Cat Reactivity

Pepper is cat reactive. If she’s behind a baby gate or in the yard she lays, watches and whines while they do their thing. If she’s in the house with them, they are her entire focus; she tracks them constantly. Not something the cats enjoy….as you can imagine. Pepper is a foster dog, I’m training to be a a psychiatric service dog. Unfortunately, reactivity of any kind cannot be a part of a service dogs life, so if I cannot break her of this, she may have to go back to the shelter. Today we had a good cat morning! Gunny (orange maincoon) was laying in front of the baby gate when I let Pepper out, she circled him softly. He got up and walked to another area and that’s when I was able to take this picture. After this he jumped onto a table and she didn’t move a […]

martingale collar

Learn from my mistakes…

Ahhh, the awareness in hindsight! Last Thursday I was explaining to a new social hour employee to never put her hands between two dogs. It’s such a natural thing for us to do, reach in, separate, grab or otherwise manage a situation. But of course when you’re dealing with dogs, it’s not safe. Flashforward to Saturday afternoon…. A beautiful Durango day, the humane society and thrift store were a buzz with people adopting, looking and shopping and of course walking their own and humane society dogs. I too was working with a shelter dog and now with 24 hours to contemplate the experience these are the things I did wrong: I had a known dog-reactive dog in a congested area on a busy day and I got caught up in a conversation Once he had seen one dog and successfully walked away from her, I should have immediately ended on […]

Building Confidence in Dogs

Amy Cuddy, a TED speaker, talks about how our body language shapes who we are. She says that if we spend just 2 minutes each day in a high-power pose: think wonder woman (hands on hips, shoulders back, chin up) or hands behind head, elbows out, body expanded – we can alter how we act and feel throughout the day. By taking on these power poses we actually increase testosterone (what we need to do to feel powerful and assertive) and lower our cortisol level’s (which improves our reactions to stress, making us more relaxed).* We also know that if we hold a nervous or shy dog’s tail up in the air we can alter their emotions. I believe it’s TellingtonTouch which showed that if we wrapped a dogs tail up and over their back, we could help instill confidence. So I wonder if we can combine the two together? […]

Confident JoJo


Sid Update

I realized recently that it’s been a bit since I’ve given you an update on shy, little Sid. If you remember, Sid was surrendered to the La Plata County Humane Society last fall and was quickly adopted. After a month with a very kind family, they returned him because he refused to engage with them, at all. I brought him here to evaluate him, after 2 weeks I went back to the humane society with a less than stellar report. Quality of life for this guy is tough to determine. Has no desire to connect with people shows little to no emotion except fear, the only thing that he seems comfortable with is dogs. But even with them in the mix he’s still terrified of us humans.  That day I came home and he had gotten out the cat’s window. I told the humane society if they didn’t mind if […]

Dogs who Hoard

Have you seen one?? A dog who takes all the toys for themselves, perhaps storing them in a crate, on a bed or in a closet? Typically no one else is allowed to play with them and in some cases, looking at them is even reacted to. I believe these dogs hoard for the same reason our WWII grandparents did, because they went without and know how valuable things can be. It doesn’t matter if they’ve slept on or destroyed the valuable object, they defend and protect it just like my grandmother defended the unidentifiable food inside the rows of jars in her pantry. Going without leaves deep scars, scars that manifest in different behaviors. In some cases these dogs went without love, companionship or acknowledgement in other cases they went without food, water or shelter. And just like the people we know who now function in spite of what […]

Dogs who Hoard

No classes July 1st

Hey folks the humane society has been taken over by pet food donations and supplies. Better if we postpone classes until next week so your dogs will have a chance to concentrate on class (and not all the goodies being donated LOL!) See you next Saturday 11am for Level 1 – New Students and puppies 9am or 1pm for Level 2 Students  


If you’ve spent anytime driving in Durango this summer you’re acutely familiar with this term. With our main corridor getting an overlay, the already overtaxed roads are jammed even tighter with lane closures. CDOT tries to help by putting up as many signs as possible; Use two lanes until merge point, Merge here… but even with these, we struggle. Lanes sit empty, horns honk, people’s tempers flare and it takes 30 minutes to go 30 blocks. So, is it any wonder, that dogs, animals who use body language to communicate, also have a difficult time at bottlenecks? Bottlenecks in this case, are any tight area, for example doorways are the most common bottlenecks. But furniture and house arrangements can create them. Coffee tables typically cause bottlenecks, tight areas, bathrooms or hallways where dogs cannot turn around easily are bottlenecks. If your dog hesitates in an area, chances are it’s a […]

pranaDOGS Service Dog Training

for the next three months, pranaDOGS is involved in a pilot program to train homeless dogs to perform service work once they’re adopted. We’re fostering and training dogs specifically for psychiatric service work for individuals who suffer from ptsd – esp military and sexual trauma. Once 80% trained, these dogs will be adopted to their new families, where the training will continue in tandem with their human counterparts. We’ll be blogging and videotaping much of the training and progress of the dogs so you can follow along. The first dog we’ve taken on is Gordy, a 2 ½ yr old Shorthaired Pointer/Boxer mix. Originally from Gallup, NM, Gordy has been fostered by Rezdawg Rescue who also arranged his transportation to Durango. After spending the weekend with Gordy, I’m excited that he seems to be a perfect candidate for this program. He’s eager and friendly and teachable. He has some impulse […]