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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When Obedience Isn’t The Answer

When Obedience Isn’t The Answer

“Hello!” The voice on the line is earnest and cheerful.  “I’m calling to sign my dog up for obedience class, please.” Of course, I say.  We have new class sessions starting every few weeks, and we’d be happy to help her sign up.  I ask for a bit more information about her dog, and what skills she’s hoping to work on in class. “Well, he’s a nice dog.  I mean, he’s great with the family.  But whenever strangers come around,…

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Harsh Truths And Difficult Choices: The Reality Of Behavioral Euthanasia

Harsh Truths And Difficult Choices: The Reality Of Behavioral Euthanasia

This week’s topic is not an easy one to discuss.  Few things in the world of behavior are quite as controversial as the decision to euthanize a dog – it’s a tragic outcome, heartbreaking for owners, trainers, and veterinarians alike. Like all controversial topics, this one tends to provoke strong feelings and opinions on both sides.  And unfortunately, when emotions are running high, misunderstandings and false assumptions are all too common. Some well-meaning dog lovers I have encountered, whether in…

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The Art Of Rewarding Mistakes

The Art Of Rewarding Mistakes

Yes, that’s right.  Today, we will be discussing how to give your dog treats for doing something wrong in training. (WHAT??) If the title of this week’s blog post makes you scratch your head a bit, don’t worry – you’re not alone! After all, mistakes are part of dog training, and we all know how to handle them… right?  Reward the dog for the behavior you want, and withhold the reward (or apply a correction, if you use corrections in…

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It’s Not “All In How You Raise Them”: The Role Of Genetics In Behavior

It’s Not “All In How You Raise Them”: The Role Of Genetics In Behavior

If you’re a dog owner, I’m sure you’ve heard this refrain. Conventional wisdom says that young puppies come to us as blank slates.  Full of promise and limitless potential, ready to be molded into your ideal companion as long as you do your part – provide lots of love, the right amount of discipline, and appropriate training along the way.  If you’re a caring, responsible pet owner, there’s no reason that your puppy should not grow up to be a…

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Living With “Jaws”: A Survival Guide For Puppy Mouthing

Living With “Jaws”: A Survival Guide For Puppy Mouthing

If you have a new puppy, or are expecting one this holiday season – congratulations!  You’re embarking on a life-changing adventure full of ups and downs, especially during those fragile first few months. If you’ve had a puppy before, or spent much time around one, you know exactly what I mean.  Snuggles on the couch, the first day home.  Soft puppy kisses, a tiny wagging tail. Hopping clumsily after a ball in her very first game of fetch.  Barking and…

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Behavior Medication: First-Line Therapy Or Last Resort?

Behavior Medication: First-Line Therapy Or Last Resort?

Today, I want to shed some light on a sometimes confusing, often maligned topic in the field of dog training – namely, the use of medication to treat behavior problems. You may have strong opinions about this already, and that’s okay.  Many of my clients do.  My goal with this discussion is not to convince you of anything in particular, but simply to provide information and clarify some misunderstandings that I often see.  Medication may be an excellent, life-changing choice…

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