Training Tip


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 […]

Dogs Reacting

Housetraining Adult Dogs

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 […]


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

Bottlenecks

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.


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 […]

Dogs and Cats

Dogs

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 […]