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Thursday, September 26, 2013

How Do I Fix My Scared and Nervous Dog?

When we live with shy, scared or nervous dogs, our number one priority is safety.  Since scared dogs can be easily spooked, we need to keep them secure.  Which means air locks, double leashes, etc.. See more details here

Our next priority is keeping the home as calm as possible and keeping stress to a minimum. More details here

Then we start treating the individual dog.  Our goal with shy dogs should not be in fixing them. We should try to help them feel safe.  And sometimes just making them feel safe might even help them on the road to recovery.
We don't expect Jack Russell Terriers and Border Collies to be couch potatoes; we don't expect Basset Hounds to win agility competitions; and we don't expect pugs to excel at herding.  Turning our shy dogs into happy-go-lucky party animals might be a very unrealistic goal.

How do we help our shy dogs feel safe?  If our pet gets  nervous at the pet store, we simply don't take him to the pet store.  If our dog is afraid of strangers, we don't let strangers approach nor pet. (Actually, a lot of dogs can start to feel better about strangers once they learn that they are not required to interact with them)

But removing all scary things from our dog's life might result in a poorer quality of life.  If our dogs are afraid of walks, we might want to help them feel better about going on walks. Walking is just one example, we might want to help our dog feel better about car rides, thunderstorms, neighbor nose etc..

When we start working on our dog's fears - we need to work on one thing at a time and we need to avoid flooding our dogs.  Flooding is basically forcing our dogs to "face their fears"  - Flooding is stressful to our dogs; it can make our dogs more fearful and in some cases; we can even turn shy dogs into aggressive dogs.
See more on flooding here:

Flooding is the main thing we need to be cautious about when helping shy dogs.  Another area where we should exercise caution is using treats to coax. We need to be careful to not try to lure our dogs into scary situation using treats. More details here:

So if we can't flood and we can't lure with treats, how do we help our dogs feel better about scary things?  Through Counter Conditioning and Desensitization.  We start at a place where the dog is not scared, then let our dog set the pace.

Teaching a dog to like walks:

Teaching a dog to like crates:

Helping a dog adjust to the man of the house:

Collar and Harness Acclimation:

I also suggest joining the Yahoo Shy- K9s list and reading some of my posts there. Here is a list of some of them:

Other related articles

Living With A Shy Dog:

The Relaxation Protocol:

On Forcing Dogs to Meet Strangers:

Recognizing Stress:

Feral Dogs:

Petting a Shy Dog:

Calming Aids:


It's Okay To Comfort a Scared Dog:


Desensitizing Touching:

Everything by Leslie McDevitt - Books and DVDs
Laura VanArendonk Baugh's Fired Up Frantic and Freaked Out
Nicole Wilde's - Help For Your Fearful Dog
Ali Brown's Scardey Dog

Tell us about your nervous dog in the comments section below

Email general questions or comments to
Replies might be shared on this blog but names will be changed or left out.

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Coaxing With Food

Imagine being afraid of snakes, or spiders, or frogs. Now imagine the only
food available to you was a nutrition pellet and the only way to get it is
to wade through a pit of snakes or frogs or spiders, etc..

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Aggression Recycled

I recently saw a video that I liked. It inspired me to make a similar video about how we can recycle outdated training equipment.  To see my video, click here or see below

Friday, September 20, 2013

Dog Will Not Potty On Leash

Some dogs (especially the nervous ones) can have trouble eliminating when when they think someone is looking it at them or when someone is holding the leash

Multi Dog Household Safety

Multi dog household safety.
A few things to consider:

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Chewing and Destruction

You come home from a hard day at work and find your house in shambles. The stuffing is out of your sofa, your coffee table's legs are chewed up, some of your clothes are in the living room instead of the closet.. What do you do? Take a deep breath, count to 10 and remember that spot did not destroy your house out of spite or defiance.

Displaced Aggression

"Displaced aggression, displaced reactivity, redirecting" is attacking something that isn't the source of the frustration. In her book, Behavior Adjustment Training, Grisha Stewart describes redirection as "where your reactive dog goes after your other dog because he can't reach the real target."

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Why does my dog bite his nails?

From the mail bag: My dog bites his rear toenails - not obsessively, but every once in awhile.  I don't mind because I don't have to clip them and I even used to do the same thing (bite my nails that is, not his).

Anyway, I'm just wondering if he could be doing any damage to his toes or feet that I'm not aware of.  It doesn't appear to be allergies, because he just bites the nails.

Have you ever heard or seen this?   

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Yard Cover. Part V - Artificial Turf

From the mail bag: Have you heard or seen anything about the artificial turf with respect to dogs? Supposedly, it's guaranteed for life, doesn't need watering (obviously), and "looks like" a lawn. 

Yard Cover. Part IV - Rubber Mulch

In my last post on yard cover, I wrote that I was interested in rubber mulch for the space between my redundant fencing.

I purchased a couple of bags today along with some weed block and I went to work.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Yard Cover. Part III

A question posed by one of my readers has me thinking about rubber mulch for my yard - not the entire yard but the space in between my double fence. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

All dogs love me

Do you work in a service profession?  A job where you are required to be friendly and personable (cashier, wait staff, bartender, exotic dancer, teacher, etc...)?

Yard Cover. Part II

From the Mail Bag
I hadn't thought of mulch, that sounds like a good idea, especially if there are "soft" mulches - whatever they put at dog parks seems like a great cover. I've also heard of "rubber" mulch (small pieces of rubber that can be scattered on a yard) - I think that was what it was - do you know anything about this?

Friday, September 6, 2013

Yard Cover

From the mailbag
I recently had a tree removed and grinded down in South Central Texas (hot).  The result is a layer of shavings, ranging from sawdust-texture to bark-like chunks.  This has made for great fun for my dogs when they are playing fetch - they love sliding in it and it's also easy to cleanup waste (it hasn't rained yet, so I don't know what that will do to it).
Is there any risk that they will get splinters or is that only possible with living tree bark?  So far, they have been going at it heavily for a couple of weeks with no problems - have you heard of anyone covering their yard with this "thick" sawdust?

Well, I just got a few splinters when I was moving some wood posts that fence workers had left. And I also got splinters from trying to build a sandbox for my dog. So we can definitely get splinters from dead wood.

If you haven't done so already, I suggest running around barefoot. You might also try rolling around while wearing shorts and short sleeves. See if you get any irritation or splinters.

I can't recall seeing any yards covered in saw dust but I have seen dog parks covered in mulch. I don't know if sawdust is good to use or not. Here are so possible pros and cons.

-Lawns use up too much water; and South Texas doesn't have a lot of water to spare.  
- When we don't use grass, we need something to cover the ground to prevent erosion. Sawdust might do that.
-The sawdust didn't cost anything (well unless you count what you paid to have the tree cut down)
- Sawdust is bio degradable
-The dogs like it.

Possible Cons
-Wood parasites
  - -How close is the saw dust to your residence. Do you run the risk of attracting termites, carpenter ants, boring beetles?
-I assume the tree was cut down because something was wrong with it? If so, are you just spreading whatever was wrong all around your yard?
- Could the dogs inhale any of the finer shavings?
- Could the dogs get any shavings in their eyes?
- Flea don't do well in direct sunlight.  Might fleas find the middle or bottom of the pile of shavings an attractive area to hang out in?
- What about other animals that like cool, dark places? - Snakes maybe?
- Do you like to toss food out in the yard for your dogs?  If so, are you concerned about them consuming any of the shavings?

Does anyone have any saw dust success or cautionary stories?  Tell us about it in the comments below.

Email general questions or comments to Replies might be shared on this blog but names will be changed or left out.

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Marketing Adoptable Dogs

Contact about getting an account.  If you can get an account, try to be as accurate as possible when listing breed, age, gender, personality, etc..

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

How Do You Care For Pets When You Need Care?

Several years ago I had abdominal surgery.  I was fortunate enough to know well ahead of time that the surgery was going to happen.
At the time, I lived with a 50 pound senior dog who sometimes had trouble getting up.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dogs and Prejudice Part II

Mail bag question: Why are some dogs afraid of people wearing hats?

Dogs and Prejudice

From the mail bag:
I've heard of dogs not liking certain people and different theories about this.