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I’ve Never Seen a Tip Bucket at a Humane Society

Perhaps it’s because I spent years being a waitress where tips are not above and beyond pay, but your actual paycheck, that I have an attitude about tip buckets at so many establishments. But this constant attitude of deserving more for doing your basic job, annoys me. I notice that there’s never a tip bucket at the crucial jobs; the Emergency Room, the Animal Shelter, the teachers desk or at the police station. But instead, once a job is provided and the recipient is grateful, the workers, who often make wages similar to the popular tip bucket jobs, then recommends the individual give a donation back to the organization or even pay it forward. What a difference. From an emphasis on the person doing the job (and their need for immediate reinforcement) to the job that really needs to be done (and their desire to have more people embrace it). […]


Dogs Reacting

When Dogs (over) React

Does your otherwise great pup, loose his or her mind when they see a dog, skateboarder or delivery truck? If so, you have a reactive dog. Often these dogs lose out on activities with their people because they can be so difficult to manage, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Reactive dogs can be fixed, but it takes focused effort. Trying to fix a behavior at the end of the day when you’re exhausted, distracted or focused on other things doesn’t work. Ideally, set up time to work on this when you’re in the training frame of mind, a Saturday morning for example. Work in short intervals; 5-10 minutes in areas with lots of triggers. And until you have the problem resolved, when you don’t feel like training, walk in places where you don’t see the thing that triggers your pup (dogs, delivery trucks, etc). If this isn’t […]


Housetraining an Adult Dog

If your dog is struggling with housetraining, the solution is easy, it’s just a pain in the butt. And it involves being a hard-ass. It’s no fun to housetrain a dog – locking them away from you anytime you get busy with life; but the rewards are so worth the two short weeks of sacrifice, that it’s worth the effort. If you’re dealing with a dog who’s going to the bathroom in the house, he or she isn’t the typical puppy that you had in the past. Perhaps the dog is working through a past trauma, or maybe they were encouraged to go to the bathroom in the house or equally as bad, ignored when it happened or perhaps they just never learned – growing up in a shelter, rescue or home that breeds dog for money. First, close-up all the areas of your house that aren’t used regularly (spare […]

Housetraining Adult Dogs

Two’s Company – Three can be a Crowd

Dogs are so much like people, and like people, two dogs play together well, but when there’s a third, there has to be a connection to make it work. Typically, when I watch three people out together, if it’s going well, one is making sure everyone is included in the conversations. I think something similar happens with dogs. Two dogs will start playing then a third will join in; often this causes a challenge – do the dogs engage with the third? and if so, does the dog who is now left out, take it well? Even in large yards dogs typically play in small groups. A common strategy most dogs employ is to begin barking, escalating the excitement. This is often where stuff goes bad. But one of the best things that can happen is that the third dogs finds something to engage with. In this picture, Lunchbox (darker […]


Get off my feet!

I’m teaching a service dog, Gordie, to stay off my feet. It’s been a long process. He’s been with me since early June and I’m still having to remind him to get off my feet. For a service dog, it’s actually not the worse problem to have. If anything, he wants to be close, uber close – but still not acceptable. If I had to remember one of the things my mom nagged me as a kid for more than any others it was to hold my shoulders back. At first it was all the time, every morning and night, anytime we went anywhere, “hold your shoulders back.” After what seemed like years, she stopped verbally reminding me and instead would touch my shoulder or point or just stare. Ugh! It drove me crazy. Of course, it wasn’t far into my 20’s that I began appreciating my mom’s nagging and […]

dog training

Should your dog be a service dog

Can your dog be a Service Dog Part II

In this multi-part piece, I tackle using your dog as a service dog, from different perspectives. In Part I we discussed whether or not your dog can ignore everything going on in the environment (smells, dogs, activity, everything!) and focus on you and your needs. And how the best service dogs are acutely aware of what’s going on but only reacting to those things that may affect you. So how about those dogs who are nervous, scared, shy, reserved or completely focused on you? You know the one’s that jump or lean on you with every step or don’t let anyone pet them without a growl or snarl. It seems that we’re seeing more scared dogs, more unbalanced dogs, and more post traumatized dogs out in public than ever before. When I began private dog training I was shocked to discover how many people were living with an unbalanced or […]