Repetition + Reinforcement = Relevance

Learned cues, situations, people, and places become relevant to a dog, depending on their exposure and experience.  Repeated experiences that are accompanied by gratifying outcomes are meaningful to the dog in a pleasant way.  Experiences work in reverse, too, with aversive outcomes.  Our dogs are learning all the time, preferably from us. Repetition Dogs require […]

What’s That Noise?!?!

Many dogs struggle with noise sensitivities and the resulting behaviors.  These are among the most challenging to change.  Typically, these dogs have difficulty finding a relaxed state of mind and remaining bodily – and often vocally – quiet.  Triggers can be undetectable to us humans, which adds to the complexity of making changes.  Some triggers […]

Life Skills: Meet and Greet

There are many components to successfully teaching a dog to calmly meet and greet people.  Training plans vary depending on your dog’s temperament and in the house vs. outside contexts, among other factors.  The plan for a fearful dog is different than that of a socially confident dog than that of a dog who likes […]

Stay with the Crate

Crate adjustment can take time; it’s a gradual process.  Most dogs learn to like the crate and choose to go in there as a safe, and quiet space.  If the terms “crate” and “cage” carry a negative emotion, call it by another name.  “Room”, “den”, or “house” can alleviate anthropomorphic association. Accepting containment and learning […]

Exercise Balance: Physical/Mental

All dogs need exercise in various forms.  Most owners think of physical activities when providing exercise to their dogs.  Striking a balance of physical activities and mental stimulation is the optimal plan.  Different breeds and individual animals require routines that work for them.  It can be the mental exercise component that is lacking or missing.  […]

The Fearful Soul

Fear responses in dogs can range from mild discomfort to fear to profound fear to true anxiety.  You and your dog are bound to encounter a person, an object, a place, or a situation where your dog tells you that he is no longer relaxed and happy.  It’s wise to pay attention to these fear-invoking […]

Attention First Time Dog Owners

Newbie dog owners are those who have never been the primary caregiver for a dog, or those who have a vague recollection of puppy experience.  Learning to observe and understand your dog’s way of communicating is essential.   Training practice develops handling skills to increase effectiveness.  What are reasonable expectations for all phases of your dog’s […]

You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks

Fortunately for us, the brain is plastic throughout life.  This is true of our dogs, too.  In working with dogs as old as 10-11 years of age, I love to observe how they seem to enjoy learning obedience cues (perhaps long forgotten) and engaging in new and cognitive activities.  What a wonderful way to resolve […]

He Knows Better!

Frustrated owners of young dogs might be heard to say,” Why is he doing that?  He knows better!”  How?  Has the dog been taught otherwise, and the situation went sideways?  Has the dog been punished for engaging in an undesirable behavior and chooses it anyway? “Knowing better” implies that some moral thinking has influenced the […]

The Perils of Boredom

Boredom is stressful for dogs.  Adolescents, especially, and young adults are often in a “seeking” mode.  They are actively looking for something with which to engage themselves.  Often their choices are not human-approved.  Not Bad.  Just Bored. Bored dogs can find lots to do when left on their own.  Stealing objects is a popular choice:  […]