Monday, September 7, 2015


You stick with your dog no matter what, don't you? You're as devoted as he is. Together through and through, in sickness and health, with good behavior and bad. You're the best!

We're so lucky nowadays to have so many rescue groups saving dogs' lives and finding them homes when they need them. The flip side just might be, though, that bad humans give up on their dogs more easily because they know those rescue groups are around to take care of their dog if they surrender. Most difficulties with dogs can be fixed, yet people can let behaviors go on for years until they just don't want to deal with their dog anymore.

A great little dog I know is still not remotely housebroken after more than two years. There are no medical issues, no issues of any kind except that no family member will accept responsibility for the poor dog. There's a yard! Easy! But they don't care enough to make a schedule of letting out the dog--though Mom is retired and home most of the time. This is the kind of dog who, without successful intervention, will end up at a rescue or shelter someday but probably not for a few years, when he's not as easily adoptable. Hopefully he'll find better humans who will step up and do right by him.

Yes, there may be reasons that dogs must be rehomed, but one of those chief reasons should not be because their humans fail them, especially for simple issues. So many great dogs are really underappreciated.

So thank you for being always being as loyal to your dog as she is to you. She absolutely deserves it and you will never be sorry.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Basic Five

Most people call in a professional dog trainer when there is a problem. "My dog is peeing all over the house." "I think my dog has separation anxiety." "My dog is chewing up my house." "My puppy hates our cat." Great! Let's fix problem behaviors. Did you know trainers also know how to train?

So many people have dogs literally for years and don't even train it to sit! Truly. Or "He comes sometimes, if he feels like it." So many people just don't seem to care if their dogs know even what I call The Basic Five: sit, down, come, stay, and walk nicely on a leash. How can you have a dog in your life and not train it to do anything? Maybe a turtle is a better pet, then! What a waste of a fabulous animal who can learn more than 200 words!

The Basic Five can actually help with those problem behaviors, too. Dogs with tired brains tend to chew less, have less anxiety, and chase the cat less often--or at least you can say, "Come!" when the puppy starts to chase the cat.

Of course there are also "leave it" and "place" and "kennel" and a hundred other useful cues your pup can learn. Not to mention lots and lots of party tricks, like "high-five" and "spin left" and "spin right." So very many ideas!

Dog won't come when he's called? Call me! Let's make your life easier.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Who's Got Class?

You should!

Lots of people get private training for their dogs, and of course that sounds great to me. But every dog needs a hobby in addition to having a trainer come in. Just because your dog knows sit and down doesn't mean he can't learn one hundred additional things. Every dog needs an obedience class at the very least. Every dog. No matter how good a trainer is; no matter how good his person is. Just because Duncan will sit in the kitchen to wait for dinner doesn't mean he'll do it in a new environment with other dogs and people around. That's how you get a dog who really listens.

If your puppy is still under six months, she should definitely be in a puppy class, and I don't mean at one of the popular pet store chains but rather with a truly qualified professional supervising bully puppies and keeping every situation positive. If your pup is older than seven months, he probably should go to a novice/beginner obedience class. Even if he is the most perfectly behaved dog, couldn't you use advice and a support group, anyway? And the most perfect dog needs class just as much.

You may think you don't have time for a weekly class, but it's usually just an hour for six or eight weeks. Imagine how bored your dog probably is without the stimulation of being in class. Because our dogs are with us on earth for much too short a time, we need to go out and squeeze out every bit of fun and give them the most interesting existence ever. They deserve that.

So who needs class? You do!

(Where to go? Ask me and I'll tell you!)

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ps and Cues

How many cues does your dog know? We used to call them "commands" in the olden days, but how much nicer is "cue"? Your dog can learn literally hundreds of words, and I've yet to run into a dog who says, "Wait! I can't possibly learn one more word!" So put a name on it! Keep your dog's brain growing and his life interesting!

Does your dog know only sit, down, and come? He knows a lot more behaviors than those, so call them something. And of course teach new behaviors, too.

When Tanner came to live with us, he came pre-installed with spinning in circles in happiness. (Yep, pretty cute.) So we tagged it with "spin." He already did it, so I created a party trick. "Spin" eventually became "left" and "right," which are quite useful, especially for agility competition. Since Dori loves fetch so much, she knows the names of her favorite toys and "upstairs" and "downstairs." Why not?

Oh, cues make your life easier! Telling the three dogs "rug" to sit and stay on our area rug means I can go pick up the fuzzy mouse cat toy I don't want them to try to eat. Telling Dori to go "up on the chair and settle" means I can stop playing fetch for a while. Telling Tommy "no bushes" means he will skip peeing where he shouldn't and move on.

A guy recently passed me on the sidewalk while I was working with a pair of dogs, and I noticed him turn and look over his shoulder after he passed. Yes, we were all very cute, but it really was because I was talking to the dogs. There are too many dog guardians on the street who are on their phones, let alone giving cues to their dogs. Guess whose dog is more enraptured by her person?

Teaching new cues with new behaviors is great and you should--but in the meantime, just name the things your dog already does and see how much he picks up on his own. Don't let him live in a world filled only with "sit," "down," and "come" (and does he really come when you say that, anyhow?). I'll help!