Monday, September 18, 2017

Naughty or Nice?

“Naughty” Dog Or Normal Dog?

Read the entire article

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Always End On a Good Note?

Always End on Good Note? (Please Don’t, Not Always.)

How many times have you heard or said “Always end a training session on a good note?” I heard it repeatedly when I first went into the field and said it myself, until I saw how much trouble it could cause a dog and his handler. I got to thinking about this training aphorism when I was working sheepdog Maggie this weekend, and she and I weren’t able to drive the sheep in the “practice course” I’d set up for her. It was just too difficult a task for her and me on the particular day with those particular sheep. Years ago I would have switched tasks and set her up to do something easy before I said “That’ll Do”. But I didn’t. I just called her back, said “All Done, that’s a girl Maggie” and walked her back to the car.

It got me to wondering about why I made that choice, rather than “ending on a good note”. And it got me thinking about the concept as relates to family dog training, and why I think it often gets people in trouble.

I’ll start by noting that a significant factor in my stopping Maggie’s session this weekend was that she was hot and tired. Maggie loves to work sheep–if she could talk she’d edit that to “Maggie LIVES to work sheep“. However, when she’s hot and tired she has trouble focusing on both controlling the sheep and listening to my signals. She doesn’t want to quit, but she begins making mistakes and behaving as if her brain is a little rattled. It is not a misuse of anthropomorphism to argue that most of us can understand what that feels like. There was simply no value in asking her to get more tired by doing something she already knows how to do well. She doesn’t need me to build motivation, and I didn’t need to set her up to fail at something she’s normally good at. Read the entire article

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Thursday, August 24, 2017

September Class Schedule Changes

Did you sign up for the August Puppy Class? I am back in town and I will resume business next week.

The September Thursday 7 pm beginner puppy class is starting as scheduled and begins on September 7 at 7 pm.

The August Thursday 7 pm beginner puppy class that was delayed to the death in my family will now start at 7 pm and will be held on Tuesdays beginning September 5. Please note the change in the day of week.

The August Monday advanced puppy class that was delayed due to the death in my family will begin Monday, September 11 at 7 pm and will run for four weeks.

There is an opening in the Tuesday class, so please contact me if you want to hop into that spot.
 Like Us on FacebookFollow on Twitter

Friday, August 11, 2017

Stubborn dog?

Would you be comfortable if your child’s math teacher described her as headstrong or stubborn because she wasn’t doing well in class?  Would you assume the teacher is right and your child is willfully choosing not to learn her multiplication tables?  Or, would you consider that your child may not fully understand her lesson and needs additional help?

If you’re like most parents, you will do whatever you can to help that child learn and understand more easily. I am thankful that my parents did just that when I was struggling with my multiplication homework as a young girl. Math simply wasn’t my strong suit and I needed a bit of extra help and patience from the adults around me.

I am also grateful my parents understood that labeling a child stubborn, stupid or headstrong does nothing to assist her in her learning process and actually affects the way others see her. Labels are very sticky, you know.

Now I’d like you to consider a similar situation, but with another family member, your dog.  She isn’t coming when you call her.  She’s jumping on guests, even when you shout “No!”  She is such a headstrong dog and must be so stupid because you have told her a thousand times!

Read the entire article

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


 The Problem with Punishment

Fortunately today, thanks to force free advocating organizations like Pet Professional Guild, there is much more awareness of the detrimental effects of punishment.  Sadly though, in some quarters it still prevails and is even advocated by some and perpetuated by the media.  So what actually is the definition of ‘punishment’?, what constitutes it? What are the alternatives? Let’s take a look.

What Is Punishment?

Speaking scientifically, there are two forms of punishment – positive and negative. Let’s deal with positive punishment first. Positive punishment refers to when something is added into your pet’s world that he/she deems unpleasant.  This ‘something’ will suppress your pet’s behaviour and your pet will work to avoid it.

What Constitutes Positive Punishment?

Obvious examples are electric shock devices, physical corrections such as smacking or hitting the dog and so called ‘alpha dog’ techniques such as ear pinching, nose blowing and rolling etc.  To be effective, if we can call it that, punishment must be gradually increased over time since an animal will gradually habituate to its effects.

Punishment is not always obvious

This is a problem I often encounter. Owners I work with are sometimes horrified when it is gently pointed out that what they are actually doing is construed by the dog as positive punishment.  Nose taps delivered to a mouthing puppy are perhaps a less subtle example, but leash jerking a pulling dog, shouting at a dog for something the owner deems inappropriate, body shaping a dog into position whilst training, yanking a dog whilst pulling towards another dog or whilst jumping etc.

What’s The Problem Here? – Emotional and Physical Levels

The problem we have with punishment is multidimensional. We have the physical aspect of jerking, yanking, shocking, pulling etc. which of courses causes pain in various aspects of the dog’s body.  This may be exacerbated if the dog already has complications such as musculoskeletal disorders or skin complaints for example or is an older individual or growing puppy.  But we must also consider positive punishment at an emotional level.  Consider anthropomorphically, what would your reaction be should you be electrically shocked, hit, yanked, pushed to the floor, jerked away from something you really wanted to look at?  My guess is a mixture of emotions and feelings including anger, frustration, anxiety, fear, a good risk of aggression resulting from these last two emotions and pain.  These are not positive feelings!  This is the crux of the problem with punishment, the animal is left feeling bad to put it very simplistically.  What is very sad is that in many cases, emotional shutdown results – we call this learned helplessness.  The animal simply completely mentally and emotionally shuts down and appears to comply with the human. Most times passive posturing will be observed. Of course, the animal is not at all complying but has just lost all emotional resilience to respond in any other way – the human usually responds with glee that their techniques are working…very sad.  I recall one dog I worked with whose behaviour had progressed so far due to a near lifetime of positive punishment, it was symptomatic of post traumatic stress disorder.  Read the entire article

 Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Separation Anxiety-2nd dog

One of my recent separation anxiety clients asked me a common question during our initial call, “Will getting a second dog help?”

My heart swells with appreciation for guardians whose dogs display separation-related anxiety.

There’s a technical difference between separation anxiety, when the dog is anxious when not in the presence of a specific person; and isolation anxiety, when the dog is anxious when left alone without any person. Either way, the dog is experiencing anxiety similar to a panic attack. For simplicity’s sake, I’m going to use the term “separation-related anxiety” to refer to both.

These folks are some of the most caring, compassionate and committed dog guardians I’ve ever worked with.

They’re usually frustrated because they love their dog to the moon and back, but they also feel trapped in their own home because every time they leave, their dog displays one or more of any number of separation-related behaviors including continued and progressive vocalization, serious damage to the home, and even self-mutilation.

These guardians are heartbroken and often nearly at their wit’s end.

By the time they find a certified separation anxiety trainer, they’ve also read and/or received some pretty ineffective and often downright harmful advice on how to help their beloved dog.
It’s no wonder that they’re ready to reach for a solution that’s seemingly as simple as adding a second dog. In reality, it’s not simple or easy. So when clients ask the second-dog question, I offer the two most repeated words in dog training: “It depends.”

Here’s a hypothetical human analogy: If your spouse or significant other passed away and you were feeling terribly anxious while home alone, would any other unknown person relieve your anxiety? Bringing a new dog into your home would be like asking a stranger to hang out in your home to relieve your anxiety. I’d venture a guess that even good friends might not alleviate your anxiety. One or two of your friends (you know, the ones you love but who seem to find a way to get on your last nerve) might even exacerbate your anxiety.  Read the entire article

> Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter

Monday, July 31, 2017

A Lesson of Respect and Empathy

By:  Drayton Michaels, Urban Dawgs

I agree with Dr. Overall, dogs co-evolved with human beings and the reason why dogs are so intertwined with humans all throughout our history is to teach us a very simple lesson, be kind and and gentle and empathetic towards innocent creatures that for the most part could kill you, yet don't, despite being subjected to stress on a daily basis. 

This is the lesson of respect and empathy towards creatures that helped us in our evolutionary process. We humans were able to acquire life supporting resources like food, water and shelter more reliably than dogs after some time, but at the start dogs had the survival advantages, and it was humans that needed dogs, not the other way around. That's a debt we owe dogs not the other way around. 

Considering how remarkably few dogs kill humans despite all the stress humans create for them, dogs return the respect and empathy 100 fold. Do we though? Dogs co-evolved with humans and they provided us with safety, hunting for food, entertainment and warmth and for that we all owe them respect, empathy and protection.

The human race, as in every single human on this planet owes the entire canine species their lives because without them, the human race would not have evolved as quickly or as efficiently or as well as we have, so we might not be as far along right now if it wasn't for dogs.

To some humans, dogs are special, valued beyond a thing to have, to some humans dogs are to be cherished and prized. To some humans dogs are evil, to some humans dogs are an afterthought, not even considered.

Every single human on this planet owes a part of their existence to dogs and it's about time that dogs bare minimum were appreciated and respected and given considerations to be safe and well cared for and not hurt or scared intentionally in order to teach them anything. Ever.

Dogs are here to teach humans by way of a test, which is; what do you do when you have innocence in your care? What are you made of then?  
Click here to watch Karen Overall Video

Additional information here: 

Like Us on Facebook
Follow on Twitter