Only Human


On Thursday night I took our dog, and my Mother In Law’s dog Shasta to a rattlesnake aversion training with Erick from Natural Solutions.  Erick is the only trainer in the Inland Empire I would consider taking my dogs too for two reasons.  First reason is that Erick always starts the dogs off at a low level shock, many who do this training will start your dog at a high level which is unnecessary.  Second, Erick is an awesome trainer and can read dogs very well.  During the training my dog Yukon went into a state of learned helplessness and instead of just seeing that state as stubbornness and shocking him for going back to the snake, Erick recognized it, brought my dog back out of it and then continued the training.  Have I mentioned he is awesome?  During the training I also had a I’m only human moment which I remind my clients of on a regular basis because we all do it.  My mother in law’s dog Shasta is thunder phobic and I have been working with her over the past few weeks (see videos on our YouTube Channel).  While I was waiting for the training session to begin it was thundering for REAL.  So I was stroking Shasta.  Erick came up to me and said I know it sounds odd but did you know that stroking them actually makes them worse you should stop touching her.  Of course my response was I know that and my friend MJ who is also a trainer and was hosting the training said then stop petting her Dixie.  Yep, I was doing it all wrong.  I know that touching a dog that is anxious increases the anxiety. You wait for a calming moment and award calm with touch but I was having a human moment.  Later I talked to Erick and let him know I was a trainer and he said then you should know better and we laughed about it.  I understand, I know how hard it is not to do the things we are programmed to do.  If a dog is crying and upset we want to comfort them, if a dog won’t sit we want to put them in that position, if a dog runs from us we want to run after them, these are all instinctual, human actions but they are also all wrong.  Despite knowing that even as a trainer, I’m not perfect and those human instincts take over as they did with Shasta.  This is one of the reasons I recommend that everyone in the family be involved in training because that way your family members can catch you being human and correct the action.  Thank you Erick for catching me being human and issuing the correction.



Boredom Busters


In our home often times I’m up at 4 or 5 am working on client cases, updating my class manuals, reading through new training material, blogging, etc. Since I am a mom this is the best time of day to get this type of work done. Everyone else in the house sleeps except for our husky Alusia and our husky mix Yukon who get up with me. They go outside into the yard to play while I work. This morning I let them out and enjoyed watching Yukon’s relentless puppy play bows and Alusia giving into a little playtime. Then Yukon got bored. First I had to stop him from nibbling on our new patio swing and then I noticed he was digging a hole to China in the grass instead of using his dig box. So in came the husky and out went the treat ball. Yukon was bored and if I did not give him a job we were in for a very rough morning. So I filled his treat ball with breakfast and set it down in the backyard after asking for a sit. Yukon spent the next hour getting his breakfast out of the treat ball thus saving our swing and grass. When he was done he curled up in his favorite spot in the yard and took a nap.

It is very important for your dog to have a job.  Dogs need both physical and mental stimulation to keep out of trouble.  Hide bones around your yard, get a treat ball, fill a Kong up and freeze it overnight.  All of these activities are ways to mentally stimulate dog and give them a job and a dog with a job makes a happy dog and a very happy owner.