Posts by Fran Berry

Calling Dr. Google And Other Experts

Posted by on Sep 5, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

Calling Dr. Google And Other Experts

I recently saw these words on a coffee mug: Please Do Not Confuse Your Google Search With My Medical Degree! And yes, these mugs can be customized for any profession, so I mused at how often I’ve been tempted to use those words when I hear the familiar “Well I looked on the Internet about “dog behavior”, and this is what I found…” While we’re fortunate to have information at out fingertips, it just perplexes me that someone would blindly follow the advice from a “Dr. Google” with questionable credentials, if any! But this hasn’t stopped the general public from soliciting important information from the Internet, their neighbor, the clerk at the pet shop, or a certain trainer character on TV.. Last week I was standing in line at the grocery store, when the woman in front of me was asking the cashier if the product she was about to purchase would work for a toothache. When the cashier said that she never used the product, the customer, turned to me to ask what I thought. I mentioned that going to a dentist would be a good start…but I digress. I use this example because it seems prevalent in our society to trust opinions from a variety of sources, except the source they need to consult. I’m fortunate that I don’t run into too many of these situations, however, once in a while I get a cluster of outrageous queries, that make me wonder if there’s something in the water, other than lead, that’s been eliciting these interesting comments and questions. The following are a few phone calls that I received recently, and the answers that popped into my head at that moment, that I only wish I could have said: Hi my old dog, bit the neighbor when he hugged her. My neighbor is an experienced dog expert, so now I’m wondering if this senior dog can be trained to behave? No, but a few more bites from your dog, and I’ll bet your neighbor learns to behave. I’m looking for someone to train my dog to be a service dog. I’ve been working with a shock-collar specialist, but he said that the dog is still too anxious to be a calm service dog. What can you do with a dog like this? Maybe pull the plug on the electricity for starters. I’ve been watching a trainer on TV; who said that barking is a sign of dominance. My dog also displays this behavior. She barks at squirrels in the yard; sometimes sits on the picnic table and won’t get off of it when we call her. How can we stop her defiance? Get a stuffed animal; they’re quiet and easily removed from any place where they’re sitting. My good friend has a dog that is not good with people, but she heard that dogs and kids are supposed to get along according to the many youtube videos that she’s watched. Last week the dog snapped when the toddler grabbed the dog’s tail, so she’s wondering if you might know of a good home for the dog because this situation isn’t working out. No, but if the toddler gets along with people, she might have better luck rehoming her. I’ve decided to get my own mug engraved: Pardon my snark, but your “Google search” is confusing to my...

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That Tickles!

Posted by on Aug 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

That Tickles!

Many, many years ago I enrolled in what seemed like a fun weekend workshop with my dog. The ad read, “No limits to learning” or something similar, so of course, I jumped at the chance to attend with my dog. As we sat in the small room with other dog owners, you could feel the excitement build as the speaker grabbed his microphone to engage the crowd who, by the way, seemed very familiar with this particular speaker. Imagine my shock (the operative word here), when he started bashing positive reinforcement trainers with his opening rally cry, “We ain’t stinking cookie trainers!” The crowd roared! Oops, I must have missed the fine print on the enrollment form. Since I was already out a considerable amount of money, I thought the least I could do was stick around to hear this very enthralling presentation. The speaker went on to explain how the e-collar worked, but what was so remarkable, was not that he convinced a bunch of “dog lovers” how to control their dogs with pain, because these people were on board with the idea, but it was how he diffused a potentially horrifying situation by explaining ahead of time that the screaming, barking, yelping and other such cries of discomfort and fear that we were about to hear was a normal reaction by dogs when they show their dominance, and as soon as they realized the human was in charge, they would submit. That may not have been verbatim, but that was the essence and by the way, I’ve heard similar tactics used to euphonize pain inducing protocols. It’s brilliant when you think of it, because they don’t argue that the dog will respond by crying out; they not only tell you to expect it, but also explain that it’s the dogs’ frustration of being controlled that causes them to act out! Over 400 years ago, Renee Descartes (1596-1650), father of modern philosophy, argued that because animals have no souls, they cannot think or feel, and he committed unspeakable, horrible acts on animals, explaining that their response was merely mechanical. His philosophy went unchallenged for hundreds of years! Several summers ago, I was at a company picnic where a self proclaimed dog expert volunteered to give a Tellington Touch demo. To be clear, she didn’t know “Tellington” from “Huffington”, but she knew that others had heard the name. It began, “This is TTouch” and then she switched to calling the method, TTap, “It’s just a gentle tap, tap, tap.” Finally she brought out her shock collar and said, “It only taps the dog, like TTouch/TTap. How clever, to equate the transformational body-work of Tellington Touch with the insidious pain of shock. What’s more who doubt this “professional”? I recently interviewed a potential client whose dog had been aggressive to other dogs on the street. One of the first things I wanted to know was what equipment she uses to walk her dog, and that’s when she happily told me she only uses a “gentle-choke collar” that doesn’t hurt the dog, just touches him softly. A woman I know runs a rescue organization and believes fully in positive reinforcement training; in fact she hired a trainer who uses a collar that “tickles” the dog. To prove his point, he put the collar on her wrist to demo this enjoyable sensation! So I asked her, like I’ve asked that client or countless others who blindly believe that pain doesn’t hurt, “Why would a dog be motivated to work in order to avoid the tap, touch or tickle?” Of course that question...

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July 4th Chill Out!

Posted by on Jul 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

July 4th Chill Out!

With the July 4th holiday upon us, this article may seem like a day late and a dollar short, however, A client recently contacted me on an unrelated matter, and casually mentioned that she was all prepared for dealing with her noise phobic dog during this weekend of fireworks by purchasing a ThunderShirt, a bag of cannabis cookies from her local pet boutique, and acepromazine that her veterinarian had prescribed. Now to be clear, I don’t give veterinary advice, however I don’t mind referring my clients to articles written by respected, knowledgable professionals, and so I alerted her to the article by Dr. Marty Becker whose article linked to Dr. Karen Overall, titled Don’t Ace The Fear. I also told my client that my veterinarian had made me aware of a new medication designed specifically for noise phobia called Sileo which is not only fast acting, but it does not sedate the dog. So while, she was unable to get the prescription for Sileo on such short notice, she wanted to know what other steps she could take to help her dog through this noisy weekend. I wanted to find out more about her dog’s reactions to noise stimuli and she mentioned that the only sounds that frighten her dog besides fireworks are thunderstorms where he runs into his crate and stays there until the storm passes, however with fireworks, he makes a mad dash for one of the closets, drools, shakes and pants. My reasons for wanting to know the dog’s reaction had to do with giving her a few different ideas that might work for her particular dog. So for example, if the dog were one of those who tended to pace, it may be possible to channel some of that movement into a different activity like playing fetch, catching a frisbee, playing tug or even chase, but for this dog, because he tends to seek secure places, we talked about a different approach to making him as comfortable as possible. Here were a few suggestions I made: Clear out a space in the closet and put his bedding inside. Hit the switch on the bathroom exhaust fan (closet was nearby) to create “white noise”. Also, increase the volume on the TV. Perhaps sit quietly with him, if you think that he’d feel secure. Going forward, we talked about a plan to help reduce the dog’s anxiety by desensitizing and counter conditioning him to noise from one of the many CDs that have recordings of typical anxiety-producing environmental stimuli, however, I believe she’ll opt for this new medication, and perhaps next year she and her dog can chill out and enjoy the fireworks and cannabis cookies! I wish you and your pups a fun, safe and chill July 4th holiday, this and every...

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The Smartest Dog?

Posted by on Jun 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

The Smartest Dog?

The other day, I got a good laugh reading the bumper sticker of the car in front of me: “My Dog Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student!” This got me wondering as we “pet-parents” often do, about how smart my own dogs are. By coincidence, I happened upon a newsletter from a local veterinarian’s blog listing the top 7 most intelligent dog breeds (Border Collie, Poodle, German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Doberman, Shetland Sheepdog, and Labrador Retriever). Unfortunately my dogs were not on the list, but undeterred, I went to the American Kennel Club website to see if they had a list and in addition to the aforementioned 7, they listed the Papillon, Bloodhound and Rottweiler. And no, my dogs didn’t make that list either! Now to be clear, there was no mention of the research for their lists, so I decided to dig deeper and lo and behold, I found the “bible” written in the 1960s by John Scott and John Fuller: Genetics and Social Behavior of the Dog. Their ground breaking work expanded over a 13 year period, compiling data from 500 purebred and mixed dog breeds and while some dogs excelled at certain tasks, none proved to be more intelligent than the others. According to Scott and Fuller, “There is no breed that came out uniformly with the highest rank. Even on individual tests, a breed may be first in one part and last in another. On the basis of the information we now have, we can conclude that all breeds show about the same average level of performance in problem solving, provided they can be adequately motivated, provided physical differences and handicaps do not affect the tests, and provided interfering emotional reactions such as fear can be eliminated. In short, all the breeds appear quite similar in pure intelligence. On the other hand, we have evidence from the delayed-response test that there are enormous individual differences within breeds for developing certain capacities.” But that work was completed 51 years ago, and the research moved in a different direction. With scientists taking a pejorative view of domesticated dogs, considering them to be just a diluted copy of a wolf, they instead went on to studying just about every animal on the planet, including all the groups of mammals that are related to dogs such as wolves, foxes, jackals and coyotes. Fortunately, in the last 10 years, however, other scientists began looking at how domestication has impacted dogs emotionally, physically, physiologically, and hormonally and the results are nothing short of astonishing as it is domestication that sets our dogs apart from all the other species and that close association with humans for thousands of years is why they have such a high degree of intelligence! Brian Hare, a professor at Duke University recently set up “Dognition”, a canine cognition laboratory where he and his colleagues use simple tests to see how dogs solve problems in five different areas of competency; the data is then put into a computer and categorized into one of 9 canine personalities. This would be a laborious task, if not for Hare’s Dognition website where ordinary humans can become citizen scientists by registering their dogs and conducting the same simple tests which are then compiled and categorized by the Dognition researchers, in this growing data base. According to Hare, it is friendliness that makes dogs intelligent! In his book, The Genius of Dogs, Hare explains that dogs are a very successful species that evolved from wolves. It was these “proto-dogs” that were less fearful of humans and therefore able to move in closer proximity...

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The Game Of Know, Not No!

Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

The Game Of Know, Not No!

Many years ago when I was first learning this “new” method called positive reinforcement training, even though my dog was learning in huge leaps to do all the behaviors I asked him to do, I had this nagging question: But how can I tell him when he does something wrong? Humans seem to be wired that way and are more apt to point out someone’s errors more often than looking for something correct. And unfortunately for our canine friends, we take the same punitive stance. This makes sense to some degree, because traditional dog training has its roots in the military as opposed to the science of behavior, so these trainers, being of the human species, have done what came natural to them and that was to look for the wrong and punish the dog. Sure they might toss in a “good dog” to tell the dog when he was correct, which has led many (especially those still using traditional training methods) to believe that dogs work for praise. The truth is that against a harsh background of “NO!” (and leash popping, collar jerking, hitting, etc.) it is a huge relief for the dog to hear “good dog”. The operative word here is relief from the anxiety and pressure of being punished. This also means that praise functions as a negative reinforcer (removing pressure or pain), as opposed to a positive reinforcer. But even some positive reinforcement trainers, who would rarely if ever, engage in traditional methods, are still human, and as such have the inclination to let the dog know that he is wrong. Of course we have to provide clear, clean feedback to our animal or he won’t understand. But to my way of thinking you can choose to outright tell the dog that he’s wrong or you can do something that is totally counter intuitive and let your silence speak. In any kind of learning situation there are phases to transition through; among these phases are when the behavior is brand new and when the behavior has been learned. So let’s take a look at some examples, beginning with a new behavior. When the behavior is new we should be working in many repetitions for brain-muscle memory. Much like going to the gym to work out, you cannot grow a muscle with one or two repetitions. Here’s an example of the dog learning SIT with a food lure in hand: Repetition one: Lure dog’s nose upward Dog sits Click & treat Reset Repetition two: Lure dog’s nose upward, dog sits, click & treat, reset. Repetition three: Lure dog’s nose upward, dog sits, click & treat, reset. Repetition four: Lure dog’s nose upward, dog jumps up to get the food (Incorrect response), withhold click & treat. Repetition five: Lower hand to lure to prevent him from jumping. (Trainer makes the necessary adjustment), dog sits, click & treat, reset. Repetition six: Lure dog’s nose upward (Trainer tests dog to see if he understands), dog sits, click & treat, cue, “Free” (End the set) In this example the trainer is working a set of 6 repetitions. The dog jumped up in repetition four, so the trainer made the adjustment in repetition five to lower her hand, and then she went onto a sixth repetition to see if the dog understood the lure. Notice that this is a smooth, silent, quick flow from repetition to repetition. There are no verbal insertions of “Nope”, “No”, “Too bad”. Here’s an example of the dog doing SIT, using the new hand-signal: Repetition one: Give hand-signal, dog sits, click & treat, reset. Repetition two:...

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The Perfect Dog

Posted by on Apr 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

The Perfect Dog

I have the perfect dog. He doesn’t bark, “potty” in the house, chew on furniture, or do ANY undesirable dog behaviors. Perhaps you have one too; mine is called Fido, and he’s a big stuffed dog! Real dogs bark, dig in the yard, eliminate in the house, whine, chew on furniture and other delectable human artifacts. And they do this unless the dog-guardian knows how to prevent the behavior from occurring while showing the dog what behaviors they’d like him to do. Unfortunately for a lot of our dogs, their guardian didn’t realize having a dog required time, patients and often times, guidance from a knowledgable professional. That squishy dependent puppy doesn’t remain that way for long, and without investing time in “baby proofing” the environment, teaching the pup appropriate behaviors, and making sure there’s plenty of mental and physical stimulation, Pup suddenly becomes more independent, often times unruly so the frustrated human gives up! It’s not a coincidence that there are a large amount of adolescent dogs living in shelters today. Some are euthanized in over crowded facilities, while others deteriorate because their emotional and physical energy are not given appropriate outlets. For the lucky dogs who find homes, it is often with the guardian who thinks they’re skipping the puppy phase, only to realize that they were not prepared for the work involved in raising a dog! And so the cycle continues. In a recent professional chat group, someone asked whether it seems that today’s dog has more behavior problems or does today’s dog-guardian have higher expectations of their dog? In my opinion the average dog does have more issues partly because the dog-guardian does not know how to resolve the problem, but also because the human has little tolerance for the dog being a dog! Take for instance the barking dog. The guardian is irked by the noise, is often the target of ridicule from a neighbor complaining about the dog, and moreover, is extremely frustrated because punishing the dog by yelling, hitting, and or the use of anti-bark collars isn’t often effective, what’s more, it can be cruel and produce other behavioral side effects. The bottom line is these techniques do not resolve the emotional component of why the dog is barking in the first place! Barking is after all, a communication and dogs bark for a variety of reasons such as to alert us to noise or perceived danger, alert the “predator” that they are being watched; they bark when frightened, when they need something or sadly when they’re bored. Another behavior that gets dogs a one-way ticket to the shelter is going “potty” in the house. No, it should not be tolerated, but keeping the dog on a schedule that accommodates the dog’s needs as well as making sure that he’s managed indoors and reinforced with high-value treats after he relieves himself outdoors is key to training this behavior. Many guardians, following (faulty) information, put their dogs in a small crate; the thinking is that if the crate is just big enough for the dog to stand up, lie down and turn around, that he won’t have the opportunity to “mess”. But the truth is that he will relieve himself, if his guardian doesn’t keep to a schedule that meets his needs, so now you have a dog or puppy that is forced to sleep in his mess and the guardian has unwittingly taught the dog to eliminate in his sleeping area!!! Dogs chewing on coveted human artifacts has gotten many dogs into trouble and in some cases the victim of abuse when...

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Dining Experience

Posted by on Mar 5, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

Dining Experience

I’m not a fan of feeding dogs from bowls, as it doesn’t provide any type of enrichment. A bowl filled with food, is typically devoured within a few minutes, and needless to say, there is no particular skill or challenge to that act! Dogs are highly evolved animals that need a job to do. And while some dogs still work herding, guarding, hunting and other forms of service to humans, the typical lifestyle of today’s dog can be a mentally and physically impoverished environment. The good news is that there are numerous activities and outlets for our canine companions such as agility, treibball free-style, rally, scent work, just to name a few. And even for the “stay at home” dog, a guardian can provide stimulation and enrichment in the form of long walks, where the dog can sniff to his heart’s content, training new behaviors or tweaking old ones, and using puzzle toys filled with the dog’s meal so he has to work at extracting food. And even if one were to feed some meals from a bowl, while it’s not ideal, at least if the dog were given other toys and activities, it would most likely satisfy some of the dog’s needs. As a trainer and behavior consultant, I spend the majority of my time in the client’s home, and the first thing I look at is the environment to see how the dog is living, what kinds of toys he has, what kind of activities he does, and just as important, I want to know about his “dining experiences”. That’s right, his dining experiences. And in the process I’ve uncovered a different type of circumstance that also deprives the dog of stimulation and that is the pet-guardian who feels that the dog must have access to his food bowl 24/7! In my experience, this is the dog who, sadly isn’t enthused about food, which of course can be very challenging to teach the dog a behavior and or counter-condition him to fear producing stimuli. This dog’s guardian frequently adds tempting tidbits to the dog’s bowl in an attempt to entice the dog to eat which typically motivates the dog to rifle through his bowl looking for hidden treats, leaving the majority of his kibble in the bowl. It seems that no matter how I explain the consequences for this human behavior such as a possible nutrition imbalance, no motivation for training, or even an illness that can go undetected because “poor appetite” is the norm for the dog, it usually falls on deaf ears because, let’s face it, food is sustenance; it keeps us alive, it fuels our activities, but for a lot of people it is emotional comfort. Food can trigger wonderful memories of family gatherings, or console us when we’re sick or upset, so no wonder we want to show our love for our pets with food. And it behoves us not to set down a big bowl of “love” so our pets can graze all day long. Growing up, my mom provided three home cooked meals a day. She awoke early to prepare breakfast, made sure that I left for school with a (shopping) bag filled with sandwiches (yes plural), potato chips, and a Hostess Snowball for lunch and then dinner was always something amazing. The point of this is that I really looked forward to mealtime, and while I don’t have kids, I still provide a “dining experience” for my animals in the way of scheduled feeding times, and as such, they look forward to these daily events. Imagine, your favorite food on...

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I Only Have Eyes For You!

Posted by on Feb 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

I Only Have Eyes For You!

One of my specialities is doing in-home training so that the human gets trained and then I highly recommend taking Fido to a group class to practice the new skills in a more distracting environment. And for puppies, this is very important as it will help with the socialization process of playing with other puppies off leash, meeting new humans and of course teaching the human how to work with Pup around more distractions. But working in more distracting environments is NOT the same as when you are working at home and I often hear my clients say that Fido knows what I want, but when we are outside he ignores me. This often leads humans to believe that their dog is being “spiteful” or this popular expression, “dominant”. Problems arise when we move from a familiar environment to the unfamiliar, because from the dog’s perspective, he doesn’t understand that the same rules apply in the new setting, furthermore, let’s face it there are new and exciting things calling to him. Over the years, I’ve said what thousands of other trainers before me have said, and that this issue is about the dog, but I’ve come to look at this from a different angle, and to take liberties with the title of Dr. Trish McConnell’s highly-acclaimed book, this issue is also about who’s at “The other End of the Leash”! It isn’t just that dogs are “excited” when they go to a new environment, it is also that, from my experience, the human seems to be just as distracted and can display some or all of these behaviors such as being “paralyzed” with embarrassment because of how the dog is acting, want to show everyone they’re in control by yelling at the dog, and or they want to be sociable, so they spend time engaging other humans while ignoring their dog. It’s as though they totally forgot all the skills they were using in the home environment and just like the dog, they become unglued, so to speak! To help my clients transition from the familiar routine of in-home training to an unfamiliar group training setting, I prepare them by teaching a strategy so that no matter where they are, they’ll always have a way of assessing the situation and creating a way to win. The mantra I teach is “I only have eyes for you!” Yes, I know that sounds silly, but if humans would spend their time only on their dog, while ignoring other things in the environment, the dog will do the same. And in order to do this, you must set up conditions whereby ALL reinforcers come from you and NOT from the environment, NO exceptions! This, I believe is where things go awry for humans because in their need to get from place to place quickly, especially when going to and from the class, they allow the dog to get reinforced by the environment thereby doing many undesirable behaviors such as bolting from the car, running to the building, barking and lunging at the new dogs in class and so on, but if the human sets up reasonable expectations and teaches their dog from day one, things can go a lot better. Here are some examples that I teach my clients: Get the dog in the training game before you open the car door: This means rather than allowing him to bold out of the car and drag you through the parking lot, it’s best to arrive early to class and spend time working on “Wait” in the car before he comes out. Lower...

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A Revelation About Resolutions

Posted by on Jan 4, 2016 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

A Revelation About Resolutions

Over the years, I’ve made many New Year’s resolutions to loose weight, get organized, read more, and hundreds of other goals that became part of my never ending “To Do” list. But this year, I had a revelation and decided to do something different and so I made my resolution to find more ways of engaging with my dogs. Don’t misunderstand, I take great care of them, but sometimes, I’m so busy that I’ll give them a puzzle toy as a way of providing enrichment. Puzzles, are after all, great fun and stimulating, however, it takes me out of the equation because the dogs can problem solve without me. So as a way to be part of the activities, I came up with a list of fun games, using household items and a little imagination to provide lots of entertainment and exercise for you and for your “furry kid”. Zen Walking: Here’s a fun indoor activity that can strengthen the “heel” exercise. Take three or four folding chairs or bar stools and line them up, say 6’ apart. With your treat bag filled with a variety of tasty food, put your dog on your left side without his leash and have him follow you as you weave through and around the chairs. Reinforce frequently in the beginning to get him in the game and use a variety of paces to hold his attention. So walk fast and then slow down; accelerate, halt, perhaps alter the path so instead of weaving, try circling around the chairs and then do a figure 8 to change directions. Your dog will think you’re VERY interesting and will want to keep up with you to see what you’ll do next and when you’ll offer a tasty treat! Catch Me: This is a great way to strengthen the recall as well as good exercise for you and your dog! Take several plastic containers with tasty treats and put them in different rooms throughout your house (or fenced yard). With your dog nearby, call out “Fido catch me!” and take off running to any of the rooms with the food containers. When Fido catches you, reach for a treat and deliver to him. Wait for a second, and when he’s not expecting anything, call him again, “Fido catch me!” and take off running to another room! Find It: This is a great brain game that taps into your dog’s superb sense of smell. Begin by allowing your dog to smell a tasty treat. Say, “Find it” and then toss it a few feet away for your dog to “find”. Repeat several times. Now put Fido in another room, and put the food in a small bowl and hide it in plain sight. Bring Fido back and cue, “Find it!” When he finds the food, make a fuss and offer more food right in the bowl. Once he catches on, you can raise the level of difficulty by hiding the bowl with food behind something. If you see that he’s having difficulty, remove Fido from the room while you put the food in an easier location for him to find. Remember it’s good to challenge him, but if things are too difficult in the beginning, he won’t want to play the game. After Fido becomes a master “Sherlock Bones”, you can teach him to find other things, such as tea bags, for example. Just have him sniff the new object, give a piece of tasty food, sniff and treat, sniff and treat and now you’re ready to put Fido in another room while you hide in plain...

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The Mad Hatter

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015 in Fido Blog: Life in the F-Lane | 0 comments

The Mad Hatter

As a dog trainer, I wear my “professional hat” when I patiently educate my clients to help them resolve their dog’s behavioral issues. The joke is that when I get home, the last thing I want to do is start training my own dogs. I think the saying, “The cobbler’s children have no shoes” fits here. But I’ve come to realize that my relationship with my dogs (and cat) is so much more than just teaching them certain behaviors and consequently, I wear a variety of “hats” with them, so to speak. For example, sometimes I’m wearing my “dog-psychology hat” when I’m trying to figure out why one of my dogs will do a vertical jump to reach the counter tops, but is fearful of jumping over a 30” gate. Other times I’m wearing my “dog-cognition hat” when I marvel at how one dog has figured out that it’s “safe” to sneak off to eat the cat’s food if I’m on the phone and the computer at the same time, but not safe if I’m only on the phone or only on the computer. And yes, I sometimes wear my “dog-trainer hat” especially when the dogs and I are out for a walk. With 2 leashes in one hand, and clicker in the other, poop bags bulging out of my back pocket, telephone stuffed in another pocket, and a belt around my waist holding my treat pouch, we’re quite a spectacle for sure. And most of the time, I feel that even when my dogs are “acting out”, that the neighborhood residents can see how professional I am, how calm I handle the chaos, and how skillfully I make certain that both dogs’ desirable behaviors are being reinforced….And then there are those times when another “hat” appears. The other day I had just returned from a walk with the dogs, when I remembered that my neighbor had asked me to water his plants. Rather than let the dogs run free, I kept them leashed together so I could quickly water the plants and then bring them dog indoors, as I was in a hurry. No sooner than when I went to grab the hose, one dog started screaming at the top of his lungs because he heard a noise. Suddenly the other dog took off running in the direction of the gate, dragging the other dog with her so that she could do battle with her arch enemy, the giant Husky, who was leaving her house for a walk. Now I had two dogs fighting the Husky at the fence, and the hose tangled around my ankle as the dogs’ leashes pulled on it like a boa constrictor! Suddenly I was no longer wearing my “dog-trainer hat”, but instead, my ugly “pet-mom hat”, and to the horror of any nearby spectators, they got to see the crazy “Mad Hatter”. I’m just grateful my antics didn’t end up on YouTube! Without my “dog-trainer hat”, I forgot that my dogs knew how to come when called, but with my ugly “pet-mom hat” I resorted to, “Hey, @#$%^& dogs” and a few other choice words as I struggled to wrestle with their tangled leashes. As we made our way back indoors, I had time to reflect, as I was now wearing my “zen hat”. I wondered about the “hats” my clients had. They, after all, don’t have “dog-trainer hats”, “dog-psychology hats” or even “dog- cognition hats”. What they do have is “pet-parent hats” and while I’m not suggesting that pet-parents have to resort to becoming the “Mad Hatter”, screaming at their dogs,...

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