University Degree for Dogs?

Filed under: Dog News,Dog Training — Tags: , , mtest on January 8th, 2014

by Vladimir Negron

Dogs are often smarter than we give them credit for, but have you ever heard of one getting a degree from a university? At the University of Truffle Hunting Dogs, located in Northern Italy, dogs gifted with a “good nose” can do just that.

Since 1880 over four generations of professors have trained the best of the best to hunt down the unique and treasured White Alba Truffle. There are many truffle varieties, but the Piedmont region surrounding Torino near the university is the only area in the world where White Alba Truffle grows — a fungal delicacy so coveted that it can sell for $600-$1200 per pound at the height of their season (which ranges from mid-September to January).

Training a Truffle Hunting Dog

A dog’s first exposure to the “white diamond of Italy,” according to, starts relatively low key with a truffle hunter tossing around a bag containing a dry truffle inside for the dog to retrieve. Then, as the dog progresses in his or her university training, the bag is buried deeper and deeper in the ground. This is because truffles grow amongst the roots of certain trees.

The partnership between dog and truffle hunter was limited to the hills of southern Europe up until fairly recently, but dog truffle hunting can now be experienced in North American woodlands too. In fact, the Oregon Truffle Festival’s will host its seventh annual Truffle Dog Training Seminar this January, where you can attend lectures on canine scent detection and the fundamentals of scent training as well as an opportunity to engage in an authentic wild truffle hunt.

So the next time you sprinkle some truffle oil or shavings in your culinary cuisines, think of all that hard work dogs and their hunting companions have had to endure — and then take that scrumptious first bite.

This article originally appeared on partner site

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Canine Etiquette Tips for the Summer Season

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Life,Dog Trainingmtest on August 5th, 2013

by Charlotte Reed

In 2007, I wrote “The Miss Fido Manners Complete Book of Dog Etiquette.”  The book demonstrates that well-mannered people and their well-mannered pets are more pleasant to be around, are treated better by everyone, and get invited to more places including restaurants, parties, vacation homes and more.  This is especially true during the summer season – so I decided to provide you with a cheat sheet or crash course in summer pet etiquette.  Here are eight tips to polishyour pet performance in the summer’s heat when manners have a tendency to get lost in the pack.

Walking the Dog Walk. Use a four or six foot leash for control walking.  Use a retractable leashin the park so that your pet can romp and run ahead.

Doggy Doos. Be kind to others by always picking up after your dog using a plastic bag that can be tied or sealed to contain the unpleasant odor.  Deposit in appropriate waste receptacles.

Help Keep Your Neighborhood Beautiful. Neighborhood residents spend many hours and dollars keeping their community looking good.  Give’ em a break.  Keep your pet from out of neighbor’s front laws.  Your dog could tramp delicate flowers, and his “fertilizer” is not the kind that residents wish to see or smell!

Meet and Greet. Although it is always fun to meet and greet new pet parents and their charges, do so politely and carefully.  Ask other dog owners if their dog is friendly before allowing the canines to approach and sniff each other.

Make friends not enemies. Be on your best behavior by bringing a healthy, parasite-free and social dog to the dog run. While at the dog park, never reprimand or give food to another person’s canine.  Most importantly, don’t bring toys to the dog park unless you want to share them or don’t mind them being destroyed.

Eating out. We all love to eat outside when the weather gets warmer, so why shouldn’t your dog?   Show consideration for others; take your dog to a restaurant only if she is not going to bark for attention, beg for food, and generally annoy other patrons. And don’t expect your waiter to service your pet.  Bring your pet’s own accoutrements like portable water  and food bowls.  Leave at least a 20% tip for those waiters who provide excellent, pet-friendly service to you.

Be a Good Guest. When visiting family and friends in the beach, don’t assume a weekend invitation is for you and your dog.  Call and confirm that your four-legged friend is a welcome addition and that she can enjoy herself without creating stress for you, your hosts or their other invited guests.  Travel with a housebroken dog, bring all pet supplies necessary, and take care that nothing in your host’s home is destroyed, broken or covered in fur during your stay.  Also, just in case, find out the name of a local pet sitter or dog kennel by visiting the websites of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters, Pet Sitters International or the American Boarding Kennel Association.  Within 24 hours of your departure, send a thank you card from both of you.

Travel with social graces. When staying at a hotel, make cleaning up after your pet as easy as possible for yourself, your pet and the housekeeping staff.  Feed your pooch in the bathroom so that messes can be easily wiped off the tile floor, and carry some moist towelettes in your luggage to wipe up the crumbs or slobber.  Keep your pet in the crate when housekeeping is cleaning up your room.  If your dog likes to sleep with you in bed, bring an extra sheet or blanket to prevent shedding or soiling on the linens.  Most importantly, when you check out make sure you leave your room like you found it when you arrived – intact!

Look presentable. If you are worried that you and your pet may not be as presentable as you should be, take your dog to the groomer for a good summer haircut and bone up on your manners in obedience class.   Ask your veterinarian for recommendations of canine professionals in your neighborhood.

So, whether taking your pooch for long walk to explore a new neighborhood or retreating to the beach for the weekend, being out and about more means being mindful of your manners. Remember that you and your pet are goodwill ambassadors for dogs and their owners.  Obeying local health ordinances (i.e., pooper scooper, licensing and leash laws) and having a clean, well-mannered pet is a great way to make a favorable impression.

This article was originally published on

Weird & Wired Canines

Filed under: Dog Personality,Dog Trainingmtest on June 25th, 2013

by Lori Nanan of La Dolce Doggie

There are lots of behaviors that dogs engage in that are misunderstood by humans. While so many of us choose to share our lives with dogs, we often take for granted that we “know” our dogs and what makes them tick.

And, we often forget that dogs are a completely different species and learn and process information differently and that when they move in to our homes, we are asking them to learn a whole new language.

Giving Up Normal

Some of the most normal behaviors for dogs are unacceptable to the humans who love them. We ask dogs to give up digging and humping, and we want them to relive themselves our timetable. We expect these things without teaching them the right things to do. Once we understand how dogs think, it becomes a bit easier to understand why they engage in the behaviors they do.


Humping or mounting behaviors are probably the least acceptable to humans. There are definitely times when this behavior can be problematic, like at the dog park or in a room full of company, but it is normal. Dogs who are spayed or neutered don’t necessarily know that they can’t reproduce and this behavior is hard-wired and part of their genetic make-up from way, way back.

Even though it serves no functional purpose anymore, dogs will often engage in humping during play or as a result of excitement or anxiety. If you don’t want your dog to hump, give him something else to do. Try to redirect his energy, and if all else fails, give him a time-out: remove him from the stimulus long enough for him to calm down.

Avoid Punishment

Punishing a dog by yelling, grabbing, throwing to the ground for what, to him, is a completely normal behavior will only result in a fearful dog who could eventually redirect his energy in an aggressive way. Contrary to popular belief, humping or mounting is not about dominance. Humping has to do with arousal levels in the brain and old genetic software which is hard-wired (whether the dog is neutered or spayed, male or female).

Genetic Software Examples

In our house, we have had two examples of canine genetic software gone wild. Our first foster dog, Angie, really enjoyed grabbing a blanket and sucking on it. She would also knead it as if she was trying to stimulate milk production. It was interesting to watch her, and she would often choose this behavior over going for a walk, playing or practicing training exercises.

Our current foster dog, Hazel, engages in a behavior known as “caching,” which is a digging and burying behavior. Hazel does this when we give her any type of hard treat, like a biscuit or a Busy Bone. Again, it’s a leftover, hard-wired genetic piece that no longer serves a purpose for her (or any of her domesticated friends), but she doesn’t seem to understand that. This behavior served her ancestors well — wolves are much more likely to encounter scavengers than she is! To her, though, this biscuit needs to be protected and covered completely.

Our beagle, Sugar, also engaged in this behavior. For her, it was always pretzels hidden in the same spot (behind the chair cushion). At the time, I had no idea what it meant; I simply thought it was cute for her to “save it for later.” Now that I know she’s caching, I made a point of recording Hazel, because it is so interesting to me:

Always Ask Why

Next time you see your dog engaging in some unwanted behavior, ask yourself why he might be doing it. The behaviors I mentioned here are called “Fixed Action Patterns” and exist in all species and they manifest themselves in different ways, at different times, which is why they are considered a misfire, or as I call them, “wonky”. They are just part of an organisms make-up. Doesn’t make them right or wrong, good or bad. They just are.

Let’s also do our dogs a BIG favor by remembering that they are indeed a different species. They have a lot to learn when it comes to living with humans: it is our job to teach them!

We’re Learning, Too

Dogs teach us so much. We can learn about joy, unconditional love and the pure bliss of sniffing a breeze from our dogs. Let’s return the favor by learning a bit about how their brains work… Since we already know so much about how big their hearts are.

This article was re-published with permission of the original author.

Asking About Dog Adoption Standards

Filed under: Dog News,Dog Trainingmtest on June 11th, 2013

This “Ask Me Anything” series is answering the questions and topics that you said you want to read about on the blog. As we move forward, please feel free to leave additional questions in the comments section of answer posts or regular posts. Today’s question has two parts, which I will be answering one after the other:

Do you think it’s better to rigorously screen all potential adopters in order to make sure that each pup is adopted into exactly the right home for him/her? Or is it more important to get as many dogs out of shelters and into homes as possible, even if a portion of them then end up getting returned?

This is a really great question.  If you ask the entire animal welfare community, the opinions on how much we should screen adopters would probably be pretty split. Some people think any home is better than the shelter, and some people think you must make the absolute perfect match for your animals, not lowering your standards one bit.

In this day and age, progressive shelters (note that I say shelters, not rescues – rescues are generally a little different than shelters) are moving more towards having open conversations with adopters, rather than a “prove to me why we should give you this dog” approach. I LOVE that. Lots of shelters are doing away with the traditional “home visit” and spending more time talking with adopters and getting a feel for if the animal is a right fit or not. Many people, especially who have been in this field for a long time, do not feel comfortable with letting go of home visits. They are worried we’ll be sending pets to hoarders or dog fighters (I’m sorry I just have to roll my eyes here, but that’s for a different post). But the truth is that we can’t control every single little detail of an animal’s new home. Furthermore, we have to put some trust in our adopters that they will do what is right to help make the transition smooth and give the animal the best life possible.


I know a lot of you are shaking your head thinking, “but all the animals I have seen returned because the adopter gave up!” I agree with you. I agree that there are adopters out there who are just duds and who do not want to try their hardest to make it work with the animal. But there’s a good chance that there was an opportunity to either uncover that or work through it during the pre-adoption “counseling” session. Humans tend to be pretty transparent, and if you have an honest conversation with someone it is likely that you’ll be able to get a sense if they are interested in a particular pet for the right reasons. There will also be situations where that would happen no matter how much screening you did or did not do. It’s just life.

To answer the individual question directly: I think there should be a balance. I have lots of experience in “choosing” homes for each of my fosters. Because they were my fosters and I know them very well, I was able to tell someone right off the bat if they could possibly be the right fit or not. I had to be very careful, however, that I was not being too picky. It’s tough to do when you love your animals so, so much and you want the best for them and you think you have the best picked out in your mind – but the truth is that life is not perfect and somewhere something has to give if you don’t want to keep your foster pets forever (I see you, foster failures ;-) ). None of my adopters have looked “perfect” on paper, but there’s so much more to the big picture than that. Besides, now all of their new families absolutely are perfect for them. What if I hadn’t given them that chance?


What do you say to people outside the animal rescue community who complain that it’s too difficult or the requirements are too strict to adopt a dog, so they think it’s better just to buy instead?

I tell them I feel their pain! I think it totally sucks when shelters or rescue groups make adopters jump through flaming hoops. I agree that there should be standards and pets should not be adopted to just anyone, but I think we are doing ourselves a huge disservice when we make it easier to buy a dog than adopt one.  I sit here and preach about how people should look into breed-specific rescues, but then the rescue groups laugh in their face when they inquire about adopting because they do not meet the group’s “standards.” No, not all groups are like this. There are some really fabulous, flexible ones out there. But there are also some pretty rude, stuck up ones, which I think is a huge shame.

The bottom line is that I think it’s time we start putting a little more power in the hands of our adopters. Instead of trying to make it impossible for someone to adopt a dog, how about we pair them with a good match and then give them the resources to succeed!This is huge – I think we would have less returns if we made post-adoption help more readily available, including health advice, training resources and even just someone being available to walk them through the transition, should they need it.


Shelter workers are looking to put ourselves out of business. We are never going to do that though if we have the outlook that it is a privilege for people to adopt from us. Sending good matches out the door (note: “good” means the pair is safe for the community!) with resources should take priority over sending perfect matches out the door, in my opinion. It doesn’t take much to turn good into perfect before long anyway!

This article was originally posted on Peace Love & Fostering and has been republished here with full permission of the original author.

Lila (10 Truths About Raising a Rescue Dog)

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Trainingmtest on May 22nd, 2013

by Kimberly Wang

Fostering and adopting dogs is not for the faint of heart.  (Indeed, raising puppies and young dogs of any kindcan be a bear.)

It can be a challenging journey full of hysterical fits (mostly the dogs’), sleepless nights and piles of hole-y socks and chewed book spines. Then again, there are those pooches who, when guided by skilled humans, take to their new homes, mostly without incident, causing little trouble and settling in like sweet, babes. (We’re talking about you Miss Fern.)

Alas, I can’t say that I’ve ever adopted nor fostered a critter like that.  My dogs have always come with issues and special needs, but what’s life without some messiness?  And to counterbalance the messiness, there isbelief.

I’ve always felt that creating a strong, loving and reliable bond with a dog (especially one who has encountered difficulty in the early stages of development) requires belief.  Belief and faith in one’s dog, and belief in one’s ability to deal with the complexities of another living, breathing creature.

It also takes STAMINA.  And oh so much PATIENCE.

I figure it’s useful to work on cultivating these qualities whenever possible, and when the rewards are this great, it seems obvious why fostering and adopting is such a beautiful way to remind oneself that life is full of ways to connect with a deeper purpose.  We only need to remain open to the possibilities…

And that brings me to Lila, our Foster Doggie (still seeking a great forever home). Along with big brother Theodore, Miss Lila (named after the painter Lilla Cabot Perry) has been knocking around our place for the entirety of the winter, and it is not an exaggeration to say that there’s rarely a dull moment with this one year old, Black and Tan Coonhound/Plothound Mix in the house.

I’d forgotten what a puppy spaz attack looks like. It’s been 8 years since Theo blessed me with his version. (More about his rescue story HERE.)  And, well, let’s just say that a number of not entirely flattering nicknames have come about after watching Lila tear around the house like the cartoon version of a Tasmanian Devil.

When I look back on the greatest challenges of working with Theodore fresh out of the shelter, I’d say the most trying obstacles were his extreme separation anxiety and the sheer amount of activity he required in order to stay calm.

Lila, on the other hand, has little separation anxiety but arrived with tremendous sensitivity and fear regarding anything loud or unfamiliar.  Combine the two (which pretty much occurs on every single block of New York City) and poor Lila just wanted to run for the hills.  She was also incredibly difficult to housebreak, and it didn’t help that we later discovered that she had a raging bladder infection that went undetected by the shelter for what the vet assumes was a very long time.

None of this was surprising considering that she essentially spent the first year of her life in a shelter, where a dog run was her only consistent ‘home’.  And it is worth noting that she too, is a dog that requires a great deal of exercise.

What pleases me to no end, however, is observing how powerful the most basic techniques can be when working with a new dog: Structure + Exercise + Clear Direction + Consistency are a most magical combination.  I’m happy to report that after three months out of the shelter she has no less than fifteen commands in her repertoire and has made tremendous strides overall.

What Lila needed most was someone she could trust. And with dogs, trust is built through clear communication and positive interactions.  When we first brought her home, I didn’t try to pet her or hug her.  I simply worked with her on the basics: Sit, Down, Come, Stay, Heel, Watch, Leave It, Place, Touch.  The more I required of her, the more she relaxed.  Over time, we practiced ‘hugging’ and ‘petting’, but treats were always involved. Early on, Lila didn’t yet know that it could be comforting to be petted.

Now that Lila has me, as well as a small group of trusted humans and dogs she adores (including Theodore’s Other Favorite Human, and our close friends Kiersten, Sumin and their doggy, Fern, all of whom have generously contributed so much of their time, training skills and energy to this little one) she’s now coming into her own.

As Spring awaits, Lila is already beginning to blossom into a most wonderful dog.

Just weeks ago, the mere sound of a gate closing, or a truck rumbling by, or the sight of a man wearing a hooded coat would create paroxysms of fear, but now, Lila just walks on by. Several days before the big, East Coast snowstorm, the first attempt to apply booties to her paws looked something like a wrestling match with a shark.  But by the time Manhattan was hit with a foot of snow (and the paw burning chemicals that accompany winter storms) she happily offered up her paws for nail clipping (AMAZING!) and didn’t make a peep when the booties slid on. (How we love and rely upon counter conditioning!)

In the first month of her residency here, there were a number of nights that featured far less sleeping than waking hours, since housebreaking was a top priority.  Now, it is not unusual for Lila to doze until 11:30 am before she is ready to greet the day.  Most adorably, she now seeks to be petted on occasion and appreciates cuddles from those she knows, and she no longer automatically shies away from strangers.  Instead, she’ll sniff politely and allow herself to be touched if approached in a non-threatening manner.

And hallelujah, she’s a champ at the dog run!  We waited for well over a month before introducing her to the pleasures of communal dog play, and by then she was willing and able to respond to commands, even when other canines competed for her attention.

When I call out, ‘Lila, TOUCH!’ she’ll come running at a full clip, and touch her cold, wet nose to my palm, in exchange for a treat, and I immediately release her to resume play with her new friends.

Yes, the pride does swell, when I see how much this kid has grown.

So, in honor of Lila’s third full month out of the shelter, I’ve put together a list of the:

Top Ten Truths of Raising a Rescued Dog

Upon reading, this may appear to be a list of negatives, but it’s really a compilation of some of the things that make raising a dog unpredictable, and silly and absolutely ridiculous…all of which pale in comparison to the benefits and rewards.  It’s crucial to retain a sense of humor in the face of dog poop, temper tantrums (yours and the dog’s!) and sleep deprivation.  But armed with a lighthearted perspective plus the aforementioned BELIEF, there is nothing you and your dog can’t do.

Sidenote: I have no doubt that this list will sound very familiar to so many of you dog lovers out there who have raised pups and rescued dogs of your own!

1 ) Over the course of 2.5 hours, you can walk briskly from one side of Manhattan to the other, stopping for a vigorous game of ball along the way, and yet, once home, a noisy spaz attack ( while Theo’s Other Favorite Human is on an important conference call ) is inevitable.

2 ) The best toys are rarely the ones contained within the doggie toy bag.  No squeaky, bouncy, chewy, fluffy toy can compete with the clothes hamper or the dresser drawers, the contents of which hold the most intriguing and delicate playthings.  The doggie toy bag, too, when gleefully ripped to shreds, provides a delightful diversion.  For a minute. Maybe two.

3 ) Corollary to #2: Your dog-proofing is never as inviolable as you think it is.

4 ) Even though she is physically tethered to you, a not-yet-housebroken-dog will pee indoors, on your newly cleaned wood floor when you are least equipped to address the issue, ie. when YOU need to pee, (and in fact, are in the process of using the bathroom) and yet you took her out for a bathroom break moments before.

5 ) The sight of mounted policemen clopping down 7th Avenue upon their imposing steeds requires an immediate response from the foster dog who has never seen a horse before, which, from her perspective, goes something like this: Freeze in place. Don’t move a muscle. Inhale rapidly. Take treats voraciously while horses pass.  Marvel at how Big Brother Theodore doesn’t seem phased at all. (More about NYPD’s Mounted Policemen at our blog HERE.)

6 ) Since walks cannot be taken without ample treats/treat dispensation, your nice winter coat will sport doggie treat and slobber stains. And lots of them. There is nothing you can do about it but soldier on, and look forward to the day when dressing to look sharp (which will correspond with needing less treats on walks) trumps dressing for practicality.

7 ) Corollary to #6: Your footwear will also be overwhelmingly practical. Which is to say, not so much attractive yet comfortable and warm for those 1-2 hour walks/play sessions designed to wear out the foster dog.

8 ) You will be tired.  A lot of the time. Because an untrained dog will make you tired.  And sometimes VERY CRANKY.

9 ) You will have the ambition to be as productive in other aspects of your life (not including dog training) as you were before the foster dog came along. You will soon come to understand that, until life normalizes once again, the foster doggie has another plan in store.

But best of all:

10 ) If it is your mission to raise a well adjusted, well behaved companion, and you are willing to put your heart and soul into the endeavor, then you too will evolve.  You’ll grow more patient, more compassionate, and certainly more skilled in clear communication with dogs.

And yet, there is one unavoidable truth about raising a rescued dog that cannot be ignored and is truly a negative.

As I watch Lila evolve and come into her own, ever confident, her quirky, lovely, spunky, personality shining through, I am reminded that there are so many dogs like her in the shelters.  They are dogs with tremendous potential who have been adopted out to people unwilling or ill equipped to care for them, and then, sadly, returned multiple times (as Lila was).  They are misunderstood, negatively and yet erroneously labeled to their detriment, lonely, bursting with love to give, and longing for a safe, secure, home and their very own adoring humans.

It is beyond heartbreaking.

We dream of the day when we can strike that truth from our list…

For more information about adopting Lila, feel free to email me at: We’re sorry, but only experienced dog owners will be considered.

This article was originally published on the City Dog, Country Dog blog and is reposted here, in full, with the permission of the author.

Spring Essentials for Your Dog

Filed under: Dog Training,Products & Reviewsmtest on April 23rd, 2013

Spring in finally here, although it doesn’t feel that way in many states. Off and on, off and on – it often seems like a tease!

Regardless of the weather, our dogs are ready to run. It’s time to get stocked up on springtime gear to make sure your pup has plenty to do and is properly protected.

See what Pet360 has handpicked this year in their Spring Essentials category!

Learn Dog Training Basics!

Filed under: Dog Trainingmtest on April 23rd, 2013

petMDU – petMD University – offers a number of courses to help you become a better pet parent, and all the courses are free!

If you’d like to learn more about traning your dog, look no further than the Dog Training Basics course.

Here is where things get serious. You’ve gotten past the challenges of a snoopy, chewy puppy, she has learned her name by now and hopefully stopped whining at night. So now we start the lifelong process of training your pup. There’s a lot to cover – you may want to take notes!

petMD University Dog Training Basics Course Syllabus:

  • A Great Foundation (3 Credits)
  • Final Quiz: Dog Training Basics | Final Quiz

Enroll in the free course now!

Based on trusted information from real vets, you’ll score!

Become a Professional Dog Walker

Filed under: Dog Life,Dog Trainingmtest on March 5th, 2013

by Jessica Remitz

A secret dream of every dog owner is to be a dog walker (because, honestly, who wouldn’t want to spend their days taking their pup and his doggie friends on long walks?) but what does it take to make it in the business? And how do you get started? We’ve asked a Brooklyn-based walker to give us the scoop on what the life of a dog walker is really like.

Rachel Bowers, owner of Brooklyn Bark, a dog walking and pet sitting business, graduated college in 2007 and left school hoping to teach art in New York City. Unfortunately, the market for art teachers wasn’t very robust at the time and she found that freelancing didn’t provide enough financial stability. She began walking dogs for additional revenue and her business took off from there.

Bowers began building a client list by putting posters up around her neighborhood. As interest in Brooklyn Bark grew and she increased her staff (she now employs about 10 people to help care for clients and provide business support for the company), she began using the Internet to market her services in addition to community-based outreach.

Barking Up the Right Tree

While there are no qualifications or specific licenses needed to begin walking dogs professionally, Bowers knows how much work goes into caring for animals and their owners and has made it her company’s mission to provide the best care possible. Someone looking to make a little extra money without putting in the work, she said, reflects poorly on companies that pride themselves on professionalism.

“You’re asking people to trust you with one of their most beloved possession as well as keys to their home,” she said. “Do everything you can to earn their trust and maintain that trust every single day.”

Bowers works with local veterinarians, freelancers unions and Craigslist to bring on new hires and receives over 100 queries nearly every day from people looking to become a walker. These applicants are narrowed down to a handful of finalists who are interviewed by Bowers and invited into the field to shadow her at work. Potential walkers must have a college degree and a history working with animals in addition to an enthusiasm for the job and the ability to handle a variety of different animals with different personalities.

All Brooklyn Bark walkers are bonded and insured as well as pet CPR and first aid certified within three months of starting with the company. Bowers and her associates also give CPR and first aid certification classes to the public every four to six months. She recommends all beginning walkers become insured and work with their community to help other animals in addition to their clients.

“Don’t pick up a leash without being bonded and having insurance [and] as you grow, become a force for good in the animal world,” she said. “As you’re making a living from animals, give back and help other animals and their owners succeed.”

As with all businesses, challenges exist in the world of dog walking. The biggest one Bowers faced, giving everyone what they wanted when they wanted it, was overcome with an online scheduling portal and a GPS tracking system for associates to get their walking schedules on their phone and clients to schedule walks through the website and see exactly where their dogs are walked each day. It always helps to have a wiggly pup waiting for you during a stressful day, too.

“No matter how horrible things may be going, there is nothing as wonderful as opening a door to be greeted bye a tail wagging to tell you how much you are appreciated and loved,” she said.

To learn more about Brooklyn Bark or request a free consultation locally, click here.

This article was originally published on

Puppy Training Tips From 5 Celebrity Pet Training Experts

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Trainingmtest on February 11th, 2013

by Dr. Patrick Mahaney

Aah, the joys of puppyhood: sleepless nights, soiled carpets, chewed shoes and other seemingly endless challenges to one’s sanity. I’m eternally grateful that the powers having influence over canine trainability were gracious with my dog, Cardiff, who has evolved into well behaved adult.

Of course, Cardiff did not train himself to acclimate to my imposed standards of appropriate conduct in a human run world. “Puppy Cardiff” and I attended months of clicker training classes and we currently engage in ongoing positive reinforcement exercises. He and millions of other domesticated canines require consistent discipline to maintain composure in high and low stimulus environments.

Many of my clients seek advice on addressing canine and feline behavior problems (did you catch me on season two of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell, featuring “Stella” and “Polly”?), so I integrate western and eastern veterinary perspectives to explore potential underlying medical causes and recommend a holistic blend of treatment. Despite my experience, I don’t market myself as a behaviorist and I feel like a fledgling in the vast realm of experts who have undertaken companion animal training as their profession.

Therefore, to provide my petMD readers with a variety of perspectives, I sought advice from my circle of renowned pet trainers on the best means of positively shaping the behavior of impressionable pooches.

Nikki Moustaki

Nikki Moustaki is an award winning freelance writer, dog and bird trainer, pet industry expert, and founder of the philanthropic Pet Postcard Project.

“Clicker training using operant conditioning is an amazing way to get consistent and reliable behaviors from your puppy right from the start. Before considering a training method that uses corrections, which is not fun for the dog or the human, consider learning how to clicker train. It’s ‘going the extra mile,’ but wouldn’t your dog do that for you?”

Darlene Arden

Darlene Arden, CABC, is a speaker and multi-published author of books on both canine and feline behavior, including the newly released, The Compete Cat’s Meow.

“Instead of a cervical (neck) collar, use a chest harness to prevent any pressure on your puppy’s trachea (windpipe).”

I wholeheartedly agree with Arden and greatly appreciate her goals for promoting safe training from the perspective of health. Besides the potential for harm to the trachea, there is also the potential for the esophagus, blood and lymphatic vessels, vertebrae, intervertebral discs, facets (small joints connecting the vertebrae), spinal cord, and muscles of the neck to be adversely affected by abrupt leash tugs on a cervical collar.

Andrea Arden

There is more than one Arden in the pet expert realm; Andrea Arden is a multi-certified dog trainer, author of Barron’s Dog Training Bible, and a familiar presence on Animal Planet shows, including Dogs 101.

“Invest in 5-10 durable, hollow, rubber toys that can be filled with your dog’s normal meals and special treats. These sorts of enrichment toys provide a much needed outlet for some of your pup’s mental and physical energy and will keep your puppy happily occupied ‘hunting’ for its food. This helps prevent an endless list of unwanted behaviors, such as inappropriate chewing and excessive barking.”

Laura Nativo

Laura Nativo starred in CBS’s Greatest American Dog, hosted the Game Show Network’s Dog Park Superstars, serves as creative director of Petsami, is a certified APDT dog trainer, and accompanies me on vigorous “business hikes” with our dogs (we are “so LA”).

“As soon as your veterinarian gives you the go-ahead, introduce your puppy to as many new environments, people, and other pets as possible. Many common behavioral issues like excessive barking, resource guarding, and fear and leash aggression stem from missed opportunities for puppy socialization. Puppies that are well-socialized and trained in a variety of settings have the best chance of growing into happy, confident and well-mannered adults. Make it a priority to socialize your dog every day, whether on a walk, hike, at the dog park, the local coffee shop, or in a puppy kindergarten class! Your dog will love it, and so will you!”

Greg Kleva

As the authoritative opinions of women seemingly dominate the animal-care fields, I’m compelled to share tips from “one of the guys.” Greg Kleva is the host of It’s A Dog’s Life on the Martha Stewart Radio Blog, a Pet Travel Safety Ambassador for Toyota’s Pet Expert Team (P.E.T.), and a Grand Master Trainer forBark Busters (NJ).

“Reduce your puppy’s boredom by providing plenty of mental stimulation. Simple training exercises and education is very tiring for a puppy’s brain. Make games out of training … keep session short and light, but test your puppy to think, think, think. Try ‘Follow the Leader’ exercises (to reinforce following/walking/heel), ‘Hide-n-Seek’ (to reinforce coming when called), and ‘Sit/Stay’ at feeding time. Be consistent, calm, and never use physical means to correct your dog.”

A big thank you to all of my pet training pals for sharing their informative tips on the emotionally challenging, yet entirely worthwhile undertaking of puppy training.

Puppy Training Tips From 5 Celebrity Pet Training Experts was originally published on

Calming Signals in Dogs and How We Can Use Them

Filed under: Dog Behavior,Dog Trainingmtest on January 23rd, 2013

by Mary Majchrowski

dog-licking-14202499 calmingWe all know that dogs can’t talk (whether or not we care to admit it is another thing altogether!).  What they do rely on is body language — lots and lots of body language.

While we might approach a stranger and say, “Hey, I’m new here. It’s nice to meet you,” a dog might walk up to another dog in an arc with a slow, circular wagging tail and its ears back and drop into a butt-up, front down stretch. They are both ways to express “I’m friendly and mean no harm.”

What are Dog Calming Signals?

Calming signals are just what they sound like. They are behaviors offered by a dog in an attempt to keep a situation calm. Dog’s calming signals can be both offered and returned. We can help our dogs feel comfortable by learning what their calming signals are and respecting them, and even by responding in kind, repeating their gesture as best we can (tail wagging obviously excluded).

It is essential to understand that context is important. Think of how a person telling another “you fool!” can be issued as an insult or an expression of teasing affection. Context is important, regardless of species. For example, ears held back on a dog’s head can be many things: a calming signal, a sign of fear, or even just the nature of the breed.

You may or may not notice calming signals with your own dog. Unless you recently adopted your dog or have a new puppy, chances are your relationship is fairly established. Your dog may not feel the need to offer these signals on a regular or frequent basis.

Unfortunately we can also extinguish calming signals in our pets, even without intention. If a dog offers calming signals that are repeatedly ignored or corrected, eventually they may stop trying. Think about people — if your partner brought you flowers after a fight and you always responded with snide comments about wasting money or stinking up the house, chances are your partner would stop buying flowers— at least for you! Since we are frequently our dog’s entire world, our response (or lack thereof) to their behavior is critically important.

Calming signals may include:

  • “Look aways” (turning the head to the side, away from the other dog or person)
  • Yawning
  • Sniffing (becoming very interested in not much of anything)
  • Paw raises (raising one of the front paws off the ground)
  • Shake offs (can be a slight shake off or entire body, as if wet)
  • Scratching (like they are itchy – a sudden case of “fleas”)
  • Blinking
  • Lip licking (or nose licking)
  • Tongue flicks
  • Moving in an arc (approaching or leaving in a semi-circle, not a direct path)
  • Sitting or lying down
  • Stretching (particularly into a play bow position, though not quite the same behavior)
  • Making a “soft face” – ears back, soft eyes, etc.

Can I Use Calming Signals with Dogs?

There are a few signals that you may want to try with your dog.* They can help a dog feel more comfortable, and may even be offered back to you. Blinking is pretty universal between species — go for slow, deliberate blinks (not fast fluttering). Lip licking is also simple to duplicate. Again, make it slow and obvious. You can actually lick your lips or even just stick your tongue out a few times. “Look aways” involve turning your head to either side, away from the dog. You may then look back, without making eye contact, then look away again. A paw lift is a little more difficult (largely since we don’t have paws and walk on two legs, not four). But if you are feeling daring you can try it with one arm, holding it as if you were imitating a hurt paw.

You may have figured out now how yawning can be contagious. Offered as a calming signal between dogs, or even from dog to human (and human to dog), a yawn is much more than feeling sleepy. It’s a chance to say “chill out ─ relax” or “I’m a little worried, don’t hurt me.” Body language means a lot to a dog, and understanding calming signals will help you interpret just what they are trying to tell you.

*Calming signals do not make it safe to approach an aggressive dog. When in doubt, keep your distance. If your dog behaves aggressively, seek the assistance of a licensed veterinary behaviorist.

Calming Signals in Dogs and How We Can Use Them was originally published on


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