Monday, December 3, 2012

At the end of the day, it does not matter how many titles you have earned or what level the titles are...

What matters is your RELATIONSHIP with your dog.  Dogs don't care about titles!  They care about spending time with their buddy, YOU!  

Personally, I would rather spend a weekend doing tons of fun stuff with my dogs instead of waiting around all day at a trial to run two, three, or even four runs.  This is the main reason I love video competitions, film a routine in 5 minutes and have the rest of the day to play frisbee, do tricks, hike, go to the beach, find a fun park, and just be one with my dogs!

Oh and if you think that my dogs are not as trained as yours because you have some fancy title, well think again.

Pamela Johnson

Sunday, December 2, 2012

20 Reasons why shock collars should be banned

1.   The entire concept is unenlightened
2.   Their design and purpose is to deliver pain to animals
3.   The threat of pain is as emotionally damaging as the pain itself
4.   Shocks will be delivered out of anger and frustration
5.   Surprise shocks can cause confusion & erratic behavior
6.   Pain & anxiety from repeated shocking can cause aggression
7.   Dogs may associate shocks with whoever is close by and attack
8.   Collars can cause infections, burns and sores
9.   Trial and error method to determine shock level is crude & cruel
10. A dog that can learn with a shock collar can learn without one.
11. Praise, cookies, kisses and clickers work better
12. Shock collars enable the lazy and insensitive
13. Some kennels/day cares/groomers use without the owner’s permission
14. Doesn't facilitate learning,instead punishes "normal" behavior
15. No laws regulating production quality and operational consistency
16. Animal wellness should come before profit
17. Malfunctioning collar causes suffering to animal before visible to owner
18. Often it is the owner, not the dog, who needs correcting
19. It’s antithetical to current canine behavioral science
20. If it’s too cruel to use on a child, it’s too cruel to use on your pet 

Is it kind to use painful shocks on your best friend?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dog Flash Mob, "Everybody Talks" by Neon Trees parody

I am so excited that Twix & I were able to be a part of the making of this video.  We had a great time and I am so very proud of my boy!  He is my little super star.  :)

Thanks for watching!

Twix & Pam

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Quick Fix or Lasting Results? The choice is yours!

Everyone wants a quick fix in life!

Loose weight fast...
Train a dog quickly...
Become a millionaire over night...

If we want something to really work, it takes time to achieve it and you will have lasting results.

I would rather something take longer to fix (say a dog that is reactive to other dogs) and really teach the dog that other dogs are predictors of amazing things; instead of using the traditional correction approach.  Counter conditioning might take longer, but it will be more reliable and it will change the dogs emotional response (happy, wanting other dogs around).  A punished dog might stop reacting quickly but it will only be to avoid the correction and has not learned to like the other dog.

I would feel much safer around a dog that learned to like other dogs than a dog that has learned that other dogs cause him pain.

The same goes for weight loss...

It is proven that if one takes weight off slowly, they are more likely to keep it off.  Mainly because they   learn to eat healthy, acquire lifestyle changes and make exercise part of their daily routine.  They are changing their emotional response to food and exercise.  Making small changes at a time...  Switching from eating ice cream to eating frozen yogurt.  Eating more protein, more vegetables and decreasing the amount of carbohydrates and sugar are much better choices than telling oneself that they are never allowed to have sugar or certain foods again. If one takes weight off fast by giving up things they enjoy or working out so much that they end up hating to work out, they will not be able to maintain that for a lifetime.  When they get burned out they will go right back to old habits and the weight will come right back.

Don't be in a rush to accomplish whatever it is that you want to achieve.  Take your time, learn along the way, have fun and enjoy the process.  You will reach your goals!  You will be stronger, more confident, and proud of your success and hard work.

It doesn't matter how long it takes you to reach your goals! Don't listen to others that try to give you advice on those quick fix, get rich fast schemes.  Stick to your plan!  Do not give up, you can achieve greatness in all you do!

Pamela Johnson

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Puppy Mill Awareness

How do you know when your dog is stressed and what can you do to help him?

How do you know when your dog is stressed, and what can you do to help him?

Stress happens and is a fact of life.  Many things can cause stress... Change, excitement, new environments, and so much more...  These triggers that cause stress could be good or bad things.  If I was stressed over an up coming canine freestyle competition, I would categorize that as something good that is also causing me some stress.  However, if I were late to a serious appointment and find myself stuck in traffic, then that would not be a good form of stress.

We expect changes to take place in our dogs lives, such as moving to a new place, meeting new people or dogs, traveling, are just a few things that can be stressful.  Even learning a new behavior, raising criteria, or adding a distraction into the environment can also be stressful to dogs.  

Once a dog is stressed no matter how small or large the trigger or reason for being stressed was, it could take the dog some time before he is able to calm down and get back to “normal”.  If one thing after another happens to stress out your dog, it will have a cumulative effect and it could take the dog a lot longer to adapt or calm down.  It will depend on the dog and the level at which he is able to cope with new situations, etc.  A dog that seems to “lose it” and become reactive or “aggressive” all of a sudden and without warning usually had shown many warning signs that he was worried or stressed about something either, minutes, hours, days, or even weeks earlier.  This stress related reaction had been building and building and finally the dog had enough and could not cope anymore.  He was pushed to his limit.  

How can you prevent stress from building to the point at which the dog finally snaps.  Everything in the human World could be stressful.  Training... Learning... Meeting new people... Having house guests... Meeting new dogs...  Going to new places...  Performing doing dog sports...  The owner leaves to go to work...  A new dog comes into the home to live...  Good things and bad things are stressful!  Let’s face it, we can’t remove all stress from our dogs lives.  However, we can lessen the stress, learn what actually stresses the dog, and figure out how to help the dog through a variety of situations in order to help the dog overcome future stressful times.

A dog that is stressed can not think properly and is not able to focus on tasks while stressed.  This is why it is so important to start teaching or training a dog in an environment that has little to no distractions.  If a dog is worried about something or stressed about something in his environment he will not be able to learn and concentrate on what you are teaching him.

How can you tell if your dog is stressed?  Many dogs will show stress signs in the form of calming signals which I like to explain as doing what he can to calm himself or to calm others down.  

A stressed out dogs might do one or many of the following behaviors:
Sniff a lot more than normal
Avoid you or avoid the situation he is in, by looking away with a glossed over blank look on his face.  
Lip lick
Blink his eyes more than normal
Yawn (which can range from a slight yawn to a large shaking yawn)
Bark, lunge, growl, air snap, or bite
Hide behind you
Run off
Become stiff and not move
Could possibly raise his hackles (some dogs do this out of excitement as well, so it helps to know your dog)

To learn more about calming signals, I would suggest to read “Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas.

It is always best to deal with the situation while the dog is slightly stressed instead of waiting until it becomes a problem.  

Step 1:  Assess the situation...

What was it that stressed, scared, worried, or excited your dog?  Can you pinpoint one thing or were there multiple “triggers” that caused the dog stress.  Being able to identify exactly what caused (triggered) the stress is crucial in order to help the dog learn to deal and cope with life.

Are you able to control the environment?  Can you prevent the stressor from just popping up at any moment and freaking out your dog again?  
How intense was your dogs reaction?  Did he just look a little worried and give a few small calming signals?  Did he completely lose it and have a serious blow up?  Is he able to eat treats in the presence of the stressor (trigger).

Step 2: Dealing with the mild reaction

If the reaction was mild, you can control the environment, he will eat treats and you can identify what it was that he was reacting to; then you can stay in that particular environment and work on calming your dog.  Maybe by getting him to give you eye contact or play the fun “Surprise Party” Game.  This will help divert the dogs attention.

In order to build a positive association to the thing that the dog finds scary, exciting, worrisome, etc... You could reinforce the dog for looking at the trigger.  I like to mark with a verbal marker (not my clicker as I do not want the dog going into work mode) and then give the dog a treat with his head still facing the thing that stresses him out.  

For example:  If a dog is worried about a dog and you know that dog is not going to get any closer.  You can say, “yes or yep” when the dog looks at the dog and feed the dog in the position in which he was looking.  This tells the dog that by looking at that thing that he is nervous about, he will get a treat.  Make sure it is something wonderful.  It is better to have the scary stressful things be predictors of good things happening to the dog and will encourage the dog to like the things he is stressed over.  When the dog goes away, so does the reward.  This will only make the dog want those stressful things to come back and he will learn to really love those things that used to stress or worry him.

Step 3: Dealing with a severe reaction

If the reaction is severe, you can control the environment, he is not able to eat treats, and you can identify what he was reacting to; then you can stay in that environment, but move further away and keep moving away until your dog is able to “think” again and is able to eat treats.  If a dog is not able to think, he is not able to concentrate on learning.  If he is too focused on the trigger, then you are not going to be able to help him.  You must move him to a point where he is below threshold and able to concentrate on you and listen to cues you are giving him.  

If you reach down to have him offer a chin rest and when he does you can tell that he is stiff as a board, then he is still too stressed.  Move away further.  Move away until he is at the point where he can calmly rest his chin in your hand without any tension on his neck, jaw or face.  

If your dog is still not able to calm down, then remove him from the environment completely.

Step 4: Your dog is YOUR RESPONSIBILITY and you should have his best interest in mind at ALL TIMES.

If your dogs reaction is getting worse and the environment is not controllable, calmly remove your dog from that situation immediately.  There is no sense in trying to work through the situation.  He is not able to learn in this state of mind and this environment can only make his reactions worse.  It is so much better to get out of that situation with as little stress as possible.  

Do not add to your dogs stress by getting upset.  REMEMBER, your dog is stressed and he is not reacting to embarrass you or to make you mad.  Have compassion for your dog and take care of him.  
You can always try again another day and focus on keeping him successful.  

Step 5: Set your dog up for success

Now that you know what your dog is stressed by, you can develop a training plan where you can slowly desensitize and counter condition him to learn to love that thing that is causing him stress.  

You will set up a training situation in a controlled environment.  

Take your time and do not move too quickly.  If your dog seems fine at 100 feet away, do not automatically move to only 5 feet away from the thing that stresses him out.  Create your plan so that your dog is always successful and always has a great experience around those stressful things.  One day you might be at 100 feet away and the next day you might be at only 95 feet away, but you will eventually get to your goal.  The more time it takes you the more solid and confident your dog will be around that particular trigger.  

Step 6: You know what happens when you assume...

Never assume that your dog will just learn to deal with it and get over his fear or stress.  Most of the time problem behaviors get worse after what might seem like a minor event.  Address the issues right away!  It is best to just take care of it before it becomes a problem. 

Training Tips:

Have patience with your dog.  Put yourself in his paws.  How would you feel is someone rushed you into a situation that worried or stressed you out?  

Take your time and work slowly at changing your dogs emotional reaction to whatever it was that caused him stress.  

NEVER get upset at your dog!  

If he reacts to something in an unfavorable manner, deal with it and help him get over his fears.  

WHO CARES what other people think!  If your dog is reacting, there is a perfectly good reason he feels he needs to do that.  So, IGNORE what other people say or do and TAKE CARE OF YOUR DOGS NEEDS! 


Monday, July 30, 2012

5 Tips for Stinky, Sticky, & Nasty Things...

5 tips for the Stinky, Sticky, and Nasty things that your dog might get into:

1.  Sprayed by a Skunk - Mix 4 cups of 3% Hydrogen Peroxide, 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 Tablespoons of Dawn Liquid Dish Soap.  Do not wet or bath your dog...  Massage the mixture into teh dogs fur (AVOIDING THE EYES).  Let the mixture stay on the dog for at least 5 - 10 minutes and then rinse.  You might need to repeat this many times.  Also, if you have a black or dark coated dog, the hydrogen peroxide might bleach the fur a bit.  It helps to keep these ingredients on hand as you never know when your dog could get sprayed by a skunk.  

2.  Anal Sac Discharge - Sometimes when dogs are startled, frightened, or get injured, they will empty their anal sacs, which smells horrible.  To clean up and get rid of the smell, take witch hazel (an astringent that can be found at most drug stores) and put it in a small spray bottle and spray it on the affected area.  Then wipe it off with a paper towel.  Repeat one more time and then dry it up with a paper towel.  The smell will disappear.  

3.  Paint - If you just finished painting your house and you have discovered that your dogs tail has paint in it, DO NOT USE turpentine or petroleum!  

If it is water based or latex paint and it has not yet dried, give your dog a bath with warm water and a strong shampoo.  Follow up with a conditioner to ensure the coat does not dry out.  You can use Dawn Liquid dish soap if necessary.  If it is water based paint and it is already dry, massage the shampoo into the area, let it stand for about 10 - 15 minutes, then gently comb it out.  

If it is oil-based paint, gob on olive oil to the area and massage it for at least 10 minutes.  DO NOT let your dog lick it off!  For dogs with long fur, you can wrap the area with a plastic bag and leave the olive oil on for longer, say an hour or so.  Carefully comb through the area, adding more olive oil if needed until the paint is out.  Lastly, give the dog a bath and shampoo the olive oil out.

4.  Tree Sap - The easiest way to get sap out of the fur is to use aerosol hair spray.  Spray on the area that has the sap, then gently rub the area between your fingers.  Once it is broken up, comb the area with a fine-toothed comb and be gentle in case you did not get it all.  The sap will magically disappear. Then use small amount of Dawn dish soap and water to remove the hairspray.  

5.  Chewing Gum - You can use peanut butter to get chewing gum out of the dogs fur, especially if you do not want to cut it out.  If the gum is stuck in fur between the dogs toes, you can gently carefully cut it out, but I would still prefer to use peanut butter.  Simply take a liberal amount of peanut butter and massage it with your fingers in the area where the gum is until it loosens.  Once you have the gum removed wash the area with warm water and shampoo to remove the peanut butter.  Even though your dog would probably prefer to lick off the remaining peanut butter, it is best to just clean it up completely.  This way you can make sure you got all the gum out.

Allergy Rinse Recipe

If your dog has allergies or seems to be itchy.  You can try this allergy rinse.  I use this allergy rinse on my dog Bandit after baths.  Not only does it smell wonderful, it soothes his skin and helps with allergies.

Allergy Rinse Recipe:
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh lavender
2 Tablespoons chopped chamomile flowers and leaves
2 Tablespoons of chopped calendula flower petals
8 cups of water

Place all the ingredients in a stainless steal pot or glass pot.  Pour in 8 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes.  Remove from the heat and let is cool for 45 minutes.  Strain the mixture and store in a clean mason jar in the refrigerator.

Use as a rinse after bathing and spray on the dogs coat if needed.

I grow my own chamomile flowers and lavender, but I am sure you can get them at your local garden nursery (even if you wanted a small plant to chop up right away).  Maybe at a farmers market or some health food stores.  You can get calendula flower petals at:

Friday, July 27, 2012

How hot does it get in a parked car? Ask Dr. Ernie Ward!

So many think that they can just leave their dog in a car for a few minutes and the dog will be fine, but it gets hot in there so very fast.  Dr. Ward was in the car on his own free will and wanted out!  You can see how sweaty he is and can tell from his voice how miserable he is.  When you leave a dog in a car, he does not have a choice and he can't just get out when he is literally roasting inside the car.

Do not leave your dog in a parked car, even if it is only for a few minutes...

Please watch this and share!

Pamela Johnson

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Pam's Dog Academy Products & Reviews

My DVDs and ebook’s are LOADED with FUN exercises to help with building a CLOSE relationship with you dog.  In addition to developing a close bond you will get more focus, attention, be able to proof behaviors, and fun challenges to test your dogs knowledge.  
These products are wonderful for pet dog owners that would love a well behaved dog and great for dog trainers that would like to learn some new techniques or get more proofing ideas.  Maybe you are new to clicker training and you would love to just play, train and have a great time with your dog.  No matter what your goal, my products will help you achieve them.   My plan is to help you succeed with your dog or with your clients and their dogs.  I am always willing to answer questions and help you along your amazing journey through clicker training.  
Loose Leash Walking made EASY, 27 episodes of exercises to help your train your dog to LLW & at the same time improve the human/canine bond. 2 disc DVD set. $50
Play -N-Train Recalls - 21 episodes of fun games, exercises, and challenges to help train your dog to come when called. $25
Rock Solid Stay - 12 episodes of how to build duration, distance, and train around distractions, fun games, challenges, release words and how to work with multiple dogs.  $25
Teaching Group Clicker Classes, comes with a FREE ebook with discussion ideas, 6 weeks of lessons, and the DVD is loaded with information on what to teach in a group class in addition to instructions on how to teach the exercises.  $100
“Insider Secrets to Canine Freestyle” ebook is also now available on my website.  If you have wanted to learn how to do canine freestyle, but do not know where to start.  This ebook is for you.  $25
If you are a dog trainer and want to offer your clients a new class on canine freestyle, I also sell a version of my Insider Secrets to Canine Freestyle with 16 weeks of lesson plans for group classes.  $125
Teaching Beginner Trick Classes with 9 weeks of lesson plans... $5
Teaching Intermediate Trick Classes with 8 weeks of lesson plans... $10
Teaching Advanced Trick Classes with 8 weeks of lesson plans... $15
Have a great day! :)
Get your DVDs or ebook’s from my website.  
Thank you,
Pamela Johnson Direct link to my products page.
Here are what my Satisfied Customers are saying about my DVDs & Ebooks: 
  • Play-N-Train Recalls, Rock Solid Stay, and Loose Leash Walking made easy.  Fun exercises, No force, No punishment and easy to follow instructions.
  • Loose Leash Walking Made Easy by Pam’s dog Academy, If I was to rate this from 1 to 10; I would give this a 10.  Loose Leash Walking can be a daunting task to say the least. This Video DVD breaks that task down step by step and much more.  It’s is easy to follow and Pam trouble shoots each step so you won’t get over whelmed. I have been training dogs a long time and this wonderful video inspired me to do a Loose Leash Walking only class using these wonderful positive clicker training techniques. Way to go Pam. I look forward to seeing your future DVD’s too.  -  Mary Blanton
  • I can't wait for the "Stay" DVD to come out! I received "Play-n-train Recalls" for Christmas and I am really enjoying it. 
  • Love the LLW DVD's THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!
  • I always struggle to teach people how to train LLW.  They seem to want the dog to just not pull right away without working on it.  This gives me a lot of foundation behaviors to work on before even starting them walking.  Very helpful!   -  Heather
  • Very easy to understand and picked up some new tricks for recalls!! 
  • The games are so much fun - we love it !! How about a trick DVD next? I'll buy it for sure!
  • Hello Pam, i just wanted to tell you what a great job you have done with the LLW videos.  Emily Larlham mentioned them on her FB page so i bought the set and wanted to let you know how well you did.  I am putting together a six week LLW clinic and these will be an invaluable teaching aid and have given me some new Ideas.  i will credit you with some of the techniques we use in our class.  Thanks again for a well done video...
  • You are truly generous with your information and my clients benefit from it frequently. Looking forward to more videos and DVDs!
  • Very easy to understand!! 
  • The games are so much fun - we love it !! 
  • Hi Pam! I got the DVDs yesterday and they all are working fine. Thank you for making these DVD that goes over everything in detail. I tried the egg on a spoon LLW challenge and it was pretty fun and my dog did really good in one go. :) Thank you once again :D
  • Kelli-ann Reilly writes, “Insider Secrets to Canine Freestyle is fantastic.... very FUN motivating read.. highly recommend to anyone who is interested in freestyle ... either competition level or just for FUN.. love it ((:

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Feng Shui for Dogs

Feng Shui for Dogs
  1. Do not place your dog’s bed under a window or in a corner where chi can stagnate.
  2. There should not be any water elements in the room, since the sound of water can disturb your dog’s sleep.
  3. Do not place the bed directly across from an open door or at the end of a long corridor where chi can travel too quickly.
  4. There should not be any  heavy objects above or behind the bed, such as lighting, shelves, or cabinets.
  5. Minimize mirrors, which could reflect light and movement and frighten your dog.
  6. Avoid using bedding made of synthetic fabrics that distribute negative chi.
  7. Place your dog’s bed against a solid wall away from any door that could swing open.
  8. Consider placing the dog’s bed on the opposite side of the house from the active front door or garage, to prevent his being disturbed.
A lot of this seems like common sense.  I love that the focus seems to be on NOT disturbing or frightening the dog’s.
Feng Shui, literally means “air”, “wind”, and “water” and is the Chinese art by which through the precise placement of objects, one creates balance, health, wealth, and harmony.  The principles of feng shui teach you how to live harmoniously with your environment by recognizing that everything around you is alive, connected, and changing.
Chi, means “cosmic breath”, is the invisible energy that circulates as the source of prosperity, health, and harmony.  Through the principles of feng shui, you can optimize the flow and accumulation of chi energy in your dog’s life.  When the dog is indoors he will benefit from good chi in the home.
Most dogs spend a lot of their day sleeping and this will ensure his home environment has good chi and is peaceful and relaxing.  
The dog owners devotional book

Monday, July 16, 2012

Doggie Horoscopes

Doggie Horoscopes
Aquarius (Jan 20 - Feb 18) Revolutionary, self-sufficient, zesty, and headstrong. No one will tell and Aquarius dog how to live. These dogs may have an attitude, but they are deeply sensitive and caring underneath. Life will never be drab. 
Pisces (Feb 19 - March 20) Compassionate, sensitive, intuitive, deeply emotional, a daydreamer. Pisces dogs always lend a helping paw, and they sense their owner's feelings and respond by nurturing.
Aries (March 21 - April 19) Lively, daring, adventure seeking, and independent.. These dogs know what they want and they are confident they will get it. they can be impulsive and fearless. they may need help learning how to relax, but their energy is contagious. 
Aries (March 21 - April 19) Lively, daring, adventure seeking, and independent.. These dogs know what they want and they are confident they will get it. they can be impulsive and fearless. they may need help learning how to relax, but their energy is contagious. 
Taurus (April 20 - May 20) Practical, cautious, purposeful, persistent, patient, and exceptionally sensitive. These dogs focus on what they want, and they don't mid getting dirty. They have sharp intuition and an active mind. 
Gemini (May 21 - June 21) Active, athletic, stimulated, fast paced, and thirsty for new experiences. Your Gemini dog loves meeting people and may need help slowing down. These versatile dogs love to learn and travel. 
Cancer (June 22-July 22) Emotional, generous, intuitive, adaptable, and nurturing. These dogs are receptive to people and their surroundings. They have a maternal nature, an expressive face, and love to play creative games. They are unconditionally loyal and dreamy. 
Leo (July 23-Aug23) Warm, bright, motivated, eager to make an impression. Leos are dynamic balls of energy, generous in nature, and very loyal. Your leo dog loves to travel, has a pioneering spirit, and isn't afraid to blaze the trail. He'll never leave his owner's side. 
Virgo (Aug 24-Sept 22) Analytical, investigative, cautious, studious, intelligent, and sometimes demanding. Virgo dogs are quick, logical thinkers. They will excel in training.
Libra (Sept 23 - Oct 22) Social, outgoing, caring, youthful, even wacky.  These dogs will always be young at heart.  You’ll find them in the center ring - Libras are the life of the party.  They create harmony in their environments.  
Scorpio (Oct 23 - Nov 21) Strong but silent, determined, loyal, complex, and emotional. Scorpio dogs give 100 percent to those they love. They can be manipulative, but they will never let down their owners. They will work and play tirelessly. Splash is a Scorpio, too.
Sagittarius ( Nov 22 - Dec 21) Confident, jolly, enthusiastic, lighthearted, optimistic. These dogs love adventure and freedom. Fence in your yard for a Sagittarius, who doesn't want to be tied up or restrained. You'll need to help them recognize their limits. They are easily bored.
Capricorn (Dec 22 - Jan 19) Practical, down to earth, shy, cautious, suspicious of strangers, but committed to completing any task. These dogs are affectionate and loyal - not as adventurous as others, but very trustworthy. They are known for their courage, and keen focus.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cues vs. Commands

Cues vs. Commands 
Cue = A request from the handler for the dog to do a particular behavior.  
Command = An ultimatum for the dog to do the behavior or else there will be a consequence. In my training philosophy this is not even an option.
I personally use cues and allow the dog the choice to do the behavior or not.  If I have done proper training, built value in working with me, built value for doing a particular trick, and my dog does in fact know the behavior, then chances are he will want to do the behavior.  This is because the dog has had a strong reinforcement history for doing the requested behavior.  
I do not believe there is ever a reason to give a “command”.  I would not “command” my students, husband, friends or wild animals to do something or else, so why would I even think about doing so with my dogs?
Just my opinion...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Gonna Miss This...

On the way home from visiting a friend that lives over an hour away from me, I heard a song on the radio by Trace Atkins called, “You’re gonna miss this” and it made me think about how precious every moment is when we are with our DOG’s.  This same thing goes for friends, family, etc.  However, I wanted to write this to demonstrate how much we take our canine best friends for granted.  
We might think that we want something different...  We might think that we need to train a better trick... We might wish our dog was like another dog and compare him to other dogs... But should just enjoy him for who he is...  He is wonderful... He is brilliant... After all he is your dog! Be joyful where we are at right now with him, with his training, with your relationship...  
We think things are bad and we want to make changes...  But we should look at these “bad” things as wonderful learning experiences.  There are no bad days!  Life is what you make it.  It can only be “bad” if we let it be “bad”!  These are some good times...  So take a good look around... You may not know it now, but your are gonna miss this...
We take for granted time spent with family, friends, and yes our dogs...  Cherish LIFE, Live your life to the fullest... Never regret and never wish you would have done something different.  Accept your life, make the very best of your life... 
I see people out walking their dogs with head phones on, getting irritated that their dogs want to sniff or want to stop and look at a bird, a dog, a person and I know that they are missing an opportunity to enjoy the company of their dog.  Be in the moment...  Appreciate what you have...  DON’T be in a RUSH...  Enjoy the HERE and NOW... Because you are going to miss this... You are going to want this back.  You are going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.  
You are out with your dog that is reacting or afraid of things and you are frustrated and irritated, think about how this could be the very last day you are able to spend with your beloved family member; your dog and ENJOY the day, ENJOY the process of training your dog, and ENJOY the lessons you are learning from your dog.  These are some good times...  So take a good look around... You may not know it now, but your are gonna miss this...
You are at the park playing with your dog, savor it.  Remember it... Because you are going to miss it... You are going to want it back.  You are going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.  
You are out for a jog with your dog, take a moment and let him be a dog... Let him sniff that bush... Take a moment and TELL him HOW AMAZING he is!  Sit on a bench and look at the birds or watch the people walk by...  Because you are going to miss this... You are going to want this back.  You are going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.  
Take a moment and watch your dog sleep, watch him twitch as he dreams of chasing squirrels or frisbee’s.. Soak in the calm, the peace, the love you have for your dog.  These are some good times...  So take a good look around... You may not know it now, but your are gonna miss this...
When your dog barks at a dog, a person, your neighbors, the mail carrier, DON’T get mad, DON’T yell!  Realize that your dog is communicating...  Teach him what is acceptable in a nice humane way, work with him on the issue, manage the behavior if you can’t train it, let him bark if it is ok, and move on... Get over it... Do not let it get to you.  We talk, birds chirp, and DOG’S BARK.  Yep, one day you will even miss this, you may not know it now, but you will... 
The other day I was out on a walk with my dogs and a woman saw me give my dogs a treat.  ONE treat after about 20 or so steps of pure amazing, with me, prancing, beautiful loose leash walking and she said, “Oh, that is why they are walking so nicely”, “they are getting treats”.  I just smiled, said Thank you, and gave them all a few more treats.  That was a compliment in my eyes!  I am proud to give my dogs treats...  I am proud to walk them... I am proud because I know how much quality time and effort I spend with my dogs.  I wish more people could feel what I feel when I am with my dogs.  I wish more people spent time giving their dogs treats for walking nicely.  I wish more people enjoyed every second they have with their dogs.  I wish people REWARDED their dogs for all the great things their dogs ARE doing.  Because... These are some good times...  So take a good look around... You may not know it now, but your are gonna miss this...
Life is short and our dogs lives are shorter... This song made me think about how much I WILL MISS MY DOGS when they are gone.  When I spend time with my dogs, I am WITH my dogs... I am in the moment...  I am so happy to be able to be there with them, in that place, doing what we are doing! Because I am going to miss them... I am going to miss the amazing times we share... I am going to want these times back.  I am going to wish these days hadn’t gone by so fast.  
So, if I seem HAPPY it is because I AM!  
If I seem like I am enjoying being with my dogs, it is because I AM!  
If I seem to LOVE my dogs, it is because I DO!  
If I seem to be rewarding them more than others think I should, it is because THEY DESERVE IT.
By Pamela Johnson

P.S. Tasha & Dolce, Twix & I will cherish the time we spent with you both today!  It was a great day!  I hope we can spend many more fun times together!  :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

House Training - APDT Article

The keys to successful house training are: 

• Your dog will not eliminate in areas where he is not allowed to go. Using a crate is an excellent way to quickly housetrain a dog as a dog will generally not eliminate in the same space where it sleeps. 
• If a crate is not an option, you can also contain your pet in a small area of your house such as a kitchen or bathroom using baby gates. 
• Keep your dog confined at all times when you are not directly supervising (100%!) him until you are sure that he is housetrained. 
• Another method is to tie a leash to your dog and loop the leash handle through your pant’s belt loop, or tie the leash around your waist, so that the dog must be with you at all times. This also makes it easy for you to quickly move your dog outside if he starts to eliminate in the house. 

• By adhering to a consistent schedule for food, water and walks, you will pattern your dog to the desired behavior. 
• Do not leave food down in a bowl all day for the dog, but rather give him 15 minutes or so to finish whatever you give him to eat. Then, pick up the bowl when he is done. Your dog should always have access to water however.
• By controlling when and how much your dog eats and drinks, you can better predict when he will need to eliminate. 
• Puppies will tend to eliminate a few minutes before or after he eats or drinks water.
• Puppies will typically need to eliminate:
o When they first wake up in the morning;
o After a play session (or even sometimes during!);
o After a nap;
o Just after drinking;
o Just before or just after he eats;
o After chewing on a bone or chew toy
o If he hasn’t been out for an hour or two.
• Remember, young puppies are still developing control over their bladder so be patient and give them time to both learn, and to physically gain bladder control.
• If you have rescued an adult dog, the best tactic is to pretend your dog is an 8 week old puppy and start from scratch!

• Always praise your dog enthusiastically when he eliminates in the correct place, as this will let him know that he is doing the right thing by going outside. 
• NEVER hit or yell at your dog for eliminating in the incorrect place, or rub his nose in his mess. Punishing him is counterproductive as it teaches the dog that eliminating in your presence is a dangerous thing, but doesn’t teach them not to eliminate in the house at all.
• If your dog eliminated in the house, it is likely because he was simply unable to hold his bladder for that long, or he was not confined properly or supervised properly. Dogs do not eliminate in the house because they were “mad” at you or “vengeful.” If your dog urinated on your favorite couch or fancy rug, the ONLY thought that was on your dog’s mind at the time was “hey, I need to pee!”
• If your dog starts to eliminate while you are supervising, use a sharp “eh-eh!” or clap your hands to distract him, and then quickly 
scoop him up or leash him up and run outside. When he finishes going, praise him and reward him effusively.
• Praise him when he is outside and eliminating – do not wait for him to come back inside to praise him. Otherwise he will think he is being praised for coming back inside with you (which is a good thing, but immaterial to house training!).
• If you want him to eliminate in a certain area of the yard, bring him out to this area on leash and wait for him to eliminate. You can add in a “Go Potty!” cue while he is eliminating so he can associate this cue with his bodily function.

Odor Removal
• When your dog eliminates in the house, the most important thing is to remove all traces of the odor, or the dog will continue to eliminate in the spot. 
• Using common household cleaners is typically not enough, and using ammonia products will actually encourage your dog to return to the spot to go again since the cleaner residue is very similar to urine. 
• Use products sold specifically to eliminate pet urine and feces odors that you can purchase at most pet supply shops. Nature’s Miracle and Simple Solution are two brand names for such products.

Other Tips
• Try to avoid paper training. The dog is still learning it’s ok to go in the house, albeit in a certain area, and it will make housetraining him take longer. Crate training is a better alternative.
• Don’t expect a puppy to be fully housetrained until they are at least 6 months or older. Puppies have very little control over their bladders until this age.
• If you bring the dog outside and you think he needs to eliminate but he won’t, take him back inside and crate him for another 10-15 minutes and take him out to the same place again. Don’t assume that he didn’t need to go after all and then let him run around your house unsupervised.
• Always take the dog outside to urinate on leash. Wait patiently until he eliminates and then let him off leash to play. If you let him wander around the yard on his own until he urinates, and then go back into the house, he will learn that his fun play-time outside stops when he urinates. You want him to learn if I potty first the I get to play!
• Likewise, if you do not own a yard and must walk your dog on the street, take your dog outside and calmly wait for the dog to eliminate before proceeding with your walk. You want the dog to understand that his fun walk is the reward for eliminating. If the dog goes before he comes back in, the dog will wait longer and longer to go, and sometimes they will hold it until you bring them back inside.
• Finally, another useful method is to have a rolled up newspaper ready at hand. Every time your dog eliminates in the house, pick it up and hit yourself over the head while repeating, “I forgot to watch my dog! I forgot to watch my dog!” Remember, house-training accidents are your mistake, not the dog’s.

For more information on the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, 
visit our Web site at or call 1-800-PET-DOGS (738-3647) or email

Sunday, June 3, 2012

When CAN you START TRAINING a Puppy?

When can you start training your puppy?

This is such a common question.  Back in the OLD DAYS when people used correction based training, they would recommend waiting to train a puppy until they were 6 months old.  The reason for this was because the CHOKE chain could do damage to a puppy’s neck.  Well, the TRUTH of the matter is that a CHOKE chain WILL do damage to a dog of any age’s neck, spine, and can cause so many problems!  The other problem with waiting to TRAIN a puppy is that by 6 months of age the puppy could have MANY behavioral problems.  A few of these behavior problems could include jumping up on people, soiling the house, chewing up the furniture, barking for attention or barking at people that pass the house and pulling the owner while on leash.  If these are the only problems the owners are having then they are probably lucky. 
So, when should you start training your puppy?
My suggestion is to find a positive CLICKER trainer and start training your puppy the very day you bring him home.  You can start teaching him right away what is acceptable by REWARDING EVERYTHING the puppy does that you like.  Will the puppy make bad choices? YES!  However, it is the owners responsibility to teach the puppy what is acceptable.  Set your puppy up for success!  
Puppies are learning every moment of every day.  The question is: are they learning appropriate behaviors or inappropriate behaviors?  You can start formal and informal training with a puppy as young as 8 weeks old which is usually about the age that puppies go to their forever homes.  
Formal training is teaching the puppy cues (cues NOT commands) such as a positive interrupter, their name, sit, down, stay, come, and how to follow and pay attention to their new best friend “YOU”.  Teach your puppy what the clicker means by conditioning it.  Then check for understanding when the puppy is slightly distracted.  When you start clicker training with a puppy, you are teaching the puppy HOW to LEARN.  Train your puppy to look at you when you make an interrupter noise (I use a kissy noise).  Condition a kissy nose the same way you would condition the clicker (see the attached video called: Clicker Basics).  Kissy noise, then give a treat.  Repeat Repeat Repeat!  Then wait until your puppy is slightly distracted and make the kissy noise.  If your puppy looks at you, click (capturing his attention of looking at you), then give him a treat (of REAL meat or cheese).  Later down the road this can help you interrupt an unacceptable behavior in a way that is NOT threatening, punishing, or forceful in anyway shape or form.  Capture the behaviors that your puppy does naturally.  When your puppy sits, click and toss him a treat and wait for him to sit again.  Repeat Repeat Repeat.  Once the light bulb goes on, the puppy will realize that he made you click and got rewarded for sitting.  Next, you will put it on a verbal cue, but only do this when he is repeating the behavior of sitting multiple times without you asking.  To put a behavior on a verbal cue, say the cue before the dog does the behavior, then click and treat when the pup does the behavior.  Only say the cue if you would bet $100 that he is going to sit anyway.  In no time you will have a YOUNG puppy sitting and downing.  Train your puppy to give you attention without asking or nagging your puppy.  To do this wait until your puppy looks at you, and when he looks at you click and toss a treat.  When he looks at you again, click and toss another treat.  You can put it on a cue if you want, but eventually your puppy will know that he can get amazing things just for looking at you.  Sure you can use other methods such as luring, but I have found that TRAINING goes so much faster when the puppy learns the CORRECT behavior ALL ON HIS OWN.  
Informal training is teaching the dog the rules of the house and how to behave in his new environment.  To me informal training is the most important training of all...  If you just make the excuse, “he is just a puppy and doing puppy things” then your puppy IS going to learn unacceptable behaviors.  
The KEY is to set the puppy up to succeed.  How do you do that?  Well, you MANAGE your puppy.  You WATCH him 100% when he is out and about with you.  Put him on a harness and leash when he is in the house, so that he has only a few choices.  He can choose to wander a few feet away which will not earn him a reward, or he can come in close to your side which WILL earn him a reward.  If you have him on leash and you are watching TV, you can REWARD him when he calmly lays at your feet.  If you have him on leash, he can’t run off and potty behind a chair because you will be watching him and looking for signs that he needs to go potty.  When you see the sign you can take him outside to his spot and when he goes potty, you can REWARD him with a treat, a ton of verbal praise, and or a fun game of tug.  I like to explain it as if your puppy is a child that has not yet been potty trained.  You would not let your child run around the house without a diaper on, so don’t let your dog run around the house unsupervised.  This is TRAINING, you are constantly watching your puppy and REWARDING all of his wonderful decisions.  If you do not reward the good STUFF your puppy is doing, then he WILL find things to do that gets your attention.  This is what I call, “environmental learning”.  The puppy learns that when he is barking, you yell and pay attention to him.  So, he just learned a behavior that you really did not want him to learn.  Why NOT just be PROACTIVE and reward the puppy when he is quiet and behaving how you would like him to.  We often do not think about rewarding a QUIET puppy, but we should!  Behaviors that are rewarded tend to be repeated often.  So, if you reward the barking by yelling or paying attention to him when he barks, then you have just rewarded that behavior.  Negative attention is attention.  If you reward the quiet puppy at your side, then your puppy will learn to be quiet and hang out with you at your side.
Twix with an appropriate chew bone at 11 weeks old.
Twix learning to chill out on a dog bed outside.
Twix at 8 weeks before I brought him home to live with me.
Reward the good behaviors your puppy does, before he learns fun things to do on his own.  Reward your puppy when he is hanging out in the back yard by giving him an appropriate thing to chew on or a fun acceptable puzzle toy to play with.  If you just leave your puppy in the yard, he will find something fun to do!  Usually his idea of fun does not always match your idea of fun.  Tearing up the patio furniture is great fun for a puppy as well as digging big holes in the yard.  
Manage behaviors that you do not have time to train.  For example: A puppy might love to get into the dirty laundry.  Well, instead of punishing him for doing that, which let’s be honest, he did not really know any better.  He just knows that that dirty laundry smells really wonderful to him.  Personally, I feel that it is the owners fault for allowing the puppy access to the laundry in the first place.  However, to manage the puppy and prevent him from being able to practice the unwanted behavior is simple.  COVER THE LAUNDRY with a lid or DO NOT ALLOW the puppy in the room that the laundry is in.  Problem managed!  If your puppy likes to chew on shoes, DO NOT LEAVE OUT YOUR SHOES!  A puppy just knows that the shoes smell and taste really good.  He has no idea that you paid hundreds of dollars for those shoes or that they are your favorite shoes.  Again, it is your fault!  MANAGE the behavior by PREVENTING the puppy from having access to those off limit items. 
TRAIN your puppy the MOMENT you bring him home!  Give your puppy acceptable things to do, play fun games with him, teach him his name, teach him to find you, and teach him to follow you, which are all FUN games for a puppy!  TRAIN your puppy to do what you want him to do instead of PUNISHING him for doing what you do not want him to do.  The bottom line, DO NOT WAIT ONE MOMENT TO TRAIN YOUR PUPPY!  Learning is on going and ALWAYS happening.  So, from the very moment you bring your puppy home, start working with him and teaching him how to be a part of your family! 
By, Pamela Johnson

Here are a few videos that can help you with your puppy.
If you would like to learn more fun games to teach your dog to come when called every time you call him, check out my website at and go to my products page.  I sell a DVD that has tons of games, advice, training tips, and step by step directions of how to play each game.  The DVD is called Play-N-Train Recalls
I also sell a DVD on training a dog to have a ROCK SOLID STAY, LOOSE LEASH WALKING, and have multiple ebooks on training a dog to do tricks on my website at   
Puppies can also learn tricks! Puppies are sponges and can learn anything that you would like to teach them. 

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