The Ten Commandments (For Dog Owners)

Nefretiri: You will be king of Egypt and I will be your footstool!

Moses: The man stupid enough to use you as a footstool isn’t wise enough to rule Egypt.

The Ten Commandments (1956 film)

Boots and Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

I have a long history of standing by my statement that dogs are very simple creatures.  They definitely aren’t stupid. They’re refreshingly simple.  There’s not much subterfuge about them.  I’ve never cottoned much to people coming up with long lists of do’s and don’ts when it comes to dogs.  Why complicate such simplistically beautiful creatures, such as dogs are, with all kinds of clauses,  addendum and notations?  Still, humans tend to fare better when at least given the general direction of where to start with dogs, preferably written down.  In stone.  So I therefore present to you,

THE FIFTEEN COMMANDMENTS (FOR DOG OWNERS)

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tumblr_mvb7r9inVE1rxam8fo1_250 THE FIFTEEN TEN COMMANDMENTS (FOR DOG OWNERS)

1) THOU SHALT PILOT THY DOG.  Thy dog is not savvy unto the ways of the human world, for thine canine is but a canine,though created perfectly, as a canine.  

In other words, if you want a square peg to fit in a round hole, it’s going to need some help.  Both the square peg and the round hole may need to change and accommodate each other, but both need to change.  In most households, I see the dog is expected to adapt to living in a human world, whereas the humans are expected to merely expect the dog to accommodate them by changing into a human.  Dogs need Pilots.  Until they develop opposable thumbs, help them to understand this human world.  Answer their myriad of questions, whether it be as benign as “Hey, you going to eat that?” to as serious as “Is that other dog going to kill us?”.  Give them the answers they crave in the form of Piloting, and help them make sense of this place.  - Book of Kerry, Yes Way, No Way

2) THOU SHALT KEEP THEY DOG IN MOVEMENT. For  thine canine is not a machine, it has a heart which loveth thou deeply. Keep it pumping.

Your dog is not a mobile area rug, nor should you expect it to behave as one.  If you want a good dog, give your dog the Activity he craves, no just for his enjoyment, but for his well being.  A dog who is not exercised has plenty of demons.  Exorcise Exercise those demons.  - Book of Kerry, Calm

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3) THOU SHALT GIVE YOUR DOG A JOB.  Thine canine was created for a purpose, and a purpose he must have.

Don’t treat you dog like he’s stupid, because he ain’t.  He’s got a big ol’ brain in his head, designed to help him work with his pack to hunt his food.  Right now that huge cranium is being used to hunt down the last Cheerio from under the couch.  Treat a dog like a dog…like the intelligent, sentient being he is.  Give him food for his brain.  - Book of Kerry Blood(less) Sport

4) THOU SHALT NEVER PUNISH A DOG FOR BEING A DOG.  Thy canine has been created perfectly, as a canine. Thou shalt not punish him for not acting human.

You got a dog because you wanted a dog.  If you want another human, go on a date, realize it’s stupid, humans are dumb, and then get a dog, because dogs are so much better.

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 Don’t punish the dog because it doesn’t fully understand a human world, and doesn’t do human things.  Punishment is sick and gross, and so overrated. -Book of Kerry Shocking

5) THOU SHALT USE POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT LIBERLLY, BUT ONLY AS APPROPRIATE.  Thou shalt Pilot thy dog, not bribe thy dog.

You simply cannot use positive reinforcement for every single situation your dog gets into. Learn to identify when positive is merited (a lot more often than you’d think) and how to give it (it’s not just treats!).  Marking a behavior you like (housebreaking, calmness, or a trick) with positive reinforcement is only half the answer.  Making sure you don’t mark unwanted behaviors with positive is the other half.  - Book of Kerry Positive Influence

6) THOU SHALT REALIZE THE DEPTH OF DEVOTION THY CANINE HAS.  And thou shalt strive to be worthy of said devotion.

Your dog will only live 10-15 years.  Some less, some more.  Most of their time is spent waiting for you. For that brief moment of happiness they get when you spend just a little bit of time with them. For that quick “Hi Fido. Miss me today boy?” that they get in that five minutes between you coming home from work to let them out and you going out again for drinks with you friends.  It means the world to them.  You mean the world to them.  Be worthy of it. They spend their entire lives waiting.  Don’t let it be in vain.  Love them.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

7) THOU SHALT SCREW UP, AND THOU SHALT BE FORGIVEN.  Thy canine is but a canine, and thou art but human.  Forgive thyself as thy canine hast already done.

I stepped on Orion’s tail yesterday.  After I kicked him in the face during our walk.  I totally suck.  But he forgave me, and I forgave myself because I did the best I could. I look back at my first dog, Saint Darwin (he’s been canonized for this post), and I see so many things I would have done differently with him, but it was nearly 20 years ago.  I did the best I could.  If you can truly say that, then you’re forgiven.  Grudges are never held. That’s the beauty of the Church of Dog.

All is forgiven for those who are truly trying.

All is forgiven for those who are truly trying.

8) TOUGH SHALT NOT FEEL THE NEED TO LIKE THY CANINE AT ALL TIMES, FOR HE CAN TRULY BE AN ASSHOLE.  Yet thou shalt still remember to love thy canine despite his proclivity towards assholery.

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Sometimes you really want to murder your dog.  Usually over a new pair of shoes, or what is now 1 1/2 pairs of shoes.  Remember, your dog isn’t out to get you, your dog isn’t angry, and your dog isn’t “acting out”.  But that doesn’t help assuage your anger, though, does it?

I have a saying:  ”I’d rather say a mean thing than do a mean thing.”

I give you permission to call your dog is an asshole.  To not like him at the moment. To call him whatever name you want to (Hint:  ”Shitbird” has already been taken by Orion; Sparta is “Crazy Bitch”. I will never yell these names  at my dogs, because my dogs are not ever to be demeaned by yelling.  But calmly acknowledging that I don’t like them right now …well, that’s imperative.  I’m not going to pretend that I love working with Sparta’s dog reactivity, or that Orion’s anxious nature is something I had long dreamed to have in a dog.  I may not like these issues, but I’m the human, and it’s up to me to deal with them. And it’s ok not to like them.  But I will always love them.  No matter what they’ve done, I love them still. – Book of Kerry Time Out

9) THOU SHALT LOVE THE CANINE YOU HAVE, NOT THE CANINE YOU WANT.  For the canine thou want is but a mythical beast which lives only in thy imagination.

Sparta is dog reactive. Orion is hyper.  Not the dog I want, but always the dogs I’ll love.  I will never try to turn them into something they aren’t.  - Book of Kerry  What Could Have Been

10) THOU SHALT KNOWETH THAT THY CANINE IS UNIQUE, AND SHALL REMAIN SPECIAL IN YOUR HEART FOREVER.

Whomever painted this is either the most compassionate animal lover or an absolute masochist towards humans.  Crying yet?

One of a kind.  The best dog ever.  Mourn them when they’re gone.  Get a little weepy eyed when you see another dog walking down the street that looks exactly like your old dog, Rex.  They spend such a brief period with us…physically.  In spirit, though, let them linger on for as long as you breath, for that is truly the best monument to give to a dog: memory of them. A small smile and a misty eye are the best shrine your dog could ever have, even 30 years later.  And they deserved it.  Even after everything, they always deserve it.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

 

The Consistency Rule

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham


Trust is built with consistency – Lincoln Chafee

Something you’ll hear often with dog training is “Be consistent”. It’s important to make sure you follow through and answer your dog’s questions consistently.

Is that dog a threat? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.

Can I lick the coffee table? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.

Can I bark at the squirrel outside? Nope, not now, not in 10 min, not tomorrow.

Consistency. Making sure they get the same answer every time. Makes sense. Perfect sense. But sometimes, we put ourselves in positions where we need to step away and maybe we don’t follow through that one time.

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When you’re working with a dog on breaking a habit (barking, food aggression, nipping) emotions can get high. When I was first working with Porter on his food aggression it was an extremely frustrating situation. I knew I could not let my frustration get the better of me, and had to be calm and collect while working on the issue. However, I’m not a superhero.

There were days where I would get home from an exhausting day at work and I would be dreading what would be coming next. I would get in a calm state before feeding Porter, but I would find myself some nights, not being able to deal with the situation in a calm way. That’s when I would walk away.

I wouldn’t follow through those nights. Why? Because I knew it would not be constructive for me or Porter. I would be emotional and frustrated, which means he would feed off of that energy. When you’re dealing with a situation where emotion is involved on both you and your dog’s end, you need to make sure you’re the one calm and controlled. If you feel like you’re not going to be? It’s okay to walk away.

You’re not failing. That one time you have to walk away is not going to set you back months in progress. In fact, sticking around and trying to follow through when angry or upset will set you back. So, step away if you feel as though you can’t control your emotions. Go in the other room and reboot. Take a minute to gain your composure and then interact with your dog.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

It’s okay. We’re only human. We can’t be the picture of absolute perfection all the time. It’s just not realistic. So, accept that you’re human, accept that you can walk away from your dog if you have to, and then accept the fact that tomorrow you can try again.

Consistency is very important. But so is keeping a healthy and respectable relationship with your dog. So deep breaths, and try again tomorrow.

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

Time to Say “Goodbye”

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

“Remember me and smile, for it’s better to forget than to remember me and cry.”
― Dr. Seuss

All dogs can be rehabilitated.  I have never come across a dog that with the right mix of Piloting, Activity and Work, couldn’t be transformed into a dog who could properly bond with their human.

Unfortunately, sometimes the proper amount of Piloting is well-beyond what any human can reasonably be expected to give.  But that sure doesn’t stop them from giving.  At what point is it okay to say, “I can’t do this any more”?

Take, for instance, Sparta.  She is a wonderful dog, and I love her very much.  However, the amount of Piloting she requires is astronomical.  She is very dog aggressive, combined with a very fierce tendency to guard her “flock”.  Of course that doesn’t make her a bad dog….there is no such thing as a bad dog.  Unfortunately, though, that makes it very difficult for her to live in a human world without a monumental amount of Piloting.  I will never be able to be off-guard when taking her for a walk. I will never be able to have a friend of the family let themselves in our house.  Luckily, this is what I do for a living!  Piloting her is (relatively) easy for me because I have been doing this with dogs for over two decades.

But there is a promise between me and my family:  if I ever die, Sparta will be euthanized. Not because I don’t love her, but because I love her so much.  Nobody else in my house can safely walk her.  Nobody else in my house is as obsessed with Piloting her as me, and without a Pilot, Sparta is terrified.  Her terror then turns to aggression.  I answer every one  of her questions, no matter how many times she asks it, because I know that if she were to try to answer her own question (“Is this person a threat?”), the results would be disastrous, and would most likely involve severe injury to another dog or even a human.

Sparta is not a bad dog. She’s actually a great dog. Unfortunately, she is a horrible human.    No, she wasn’t abused, and nothing happened to make her this way.  It’s just who she is, and I love her for who she is.  The dog I have.  Not that dog think I should have.  

Huffington Post recently published an article by Trish McMillan Loehr about such issues, only in the reverse. A dog who had a horrible life, but was able to work into a family situation, quite well actually.     Lines that reverberated with me:

Ask any behaviorist what’s more important — nature or nurture — and they’ll answer “both.” Some dogs can be raised by the book, socialized to everything, and still become dangerously aggressive.

So please, pit bull lovers, stop saying “it’s all how they’re raised.” I know you mean well. But if you truly believe your words, no fight bust dog would ever be able to be adopted. And just look at the success of Michael Vick’s former fighting dogs.

 

If you truly believe “it’s all how they’re raised,” no stray shelter dog or abused dog would be safe to place in a home. I’ve worked with many animal victims of abuse — some have issues, it’s true — but many of them are just as resilient as Theodore.

 

Occasionally, an idyllic puppyhood still results in a dangerously aggressive adult dog. I’ve met those, too. And most dogs fall somewhere in between these extremes. Environment counts, but so do genes. Ultimately, all dogs are individuals, and that’s where we need to meet them.

“So just train it out of her”, some may say.  Training is different than Piloting.  Training involves a set of responses that are cued by a set of circumstances.  For example, when I say “sit”, Sparta sits.  The word triggers the action. Piloting involves questions.  You can’t always train questions.  Remember, you can’t train a dog, especially a naturally protective one, to accept every single other dog as part of their pack.  But what you can do is Pilot them, and answer their questions about this dog or that dog.  In other words, it isn’t all encompassing.  In human standards, it would be the same as my training you to trust all humans merely because they are human.  The thought is silly, and quite contrary to the interest of self-preservation.

Sparta was trained to hold random objects.  She was Piloted through her questions on how to do it.

Sparta was trained to hold random objects. She was Piloted through her questions on how to do it.

Usually, the more you Pilot a dog, the less you have to Pilot a dog.  Sparta and I have passed a great many dogs on our walks without incident because I have always answered her questions about them.  Sometimes it is literally just a tap on the leash with my ring finger (“No, we aren’t hunting that squirrel”) to “shutting the door” on her.  The very act of answering a question makes her more in tune with me.  She naturally starts to look at me, rather than that other dog she’s just spotted, to gauge my reaction.  I look bored, so she figures it’s not a big deal.  Again, sometimes that’s not enough of an answer for her, so I have to use more Piloting.

Sparta is a dog, and her reactions to other dogs and other humans (read: non-pack) is well within normal and healthy for a typical canid.  Just as all humans don’t exhibit the same amount of sociability, neither do dogs.  The difference between humans and dogs in this instance is that humans are living in a human world, one that we understand.  We know that the man coming to our door isn’t going to kill us… he’s merely delivering the mail.

Not every dog lives with someone who is willing Pilot them so readily.  Most dogs haven’t been abused or taught to react this way.  There was no trigger for them to start asking so many questions, with such dangerous results if they answer the questions themselves.  So at what point is it okay to say “goodbye”?  That’s the question I started off with.

When is it okay to put a healthy dog down due to the level of questions being asked, and the intensity with which they answer their own questions?  I firmly believe the humans come first.  The concept of euthanizing an otherwise healthy dog is always tragic, but sometimes necessary.  Rehoming is not always an option.  That’s like handing over a lit stick of dynomite to someone without warning them what happens when the fuse runs out.  That isn’t solving the problem, it’s shifting responsibility.  The dog typically still ends up asking a question that isn’t answered, and it ends badly.  Sometimes the end result involves a child.

Yes, it feels good to save these types of dogs, be can’t, and shouldn’t, save them all.  There aren’t enough facilities for the “low-key” dogs.  The ones whose toughest questions are “Can I play with that?” or “Can we go for a walk?”.  These dogs are being put down.  If these dogs can’t find a home, why would someone take such a risk as to try to rehome a dog who is known to be aggressive?  Again, that is merely shifting responsibility.  The problem is that we want to save them all. The result is we can’t.  It’s like trying to shove ten pounds of gold in a five pound bag.  There just isn’t room.

Some people will get judgemental about this post.  Saying that you never give up on a animal.  That they never gave up on their animal. Ah…if only everyone could be in the same situation they are, able to never give up on their animals.  But we all aren’t.  Sometimes there are young children in the house.  Sometimes someone becomes ill or infirm.  Sometimes that beautiful, adorable puppy grows up and has severe guarding issues. Sometimes thing just can’t safely work out.  Again, this isn’t about giving up.  This is about knowing when it’s time to say a necessary “goodbye”.

This post is to a dear friend, “M”, who today will be saying goodbye.  She is a true Pilot, and a wonderful human being.  Please share your support for the difficult, painful decision she has had to make today.  Thank you, M, for your dedication to your dog. Just because the ending isn’t how you expected it to be doesn’t mean you didn’t see it through to to the end.

My girl Sparta.  I will love you forever.  I love you enough to never leave you without a Pilot.

My girl Sparta. I will love you forever. I love you enough to never leave you without a Pilot.

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Kidding Around

“A child is a curly dimpled lunatic.” 
  — Ralph Waldo Emerson, poet

“Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”
— Margaret Mead, cultural anthropologist

My children have been an endless source of frustration learning for me.  Mostly, learning exactly how much patience I have.  But frequently, learning to look at things from a perspective other than an adult human’s, and consequently, it has changed how I work with dogs.  And it’s for the better.

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River, Eric and Orion cuddled up on a cold day.

So, here we go.  Lessons taught to me by my children.  Or at least the ones that are fit to print.

Perception is Based on Experience
Lesson taught by Eric, age 3

Eric (9) teaching Echo the basics of agility.

Eric (9) teaching Echo the basics of agility. And yes, he succeeded.

When my son Eric was 3, we had a very edifying conversation.  We were in the car, on our way back from a trip to the dentist, and Eric wanted to know why we brush our teeth.

“Well,” I explained, taking the imperious, condescending tone that parents sometimes accidentally take, “Right now you have practice teeth.  If you take good care of your practice teeth, and brush them and don’t eat too many sweets, they will eventually fall out, so you can get your grown-up teeth!”

Eric was quiet for a few moments. Then a tiny voice came from the backseat, “Do we get to keep our eyeballs?”

Yes, that little quip of his warranted an entry into a journal I keep entitled “Eric’s Deep Thoughts”.  It’s years in the making now, and the hits just keep on coming.  It’s easy enough to laugh at such a silly question, but when I look at it through his eyes, it’s suddenly not so funny anymore.  The boy was actually worried that his body parts were just going to start falling off, willy-nilly.  Which ones were for keeps, and which ones were going to stick with him?  After all, he’s new to this whole “being human” thing.  He’d only been on the planet for 3 year at that point.  At least he was able to finally voice those questions once he learned speech.  Unfortunately for our dogs, though, they are unable to voice all the questions and concerns they may have, and most humans are unwilling unable to realize that their dogs are trying to communicate, and have many, many questions.  It’s just they use body language to communicate them.

When I first got Orion, he was not quite 5 lbs. of nervous energy.  He was actually pretty well behaved.  While he had never been abused, he had not been exposed to very much outside stimulation and sensory input (he lived on a farm previously).  The first time I took him for a walk on a leash, he did ok for it being his first time…until a car went by.  It looked like he was being electrocuted. And then he threw up.

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It’s easy to say he was just being a baby, or that he was spoiled, but look at it from his point of view: he’d never seen a car in his life.  He was terrified, and rightfully so.  Here was this huge beastly thing coming straight at him.

Imagine taking someone from the 17th century and showing them a moving car.  Yeah…same response.  Just because you know and understand something doesn’t mean your dog does. Remember, their questions are legitimate.  Their fears are legitimate.  Make sure you don’t dismiss them simply because you understand what’s going on.

The Power of Calm
Lesson Taught by River, age 5

Sparta fixing River's hair.  When you don't have a sister, you make do.

Sparta fixing River’s hair. When you don’t have a sister, you make do.

A story I tell during most of my sessions is what happened when my daughter, River, had to get her kindergarten shots. River asked the dreaded question: “Mom, what’s a shot?”

My mind raced.  I wanted to try to soothe her, to tell her it wasn’t a big deal, and it was just a tiiiiiiiny little needle.  In other words, I wanted to lie to her.  This is what came out instead:

“They take a needle, they jab it in your arm, it hurts, you cry, and then we go out for ice-cream.”

I was horrified even as the words tumbled out of my mouth.  Her response?

“Okay”.

And that is exactly how the vaccination went. It hurt.  She cried (just a little, though), and then we went out for ice-cream.  I didn’t give her a phony answer, I remained calm, and I didn’t try to fake her out, or assuage my feelings by adding energy to the situation. I allowed calm to dictate the moment, and River hung onto that like a life raft.  Yes, she lost control (for a brief moment…it hurt!) but she was able to see that I wasn’t acting too worried about it, and she got herself back under control very quickly.

I have that incident in my mind every time I work with a dog reactive dog.  Every time I’m dealing with a frightened dog, or a dog with severe anxiety.  It even makes its way into my personal life with my dogs.  Calm gets me what I want – more calm.  Words (especially yelling) and out-of-control body language only adds energy.  Also, I’m the human/adult.  It’s not my job to try to make myself feel better about the situation through phony, soothing, or by jabbering on and on. A calm, solid, confident presence is what my child/dog needs, and that is exactly what I will give them.

I had a client recently who has a toy poodle named Lizzy.  Lizzy had a plethora of issues, including an inability to go down the front stairs.  She was terrified.  Not sure why, but it didn’t matter.  Her question was still the same: “Should I be afraid?”.  And my answer didn’t waiver:  ”Nope.”  I took her leash and walked without pause, right down the front steps with her. Not a pause.  Her owner couldn’t believe it.  I had her do it.  She had been carrying Lizzy up and down those steps for all 7 years of Lizzy’s life, when all Lizzy needed was an answer.

So those times your dog is scared of another dog, or reacting badly at the vets office, think of how you are reacting. Are you yelling, screaming, and restraining, or are you a bastion of calm, answering your dog’s questions (like this).  And the beautiful thing is, the more you do it, the less you have to do it.

Nothing Personal
- Taught by Eric, age 2 1/2

There’s a story my husband likes to tell about our son, Eric. When Eric was about 2 1/2, he decided to try a little experiment on me.  Now, I should point out that Eric has always been an easy child.  Decadently so.  We never had the “terrible two’s” with him.  I can count on one hand how many tantrums that child has thrown in his 10 years on this planet.  However, from the very beginning, Eric has been a very analytical child, always asking questions and silently filing away the answers for future reference.  So, like all other children, it was only natural that he start experimenting and testing How Things Worked.

My husband and I were in the kitchen where Eric toddled up to me. He called my name, and I looked down at him.  ”Momma, we-cree peas?”, which was Eric-speak at the time for “May I please have some whipped cream?”.  I answered him in the negative, whereupon I returned my attention to the groceries I was putting away.  According to Michael, who was watching this exchange, Eric looked pensive for a moment, and then had an idea light across his face.  Eric then toddled over to me, whacked me on my derriere and immediately looked up with a smile on his face, as if to say, “That should do the trick”.  Without a pause, I spun around, snatched his arm and pirouetted him around so I could give him a return thwack on his diaper-clad bum, and then sent him on his way.  He essentially shrugged as if to say, “Well, apparently that’s not how I’m supposed to do it”, and toddled off to go play with his Megablocks.  The incident was never repeated.

Eric wasn’t trying to be a jerk, nor was he necessarily angry at the negative answer he received.  He was merely trying to see if it was a negotiable answer, or if there was a way he could change the answer.  That doesn’t make him a bad kid (if anything my respect went up for him in that moment).  He was merely trying to figure out where the boundaries were.  Where the double yellow line was that he shouldn’t cross.

Your dog is doing the same thing.  When they “won’t listen”, ask yourself why.  Is it because they don’t understand?  Is it because they are trying to figure out their place in this pack?  Or is it because they’re scared?  Dogs are rational creatures, and contrary to what many believe, do not operate on anger, nor on revenge.  A dog doesn’t “get back” at you.  A dog is a dog, wanting only to figure out this human world they’re in, and where that double yellow line is.

The Power of Work
Eric and River, the rest of their lives

I’m pretty strict in my house.  My kids have chores, and they’re non-negotiable.  They do dishes every night (and at 7 and 10 respectively, they’ve gotten pretty good at it).  They are in charge of bringing groceries from the car to the house, and then unpacking them.  They also have set “clean house” days where they are at my disposal for most of the day, usually doing things like cleaning the bathroom or wiping down all he baseboards in the house.  Some days it take a couple hours.  Some days it takes a few minutes.  I never hear complaints, because I will not tolerate them.  Also, because it’s always been that way.

Now, I sound like some evil stepmother from a children’s book, but the thing is, when my kids perform age appropriate work (which, let’s face it, can still be stressful), they get a positive.  Sometimes it’s a piece of candy.  Sometimes it’s more computer time.  Once Eric got a tablet for simply doing the dishes well.  Sometimes it’s nothing more than a hug and a “great job!”.  But there’s always a positive attached at the end of the stress/work.  That builds confidence.

My dogs are required to work, too.  There’s no free meal in my house – no food bowls (water 24/7, though).  My dogs eat exclusively out of enrichment toys.  Work give them food (a positive) which then translates into more self confidence (and no issues with boredom-related destructive behaviors).  Learn how to get started here.

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Eric and River doing their expected chores. Um, in their pj’s. Not sure what that’s all about…let’s just run with it.

 

One of the greatest quotes I’ve ever heard came from a super sexy science bad ass man name Bill Nye.

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.”

Bowties are cool

Bowties are cool

You can learn from anyone. Everyone. That, in my opinion, especially means children.  I love that quote because as our population grows, so does the amount of children in our word.  Children who can help us open our eyes to see things in ways we forgot.  To help us open our minds.

Ah...now I recall!

Ah…now I recall!

Don’t negate one of the best sources of learning you have – your children.  I love doing training sessions with children, because they give the best answers. They are all in and willing to try new ways of doing things. They are fearless, and aren’t worried about failure.  They take failure as just another lesson learned, and move on from it.  Maybe it’s time to act like a child.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Staying Calm on the Trail

 

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned – Buddha

A nice walk through the Metroparks or trails can turn from relaxing to anxiety ridden quickly when you’re dealing with other owners and their dogs on the trails. There are many owners out there that aren’t aware of the dog walking etiquette. You know, the basics, such as not using a retractable leash, not letting their dog come straight up to yours, not taking up the entire path. I’m sure you’ve seen those owners out there.

These situations come up constantly, and it’s important to remember that you will get through them with your dog. The best way to get through these situations is to focus on the Piloting basics.

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

1. Control Yourself

So you see a dog on a leash and no owner. Oh wait, no the owner’s there just 10 feet behind the dog. All of a sudden you’re on high alert and frustrated with the other owner. But, the best way to get you and your dog through the situation successfully is to let those feelings of frustration and anxiety go. Your dog will immediately pick up on the energy that you’re feeling. The minute you start to feel anxious, so will your dog. The best way to handle the free willing dog ahead is to be calm and confident. Fake it if you have to, but pretend as though it’s the most boring situation ever and so will your dog. Remember to keep that strong body language and confidence throughout your entire walk. You know what you’re doing! So start believing in yourself!

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

 2. Control the Situation

Let’s be honest, you can’t control other people’s stupidity actions. So, focus on what you can control. Your dog. User your instincts and the knowledge that you have of your own dog to judge the situation.

If you feel as though stepping to the side of the trail and placing yourself in between your dog and the oncoming dog is the best solution, then do that!

But if you feel that moving past the situation is the best, then go ahead. Keep on walking past the situation.

No matter what you decide the best course of action is, you need to make sure that you’re following up on the third and final step of Piloting…

Boots and Bee Photography - By Brittany Graham

Boots and Bee Photography – By Brittany Graham

 3. Answer the Yes or No Question

If you choose to use your body as a blocker, start by facing your dog and putting your body in between Fido and the oncoming dog.  When you do this you’re claiming the situation and your dog’s energy. Don’t move forward until your dog has accepted that the other dog is not a threat. The goal is to have your dog focused on anything but the unruly dog coming your way. Once your dog is calm, then move forward again.

If you feel that it is best to move past the situation, focus on your dog and walk him past the oncoming dog. Do not stop or change your pace. Just keep moving forward, you may have to give your dog small tugs to gain his attention again. Before you know it you’ll be past the stressful situation and enjoying your walk again.

You can apply the Piloting steps to any situation you may face on your walks. It’s never fun to encounter another owner who does not know how to control their dog. But, you’ll be able to get past it and soon you’ll be building your confidence along with your dog’s!

Keep calm and pilot on

Danika Migliore
Darwin Dogs, LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, OH

 

Pit Stop

“Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.”

― Sherrilyn Kenyon

A pit bull attacked another dog on Wednesday. The incident happened at a PetSmart in Georgia.  Frankly, I’m not surprised that the pit attacked.  Because he’s a pit?  No, don’t be stupid.  Because he’s a dog.

Breaking down the situation, here’s what happened according to Fox 5:

Mitch Philpott, 66, of Newnan, said he had headed down an aisle where the Pit Bull and its owner had been looking at merchandise.  Philpott said he asked the owner if her dog was okay and proceeded to pass her and the dog.  He said the Pitt Bull grabbed his Great Dane by the head and ear and bit him several times.

 

In a police report FOX 5 obtained, the Pitt Bull owner, Suzanne Peterson, told officers that she gave Philpott a verbal warning that she was not sure how her dog would respond to his dog and to stay away please.  The report quotes her as saying that Philpott continued anyway and said, “it’s okay, their tails are wagging.”  Philpott told Fox Five he never said that to the woman.

So who is wrong in this incident?  Both humans.  I’m not saying that the incident was deserved by anyone (let alone the dogs), but it was brought about by selfish owners.

Let’s take a step back here and dissect the scenario.  No, I really don’t care who said what and who did and did not control their dog.  However, it should be pointed out that this was obviously a fear-based “stay away from me” rather than an attack.  If it were an attack, there would have been actual serious damage, if not death, to either dogs or owners.  But I stand by my accusation that both owners were selfish.  Why?

Take a look at the average pet store where you can bring in your dog.  Narrow aisles for dogs to pass closely by each other.  You may say that the aisles are wider than grocery store aisles, but I can also say that Bill Cosby (who allegedly raped unconscious women he drugged) isn’t quite as bad as Jared Fogle (who allegedly raped conscious children).  It doesn’t matter.  Neither is a good choice for a dinner date.

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I think we can all agree that given a choice between the two, Cosby and Fogle, the answer is a resounding neither.  The same goes for aisles that are too narrow, or an aisle that is a little less too narrow.  The answer is neither.

Compound that with extreme stimulation.  Your dog isn’t happily going shopping with you for doggie supplies, as you’ve fooled yourself into selfishly thinking. Your dog is in a confined area with a lot of food and treats that they may resource guard, or have to be on the defensive against other resourcing guarding dogs.  And by the way, that other dog isn’t just another dog.  It’s another dog who is just as overstimulated as every other dog in the place.  Some are resource guarding. Some are desperately trying to guard themselves and their owners (as I believe was the case with the pit).  Others are too goofy to know this is a horrible situation and act all kinds of crazy, thereby increasing the (negative) energy of all the other dogs.

Remember, that idiot jacking his dog up in the car before he even gets into the store will be sharing close quarter aisle space with your dog.  Add to it the fact that the dog is under no semblance of control once they are in the store (the owner is following the dog around at the end of the leash like a moronic cow).

I will not bring my dogs into pet stores for this very reason.  There are many frightened, hyper, out of control bundles of energy in there.  And that’s just the people.  By being selfish and getting that “I Brought My Beloved Pup Into The Store” high that people so desperately want, we are actively ignoring all the warning signs of a dangerous situation, and blithely moving forward.  YOU are the adult human.  YOU are the one with opposable thumbs.  YOU are the one who should be realizing that this is a dangerous situation.  Even if your dog is very chill and well behaved and you Pilot the hell out of them….where is your guarantee that every other person in there is the same way? You don’t have one.  Suck it up. Find other ways to get that rush of “I Spoiled My Dog Today” high that you are so desperately seeking.

“Oh, but Fifi loves it so much!!!”

And I loved cutting class when I was in high school.  Believe me, that was not the answer my parents gave my principal when I was caught: “But she loves cutting class so much!”.

Yeah, I got grounded 6 months with another 6 month probation.

Yeah, I got grounded 6 months with another 6 month probation.

And now I’m grateful for their harsh punishment.  It helped turn me into a functional adult.

Point is, parenting, whether it be a dog or a human, involves tough choices.  Yes, it’s not always fun, and it most definitely involves handing down decisions that you’d rather not, but that’s why you’re the adult. That’s why you have the opposable thumbs.  Because you’re the one who is supposed to use rational thought rather than emotional reactions. So I blame anyone who subjects their dogs to this situation. I don’t care that Rover, a Lab who is 14 years old, loves going and has never bit anyone in his life.  Don’t do it.  The same way I don’t drive my kids around without their seat belts buckled.  ”Well, we’ve never gotten into an accident yet, I’m a careful driver, and my kids are well behaved.”  It’s just as stupid and reckless.  Yes, I can control my kids, my behavior, and perhaps even my car, but I can’t control situations around those things.

Finally, I blame PetSmart, Petco and all those other big box stores that allow pets into their store.  Simply to raise revenue and profit, they cater to the irresponsible people who bring their pets in, thereby putting the animals at risk.  Yes, the owners should know better than to bring them in, but I’ve already established that the owners are not always in the right frame of mind, and (if I’m going to be generous here), misinformed and didn’t know better.  Know who else operates on the same basis as these pet stores?

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A dog was put in a tough situation.  He was uncomfortable. He was nervous, and scared.  And he reacted the way a dog (or human) can be expected to react when pushed beyond their limits.  The real story isn’t about a dog who defended himself from attacked another dog.  This story is not about pits being aggressive, nor is about pits in general.  This is about failure.  Dogs being failed by their owners, and being failed by the very stores who are designed to benefit them.  All to boost their profitability.

End it now. Don’t bring you dog into such a situation.  If you want that “I Spoiled My Dog” rush, spend more time with them. Teach them agility. Teach them a trick.  Pilot them. Give them what the need, and stop trying to buy the wag of your dog’s tail. Earn it.

Keep calm and pilot on

 

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

No

She Speaks Eighteen Languages, and Can’t Say “No” in Any of Them – Mae West

The PAW Method:  Piloting, Activity and Work.  That’s all you need to raise a well-adjusted puppy.  It’s what keeps your adult dog happy and sane.  It’s what enables your senior dog to feel safe while in your care.  You can not remove any of these key components from your dog’s life, nor can you attempt to substitute love and affection.  Love and affection are what you want.  Give your dog the Piloting, Activity and Work that your dog needs, and then you can give all the love and affection that you want.  

Some dogs are easy.  Some dogs are harder, and require a lot from us.  Just always remember, they aren’t trying to make your life harder: they’re trying to make theirs more comfortable.  Again, give them what they need, and you get what you want. Sometimes those things conflict.  You want to give them love and affection, but right now, what they need is Activity.  You want to try to soothe them in a scary situation, but what they need is for you to Pilot them through a very scary situation.  That’s how we get well-adjusted, happy pets, who trust you to take them through even the scariest vet trip.

Unfortunately, the more regimented a training method is, the better we think it is.  Here’s the thing, though:  dogs are simple creatures.  Not stupid, but simple.  So when working with a beautifully simple creature, I like to take a cue from their behavior and keep it simple.   I loathe rules that govern your every move with a dog.  From how you’re supposed to feed them (when you’re ready!) to which side you keep them on during a walk (I recommend the outside).

Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend.  Inside a dog, it's too dark to read. - Groucho Marx

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside a dog, it’s too dark to read. – Groucho Marx

Seriously, let’s loosen the corsets, let your hair down, and relax.  Working with you dog isn’t that complicated; it just involves logic. Let’s start with HOW you communicate with your dog.

COMMUNICATION

I’m going to throw you a curveball here:  dogs don’t use noise to communicate.  I know what you’re going to say: your dog makes a lot of noise, right?  Well, let’s look at the times your dog makes noise:

  • When there’s someone at the door, they bark, which causes you to move towards them to investigate.
  • If you accidentally step on a dog, they squeal, and you instantly jump off of them.
  • When a dog growls at you, they’re trying to back you off.
  • When a dog wants you to start playing, they do that adorable butt-wriggle while doing short yippy barks.
  • When dog is alone, they start howling and crying to try to bring you back.

What do all these things have in common?  Movement.  Energy.  The more noise a dog makes, the more energy they are trying to evoke in you.  Noise = energy.  Think about the kind of music that’s played a nightclub vs. a funeral home.  The more noise, the more pumped up you are. Or talk to my mom on the phone for 5 minutes.

Yeah Mom..but- Mom I gotta g-... Mom, I need to hang u-....but, but....

Yeah Mom..but- Mom I gotta g-… Mom, I need to hang u-….but, but….

Noise equals energy.  We don’t want more energy in our dogs, we want mobile area rugs.  Dogs who are content to just lay in one place for hours because they’re not full of energy form all the yelling.  Dogs don’t communicate with noise, it’s only there to give energy.  Less noise (i.e., talking, yelling, shouting), the less energy you’re giving to your dog. Got it?

No joke!

No joke!

Dog’s don’t communicate using noise, they communicate using body language.  (Hint: so do we).  So let’s use our mutually agreed upon language: body language.

The good news is that dogs are binary creatures: they live in a world of hot or cold, true or false, yes or no.  There is no other option for them.  So every question they ever “ask” you will be a yes or no question, and every answer will be yes or no.  And no does not mean they are bad…”no” is simply the opposite of yes.  Try playing “Hot or Cold” by only using “hot” or “cold”.  No is simply a viable answer.  For example, if I asked you if I could pull off a mullet, your answer might (and should be):

giphy-2

Perfectly reasonable answer.  Or if I asked if you knew Vader was your father:

Yeah, I didn't see that coming either.

Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either.

So “no” is kept unemotional.  There should never be anger (looking at you, Skywalker), frustration, or punishment associated with “no”.  It’s merely an answer.

“Can I have that food on the floor?”

“Is that other dog a threat?”

“Can I chew on this cord?”‘

Obviously, the answer to all of these questions is “no”.  Give your dog the answer they need, rather than the answer you think they want, and you’ve unlocked the key to Piloting a dog. And good news:  the more often you Pilot a dog (answer their questions), the more they start to actively look for you to answer their questions.  Then you have a virtuous cycle started!

Check back on Monday for our post on how to tell your dog “no” in a humane, respectful way. Hint: if you’re using punishment, you’re doing it wrong.  Until then,

Keep calm and pilot on

Kerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training In Cleveland, Ohio

Home

Be grateful for the home you have, knowing that at this moment, all you have is all you need.

 - Sarah Ban Breathnach

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

So you’ve done your research and done a good job of it.  I’ve made an educated decision about which dog you’d like to adopt, and there he sits in the backseat of your car, on your way home.  You’ve got the the dog food, the vet appointment is set up, and perhaps you’ve even made an appointment with a dog trainer to get off on the right paw foot.

So now what do you do?

Here’s a step by step on how to acclimate your dog to their new home. It’s all about stages and not overwhelming a dog at any point.

1) On the way home, in the car, give your new family member plenty of time to sniff you. Give him a positive (a tiny reward or at least some praise and petting) every time.  What you are doing is linking your smell to a positive.  You’re a good thing.  That will translate later when he’s in a house that smells like, well, you.

Scent is a very important thing for humans.  We bond through scent.  We cradle babies by our armpits so they can smell us and be relaxed.  We hug for the same reason – sharing scent.  How often has a crying baby been brought in to snuggle with mom, and then, without nursing or anything, instantly falls asleep?  They smell mom and feel soothed.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

For a dog, nothing smells safer than pack.  Pack is like a security blanket, and the bigger that blanket is, the better it smells.  You are the dog’s new pack.  Familiarize him with the scent as much as you can.  Providing a lot of positive combined with your scent makes it a very comforting thing for new pooch needs.

2) Take your dog immediately into a quite, secluded area of the house.  If you’ve set a crate up for them, put them in the crate and just quietly hang out by them for a while, again, equating your scent with the safety of the crate.  The crate isn’t a bad thing, it’s their “bedroom”.  A place that is safe and entirely theirs.  Allow them to become familiar with it immediately.

3) Give frequent potty breaks.  A lot of shelters will say that a dog is housebroken because the dog never messed in their cage.  While they aren’t lying, the dog may not be housebroken.  A lot of dogs will not eliminate in their cage or crate.  Start off on the right foot immediately by following the basic rules for housebreaking, outlined here.

Don’t get upset if your dog marks in the house.  This can be quite normal for the first day.  A lot of dogs will do it once or twice, and then never do it again.  They are merely adding their own scent to the house, often as a way to self soothe.

4) Put yourself in the Pilot position.  I say over and over again that Piloting is a huge piggy bank, and whomever has the most money wins the position.  Start adding money to your bank immediately, before your dog has any chance to add money to their bank.  Don’t allow them to jump on you.  Don’t allow them to demand your attention (a dog version of “may I please be pet” should always be expected).   Start answering their questions now.  They’re going to want to know the rules of the house, so be kind enough to give them the answers.  Some answers are “yes” and some are “no”.  Read here to find out how to give it to them.

5) Take them for a (calm) walk.  No, not in the Metroparks, or downtown.  Try your backyard.  Somewhere that still sorta smells like pack, but will still require a leash (yes, even if your yard is fenced in).  You are adding even more money to your Piloting piggy bank.  If you need some help with leash walking, read this series on how to do it without drama.  Remember to praise and reward for any potty activity that takes place outside.

6) Put your dog on a leash and walk them around your house, allowing them to sniff and smell.  They are familiarizing themselves with the area, and it feels safer to explore if their Pilot/New Best Friend is doing it with them.  Remember, though, a lot of dogs have never been acclimated to living in a house.  Some may not know the rules.  They’re dogs not humans, so be prepared for some crazy behavior, such as jumping on tables or counters to investigate, etc. You have them on a leash so you can easily answer their question, which is, “Is this acceptable?”  Um….no, Fido.  Not in the slightest.

Do not allow your dog full run of the house immediately.  Start with small areas, and has your trust in them grows, go ahead and add areas of freedom for them.  Baby gates are integral for this.

Brittany Graham Photography

Brittany Graham Photography

7) Bedtime.  Ah…this can be the hard part.  You’ve set yourself up as Pilot, your dog is (mostly) acclimated to the house.  But now comes the scary part…being alone all night.  If you want your dog to sleep in bed with you, go for it.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  However, if the dog is to sleep elsewhere, you have to help them prep for this.  The worst thing you can do is try to pop the pup in the cage for the night without any prep work.

You are going to do a crash course in separation anxiety.  The first time he’s alone in his crate shouldn’t be for 8 hours while you’re (trying) to sleep.  Put him in the crate for five minutes, leave the room, come back and let him out.  Now try for 15 minutes.  You are creating normalcy out of being alone in the crate. Pop him in and out of the crate all day, focusing on longer and longer periods of time.   Think of it as dress rehearsal for the big show.  Trust me, you’ll thank me for this when it’s bed time.  For a more detailed description on separation anxiety, read this article.

Wash, rinse repeat.  Some dogs take 5 minutes to feel comfortable in new home.  Other take a little longer.  Take your time.  Don’t rush them.  They’re worth the wait.

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Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio

Brittany Graham Photography

Puppy Playdates

Life must be lived as play.
- Plato

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Brittany Graham Photography

A tired pup is a good pup. One of the best ways to tire out a dog is to let another dog tire him out for you. Dog people like other dog people. Which means, at one point or another, a friend of yours has come up with the fantastic idea of coming over and bringing their dog with them. Immediately you are all for it and can only see the positives. Then, after you solidify a date, the questions start. How is their dog going to react to a new home? How will my dog react to having another canine in his home? What kind of boundaries and rules do they set up for their dog?

The best way to start off a play date is for all of you to go on a Piloted walk right away (no manic pups running rampant on retractables). This solidifies that you accept the other dog and owner as “pack” and therefore your dog will too. This also allows time for both dogs to get used to each other’s scent. The more the scent is familiar the less exciting and foreign it is. Even if your dogs have played together before, it’s never a bad idea to go on a walk before. Again, you’re re-familiarizing your dogs to each other. Don’t allow the dogs to play together until they both are calm. If you decide to go on a walk, have one dog enter the house and wait calmly. The second dog must be calm before entering the house. When you feel that you have control over the situation with both dogs in it, they can then interact with each other.

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Brittany Graham Photography

You are Pilot, which means you have to protect your pup if you need to. If you feel that the other “playmate” is behaving in a way that is making you or your dog uncomfortable, claim your dog.  Use the same body language outlined in The PAW Method at the dog park or during a doggie play date. Place yourself between your dog and the visiting dog with strong body language to communicate your ownership of your own dog. It is also best to remove any high value toys that may be around (i.e. rawhides, antlers). These toys can bring out some resource guarding tendencies in either dog, even if you haven’t been aware of them.

As far as rules go, think of the saying “my house, my rules”. Dogs that come to visit me, have to abide by the same rules that my own dog does. I use my body language to let the visiting dog know what is allowed and what is not. The same thing goes for my two legged visitors. If I feel as though my dog needs a break but the other owner wants to let them continue to play, I’m not afraid to use gentle confident body language to make my point. By standing up straight and placing myself in between both dogs, I’m saying, “No, not right now”, not only with my voice but with my body too, but in a gentle way. Your pup is looking to you for direction and protection as you are their Pilot. That means being smart with what you allow and how you react to certain situations. Having a “doggy play date” has so many benefits. The best part is, after your dog’s friend leaves, they will be looking forward to some catching up on some sleep.

Easy Rider

    It is better to travel well than to arrive.

    Buddha

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Summer!  Road trips to the beach! Travel to the park!  Go! Go! Go!  If you’re like me, once the weather breaks, you want to be outside doing, well, …something. Sparta, Orion and I love hiking once the weather breaks (technically, Sparta likes hiking before the weather breaks – Orion and I are too delicate).  Part of the fun, though, is discovering new areas to hike.  We live in Lakewood, and are very familiar with the trails around the Rocky River Reservation, but several times a week we will travel to a new locale:  Hinkley Reservation to hike Whipps Ledges.  Down south to Strongsville to hike Royalview.  In Vermilion, there is a great lagoon.  All of these trips require a car ride.

Sparta and Orion are perfect little angels in the car.  But most dogs aren’t just born that way.  Sparta sits in the back seat, her usual stoic look upon her face, waiting for her next orders.  Orion sits in the passenger seat next to me, excited about our destination, but trying (and usually succeeding) to contain himself. 

So, how did I get my little companions to do so well in the car?

Piloting. There is no substitution, no harnesses, herbal remedies, or restraints that will help your dog relax in the car.  Piloting is the only thing that can take a dog who is hyper in the car and turn them into a road warrior.

You and your dog - Road Warriors

You and your dog – Road Warriors

Let’s take a few examples of bad behaviors in the car and address how to Pilot your dog through them:

  1. Hyper dog, who jumps back and forth between the seats and never seems to calm down.  A couple issues with this dog:  energy and possibly anxiousness.  All dogs have questions that need to be answered.  This dog’s questions are pretty simple:Are we there yet?  Can I be in the front seat now?  Can I drive?   All of these are answered with a simple, gentle negative.As mentioned previously in the PAW Method, you need to control your situation before adding stimulation.  In other words, don’t start trying to Pilot the situation while flying down the highway at 65 mph.  Start simply.  Put your dog in the car, start your car, and hang out in your driveway.  If pooch starts acting hyper, simply use your body language and/or your negative command to address their question:  Can I be hyper?  Obviously the answer is no!   Angle your body as best you can so you are facing them, and them stare them down.  You may have to gently tap them on the ribs with your fingers to gain their attention (read: not discipline, you are merely getting them to focus).  The moment they care calm, give them a rewards (Touch, Talk, Treat).  Give a treat, gentle praise, and a gentle pet to reward.  Quickly you won’t need the treat anymore.  If you dog won’t accept the treat, that’s fine.  Still offer, and still give the Touch and the Talk.
    Remember, the object isn't to restrain them, it's to answer their questions.

    Remember, the object isn’t to restrain them, it’s to answer their questions.

    Stop the car and get your dog out once they are calm.  You should never let your dog out while they are hyper.  Remember, we are practicing calm – nothing fun ever happens unless they are calm first.  Keep practicing this in your driveway.  It is essentially the same as crate training: we want our dogs to become accustomed to the car.  It’s a normal, every day thing.  A “no energy” zone.

    After you have mastered the driveway, enlist someone’s help to start driving. Anywhere is fine…just start moving.  Every time your dog even gives a hint of energy, give them that gentle negative.  If necessary, you can even stop the car until they’ve calmed down. Keep at it. Travel by car isn’t always achieved overnight.

  2. Anxious, worried, terrified dog.  This dog is truly a sad sight to see.  They are scared.  They look like a small child in the queue for the world’s largest roller coaster:  convinced they aren’t going to make it.  Resist the urge to comfort.  Remember, if everything is good, fine, and safe, why would you feel the need to confirm that?  You don’t walk around your house reassuring them that it’s safe, right?  Do the same thing in the car.  If they seem to be doing a little better, you can offer them calm, gentle positives.  Don’t try to soothe them with words:  you are rewarding them for relaxing, not trying to bribe them into relaxing.
  3. Car sick dog.  This usually occurs in puppies under 1 year, as their inner ear has not quite developed yet, giving them a frequent feeling of vertigo.  Unfortunately, the best thing to do is ride it out. Orion reliably got sick in the car, every single time, until just after his 1st birthday.  If your dog is older and still getting sick, it could be that you have a dog who is actually anxious in the car.  Pilot him.  He will calm down.  You can also ask your vet what you can give your dog to help their stomach while traveling.
Boots & Bee Photography - by Brittany Graham

Boots & Bee Photography – by Brittany Graham

Keep at it.  Don’t give up.  You will have the perfect traveling companion. You just have to help them realize that there are indeed rules for them in the car.

Keep calm and pilot onKerry Stack
Darwin Dogs LLC
Dog Training in Cleveland, Ohio