On “Fixing” Behavior Problems: Reachable Goals and Wishful Thinking

On “Fixing” Behavior Problems: Reachable Goals and Wishful Thinking

As part of my job, I spend a fair amount of time talking on the phone with potential clients who are interested in scheduling a behavior consult.  We talk briefly about the dog’s issues, the owner’s main concerns, and how the consultation visit works. Most of these people are good owners who love their dogs, and genuinely want to know how to help them.  Not surprisingly, many of them are also somewhat desperate for a solution – a dog with…

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The Truth About Treats: Why Do We Use Them In Training?

The Truth About Treats: Why Do We Use Them In Training?

Today, I want to talk about a topic that seems to provoke a fair amount of consternation among students in my beginner obedience class.  Namely, this: Why do we have to use treats? This is a reasonable, and very common question – and so, I will do my best to shed some light on this subject in our discussion today.  If you’ve ever wondered this yourself, or asked your obedience instructor why you need to bring a baggie full of…

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Nuisance Behaviors And “Naughty” Dogs: Whose Problem Is It, Really?

Nuisance Behaviors And “Naughty” Dogs: Whose Problem Is It, Really?

“My Prissy is such a bad girl!  She always jumps on visitors as soon as they come in, even if her paws are muddy.” “Buster drags me down the street every time we go for a walk!  He obviously thinks he’s in charge.” “My puppy won’t stop chewing on things – she destroyed my favorite pair of shoes last week!  I think she does it on purpose.” “Charlie insists on barking at everyone who walks by the house, even though…

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“Can I Pet Your Dog?” Why It’s Always Okay To Say No

“Can I Pet Your Dog?” Why It’s Always Okay To Say No

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of meeting a lovely young border collie I’ll call “Sami.”  She was a beautiful example of a well-bred herding dog – quick, keenly intelligent, and fit and graceful at just over 12 months old. Her owner brought her in for a consultation with me because she was having, as she put it, “some issues with Sami around strangers.”  Things had seemed to be fine for the first few months after bringing Sami home…

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Solutions For Separation Anxiety: How To Make “Alone Time” Less Scary

Solutions For Separation Anxiety: How To Make “Alone Time” Less Scary

Welcome back for this week’s follow-up post on separation anxiety!  If you missed my previous post on recognizing some tell-tale signs that should make you suspicious of this problem, you can find it here. Today, I want to delve a bit deeper into what we can do to help dogs with separation anxiety – including some details on what strategies worked well for our boy Duncan, many years ago.  We will also discuss some ways that you can be proactive…

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When Love Is A Double-Edged Sword: Recognizing Separation Anxiety

When Love Is A Double-Edged Sword: Recognizing Separation Anxiety

Today’s topic is one that has always been close to my heart, for reasons that I hope will soon become obvious.  This is the story of Duncan – my family’s very first dog.  My first agility partner, snuggle buddy, and all-around best friend.  I could fill a novel with all the things he taught me, and I will always be grateful that he was my canine “first love.” His story is painful to tell in some ways, because I see…

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Throw Me A Bone! How To Give Your Dog Effective Feedback

Throw Me A Bone! How To Give Your Dog Effective Feedback

As a starting point for today’s discussion, I want to delve a little deeper into a very common, deceptively simple question that all trainers have heard more times than they care to count: Why doesn’t my dog listen? This question, or some variation of it, is probably the single most frequent thing I am asked by beginner students in my obedience classes.  Their dogs are jumping on visitors, pulling on the leash, having potty accidents in the house, or running…

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