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Archives for August 2015

A choke chain and cheese

When I was 8, I trained my Siberian Husky with a choke chain and a slice of American cheese. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that I was using “people food” or that she would start begging because she had some cheese or that I was training a dog that only worked for cheese and not out of her undying love for me and all my instructions. She was a husky and I was 8 so, let’s face it, training was a precarious mission and I was certainly going to use any and all the help I could get.

This is where it all started

This is where it all started

But this is not a blog about using food to train dogs or how I still encounter people who resent using food in dog training. I was actually just musing about how far I’ve come since using a simple slice of cheese. When I train now, I have no fewer than five types of food and I still seem to be perpetually missing something.

Check it out.

I use hard, dry biscuits when I need something that hits the floor with a thud. I use white treats on dark floors and dark treats on light floors. I have small, soft treats for rapid-fire shaping sessions. I have long dangly treats to hang off of ring gates and cones. I have hunks of meat to make a serious impression. I have meatballs when I need something that rolls. I use brightly colored treats that the dogs can easily find in tall grass and always have sample bags of kibble for when I need some tiny but not too high value training treat. I have paste and rollerball treats when I need to encourage licking versus chewing.

I’m forever seeking out treats that don’t get crumbly in my pocket, that don’t leave my hands slimy and disgusting, and that are seriously exciting for my dogs. I still forget about food in bait bags and find moldy horrific things growing in them. Sometimes I play the game, What in the world did that food used to be? as I stare at some mold that is completely unrecognizable.2_signs-you-re-living-nightmare-flatmate

I have baggies and Tupperware containers in various sizes. I was super psyched when I found the Tupperware with tiny ice-packs in the lids to keep food fresh longer.

I have texted people for the express purpose of alerting them that a certain treat is in stock or that they *need* to try some new product immediately.

My dryer lint consistently has treats in it, left over from pockets I forgot to check before tossing clothes in the wash.

I am always a little embarrassed and surprised when a client tells me that they’d rather not put food in their sweatshirt pockets. Um, isn’t that what they are for?! I’m also taken aback when clients ask me, “Don’t you want to wash your hands?”. Honey, I live with hot dog hands.

So, it only makes sense that I buy clothes that I think will specifically make holding and delivering treats easy. I buy gloves that make it easy to get treats when it is cold outside.

My opinion of people always goes way up when they pull out a cool treat I haven’t yet seen. I definitely suffer from Treat-Envy.

My grocery cart looks like I live on pepperoni, string cheese and meatballs (the rest of the cart has peanut butter, yogurt and cans of pumpkin for stuffing Kongs).

A super special reward for me is a trip to Clean Run with a credit card.




And that’s just the food! Don’t even get me started on toys, marker signals, tugs, collars and harnesses.

To think, once upon a time I was just a girl with a choke chain and cheese.

Top Ten Treats:
1. Happy Howies Gourmet Meat Roll-Turkey or lamb


2. String cheese

3. Hormel’s Mini-pepperoni


4. Meatballsbravo

5. Paneer cheese

6. All-beef bologna

7. Hebrew National hot dogs

8. Charlie Bears

9. Buffalo Bites

10. Bravo freeze-dried treats


Fall 2015 Events

Hi all! I hope everyone is enjoying the summer with their canine and feline companions. Fall is just around the corner and with it come some great events. Registration is open for all of them so get your place in now!



Saturday, September 12th from 12PM-4PM
Are you very busy with your life? Are you part of the Midnight Dogwalkers Club (where no one else can see you)? Are you desperate to learn how to rein in your dog’s reactivity but not sure where to get started? We work on what owners need to know in order to succeed and teach dogs what they need to know in order to cool it. Ideal for dogs with arousal issues, hypervigilance, motion sensitivity and general impulse control issues including a history of snapping, lunging, basically just freaking out. Ideal for owners that are committed to their dogs and are looking for some efficient ways to help their dog reach the goals of walking nicely in a neighborhood, seeing other critters and not losing their mind, and more.
The first part of the day will be lecture and discussion about body language, your own experiences and we might toss in some science to help you understand how the reactive canine brain works. Then we’ll move into hands-on work! You will be introduced to several exercises that are key for getting your reactive dog to behave better. Registration will be for auditors and handler/dog teams. All working dogs in seminar must have a crate and be comfortable in it.


October 3rd and 4th, 2015 from 9AM-5PM

Join us for a remarkable two day experience with one of the country’s most amazing dog behaviorists, Brenda Aloff. Brenda’s CV is too extensive to put here, but you can check out her information on her website,

October 3rd will focus on performance work. October 4th will focus on problem behaviors in dogs.



October 10, 2015 from 12PM-4PM

Learn how to evaluate dogs in a way that is safe for you and low-stress for the dog. I will also be covering transitioning a foster dog into your home, successful fostering practices, multi-dog issues and more. NEBCR volunteers come for free! Other folks – please join us for a small donation of $25 (all proceeds go to New England Border Collie Rescue).



Saturday, October 24th from 1PM-5PM at Dakin Humane Society

Litterbox Issues – How to Create a Lifelong Relationship Between the Litterbox and your Cat
Does your cat miss the box (or doesn’t even try to get in the box)?  Has your sink or tub – or anywhere else – become a litterbox substitute?  In this one hour mini-seminar you will learn how to help your cat learn to love his litterbox.  You will leave knowing what cats like and don’t like with litterboxes, why they don’t use a box… and what you can do to change all of that!

Krazy Kitties! – How to Keep High Energy Cats From Destroying You and Your House
Do you have a cat that launches at you or your cats from perches and from under beds?  Has your cat made you bleed in the past week?  Does he wake you up in the middle of the night meowing?  This one hour mini-seminar is for cat caregivers who are at their wit’s end with how to deal with their cat’s energy.  We will discuss cat schedules, exercise, discipline, and how to get your cat under control.

Claws & Paws – Having Your Dog and Cat Get Along
Have you recently added a new cat or dog to your multi-pet household?  Is the fur a flyin’?  This one hour mini-seminar will go over proper introduction techniques as well as offer solutions for the common issues that come up between cats and dogs.  We will cover barking, chasing, scratching, as well as other problems pet caregivers encounter.

The Meow Wars

Do you have two cats that used to get along…but now, not so much? If your cats are fighting or having issues in the home, this one hour mini-seminar will arm you with the knowledge to understand what’s happening and the tools to fix it!

This CATerrific afternoon is only $65!