Does your dog come running when you call?

Have you practicedcalling your dog today? Having a solid recall is THE most important command you can ever teach your dog. It can literally be life saving, and, on the opposite side, not having a reliable recall can cost your dog his life. I once heard of a dog trained to the championship level who chased squirrels. He chased a squirrel into the middle of the street. His owner called him, and because he didn’t come when called, he was hit by a car. In order to try to avoid such tragedy, we like to come up with fun, new ways to practice come.

A fun game we play around our house is the Recall Game. If you have two people this is a great game to get your dog excited about coming when called. Make sure both people have lots of treats, and put your dog on a leash, preferably a long leash. Have your friend hold your dog, then walk away. Call “come!” and when she comes give her a party with lots of praise and treats!Then have your friend call your dog, and repeat the process. Eventually, when your dog is understanding the game, you can take the leash off. It’s fun to see the dogs begin to understand the game. They’ll start bounding back and forth.

Do you like to practice come with your dog? If so, what are some fun ways you have created to make it fun? Please share with all of us!

TSA Dogs

From the well behaved pet that doesn’t jump, to the service dogs that allow people to live normal lives; well trained dogs make life easier for people around them. TSA is now working with training dogs at the Denver International Airport to help make life easier at the airport. By allowing dogs to sniff luggage travelers are able to get through lines faster. Have you taught your dog a behavior that makes life easier for you? We’d love to hear about it!

Click here for more info on the dogs working for the TSA.



Pet Obesity

Recently a pet insurance company determined that policyholders claimed more than thirty-four million dollars for health issues either directly caused by obesity or related to obesity. Clearly obesity in our pets is becoming a serious hproblem. Fortunately there can be some easy steps to solving the problem!

        1. Don’t let your pet free-feed unless they are a fussy or pick eater. Letting your pet have constant access to food can very easily lead your pet to over eat. A great way to feed is to measure how much you feed each meal.

        2. Cut back on treats. Too many treats can help add pounds to your pet. Try using their kibble or meal for rewards during training or find a lean, healthy source of treats.

        3. Go outside and play! Exercise is fun! Take a few minutes and walk your dog around the block, play a quick game of fetch, or go for a swim. Exercising with your pet is a great way for both of you to lose weight.

For more information about the stats on pet insurance claims see:

Need Some Help?

hA Boston Terrior puppy was beaten to death with a baseball bat because he was having training issues. This is a terrible offense and sadly was ruled to not be animal torture. As responsible animal owners we should all look to good solutions to our pet’s behavioral issues. If you’re having behavioral issues with your dog here are some good options for you to consider looking into.

        1. Contact your local dog trainer. There are so many dog trainers available; you should be able to find one wherever you live. Do a quick look up on your search engine, ask at the local dog park, or at your groomers or vet to find one or two trainers in your area. Working with a dog trainer can help because they can see your situation from another perspective and offer training advice and exercises to make your life easier.

        2. See your veterinarian. If you aren’t succeeding in training your dog, it might be a good idea to have your vet take a look at your dog to make sure there isn’t something physically wrong with him.

        3. If you are entirely desperate and can’t handle your pet anymore, don’t be too drastic! Rather than putting your dog to sleep, give him another chance by placing him in another home or a no-kill rescue or shelter. Being in a new environment may make a life or death difference for your dog.

For the original story on the Boston Terrier click here


Allergies? No Thanks!

hHypoallergenic dog breeds are becoming more and more popular. The Poodle is a breed that most everyone knows is hypoallergenic. But what other options do you have if you’re allergic? Here is a list of ten breeds that are less commonly known to be hypoallergenic:

Bedlington Terrier

Bichon Frise

Chinese Crested

Irish Water Spaniel

Kerry Blue Terrier


Portuguese Water Dog


Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier


Dogs on this list are considered to be hypoallergenic because they produce little to no dander compared to other dogs. Keep in mind that many of these breeds require extra grooming and care because of their coats.

Tips to a Safe 4th of July

hWith Independence Day just around the corner, it’s important to remember some simple tips to keep your dog happy and safe!

        1. Keep your dog indoors and in a safe place. Many dogs frightened by fireworks. If you know your dog is scared of fireworks or you aren’t sure, make sure your dog is inside so he or she doesn’t bolt when out of nowhere there’s a big boom over their heads.
        2. No handouts! People food is meant for people; dog food is for dogs. Too many handouts can make your dog sick: not a fun way to start the holidays.
        3. If you’re having company, make sure you keep a room set apart just for your dog. This can limit chances for dogs to get out the door later in the evening and also helps keep your dog’s stress levels down.
        4. If your dog is afraid of fireworks, turning on the radio or t.v. can help drown out the noise and keep your dog calmer.
        5. Make sure you have tags on your dog. That way just in case your dog does get out, you’ll have a better chance of being reunited quickly.

Keeping your dog safe is key to having an enjoyable holiday. Enjoy your Fourth of July!


Watch That Puppy!

hNew puppies are famous for getting into trouble when we aren’t looking. You should always watch your puppy when he’s allowed to roam un-crated in the house. Knowing that your puppy is very interested in the lamp cord can prevent a chewed cord and an emergency trip to the vets.

With vigilance you can stay ahead of potential problems and prevent trouble before it happens, all by keeping your eyes on your puppy.

Never allow your puppy the opportunity to make mistakes or get into trouble because you weren’t watching. You can attach a leash or long line to the pup while you’re watching TV to keep him near you, and allow some freedom of movement. Or you can use puppy gates to keep your puppy in the same room with you, making it easier keeping him in your vision.

Remember to keep your eyes on your little prize, and prevent problems before they happen.

Glory’s New Friend

Recently I had a friend come over, and my dog who is normally outgoing was entirely intimidated by him. As a puppy, Glory used to be shy of taller people, and I didn’t realize until then that she hadn’t been around a tall stranger in a while. I worked with them to help them get used to each other. Here are some of the things I did to help my dog get adjusted to somebody “scary.”

I tried my best not to force her too close to him. Glory is a good dog, but I don’t want to put her in a situation where she feels cornered and threatened. That would be asking for trouble, and I don’t want to push her towards a wrong behavior. So I set her up for success. Glory loves the backyard, so that’s where we went. I let her run around some to relax while I grabbed some really yummy treats for him to give to her. At first, I gave her some treats for coming to me when I was near him. Then I gave him the treats to give to her when she came near. She came even closer when he sat down on the patio.

When we came inside, he sat on the couch with his treats, and I had Glory jump up next to him. At this point she had gotten well enough used to him that she was comfortable being that close enough for food.
In just a little while, she was almost in his lap to beg for the treats, and she was doing every trick she could think of in order to get one of them.

After that we gave her a break and let her run around the house with us while we ate. We made a lot of progress in a short amount of time (about 15 minutes) by following some simple rules that can be used in almost any training situation.

1. Avoid placing your dog in a situation where she feels threatened and cornered. Feeling threatened will invoke the fight-or-flight instinct, and if your dog is cornered, it is very likely they will get defensive.

2. Set your dog up for success. Make it easy for your dog to do what you want, and work in small steps. Each dog is different and finding how to make your dog comfortable is important.

3. Because Glory was stressed, this situation called for some very prime treats. Using her normal dog food would not have been nearly as effective. Know what treats are the most tasty to your dog and use them appropriately.

Dogs Love Fun!

Dogs love fun, anything we think is fun, they’re likely to agree. Here’s
a Border Collie ‘Momo’, his owner thinks photo’s which mimic the Where’s
Waldo theme, using Momo as Waldo, are fun. Momo gets to hide in all
kinds places.

Can you find Momo?
Photo credit: Andrew Knapp

Generally we don’t think of Border Collies as champions of the long
down, where they lay in one place for a long time. We think of them as
being more active dogs, running after sheep or doing agility or catching
Frisbees, things that involve running and chasing come to mind when
Border Collie is mentioned. But Border Collies have a broad skill set
and if staying in one place is the order of the day, so be it, the
Border Collie is happy to oblige.

Momo has found internet fame for sitting still and melding with the
background and that’s not easy when your camouflage is black and white.
But why would Momo think this is fun to do, to work so hard at sitting
still while dad snaps photos? What’s fun about that?

The fun is in the car rides, the new places with interesting smells, and
making dad happy in pursuit of his photographic game of hide and seek.
This is a win win for the Border Collie. Momo almost certainly doesn’t
understand why this pursuit is a pleasure for his dad, in fact I’m not
sure myself, but I doubt he cares. All he cares about is that he’s
having a good time and so is dad.

For dogs, being outside and going new places is wonderful. It’s a part
of life that few house dogs ever get to experience. They see the same
things everyday, same yards, same smells, same walks, at the same time
of day. But not Momo, he gets out. He gets to explore, see new things,
smell new smells. For dogs, that’s a profoundly important important
part of life.

Momo’s work as a model gives him access to new places, challenges him
and rewards him, all at once. The icing on the cake for Momo is it makes
his dad happy.

That’s one lucky dog.

To learn more about Momo, click here.

Responsible Dog Ownership

Can dogs be Gay? I really don’t know but I seriously doubt it. I’ve read
about scientific studies where they determined rats to be gay. Meaning
‘gay’ as in homosexual. But I’ve never personally known or heard of
anyone that knew of or had a gay dog.

Perhaps because we neuter so many dogs (that’s a good thing), we don’t
see our house pets breeding, so most people don’t know what’s normal and
what isn’t. Most people don’t have any idea of the mechanics of dog
breeding behavior, so how would they recognize behavior that isn’t
normal? They probably can’t, but that didn’t stop some guy in Tennessee
from making the assumption (click here to see article) his dog was gay because it humped another male dog.

Then, according to the article, this guy dumped the dog at a shelter for
being gay, initiating an internet uproar of condemnation. I have some
thoughts on humping and judgmental internet communities, but let’s deal
with this guy first, then we’ll talk about the internet behavior and
humping dogs.

In all honesty, this guy did about the best thing he could have done. He
didn’t want the dog anymore. He assumed the dog was defective and he
didn’t want it around.

I fail to see how this is any more egregious than millions of people who
dump their dogs at shelters for peeing on the floor or pulling on the
leash. In fact, this guy may have had a better point. If the dog was
gay, you can’t fix that. You can fix peeing on the floor and pulling on
the leash. So this is point number one. Millions of dogs are dumped
every year for very simple, or no behavior problems at all, so what’s so
different about this one?

Huge numbers of dogs are dumped and/or destroyed because their owners
are simply indifferent. They see the dog as an object, not as a being.
When they’re done with it, they get rid of it. For these people getting
rid of the dog is much like throwing out an old rug, they are oblivious
to the rich emotional lives that dogs lead, and their responsibility for
that life.

So the moral outrage over the dog being turned in because it was gay,
rings very hollow. The implication is that not wanting a gay dog is
somehow much worse than not wanting a dog that isn’t housebroken. That’s
a judgement call I’m not willing to make. I don’t see the difference,
both classes of people are equally ignorant, this case is no worse than
the other millions of reasons, or lack thereof, for dumping a dog.

My next point is the man did the second most responsible thing he could
have done when he took the dog to the shelter. The first most
responsible thing would have been to find the dog a another home, but
seeing as the man thought the dog was defective, I don’t see how he
would have thought it right to dump the dog on someone else. Doesn’t
make sense that he’d do that. So this is the next best outcome. He
didn’t beat the dog, or shoot the dog, or abandon it to die on the
highway, starve to death on the streets, or be shot by someone else.
This guy gets a solid B+ in my book of responsible dog ownership. If you
don’t like it or love, if you’re through with it, at least take it to a

Countless numbers of people simply abandon dogs. Some people just turn
them loose, those are the lucky ones because they have a fighting
chance. They might find a good spot to land. The unlucky ones get left
behind in empty houses to starve or die of dehydration, or tied to a
tree and die of the elements. Compared with these people, this guy was
an angel. And compared to the dogs that are deliberately beaten, killed
or starved to death, this dog really made out good. He got a new home,
that’s the best possible outcome.

So I don’t get the internet outrage. Sure I see they may want to make
the point that being prejudice against gay people is bad, I get that.
Perhaps they’re using this situation to make that point so let me say, I
agree with them there, prejudice is bad.

But I also don’t think the people who are criticizing the owner of this
dog thought the situation all the way through. This guy should have
gotten a great big atta boy! Because, based on his understanding of the
situation, he did the best possible thing. On the grand scale of man’s
behavior towards dogs and taking into account this man’s beliefs, he
should at least get a pass.

The last thing you want to do is punish behavior that isn’t recognized
as being wrong. Because the punishment doesn’t teach good behavior.
Rewarding good behavior, however small, does work. It leads to learning
and more good behavior. Rewarding this guy for doing the right thing,
despite his thinking the dog was defective, would have been the right
message to send. If you want people to act responsibly, reward them and
praise them when they do just that. And that’s the issue I would take up
with his critics.

This guy gets a better grade for responsibility than the people
expressing moral outrage. He did the responsible thing, the internet
community had the opportunity to do the responsible thing and mostly
failed. They could have recognized the reality of what happens when
people no longer want a dog and encouraged others to follow the
responsible path. But that was rejected in favor of condemnation. Which
is exactly the same thing the dog owner did, punished and rejected that
which wasn’t understood.

The uproar did publicize the plight of this dog however and he got a new
home, so that qualifies as overall success for this one story. My hope
is the vitriol which surrounded this episode doesn’t motivate others to
dump dogs on the street as opposed to risking internet vilification for
taking a dog to a shelter.

Having said all this about ignorant and intolerant behavior on both
sides of this issue, back to humping behavior in dogs.

It’s no indication of sexual preference. Dogs, both male and female,
hump other dogs, both male and female. It’s a behavior we see all the
time when dogs get together. It just happens, and it happens without any
initiation of sex. It’s not foreplay or romance or anything of the kind,
it’s just rude and provocative.

In the trainer world, we see humping behavior as sometimes dominance,
sometimes play behavior, sometimes to provoke a response from another
dog or test the other dogs tolerance for obnoxious behavior, but not
much else. So on this point, the man who gave the dog up, was almost
certainly wrong about it’s sexual preference.