The Importance of Socalization

As a dog trainer, I broke a cardinal rule and yesterday I paid the price for it.  I always, no matter what tell my puppy parents how important it is to get their puppies out there and make sure they see tons of people and sights and sounds and walk on different kinds of surfaces too.

babylokiOne of the more common sayings about dog trainers is that we often have some the worst dogs.  Wither that is because we take on the more behaviorally challenging dogs, or we spend all day training everyone else’s dogs and when we get home we are often too tired to work with our own dogs as much as we would like.

For me, it’s a case of my husband and I moved in with his mother to help take care of her.  She is terrified of dogs, and this makes it very had on me having  2 dogs, Cattle dogs at that.  Rough and tumble boys who love to wrestle and play, jump around and pounce each other.  The slightest vocalization and she thinks they are fighting because she doesn’t understand dogs.

While training at a large retail pet store I wasn’t allowed to take my pup with me to work to socialize him, like I did with my last pup 10 years ago.  Also having a 2yr old at home I really didn’t the time I thought I would, and I kept saying I’ll make time to do that next week, and well next week never came.  The next thing I knew he is 8 months old as of last week and is spooked by a dumpster!!  Yes, I know excuses… excuses… yet sadly it’s the truth.

I took him out to a festive for dogs yesterday, I was supposed to do a dog training demo and early on I saw that it really wasn’t going to work out because he was so distracted he wouldn’t even listen to his name.  Poor puppy couldn’t even go to the bathroom, he got so distracted every time he tried and just couldn’t do it.  I was starting to fear he had a blockage of some sort.  Then my anxiety of talking in front of a crowd took over and well, to say the least, it was not good.  Thankfully several of my former students were there to vouch for my training abilities.


Anyway, back to the subject of socialization.  At first, as we set up our table anytime someone walked by I was having to cue him to Leave it and try to get him to relax and settle.  Then he started just lay under the table in the shade and relax while I treated his being quiet as people approached.  Sometimes he got so overstimulated he wouldn’t even take a treat from me.  What I mean by overstimulated is that there was so much going on that he couldn’t mentally process it all without getting into a mental state where he was unable to control himself and remember his training.  Treats meant nothing to him during this time, so I just offered him lots and lots of petting and praise to let him know I was pleased with his quiet moments.  When he got too wound up, we excused ourselves and when for a little stroll in the potty area to let him sniff and see if he would go potty.

I am very proud though that through all the walking we did yesterday, not one time did he pull out ahead of me or jerk on his leash.  He stayed with me and walked beside me the whole time.

I  feel as if I have let my pup down, this is not the type of trainer I am, I normally put a lot of work into my training and I need to make sure I start putting that work into him to give him everything he needs.  As trainer’s we are human too. After 11 years of work and 4 years of feeling like I was in a rut, it’s time to pull myself out of this rut and embrace this new chapter of my training journey with Loki and help him be the amazing dog I see when he and I are training alone together.


Service Dogs – The cost of Training

It had been aservice_dog_in_training while since I looked at the cost of training / obtaining a trained service dog, so this morning I’ve spent some time milling around the internet looking up the costs.  Now there are two ways of getting an SD we are going to look at both.

Option #1

Buy from a training facility.  You find a group that trains the type of SD you need and you purchase one from that group and you then do team training after that puppy is ready to be placed with its handler (you).  Now the cost of this can run you anywhere from $13,000 on the low side up to $35,000 on average or higher in some cases.

Option #2

Owner Training.  Now owner training is what I offer so you might think I’m a little bias to towards this option because of that, but just let me finish and then look at the numbers.

So you have a dog/puppy already or find one that you think will make a perfect service dog help with your disability.  Now you have to decide if you will try to go it alone, as many people do and some are very successful because they are driven to learn about dog training and have a lot of time to devote to their dog.

Or the other option is you find a trainer like me, who coaches you on how to train your dog.   You get the benefit of my experience and knowledge to help you along this journey.

Now the cost of this type of training is going to cost a little more than doing it by yourself but nowhere near the cost of $13,000 to buy a trained.

When I charge a student for an SD package I charge $1602 which is 18 private lessons at $89.  I teach them all of their Basic and Intermediate Advanced obedience skills. Public Access Skills they test for the Canine Good Citizen Test and learn 2 individualized tasks to help with their disability which is what the ADA requires.

Now I ALWAYS tell my students that in no way is their dog fully trained at that point, however, they are ready to go out in public and continue their training with their handlers.   They always know they have the option to come back to me at any point in time and do another private appointment to work on a new skill or to refine a previously learned.

The cost, however, does not end there.  Then you have vet Bills and food and treats, and toys.  Your new companion still has needs.  I participate in a program to train PTSD dogs for some local Veterans.  A survey was done before we started and midway thought, that showed they were more stressed while in training than before we started.    I can’t help but wonder how much of that was not realizing the commitment that it takes to have a service dog.

With PTSD which is mainly what I specialize in, just having the dog gives the handler a chance to interact with others again.  You have to go out and train in public, go to vet visits, shop for your dog’s needs, walk your dog, feed your dog, and most importantly bond with your dog.  There are things that the dogs needs and the handlers are the only ones that can give those things.

The rewards of having a service dog are way too many to list, but the most important one is having a return of a sense of independence.

To me, it’s well worth the investments of emotion, time, effort and money.

Operant Learning

063017_1442_OperantLear1.gifSo first let’s look at the basic terms used here and what they mean in this context.

Positive simply means something is given to the learner.

Negative means to take something away from the learner.

Reinforcement is something that will increase the chances of a behavior being repeated.

Punishment is something that will decrease the chances of a behavior being repeated.

Positive Reinforcement is adding good things that the learner finds appealing and that they are willing to work towards getting to increase the likelihood of a behavior being offered. (food, petting, praise, toys, play)

Negative Reinforcement is taking away or delaying those good things in decrease the likelihood of a behavior being offered.

Positive Punishment is adding something that the learner wishes to avoid, increasing the likelihood of a behavior being offered. (leash corrections, time outs, scolding, shocks)

Negative Punishment is taking away something that the learner wishes to avoid, decreasing the likelihood of a behavior being offered.

When it comes to punishment though there are many punishers that are bad, we must not think of it as being, Punishment = bad things.  The value of reinforcements and punishers, lies in the opinion of the learner.  Not every punisher is an aversive.

Let’s use the example of a dog lunging towards a stranger and break it down to the science of learning.

Fluffy and her dad are out walking in the park when she sees a stranger coming toward her.  Fluffy loves attention and so she lunges out to the end of her leash, standing up on her back feet trying to reach the stranger to greet her.  Dad sees what is happening, and askes the stranger to wait and not pet Fluffy until her feet are back down on the floor.  As the stranger moves away Fluffy sits down to wait for her to come back and is rewarded with getting some attention and petting from the stranger.

When we look at this example there is nothing that should be considered a bad thing right?

Let us first look at the basics and where everything falls on the above chart.  The Positive Reinforcer is the stranger’s attention, and the Negative Punishment is the stranger backing away and withholding that attention.

As Fluffy jumps up and lunges out, the stranger backs away taking with her the attention that Fluffy finds very appealing (thus why the attention is a Reinforcement). Then when Fluffy sits the stranger approaches and give the desired attention, teaching Fluffy that if she keeps her feet on the ground she can get the attention she wants.


Let’s look at another example, barking at other dogs.

Say Fluffy is out walking with his mom and every time he sees another dog, he explodes in a barking fit.  Mom yanks up on the prong collar he is wearing and Fluffy stops barking for a moment, so mom stops giving the leash corrections.

When Fluffy barks at the other dogs, his mom starts giving Positive Punishments of popping the leash with the prong collar.  He stops barking, and mom stops giving the leash corrections.  Negative Reinforcement mom removing the leash corrections after Fluffy has stopped barking.

PTSD and Service Dogs


Today I want to talk about service dogs, but not just any service dogs- PTSD dogs.For many people when the thought of a service dog comes to mind they think of someone that has a disability that they can clearly see, but not all disabilities are able to be seen. PTSD is a stress disorder that is affecting millions of Americans every year. The current statistic is that about 8 million cases are reported every year. Of those 8 million cases a year, 6500 of our Vets commit suicide because of PTSD related issues. What if a dog, a constant non-judgmental companion could ease those burdens?

Our Vets return home from horrors we can’t even imagine and are unable to even talk about the things they have seen, but how do we help them process and heal from those traumatic events?
The very act of being a pet parent has mental health therapy written all over it. Not only does it give the handler someone else to live for, which in itself is huge, but it helps to get people back out into the world and reconnect with others. Wither it’s taking the pup out for a walk, going to a vet appointment, or preparing food, all these acts give someone with PTSD a reason to get out of bed or even just out of their own head every day.

Having a companion that is right there with you to help you with the day to day tasks that we take for granted can ease the feelings of lost independence, and that is the underlying idea of a Service Dog.

PTSD dogs not only help with navigating through crowds of people, which for some can set off a panic attack alone, but they also help with things like alerting their owner to the presence of someone being behind them. Helping to wake them from night terrors, or from a grey out. They can be taught to alert to when their handler is disconnecting with reality into traumatic memories. They can pick up medication pouches and bring it to their handlers as well as other items. There are so many things that they can learn to do that we could spend all day just talking about that. According to the American’s with Disabilities Act though, a dog is considered to be a service dog if they are trained to help and individual with at least 2 tasks that help ease the handler’s disability. Many of these dogs do much more than just two tasks.

The physical and emotional support that these service dogs give are even capable of restoring family relationships that are in danger of falling to the effects of PTSD. When we must ask another person for help, we often feel like burdens. Even the most patient and loving family members are not able to be there 100% of the time. The dogs have a way of helping the handler manage their disabilities with that restoration of independence.

US Army Captian Luis Carlos Montalvan wrote a book called Until Tuesday about his life and recovery with his Service Dog Tuesday. In an interview about his book he said “The pain is real, but so is the healing. This is a friendship and partnership but also Medical therapy. Please do not look down on someone for having a service dog or deny them the basic rights afforded to others like access to businesses, restaurants, or public transportation.

It’s important to remember that Service Dogs have a job to do, please when you see a service dog out in public don’t distract them from their job – someone’s life may be depending on them.

When you see someone with a Service Dog, Smile and nod to the handler but don’t try to pet their dog.  Some dogs wear a patch that says, “please ask before petting.” For those dogs by all means ask if you can pet.  Their handlers are comfortable with their dogs getting social interactions with people.

It is important to note however, that the ADA however does not require for Service dogs to wear anything that denotes them as a service dog.  Service dog handlers just ask for understanding and a respect of their privacy.

National Train Your Dog Month

January is the month that the APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) has chosen as

logo_tydm_v3National Train Your Dog month.  So, in honor of that, I thought we would talk about some basic obedience skills that make for the best manners possible in our best friends.

The following are the five best behaviors that all our puppies should learn no matter what age they start learning at.

Sit –  Simply put, place your bottom on the floor.  There are so many unwanted behaviors that our pups simply cannot do if they are sitting for us.

Down – lie down with your tummy touching the floor.  This is one of the behaviors where we do have to give our pups some leeway.  The down position puts our pups in a very vulnerable position.  It takes a lot of energy for our pups to come back up from the down and they don’t always know when they are going to have to defend themselves.  We know they are safe, but if they have any anxiety or fear they may not want to lay down for fear of not being able to get into a defensive stance in time, should the need arise.

Recall – come to me when I call your name.  This behavior is so very important not o


Here Loki

nly because we use it daily but it is what I call a lifesaving behavior.  Teaching out dogs to come to us when we call their names means that we also need to teach them that their name has meaning and it is important that when we say it that they pay attention to see what we need.  It’s so much more than just come here when I call your name.


Stay / Wait – Sit/down here and wait for me to tell you what to do next.  There is a very distinct difference between Stay and Wait.
Stay – Stay means Stay means Stay means Stay means Stay right where you are until I am right beside you and say your release word.
Wait – means I need you to just sit your lay down here and wait for me to you what to do.

Loose leash walking – Walking nicely beside us with a loose J in the leash
Now this is something that takes some time, repetition and patience to work on. One of the biggest problems of leash walking is that we don’t consider that our pups have an instinct to pull.  It’s what trainers use to train dogs to pull carts and sleds and weights.  We must teach them that the walk is the reward for staying with us. leash

Put these 5 behaviors together and you have a pup who is well on their way to being a very well behaved pup who will be a wonderful addition to your family!

4 Steps

Image result for puppy training

The 4 steps of Dog Training

1.       Patience

2.       Practice

3.       Timing

4.       Supervision



Patience – As you know your dog/puppy’s attention span is that of a gnat, maybe a fly if we are older than 8 months or so.  You are going to have to be patient with not only your puppy but yourself as well.  You are both going to be learning a lot of new things, so until you are both in a routine of what your doing, just be patient.  You may ask your puppy for something and they are right on it and then half an hour later, they have no idea what you are asking.  Just know that it will happen, and you will get frustrated but just relax and give it time. 

When it comes to asking for behaviors, be sure that we only say the command 1 time.  This is very important.  We are not patient beings so if we ask someone to do something and it doesn’t happen, we repeat ourselves until it does.  The problem with this is that our dogs command for “Sit” becomes “Sit, sit, sit, sit, please sit, fluffy sit”

Practice – Just like us humans trying to learn a new skill, puppies need practice and repetition to learn (about 400 repetitions just to start really picking up what they are doing).  Don’t try to set aside 30 minutes a day to work, try to only work 5 -10 minutes at a time throughout the day.

Timing – Timing is just something you should learn and pick up though out training.  It’s how we ask for behaviors, either a verbal (saying a command) or visual (hand signals).  Our dogs do not understand English so if we are asking for a command that they do not know how to do.  They may associate the word with a different behavior all together. 

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Supervision – Supervision for dog training is not what we normally think of as supervision.  It’s not at all about catching your puppy doing something wrong and correcting them for it.  It’s positive parenting for dogs.  It’s all about encouraging the behaviors se want, and ignoring the ones we don’t.  Now I’m not saying that you’re going ignore your puppy chewing on the remote or phone charger, but instead of yelling NO… and exciting your puppy you’re going to grab one of puppy’s toys and redirect the puppy’s attention.


Dogs learn by what works to get attention.  If they get attention for something then it must be the right thing to do, wither that attention is “Yay good boy” or “NO bad dog….”  If mom or dad is excited and talking to us, then we must be doing what they want us to do right????  Our dogs do not understand the difference between yes and no, they have no sense of right/wrong, or save/dangerous.  Dogs do not have an understanding of ownership or value.

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Take Jumping for instance, puppies jump to get our attention and then we put our hands out and say “nooo, fluffy get down” and that gives them just want they want…  instead we need to turn our backs and walk away affectively taking our attention away.

The key to dog training is Consistency.  We must be consistent in everything we do for it to teach our pups anything

My dog is so stubborn!!!

I can’t tell you how many times in the years I’ve been training that I’ve heard a pet parent say  how stubborn their dog is. “She just won’t listen to me” or Unless I have a treat he doesn’t care what I’m saying”

My favorite answer to these types of comments is… “They are not stubborn they are motivationally challenged!”

The reason I say motivationally challenged instead of stubborn are for the following two reasons:

  1. Think Positively!!! Stubborn is a negative label that leads us to think that our dogs are refusing to do what we ask.  That may not always be the case.
  2. Motivation!!!  Put yourself in your dogs paws, is coming to you to go inside where there is no fun, better than sniffing all the squirrels and rabbits that have been out in the yard???

I hear so many people that say… Oh I don’t give my dog human food.  Let me ask you this question… What do you think your dog’s food is made of???  I would hope it’s made of real food (otherwise known as human food).  So many of my students have a huge aversion to feeding treats much less anything else to their dogs.  I tell my students that there are healthier foods you can give your dog than a bag of store bought treats.

Some of the foods that are really good to try as treats are things like:
English peas, carrots, pop corn, chicken, turkey, peanut butter, cream cheese, cheese.  These are just a few human foods that are safe for your dog to eat.

One of the most important things about feeding your little fluffy human food is how you do it.  Dogs are very situational learners,  If you use human food as a reward for a behavior they have preformed they are not going to expect you to feed them from your plate.  However, that being said if you feed your dog from your plate they will start to expect you to feed them when you eat and will start begging behaviors.

One of the questions I ask my students is, What is your biggest pet peeve??  I’ll answer this for you.  Hearing someone pick up a clicker and just click it over and over for no reason.  So now that we have established what my pet peeve is…  What would someone have to give me in order for me to in order for me to go sit in a room full of people with clickers doing just that??? Well a cracker is not going to cut it I’ll tell you that much.  Think of it from your dogs perspective.  What do they value enough to turn away from the distractions to pay attention to you?  That’s the treat you need to use, and this will vary depending on what the surrounding distractions are.  If your at home, where your dog is comfortable with her surroundings you may be able to do all of your training with your dogs kibble (remember that cracker I was talking about??).  If your out in public at the park and you want your dog to follow you instead of finding all the addresses of the local doggie crew… you might need something a little more enticing.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with “human” foods to find treats that your dogs are willing to work for.  Just be educated about what you are feeding your dogs, and have fun training.  That’s what it’s all about…Having fun with your furry pals!!






Service Dog Training Part 1


One of the things that I’m very passionate about as a dog trainer is service dogs.  I became a dog trainer because I wanted to train guide dogs, someone very dear to me was losing his eye sight and I wanted to learn more about how to help him.  I’ve always been the type of person that learns from doing rather than just from reading about, so I became a dog trainer.  I’ve been in love with my profession ever since.

I’m often asked about what makes a dog a service dog? The best answer to that question is found in the law.  The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) states the following:

A service animal as any guide dog, signal dog, or other animal individually trained to provide assistance to an individual with a disability. If they meet this definition, animals are considered service animals under the ADA regardless of whether they have been licensed or certified by a state or local government.


Service animals perform some of the functions and tasks that the individual with a disability cannot perform for him or herself. Guide dogs are one type of service animal, used by some individuals who are blind. This is the type of service animal with which most people are familiar. But there are service animals that assist persons with other kinds of disabilities in their day-to-day activities. Some examples include:

_ Alerting persons with hearing impairments to sounds.

_ Pulling wheelchairs or carrying and picking up things for persons with mobility impairments.

_ Assisting persons with mobility impairments with balance.

A service animal is not a pet.



There are 2 main different ways that service dogs can be trained. They can be professionally trained or they can be owner trained.  Some dogs are from professional breeding lines just for service dogs and some are owner picked.  Temperament the most important aspect of personality.  You can train behavior; temperament is not trainable.

Service dogs need to be trained to perform at least 2 tasks that are directly related to their disability.  While the ADA does state that no one is allowed to ask a person questions that would make them divulge their disability, your trainer will need to know what some specifics to train the dog to help you.  If your trainer doesn’t ask you questions don’t trust them.  There is not cookie cutter standard of dog training, it must always be custom fit for every dog and handler team.  Everyone has different needs, even if they have the same disability.  Those tasks can be anything from opening doors, to picking things up off the floor.  Some service dogs are able to pick up the smallest change in the odor of their handler’s breath to know their blood sugar is dropping, others are trained to know when their handler is about to have a seizure.  There are so many different tasks that our dogs are able to help us perform to help people that have had their lifestyle altered because of medical reasons.  With the help of a service dog some people are able to return to a level of independence that allows them to go out or even live on their own.  Some studies have shown that just on a monetary level, that service dogs save people as much as $13,000 a year in private health care costs.

There is still so much education that needs to be given to the general public in regards to service dogs.  People are refused entry to restaurants and hotels because of their service dogs all the time even when the law states that they are allowed entry.  Would a restaurant manager refuse entry to someone because of their wheelchair or their oxygen pump?  The ADA law looks at a service dog as needed medical equipment.  However, with that being said all dogs that are service dogs must be trained with the utmost manners and proper behavior in public places.  Handlers of service dogs are responsible for ALL damages done by any dog in a public establishment.  Dogs that are aggressive (temperament again and they should have never been trained as a service dog) or they have potty training issues inside a public place then yes they can be asked to leave, but they cannot be refused entry just because they are a dog.

There are collars and leashes, as well as vests and harnesses that will denote to anyone looking at your dog that they are a service dog, however they are not required to wear any of this.  They are not required to have any licenses or certifications.  The only thing you may be asked to provide is proof of your dog’s Rabies vaccinations.

A few of my students have had problems with local area businesses which is a shame that education could have prevented this undue stress.  Of course anywhere you go local and state laws supersede federal laws.  In Arkansas our state laws say that any dog that is being trained as a service dog is not allowed to be refused entrance as long as they are with a trainer.  Now since Federal law states that service dogs may in fact be owner trained, so what the two of those statements mean is that any service dog in training can enter a public place.  One of my students had a problem just yesterday going to the hospital of all places.  She has a small dog as a service dog, and had her on leash with her in the lab.  The friend that was with her had her dogs carrier with all of the identification for her dog was sitting in the waiting room.  He was approached by the hospital security and questioned about her dog.  All he was asking was if she was on leash, but the friend didn’t know anything about her dog because he was not sitting in the lab with her.  He instructed the security guard to go in the lab and talk to her, but he refused to do so.  Another student of mine had her dog with her when she was going into a major retail store and the greeter at the door stopped her from entering and gave her a hard time entering the store.  She called me in tears, and I got off the phone with her and called their management


Some people seem to think that this means that they can just say their dog is a service dog and walking in anywhere and take their dogs with them. While this is true, people that do this are causing more problems for the people that actually have service dogs.  It is because of this that, the state of Florida has put laws on it’s books to counter act this.  Business owners are only allowed to ask two questions of a handler 1. Is this a service dog? And 2. What is he/she trained to do?  Now what this law also does is make it a second degree misdemeanor for business owners to deny entry of a service dog, which I think is a wonderful addition to the law.

As I said before according to the ADA Laws a service dog only has to be trained to perform 2 duties specific to their handler’s disability.  When talking to a potential student for service dog training I sadly do have to ask about their disability to know what tasks I can train their dog to do.  I always try to do this in a way that is very gentle and doesn’t make them feel ashamed in anyway, hopefully I succeed in this.

For any questions regarding service dog training or ADA laws please feel free to email me at  if I don’t know the answer, I can always find someone who does.

Feelings of Failure

There is one thing you have to remember as a dog trainer, you can’t save every dog. I forgot that and was rudely reminded of it this morning. I’m a trainer at a big chain retail pet store, very busy and not a lot of time to talk to people beforehand, which very well could have been my down fall here.

A couple came to me about a month back with a large terrier mix that was jumping on people. I sold them a 6 week level 1 adult class and thought it would be an easy fix. When they actually brought her in to see me I realized that things were not as they had seemed. This dog was a jumper but she was jumping up to bite strangers.

I always feel a special place in my heart for nervous nellies and dogs with anxiety because of my own Tazie. I tried to explain to the owners that this was going to take some time but I could help them. As always I spend most of my first session talking to the pet parents about their dog and about what our goals for training will be. Finding out history and setting some guide lines. I always ask two very important things, 1) tell me something about your dog that you hope never changes? And 2) If we could only change one thing over the next 6 weeks, what would that one thing be? These two things help me find out a lot about the relationship between parent and pet.

With Tippy the only thing they wanted to change was to be able to help her settle and not lunge at people. A red flag went off in my head. I stopped right there and asked for clarity. She jumps and lunges at people that try to pet her. I had not reached out to pet her yet as another part of the first day of class is letting the dog wonder about the ring and get used to all the sights, sounds, and smells in the environment as I talk to the parents (talk about sensory overload). I looked down at this black terrier mix and wondered what I had gotten myself into and asked more questions.

Turns out they had adopted her from someone that never took up any time with her. She had spent most of her life in a cage out in the other persons back yard. When they got her they took her to a groomer to get her nails trimmed who cut her one of her nails back into the quick, talk about trauma. The next time her nails needed to be done they took her to the vet, keep in mind this was only the second time in her life, who sedated her with Acepromazine, muzzled her and then cut all of her nails back into the quicks because they were so long.

I was feeling my heart break for this poor dog as we talked and I knew then I had to help them despite it being against policy of my store. If she tried to bite me I was to refer her out to a behaviorist however, there are not any in our area. The first time I tried to treat her she lunged at me and almost got me on the cheek and I knew right then I was going to have to stay back from her and let her mom do all the treating. I used a stuffed dog to demo on so the parents would know what to do with Tippy since she was perfectly fine with them touching her.

We were making progress… or so I thought.

We were 3 weeks in and she had tried to bite me every week but her bite inhibition was amazing, never once did she leave a mark other than a slight pressure mark. I was comfortable working with that and argued with my manager to let me continue to keep working with her. I had to put her in a no pull harness to get her out of a pinch collar and she even went after my other trainer, again great bite inhibition. I thought there was a chance to help her.

Week 4 comes and they don’t show up for class, and I find a note in the office to call the owner that they have had to have the dog put down. My heart broke and I just sat and cried for a few minutes. I took on the responsibility that wasn’t mine to take but it brought up a lot of painful feelings surrounding losing Tazie.

It took me a full day to be able to get up the courage to call her and when I did I wish I hadn’t. They had been having a normal day just after class with Tippy and she started barking at something outside and she ran and jumped on the storm door. The dad went and told her to get down pointing his finger at her. Mom’s words were “something in that baby just snapped”. She said that Tippy just started growling at her dad and advancing on him, so mom grabbed her collar and she redirected on mom. Tippy bit her mom’s hand and did some damage, brought blood. The next morning, they took her to the same vet as before to talk about some medication to help calm her down and they told her that there was not any medication that would help her and because she had brought blood that they had to take their dog and put her to sleep and by law could not allow them to take her back home with them.

I was heartbroken and couldn’t believe that a vet would do that, let alone a vet that I had recommended to other students in the past. I know that I didn’t fail Tazie, I did all the training that I possibly could with him. I know that not every dog can be saved, but it breaks my heart to lose one that I really think that with time I could have helped. The only question I have to ask myself is this: Could she have really hurt someone before I could have helped her? If I am brutally honest with myself, the answer is yes.

Getting Ready for Puppy

So my head is spinning as it’s been 11 years since I’ve had a puppy in my life.  Adora will be no Tazie that’s for sure, she will have her own personality and will not know anything to begin with.  I will have to train her everything, which I’m really looking forward to doing.

As I began thinking about what all Adora would need and what I had from Tazie to figure out what I would need to buy for her I started to think about my curriculum for “bringing home a puppy” seminars and how much my life was about to become that seminar.  So let’s take a look at the check list shall we?

Collar                       Toothbrush and Tooth paste        2016-03-07 06.53.22                                                                               Leash                       Brush
Id Tag                      Nail Clippers
Bed                          Blanket Crate
Potty pads/patch (we have a patch)
X-pen                      Enzyme Killer (cleaning spray)
Bowls                       Puppy Package from our Vet
Chew Bones           Food
Training Treats     Toys

Of the above list I have gotten her everything but the food!!!  I’ve not decided what puppy food I’m going to put her on yet.  Tazie was so picky and had grain allergies, so there were only certain things I could feed him.  I’m hoping Adora will be lucky enough not to have a grain allergy and be able to eat whatever she likes.  I was feeding Tazie a food made by Merric called “Whole Earth Farms” and I may go ahead and put Adora on the puppy version of it since it has chicken and fish in it.  I want her to have the Omega 3s and 6s for her skin and coat.

Potty Training…  #1 complaint of my puppy students.

playpenWhen Tazie was a puppy I will admit I had no idea what I was doing when it came to potty training.  Now I feel much better educated as to how to handle the situation.

Because Adora is a Chihuahua puppy and will be so tiny, I’m choosing to use a potty patch and a plastic lined play pen.  Inside her playpen during the day will be her potty patch, and her bed, food, and water.  I’m choosing to use the potty patch first because I don’t know anything about the history of the area where I live.  Parvo Virus can live in the ground for up to 10 years and can kill and Chihuahua puppy in a matter of hours.  I will not be letting Adora down on the grass outside until after she has had all of her puppy boosters.

Once we have had our shots se will start a feeding schedule where we have our meal and then spend 30 minutes in our crate.  I’ll use a timer to remind me so I don’t forget and leave her in there too long.  We will go out on leash and stand in one place and tell her to “go potty”.  If she does, she will get to run around the yard and have fun, if not then she will come back in and go back into her crate for another 15 minutes and try again.

For Peeing accidents, we will go outside once every 30-60 minutes, every time we wake up, have been playing, or I notice her sniffing around.  That should help cut down any accidents we might have in the house.  I may use potty bells to help her learn to tell me when she needs to go outside but I’m not sure yet.


Chewing – carpet piranha

Puppies chew. End of story.  They explore everything with their mouths and the only way to help them navigate this crazy world of chew this not that, is to understand how their little minds work.

There are a few reasons why we chew as puppies:chewing

  • Self-soothing
  • Exploration
  • Learning
  • Attention seeking behavior

So when a puppy chews on something they don’t really know the value or ownership of the item they are chewing on.  As they chew they more or less think, “hey this makes my mouth feel so much better.”  The act of chewing for dogs releases endorphins which act to help clam a dog down if they are stressed or anxious and let’s not forget with puppies they are teething… owie….

I picked up this starter pack of chew bones so Adora will have something to chew on.  The two plastic ones can go in the fridge to get them cold to help sooth her gums, she will also be getting a puppy kong.  The attention part of chewing comes from our reaction to what they chew on.  The example I always give in my training classes is this…  This of your dog’s point of view if Fluffy is laying on his bed chewing on his toy and we never say anything to him, well that’s boring.  However, if Fluffy is chewing on the antique table leg and Mom comes running into the kitchen yelling NO NO NO!!!!!  The proceeds to chase him down the hallway… man that’s the best game ever, I’m doing that every day!!!

Our dogs don’t know the difference between good attention and bad attention, only that they are getting something for their behavior there for it must be something you want them to do.  We have to redirect them onto something they can receive praise and attention for chewing on to teach them the appropriate things to chew on.

Rules and Boundaries…. Otherwise known as Cans and Can Nots

I started out Tazie sleeping in my bed with me, but I’m not going to do that with Adora.  She is going to be so very small and I want her to sleep in a bed right beside my bed to keep her from falling out of the bed.  I remember putting Tazie in a box and sleeping with the box on the bed with my hand over in it.  I will make sure to give Adora one of my shirts to sleep on so she can smell me and know that I’m there near her.

She will be taught all the behaviors I teach in all my classes along with tons of tricks and anything else I can teach her.  I’m really looking forward to her coming home to live with our family.

Stay tuned as I plan out our adventure….