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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


Halloween Tips for People with Pets


Halloween can be very scary for our pets and very dangerous. It is that time of year when many children and even some adults like to dress up in costumes that make them look different and often scary. They may also take on the stilted walk or the pseudo-terrifying vocalizations of the character they portray. Think about Halloween and all the shenanigans it entails from your pet’s perspective. Was your dog ever socialized/habituated to anything remotely like Halloween? Is it likely that they will find groups of people behaving weirdly… Continued


Halloween Can Be Stressful for Dogs


Halloween can be fun for us but stressful for dogs, especially if you get a lot of trick-or-treaters coming to the door. Trick-or-Treaters You could consider putting up a sign saying, “no trick-or-treaters please” and leave sweeties in a safe place outside for children to help themselves to instead. Otherwise, keep your dog inside and away from the door as your dog may not recognize that the ghost, vampire or witch at your door is a child or person they know. Even a fairy can be scary to a dog… Continued


Training Your Equid: The Many Benefits of Protected Contact


What is protected contact? Protected contact means that there is a barrier between you and the animal you are working with or training. This term comes from zookeeping, where zookeepers often work with the animals in their care through the confines of the animal’s enclosure. The barrier keeps both the human and animal safe. How will protected contact benefit me? Protected contact keeps you safe from behaviors that may make you uncomfortable or put you at risk, like your horse bumping into you, pushing you with their nose, or nipping.… Continued


Fallout is Not Good for You…or Your Pet (Part Two)


A dog cannot be in a relaxed and restful state while simultaneously in a state of fear.  The same is true for humans. You are likely familiar with the survival mechanism often referred to as fight-or-flight. Here’s a brief overview of how that response works: The central nervous system (CNS) consists of the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The PNS is associated with rest and digest processes, while the SNS is associated with fear and anxiety. They work in balance with one another, rather like… Continued


Fallout is Not Good for You…or Your Pet (Part One)


Recently I received an application from a potential client, who I will fictitiously call Jane Doe. Jane reported how she brought a boxer puppy into her life. Her primary concern was that her puppy was excited around new people, jumping on them, and she pulled on the leash. Jane took her pup to a group class, but her puppy was usually put behind a fence and got little help from the trainer. Excitability, jumping on people and pulling on leash sounded like typical puppy behavior and I thought, “Oh good,… Continued


Puppy Not Listening to You? Here’s Why and What to Do!


  “I love it when my pet doesn’t listen to me,” said no one ever. So what happens when your calls fall on deaf ears (when your dog isn’t actually deaf)? What else might be going on if you feel your puppy isn’t listening or responding to you?  There are many reasons why your pet is failing to respond to you. We’re going to get into it here, and help you with tried and tested strategies that will help your pet listen to you. Why is My Puppy Not Listening… Continued


I’ve Been Rescued by a Pet


This blog post is the Runner-up in our Pets and Their People PPG Summit Blog Contest which invited entrants to submit a blog post on the topic of being rescued by a pet. This week we celebrated Dezra’s Gotcha Day! Ten Years!! We adopted Dezra on August 17, 2013. Ten years ago, I could not have imagined where I am now. Dezra truly changed my life, and the lives of many other dogs when she joined our family. After our dog Theo passed away, my husband and I were looking to… Continued


How to Interact with a Dog – Respecting Personal Space


While many people recognize and address the physical health of their pets, the same cannot always be said for their pets’ mental well-being. Sadly, I’m not surprised, as some people fail to recognize the importance of mental health in humans, believing behavioral issues are character flaws rather than symptoms of illness or distress. Behavior problems with pets are on the rise. Often, they occur due to an aspect of a pet’s mental health and emotional well-being. Feeling Safe Every dog, like every person, has a personal space bubble. Each person… Continued


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