Monday, April 25, 2011


My sister has a new puppy and she is a massive chewer! Like many new puppy owners, my sister has a lot of questions about what bones are safe, what is long lasting and what is economical for her little demolisher. In an effort to help other puppy owners or adult dog owners with similar questions, I decided the topic warranted a blog post!

This is my sister's 10 month old cocker. Photo taken by her.

When shopping for bones, like food, there are many choices for consumers. Rawhide or natural bones? Bones made out of starches or plastic non-edible bones? The type of bone you chose for your dog will depend on what level chewer she is.

Chew Levels
Strictly for the purpose of this post, I am going to assign stars in relation to chew levels.

1 star: this dog has plush toys for years. His owners joke they are his "babies," and when he chews a rawhide, he often won't finish it at all.

2 stars: this dog is interested in chewing and is very dainty when she chews. If stuffing happens to be sticking out of toy already, she will de-stuff it a tad. A bully stick would last her a few days.

3 stars: this dog is average. He picks at seams in ill constructed toys and tends to eat tags and eyes and limbs off of them as well. A bully stick lasts this dog a few hours and a pigs ear is gone in probably 10 minutes or less.

4 star: this dog cannot have plush toys. She destroys them within 10 minutes and completely guts the toy! She is ravenous for things to chew on. A nylabone lasts her a few months and a bully stick an hour at best. This dog can also demolish a red kong in a matter of months.

My sister's pup is a 3.5 star, my dogs happen to be a 2.5 star. I am lucky!

There are many types of rawhide chews. Cowhide and porkhide are the two most common and within those categories you will see compressed, rolls, twists, chips, dyed, knotted etc. Rawhide is the hide of an animal, so it isn't incredibly digestible. Some dogs tolerate it poorly and have diarrhea or vomiting upon consumption. The rawhide made overseas (most of it is) can have a variety of chemicals on it due to the process of getting the hide off the animal. Formaldehyde (used in preparing bodies for burial), is commonly used in that process and is highly toxic. The dyes in many rawhides can also stain a dog and your carpet. When purchasing rawhide personally, I only buy compressed bones or pork twists, since the risk of intestinal compaction is much much lower. I also choose bones that are not dyed and that are made in the USA. I have known many a Lab eat a retriever roll rawhide and need a $2000 life-saving surgery because of an intestinal compaction. Recommended for all levels.

Natural Bones
Natural bones are just that, natural. These bones are either raw, smoked or sanitized. Raw bones of really any animal are safe (you can find these sold in the freezer at Pet Food Express for those in the Bay, and at Animal Crackers for those in Oregon). You will see turkey necks, tibia cuts, lamb shanks, cow femurs etc. The risk of salmonella or e.coli with dogs is not as high as it is with humans due to dogs having a short large intestine. The bone is passed before bacteria has a chance to take hold and multiply. Don't believe me? Look at the nasty garbage and dead things dogs eat, usually without any medical repercussions. Eating poultry bones that are raw are safe because it is the cooking process that makes poultry bones brittle and dangerous for canine consumption. Raw bones are recommended for all chew levels.

Smoked bones
In my opinion, the only safe smoked bones are the tibia cuts. The shanks or any bone with a long bone shaft, are very prone to splintering. I have seen it happen first hand with my own two. It is very sad to have a dog crying as she struggles to have a bowel movement and ends up defecating bone shards and blood. I apologize for that visual! Other safe smoked bones aren't really bones, but are hooves or antlers or bully sticks. Recommended for level 2.5-4+

Sanitized bones are very safe as they are usually tibia cuts. They are very boring for most dogs unless stuffed with something. Some come stuffed with a commercial filler, or you can buy an empty one and stuff it yourself as you would a kong type toy. Recommended for level 2.5-4+

Starch based bones
While these bones are incredibly safe, they are really only worth it for a level 1-2 chewer. These bones are made out of potato starch, vegetable starches or wheat glutens.

Plastic bones
Nylabones are incredibly popular. They are a bone made out of durable nylon that the dog chews on and does not ingest. If the dog ingests some bits of plastic, it is supposedly safe and will pass through his system. There are really two camps over nylabones: those that love them and those that hate them. I mean that in terms of dogs that love them and owners and visa versa. Google "are nylabones safe?" and you will find a plethora of anecdotes from people that say their dog got a one inch piece of nylon in his stomach and became septic. Or a dog that broke a tooth on a nylabone too hard for his mouth. A dog could eat a rock or a sock, and be in much more danger than having a small piece of plastic in his stomach. These are recommended for chewers 2.5-4+

Anything we give to our dogs comes with risk, just as we know a human can choke on an ordinary food item, so can a dog.

Below are some links to some of the suitable bones mentioned here. Note, this is from Petco's website, but most pet stores will carry these items.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feeding your dog

There is more to feeding a dog than just buying the cheapest bag of food at the grocery store, pouring a heap into a tupperware dish and sliding it across the floor to your chow hound. You must carefully consider what food to buy, what kind of dish, where to feed the dog, how often, how much and when. There are so many choices that some owners are often perplexed and end up buying what they have seen advertised on TV just because they don't know what to look for or where to start when purchasing their dog's food.

There are several different forms of dog food; dry, canned/wet, semi-moist, dehydrated, raw and homemade diets. All have pros and cons and all range in quality within their own category.

Most owners opt for dry food. It is the most convenient and can be purchased pretty much anywhere. When looking for a high quality dry food I advise owners to read the ingredients label. If the label reads something like, "Chicken meal, turkey meal, pearled barley, oatmeal, chicken fat (preserved with mixed tocopherols), carrot, apples, blueberries, salmon oil, lactobaccilis acidophilis, vitamins, minerals etc," then that is a good food. If the label reads, "Whole grain ground corn, wheat middlings, chicken by-product meal, animal fat, beet pulp, whole grain sorghum, brewers rice, chicken, vitamins, minerals etc," then that is NOT a good food.

Meal means the chicken or protein without the bones, blood, water weight etc. The meat is cooked and processed, thus meaning that if the food starts with a meal, there is a lot of meat in the food.

There is a debate if dogs are carnivores or omnivores, however most agree that dogs need more meat in their diet than grains, so if the food is primarily grains, it isn't a good food for your dog. Unlike humans, dogs don't get their energy from carbohydrates. Dogs get energy from fat sources and dogs need protein to build and sustain muscle. Things like brewers rice and wheat middlings are by-products of human food industries and are basically things that we don't want in our food and would throw in the dumpster.

Always look for a designated fat source. Simply listing "animal fat" is a sign that the company uses whatever fat is available for the lowest price at the time. Fats are important to a dog's diet and fats also contribute to the flavor, smell and color of the food. I have had many bags of Nutro brand food returned while at work because it "looked different" than the last batch and had to explain to the owner that they can technically get a wide variety of looks because Nutro doesn't designate their fat source. Most people change foods after learning that.

I like to only buy foods with probiotics in it. Lactobacillis acidophillus, among others, is a probiotic. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that reside in the dog's gut already. Adding more simply aids in digestion and has been found to aid in immunity as well. I find that when I use a food that doesn't have probios, that my dogs have bowel movements much more often and aren't digesting all of their food.

Veggies and fruits in dog foods are by no means necessary, but have been found to be great antioxidants that fight free radicals and aid in overall better health of the dog.

Lex is not pleased with his kibble!

It used to be thought that an animal couldn't be sustained on a canned diet. With such quality canned diets now, that is false. In fact, the main feline only veterinary clinic in Oregon, recommended a wet ONLY diet for cats. The downside with feeding a dog wet is that it can get very expensive fast. For example, a bag of Merrick dog food (15 lbs) is approximately $28. Feeding a 42 lb dog about 1.5 cups a day, that bag lasts me a month or so. A can of Merrick is $2.50 and to feed that same dog canned only would be 1.5 cans per day. That is 45 cans and at $2.50 a piece, that is $112.50 per month! Seems like a no-brainer to feed dry then right? Well, some dogs are picky eaters and they will only eat canned. Dogs with dental issues, older dogs or dogs with health issues may need an all wet diet. Canned foods ensure dogs get the moisture they need and are tasty for the dog.

There are nasty products out there that are full of preservatives and colors they go by names like "moist and meaty." The good semi-moist stuff out there are usually called food rolls. Natural balance makes one, as does Red Barn and a few other companies. The food rolls or logs, are often used by owners as treats or grated over dry food to tempt a finicky eater. Then there are some people that use it as a stand alone diet. It has the same benefits of the canned, but is more economical. A standard can of dog food is about 13 oz and one can buy a 4 pound food roll for $12 (16oz x 4 = 64oz) and (12/64=.18). A food roll is 18 cents an oz, whereas a can is about 19 cents an ounce. Okay, it is a cent more an ounce for canned. However, the food roll is not as high in moisture, so the dog would eat about 25% less.

Quite spendy, dehydrated foods are only available in speciality pet stores and online. They are usually top notch quality, but most people only feed dehydrated during a camping trip or similar outing to lessen their travel weight.

Raw food causes quite a bit of controversy. There are so many categories within raw; commercial made, homemade, rotation diets, a BARF (bones and raw food) diet. I will say that I believe in the commercial made, and have fed it, but at $25 for 12 patties and it takes 1.5 patties per day to sustain Lucy, I cannot afford to feed raw on a consistent basis. I did attempt to do my own homemade raw, but it gets too complicated trying to make sure your dog is getting the correct vitamins and minerals.

All I will say is that if you want to go this route, please purchase some books and talk to a holistic vet first.

After you have picked what type of food you want to feed your dog, you need to choose a bowl.

There are so many dishes available for dogs; stainless steal, plastic, bamboo, ceramic. For those more adventurous, you can feed out of a toy such as a Kong, Busy Buddy, Chewber frisbee, Maze-a-ball etc. There are some trainers that recommend never feeding out of a bowl, however I am more realistic and who really has time to stuff a dog's toy every single meal? I know I don't.

Mmmm, me loves my kongy!

I recommend owners go with a stainless steal or ceramic for health reasons. Plastic tends to harbor bacteria, scents and young puppies generally chew the edges up and can cut their gums with the sharp plastic.

Measuring Food
As mentioned in my previous post about fat dogs, it is very important that you measure out your dog food to ensure you are not over-feeding your dog. I generally end up giving less than the prescribed amount on the bag for my dogs as that amount tends to be a little too much. I always start with that amount and watch my dog's weight for a week or so, then cut back as needed.

Free Feeding
Lately I have run into some people that can't be talked out of free feeding. They insist that their Lab moderates himself and needs food available at all times because he is so energetic. I am not a fan of free feeding. If dogs don't overeat, they can actually under eat because they know the food is available whenever they feel like eating. Free feeding makes potty training more difficult because the owner does not know when the dog will need to eliminate. Free feeding is also frowned upon by veterinarians because if a dog needs medical attention, the owner can't tell the vet how much he ate last and when. From a training standpoint, giving your dog her meal for "free" means a lost training opportunity to work on a sit/stay/release. Food is a resource dogs want (most dogs), and not using it to train with, just seems silly to me.

Some picky dogs or some doting owners tend to add things to their dog's food in order to entice the dog to eat. They may add canned food, food roll, treats, carrots, yogurt, egg, meat, cottage cheese, etc. While all of those ingredients can be healthy for the dog, there are some dogs that come to expect these goodies and become part of the food terrorism organization! My Lucy could have dry food one day, wet the next, steak the following day mixed in, and still go back to her dry food. She loves food and will happily eat dry without toppers. If I only had her I would probably give her a topper for a special occasion or perhaps pumpkin or cottage cheese to aid in digestion. Lex, formerly part of the food terrorism organization, would snub anything less than what was offered the meal before. There is no switching from dry to canned to meat and back for him. I urge owners of dog's like Lex to shut them down and not comply with their demands for more tasty morsels! My mother has a dog like that and she recently ran out of canned food and her dog didn't eat for a day until she got more canned!

Where to feed your dog matters. Will you feed him in the kitchen? In his crate? Outside? Next to your other dog? Feeding outside may attract ants. Feeding next to another dog can spark fights. Savvy multiple dog owners feed their dogs separate in crates to avoid scuffles over food and to avoid having to referee meal time. A dog new to crate training can benefit from being fed in his crate in order to build a positive association with the crate. Lucy gets fed in our living room (our kitchen is micro sized), next to the toy box and Lex has a more secluded dining experience in his crate with the door ajar.

Experts agree that dogs should be fed two times a day or even three for certain breeds or young dogs. Multiple feedings a day greatly reduces the risk of bloat or GDV in dogs.

Well I hope you enjoyed my excessively long post about dog food and feeding! I admit, I got carried away. If you have any insights, comments are always appreciated.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Picking a Name

Deciding on what to name your dog is a big deal. The name you choose is going to be with that dog for a lifetime and you will have to be comfortable saying it at doggie class, the park etc. Name choosing is one of the fun things you can do before you get your new dog with your kids or family members.

Traditionally, herding breeds are supposed to have one syllable names. I didn't know this when I got Lucy, but have been known to enter her as "Lu" in herding competitions to conform to that tradition! I did follow the rule in naming Lex and my next BC will be dubbed "Liv."

I have also noticed that most people that participate in dog sports choose one syllable names, regardless of the breed. It is a lot easier to shout, "Ace, here!" or "Go, Flick!" than "Snickerdoodle, come!" or "Bellini, lie-down."

Having been immersed in dog land for the past 7.5 years, I have heard a lot of awful names and some great names. An awful name for me is one that is too long or one that just doesn't match the dog or is plain ridiculous! Of course we have the played out names as well.

Awful Names
- Cheeseburger (yes, I met a chocolate lab pup named that)
- Angel (there are just sooo many Angels out there)
- DOG (pronounced by the letter: Dee-O-Gee)
- Einstein
- Trout (really, who names their dog after a fish?)
- Delilah
- Posyanne
- Daisy May

I hope some of those gave you laugh! Here are some of the more original names I have heard.

Not so Ordinary Names
- Moss
- Remy
- Jet
- Ash
- Finn
- Trix
- Kai
- Midge
- Sage
- Bryn

Great Classic Names
- Lily
- Ace
- Bear
- Duke
- Ripley
- Riley
- Yogi

Shelter Dogs
Sometimes people who rescue dogs that already have a name, feel obligated to keep that name. The new owner fears that the dog won't "know" a new name or that he must have some attachment to the original name. Most trainers actually recommend that an adoptive owner CHANGES the new dog's name completely because it is more than likely that the rescue dog may have negative associations with her original name. Perhaps the owner yelled, "Coco, NO!!!" at the dog frequently or just yelled the name. Coco is then not a name, but another word for "No" in the dog's eyes. Sometimes adoptive dog owners change the new dog's name because they don't like it, but they try to choose a similar sounding name for the dog's sake. Mollie becomes Millie, or Taylor becomes Tyler, JoJo becomes BoBo. It is really in the best interest for the dog to change the name so it does not sound similar. Mollie should then become Lacey or Kate.

To build a positive association with a name for a new dog or adoptive dog, say the dog's name and pair it with something very tasty, like meat or cheese or a high value dog treat. The name then becomes a signal for a reward and your dog will give you rapt attention when her name is called.

Be sure to not overuse a name. If you say "Bella, Bella, Bella" all the time to get Bella's attention, she will soon start to tune the name "Bella" out completely. You do not need to say your dog's name before every command either. Although difficult, it is important to also not use your dog's name in a negative fashion. Avoid yelling the dog's name or using a drawn out low tone if he is in trouble, like "Saaaaaaammmm!" If you catch your dog jumping on the counter, a firm "Off" will due, or you can say "Naughty!" rather than using the dog's name.

Have any silly, awful or original names you want to share? Comment please!

Thursday, April 14, 2011


Often overlooked, socialization is one of the most important aspects of having a puppy/dog. You see, there is this "magic window" when puppies are more open to accepting novel things (between 3 and 16 weeks). Of course, it is important to socialize an older puppy or dog as well, but this special window is when puppies absorb things like little furry sponges! So how would one properly socialize a puppy?

It is incredibly important that the experiences the puppy has are positive ones. I can't tell you how many times I have heard, "Oh, we socialized him. I don't know why he is fearful. We took him to farmer's market every weekend and handed him off to strangers." or "Yeah, we socialized her. She went to the vet, and the groomer and a few of my kid's friend's homes." Unfortunately, the novice dog owner is unaware that places like farmer's market, the vet, the groomer and places crawling with kids can be scary for a puppy and that exposing said puppy to those negative experiences may lead to fear (growling, snapping and even biting) of kids, the groomer, and the vet. Socialization is key to preventing a myriad of behavior problems such as dog reactivity or fear based issues.

Every dog breed may have a different socialization "curve." Herding breeds and guardian breeds are more wary in general and will take more effort to socialize. Whereas sporting dogs and companion dogs may not need as much exposure to positive human interactions since they are bred to work closely with humans.

Here are some ideas to positively socialize a new puppy:

1. Only allow puppy to have interactions with other puppies of similar demeanor and adult dogs that are vaccinated and well behaved. Do NOT take the puppy to the dog park. It is a great idea to enroll your puppy in a puppy class when young simply for socialization and to continue to the next class series to learn more commands as he gets older.

2. Allow calm children to feed your puppy treats and gently pet him. Keep the interactions very brief with him wanting more! If there are no children in your family, there may be some at puppy class. You can also bring your puppy into a pet store (held in your arms if the shots aren't completed) to find children that are happy to volunteer.

3. Expose your puppy to people of all ages, shapes and sizes. If he is nervous, watch people from afar at a park at first, then pick out the friendly people and have them feed your pup while you hold him in your arms.

4. Have fun in your home with different sounds and objects. Clank bowls around in the sink, show him your keys, the broom, the hair dryer, the vacuum. If at any point he is fearful of a sound or object, take a step back and re-introduce the scary item more gradually and pair with a yummy treat. For example, if the puppy is afraid of the vacuum when on, turn it off and leave it out of the closet for him to look at on his own. After a few days, put treats on the still vacuum or reward him for investigating it. Pitch treats to him if he chooses to keep a safe distance from it when it is on.

5. Have fun letting puppy explore different surfaces such as sand, grass, asphalt, carpet, wood, tile, gravel etc. I can tell you that Lucy somehow did not encounter gravel till 2 years old and we had a heck of a time getting her to walk on it or do anything on it for several weeks!

6. Take advantage of places that allow dogs such as: petstores, home improvement stores, vet offices, grooming salons, training facilities, parks, outdoor restaurant seating, outside public places like city buildings or the supermarket.

7. Don't go overboard. Keep the interactions short and sweet and only do stranger or dog interactions 2 times per week. During downtime, focus on the surfaces, noises, smells and of course, potty training and crate training!

8. If your puppy will ever have interactions with livestock or other animals, expose him to those as well.

Don't push your puppy to interact with people or things he is scared of, as that can make him more afraid. Go at his pace and take cues from him. Think about how to help make his experiences more fun for him.

Puppy Lex, enjoying the sand for the first time

4 week old Lex enjoying the grass (taken by his breeder)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dog Parks

Spring is here and many owners/dogs are flocking to their local dog park for some off-leash fun and exercise! The dog park is a canine wonderland right? A place to exercise your dog till he is dead tired? Think again.

Lex and Lucy at a park in Oregon
Not all dogs are going to be dog park dogs. Of course, reactive dogs are not good dog park candidates, but there are other reasons that makes a dog park an inappropriate choice for some dogs.

Here is some dog park etiquette/checklist:
- Your dog needs to be healthy and up to date on vaccines.
- Don't bring more dogs than you can handle.
- Don't allow your dog to engage in mounting, jumping on people, peeing in the water dish, crowding the entrance/exit, aggressive behavior, chasing down or bullying another dog.
- Clean up after your dog.
- Don't bring a female dog that is in heat.
- Don't bring your dog if he does not have a reliable recall.

Let's say your dog passes that checklist with flying colors and you, as a responsible owner, will not let him do any of the inappropriate things mentioned above. The dog park may be a great place to let your dog socialize and get his doggie ya-yas out. However, please consider only going to the dog park two times per week maximum. Many people overuse dog parks, and this can cause their dog to have a range of behavioral problems.

Dogs (like children), get cranky and tend to misbehave when they are overtired or overstimulated. Staying at the park for more than 30 minutes usually leads to a cranky dog. When I go to a dog park, we stay for about 15-20 mins tops. I am there to play with my dogs, let them say hi to some polite canine friends and leave. I am not there to socialize with strangers, read the paper, check my e-mail or say hello to other dogs.

Last week when I was in the middle of a private training session near the park I saw tired dogs hiding under the benches, exhausted, while their owners chatted together. I saw dogs mounting each other with no repercussions. I saw dogs wandering aimlessly around the field as if lost and I saw dogs fence running, bullying, entrance crowding, water dish peeing and hard-core wrestling! All of the owners were either chatting, playing with their smartphones, reading a book or twiddling their fingers. None were engaged with their dog!

When dogs practice behaviors that are self-rewarding, they get better at them and they do them more often. Those dogs that mounted at the park that didn't get told off by the other dog or the owner is going to continue mounting. The dogs doing all of the unchecked naughty behavior, are going to continue because it feels good and their owners didn't redirect them to something more fulfilling or positive to do.

Using a dog park too frequently as a source of exercise for a dog can create a dog who requires too much stimuli to be tired. Owners can accidentally condition their dog to need that amount of play/exercise each day in order to be tired. Yes, dogs should be fit and be exercised, but the average dog would do fine with half mile walk or less or some good mental stimulation each day. Taking a dog and conditioning him to need 10 miles a day, and his body will get used to it. He will consume more calories, need more food and expect 10 miles a day to be fulfilled!

Parks can also be stressful. All that bad behavior going on can stress a dog out! Your dog may even pick up a few pointers from the bullies if you aren't careful.

So are dog parks bad? No, they aren't bad. I go to the dog park perhaps twice a month. I would probably go more if I didn't feel unsafe taking my daughter and have to wait for my husband to be home to go. When I do go though, I am very careful about watching the dogs in the park before taking my own in. We also have clear doggie park rules and boundaries.

I don't take my dogs in if I see a lot of bullies or intact males. I don't take my dogs in if there are too many dogs in the park or there is a lot of yelling going on. If most of the dogs seem harmless or are actually engaged with their owners, I will go in. I have both dogs wait at both gates before being released into the park. They will quickly go sniff the doggie butts nearby and I count to three mentally before calling them away from greetings. If the other dogs look scared or aggressive, then I do not let them greet. After that we walk to a secluded spot and we play fetch with a ball or frisbee. If another dog comes to chase them and they are fine, I let it happen. If their hackles are up and the other dog is trying to steal their toy. I tell them to lie down and I take the toy and wait for the other dog to get disinterested and leave. If another dog steals their toy, usually I have to stalk that dog and trade him for it. Funny how the owner never seems to help......

Once I have tired, panting Border Collies that are only bringing the toy back half way, they get a drink, I leash them up and we leave. They got exercised, we were there maybe 20 mins, they said hi to a few doggies and we averted learning any bad behaviors!

Tired, panting Lucy = time to go!

For many owners their dog park experience looks a lot different:
Dog drags owner into park, no waiting at gate and charges the other dogs. Dog is growled at, snapped at as he sniffs butts wildly while owner explains his dog is sooooo friendly. Then the dog pees on some people and benches and romps around chasing dogs and stealing toys. When it is time to leave, the owner cannot get her dog to come and ends up waiting another half hour until her dog is passed out and drags him out of the park!

If that scenario sounds like you and you want to change that, please contact me! I have a off leash preparation/distraction class that I offer and while the next session coming up is full, there will be more sessions this summer.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Lane, the imaginary reactive dog part 3

I can't stress enough to my reactive dog clients the importance of taking things slow and not allowing their dog to practice unacceptable behaviors and go over threshold. It seems that once we see progress in a dog, human nature wants to push and push that dog. Inevitably, the dog goes over threshold and the progress made was a total wash.

We have had such nice weather here in the East Bay. I see so many dogs walking each day in the neighborhood and at the park. All of the local dog parks re-opened April 1st. Everywhere I go is buzzing with dogs!

Last we left Lane, I was planning on working on Dr. Karen Overall's Relaxation Protocol. We have surpassed mat work at home and are now focusing on mat work outside our home. I take Lane's fleece mat and all our training stuff outside with me and him to set up what we will be doing for 10 minutes. I cue him to go to his mat and he does so and lies down. I click and toss him a goldfish cracker (medium treat value for him). The first few minutes we are doing obedience and go through the motions. He isn't truly relaxed since we are outside. He stays while I walk around his mat, click and treat. He stays while I walk away and count to 30, click and treat. He stays while I run 20 feet away and run back, click and treat. Then I stand there and ignore him. He looks bored and gets up and I re-cue him to go to mat. I ignore him some more and he lays relaxed on his side. I click and treat and he sits back up. I ignore him some more until he lays on his side again. This time I don't click, I just toss the treat because the clicker seems to be making him excited. He eats the treat while on his side then just lays there. We end up working for about 15 mins instead of 10, and I am very happy with our progress. I am hoping we will be able to use the mat work in the park and other settings were he is usually hyper aroused.

Now that the park is jumping with dogs, I am a bit nervous to take Lane and work him there. We find that there are enough dogs in the neighborhood walking to do some exercises with. Two days after our mat work, I ready Lane with his Rescue Remedy, harness and Liverwurst and we set out for a walk at about 4pm. This is a good time since between 5-7pm is the busiest time for people walking their dogs and midday, we may not see any dogs.

We start walking and immediately see another dog exit his front door. I quickly asses the dog: it is an older black lab. Seeing as this dog is not likely to set Lane off, I have him sit, click and treat for looking at the dog and doing nothing, then we start walking again. As we turn on a busy street, I see two excited Beagles pulling their owner on the same side of the street as us. Lane sees them too. I immediately decide to cross the street and place my body in between Lane and the other dogs so he isn't as exited. Once we are across the street, we place ourselves in someones driveway and I body block Lane until he sits. Once he is seated, I move slightly to the side and have a pretty constant flow of treats while the Beagles pass. He doesn't bark, but he does get up multiple times and I have to re-sit him. I decide we need to perfect our sit/stays better and make a mental note of that. We see a few more dogs of various ages and excitability. The older dogs we pass and do looks in motion and the excited dogs we go up a driveway or behind a car. Our walk lasts about 20 mins and we go home.

The next day I do remedial stay work with Lane. Sit/stay means stay until I say release no matter what is exciting him. We work on our duration and distraction aspects of stay. Stay while I throw cookies on the floor, stay while I toss toys on the floor, while I play with the other dogs, while I say other words aside from release, stay next to me while I do dishes, fold clothes and do laundry. We do these exercises everyday for a few days until I see a change before I take him out walking again. I have to remember that every time I say "Stay" I must follow it up with our release word so I don't ruin our stays.

I don't recommend that a reactive dog be walked everyday. As seen in my Boredom Busters post, there are a lot of things you can do with a dog to keep his mind active without walking. The chances of a dog reacting when being walked 3x per day is much higher than if said dog is being walked 3x per week! There are so many other aspects to working with dog reactivity then walks in the neighborhood. You can work on obedience commands to help with walking issues, work on relaxation, building a better bond and trust through playing with your dog. Taking a dog to a new location and working the dog out of the back of your car etc.

Now those of you with reactive dogs have some more things to work on! Happy working and enjoy this weather.