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Winter Dog Walk Special & Winter Tips

Happy Holidays from PBC!

Oh hey! Before getting into the winter specials and whatnot, do me a favor? I’m planning the kennel for the new digs (more on that soon) and I’d love your input. What is the ultimate boarding experience for your dog? Click here to take a quick survey (only 8 questions). Thank you!!


WINTER DOG WALK SPECIAL

The holidays are wrapping up but the days are still short and cold–who wants to come home from work and walk the dog in dark, cold, icy conditions?! We’ve got the perfect solution for you!

For a limited time, PBC is offering dog walks with Connor for clients who live in Amherst, Hadley, or Belchertown.  Choose 3 or 4 days a week and then relax knowing that your dog is getting a midday outing!  For $40, they will get a 30-40 minute leash walk that also includes practice for their leash walking skills–exercise and training all in one.  Sign up now through our online subscription program and get a 5% discount if you book for the month of January, and a 10% discount if you book both January and February!

CLICK HERE to visit the scheduling link and choose your package! The walking packages are about half way down the page.


WINTER TIPS

Rock salt is BAD for dogs! Choose an alternative like Safe Paw to keep your pup’s feet in good form. If they do end up exposed to rock salt, prepare a simple paw bath by mixing water with a small amount of betadine (enough to turn the paw bath the color of ice tea) and have your dog rinse their paws after coming inside. Dry them well and consider protecting them with a product like MUSHER’S SECRET.

To dress or not to dress? There’s a lot of debate about whether dogs need coats, boots and outdoor gear to keep them warm and protected. In my experience, you need to 1) ask your vet and 2) use common sense. My border collies tear around the ice and can easily rip a nail or pad so they often wear booties on outside

romps. I’ve definitely seen dogs shiver and be quite uncomfortable in winter temps, while others could happily lay in the snow all day. If you’re curious about actual hypothermia or frostbite in dogs, click on the links to learn more. For most dogs that live indoors and are only outside for exercise and walks, there’s not a high degree of concern. But if your dog has the option of spending countless hours outside, remember that they don’t have common sense about when to come inside. Keep ’em safe! P.S. Clean Run is having a clearance sale and Hurta winter coats (awesome!) are a whopping 40% off! Check out the sale HERE! Seriously, they’ve got booties and all sorts of fun stuff on sale right now.

Exercise in the dark? Did you know that dogs have a special membrane called the tapetum lucidum that helps them see at night? So, if you’re up for some playtime outside after sunset, don’t worry about your dog not being able to find the ball or toy you throw. Hey! Cool factoid – that membrane is also why their eyes seem to glow in the dark!

Worried about winter weight? Pets that remain primarily indoors may need LESS food during the winter since their exercise is decreased. If you have pets that spend the bulk of their time outside, they may need MORE food in the winter since their little bodies work to stay warm, thus burning extra calories. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t say it – don’t free feed your indoor dogs! Enrichment, enrichment, enrichment is the way to go to keep their minds busy. Feed out of a feeder toy (Kong Wobbler, Treat Maze, big Kong, etc.), train for meals or play hide’n seek to tire your pup out.


 

 

Fall Updates & Training Specials

Happy Autumn from everyone here at PBC! We are enjoying the last beautiful day before predicted rain and snow come into town. Snow pegs are in place!

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LESSON SUBSCRIPTIONS ARE FINALLY HERE!

We are super excited to have a new service for your pets. Seriously, why was this not created years ago!? It’s the best thing ever! We now have monthly subscription options for your lessons. You have Netflix for TV, Blue Apron for food delivery and now the same type of program for training lessons! No contract or commitment, up/downgrade anytime you want, no messy billing or scheduling – just the peace of mind that training is handled, happening and progressing. We’ll let you know when it’s time for a lesson including you and the family, otherwise, we take care of everything. Things get busy and hectic over the holidays so a lesson subscription will ensure that your pet isn’t getting overlooked with everything else going on. Oh, and did we mention that it’s also less expensive than regular packages or individual lessons?? Yep, AWESOME! And at the risk of being totally crazy, we are offering an additional 10% off for the first five people that sign up after receiving this newsletter. The coupon code is FIRSTFIVE. Here are the subscription options…

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Platinum Program

4 day training lessons per week. This is the ultimate training program, designed to train your puppy or adult dog from start to finish. Includes every aspect of training the perfect canine companion. Indoor management (counter surfing, stealing things), outdoor leash walking and coming-when-called, all obedience commands and tricks & anything else that pops up. Excellent for young puppies, dogs living with busy families who want a well-behaved dog but lack the time to train, dogs with serious behavior issues or smart, high drive dogs that need daily enrichment and work in order to stay sane and keep out of trouble. We even include potty breaks, nail trims and minor grooming! You literally save hundreds of dollars as compared to purchasing a regular day training package.

Gold Program

A super plan designed to keep your dog in good shape with training and behavior! You get 8 lessons each month, an average of 2 per week. Your trainer will maintain the skills your dog already has and work on building new ones. Good for adolescent hooligans, newly adopted dogs with some transition issues, dogs with mild to moderate behavior issues, and dogs that have done more intensive day training and are ready for a step-down. Also included is work on handling and grooming! When you sign up for the Gold Program, you get 8 lessons per month for the price of 7. That’s a savings of over $100 per month with Elise or $79 with Connor.

Silver Program

Whether you have a young puppy or an adult dog, it’s never too soon to get on a good training schedule. The Silver Program is 4 lessons per month, generally 1 per week. Your trainer will be there for day training, working on maintaining the skills your dog has, keeping a close eye on any issues cropping up, and problem solving anything else that needs to be addressed. It’s a great way to keep your pup in “school”! The Silver Program subscription has a 10% discount from the cost of regular lessons.

Bronze Program

Is your dog pretty well trained but needs the occasional touch-up? Has your dog done the bulk of the intensive training and is almost – but not quite – ready to leave the training nest? The Bronze Program is 2 lessons per month, generally 1 every other week. Your trainer will be there for day training, working on maintaining the skills your dog has, keeping a close eye on any issues cropping up, and problem solving anything else that needs to be addressed. It’s a great way to keep your pup on the right track with learning and behavior! The Bronze Program subscription is discounted from the cost of regular lessons.

 


BOARDING UPDATE

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Well, it looks like I have finally sold my house. Closing is scheduled for 11/30/16. I will be moving to an apartment in Belchertown temporarily and, unfortunately, will not be able to board most of my regulars. I could potentially board your dog if they are super well-behaved, ok to be off-leash, have no behavior issues with dogs, people or farm animals, and can go up and down stairs easily (the apartment is on the second floor). Otherwise, boarding is on hold until the purchase of a new home. A beautiful farm in Granby, MA has accepted my offer so now it’s off to the Planning Board to get special permits for training and boarding dogs on-site. If all goes well, I should be closing and moving in sometime over the winter. Keep your fingers crossed! If anyone has worked with the town of Granby regarding special permits, I welcome any guidance or advice.


LOOKING FOR SOMETHING FUN TO DO?

55710a0cf277e14639a72404a170b345After Thanksgiving, the Eastern States Exposition (Big E) runs one of the biggest dog shows of the year in our area. Come see us compete with our dogs, check out the awesome vendors (seriously, more fun dog stuff than you’d ever imagine), see all sorts of cool, rare dog breeds, watch fast-flying agility dogs, perfection in the obedience dogs and more! The whole family can come (except Fido) and it’s only five bucks per car! It runs Friday through Monday. I’ll be there all four days and Connor will be there Saturday and Sunday. Here’s the link for more information!

 

End of Summer Sale

We are excited to welcome cool breezes and sweat-free days here at PBC, although of course we’ll miss the summer. In order to send off the season in style, we’re offering you two great specials!

15% off Day Training for all rowdy pups ages 6 months – 18 months

Has your sweet pup become a wild dog?

Has your sweet puppy been replaced with a wild adolescent dog? We’ll help you find the dog you know and love. Connor will come to your house for 3 weeks, 4 times per week, and work out the wild and work in the training. By fall, you’ll be ready to walk in the neighborhood side by side, have visitors come in without warnings (or body armor!) and more! If you’re brand new to PBC, click here to schedule your appointment. If you’ve already worked with us and are ready for round two (or 3), click here. Remember to use coupon code SUMMER2016 to get 15% off*!


10% off Behavior Consultations with Elise

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Elise & her heart dog, Kai, back in 2009

You’ve enjoyed the summer but it’s time to stop putting off addressing the behavior issues you’ve been having with your dog or cat. Schedule your consultation today and you’ll be on your way to the behavior and relationship you’ve been wanting! Use coupon code BCE2016 to get 10% off*! This is for new and existing clients so spread the word. Click here to schedule!

*Depending on your location, there may by a mileage fee. Offers expire 9/30/2016 but you can book your services for up to a year from purchase. Questions? Email elise@petbehaviorconsulting.com!

 


Have you tried our online scheduler yet? It’s super easy and fun! To check out our full line-up of services and schedule an appointment today, click here!

 

Summer Specials & Updates

Happy Memorial Day Weekend, everyone! We’re sweating it out in Shutesbury and though it’d be a good time to let folks know about summer updates.

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Training Specials! (psst…use the coupon code SUMMERTIME to get a 15% discount!)

Summer Mini-Camp with Connor

An awesome way to refresh or kick-start your dog’s leash-walking and recall skills! Connor will come to work with your dog for two weeks, four times a week. Click here to purchase now!

Summer Bonanza Camp with Connor

Summer is a time for BBQing, swimming, hanging with friends and family. You should feel confident in your canines being part of the socializing! Bonanza Camp will get your dog in shape and keep him there so all you need to do is enjoy their company! Connor will come to work with your dog 4 days a week for 6 weeks, covering leash-walking, recall, leave it and more. Click here to purchase now!


Updates

Canine Good Citizen Testing (TEST DATE BELOW!) cgc-dog

We now offer three CGC tests through the American Kennel Club.

  • Canine Good Citizen
  • Canine Good Citizen – Advanced
  • Canine Good Citizen – Urban

CGC is a great goal for any pet and can reduce your homeowner’s insurance (depending on breed of dog and your insurer’s specific criteria). Visit the AKC site to learn more. Want to see if your pup passes the test? Join us on Sunday, August 7, 2016 for testing. Where? Horsepower Hill Farm in Somers, CT. When? 1pm-3pm. Register now! First person to sign up gets a FREE test (use coupon code FREECGC) and the next 5 people get a 50% discount (use coupon code 50CGC)!

Online Scheduling

We are loving our new online scheduling capabilities! You can now purchase and book your services at your leisure and 99% of the back and forth is eliminated. Convenient, easy and the feedback from clients has been that they love it as much as we do. Check it out…

Online Payments

To simplify and streamline things, we are moving away from checks or cash to an online payment system. Again, so far client feedback has been phenomenal about how easy and quick this makes things!

Interest on Late Invoices  

With the automation of invoices, if they are late, 18% interest is applied. Heads up!

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Have you written a testimonial about your experience with our staff and services? Do you want to? We love posting testimonials so prospective clients can get a sense of us before working with us. It’s so helpful to understand what training and behavior modification are like from your perspective. Now, you can write and submit your testimonial directly on the website. Check it out! Don’t forget to attach a picture of your pet!

Do you have ideas about how we can improve PBC? We are always striving to make training as positively effective as possible. Interested in a service we don’t currently offer? Have an idea about improving an existing service? Tell us!


Summer Tips

Avoid Water Intoxication! We never think about our dogs drinking too much water – but it can happen! Remember to monitor dogs when swimming, playing in lakes or oceans or even at home with the hose. Water intoxication is deadly. Want to know symptoms and treatment? Click here!

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Avoid heat stroke! Overexertion can be dangerous for your dogs. Learn more about signs and treatment here.

Fleas and ticks are out and about! Click on the tick to go to the blog I wrote last summer reviewing all the products on the market. Choose what works best for your dog and family.

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Infinity and Beyond!

Did you know that if you have a dog, you have the most convenient, rewarding, and accessible hobby right at your finger-tips? It’s true – having a dog gives you instant access to the coolest VIP events ever. Want to get in shape? Do tracking with your dog. Want to improve your posture? Do obedience with your dog. Want to spend more time outside? Do nosework with your dog. Want to improve your memory? Do Rally with your dog. Of course I could go on but you get the picture. There are over 50 dog sports out there!! Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dog_sports for a fairly comprehensive list.

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In addition to helping you with your personal goals, you’ll get a ton of extra perks. You’ll make friends with folks that share similar interests. You’ll get to go places you wouldn’t have thought of. You’ll grow and learn and change in ways that will be surprisingly useful…and plain surprising!

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Developing a sport or training hobby with your dog is a truly unique experience. Think about it. Your dog has evolved to work with you and the space for that relationship is huge. It’s not burdened with baggage the way that person-to-person relationships can be, it’s not hampered by anything. Your dog is always available and ready to go. And just like any great hobby, it requires you to get out of your head and focus on the moment. Stress about work, the drama with your family – all of that stuff goes away when you’re training. When you finish a training session, you realize that an hour just went by that your brain was wonderfully free of all the stuff that goes on in life.

I can’t tell you how cool it is to see clients go from having a dog as sort of a peripheral family pet to getting really into a dog sport. I’ve seen lives completely changed, people that have found love and gotten married, deep friendships developed – really remarkable stuff.

For those of you with a DWI (Dog With Issues), getting into a sport should pretty much be mandatory for you. It’s so unbelievably helpful. It builds confidence, helps develop strong coping skills, and gives you ample opportunity to work on weak spots and deficits. It’ll also give you the chance to feel less frustrated, to realize you’re not alone and provide you with a support network.

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Spring is here! The weather has been so amazing lately and I can’t help but feel excited about getting out with my dogs and doing our various sports. Tally is herding sheep, Leelah is working on competition obedience and Nomi is competing in Conformation. Recently, I spent the day at a Training Party and I was the designated photographer. Afterwards I went through over 600 pictures, narrowing it down to about 70 that I posted on Facebook. As I scrolled through the pictures, I was amazed at all the love, focus and commitment that I saw between the dogs and their owners. It prompted me to think about how truly cool the dog community is and what a precious opportunity every dog owner has whether they know it or not.

So what are you doing today, right now (besides reading this blog)? Go to YouTube and check out some dog sport videos and see what catches your eye. French Ring, herding, lure coursing, flyball, agility, rally – there are SO MANY options! Watch a video, find something you like and then find a local team or club (I can help if you’re stuck). I promise, you won’t regret it!

 

Tips on Walking a Reactive Dog (or oh no, spring is here again!)

This morning a client emailed me, asking if I had a handout on how to walk a reactive dog. With the warmer temperatures and people starting to be outside more, her dog was really struggling with all the stimulation. I’m sure a lot of you can relate to her plight so I thought I would share these tips for walking your reactive dog. Keep in mind, in order to be successful, you need to have a training foundation already. And, above all, be safe!!!!

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  1. Walk him when he’s hungry and take super high value food for rewards and redirecting.

If he has a belly full of kibble and you’re carrying around milkbones from 2002, you are missing out on potential leverage you could have. You want to stack the odds in your favor so your dog has the best chance of succeeding. HUNGRY dog. HIGH VALUE treats. If he’s doing a super job, you want to reinforce that with something awesome. If he’s struggling a little, that pungent liverwurst might sway the balance in your favor and help your dog to get back on track.

  1. Walk him on a Gentle Leader or Halti head-collar.

Have the right equipment. Again, this should be something your dog has already gotten used to – don’t just throw on a head-collar and hope for the best. Have a strong, light leash 4 feet long. You want one you can wrap up quickly and hold in your hand (so nothing too bulky) but also strong enough to hold your dog. No retractables. If you’re even considering a retractable leash, you are nowhere near ready to be out walking a reactive dog.

  1. Before heading out, do some focus and emergency hold warm up in the house – don’t take him out if he’s already amped up.

Leaving the comfort of your familiar home and entering the Technicolor explosion of stimuli is a huge transition for your dog. Prepare him. Think of it like you’re going for a run. You need to stretch and warm-up first. If your dog has been snoozing on the couch for an hour, his head is not in the game. Help him by practicing some commands, making sure he’s grounded and connected with you before hitting the pavement.

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  1. Pick times of day and routes that are as quiet as possible.

Your goal is a successful, quiet walk. So, you need to be strategic about when you can go and, yes, this is inconvenient. Google “3am dog walker’s club” and you’ll be surprised with all the stuff about reactive dogs. You might have to get up earlier or drive to a quiet spot. But you can’t overestimate the importance of location, location, location.

  1. Quality is more important than quantity – better to successfully walk 50 feet than to have a nightmare 2 mile walk.

Sometimes we get so focused on “but he has to get his walk in” that common sense goes out the door. There are a lot of ways to meet your dog’s physical needs that don’t include spinning on the end of a leash as he barks and lunges at whatever it is that’s making him nuts. And you don’t need that type of workout either! So, if you are walking up and down the driveway fifty times and he’s not ready for the street, that’s OK! Quality over quantity.

  1. Do not walk him with your other dog.

I know you only have so much time and I know it feels unfair to leave one dog behind. But the simple, undeniable truth is that you cannot train and manage your reactive dog well if you have another dog with you. Holding treats, clicker, leash and a potential Tasmanian devil is plenty. Leave your other dog(s) at home.

  1. Remember your flowchart of behavior.

This is where you need to have put a training foundation on your dog prior to going for walks. If these terms aren’t familiar to you, back up and get a trainer in for some private lessons ASAP. So, remember doggy zen? Reward him for any auto check-ins you get from him. Let him know you’re paying attention and listening to him. If he starts staring or fixating on things, bump up the chart to asking for a Leave It. If he complies, reward. If he doesn’t comply, do a backaway. If he’s quiet and composed in the backaway, reward and proceed. If he’s still having a hard time, do an emergency hold. If he still can’t calm down at that point, abort the walk.  This is one flowchart for walking a reactive dog. If you worked with a trainer who used a different system, adjust as needed. The bottom line is you need to have a flowchart and a plan when you go for a walk.

  1. Be sensitive to trigger stacking. That’s when his stress builds because he is dealing with trigger after trigger after trigger. His ability to listen and do well will fall apart if multiple triggers get stacked.

Did he go to the vet yesterday? Did he flip out earlier that morning when UPS came? Did he hide last night during the thunderstorm? He can’t tell you that he’s had a helluva week and might be too frazzled for a walk. So you need to pay attention to what’s going on for him. When you grab the leash, he’s still going to wag his tail and act like a walk is the best possible thing in the world. But he might be pretty fried on the inside, which means he’s going to have a shorter fuse and less ability to tolerate triggers in the environment. You are his advocate and protector so pay attention.

  1. Walk with purpose and direction. Keep one eye on him and one on the environment. You will do much better if you are seeing things before he does.

Us reactive dog owners know all about the term ‘hypervigilance’. Sometimes I swear I hear James Bond music in the background as I walk a reactive dog and the owner is pointing out which dog lives in which house, who is on an invisible fence, which house has the kids that come thundering out to pet the puppy, and so on. The more you know about the environment, the better prepared you will be for managing whatever comes up and keeping things successful.

  1. Regard walks as a training exercise, not an opportunity for him to meander around, sniff, pee on a million things, etc. Be focused, prepared and think of it as work time, not play-time for him.

I know we all wish we had Lassie and could run through the fields without a care in the world. But you don’t have that dog. Maybe you’ll help your dog to reach Lassie status at some point and maybe that will never be an option. Accepting where your dog is RIGHT NOW is what you need to do. Your dog needs help to stay focused and safe when he’s out walking. If you’re mentally checked out, he’s going to take matters into his own paws and we all know how that goes. So, be all business and work that walk!

The last tip I have is to be kind to yourself and your dog. Dealing with reactivity is hard. It’s stressful. It changes your life. Sometimes it holds you hostage and sometimes it feels insurmountable. It does get better with training and management, I promise! Take a deep breath, remind yourself of all the awesome snuggles and good times, and keep on truckin’. Happy spring, everyone!

 

 

Reactive Dog Seminar

Hi all! We are running a Reactive Dog seminar soon so come on down!

Where: Exercise Finished Dog Training Center

When: Saturday, February 20, 2016

Time: 1pm-5pm

Cost: $25 for auditors*, $75 for working teams

REGISTER HERE!

If you haven’t worked with Elise before or are new to reactive dog work, auditing is required. You can always bring your dog to the next one!

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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.

Thirty Seconds to Perfect Behavior

It’s the New Year and most people are waffling somewhere between excitement about a new year with new opportunities…but…also feeling some post holiday hurt due to eating too much, spending too much and being generally fried. The last thing you want to think about is training your dog. At the same time, you had resolved to finally deal with the issues once the holidays were over and, well, now here we are. It’s time to stop procrastinating. There’s a special treat at the end of this blog for those of you that have been putting training off.

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New Year’s Hangover. Too many marrow bones, apparently.

I’m here to tell you that it’s not as bad as you think. It won’t be horribly hard or time-consuming or awful to train your dog and repair whatever might be broken. In fact, you probably know a lot already and just have to figure out where and how to apply it.

When I do consultations, I hear these statements almost every time:

“Wow, I never thought about it that way. Makes so much sense.”

“Oh, I can totally do that!”

“Just like kids. I get it.”

Now, obviously, not every behavior and training issue is easy breezy but, in truth, many actually are kind of easy. Dog training can be amazingly complicated, artful and dynamic but at the end of the day it’s still not rocket science, folks.

Wearing her finest hat for the holiday

Wearing her finest hat for the holiday. Training is the coolest!

Today I am going to give you one exercise to do that can change everything. It can improve your relationship with your dog, improve his general behavior, improve his training and actually, practically, make a difference on a daily basis.

Are you ready? You will need the following items: your dog, a house with stuff in it, and you. Got all that? If you want to get fancy you can add in some rewards for your dog like toys or food but you don’t have to. Seriously, it’s that easy.

OK, so now I want you to think back to Dog Training 101 and the Leave It exercise. You probably used a treat, either in your hand or on the floor and rewarded your dog after he successfully left it alone. Don’t remember or never went to Dog Training 101? No worries. It takes 2 minutes to learn how to do this. There are a few different versions out there – Doggy Zen, Susan Garrett’s It’s Yer Choice, or Sophia Yin’s Leave It. Here is a link to Garrett’s version. They are all basically the same thing – impulse control games.

So much training falls to the wayside because owners don’t find it practically useful. Who cares if a dog can leave a treat alone in your hand? Who cares if he can stay while you walk around him in a circle? I get it. Being able to do tricks and/or be a superstar in class isn’t helpful when the real issue is that he’s stealing food off the counter, digging around in the trash and jumping on visitors so crazily you are speechless with embarrassment (not to mention out of breath from pulling him off).

You can make major progress on fixing those issues with this exercise. No kidding!

The power of impulse control!

The power of impulse control!

Go in the kitchen and make yourself a snack while thinking how silly I must be to make such a suggestion. As you’re prepping your food, drop a piece on the ground*. When your dog dives for it, block him just like you learned to do with Leave It. You might have to block, unblock, block, unblock a few times but he’ll figure out he can’t eat that piece of dropped food. He’ll figure out that, hey, this is just like that training game from class! When you see that little light-bulb go off, tell him he’s an amazing boy and pet him in his favorite spot. Make a big deal about how awesome he is and mean it.

You’re on your way. Now, take out the trash. Maybe drop a McDonald’s wrapper or delicious used tissue. See your dog creeping up to steal this lucky stash? Block him. Don’t talk, don’t boss him around and certainly don’t scold him. Just block. Unblock. When you see him back off and look at you knowingly with his “I’m leaving it alone” look, giggle with delight and give him a little party of pets and compliments.

Is it beginning to make sense? I want you to start practicing impulse control during your day. Thirty seconds here, fifteen seconds there, using whatever stuff is already in your house. Reward your dog with the fact that you honestly think he’s freakin’ amazing when you can drop a piece of sausage on the floor and he stands there and looks at you patiently. I mean, make your dog feel really good about it. Sincerity is key. If you don’t have that, you can use some food as a reward or maybe play a game with him like fetch or tug.

Keep playing the game using everything you have in the house. Stinky shoes from soccer practice, dirty diapers, underwear, glasses, remote controls, Chinese food containers, [empty] prescription pill bottles. Instead of getting frustrated and trying to keep everything away from your dog, use it all for practice. Watch your dog get more and more thoughtful, biddable and happy. Watch yourself get more and more excited about training because it works and it’s not hard and, heck, it’s even fun. Watch as your guests start to comment about what a good dog you have.

Happy 2016, everyone! Let’s get it done!

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Happy New Year from PBC to you!

I also want to mention that I know that lots of you got a dog for fun and companionship and you really aren’t interested in training. That’s cool. That why we do Day Training. We can come in, train your dog, and you get to enjoy the benefits. Whether it’s reinforcing skills he already knows or teaching him new ones, Day Training is awesomely effective. Right now, we’re offering 15% off Day Training packages. Get this offer while it’s hot! It runs through February.

*If your dog becomes aggressive over food or certain items, do no practice with those. Call PBC to get advice for how to modify for dogs that have guarding issues.

Your Guide to a Dog-Safe Thanksgiving

Turkey Day is here!

Happy Turkey Day!

Normally, I am a huge sap and write a Thanksgiving blog where I let my inner love-child rip free and shout to every corner how awesome my staff and clients are and how intensely grateful I am for the existence of dogs and other pets in our lives. I love you all! Well, consider the sappy part of the blog done.

This year, I am going to chide you and nag you about management with your naughty and not-so-naughty dogs. Why? Because every year, after a holiday like Thanksgiving, I usually get several calls about horrendous events that occurred and now the owner is scared of their newly anointed Aggressive Dog.

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I don’t know what happened! Yesterday he was so sweet!

It doesn’t have to go that way. So, read this, be dutifully chastised and send this to your friends and family who have That Dog or That Party that you know will lead to mayhem and possible bloodshed.

The crux of the issue is that you have forgotten that your dog is an animal, evolved and domesticated but still AN ANIMAL. He is capable of ripping through flesh with those flashy teeth. You’ve been going about your routines for weeks, maybe years, and the dog has been absorbed into the family fabric and everything is smooth sailing. That’s great! But do not forget that you are not normally hosting huge parties…or going to huge parties where everyone wants to bring their dog.

Your dog, who doesn’t understand English, has suddenly been thrown from his normal sitcom life into an episode of Scandal. Tension is in the air, he sees his people rushing about, delicious food things are sitting on the counter, strange people are flooding into the house. DRAMA.

Thanksgiving dinner

Thanksgiving dinner…so much pancreatitis!

Wow. I’m already feeling a wee bit over-stimulated from just thinking about it!

Basking in the aroma of roasting meat, having strangers absentmindedly petting him and slipping him snacks under the table – he’s feeling very excited and it’s wonderful and crazy and stressful all at once.

But wait, this is not the whole picture. We’re missing pieces. What about your brother’s dog? The 1 year old Lab who loves everyone and is coming for the weekend? What about your aunt’s elderly Shih Tzu who doesn’t like anyone and sometimes pees on people’s shoes but has to come because she can’t be left alone for too long? What about the five nieces and nephews under the age of 10 who, newly reunited, will be tearing around the house with an energy level high enough to intimidate a six pack of Red Bull?

What about your dog-loving friend who decides to surprise the resident and visiting dogs by throwing a handful of meat and bones on the porch?

Now we have a fight. Now you are picking up one dog and another dog is lifting off the floor, still attached to your dog’s neck and refusing to let go. Or worse, you have a relative with a gash in his arm because he thought he could break it up.

Folks, fighting over bones is only one scenario. We also have dogs biting because they have never been touched by so many people and are totally overwhelmed. We have dogs snapping at kids, baring their teeth in an effort to express their stress (to no avail). It’s a mess.

You expected your dog to somehow intuit that life was about to change dramatically and he should adjust accordingly. Well, or maybe you just forgot your dog in the business of the holidays.

So, here I am to help you remember.

Your dog is an animal. Evolved and domesticated but still AN ANIMAL (sound familiar?). He is capable of ripping through flesh with those flashy teeth. Whatever quirks or limitations his temperament has will not magically disappear at a party because it’s socially unacceptable. On the contrary, they will be in full bluster thanks to adrenaline and cortisol.

Be smart so you don’t need to call me in a week, crying, because your beloved dog put holes in you or your child or your niece or your aunt’s Shih Tzu.

Thanksgiving-Infographic-11

  • If your dog is not used to any element of your holiday on-goings (big crowds, little kiddos, food everywhere), arrange to have him somewhere else. This could be a crate in your bedroom, a boarding facility, the car, the basement – wherever is safe and relaxing. Make sure he’s practiced being there before so it’s not an unpleasant surprise and he’s miserable.
  • Load him up with enriching chews and toys so he is not bored. (ahem, I don’t need to tell you that he should be separate from unfamiliar dogs if he has toys/food, right?)
  • Exercise him before the festivities begin.
  • Don’t expect your guests or hosts to understand or be compliant with your requests regarding the dog. Everyone is running full octane with the holidays and the ability to follow instructions is flimsy at best. It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog is safe and behaves safely. Telling people not to pet him or not to feed him is a recipe for disaster. Don’t open the door for “Oh, don’t’ worry, dogs love me”, “I’m not scared of dogs”, “but I can tell he wants me to pet him”, “just let the dogs work it out…they’ll be fine!”.
  • If you are hosting multiple dogs, have a plan. Arrange a space where dogs can be crated separately. Rotate them out individually or with other dogs they have great relationships with.
  • And don’t forget, large amounts of fatty meat (like turkey skin) can lead to pancreatitis in dogs. Chocolate, onions, raisins, grapes, caffeine and alcohol are all toxic for dogs.
Prepared snacks! Tracheas stuffed with yumminess!

Prepared snacks! Tracheas stuffed with yumminess!

Keep ‘em safe, people. Then, on Friday, you can really be thankful that your holiday did not include a trip to the ER for any family member – canine, feline, porcine, or human!

 

 

 

 

The Myth of the Friendly Wagging Tail

Our barometer for measuring a dog’s friendliness is often checking out that tail. Is it wagging? If yes, all signs are clear for friendly play. No wagging? Proceed with caution.

It’s a myth – that friendly wagging tail stuff. Right up there with the tooth fairy and Easter Bunny. Take a moment to digest that fact, shed a tear or two for the now-lost belief system in friendly wagging tails…and read on.

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Pretty happy tails – level, in motion. But look at the other signs too. Squinting eyes, open mouths, etc.

All is not lost. The tail is definitely still a barometer you should pay close attention to. But, instead of thinking about it as measuring friendliness, think of it as measuring level of arousal. The higher it is, the more worked up the dog is. The stiffer it is (think a cat flicking fast in preparation of pouncing), the more coiled and tense the dog is feeling. Likewise, a low tucked tail is equally as concerning (but most people know that).

I’m gonna switch gears for a sec because I like to fill your head with haunting analogies related to people. So, think of the sociopath that is hoping to get you alone so he can attack you. Is his body language threatening or alarming? Nope. He’s enjoying the process of drawing you in for attack. My friends, a tiny percentage of dogs genuinely enjoy aggression. They will give you soft body language with few hints as to their true motive. They are not being manipulative. They are honestly enjoying the hunt. So, yeah, maybe that tail is wagging…just like that sociopath is smiling and laughing warmly to invite more contact with you.

Imagine the socially awkward person who is trying but, man oh man, is truly so conflicted. She’s laughing and making some socially appropriate gestures….butttttt you’d feel in your gut that something wasn’t right. So the obvious signs of smiling wouldn’t put you totally at ease. You’d be looking for other signs. The whole picture. I’ve got a great video of a dog (a golden retriever – gasp) who I evaluated in his kennel at a shelter. Golden Retriever guarding food from foot (note: there is a lot of other body language here, but for newbies please notice the wagging tail..the soft, even wagging tail).

The whole picture with reading a dog matters, too! The eyes (hard or soft), the body (tense or relaxed), the mouth (pursed/tight or slightly open and soft)…so on and so on. Who is controlling the space? Are the hairs on your neck standing up? Do you simply feel like you don’t really LIKE this dog and you have no idea why? That is probably your intuitive understanding of the dog/human bond. You might not be able to put it in words but pay attention to that feeling.

So, how do you know if a dog is friendly? The answer is more complicated than you might think. You know why? Dogs are often more complicated than we give them credit for. Again, think about people. A person might be a total nightmare in the workplace but the most loyal, loving friend a person could have. A friend might be sweet and a mushball with you on the average day…but after finding out some bad news you might suddenly find him sullen, hostile and hurtful.

The truth is, you’ve been trained since birth in the fluency of human body language. Without even thinking about it, you are equally adept at hearing the words they say and simultaneously hearing what their bodies are saying and assigning value to it. Then, you make your decision about how proceed.

Ah, so the last question is, how do you learn to get fluent in Dog so that you can make good decisions about protecting your dog and choosing the right playmates? That is like learning any new language. Check out dog body language videos, especially ones with narrative, and watch them more than once.

There are books and videos…a simple search on Google, YouTube or Facebook will pull up lots of good stuff. Sophia Yin had some gorgeous video analyzing Cesar Milan videos. Ah! So much fun stuff out there.

And it will all make your relationship with you dog so much better…and make your dog so much happier!