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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Give New Pets Some Time To Settle In

New Family Members
In describing bringing home a rescue animal, someone wrote "he [the dog] is still trying to figure out whether or not you are going to eat him."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

When Pets Don't Like Each Other

Have you ever had to live or work with someone you didn't like?  Think of the things that made the process a bit more bearable for you (time apart, everyone in their own space, less stress in general, focusing on other things, etc..)
Those same things might also help pets who have to live together.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Pets and Furniture. Part II. Asking Our Dogs To Get Off Of Furniture

In our last post on pets and furniture, we talked about how to ask a dog to get off the sofa or bed.
And we briefly mentioned that we should never pull a dog off. Here are some reasons why:

Monday, April 13, 2015

From the Mail Bag - Trouble With Attention During Loose Leash Walking

From a reader:
I really enjoy your posts and videos. I have been working on loose leash walking with my Jack Russell Terrier (terrier and highly distractible!) for a long time. We have had minimal success. I notice in your videos that your Puddin is engaged with you while you are walking. My Penny very rarely looks at me when we walk. When she starts pulling, I stop and don’t move again until she comes back to me, sits next to me and looks at me. I reward her and try walking a few more steps. I can get about 2-3 steps before the cycle starts again. We have been doing this for months and have not progressed beyond 2-3 steps. Do you have any tips I can use to get her to engage with me and try to make the walks a little longer without the big pull? We are walking on the sidewalk in front of my house and have only gotten about two houses away.

Thanks so much for your compliment. And good job on trying to take things slow. See my responses below.

< My Penny very rarely looks at me when we walk>
Understandable. The outdoors can be highly distracting. Especially for such a high energy breed.  The more we can break down the behaviors we want, the greater chance we have for success. So I would start working on "attention" indoors. The slowly increase distractions. My own dog had trouble going from the yard to the sidewalk. So I had to find something more interesting than the yard but less interesting than the sidewalk. We found it in an empty parking lot (our long line video
If that doesn't work, then stay inside and increase distractions while inside. i.e. having someone toss a toy while you walk indoors
Or ask your dog to walk past a plate of food while you are indoors (only if your dog can do it - don't set her up for failure or frustration)

Info on attention/focus:

Watch me:

Check ins: 

Pattern Games:


If none of the above helps, then breaks things down even more

Then once you have attention, start rewarding your dog for walking next to you indoors with no equipment, then with equipment, then outdoors in a boring area. See above about the parking lot. It's what helped my dog, but your dog might need something else.
More details here:

<When she starts pulling, I stop and don’t move again until she comes back to me, sits next to me and looks at me>
The stop and start method can be useful but can also be problematic.  See more details here:

If your dog has any fear or reactivity issues, I'd work on those separately


Loose leash walking can be challenging for a lot of us.  It took me a long time to teach Puddin (and we are still far from perfect). Hang in there.

Additionally, check out everything by Leslie McDevitt (books and DVDs).  Lots of great info on helping a gain focus and attention.  Check DogWise, Cleanrun, and Tawzer. 

Saturday, April 11, 2015

What We Think We Are Training And What The Dog Is Learning Might Be Two Different Things.

One of my dogs used to sneeze whenever we’d walk out of the house to go for a walk. I thought that since he was so predictable, capturing and rewarding the sneeze would be simple. After about 10 trials, I noticed a positive CER* whenever I closed the door.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Dog Appeasing Pheromone

Life among humans can sometimes be stressful for our canines. Especially for those dogs who might have missed early socialization or have other issues.

Of course the best thing to help these dogs is to get them feeling safe and use counter conditioning and desensitization to help them feel better about the things that bother them.  Some people believe there are products can help calm dogs just a bit.  One of those such products is "Dog Appeasing Pheromone" or DAP.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

On Dogs Who Are Scared Of The Man of the House

Sometimes dogs who are shy can be afraid of men.  A reason is not always known. Maybe it's because men tend to be bigger and have deeper voices.  Might be because the dogs can smell the testosterone
I suspect that for many rescue dogs, it might just be neophobia (fear of new things). A lot rescuers and fosterers are women.  And some of these dogs probably didn't meet a lot of men during their crucial socialization period.

Regardless of the reason, pet guardians need to figure out a way to help the dog feel better about members of the household.