I Can't Feed my dog People Food!
As a trainer who encourages using treats to train dogs, I often hear that dog owners think they shouldn’t feed “people food” to their dogs. Let’s talk about some of the common misconceptions:
Every few years...
...a new reality show about dog training pops up on TV. Personally, I have a love/hate relationship with these shows. On one hand, watching a show about training helps people think more about working with their own dogs; but on the other hand, training can look very different on TV than it is in real life, and people end up with unrealistic expectations of what it’s like to train their dog.
After watching at least one episode of probably every dog training reality show that’s been aired, here are a few take-aways I hope you keep in mind as you’re watching these shows:
For kids and teachers, the end of the year is quickly approaching! Soon enough they will get out of school and a much-needed summer break from learning.
But for me, the school year is just beginning! It’s time for Continuing Education!
For me, this New Year brings… a new pet!
I recently bought myself a fish tank for a new little betta fish!
As it happens, getting an actual FISH is more complicated than it seems.
Why dogs can be aggressive around food, and what you can do to fix it.
You’re at a restaurant, treating yourself to yummy food and engaging conversation with your friends.
You’re eating slowly to fully savor your food. With only two precious bites left on your plate, you set your fork down to take a sip of your drink.
Like a flash, your perky waiter appears, asking, “May I take your plate?”
As he reaches toward your plate, somewhere in the deepest part of your mind you visualize shouting and stabbing his hand with your fork to make him leave your food and go away.
But then your rational human mind takes over, and you smile and touch the edge of your plate, politely replying, “No thanks, not quite done.” He walks away; but you make sure that next time he comes around, you have your fork in your hand to make sure he knows that you’re still eating.
If you're like most humans, you probably think that it’s rude to take away other people's possessions. We don’t steal food off each other’s plates, it’s against the law to take someone’s wallet. We have locks and security systems to protect everything from our cars and houses to our cell phones, and the bulk of our cash is secured in a bank. I’ve heard of roommate relationships that are ruined over stolen toilet paper. As kids we learn not to sit in Grandpa’s comfy chair or use Mom’s makeup without permission.
If it’s so natural to understand to respect others’ possessions, then why do I, as a dog trainer, get these calls all too often:
Summer is probably one of the very best times to get a new dog! The kids are home from school for the summer to help take care of the new addition and teach him all those important house manners. You take him on car rides with you whenever you can; maybe you even take him with you on an exciting vacation, or start a training class with him.
Every day seems to bring a new adventure for the dog with his new family!
But then seasons change; fall can be a very difficult time for dogs. Kids go back to school, parents go back to work. Schedules get busy with after school meetings and activities, and the dog, who’s used to attention and adventures, suddenly finds himself at home alone for much longer stretches of the day.
The dog becomes stressed about being home alone and starts barking, to the point where he’s bothering the neighbors. Then the destructiveness starts: breaking the crate, chewing through carpet, scratching doors and window frames, maybe even injuring himself in the process.
Does this sound familiar? If so, your dog might have Separation Anxiety.
Service Dogs and the Law
Have you ever been out shopping or walking through an airport and spotted a service dog?
Are you thinking about getting a service dog but you’re scared if you take him into public places someone will kick you out?
Have you ever seen a dog in public and wondered if it’s a “real” service dog?
As a service dog trainer, I answer all of these questions and more almost every day! There is a lot of confusion about the public access laws pertaining to service dogs, so hopefully this will help clear some things up!
Where's the Service Dog Store?
Service dogs can be lifesaving companions; the bond between a service dog and handler is awe-inspiring! But that bond doesn’t come without a lot of hard work and dedication, so be sure to plan ahead before you get a service dog!
There are two main avenues to get a service dog:
1. Professional Service Dog training organizations;
2. Owner-training your own puppy or adult dog from a breeder, shelter, or rescue group.
Each of these avenues have their pros and cons, so let’s take a look at them!
I Want a Service Dog! Don't I?
At least once a week there is a story in the news or on social media about service dogs.
But even with all this attention, you still may find yourself with questions about service dogs.
The first bit of confusion comes from the seemingly simple question:
What exactly is a service dog?
I'm so excited to take the time to talk about one of my very favorite dog sports, Rally Obedience! One of the fastest-growing competitive dog sports today, Rally combines dog obedience with an obstacle course, and is loved by dogs of all ages, breeds, and levels of training experience, and their handlers.
In a Rally competition, a judge will set up a unique course in a large training ring with around 15 signs. Each sign will show a task, and your goal as a handler/dog team is to heel through the course and follow the instructions on each of the signs as you pass them. Many signs will simply tell you which way to heel: “Fast Pace,” “Slow Pace,” “Left Turn,” “U-turn,” etc. Other signs will require you to stop and do an obedience behavior: stop and have your dog sit, cue your dog to lay down and stay while you walk all the way around him, etc.