Squirrels and Birds and Cats, Oh My!

Squirrels and Birds and Cats, Oh My!

Dog Behavior, Training
Squirrels and Birds and Cats Oh My! is the final part of this 4-part series about dogs and human leadership. Read the previous three articles here. Squirrels and birds and cats aren't the only things competing with you for your dog's attention. But please raise your hand if you've ever had to find a way to manage critter distraction! That would be true for most dog owners, I suspect. Leadership is your ability to motivate your dog to offer attention. Motivating a dog to freely offer you his attention and to dismiss distractions is an art and a skill. It takes patience and practice. Seasoned dog trainers, whether hobby or pro, know that successfully keeping a dog's attention is proactive, and not reactive. They spend a lot of time purposefully…
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Stop Socializing Your Shy Dog

Stop Socializing Your Shy Dog

Dog Behavior, Training
Stop Socializing Your Shy Dog is Part 3 in this 4-part series of articles about dogs and human leadership. Part 2 is A Confused Dog Can't Just Google It And Part 1 is 3 Ways You Hired Your Dog As the CEO. Watch this space next week for the 4th and final article in the series. It felt really weird but I decided to stop socializing my dog. Did I screw up? I'll find that out at some point but for now, the jury is still out... I have not socialized my 10-month-old puppy much at all. At least not the way I intended to do it back in February when he was just a tiny bundle of brown and white fluff. Most people accept that puppies should definitely be socialized…
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A Confused Dog Can’t Just Google It

A Confused Dog Can’t Just Google It

Dog Behavior, Training
(A confused dog wants clarity. In the previous article, I talked about 3 ways that people get disconnected from their dogs. Not knowing what else to do when that happens, most dogs simply decide to become their own boss - the CEO. Those 3 disconnection events are confusion, overwhelm, and distraction. The following article is about how to overcome confusion.) What do YOU do when you want the answer to some question that's on your mind? If you're like me, you just Google it! Easy peasy...gotta love Google! Thing is, though...a confused dog can't just Google it and get the confusion cleared up! Yet dogs have always been able to find answers in the environment...where Nature never lies to them. Dogs are super-savvy observers of their surroundings and that ability…
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3 Ways You Hired Your Dog as the CEO

3 Ways You Hired Your Dog as the CEO

Dog Behavior, Training
If you hired your dog as the CEO of everything, then what's your job? Look at it this way. When the family dog is given the job of "Canine Executive Officer"...CEO... does it mean that the humans are now the dog's...what?...employees? Scary thought, indeed! Not exactly what most people have in mind when they get a dog. So picture this. If you've ever wondered why the dog doesn't "listen" when you tell him to stop whatever, or why he doesn't come back when you call him, or why he leaves you "surprises" on your favorite carpet, then you just might have hired your dog as the CEO! Not on purpose, of course. But there it is. So how does that happen? How did it come to this? That you hire…
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Responsible Dog Ownership Day. One-size-fits-all?

Responsible Dog Ownership Day. One-size-fits-all?

Dog Behavior
In case you missed it, yesterday was Responsible Dog Ownership Day.  At least it was according to the American Kennel Club. What does responsible ownership mean? If you're reading this, I'm pretty sure you are someone who strives every day to take responsibility for your dog's welfare. I respect and thank you for that. Dogs deserve the best from us mere humans. However, you should know that I've spent nearly my entire life surrounded by dog people. And when I see how people engage with their dogs, it's definitely not one-size-fits-all!  As you might expect, they don't share cookie-cutter opinions about what's involved in responsible dog ownership. As a matter of fact, a whole lot of people with dogs view their role as more the parent instead of the owner. But that's a discussion for…
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Misunderstanding Your Dog Will Make You Crazy

Misunderstanding Your Dog Will Make You Crazy

Dog Behavior
If you're like most dog owners, misunderstanding your dog happens a lot.   Ever wonder why the dog picks your stuff out of the laundry or your shoe from the closet?  And leaves everyone else's stuff alone? I bet you thought he was trying to get even for some imagined offense. Imagined by you, that is, - not by your dog.   Here's an example of what I'm talking about.  Maybe you felt guilty about paying too little attention to your dog when you were busy.  And then you figured that because of it your dog must have been so mad at you that he decided to plot a little bit of revenge. So he sniffs out one of your favorite belongings and trashes it. Except for the part about sniffing, that entire scene is just a fantasy.  Yet so many…
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The Little Game With Your Dog That Fixes Big Problems

The Little Game With Your Dog That Fixes Big Problems

Dog Behavior, Training Games
Did you ever wish for a magic wand to get your dog to stop pulling on the leash, quit jumping on you and other people, give up barking at whatever, come back when you called even if he's rolling in bunny poop, stop chasing bunnies, birds, squirrels? I can't offer you a fantasy magic wand, but what I can give you is even better than magic. And you don't have to be a magician or perform any fancy tricks. What if you could play a simple little game and zero in on the reason behind all the naughty stuff you wish a magic wand could fix? So, why do dogs ignore you and do those things?  What do all the things on that list have in common? And what missing ingredient could you add to change…
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Dogs Stuck at Home Want to Play

Dogs Stuck at Home Want to Play

Dog Behavior, Stay Home Survival Kit, Training Games
The coronavirus is an invisible enemy.  I hope you and your family, including the animals who share your life, are all doing OK.  And as you struggle to get everything right and keep hoping you've not missed any important precaution, another invisible enemy - anxiety - keeps trying to crash the party! But remember one thing - dogs stuck at home just want to play! Let me be clear - I don't have any medical training. So heed the advice of the pros for that.  But because I have spent my entire life learning about dogs, here's what I have discovered. Dogs have the mysterious power to comfort, calm, and restore an anxious soul. Yes, of course, you feel good when you pet your dog.  That's for normal times.  These are NOT normal times. …
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Your Over-Aroused Dog Can Calm Down

Your Over-Aroused Dog Can Calm Down

Dog Behavior, Puppy Training
Have you ever tried to talk your excited and over-aroused dog into calming down?  How did that work for you? Not too well, I'm guessing! When your puppy or your grown-up dog is all wired up and bouncing around like a kid on a trampoline, words just don't make much of an impression. Unless you talk louder and gesture a lot - then your dog figures you're excited too!  And that fires up his excitement even more! It's a feedback loop - your excitement feeds your dog's excitement, and so on... There are better ways to help an over-aroused dog to calm down and all of them involve you modeling calmness so your dog can mirror your actions.  We know that our dogs tune-in to our emotions.  So take a deep breath and be…
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A Playdate Checklist for Dogs and Puppies

A Playdate Checklist for Dogs and Puppies

Dog Behavior
A playdate can be a lot of fun for dogs and puppies.  However, don't rush into it without a playdate checklist for essential precautions. Just like humans, some dogs just don't get along with each other. An experience meant to be fun can become scary when dogs aren't a good match for each other. Let me tell you about one of my dogs.  Because I think it's a lesson for us all. One day, when my now 12-year-old Papillon, Junior, was training in Agility, I took him to a group class.  He was about 2 years old at the time. Dogs of various breeds and sizes were there. But my 5-pound Junior was the smallest dog - and also one of the fastest. Fortunately for us both, he ran the fastest... As…
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