Saturday, July 30, 2011

Things that bring out my inner sniper.

Check out this disturbing story I saw over at Raised by Wolves. I have no words. Well actually I have a few choice words for those supposedly "educated" professionals. Go sign the petition and spread the word. I think if we can share the story maybe enough pressure will be put on the idiots to reconsider their "finding". Or at least give the dog a retest that might actually be FAIR for the dog. Say in a quiet room and by the actual rules of the SAFER test. Of course if you are trying to find an excuse to kill a dog then by all means write down what you WANT to see, not the reality. (shoving a fake hand into the dogs mouth so she chews it isn't biting FYI)

I have one word for those asshats, it is Karma.

Friday, July 29, 2011

My dog related adventures in Montreal

Everyone needs some time off now and then to regroup and recharge their batteries. I was lucky enough to get a great vacation for a whole week in Montreal with my husband recently. My dogs were taken fabulous care of, as always, during their stay at Perry Greene Kennel. So it was a dog and kid free week, which is a rarity for me. I even read a whole book WITHOUT dogs in it! A minor miracle in itself. Of course I had to visit some dog stores while I was there. The first was Bark and Fitz. They had moved so it was a bit of an adventure for my cab driver and me to find, but we made it.

It turned out they are disenfranchising from B&F and will be The Doghause soon. It was a great store. 

I bought a leash holder because my leash and collar addiction is getting out of hand.

                 Jane Goodall has a toy line. Who knew??
They were kind enough to humor me and let me take lots of photos. They also told me how Quebec isn't the most animal friendly province. It turns out beagles are considered livestock so are ok to use for animal testing. Yikes! While pitbulls aren't banned in Montreal, there are a few neighborhoods that they are banned along with some mastiff breeds. They were also VERY kind to let me know about two more dog stores down the road. Thank you Claire and Lynn!! I certainly appreciated the hospitality! The next store wasn't worth mentioning. Not only was it smelly, but the THREE clerks all ignored me. Hmmm I guess bigger isn't always better! It was more of a basic pet supply store anyhow. To bad tho because the space had real potential.

Next was this super cute boutique, Bailey Blu.

And this is Blu, the dog (I assume) the store is named for!!

Sorry I didn't get a better photo to share. Such a beauty and super sweet to boot! And he has the softest ears!
These were just some of the cool tags they had displayed. I LOVE the "Hello my name is" one. (middle bottom)

Nom Nom Nom treats!

OK I got a little carried away with the photos I know.

I love this feature so much I want it in my house!

Look, they have Molly Mutt beds!!!
How funny are these leashes! Guess which one I bought??

Two Dogs Raw is made BY them right there! How cool is that? I wish I had thought to get photos of the fabulous clerks and me in front of the stores! Yeesh! Huge thanks to Viki at Bailey Blu. She was also super awesome and accommodating in my "I'll probably blog this" insanity. Oh and Bailey Blu has a website AND facebook page. Go LIKE it!!! So now if you are ever in Montreal you know where to go for fabulous dog stuff. Tell'em Marie sent you!!!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The last day...

Blogger has been a pain in the neck lately and isn't always letting me upload photos. Hence the lack of posts. I hope to remedy that this week. I know I still have to report on my vacation to Montreal and the fabulous dog stores I visited while there. (You didn't know I was gone didja?) This is Jenny on our last full day of vacation (saturday) at the beach with our friend Prudence.
(Here is her website, Blogger isn't letting me link it properly either. Grrrr ~

I know, I suck. I didn't get ANY good photos of them together. That's ok. They both had fun smelling everything (and wheedling treats out of their humans) and that was the important part of the outing.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Dog Whisperer Fiasco in South Africa

If you haven't already heard about this story on the news I'm sure you will soon. I'm a little surprised it isn't popping up on more blogs. The video is disturbing but thankfully available as there can be no question of how the dog actually behaved since the "whisperer" in question tried to blame the child for stepping on the dog. Here is the original story:

And one trainers take on it:

I agree with the trainers comments that no dog is simply "cured" of aggression. So much of it is about context for the dog. Like I said before, aggression is complicated. There are many types and therefore different ways to address it. It may be that this dog had completely different issues before. Aggression with other dogs perhaps. One wonders if he took away the dogs communication of growling a warning with that silly "shhht" sound. Either way the handler (self proclaimed shaman/whisperer/whatever) made his biggest mistake by NOT keeping his eye on the dog, especially since the dog was in a public place. Clearly the dog targets the little girl when she left her table the first time. And certainly a service dog would need to be ok with people/children/other dogs running past them in close proximity. The little girl did nothing wrong.
This is also a disturbing look at service dogs who aren't properly trained. I see and hear of FAR to many people using service dog vests just so they can bring their dogs with them everywhere. We have a client at our clinic who passes his golden off as one so he can fly in the cabin. Sadly there is no one to turn him in to for this!! He has a "note from his doctor" that allows it as he has bragged to us. The dog has NO basic training that I can see. Thankfully it is at least a friendly dog. We used to have another client with a small dog they said was a service dog as well. He was on medication for seizures. Not sure how that works exactly since the dog wasn't medically fit. They switched vets so I no longer have to see them thankfully. I also had someone want to work with me with a dog that had severe dog to dog aggression who wanted to use him as a service dog. She was already taking him in public in a vest! While she actually had a need for a service dog, he wasn't appropriate for the work. I shudder to imagine the damage he could have done to a REAL service dog! (because one assumes a service dog is ok with other dogs a real service dog might get to close to him in a store for instance) Sadly I have more stories than this on the subject. While there IS a hefty fine for passing off an untrained and uncertified dog as a service dog, there isn't anyone to turn these people in to. So the threat of the fine isn't really much of a deterant.
It is one of those things that gets under my skin because people are taking advantage of something because they feel like it. Heaven forbid they ever really need a service dog someday. (And catch a clue, if your dog is acting like an idiot in public people will KNOW it probably isn't a real service dog!) Note to business owners, you CAN ask a poorly behaved service dog and their handler to leave your business IF the dog is actually causing a problem. (Barking at other customers, lunging at other dogs, urinating on items in your store, and the like.)
Sadly I must admit when I see a dog in a service dog vest these days, unless the persons disability is apparent, I am suspicious of it. Is it real or a fake for the owners whims? Ignorance is bliss I suppose. I wish there was some sort of governing body to address the issues of fake service dogs. If it were regulated, and I know that would come with its own set of problems, at least there would be a way to keep it from happening as much as it does. At least one hopes.
It is an awful story. Thankfully the girl will be ok tho possibly afraid of dogs the rest of her life. Oh and the "Whisperer"? He is a Harvard graduate of a business program, and a self taught "Whisperer". Another example of why you should be careful who you are hiring to train your dogs. Slick websites and good marketing doesn't always mean the trainer is someone who really understands dog behavior. Anyone can hang a "I am a dog trainer/shaman/whisperer/whatever shingle and take your money for services rendered. Do yourself a favor and ask a few questions about how qualified they actually are before you hire them.
I am so sick of this whisperering bunk. How many times do we have to point out why this "alpha pack method theory" is flawed? (FMI on that check out this link: ) And how sad that the term "whisperer" was hijacked from Paul Owens who happened to be a positive method trainer. (
Enough of my rant, what are your thoughts on the subject?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Is your dog aggressive?

Aggression in dogs is a serious problem because it can be a safety issue for people, other pets in a home, and the dog with the issue. Nothing gets a dog euthanized faster than a bite history after all. Here are a few things to consider if you have a dog with aggression issues.

First it is important to rule out medical problems. I usually recommend at least doing Lyme testing and Thyroid testing before some consults. Both of those can cause a previously nice dog to be unusually cranky and less tolerant. Thankfully these are easy to check and also easy to treat if this is a contributing problem. If you don't rule out medical issues you may be painting yourself in a corner. All the behavior modification in the world won't help you if an underlying medical condition is interfering.

(FMI on Lyme Disease in dogs:
For a thyroid test relating to a behavior issue I recommend the full thyroid panel sent out instead of the in house t4 test that most vets do. This gives you the full picture of the thyroid at work. FMI : )

There is an awful video going around of a dog biting its’ own foot while it is trying to chew on a bone. I've seen it featured on funny video shows now and then as well. That dog is actually having a seizure so I don't find it funny at all. This is aggression yet it is the result of a medical issue.

Physical health is important in many ways. Is your dog overweight? This can put unnecessary stress on the body and also cause a dog to not feel well. Thankfully this can usually be changed by adding some exercise and perhaps changing your dogs’ diet. I've recently mentioned high protein levels in food being a possible problem for some dogs. Again something that is easy to change to see if the behavior improves. Older dogs can also be less tolerant due to arthritis or dysplasia.

If you have a dog that is aggressive to people management is going to be part of your life with that dog. Get used to this idea. Yes the behavior may improve with a b-mod program but until then you MUST keep everyone safe. This may be as simple as putting the dog away when guests come to the house (EVERY SINGLE TIME) or as complicated as teaching the dog to accept the wearing of a basket muzzle. It depends upon the dog and the situation. (and what you are capable of doing within your lifestyle) Training a dog that bites to walk on a head collar is a great way to manage the dog when it is on leash.

Dealing with aggression gets complicated because there are many different types of aggression in dogs. Fear aggression, (which is considered the most frequently seen) resource guarding, inter-dog aggression, pain induced aggression (pinch collar users take note) dominance aggression (which can be triggered by trying to force a dog to do something they do not want to do-CM method fans take note) predatory aggression, on leash aggression and so on. It is important to figure out your dogs’ trigger and type of aggression to best know how to address it. Different types of aggression have different treatments!

A note about protection aggression: Most "protection" aggression is actually resource guarding of the dogs person. If I go to shake your hand or sit next to you and your dog bites me it is being possessive. "Get away from MY valuable resource!" If I can shake your hand with no problem, but then I go to hit you and your dog bites me that may be actual protection. The difference is that protection must mean there is a real threat to their person. I find people get disappointed when I point out the difference. Everyone wants to think their dog is protective of them. In reality most of us will never really know if our dog will protect us because we will never be in a situation where they have to make that decision. And that is a GOOD thing!

Knowing how to read a dogs’ body language is also very important in management of an aggressive dog. Knowing your dog well and watching body language can tip you off to a change in the dogs’ emotion and a potential incident about to happen. A dog leaning forward can indicate an upcoming lunge for instance. Knowing that growling is a good thing can also help. This is a dogs’ way of communicating their discomfort to us so we never want to take away that communication. FMI on growling:

If your dog is leash reactive you can try the Behavior Adjustment Training program, also known as B.A.T. Check out the details here at: It is a great positive method way to teach your dog that we are listening to them and teach them more acceptable reactions to other dogs. Again another example of why communication is critical in dog behavior modification and training.

There are also other options if the cost of behavior modification is unaffordable for you. The following books are all a great start: “Click to Calm by Emma Parsons, and “Bringing Light to Shadow” by Pamela Dennison. There is also “Help for your fearful dog” by Nicole Wilde, “Scardy Dog!” By Ali Brown, and “A guide to living with and training a fearful dog” by Debbie Jacobs. The book “Aggression in Dogs” By Brenda Aloff covers many types of aggression with behavior modification plans as well.

There are some trainers who abhor the idea of the need for medication in dog training and behavior. I believe that SOME dogs can be helped with the use of medication but there is alot that needs to be done to figure out if that is nessasary. It is also NOT to replace behavior modification work. Medication alone will NOT change a dogs behavior problem long term! It is only to help the dog who has a chemistry problem (usually with things such as the absorbsion of seretonin levels in the brain) be more normal so they are capable of relaxing to be able to learn during the behavior modification process. Again, if there is an underlying medical condition, such as a chemistry imbalance, then all the behavior modification in the world will NOT help that dog get better. For dogs who have serious anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorders and the like I recommend the behavior program at Tufts university ( or working with a trainer that is familiar with the proper medications to use in conjunction with a B-Mod program. This also needs to be done under the supervision of a behavior knowledgeable veterinarian. (Sadly some vets still prescribe Acepromazine for noise phobias when that is actually counter-indicated: and )

Tip: Did you know that an easy way to raise the seretonin levels in the dogs brain, which makes dogs feel less anxious, is to increase their exercise?

I hope this post is helpful for anyone having aggression issues with their dog. While a certain TV personality would have you believe it is all about being calm and assertive and a “claw bite to the neck” and "Sssst" sound is it much more complicated than that. It is also important to understand the distinction between suppression of behavior, which means management 100% of the time, and changing the emotion of the event so that the behavior changes for the long term without the possible need for management.

As you can see aggression issues have many facets to consider. Find a trainer that understands this if you have a dog with aggression so you addess it in the most appropriate way. Positive non-confrontational methods are the safest way to accomplish this as well. Remember, a bite history is what we want to avoid to keep them safe. Here is the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior's position on using punishment in behavior modificaiton:
I am very careful about taking on aggression cases. For one thing liability is a concern. Dogs that bite people can be dangerous and we live in a litigious society. This is why I decide what clients to take on a case by case basis. People like to blame others if something goes wrong and client compliance is critical. If I think someone isn't going to do what I tell them I won't take their case. End of story. There needs to be a certain amount of trust between me and a client if I am going to stick my neck out for them. I can however refer the cases to other trainers, if approprate, who do see aggression cases as needed. Contact me with any questions.

Note: The photo above is my Jack giving a visiting puppy a warning. It looks dramatic but is a normal and clear communication between them. Some would label this as aggression however it is completely appropriate behavior. Context of actions is important!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

A post in which I share a few great links

First an update for a reader. The photo above is Liam, one of our K-9 Corrections puppies. He and Levi are doing very well and are getting neutered next week. This means they will be available for adoption soon. FMI contact the Humane Society of Knox County at 207-594-2200. Note: I am NOT in charge of the adoption process.

Now here are some interesting or informative links: This is why you should learn to read pet food labels: EPA Document proves euthanised pets may be in pet food. Yes this is pretty awful. Aren't our pets worth a few extra dollars to buy food that is at least free of contaminants? At the very least don't we respect our passed on pets more than using them as dog food? I could see it if we had no choice but we do. It is shades of Soylent Green for sure. (I may be dating myself with this reference.) FMI on this subject check out the book "Food pets die for" by Ann Martin. While I disagree with that authors thoughts on raw diets, the info on how to read pet food labels is excellent. And this is not new info, it has been discussed in the past on other blogs as well.

Then a fabulous article by fellow trainer and friend about how we communicate to our dogs through unintentional cues.

Here is a story about a wildlife attack on 2 people. This is exactly why we need to be careful of all wildlife acting strangely. (and get our pets vaccinated for rabies to keep them safe)

A shout out and congrats to Heidi and Joel on opening their SECOND LOCATION of the Loyal Biscuit in Belfast. (Squeeee!!) And thanks to Prudence for blogging about it for me to be able to share here.

And for something completely different, for fun I give you this:


Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!

Dash says "I rock this look!"

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My busy & fluffy weekend

Puppies are adorable but exhausting. This is why I wonder if I'll ever sign up to have one of my own again. I had an 8 week old Chow Chow here for some socialization for a few days. (a relative of Batu) He was super cute for sure but SUPER active! Can we say busy bee? But he was also Mr. Charisma. He will be a fun pup for someone for sure. They'll just need to keep him engaged so he doesn't get bored and destructive. I got him started on some house training, crate training and leash walking. He did great!

Many more photos of him can be seen on my facebook page for anyone in need of a puppy fix. He went home this morning so I can relax again. It is a little stressful being in charge of other peoples dogs.

This is Jenny breaking in her spot on the new love seat. Hurray for discount furniture stores! I love how perfectly the pet steps fit. I am hoping this helps cut down on the dust mites which should (in theory) help with some of her allergy issues. (That is if I can trust Greer about THAT allergy panel!) She is currently having a flare up but I expected that with all the dust that was stirred up getting the old couches out.


She is loving her Zeal food. I signed up for The Honest Kitchen's newsletter and read their free 20 page nutrition booklet. It had a lot of great info and I highly recommend it if you are considering a diet change. Or even if you just want to learn more about pet food in general. The only part Jenny doesn't like about it is the wait while it hydrates. She thinks is it quite torturous actually. That's me, dog torturer extraordinaire. Yet another thing I wish we could explain to our dogs. Put that on the list along with "why we need to trim their nails" and "why it would be better if they just sit still for that process".


What do you wish you could explain to your dogs?