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!


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.

Secret Service Dog Dies from Fall

Photo credit

I hope it was the dog’s fault. I hope for the handler’s sake the dog made the decision on his own.

Making mistakes while training or handling is common. We’re human, we’re all about imperfection.
We make mistakes in judgement, technique and timing. But we’re seldom if ever faced with a mistake
that takes the life of our dog.

The idea of making a mistake that sends our partner, friend and family to it’s death is almost too horrifying to contemplate. In this case I dearly hope the dog made the decision which led to his own death. I hope the dog disobeyed, or mis-read, or simply made a bad decision to investigate.

I believe it’s possible the dog jumped over the concrete wall of the parking garage, thinking it was a barrier. It’s doubtful that we’ll ever get that information as the general public wouldn’t understand or be interested in the finer points of training dogs, so it’s unlikely to make the news.

The barriers used in military style dog training are often vertical panels which resemble the walls of parking garages. This is a mistake of recognition a dog could easily make. The handler might have directed the dog to check near the wall or the front of a vehicle only to see the dog sailing up, over and out of sight. If that was the case, the dog would have expected to land on the other side of the barrier.

I make training and handling mistakes all the time, everybody does. In fact, making mistakes paired
with the ability to be honest about the results enables us to learn.

I however, can apply my mistakes and gained knowledge to future benefit.
That is redemption, it allows us to forgive ourselves for being human. We can make up for whatever harm we might have caused.

This handler is faced with a nightmare with no redemption, the worst possible kind of mistake. This man has lost a partner and a friend and he has no way to make it all better. So for his sake, I hope it was the dog’s error.

My sincerest condolences.

Christmas Dangers

Christmas is coming! With all the joy of the holidays it can be easy to forget about the dangers for your pets that also come with the season. Keep some of these tips in mind as you enter the holidays!


        1. Dogs love to unwrap Christmas presents! This is great fun on Christmas day, but before then, it can cause serious problems. Make sure not to put anything under the tree that your dog will be tempted to open. Anything that smells good will definitely catch their attention; like a nice leather wallet or belt, or yummy food, like chocolate.
        2. Poinsettias bring Christmas cheer wherever they are seen. However, it is important to know that these festive plants are very poisonous to your pets. Best to keep them far out of reach.
        3. Christmas decorations are always fun! Or are they? Be careful with light cords as dogs and puppies especially, love chewing on them. Keep cords in a protector or out of reach in some other way to prevent electrocution.
        4. Another common Christmas time hazard is tinsel. Tinsel can be very harmful if swallowed by your dog. Tinsel tangles up in animals’ intestines or punctures their sensitive organ walls.
        5. Often times during the holidays candy is left out in dishes on counters or low tables. Make sure these stay out of reach of your pets. Chocolate contains theobromine, and many candies are sweetened with xylitol; both of which can be fatal when ingested by our pets.
        6. With all the food at the table and those begging eyes looking up at you, it can be very tempting to give just a little human food to your pet. Don’t give in! Most of the food on the table will just upset your dog’s stomach.