Training Tip


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 […]

Great Choice!

So often when teaching a dog to come to us – when we call them, they’ll look at us just like this. Right here is your opportunity to give them additional information like, Yes! and look happy and inviting so they want to make the right choice and come to you. Typically the next words out of my mouth are Good Choice! reminding me more than them that they had a variety of options to chose from and what a great choice they chose to make. Remember you can’t tell kids to say Please one time and they learn to use it from then on; it’s a series of reminders over and over and over again until finally you realized that it’s become natural for them. That’s what we want with our dogs. We want to repeat an activity over and over POSITIVELY so that it becomes so natural for […]

Practice Together

Do you walk with other dogs?? If so, be sure to practice basic behaviors together….by practicing behaviors with other dogs and in unique places, your dog will quickly generalize the behavior and be able to do it in any setting.

Dogs and Cats

Changing a Dogs Association

I realized recently as I was working with a dog, that I use a similar method when teaching dogs to be okay with cats in their space as I do for cutting their nails: Association. For example, Kele my wonderful girl, tolerates cats. She hasn’t had a choice since they were in the house before she was, but she has her limits. Ever since it’s been her and me in bed together, she’s taken it upon herself to rid the bed of any cats. This is quite upsetting in my household. My cats, already taking second fiddle to the dogs in so many ways, use bedtime as their time to snuggle with mom. So Kele has gone to night guard duty….right next to my ear. I can’t blame her. Kele spent her first year on the streets of the Navajo Nation where she begged for food from any stranger who […]

Setting Boundaries with Dogs

I was in a business not long ago and brought one of my dogs in. She was on a leash, even though she didn’t need it, and happily and politely went up and said hi to everyone who approached her. As I was leaving, a young guy walked in with a puppy. “Here!” he holler, the puppy was trying to smell my girls butt. The puppy wasn’t on a leash and pushed his way through everything and anything. The man followed hollering, changing the entire experience – I remember thinking we couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Yesterday I saw they had posted a No Dogs (except trained service dogs) sign on the door. Great! Thanks for that buddy. How often is it that one or two people ruin it for the rest of us? And other than his laziness about putting a leash on his dog he also […]


dark frames

The Power of Glasses ?!

The other day I was in a meeting at LPCHS with a Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix who is currently staying there. Chris Nelson commented that the dog didn’t like people in glasses, which got me thinking. These days designer glasses are all the rage. So many of us, myself included, have glasses that contrast to the rest of our faces, rather than blending in. Soooo wouldn’t it make sense that some dogs are going to make an association with them? If a dog associates people in hats, sunglasses, even boots and skin tones, why wouldn’t they associate something like everyday glasses? Especially when those glasses probably look a lot more like goggles to them then reading glasses. Dogs make associations quickly. If you pick up their food bowl they quickly learn it’s time to eat. If you open the closet that contains their leash, chances are they’re going to consider […]

Feeding human food (or treats) does NOT cause begging!

We all have something that we’ve heard just one too many times…..if you work in an animal shelter, it’s “I could never work here, I’d take them all home” for me it’s “we don’t feed human food because it causes begging.” And just the other day I was informed in no uncertain terms that the reason dogs being fostered to be guide dogs are not allowed treats is because of the same reason….so preposterous! So what does cause begging? In my opinion, poor leadership or it could be as simple as not caring. But considering the thousands of dogs I’ve cared for over the last 20 years and the fact that I use human food equal to or more than any specific dog product on all these dogs, yet not one of them begged from me – I don’t buy the argument. That’s not to say many didn’t try, but […]

puppies begging

What type of dog do you have?

What type of dog do you have?

By identifying the type of dog you have….and implementing the correct training strategies for him or her, you’ll have a much better chance of having success training and problem solving. Download pdf

Is your dog hand shy?

Does he or she flinch when you reach toward them? Do they jump when you move too fast or drop something? If so, try the following exercise to cure your dog of this reactive behavior: With a treat in one hand, reach toward your dog and drop the treat on the floor. Slowly at first, increasing the speed only if your dog is actively (and comfortably) eating the treats. Also, depending on how shy your dog is, you may need to back away from the treat as well. This can be used weather your dog is shy of you or of others. But be sure to make it a game and not a test or something they can do wrong. And remember the value of the treat will determine to your dog if it’s worth getting closer to the person. Once your dog seems comfortable with just one or two […]

Shy dog

Are we Actually Training?

I often note in my basic manners classes that what we’re doing is not really training. After all we’re not teaching our dogs to sit, lie down or go one way or another – they do all those behaviors already. We’re just asking for them on-demand. Most people, even the millions that buy purebreds (typically dogs that have been bred to perform a task that no longer exists) want the basic things a dog does, whenever they ask for it. Period, no questions asked. If they ask for a sit, they expect their dog to sit. If they demand a come, they want it immediately. I often have to remind my beginner students that their dog does not need to give them eye contact to have a solid stay. But we want what we want, don’t we? But what about the dogs? So many dogs these days are what I […]