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Why Is Advocating for Our Pets So Important?

Some dogs spend so much of their relatively short time with us hoping to be noticed…hoping that the door may open, or the cookie cabinet will open, hoping for even a short massage. I see many dogs daily, weekly, yearly who are trying their best to live in our modern world, a world of rushing, Zoom calls, humans with good intentions but not much time… We need to help dogs to feel accomplished, happy, cared for and heard. But in this crazy busy world, we might instead tend to push… Continued

Welcome to Hotel Bruno: How I Transformed the Space Beneath Our Basement Stairs into a Storm Shelter

This spring has brought frequent severe weather, requiring us to take shelter in the basement due to tornadic activity. I was motivated to create a storm shelter beneath the basement stairs and described how to plan ahead for people, and their pets. I describe how I built and stocked the shelter. Considering the nearly daily severe weather events all across the nation, this may help families stay safe. Meteorologists just a few years ago hesitated to link local weather catastrophes with climate change, but now it is common for them… Continued

What Do the Boy Scouts of America and U.S. Dog Trainers Have in Common?    

A Lot, the Fox Is in the Henhouse By Annie Phenix and Pilley Bianchi Best-selling authors Annie Phenix and Pilley Bianchi have teamed up to write a compelling, fact-based news article that examines how family dogs are living in a time of major transition as they become more and more embedded in our families. More is expected of them, and more often than not, people expect their dogs to inherently know the rules of order. Sit, stay, come, chew this, not that. But despite 40,000 years by our side, dogs… Continued

Celebrating Life Together – Our pets share our lives, and never for long enough!

I recently lost my Kitty Kat; it gave me pause, as always when we lose a pet. We flashback to all the memories, laughs, and lovely moments we shared over the years. I sat in a quiet location as my tears subsided and flashed back to how she came into my life. I have not yet reached the point where I can think back fondly with a smile; the pain is still too raw. But what I can do is reflect on our time spent together, our reinforcement history, the… Continued

A Puppy’s Tale of the Yellow Brick Road

My understanding of the “Wizard of Oz” film is that it’s about a group of individuals who struggle to deal with fear and then seek recovery from it. This is a story about Juniper’s journey along that “Yellow Brick” road. I think that we all travel along that particular road at one time or another. Juniper’s mother was a stray, pregnant and struggling to stay safe, living in a deep southern state. She was captured with her pups and taken to a local shelter, eventually packed into a truck with… Continued

Cat Not Using the Box? It Could Be the Litter Box Setup!

Unwanted elimination is one of the most common behavioral reasons cats are surrendered to shelters. Why is this problem so common? And what can be done about it? First, take your cat to the vet to check for possible medical causes. If the cause isn’t medical, it could be behavioral, such as separation anxiety, inter-cat aggression, or outside threats. In these situations, I’d recommend you contact a cat behavior consultant to help you problem-solve. As a cat behavior consultant, experience has taught me that elimination issues are often due to… Continued

How to Train Your Equid to Stand for a Foot Soak

From softening the hoof so that it’s easier to trim in dry weather, to drawing out an abscess or treating a hoof condition, there are many reasons why you might need to soak your equid’s feet. Here is a brief guide to training your equid to stand for a soak. Step 1: To teach your equid to stand for a foot soak, I like to start with training them to stand on a mat. This behavior is useful for many different things, and the more you strengthen this behavior, the… Continued

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

What is Reactivity in Dogs?

‘He’s reactive’ or ‘I have a reactive dog’ is quite commonly heard nowadays, and is a bit of a catch-all label that gets put on dogs who respond in a certain way. So, what is reactivity really, and what is a ‘reactive dog’? A dog who is reactive is generally one who overreacts in certain situations, or to certain things (science calls these stimuli) in their environment, and this overreaction can vary in intensity, how long it goes on for (duration), or volume. What triggers reactivity in dogs? Common triggers… Continued

How Much Fetch Is Too Much?

How does a pet steward satisfy a dog’s strong desire to play without turning it into an obsession? Most dogs love to play, and some dogs love it so much that it can become an obsessive behavior. When my wife and I adopted Bruno, a chocolate Labrador, the foster family told us that he would play fetch for hours. Uh-oh. When I worked at a dog daycare, among the 200 dogs I knew, there was one who herded plastic balls constantly, all day long, for several days a week, never taking… Continued

How Can Sniffing Improve Your Dog’s Life?

Our dogs make no secret of how much they love to use their noses and have a good sniff. Some dogs make a very respectable career out of their nose power, detecting drugs or explosives. Others though, put their noses to much more embarrassing use, crotch sniffing visitors or poking it where it’s really not wanted! So why is sniffing so important to your pet? And what can you do to fulfill their sniffing needs without any embarrassment?  As humans our primary sense is our sight, but for our dogs,… Continued

Ask a Trainer: A Friend for a New Feline

Q. I recently acquired a male, neutered cat, who is about 3 years old. He lived indoors all the time, his first two years with a sibling. They were separated when the owner passed away, then fostered. I’m the third owner in a month now. He is a gentle lapsitter, content to be in his room, looking out the window. I am contemplating getting him a companion. What’s your suggestion? Same age or a younger cat? Male or female? Breed? (He is a domestic shorthair, tuxedo.) – Thanks, C. A:… Continued

Ten Tips to Help Your New Dog Decompress

You’ve brought home a new dog! Congratulations! Let’s look at some important things to help keep your new dog safe, emotionally and physically, in the first few weeks. Over the next several weeks and months, you will really start to see his personality blossom as he starts to bond with you, gets comfortable, and settles into your home and your routine. That’s when the fun really happens! Good luck and congratulations!  About the Author Kate LaSala, CTC, CBCC-KA, PCBC-A, CSAT, FFCP-E is a certified, professional behavior consultant and trainer, who specializes in helping fearful,… Continued

UK Residents: Urgent Action Needed to Make a Kinder World for Pets

We have less than six months for UK citizens to get 100,000 signatures on this petition to ban electric shock collars for dogs and cats. Your signature attests, “I petition for the ban of electric shock collars due to the harmful effects they can have.” Five Reasons to Act Now: Inflicting Pain on Animals is Unlawful Let’s explore European Animal Welfare laws, specifically the UK Animal Welfare Act of 2006, and its Five Freedoms, which are: Advocates believe the use of electric shock collars on dogs is inconsistent with animal… Continued

Ask a Trainer: When Will My Puppy Stop Biting Me?!

Q. Is there a time when I can stop training my puppy? He’s 12 weeks old now. When will he stop biting me? –– via Facebook Messenger A. It’s great that you’re seeking guidance on training your puppy! Puppy Biting At 12 weeks old, your puppy is still in the early stages of development. Puppy biting is a common behavior at this age, as they explore their environments and learn about their surroundings through their mouths. Puppy biting is a natural part of their teething process and social development, but… Continued

Holiday Safety for Dogs

While the holiday season can be a fun time of year for us, we also need to be thinking about how to keep our canine friends safe. This article explores some common seasonal pet hazards and how to avoid them. Holiday Decorations Pine needles – Real Christmas trees have sharp needles; not only can these hurt your dog’s paws, but if eaten they can cause tummy issues, including blockages, or puncture your dog’s tummy or intestines. Hoover up pine needles regularly. Tree water – Do not let your dog drink… Continued

Eye Drops for Dogs, the Premack Principle, and Stationing on the Stairs

Students often ask me, “When can I stop training my dog.” That’s when I reply, “I never stop training.” By continuing to train, I keep my dog engaged, her life enriched, and my skills sharp. For example, my continued training with Muppy helped me quickly address a new behavioral challenge related to her health. Last spring Muppy was seen by an eye specialist and was prescribed eye drops that she requires every morning. Dr. Blackwood explained that one of the drops might sting and could cause Muppy to be less… Continued

Fungi Facts for You and Your Four-Legged Loved Ones (Part Two)

In this series we continue to identify and discuss the top ten mushrooms that are poisonous to dogs and what to do if your dog decides to take a bite. While we like to think that our dogs would know better than to snack on some fungi (some show no interest) being aware of – and able to identify – certain strains of poisonous mushroom could save us animal lovers a costly trip to the ER and even Buddy’s life! Let’s take a closer look at a few more mushrooms… Continued

Can Acupuncture Help Pets with Painful Conditions?

This article describes how acupuncture treatments helped my dog and horse, each of whom had arthritis. It also describes the calming effect of acupuncture. The end of the article contains links to two acupuncture organizations, to help pet stewards find a certified veterinary acupuncture professional in their area. Long ago we adopted Charlie, a two-year old yellow Labrador. Charlie was athletic and playful, enjoying chasing balls and Frisbees and playing tug with me. By his 10th birthday he began slowing down and we adopted Jake, an adolescent black Labrador. They… Continued

Keep These Foods Away from Your Dog at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to get together with family and friends and for you to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving meal. Here are some foods that you should keep away from your dog at Thanksgiving: Turkey skin, cooked bones and dark meat. Turkey skin and the dark meat are high in fat and could cause pancreatitis. Turkey skin is hard to digest and if you marinade it or use spices or oil then the skin keeps hold of these when cooked making it unsafe for your dog. Cooked turkey and ham… Continued

To Save a Starfish: A Compassion-Fatigue Workbook for the Animal-Welfare Warrior (Book Review)

Several of us who have animals as pets also volunteer or work in the animal welfare field at some point. You might give your time to an animal rescue or shelter, veterinarian clinic or hospital, or even animal control. Whatever your role, if you intend to stay in the field, you should consider adding “To Save a Starfish” by Jennifer A. Blough to your reading list. Burnout and Compassion Fatigue “To Save a Starfish: A Compassion-Fatigue Workbook for the Animal-Welfare Warrior“ is a self-care workbook designed to help its readers… Continued

Fungi Facts for You and Your Four-Legged Loved Ones (Part One)

In this series we will identify and discuss the top ten mushrooms that are poisonous to dogs and what to do if your dog decides to take a bite. There are few things more rewarding than the wagging tails and happy faces of our dear dogs when stimulating their senses and taking in new information. For the most part, a walk down the street or in the woods with Buddy is a stimulating, enjoyable, and safe experience, however as much as we adore and love to see those curious tails… Continued

Why Focus on Life Skills vs Obedience in Dog Training?

Life skills training isn’t just a flashy buzzword; it’s the most up-to-date way of training dogs, where we focus on skills for life vs the traditional obedience commands of yesteryear. The life skills approach emphasizes training dogs to be well-behaved and well-adjusted in everyday environments, rather than just focusing on obedience commands in a controlled training setting. Life skills training focuses on teaching skills to dogs that are relevant to their day-to-day lives. It has been so long since dogs were domesticated, and even relatively modern life is very different… Continued

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