Is This Play Okay?

Wilde About Dogs

2 snarls edit crop smallA woman asked me recently whether I thought the play happening between her own dogs was worrisome. She was concerned because one dog would nip at the other’s legs almost incessantly, and the behavior seemed like the genetically watered down version of how wild animals bring down prey. The dogs were about the same size and, outside of play, got along well. Without seeing video or knowing more it was impossible to give a definitive response, but my question was, “How does your other dog react?” She said the other dog didn’t seem to have a problem with it at all, and play normally continued with both parties enthusiastically involved. That, then, is the answer—it’s not a problem.

Dogs have their own individual styles, both during play and while issuing an invitation to play. While some use the traditional play bow to engage another dog, others will stand still and…

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How To Avoid Being a Dog Snobs Blog Topic aka Do’s and Don’ts of Dog Ownership

The Dog Snobs

Want to be a decent dog owner?  Or at least not be “that asshole” that all other dog owners hate and vent about on our blog?  Great.  We’ve created a handy-dandy list of do and don’ts.  We like lists.  And Indian food.

Do’s

1.   Learn basic dog body language

While we are glad our dogs can’t actually speak (can you imagine the secrets they would spill?!), their body language does a pretty good job of indicating how they are feeling.  Do yourself a favor and do some research. A little Wikipedia goes a long way.

2.  Know your dog

Related to “Do #1, please don’t be that dog owner who is in “in denial” about their dog.  Some dogs do not like other dogs, some dogs don’t get along well with children, some dogs hate men, and so on.  Knowing your dog and its limitations is key to avoiding potentially…

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Your dog isn’t being friendly. He’s an asshole. And so are you.

The Dog Snobs

“He was just being friendly!”

Those five words may seem benign, but they actually constitute one of  most rage-inducing phrases a dog owner can hear.

We’ve all been there.  A dog charges up to your dog, gets right in their face, invades their personal bubble, and pesters them until your own dog gets sick of the shenanigans and either avoids the offending dog or snaps at them to tell them to back off.  Both behaviors result in the other dog’s owner proclaiming that your dog is a jerk for not allowing their “friendly” dog to molest yours.  Actually asshats, it’s your dog that needs a lesson in manners, or more precisely, you do.

That’s right, your dog isn’t just being friendly, he’s being an asshole.  Here are just a few signs that your dog is a jerk.

1.  Your dog routinely lifts other dogs feet off the ground when trying…

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What It Takes

Fearfuldogs' Blog

I had a call recently from a concerned owner with a service dog who was becoming more and more reactive to sounds and changes in her environment. The dog was described as “timid” even on arrival into the home of her new handler. I will not address the reality that someone trained and placed a dog to be a service dog in the community who was timid and wary from the get-go. I wasn’t joking when I told the owner that he was going to be his dog’s service human.

As the conversation progressed I learned that they were located in a town where I knew there was a good trainer. A trainer who understood how animals learn, who has studied and practiced teaching new behaviors to animals, who knew how to discern between her ability to teach a behavior and an animal’s ability to learn it. This latter point…

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Myth: Anxiety Medication Should Only be used as a Last Resort

Paws Abilities

I’ve written about medicating anxious dogs before, and it’s such an important topic that I want to touch on it again. There are so many misconceptions surrounding this subject.The idea that anxiety medication should only be used after everything else has been tried is so sad and harmful, and is a myth I encounter on a regular basis. Let’s clear up some of the fog surrounding this common misconception.

Before we get any further, please remember that I am not a veterinarian and I don’t play one on the internet. The information contained in this blog is not meant to diagnose or prescribe, and is only provided for your information. I’m drawing from my experience as a certified veterinary technician, canine behavior consultant, and the owner of an anxious dog to educate you, but your best resource is always going to be a licensed veterinarian.

So, let’s start with what…

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Dealing With Off-Leash Dogs

Paws Abilities

There are many reasons why your dog may not like being rushed by an off-leash dog when he’s on leash. Off-leash dogs are, obviously, the bane of many of my reactive clients’ existence, but senior dogs; those recovering from surgery, illness, or injuries; shy pups and fearful dogs may also find the attention of off-leash dogs upsetting or overwhelming. Even friendly dogs may not appreciate interacting with another dog in such a socially unequal situation – leashes can cause a lot of issues.

So, what can you do if you get rushed by an off-leash dog? First of all, know that it is always okay to protect your dog. Most urban and suburban environments have leash laws, and if your dog is on a leash you are right in keeping your dog safe. You are also completely within your rights to report off-leash dogs to your local authorities. Not only…

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Preparing for Competition: Squishing!

Denise Fenzi

As many of you know, I now teach classes on-line at Fenzi Dog Sports Academy.  One of the courses I’m about to teach is a Ring Confidence Class.  In the process of preparing for this course, I realized just how many behaviors we can teach our dogs in order to allow them to attend their first competitions with maximum confidence and sureness in the ring.  Quite a few, really.

Some of us do this without thinking about it too much.  If you attend dog training clubs, then you are helping your dog with generalization of behaviors.  If you practice your behaviors in the face of increasingly complex challenges, then you are proofing those behaviors.  If you use a “routine” to cue your dog that work is about to begin (hopefully not the presence of cookies and toys!), then you are teaching your dog ‘Work cues” – a predictable series of…

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