Saturday, November 23, 2013


I have had mostly puppy clients lately--with a dash of reactive dogs thrown in to keep me on my toes. I'm not sure why, but I certainly can't complain. I have a puppy addiction that cannot be cured, so I'm thrilled. I'm also lucky because these puppies all seem to have people who really want to give them a proper start.

But I'm reminded often that Puppies Are NOT for Everyone. It's good to remind others again now that the holiday season is upon us (already). Lots of people get puppies while they're taking time off over the holidays. Yes, often it can be a very good time to adopt a dog--rather than the adopt-the-dog-then-leave-it-home-alone-after-two-days-and-you-go-back-to-work plan. But should your next dog be a puppy? I'd say more often than not, NO.

Having a puppy is an endurance test. How patient are you? How OCD are you? For MONTHS your home will not look the way it did. Everything that was on the floor will now live on counters and tables. Unless you're very very very diligent, something will be ruined. Count on it. How much time do you have? Why get a puppy if you're not going to be home? Or if you don't really want to play several hours a day. Or if you just want peace and quiet in your life.

Are you going to raise this puppy to be the best canine citizen possible? That means socializing socializing socializing--which means a LOT of time spent during the important first four months of the pup's life. Did I say puppies demand TIME?

Oh, and "puppy" often means until TWO years of age, depending on breed. Don't expect a lot of self-control from a pup until two years are over. Just when you think puppyhood is over, your dog will prove otherwise.

The majority of dogs turned in to rescues and shelters? Adolescents. At eight to sixteen months old, dogs have been given up on. Poor dogs. They're just being young and energetic, but humans fail the endurance test.

Have I talked you out of the idea yet?

Many people want to "start from scratch" and not deal with adult issues--but are they better qualified to raise a puppy than the people who tried and failed their dogs and brought them to rescues? Nah, not often.

There are so many dogs already in shelters--you probably should take a look at the adults before bringing home the young puppy.

Anyhow, I can go on and on about this topic, but suffice it to say, puppies are even more work than you think they'll be. Many people will NOT go through it a second time!

But if you need help, I'm so completely happy to help. Puppy kisses still are the best in the world. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

More Please

I’m the luckiest because training means knowing so very many dogs.

Only so many dogs will live with me during my lifetime. It’s a hard realization. Realistically, I can’t really be guardian to more than three dogs at a time (and Los Angeles County agrees), so if I do some rough math: 3 dogs x 15 years each = maybe 6 more dogs at our house over the years? That is very depressing. I know I have an addiction—my husband is the first to name it.

But as a trainer, I meet and work with hundreds of dogs. I’ve volunteered time with rescues and gotten to know some pretty great dogs. I’ve been involved with lots of dogs in classes, both those where I’m offering advice or even just taking with my own dogs. And of course I’ve gotten to know clients’ dogs very, very well.

I get more doggie kisses than any human has a right to. The tails that wag at me could power the electricity of a small town. I see the good and the bad behavior, and these pups know from the moment I meet them that I love them either way. Because dogs are pretty stinkin’ awesome.

And more often than not, so are their people. After all, if they’re asking a trainer’s advice, they’d like the best for their dogs, too.

And Tanner, Tommy, and Dori love smelling me up when I come home: they know more dogs, too! Indirectly.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Tons o' Time

(I haven't been blogging lately because I was lost in a find-your-password circle, but finally we're back!)

Everyone is so busy; how do we fit in dog training? Lately I've been reminding myself to follow more often my own advice offered to clients: just a little here and there can make a world of difference.

Asking for little bits of training throughout the day can actually solve a lot of problems or just improve your dog's skills. "Sit" for putting on the leash, "down" and "wait" before going out the door before a  walk, spin "left" before the food bowl goes down . . . Then there are the magical periods of commercials! I adore the fabulous 30-second button on my remote so I can skip commercials, but better to work with your dog for the few minutes of commercials during your show. Dogs like short training periods anyhow.

Dori is getting ready to compete in obedience trials, and Tanner is just starting agility competition. We definitely need to do some homework. So the weave poles stay up now in my office, and whenever Tanner comes to see me, we run through the poles two or three times. I'm making the time to take Dori for some private work in the lobby of our building and in the park two blocks away: different locations are great for "proofing" stays. I have even written Dori into my Tuesday night calendar so we are sure to have some quality time. Tanner meets friends weekly for agility practice at a great facility--then we go to lunch!

Finding a fun activity you love to do with your dog sure gives you time to look forward to. Taking a group class guarantees socialization and bonding time with your pooch. Even hiking with your dog can provide easy time for training, too: practicing quiet sits while a dog or bicycler goes by fits right into a training plan.

You can't spend too much time with your dog, right? The effort you put in is always rewarded--though sometimes not so obviously or immediately. Some issues definitely take more time than a commercial break. (And need the guidance of a professional trainer.) But breaking training into smaller bits will bring you to the results you want. Hang in there!