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:  […]

Walk on By

In the course of leash walking, every dog is presented with choices of how to respond – or react – to passing stimuli.  Training in a “walk on by” cue can provide an effective way to navigate those stimuli.  (Apologies to Dionne Warwick…)  Triggers along the way can vary in intensity.  It may take the […]

The Right Age for Training

Puppies who have yet to leave their moms and litter mates are capable of learning.  That young, they respond to and interact with humans.  Through puppyhood, adolescence, and into adulthood, a dog’s capacity to learn changes with maturity and life experience.  The dog’s temperament impacts his capacity to learn, too.  When introduced to training at […]

Gimme Space

Even the most energetic and social among us benefit from quiet time.  We all need an occasional escape from the barrage of demands on us.  Dogs and especially, puppies, are no exception.  It is a myth that dogs universally love petting.  Sometimes, they do not welcome it.  Being part of a group also means having […]

Using Food to Change Fear-based Behaviors

When dogs are fearful of a certain stimulus, their behaviors in the presence of that stimulus are driven by fear.  With repeated exposure, fear-based behaviors become conditioned emotional responses (CER).  Fear based behaviors develop into a pattern, because they come to “work” for the dog.  Using food to reinforce incompatible behaviors is the most effective […]

Thresholds: Set Up for Success

Training can be fun for everyone and very productive if handlers work with their dogs’ duration, distance, and intensity thresholds.  Working at threshold means that the dog is focused, thinking, and learning.  Frustration can set in for both parties when human expectations get in the way.  It’s easy to breach the dog’s thresholds.  What is […]