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Avoiding the ‘Brush-Off’! (Part Two)

All dogs need to be groomed – to rid the hair of dirt and debris, to check for parasites, stimulate oils and to avoid tangles, are just a few reasons. How do we make sure though that the whole process is pleasant, or even something the animal may come to look forward to, rather than a negative experience or a battle of wills? Turn grooming into a game I like to use target training as a fun game with grooming issues. Essentially, you’re changing the whole association of the tool… Continued

Avoiding the ‘Brush-Off’! (Part One)

Grooming is something that all dogs will need in their lives, and it should not be something they have to endure or dread. I’m going to focus on dogs in this article since that is my specialty, but you could just as easily apply my words to pretty much any furry friend- small or large.  Preventing issues The key point is to start early with puppies; I cannot stress that enough. It is just so much easier if you start at eight weeks, gaining a puppy’s trust on handling everywhere and… Continued

When Kindness Hurts: The Importance of Self-Care for Behavior Professionals

by Anna Francesca Bradley When I first delved into the world of animal behavior over 20 years ago, there was very little, if any, emphasis on looking after oneself. The focus (and rightly so) was on clients’ well-being and doing one’s utmost to help both animal and human, and very little thought was given to the individual professionals who were throwing everything, their heart and soul, into that journey. Thankfully, awareness has changed. The Professional’s Role When I first thought about becoming a behavior modification and training professional, I did… Continued

Creating Calm? Why Context Is Key!

  by Anna Francesca Bradley When I first started my journey in training and behavioral therapy (with dogs), I must admit that initially my focus was quite narrow. I looked at what was right in front of me—the dog’s dislike of being touched, the fear of being left, the response to unfamiliar dogs in the park—and addressed it according to that behavior right there and then. Of course, I looked at antecedents of the behavior, possible inadvertent reinforcements, adverse events, and so on. However, although the notion fleetingly crossed my… Continued

Pets & Us – Seeing the Positive in Challenging Situations

This is a very personal article for me. I sat in the garden the other day watching Shadow (one of our family dogs, not specifically my own and his identity protected for the purposes of this article) and thought, “What we are doing here?” and, “What I am thinking because of this situation may help others in an unfortunate and similar position.” Bounce forwards a week or so and I thought, “Hey, you have this article!” I want to say at the very outset that this is meant so much… Continued

The Harness Is Coming – Run for the Hills!

  I often wonder why some of us expect our dogs to miraculously accept collars, harnesses, leashes, and the like. After all, dogs are not born with these alien contraptions attached to their person! But some of this gear must feel restrictive, worrying, anxiety-provoking, or even potentially painful. Especially without careful prior desensitization.   Which Dog Gear and Why? There are many different bits of paraphernalia available out there right now, so think seriously about what you need and why you need it. Most importantly, think how it benefits your… Continued

Socializing Puppies to Other Animals

Dog guardians these days tend to be fairly aware of the crucial importance of socialization. These include the interactions a young puppy will have with people in his/her immediate family, people outside the family, and people of all different ages and appearances, wearing all sorts of strange outfits, carrying various novel objects (such as umbrellas or suitcases) etc. Guardians are often also aware of habituation. This means ensuring that the puppy begins to experience all sorts of adventures in her formative weeks and months that she will encounter in adult… Continued

Naughty Dog Syndrome? Say What?!

This article discusses reasons why owners may think that their dog is being ‘naughty’ when, in fact, a better understanding of the dog’s emotional state, breed instincts, and motivation is required By Anna Bradley I’m sure there are lots of dog training professionals have heard the phrase ‘Naughty Dog Syndrome’ many times, only to take a deep breath before calmly explaining the inaccuracies of such a statement. The word ‘naughty’ suggests that behavior is negative, inappropriate, willfully disobedient, bad, certainly undesirable, or noncompliant. It’s a label that is very easily… Continued

Pups and the Power of Positive Touch

  Don’t you just love being able to have that closeness with your dog? The snuggling in, the mutual touch, and just really enjoying each other’s affection? But sadly it’s not always like this. Not all dogs enjoy or are comfortable with our advances or attempts to hug, stroke, pet, or cuddle them. This can be distressing, upsetting and frustrating for both parties, especially as many people love having a dog in their lives so they can benefit from that mutual affection.   The Right to Interact? ‘Consent’ is a… Continued

Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

This article discusses the importance of ongoing training, learning, and enrichment for dogs, from puppyhood through to old age, and provides suggestions for fun games and activities By Anna Bradley I often wonder why so many of us train our dogs for a certain period of time and then just stop. For example, we get a puppy and train him to do a bunch of skills, maybe take him to puppy school and out to meet new friends, and practice our skills out and about. Maybe we engage the services… Continued

What Puppy Toy Next?

  By Anna Bradley If you’re anything like me, I absolutely love buying my dogs new toys. The look on their faces is pure joy and excitement when the novelty factor of a new toy kicks in – there’s nothing like it! But then they get bored after a while and are already waiting for their next toy – which duly arrives. That’s how well trained I am! But rather than simply (and randomly) buying loads of toys on a whim, I do think carefully about what to buy, based… Continued

The Right Choice

This article discusses learning environments for puppies, explaining why classes may not be the best option for all puppies and why one-to-one training can be far more beneficial – depending on the dog. In this article I’m going to talk about learning environments. I’ll start by asking some of the basic questions I would advise puppy owners to consider. For example, are your learning choices the right ones for your dog? Should you automatically assume a class is the best fit for your pup? Are you being led into believing… Continued

Happy Holidays…for Dogs too!

It can be so easy in all the madness and mayhem to overlook our dogs’ needs over the holiday period. Certainly, I always have an influx of inquiries at the beginning of a new year because a dog’s behavior has regressed in some way. Of course, we can’t expect ourselves to be ‘on it’ 100% of the time, every single second of the day – especially over periods like the holiday season. That’s only natural. But at the same time, there are things that we can do, small and easy… Continued

Welcoming a New Puppy – Ensuring a Happy and Successful Future Together

Welcoming a new pup into your household should be a time of absolute pure joy – he or she is a new family member after all, but sometimes it just turns into something akin to pure chaos, which is a shame. In many cases, the reason for this is simply not enough planning, a rash decision, or the heart ruling head. A new puppy is a living, breathing absolute commitment for, let’s say at least 12 years and, hopefully, a lot longer. So many times, I wish I could un-pick… Continued

Switched Off?…Time to Switch Back In

How often do you feel you really connect with your dog? I mean really? Do you feel that you understand how she feels? Do you recognize that things have changed? For example, maybe healthwise your dog is not quite as fit as she used to be and doesn’t want to walk as far. Maybe she is experiencing some pain in her muscles or joints. Maybe something else is going on. Is she less social with other dogs or people as she used to be? Is friction occurring in situations where… Continued

Grab the Positives and Keep Going!

I don’t know what it is lately… Maybe it is something to do with the pandemic and all the associated stress, but recently I have met a lot of pet owners who are really struggling. I don’t know how much of a thing this is generally, but I am definitely coming across a growing number of people who are concerned about whether what they are doing is the right thing, or that what they are doing may be completely wrong, or if others will think that what they are doing… Continued

Stress-Free Car Travel with Your Dog

Just recently I’ve helped several owners with dogs who’ve developed real aversions to car travel. Definitely this hasn’t been helped by not going places in the car during lockdown. Maybe these dogs haven’t set foot in the car at all but now they’re expected to just jump right in. But what if they are not comfortable to do so? What can we do to set our dogs up for easy, trouble free car travel? Happy car experiences should be part of the ‘habituation collage’ you put together as a new… Continued

Compare My Dog Dot Com!

We most definitely live in a ‘comparison society.’ Many of us are prone to comparing ourselves to others, their merits or otherwise, what they’ve achieved, what they own, don’t own, their assets – everything, in fact! I find this a lot in the dog world, e.g. ‘my previous dog never did this,’ ‘my other dog does this much better,’ or ‘I’ve owned dogs all my life and never had these issues’ and so on. Or maybe it might be comparisons with others. e.g. ‘my neighbor tells me what I’m doing… Continued

Life Beyond Leash Reactivity

As far as behavior consults go, it’s fair to say that reactivity is probably my most commonly encountered issue. The term ‘reactivity’ has become, I feel somewhat of a buzzword over recent years but what I’m referring to in this post is dogs who are reactive on the leash when they encounter unfamiliar dogs. Symptoms might include vocalization (barking, whining, howling, growling, yapping for example), lunging, pulling and straining, wild and frantic spinning, attempts to bolt and multifarious postural displays – from the very subtle to the overt. Some dogs… Continued

Banking the Positive

‘Banking the Positive’ is actually a comment I wish I could take credit for, but it’s actually something one of my clients said. She came up with it during a conversation we were having about her dog during some walk and train sessions. The phrase perfectly captures several concepts relevant to training, such as: Timing Quitting while you’re ahead Not bowing to that human compulsion of pushing things too far Grabbing that window of opportunity with both hands Offering lots of lavish praise I love it! I had to make… Continued

8 Pawsome Autumn/Fall Tips for Dog Guardians

It seems like no time since the year was just beginning and the trees were coming into bud. And yet somehow, despite the scourge of COVID-19, this year has whipped through and we’re almost facing its end already.  So with the advance of these beautiful autumnal colors on our trees, what do these changes bring for dog guardians and what can we do to make life just a little bit easier for all of us? 1. Mud! Autumn, or fall, brings mud! Gone are those lovely warm summer walks with… Continued

A Problem Like ‘Down’!

In a training class, I always find that a significant number of dogs (and their guardians, of course) have some trouble when it comes to learning/teaching how to lie down on cue. Why Teach Lie Down Anyway? If we can ask our dogs to lie down on cue, it can be really useful in terms of helping them relax and settle. Obviously, it’s great to have our dogs stay in one place and not leap all over the place or all over the furniture or our house guests, but for… Continued

How to Be More in Tune with Your Dog

How can I bond better with my dog? How do we connect more? I’m not even sure she even likes me! We care about our dogs and, as a consequence, we worry about questions such as these from time to time. Certain situations or scenarios mean they just pop into our head from time to time and, most likely, they’re completely unfounded. Having said that, there’s definitely room to think about how we can be a little more ‘in tune’ with our dogs – if we are, both our lives… Continued

Do “Carbon Copy” Dogs Exist?

We love our dogs so much, but sometimes there is that one dog who just sort of raises her head just that little bit above the parapet and eats her way into our heart that bit deeper. Or maybe we’ve battled more with that one dog to overcome behavioral or medical struggles…It’s not always easy to pinpoint but it’s that unidentifiable ‘something’ that makes some dogs shine just a bit brighter in our memory. The pain of losing a dog is immense and it can take time to heal emotionally… Continued

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