Are you sending the wrong message?

Posted on Jul 26, 2015 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Socialization, Training |


what are they saying?

what are they saying?

We have 3 different conversations going on in this photo.  Note the open or closed mouths.  Where are their eyes looking? How are the tails held? Are there any paw lifts? Do you note soft or stiff joints? How about forward or back or lowered ears?

Dogs communicate to other dogs using vocalizations and body language.  

Many humans accidentally ask their dogs a behavior without even realizing it.  If your dog is repeatedly offering the wrong behavior, could it be what YOU are asking?  

I once had a client whose sweet 5 yr old female Scottish Terrier was a problem barker, predictably when dad was on the phone.  I asked him what he had tried to stop her from barking, and here is what he said:  “I have tried yelling at her, walking in the other room, ignoring her and now I get some relief when I toss her a large dog biscuit as it takes her a while to eat it, but sometimes she starts right back up again.”  

Did you know? If a dog does a behavior (like sit or bark) and if what follows is rewarding to the dog (attention or freedom) then the behavior will be repeated.  This is also true of humans!

IMG_2720This Scottie learned that when she barked at her owner he spoke to her which was rewarding as she was able to get his attention.  Even negative attention is better than no attention for a bored dog. Then one day she just happened to bark while dad was on the phone and because he needed her quiet he tossed her a large biscuit.  The smart girl has now learned that when dad puts that box to his ear and she barks, she gets a Big Biscut.  This behavior will surely be repeated, by this smart dog!


So, if your dog is repeating the same unwanted behavior, think about what message you are sending to your dog, as it is most likely some kind of a reward for your pup.  Changing your behavior will certainly change your dogs, like giving her a biscuit when she is calmly lying on her bed.  I am pretty sure this is a behavior we all want repeated! Remember: if your dog is seeking attention, be sure to reward wanted behavior, while ignoring unwanted behavior. 

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Does Your Dog Come When You Call?

Posted on Apr 11, 2015 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Dominance, Leash Training, Pets, Positive Association, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Safety, Socialization, Training, Unleashed Control | 0 comments



Bonding with my new foster dog

 Many people contact me to help them with recall or getting their dog to come when they call them.

A good recall begins with a strong relationship between the human and the dog. The dog who happily comes when called shares a bond with them and trust them completely. They go to them repeatedly because they associate their owner with good things.

If you call your dog and they look at you as if to say why? “Why should I?”   It would be nice if relationships were that easy, but we know any relationship has a balance of trust and respect.  Anyone parenting children can see similarities as we are able to say “because I said so!” Many of us have learned to give a specific reason, expressing our intentions clearly we will have better success and maintain a healthy relationship with our children in the process.

When we put up a barrier or close the conversation with an intense emotion, we create a sense of frustration, anger or distrust which leads to avoidance.  Avoidance is safer than engaging for a child or dog so they go in the back door or simply put their head down and ignore you.

My foster dogs may think their name is come when they first arrive as they often earn their breakfast when they respond to “come” and then I release them to more freedom.  Hence, conditioning them that Come is a good thing.

My point is if you want your dog to come repeatedly, then reward generously as he is choosing you over that amazing smell in the leaves or snow, that he really would love to investigate.  If he does not come, then I suggest you begin to walk towards him, the second he looks at you, you smile, get down low or bend forward and open your arms with clear intentions and a happy “yes” or click with your clicker and your dog will run to you with excitement much more consistently.

If your dog begins to run to you, but stops 10 or 20 feet away, you can still reward this by tossing him a treat and walking away.  Many dogs have been grabbed when they came close so may avoid being grabbed again as it was scary to them.  Repeat, by calling your dog and tossing the treat again, then walk away, call your dog and get low offer the treat out to the side, quietly drop one on the ground and turn or move away.  You are building a relationship build on trust.  If you or anyone else has tricked this dog, he is smarter now and will not be fooled, never trick a dog or you lose trust and your recall will certainly suffer as a result.

All my foster dogs are usually off leash within 1 week as I condition them that coming to me is 100% positive and feels safe. Enjoy your dog and remember coming when called is much more likely if you are not dominating, but building a trusting relationship.

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Associate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant now available in Portland Maine

Posted on Dec 4, 2013 in Aggression, Canine Good Citizen, Certified Dog Trainer, Child, Dog Training, Dominance, Positive Association, Puppy, Training, Veterans | 0 comments


I am very proud to announce my hard work and continued education has earned me the title ofAssociate Certified Dog Behavior Consultant- ACDBC.  I am the only ACDBC south of Bangor, and the only one in Portland, Maine.  My desire to better understand dog behavior and behavior problems is on going and I will continue to study and learn to better help my clients.

For clients in the Bangor area, please reach out to Don Hanson, of Green Acres Kennels as he is a CDBC and a person I myself reach out to.  Welcome to Green Acres Kennel Shop – Green Acres Kennel Shop

Already have a dog trainer?  Please be sure you are using someone certified by a recognizable organization such as:

APDT  the Association of Pet Dog Trainers 

IAABC  International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants

CCPDT Certification Council for Pet Dog Trainers

For help in setting you and your dog up for success, I certainly recommend a Certified positive reinforcement trainer.  

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Pets for Vets Program Launched here in Portland, Maine

Posted on Nov 25, 2013 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Pets, Rescue Dog, Socialization, Training, Veterans | 0 comments

I am happy to announce that Portland, Maine has an official Chapter for the Pets for Vets Program and I am the official trainer of the canines for this wonderful program.  I will be assessing, training and matching dogs with Veterans in need of a companion dog.

Tom Targett, Chapter Director is to be recognized and thanked for his dedication in getting this Portland Chapter off and running.  Tom is an ideal Director as a returning Veteran himself and his understanding and love of dogs.

Our mission at the Pets for Vets program is to help support veterans while providing a second chance for shelter pets by rescuing, training and pairing them with veterans right here in our community who could benefit from a companion animal.

I am pleased to inform you that we will be introducing our first match early in December!  I am not sure who is more excited about this upcoming match?  Tom, my self or our Veteran, we are all simply joyful to be a part of this first match!

For further information about our new Portland, Maine Chapter, contact:
Thomas Targett –

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7 Day Challenge

Posted on Aug 30, 2013 in Canine Good Citizen, Dog Training, Positive Reinforcement, Puppy, Rescue Dog, Training | 0 comments

Puff in a down stay, I rewarded him with food about 6 times in 1 minute to help him build duration in this behavior.

Puff in a down stay, I
rewarded him with food about 6 times in 1 minute
to help him build duration in this behavior.

Many clients ask; “How do I train my dog?”  First and foremost, to train a dog, you must have the dog’s attention!  Can you get your dog to sit for one minute without a leash on?  If so, then you have already learned how to get your dogs attention — wonderful!  If not, then I ask you to take my 7 day challenge!

I ask that you hand feed your dog every meal for 1 week, every meal, and see how your relationship changes in just 7 days.  You might keep a journal and really see your dogs attention on you grow with enthusiasm and duration in many different behaviors.

If your dog can already sit and stay in your home, then I suggest you take your training on the road and see if your dog can perform the same behaviors in your front yard, down the street, and at the local park.  Training in environments with lots of stimulation takes practice, tasty motivation and often lots of patience.  If your dog cannot sit and stay in your yard, then you simply are not ready to ask for this emotional control at the park.  Set your dog up for success and begin developing good habits in just one week!

Ideas for training:  come, come/sit, shake, down, leave it, touch, roll over, high five, speak, sit/stay, down/stay, wait, watch me, you get it!

Focus here at 4 months.

Focus here at 4 months.


Outdoor Adventure dogs have good focus.

Outdoor Adventure dogs have good focus.

What if my dog will not look at me?  Simply use his meal mixed with some yummy treats and sit down in a chair.  Toss a treat on the floor near your dog, while he is eating the treat, say his name in a happy tone.  When he looks at you say “yes” and toss another treat.  Continue playing this game for the entire meal. The next day you can try playing this game outside or add different criteria like “Fido come” when he is eating the treat and reward by tossing another treat away from you.

Have fun, motivate using your happy pitch and smile at your dog every time he looks at you.  If you are frustrated and using a firm tone, he may comply but I’d bet he avoids looking at you.  I want your dog to offer behaviors such as coming to you because it makes him feel good, not come to you to avoid a correction.  There is no relationship building in correction training, as the dog is simply performing a behavior to avoid the punishment — Life is Not Good for these dogs!  So, try rewarding with every meal for 7 days and I am sure you will see a new relationship building and love it!

After training!

After training!

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Outdoor Adventure Class – Rewarding to Dogs and Humans

Posted on Oct 31, 2011 in Canine Good Citizen, Fun, Positive Reinforcement, Training | 0 comments

Outdoor Adventure Class

What I love about this photo is that both of these dogs LOVE people!!  They frequently love to say hello to everyone they see but are using good emotional control here at Back Cove Trail!  As you can see both dog handlers are asking their dog to make a choice, the dogs have learned that when they comply a reward is coming!!  What reward?  What ever the handler chooses is rewarding to their particular dog.  Some dogs love play, affection, food, a good scratching, a special toy or even a good sniff in the grass can be rewarding to a particular dog!
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