of barking at the doorbell?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013


Reward your dog every time she sits without being asked.  Especially in front of doorways, her food bowl, or in front of a stranger with food! Sitting will then become her default behavior. She'll ask for things she wants by sitting, not jumping, counter-surfing, or barking!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tip of the Day: Leverage Prey Drive

If you’re having trouble getting your dog to come to you, try making a crazy sound and running in the other direction.  Sounds bizarre, but it’s a good bet in a pinch.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Tip of the Day: When in doubt, switch treats!!!!

Switch the treats you use for training.  Keep it new and interesting for your dog and you’ll get better focused attention from him.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Thinking is exhausting...

Remember that for dogs, working their brains can be just as tiring as working their bodies.  Get some food-dispensing puzzles so that your dog has some good mental stimulation on a daily basis.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Tip of the Day: Bones.

Ask your butcher if he’s discarding any bones that week.  Take them off his hands, freeze them, and give them to your dog when he’s bored.  He’ll love it!  Just make sure they are dog-safe - chicken bones, for example, are not.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Tip of the Day: What to tell your kids

It’s not safe to instruct children to put their hands near a dog’s nose so he can sniff them.  Instead, ask them to make a fist and hold it down by their knees, and if the dog wants to engage with them he will approach.  Otherwise, it’s not safe to pet that dog.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Tip of the Day: Signaling Calm

Tension in the leash translates to tension in your dog.  Keep the leash loose and remain calm - this way you’re not inadvertently signaling to your dot that something’s wrong.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tip of the Day: Your Dog is Good for Your Health

Petting your dog triggers a release of oxytocin in both you and your dog.  This is the same chemical reaction that happens in mothers in response to their babies.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Tip of the Day: Tail Wagging - good or bad?

Not all tail-wagging means the same thing!  For example, loose, wide tail wags accompanied by a loose and relaxed body means happy.  Stiff body and fast, sharp tail wags means the opposite.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Tip of the Day: Cats Are People Too.

Have CATS too?  Create perches at varying heights on your walls in the rooms where you spend the most time.  This way your cat can be together with the gang while not being in the middle of the action.  This can have a surprising effect on common behavior problems and histories of conflict between your cat and dog.  And it’s totally DIY!  You can use regular shelving with carpeting glued on top.  No one will know the difference between the perches and normal shelves.  (Just make sure the perches are long and wide enough so that your cat doesn’t feel like she’s going to fall off the end).  

Tip of the Day: Personal Space

Not all dogs are comfortable with strange dogs approaching them while they’re on leash.  Respect other dogs’ space and avoid possible altercations by looking at the other dog’s body language, and then always asking the owner if a greeting is permissible.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Tip of the Day: Brushing for Calm

Brushing your dog isn’t just good for getting out knots in long hair.  Short hair or long, brushing with a soft-pronged brush or mitt will help distribute oils in your dogs skin while helping her relax.  Make sure you brush with long, slow strokes.