K9 Nose Work:  One Sport Your Dog May Want to Sniff Out!

k9 nose work trainingWhat is K9 Nose Work?

In K9 Nose Work, dogs learn how to search for a specific odor or odors and find the source. It is a growing sport that is based on your dog’s natural instinct to hunt and sniff out prey. This fun activity will benefit your dog by building its confidence and exercise its mind and body.  You will enjoy watching your dog work and it will deepen the bond between you, even if you do not do it competitively.

K9 Nose Work was founded and developed by Ron Gaunt, Amy Herot, and Jill Marie O’Brien, all certified experts and highly accomplished in training K9 detection and tracking dogs for law enforcement.  Using their extensive experience in professional canine detection, these three K9 experts developed K9 Nose Work to give people and their pet dogs a fun and easy way to learn and apply scent detection skills.

How Do You Get Started in Nose Work?

K9 Nose Work is fun for any dog and the owner who wants to try it. Neither of you need any obedience or other training. This sport is a game that builds on your dog’s natural abilities. It is so easy to learn because your dog will love playing games that use its scenting instincts to find its favorite treat or toy.

Get started in this fun activity by locating a K9 Nose Work class or workshop taught by a certified Nose Work instructor.  Find the right trainer for you, your dog, and your goals. In Nose Work classes specifically, you should start by taking the Intro class to learn the foundational skills. The subsequent Nose Work class will introduce odor targeting.

When you begin Nose Work training, your dog will start the game by simply finding a treat or toy on its own, with no owner interruption. The dog will continue training that way for three months to one year, depending on the dog’s own pace of learning. During that period, the dog will develop confidence in its ability to achieve success in hunting and scenting. It also builds the dog’s mental and physical fitness, which is vital for your dog’s good health.  All the while your dog is learning new hunting skills in different environments, unimpeded by the owner.

As the dog progresses in its abilities, the search games become progressively more difficult.  They will include odor targeting, introducing multiple containers in the search and the concepts of exterior, interior, and vehicle searches, all of which are part of Nose Work competition events.

Nose Work Competition

If you are interested in Nose Work as a competitive sport, you should take regular classes to make sure you both have the skills needed to be competitive at that level. Once you and your dog become sufficiently advanced, you can participate in mock competitions to test both of your skills. Some owners use an experienced handler to handle their dogs in competition. You can get a lot of detailed information about the competitions time and location from the National Association of Canine Scent Work (NACSW™), the official sanctioning and organizing body for the sport of K9 Nose Work.  You should go observe them to see what is involved. These competitions are quite demanding. Observing a few of them will help you understand the etiquette and prepare for the challenges you and your dog will face.

Before you are eligible to compete in a NACSW™ competition, your dog must be able to identify the location of the target odor and the handler able to correctly call an ‘alert’ within a three-minute time period. This is called an Odor Recognition Test (ORT). To enter an ORT you must be a member of the NACSW™, and your dog must be registered with the NACSW™.  At an ORT at the first level of competition, you and your dog will have to search 12 identical boxes with one of the boxes containing birch odor.  You must be able to correctly identify when your dog has found the odor box.

After passing an ORT, you and your dog are eligible to compete at the Nose Work 1 (NW1) level. Please note that an NW1 trial is much more complex than an ORT.  At an NW1 trial, your dog must cope with distractions, environmental stressors, larger search areas, and the four elements of competition (container, interior, exterior, and vehicle). Also, your dog should be prepared to go from crate to work several times during the course of the competition.

The next level up is NW2. At that level, you and your dog should expect to find multiple hides in one environment, work through more challenging, less accessible “hides”, overcome food and toy distractions and alert only to odor, and manage a longer, larger search.

The highest level is NW3. This is a professional level of nose work. You and your dog will have to demonstrate that the dog can find an unknown number of hides in a search environment, you or the handler will recognize the search behavior in a dog when no odor is present (if there is a blank room), the dog and handler team can work through even more challenging, less accessible hides with varying heights and containment, the dog can overcome food and toy distractions in any environment and alert only to odor, the dog can manage much longer, larger searches, with the interior searches potentially being 12-15 minutes.

Whether you decide to compete with your dog or not, Nose Work training will enhance the relationship you have with your dog and your dog will become a more confident and happy inquisitive canine.

Sure Fire Strategies to Teach Your Dog to Greet People Nicely

The holidays are coming, and one of the best parts of this time of year is having friends and family over to celebrate together.

For inquisitive canine parents with dogs that don’t know how to politely greet people, though, having people over often only adds to the stresses of the season.

As a certified trainer, dog lover, and member of the therapy dog organization Love on a Leash, I find a composed canine greeting, be it at home or along the way, of the utmost importance – everyone appreciates a polite pooch.

So let’s get started!

GREETING NICELY

The goal for Part 1 of this behavior training is to teach your dog that sitting or standing to greet you and other family members is much more rewarding than jumping up.

Jump Control, Part 1Version 2

The goal for Part 1 is to teach your dog Sitting = Attention / Jumping up =Being Ignored

  • First, reward your dog with petting, praise, treats or the toss of a toy whenever s/he greets you with “four on the floor” (all four paws on the floor) or sitting up nicely.
  • Approach your dog, or call him or her toward you, and ask for a sit. Once s/he sits, reward her or him with positive attention.
  • If and when your dog jumps up on you, turn away and ignore.
  • As soon as your dog stops jumping, and his or her paws are back on the ground, turn around to face him or her and reward.
  • When s/he doesn’t jump, pet and praise your dog. If you have treats, give one. If s/he gets too excited and jumps up again, turn your back again and start over.
  • If you turn your back but your dog keeps jumping on your back, try walking away. It’s important that you completely ignore the dog — don’t talk or chide. Pretend like s/he is not there.

Jump Control, Part 2

inquisitivecanine-waltersittingThe goal for Part 2 is to teach your dog to greet other people, including friends and strangers, politely.

Whenever possible, teach family and friends the Part 1 exercise and have them practice with your dog. When encountering people you don’t know who are willing to do the Part 1 exercise, the following will help teach your dog to generalize polite manners:

  • Warm up your dog by having her or him sit for you when s/he wants to say “hi” and be petted. Have family members and friends do the same. Then take it on the road.
  • When a stranger approaches your dog (or when you approach a stranger with your dog, after having ascertained that person wishes to be approached), ask your dog to sit. Your dog must stay in the sit position as the stranger approaches to pet her or him.
  • Give a treat to your dog for sitting as the person approaches. If your dog gets up, stop the treats and ask the person to stop or take a step backwards. Your dog will soon learn that if s/he stays seated (or next to you with four on the floor), then s/he receives attention from you and from the person saying hello. Conversely, if s/he gets up, s/he gets nothing. Your inquisitive canine will soon figure out which is the better choice.
  • Keep in mind that walking away from the person, or not allowing the person or other dog to say hello is not intended as a punishment, so refrain from jerking the collar or using an angry voice. The intention is simply to keep your dog from jumping up (before s/he can scare someone or dirty that person’s clothes), and to communicate that s/he lost the opportunity to greet the person.
  • Throughout these exercises, you can turn to explain to the stranger that you’re teaching your dog not to jump. If the person seems interested in the training process or your dog, you can ask that person if he or she wouldn’t mind helping. If so, repeat the above procedure until your dog doesn’t try to jump. At that point, allow the person to pet your dog and say hello.

Is your dog already skilled at this behavior? Make it more challenging by adding in distractions or asking for a “Down” instead of “Sit.”

Now is the perfect time to practice jump control training so that by the time the holidays are here, your rover will be perfectly polite when people come over!

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Watch Me, Walk With Me: Loose Leash Dog Walking 101

InquisitiveCanine-Turbo-BEveryone knows you walk with your feet (or paws, depending on your species), but did you know that the secret to successful loose leash dog walking begins with a mutual connection that comes from the head and the heart?

With any DIY dog training, you have to start with an understanding of inquisitive canine behavior. Put your pup on a leash, and s/he’s not going to stop doing what s/he’s wired to do: sniff, explore and investigate. The pull to examine everything that catches your dog’s eye is powerful… literally.

This is why so often we see dogs walking their owners, and not the other way around.

As a certified dog trainer, I appreciate when inquisitive canines trust their humans enough to be able to look longingly into their eyes. I also love to see dogs and pet parents trotting along, side-by-side, enjoying a leisurely walk. These two activities are not mutually exclusive; in fact, building trust through a loving gaze is the first step to training your dog to walk on a leash.

Here are step-by-step instructions to get your pup prepped to be the perfect walking companion:

“Watch Me” ~ Establish Trust
AcademyDog-DalmatianThe first step is to get your dog to learn how to meet and hold your gaze. Eye contact is not “normal” doggy behavior so if your pup takes a while to warm up to this, don’t worry. The following instructions that start with the tiniest glances and increase from there is a process called “shaping.”

  • Have your treats and clicker ready. (To brush up on the magic of clickers and how to establish a Click-Treat [C/T] pattern, click here).
  • Your dog may be sitting, standing or lying down, with as few distractions around as possible.
  • Begin to C/T the moment your dog makes any eye contact with you at all.
  • If your dog doesn’t catch on right away, make kissy noises to prompt him or her or show a treat and then hold it up next to your eyes. As soon as your dog glances up, go ahead and C/T.
  • Shape their behavior by C/T — go from the baby steps of glancing near your face to looking into your eyes.
  • Gradually increase the time your dog looks at you before you C/T.
  • Remember: Once your dog makes eye contact with you, complete each step at least ten (10) times before making it more difficult, such as adding in distractions or asking for a longer time of eye contact.
  • It will be up to you if you want to use the cue word “Watch” or your dog’s name.
  • If your dog seems bored or distracted, lower the bar of what you want and raise the rate of C/T. You can also try using a different kind of treat.

Once you’ve built that trust and your dog is looking to you for more information, you’re ready to move from watching to walking!

“Let’s Go For a Walk!” ~ Loose Leash Walking (LLW)

Taking your dog for a walk should be fun and enjoyable for everyone. LLW means your dog is on leash and calmly proceeding near you, within the length of the leash without pulling, tugging or lunging.

As we all know, this can be challenging for many dogs, especially where there are lots of new places to go, people to meet and other dogs to sniff. It can be challenging for us if we have a dog that enjoys pulling (either to get somewhere or to prevent from leaving a specific location).

With time, patience and consistency, dogs can learn how to walk nicely on leash, making it more pleasant for both of you.

Prep Work

  • Begin by holding the leash with one hand at your belly button – like an ice cream cone – with your arms relaxed. This allows you to use your center of gravity as an anchor to help from being pulled over and to help prevent from pulling back on the leash accidentally.
  • Next, prompt your dog to come to your side. Use a food lure, a happy voice, a verbal and/or visual cue. Say yes, then give a treat.
  • Keep in mind that the leash is used as a safety line, not for controlling your dog. Try not to pull or tug at your dog. Also, it’s best not to wrap the leash around your hand or wrist (prevents injury if your dog does pull).
  • Be sure you’re using appropriate and safe walking equipment, including a front-clip harness.

Practice Walking with Minimal Distractions

  • You may want to do the first few runs indoors, where there are not as many distractions as outside.
  • Give a verbal walking cue, take two or three steps (using a food lure if necessary), stop, have your dog stop (or sit, which is optional), say yes and treat.
  • Continue to practice this step until your dog is offering on his or her own. Then begin to take additional steps, increasing the distance.
  • Add in the “Watch Me” phrase when you stop and also say it intermittently when walking. This teaches your dog to check in with you on a walk and helps remind him or her that you’re out together. This enhances the bond you share.
  • Once your dog understands the concept of LLW, increase the pace by walking briskly indoors with him or her on leash If s/he goes to the end of the leash, change direction and keep walking at a quick pace.
  • When s/he comes near you on the side you want her or him to walk, use a cheerful voice to praise. Whenever s/he gets into heel position or puts slack in the leash, say yes and treat. Also, reward for any eye contact.
  • If after a couple minutes you don’t find your dog spending more time at your side or with a slack leash, consider moving to a less distracting area.
  • You may also reward more frequently, delivering the treat in the position you want. The point in doing this is to help motivate your dog to stay interested, as opposed to wandering to the end of the leash, looking for something else to do.

Once you’re comfortable with LLW and eye contact, make it more challenging by adding in one distraction at a time.

Before you know it, you’ll be watching your dog walking outside on a loose leash – and best of all, you trained him or her yourself!

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Back to School for Dogs Too – Homeschooling session 2

Hey there inquisitive dog lover! Welcome to session 2 of our Back to School for Dogs Too homeschooling series. If you’re just joining us, check out session 1 for tips and lessons on getting started. If you’re continuing on, we say “Yay!” click-treat, and thank you for participating.

For this specific installment, we will be focusing on “Sit” and “Down.” As a certified trainer, I have come to lump these, along with eye-contact, as the main trifecta of dog behaviors. If your inquisitive canine can master these, then you will not only set yourselves up for success, but will also create a solid foundation for many other behaviors and situations. Here we go!

Sit

Rico the Wonder Dog
Rico practicing his “Sit”
  • Wait for your dog to sit. As soon as his or her rump hits the floor/ground, “click and treat” (C/T) or use your marker word, as explained and outlined in Session 1 of our Back-to-School program.
  • If your dog doesn’t sit automatically, hold a treat at the tip of his or her nose and move it up and over his or her head, back towards his or her rear end. Your dogs head should look up while shifting his or her weight back, ending up in a “sit.
  • Once your dog starts sitting reliably every time, you can add in the cue word “sit.” Practice doing this 5-10 times: saying the word “sit,” pause to see if he or she does, if not use the food lure then C/T.
  • Repeat this until you no longer need the food lure.

Down

Kona
Kona practicing his “Down”
  • Begin with a treat in one hand, placing it on the tip of your dogs nose, slowly move it downward towards the ground, guiding him or her into a “down” position. As soon as your dog lies down C/T.
  • Repeat this “lure and reward” technique until your dog does the motion reliably, without pausing. When he or she does the motion reliably, you can begin to add the cue word “down,” before luring.
  • Say the word “down,” pause to see if your dog lies down, if he or she does then C/T, if not, then use the lure-reward technique to move him or her into the position, then C/T.

Repeat the following sequence for both Sit & Down:

  • Say it:        “Sit” or  “Down”
  • Show it:      Lure
  • Pay it:         Click-Treat

As your dog begins offering the behavior reliably, you can begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal as a prompt. Still C/T after your dog lies down, and reward!

Tips & Troubleshooting:

  • Repeat this sequence until your dog is following reliably, then begin to fade out the food lure, using only your hand signal.
  • Practice “Sit” & “Down” in a variety of locations. Even 2-3 times a day for 2-3 minutes can be very helpful.If your dog jumps up to get the treat, lure him or her back into the down position before giving it to him. (You don’t need to “click” again.)
  • If your dog is having trouble lying down, try starting him or her from the sitting position. An alternative is to C/T for smaller, baby-steps towards the final down position – head focused downward, elbows bent, chest on ground, etc.
  • Remember to use the cue only once!
  • Wanna advance your skills? Use only the verbal or visual cue in different locations with different distractions. To “test” if your dog understands, ask a stranger to give the cue!

For a fun way to practice both “Sit” & “Down” at the same time, try”Puppy Push-Ups”! 

Remember to check back for upcoming Back to School posts (or subscribe to our blog), to keep up with behavior momentum and fluency!

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Wanna join the conversation? Just head to the comment section below. Care to share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine?  We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Yellow Vest: Service Dog or Canine Fashion Statement?

No matter your politics, I think you’ll join me in saluting the United States Department of Justice for its clarification on service animals – FAQs on Service Animals. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I see SO much inconsistent information on the subject. “I have heard stories  from well-intentioned dog lovers  — and even witnessed — what I would consider law-stretching and boundary-crossing. Some of these actions risk endangering the public, and putting dogs at risk too. Plus, they could create situations where laws would be changed that negatively impacted those that really need services dogs.”  We encourage you to read through all of the FAQs on Service Animals.

This guide dog is considered a service animal because it is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.
This guide dog is considered a service animal because it is trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability.

Written in clear, concise language, the FAQs on Service Animals starts with the basic questions “What is a service animal?” and moves into the more complex, such as “What does under control mean? Do service animals have to be on a leash? Do they have to be quiet and not bark?” (Yes, that is one question. Question #27, to be exact.)

You’ll find surprising information, too. Check out  Question #17. “Does the ADA require that service animals be certified as service animals?” The answer is: “No.” Well shoot, I got this one wrong! “Covered entities may not require documentation, such as proof that the animal has been certified, trained, or licensed as a service animal, as a condition for entry.” And you may be surprised to learn that service animals don’t need to wear a yellow vest or an ID tag, special harness, or any color vest, for that matter.

See if you know the answers to these questions. Check your answers here: FAQs on Service Animals.

  • #31 – Are stores required to allow service animals to be placed in a shopping cart?
  • #32 – Are restaurants, bars, and other places that serve food or drink required to allow service animals to be seated on chairs or allow the animal to be fed at the table?
  • #33 – Are gyms, fitness centers, hotels, or municipalities that have swimming pools required to allow a service animal in the pool with its handler?

The DOJ clearly spells out the difference between service dogs and therapy dogs. Therapy dogs, sometimes called comfort or companion animals, provide comfort by being with a person and have not been trained to perform a specific job or task. But we think they should be able to pass one of the various 10-step evaluations such as the one provided by Love on a Leash to ensure they have the skills to be comfortable and polite in public. And, by the way, misrepresenting a dog as a service dog is pretty serious business. Don’t do it.

The Love on a Leash nonprofit is a wonderful resource for learning more about therapy dogs. And how your dog can become one. As a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, I am eligible to administer the Love on a Leash. If you would like more information on the process, or would like your inquisitive canine to be tested, we invite you to contact us.

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Jack Russell Superstar: The Amazing & True Tale of Jesse the Jack

What’s your Inquisitive Canine’s favorite thing to do? Sniff? Explore? Agility?  Maybe yours is more of the eat, pray, love type. My sidekick Poncho enjoys a lot of different activities, and he’s very good about any work-related task I request of him.

I’m bringing this up because of one of my favorite videos. Just Jesse the Jack stars Jesse, a Jack Russell Terrier, and Heather, his genius handler. Heather honed in on Jesse’s natural abilities and taught him amazing things by capitalizing on behaviors she liked and putting them to good use.

I know you’ll enjoy and appreciate Jesse. While watching the video, zero in on how Heather adapted his innate canine skills to our human environmental needs.

For example:

  • Retrieving – brings the television remote.
  • Targeting – uses nose and paws to close doors and cabinets.
  • Jumping – grabs things for Heather.
  • Digging – uses paws to massage Heather’s back and to clean the sliding glass door.
  • Tugging – helps Heather get dressed and tucks himself into bed.

Oftentimes, the always exuberant Jack Russell Terrier isn’t taught to direct his abilities in appropriate ways. The excellent digging skill results in a torn up lawn or tugging turns a couch into a shredded mess. Behaviors need to be put to use in ways that are fun for your dog and for you.

So, Inquisitive Pet Parent, what can your dog do? Any behaviors that can be redirected?  Leave a comment because we’re inquisitive, too!

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Training Options for Outgoing Dogs

The list of inquisitive canine-specific sport and activities keeps growing and growing, and as a dog trainer and dog mom I think that’s fabulous! Having such a variety of options for dogs and humans to choose from is wonderful. Individual dogs usually have a preference for a certain sport. Think about it. Is your dog a sniffer? A fetcher? A swimmer? A catcher? Pusher or puller?

I live in the Santa Barbara, California area and am able to play with my inquisitive canine all year round. Check out the following list of some of the more popular sports for inquisitive canines. Think of adapting them to the indoors. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a new pastime for you and your dog.

K9 Nose-work: For the hunter rather than the gatherer. Perfect for nose-y and scent-driven inquisitive canines. Work is play for these suitcase sniffing types. I think it’s safe to say, this is Poncho’s number one sport!

Agility dog_012915
Agility can be adapted to a dog’s size, age, and other factors.

Dog Agility: For the jumper, tunneler, climber, targeter, and balancer. The sport includes a human handler who directs a dog through an obstacle course in a race for time and accuracy. There’s a lot of fun equipment like climbing frames, balance beams and winding tunnels. Agility can be adapted for dogs of all skill levels, ages, and sizes.

(Musical) Canine Freestyle: A contemporary dog sport that combines obedience, tricks, and dancing! (Musical) Canine Freestyle allows for creative interaction between dogs and their humans while strengthening their bond in a fun and artistic way. (This would be my number one activity because I enjoy dancing and I know Poncho would be a willing partner!)

Flyball:  For the more team-player, prey-driven dog. Teams of four dogs race from a start/finish line, over hurdles to a box that releases a tennis ball to be caught after the dog presses the spring-loaded pad, then back to their handlers while carrying the ball.

Rally Obedience or Rally-O: Think of it as a formal obedience obstacle course. Dog and handler teams navigate a course with numbered signs indicating different exercises to perform such as Sit-Down-Sit, Straight Figure 8, Send Over Jump, and Recall Over Jump.

Treibball: For the playful herder. A dog must herd and drive large exercise balls into a soccer goal. Great for inquisitive canines who enjoy spending time learning with their human partner.

K-9 Weight Pull: Perfect for any inquisitive canine breed that enjoys pulling. The competitive sport is similar to sledding; dogs pull cars, sleds, and/or wagons.

Dock Jumping/Dock Diving: For water loving pooches! Dogs compete in jumping for distance or height from a dock into a body of water.

So many choices should make it easy to find something appealing. If not, continuing with the basics allows you to strengthen your bond with your dog and provide  mental and physical enrichment for both of you.

Plus it’s just fun! Happy learning!

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It’s Valentine’s Day for Dogs, too. Show Your Love with Some Dog Training

The day dedicated to sweethearts is right around the corner. That means you’ll want your inquisitive canine to be feeling the love. Valentine’s Day often means chocolate, and lots of other, candy. Poncho and I want to send a gentle reminder to make sure you’re managing your environment, keeping all of those types of human yummy treats out of your dog’s reach. Yes, safety is top priority for pets – through management of his or her environment – but that doesn’t mean you can’t show your love in a multitude of other ways.

brown dog staring at human
Spending time together is one of the best ways to tell your dog “I love you.”

How about making it a scent-ual Valentine’s Day and setting up a Kibble Hunt? Poncho loves playing this as much as we love setting up the course.

A few tips on setting up Kibble Hunt:

  • Instead of serving his or her food out of a bowl, set up a scavenger course in and around your house.  In the yard or inside your home, or both. If your dog eats kibble, this will be easy! Just place pieces in strategic places around the yard. Or, if it’s an indoor arrangement only, place pieces of kibble around areas of your home. Behind doors, under corners of rugs and pieces of furniture, or wherever your dog likes to explore or is easy to explore. Note: If your dog eats wet food or out of a Kong toy then you can certainly “hide” these as well. Kong toys are convenient to hide around the yard or areas in kitchens. Wet food can be divided  into  smaller containers and hidden in various places.
  • Add a bonus. Although I usually hide Poncho’s regular kibble, I’ll also place a few pieces of his favorite treats. Why not? Makes the game that much more fun! Plus, it’s Valentine’s Day!
  • Set your dog up for success. If Kibble Hunt is a new activity for your dog, or if your dog is more of a runner than a hunter, consider letting he or she watch you set up. Leash and tether your dog in an area where he or she can watch you arrange the course. Then, “let the dogs out” to search and rescue all the goodies. You could also have your dog watch through a window, seeing all the steps you’re taking, in order to assist in the hunt.

Kibble Hunt is an excellent physical and mental stimulation activity for your dog and will help keep him or her occupied when spending time on their own. Providing opportunities for dogs to use their hunting skills helps build confidence. Also, it’s just darn fun! By the way, Kibble Hunt is just one of the many and very fun activities in our Out of the Box Dog Training Game!

What better way to say “I love you” to your inquisitive canine? Wishing you all a very happy and pawsitively rewarding Valentine’s Day.

The Inquisitive Canine Doggie Blog is written by Joan Mayer, a certified professional dog trainer based in Santa Barbara, California. Joan is also a human-canine relationship coach and frequently consults with Poncho, her 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about human and canine behavior.

Joan and Poncho love making new friends. Post snapshots and videos of your favorite Inquisitive Canine on their Facebook page

Does Your Dog Like to Share Their Food and Toys?

When it comes to resources – food, toys, and locations – many animals, dogs included, prefer to keep it all to themselves. Learning to share is just that, a learned behavior. Guarding ones resources, is an innate behavior – and one that is very handy for survival.

Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Alone Time

Dear Poncho,

Our dog Tessa is a wonderful addition to our family. She’s smart, lovable, and very obedient. Our only problem is leaving her alone. She cries, barks, and shreds her bed in the crate. If we leave her in the backyard, she chews at our fences, although eventually she settles down. She has also destroyed my car’s door panels when I’ve left her in there for even short periods of time (with open windows, in the shade, and with water, of course).

We don’t know what to do about her complete agitation when she is away from us, and I don’t have time for long and intense training. Please help!

Thank you,
Cara

Dear Miss Cara,

Sounds like your assessment of Tessa’s behavior is right on track: she’s agitated when left alone, as opposed to being bored or angry. I can totally empathize, because I used to dread spending time alone. Now though, after my folks helped me out, I have the confidence to do so, and actually look forward to it. Sure, it’s great being a mama’s (and daddy’s) boy, but frankly I need a break now and then. Allow me to provide my pooch’s perspective. Continue Reading “Teach Your Dog to Enjoy Alone Time”