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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.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Adopting a Rescue Animal

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

Crate Acclimation

Learning how to be comfortable in a crate can be useful in a variety of situations - boarding, traveling, etc..
But contrary to popular belief, dogs are not "den animals." Although some dogs learn to like a crate right away, others might need some acclimation.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Reactivity. Part 6. Impulse Control. Greetings

For all the reasons, I mention in Part 2, I don't let my dogs greet strange dogs when they are on leash.

Reactivity. Part 5. Operant Conditioning.

Once we have a dog who learns that stranger dogs equal treats (classical conditioning) then we can start asking for behaviors (operant conditioning)*

Reactivity. Part 4. Counter Conditioning And Desensitization

We started with helping the dog feel safe and less frustrated (management)
Then we worked on some foundation basics (relaxation, proofed behaviors)

Reactivity. Part III. Foundation

Before we can ask our dogs to ignore something as interesting as another dog, we need to teach what we want in a boring, calm environment.

Reactivity. Part II. What If My Dog Is Friendly?

Frustrated greeters - dogs who want to meet other dogs but who get overly excited about it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

From The Mail Bag - Just Rescued A Shy Dog

<I just rescued a dog.>
Thank you for rescuing

<He went outside to potty, but if we got a leash out he froze.  We had to carry him.>

You might want to weigh the trauma of picking him up several times a day vs the possibility of having house training issues. I'd seriously consider giving him an indoor toilet until things calm down a bit
Ideas for a "Safe Room" here:

Info on leash acclimation here (to be done later)

<My husband and I have let him stay in his safe spot.>
Thanks good.

<he gets outside and literally freezes>
I would seriously consider the indoor toilet.  Getting that scared all the time will really slow down progress

If he won't go indoors, then try to work on setting up a safe feeling area outside.  Maybe a tent like structure, a covered exercise pen, etc.. Something that help him feel not so out the in the open and vulnerable.

<Day three...showered him>
For now, I recommend no baths and very limited handling. Actually only handle him when absolutely necessary

<we rubbed him and tried to reassure him. >
I recommend not petting for now.  Most scared dogs do not find petting reassuring. They would prefer space.

<I would like to ask what the best plan is for a dog that I think has spent most of his two years>
Go really really slow. Let him learn his new world in teeny tiny stages

<does respond to massages and head rubs, not affectionately, but it helps him relax a tad more.>
I would hold off on petting for now.  What looks like calm is probably a dog who is shut down.
More on petting here:
Info on desensitizing touching here:

 <Last Foster put him on SamE and a natural calming spray.  Recommended Prozac, which I do not want to do.>
Alternative meds under vet supervision are fine
Psychotropic drugs like Prozac (under vet supervision) is fine as well. But these medicines don't work by themselves. They need to be used in conjunction with management and desensitization and counter conditioning. I recommend a consult with a board certified vet behaviorist.

Info on counter conditioning here:

<I will not give up on him, just want to make sure I am doing the best thing for him.>
Take things super super slow.

Completely ignore him for a couple of days.
The just walk by him without looking and drop a tasty treat
Later approach with 10 or 20 feet. Toss a treat (if it doesn't scare him), and leave
Later approach a bit closer, toss a treat and leave.
Later if pup decides to approach, toss a treat way and behind him. That way he gets rewarded for approaching but also gets relief.
Have a good trainer or vet behaviorist help with this
More in desensitizing touching here:

Info on finding  a skilled force free trainer here:

Also includes a link for finding a board certified vet behaviorist

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Human Allergies To Pets

Are you sure it’s the pet?
Some people can develop allergies later in life.  So even though that oak tree that has been in the backyard for 15 years has never given you problems, it might be a problem now.
If it’s not too scary for the pet and if it is safe, consider having a friend take care of the pet or board the pet at a reputable facility for a few days.  See if your symptoms subside. If they don’t you will know it was not the pet that was giving you problems.

Could it be something on the pet?
When I used to volunteer at animal shelters, some of the cleaning solutions workers used would make me cough. Especially Fabuloso.
If the pet lived with or played with other pets before arriving at your residence, the pet might be carrying urine or fecal matter on his/her fur.  The pet might have perfume or cologne on his/her fur from cuddling with volunteers and/or staff members and/or the previous owner. The pet could have rolled in something on the ground.  If the pet was bathed right before you took him/her, the shampoo could have been perfumey and allergy inducing.
Consider any flea or tick applications or collars that cause problems for a human
If it’s safe and not too scary for the pet, try giving the pet a bath in a perfume free, dye free, detergent free, hypoallergenic shampoo.  Check with your vet for a good brand.  Or ask your vet about the safety of a vinegar and water rinse or baking soda and water rinse or a sugar scrub.

Can you give it time?
I have found that whenever a new pet entered my home (temporary fosters or permanent residents), I often went through an adjustment period – different allergy symptoms with different pets.
When Matt-Matt came to live with me, the inside of my face itched for about a year. Then the itching went away.  Yes, a year is a very long time. But during this time, Matt-Matt slept in bed with me, right next to my face.  He was comfortable there and he was a very nervous dog by nature so I didn’t mind having him there. If I had given him is own bed, I’m sure my itching would have subsided sooner.
When Puddin came to live me with me, I had very painful eczema for 6 weeks.  The eczema was actually a lot more annoying than the face itching. I probably could have cuddled her a little bit less to reduce my symptoms. But the symptoms did eventually go away.
When Murphy came to live with me, I had a dry cough for about 6 weeks, then it went away.
So will other folks be able to adjust to their new furry family members the way I did?  I don’t know. Of course the down side to waiting might be that the allergies don’t subside and the family is more attached to the new pet.

So what if none of the above works?
Before giving up the pet, talk to your conventional doctor about over the counter or prescription medication. Or talk to a holistic practitioner about other ways to alleviate allergy symptoms. Be sure to thoroughly research any medications.
Something that I happened upon by accident – vegan raw foods.
Despite taking four different medications per day, my allergies were pretty bad at night for some reason.  Every night around 10:00 PM, I’d get puffy, itchy eyes and sniffles.  One day I just happened to eat a couple of salads that contained only raw veggies and fruit and nothing else. Later that night, I had no symptoms. I tried nothing but raw for a few more days — no symptoms. When I would go back to eating cooked foods, my allergy symptoms would come back.
I don’t expect allergy sufferers to change their diet to vegan, whole, raw foods, but it’s just an example of one remedy that worked for one person.
The person with allergies could wash his/her hands after engaging with the pet. Maybe even consider a dust mask when engaging the pet (at least until medical relief kicks in)

Vacuum every day or better yet, remove carpet
Dust every day
Brush pet outside daily ( to be done by the non allergic person of the household)
Wipe pet down with damp cloth daily
Set up air purifiers preferably with HEPA filters
Set up pet free zones in the house (usually the bedroom of the allergy sufferer)

Other allergens
Allergy sufferers are often allergic to more than one substance. Consider minimizing other allergens so that pet allergens are more easily tolerated
Remove all chemicals and perfumes (in the residence and on people) – i.e. air fresheners, scented laundry detergent, makeup, etc..
For more information on allergies to pets see information from the Humane Society of the United States here

Of course some people can have a life threatening reaction to certain allergens.  Asthma attacks and the like are not to be taken lightly.  And human children should not be forced to be miserable and or sick in order to keep a new pet.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Counter Surfing. Part 3. Training Humans

So what if you are willing to keep the counter clean but you are having a hard time with family members leaving stuff on the counters?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

From The Mail Bag: My Dog Won't Come To Me Indoors

If a dog will come in one context (outdoors) but won't come in another context (indoors), then we need to start thinking about what is different:

1. Is there more noise indoors?
People talking loudly
Children playing

2. Are the floors slick and hard to run on?

3. Does something unpleasant happen when the dog comes when called indoors?
Sent to crate
Human leaves
Nail trims

Once you have addressed all known issues (i.e. rubber flooring, not sending to crate when called, etc..). Then just start all over with recall training. You might need to use a new word if the original cue has lost its meaning.

Recall the pup from 1 foot away, heavily reward when he/she comes.  Then proof in tiny increments.

Recall tips and tricks:

Follow us on facebook: Puddin's Dog Friendly Training

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Counter Surfing Part II - What Not To Do

Continuing our discussion on counter surfing.  We've already talked about what to do. Here is what we should not do

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Ladder Of Aggression

Years ago, I worked for in a small organization. We all knew each other well. And all of my coworkers knew that I had several dietary restrictions – (no animal products, no processed foods, etc..)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Pet Medications - Acepromazine

Some nervous or noise phobic dogs are prescribed Acepromazine. Although this drug has it’s place in veterinary medicine, as with all drugs (psychotropic or not), if a pet is not in an emergency situation, pet parents should do their own research in addition to discussions with their vet.

Grooming and Medicinal Support

So you gone through the counter conditioning steps and your pup still squirms, fights, growls etc.. Maybe the issue is more than fear or discomfort. Maybe the pup feels pain while being brushed or while having her nails done or ears cleaned, etc.. When an animal is in pain, counter conditioning might not work.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Distraction Training Or Counter Conditioning- When You Don't Have A Helper

So you've been proofing your dog and he/she is ready for a higher level of distraction.  Maybe you need someone to walk by and toss a toy as you teach heel or stay.  But what if you can't find any one to help?