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We’re on a mission to provide resources and practical tips to pet people

Shock-Free Snake Safety

Warm weather might bring on thoughts of outdoor adventures with our dogs. However, something that may not be enticing for outdoor adventures is that venomous snakes share our outdoor spaces! If you live in an area with venomous snakes, a snake safety protocol for your dog is critical. What should be in a snake safety protocol for your dog? PET: Prepare. Educate. Train.  Prepare for Peak Snake Season Keep your dog on a leash on hiking trails and other habitat areas for snakes or avoid these areas altogether during peak… Continued

Dear Bruno…I Wish You Would Not Bark at the Deer

Do you live with a dog who enters “barking frenzy” mode when a critter appears?  Perhaps it is a squirrel, a rabbit, another dog, or even the mail delivery person. Maybe your dog even perches by the window waiting for things to come into view so he can bark and “make” them go away. When my wife and I still had Buddha and Gandhi in our lives we spent most of our free time on the porch, enjoying the wildlife that came to our feeding stations. Sometimes they came much… Continued

Meeting the Environmental Needs of Your Pet Cat(s)

Enrichment provides cats with ways to engage in natural behaviors. It improves their physical and mental health, alleviates stress and boredom, and improves their ability to cope with challenges. There are numerous types of enrichment, but perhaps the most basic and well-known is environmental enrichment. It will be the focus of this article. EATING/DRINKING Feeding stations should be located in calm and quiet areas that allow cats to eat in peace and without interruptions. This will help keep them from being interrupted or disturbed, which will in turn help prevent… Continued

How To Prepare Your Pet for Smoother Vet Visits

There’s no doubt about it, a trip to the vet’s office can be pretty daunting for both us and our pets. Whether it’s worrying over a busy waiting room with other animals around or stress about what might happen in the consultation room, anxiety for all involved can often run high.    Top Tips for Ensuring Smoother Vet Visits So how can you make the whole experience more relaxing for yourself and your pet?  Stay calm yourself The first thing you must try and do is reduce your own worry… Continued

Herbal Tea for Horses

I love herbal tea—the many flavor varieties, the way it warms me up when I have a chill, the relaxing effect it has on me. A few winters ago, I had a lightbulb moment while preparing breakfast for the horses. As I took a sip of my peppermint tea from my thermos, I thought, “If horses love starlight mints, would they like mint tea?” Next thing you know, I had devised an elaborate taste preference test with many different types of herbs that I knew were horse-safe. I tested several… Continued

Fear Is an Emotion, Not a Behavior

There’s an old saw in the dog world that just won’t go away: “Don’t pet or comfort your dog when she’s acting scared—you’re just reinforcing that behavior.”  But fear is not a behavior to be reinforced – or punished. It’s an emotion, like excitement, affection, playfulness, and sadness. Behaviors and emotions are tied together in important ways, but they are not the same, and require different approaches when they become a problem for your pet. Behaviors are Learned – Emotions are Involuntary Take for example the fallacy that forcing a… Continued

Dog Bite Prevention Week!

As a certified dog bite prevention educator, I can tell you that dog bites do not just happen out of the blue as many seem to believe.   Behavior is Communication All behavior is designed to access something, avoid, or escape something. In applied behavior analysis we talk about behavior being anything we can observe that can be measured. The problem, when it comes to dog behavior, is a lack of human comprehension. Our understanding is limited and we miss the details, the communication signals. If humans could ask WHY… Continued

The Importance of Transparency in Sheltering and Rescue

Much like the lack of transparency in dog training, there’s also a lack of transparency in sheltering and rescue organizations. Animal Sheltering Data  In 2018 eight prominent animal welfare organizations and foundations released a joint mission statement concerning accountability and transparency regarding data sharing of the numbers of animals in their care and their outcomes. Additionally, Shelter Animals Count partners with various sheltering organizations to collect standardized data for their National Database, with a long-term goal of 100% shelter participation nationwide. But this project primarily tracks intake/outcome numbers, like how to count… Continued

Dog Training Tip: Build Trust by Creating a Reinforcement History

We need our pets to trust us so that they will follow our cues and guidance, especially when they are feeling unsure about a situation. We can’t always predict when a sticky situation will occur and when it does, we want our dogs to know we’ve got their backs – to keep them safe, or to get them out of there. Earning and maintaining an animal’s trust goes hand in hand with creating a reinforcement history during training.   Building a Relationship Based on Positive Interactions Ideally, we start creating… Continued

Product Review: The Outward Hound Tail Teaser

The Outward Hound Tail Teaser is one of my favorite dog toys, let me tell you why!   When I visit my training clients, I always have toys with me to make sure that their dogs like them before they buy them. This is because some dogs might be afraid of the noises that the toys make, or not like things that move quickly. Today I want to tell you about one that is in my top two favorite toys. The Tail Teaser is a flirt pole. What is that,… Continued

What is a “Positive” Dog Trainer?

Let’s say you want to find a great trainer for your dog and so you do a web search. The search results in several web links and you check them out, seeking the best result for your beloved pet.  What might you find? Lack of Industry Regulation and Oversight First, understand that among about 50,000 dog “trainers” in the United States, there is no standard, regulation or oversight.  Any single person who wishes to call themselves a “dog trainer” is…voila, a “dog trainer.”  There is no need for qualification or… Continued

Starting Off on the Right Paw with New Pet Introductions

Bringing a new pet home is always fun and exciting for us but how might our other furry family members feel? It could be a source of stress or worry so it’s always important to introduce new pets gently so everyone starts off on the right paw.  A Good Experience for Everyone You can actually begin whilst your new pet is still with their breeder, foster or rescue organization. Do some scent swapping by rubbing a blanket on your new pet and taking it home so your existing pet becomes… Continued

Understanding Horse Training Videos

There are tons of horse training videos all over YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms. It can be very challenging to determine which videos are worth following and maybe practicing with your horse, and which ones should be avoided. I often receive videos from students asking if what the trainer in the video is saying is correct because it sounds like it might be but they have doubts. Or someone posts a video in a Facebook group asking how the horse was trained because the horse “looks” happy… Continued

Perceptions of Assistance and Service Dogs by the General Public

Stereotypes of Assistance and Service Dogs Based on seeing stereotypes of assistance and service dogs, many people expect these dogs to be Labradors working under charities like Guide Dogs. It is becoming more common to see assistance and service dog teams owner train rather than seeking help from a charity for an assistance dog. Charities may not be an option due to the wait times and also the cost, which is outside the budget for so many teams. Today, assistance dogs come in all sorts of breeds, from all sorts… Continued

Ideal Pairings to Consider When Getting a New Cat

Thinking of adding another cat to your household? In this article, I describe the best combination of cats, based on the advice in professional articles and the experiences of animal welfare workers. Best Cat Pairings What do I mean by best combination? It’s when all members of a group of cats live together peacefully, stress-free, and happy, and with acceptable behavior. International Cat Care (ICatCare) says siblings who grow up together make the best pairings. ICatCare noted that this is especially true if “there was evidence of sociability with each… Continued

Is Walking the Dog a Dreaded Chore?

One of the biggest complaints I hear as a trainer is that dogs pull, are reactive toward people, or toward other dogs. Dog Walking Pro Tips I have different ways of addressing all of those things, but can give you one hint before your walk with any dog. Wear them out a little before the walk. I love to take them out to the front yard on leash and sprinkle treats around for them to search for. This gets them in a sniffing mood and it is commonly said that… Continued

Dogs, Dogs, Dogs! We Love Them!

So, how do we help dogs navigate our human world?   When I go to see a client, I begin each session speaking about what it was like for me going to the zoo as a child.  The lion, the gorilla, all the inhabitants lived in cages.  As a result, they often displayed abnormal repetitive behaviors known as zoochosis, a form of psychosis that develops in animals held captive in zoos. These behaviors included pacing, bar biting, excessive licking just to name a few. I then move the conversation onto the happy fact that… Continued

What You Need to Know About Puppy Socialization

Socialization is a hot topic, but what does it mean exactly? Is it about your pet being able to play and being social? Well kinda, but not just that. Dogs and cats have a critical socialization period; in puppies this is a period of 3-12 weeks of age, and in kittens their key socialization period is up to 7 weeks of age. During these periods our pets are most receptive to new experiences, and the things they are exposed to -or not- can have far reaching consequences. That’s not to… Continued

Winter Weather Tips for Pets

Like people, some pets love the winter snow and cold, and others hate it. Our dog Dulice was not deterred by the snow but found a terrier’s dream as it allowed winter burrowing. My current dog Muppy, a rescue from Mississippi, hated her first seven winters in Maine. However, Muppy enjoys a good roll in the snow today as long as the temperature doesn’t drop below 30 F. Our cat Boomer enjoys outdoor journeys on a harness and leash and lying in the summer sun, but when it comes to… Continued

Teaching a Fearful Dog Trust and Skills – In That Order

Teaching is a proactive process, rather than a reactive one.  The goal is to prevent unwanted behaviors, rather than wait for them to occur and then try to remedy the situation.  Helping Maizey When a client asked for help with Maizey, a dog with several fear triggers, I resolved to begin with a proactive plan. Maizey had a history of fear of strangers, fear of trucks, fear of other dogs and excessive arousal upon seeing squirrels. Her behavior responses included barking and lunging which made it stressful for her family… Continued

When Services Refuse Access to Assistance Dog Teams

Pet Professional Guild Member Let Down by Services That Promise Otherwise Uber is a taxi service which is accessible through an app. Within the app you can book your driver and also let them know if you have an assistance dog. The idea is to help people to easily access the most local driver and have reassurance that they can go to their destination, with their assistance dogs, in peace. However, some Uber drivers over the last five years have been refusing access to Ruby Welsford and Millie Gee (and… Continued

Are You a Cat Person or a Dog Person?

How many times have we seen this question posted or have we been asked it ourselves?       Becoming a Dog Family In my own family my husband developed cat allergies as an adult. He once stopped to see what had been thrown out of the car in front of him on his way home on a cold dark night. It was a kitten. We named him Buddy and he was the sweetest little guy – followed us around purring, so happy to have been found!   Dave’s eyes… Continued

Tips for Parents and Dog Guardians to Help Keep Kids Safe

The 3 Most Important Things to Teach Your Kids Dogs Don’t Like Hugs and Kisses – Teach your kids not to hug or kiss a dog on the face. Hugging the family dog or face-to-face contact are common causes of facial bites.  Instead, teach kids to scratch the dog on the chest or the side of the neck. Be a Tree If a Strange Dog Approaches – Teach kids to stand still, like a tree. Trees are boring and the dog will eventually go away. This works for strange dogs… Continued

How Many Dogs Should I Adopt at the Same Time?

Adopting a dog is so exciting, not just for us but for the dog as well. I don’t think there is much that can match the feeling of giving a previously unwanted dog a new beginning. Of course, you do have the option to adopt more than one dog; here are a couple of things to keep in mind. Adopting One Dog…At a Time Adopting two or more puppies together is not advisable. Similar to purchasing siblings from the same bred litter, two puppies are double the costs, cleaning up,… Continued

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