Puppy Parent Tip Sheet

Georgie-with-ball-grassThere is no peak season for puppies, but my experience as a certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant has shown summer to be one of the busier training times for young inquisitive canines. Any time is a good time for puppy training. Summer, though, has the added benefit of kids typically being out of school, which allows extra time for bonding and training with their pups. Kind of puts a brand new meaning to “dog days of summer,” doesn’t it?

Training is fun for inquisitive canines and their humans. Dogs are social animals. They want to interact with humans. Keeping things pawsitive sets the stage for quick learning on both ends of the leash. Following are pointers to make the most out of your training sessions. You may want to keep it handy on your phone or print it out to post on your refrigerator. 

Inquisitive Canine’s 9 Top Tips for Puppy Parents

Have realistic goals and expectations. Start small and work up to more challenging exercises. This may sound “uh, duh,” but it’s easy to forget in the all cuteness and excitement of puppyhood. Successful eye contact is a HUGE step for a puppy.

Keep training sessions short and sweet. Five minutes at a time! Take a cue from show business and leave ’em wanting more. Your inquisitive canine has a short attention span. Little by little, it will lengthen. There’s no need to try and cover more than a puppy can take in. (Oh, if only some other things in life were kept to five-minute intervals.)

It is best to train when your puppy is hungry – not stuffed after a meal nor famished. If puppy’s motivation is higher, the steeper the learning curve. Waiting until your dog is ravenous is unhealthy and unproductive, who can learn when they can’t think straight because they’re so hungry.

Use a variety of deliciously smelly treats. Mix it up. It will keep your inquisitive canine attentive and curious. *Make sure all foods are puppy appropriate and vet-approved. 

Take frequent “fun” breaks from training with a quick game of “fetch,” “follow me,” or “hide and seek.” Break time is part of a new behavior’s gestation. It allows the brain to refresh and clear itself.

Remember to think about your feedback and your timing. (The clicker really helps with this!) Feedback must be immediate. Period. Humans are capable of understanding delayed gratification, but this concept is often lost on pups. 

You must be present and alert if you expect your pup to be. That’s only fair, right? Clear your decks, turn off the phone, and give all your attention to your puppy.

Speak from your heart. Keep your tone of voice in mind. Positive and upbeat is the training tone. Dogs may not have large vocabularies, but they sure can understand tonal language.

Make training a part of your everyday routine, not a chore. Dogs flourish with learning and enriching their mind. Incorporating their training into your daily routine will yield great pawsitive results.

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Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Puppies as presents … well, you asked my opinion

As a  certified professional dog trainer and behavior consultant, during the Pawliday Season I hear this every day:  “I’m going to get the kids a puppy for Christmas. What do you think?”

Hmm … where to begin … I’m thinking SO many things. Instead of bursting anyone’s “Hallmark moment” bubble, I just smile, giggle, and agree that having a puppy – or adult dog, or cat, or …– is magical. There really isn’t anything like the love and joy of a furry friend … trust me!

But when it comes to buying a puppy for someone else, even if it’s within the same household, I encourage people to really think hard about this type of “purchase,” from both the giver and the recipient(s) point of view.

puppy biting
Puppy love! Before even thinking about giving a puppy as a gift, have open and direct communication with the intended recipient (or parents of recipient). Photo by Elizabeth Tuz.

The following are questions posted by a journalist through a friend of mine:

  • Is a new pet a good gift to a child or loved one for the holidays? This is a “yes” and “no” question. If the person on the receiving end is an adult who is expecting one, then I would say it would be a great gift. If it’s been discussed and planned out then yes. If it’s for a child in the family, then I would want the entire family to agree to welcoming the new pet, and realize that everyone will be involved, one way or another.
  • Should the giver ruin the surprise by asking if the recipient wants that pet and breed before giving it? Resoundingly yes! Because the recipient not wanting such a “gift” could be a bigger surprise! An alternative would be to give someone items related to the pet they intend to give: books, pictures,  or toys  along with a “gift certificate” good for “shopping” together. This way if the person really wants this pet, it can be a shared experience, which can be more meaningful.
  • What are the dangers/risks/drawbacks of giving an animal as a present? The biggest one is the person doesn’t want it, and the innocent animal has to be returned. It can be very traumatic for all involved. The person may want it, but then doesn’t realize the responsibility that’s involved with owning an animal. It’s the pet that ends up suffering the most if it ends up in a neglectful home, even if unintentional. It can also damage the relationship between the giver and recipient if one feels imposed upon or slighted, and neither feels comfortable talking about it.
  • What is a more appropriate vs. a less appropriate pet gift to give a child? It really depends upon the child, how involved they intend to be, and how responsible they are. It also depends upon what the parents expect of the child. Parents should investigate different types of animals that can be kept as pets, and the needs of that particular animal. Then match it to what the child can do to participate in its care. There are also many toys and virtual games that help build responsibility in pet care.
  • Are there any special things the gift giver should do or consider before giving the pet as a present? For example,  should they ensure that the pet has all its vaccinations and is microchipped? Assuming that it is a welcomed gift, taking care of the initial health care needs and requirements is always nice. The gift giver may also want to include: a carrier, crate, bedding, proper collars, leashes, car seat-belt, walking harness, food, treats, elimination box if necessary, elimination bags, ID tags, licensing fees, a gift certificate for a veterinarian wellness visit, training class if it’s a dog, a few toys, books or other information about the specific pet.
  • Where should a gift-giver try to get an appropriate pet, i.e. a reputable breeder or shelter? What sources should the giver avoid? When it comes to adopting a pet or buying a pet, it’s really up to the individual. There are reputable Web sites that can help the decision making process. With millions of shelter animals being killed every year because of an unwritten gold standard for breeding, less than ideal  ownership, and a host of other “reasons,” shelters are certainly a good choice. However there are responsible breeders as well, and should be considered if that is the person’s desire. The American Kennel Club has information on helping people choose a breeder.
  • Is it a good idea to research and suggest a reputable veterinarian/animal hospital in the recipient’s area at the time you give the pet gift? Yes. This would be a nice gesture for the new pet owners. I would investigate, then provide a list of a few names, allowing the recipient to make the final choice. A “gift certificate” for a wellness exam would be nice, too.
  • Any special tips in terms of how to actually present the gift? Any creative ideas that won’t threaten the animal’s safety? A client of mine gave their son a puppy last Christmas. She placed the puppy in a large stocking for the presentation. Very cute. Attaching a fabric bow to the collar is sweet, and shouldn’t endanger the animal. A large basket on the floor with the animal nestled in can be cute, but it may jump out, so you need to be careful. You can also gift-wrap all of the accompanying goodies.
  • What are some good alternative gifts to giving a pet animal, things like membership to the zoo, donation to an animal-friendly cause or shelter, a virtual reality pet game, etc.? All of these ideas are good. If possible, the person can get involved with the local shelters. They always need volunteers. This way they can get the “pet fix” without the extra added responsibilities.
  • Any other thoughts or recommendations on this topic? Pets are an absolute joy to have as part of any family. Unfortunately, they are still considered property. With that, folks sometimes treat them like inanimate objects, and not like the living, breathing, individual beings that they are. If they don’t want it, they can’t just stick it in the back closet and ignore it. A puppy or adult dog is also very difficult to return. Giving someone a pet as a gift is similar to giving someone a baby. It needs constant care and attention, and not just for a year or two. Adopting a puppy means having a dog for around ten years or more – plus, they don’t move out. Parents buying a puppy for their pre-teen kids means the parents will still be taking care of the dog once their child heads off to college…unless the child continues to live at home. There is also a financial responsibility. I’d say before buying someone a pet as a gift, make sure the recipient really wants it, and knows the responsibilities that go with it.

So, is a pet a good gift? Yes, but only if the recipient not only wants it, but is responsible enough to take care of it, for the lifetime of the pet.

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Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Basic Dog Training – Step #1

Chances are good you are reading this because you have a new family member – an inquisitive canine. Congratulations and welcome to your new family member! 

As a certified professional dog trainer and  behavior consultant, I take a pawsitive approach to dog training as an easy, simple, and fun way to enhance the everyday relationship between dogs and their guardians.

Libby is an excellent eye gazer.
Libby is an excellent eye gazer.

Dog Training Step #1 is a super-simple activity. (Maybe you are already doing it.)

Gaze into Each Other’s Eyes 

Have fun teaching your dog to look you in the eyes. Reward your dog with high-value yummy treats, petting and praise whenever s/he looks into your eyes.

  • Start out with a quick glance and then increase the duration to a few seconds.
  • Prompt your dog to look into your eyes with a happy voice.
  • Practice this in different locations, including while out on a walk.
  • Reward, reward, reward – Every time you gaze into each other’s eyes.

That’s it! I told you it was super easy.

But don’t underestimate its importance. This is the foundation to a long and rewarding relationship with your dog.

Poncho playing the Out of the Box Dog Training game.
Poncho playing the Out of the Box Dog Training game.

Dog Training Step #1 is taken from the Out of the Box Dog Training Game I created. The Out of the Box Dog Training Game enables benefiting from the time you and your dog already spend together by motivating your dog to develop good manners, while limiting and preventing inappropriate habits. You also will discover fun activities that can strengthen your bond and new ways to multi-task in your daily routine so that you can spend more quality time with your dog. The game is perfect for one-on-one with your dog or with your family and friends. Perfect for any number of human and canine players, these training activities are fun for everyone involved. Anyone can play; no prerequisite required. Each activity can be customized for specific needs and adapted to different learner levels to continue advancing your dog’s skills.

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Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Welcoming Your New Dog Home

Anytime of year is a good time to welcome a new inquisitive canine family member into your home — whether it be a puppy or an adult dog. As a dog mom, I know firsthand how life enriching and meaningful the human-animal bond can be. Everyday I give thanks for the relationship my 10-pound mutt, Poncho, and I have.

As a certified professional dog trainer, I know that making your home as dog friendly as possible before your new family member arrives will create a smooth transition and reduce stress for everyone, including the dog. So for you pet-parents-to-be, here are a few simple tips to start things out on the right paw.

Taking a few steps to ready your home before bringing in a new inquisitive canine family member will go a very long way to make your dog, and everyone else, transition smoothly to the new living arrangement. Photo by Liz Tuz.
Taking a few steps to ready your home before bringing in a new inquisitive canine family member will go a very long way to make your dog, and everyone else, transition smoothly to the new living arrangement. Photo by Liz Tuz.

Health & Wellness:  Prevention is key! Schedule a wellness exam for your dog to be sure he or she has been evaluated and is receiving all they need to maintain good health. This can’t be stressed enough especially if you have zero health history on your dog, which can often be the case when adopting from a shelter, finding a dog, or receiving one from a neighbor or friend. If your dog doesn’t need an exam, bring your dog in to the meet the vet staff, say “hi,” and get a treat. Your dog will have a very nice first impression of going to the vet.

Service Resources: What services will your new family member need? Veterinarian? Groomer? Dog training services? Dog walker? Petsitter? Start your research now. Ask friends and family. Check YELP and other Internet sources. Get references. As for those you’d hire, we feel interviewing two or three is a sensible approach. If possible, have your dog meet each provider as well, since your dog is the one who’ll be spending the most time with the person. Best to have all the information before you need the services.

Basic Beginnings: For sure you’ll need a collar with ID, as well as food, water bowl, walking harness and leash. For day-to-day needs, look to local pet supply stores, garage sales, thrift stores, friends cleaning out their garages (checking expiration dates on products) and, of course, the Internet.

Depending where you live, a license might be required as well. Check with your local animal services department. Microchips are optional, but quite handy; ask your vet for information regarding the insertion of a chip. If your dog came with a chip, the facility or person you got your dog from should be able to provide you with what you’ll need in order to update the contact information.

In case you haven’t noticed, pets are BIG business. There are thousands of pet products on the market nowadays. When it comes to toys, beds, treats, and games you can play with your dog, we suggest you test out a few you think your dog might like, at least until you get to know his or her preferences. Then you can go nuts and start “spoiling” them silly. (Guilty!)

Social Director Extraordinaire: Depending upon the age, breed, temperament, and likes and dislikes of your dog, you’ll want to plan activities that enrich your dog’s life — both physically and mentally. The following is a list of things you can do with your dog – most are budget-friendly.

  • Neighborhood walks for fun and to show your dog his or her new neighborhood. Until your dog learns to stay with you and has a good recall, staying on leash is highly recommended. Plus, it might be the law. Bring  treats to reward behaviors you like, and when introducing your dog to new people and other dogs.
  • Field trips to places you frequent. Many dogs love car rides and running errands. Make sure your dog is kept safe while going for rides. Seat belts and car seats are easy to find, inexpensive and help protect your dog from injury.
  • Meet-and-greets with friends and neighbors. Allow your dog to set the pace as to how quickly he or she wants to socialize. It might be overwhelming with all the new changes, so be patient. Remember to praise your dog for being well-mannered and brave!
  • Dog training services. No matter your dog’s age or skill level, lessons with an emphasis on manners create enjoyable activities for having fun, learning new skills and enhancing your bond.
  • Yard play. Playing games in your own home and yard — fetch, tug, hide ‘n’ seek, scavenger hunts or just chillin’ with each other and giving belly rubs — is quality time and enjoyable for everyone, and often the best part of the day.

Who’s on first?: No matter how many people will be caring for your dog, delegate responsibilities and how they’ll fit into your current schedule.  Feeding, walking and exercise, potty outings, clean-up, vet appointments, grooming and training are just a few general responsibilities that make up your dog’s daily agenda. Make sure everyone knows the routine, his or her list of duties and that maintaining consistency is essential to your dog adapting and learning what you want.

Environmental Management: No matter the age of your new dog, he or she will need to learn about, and settle in to your environment. Puppies will require additional guidance on house-training, which includes rewarding desired behavior, tighter management and observation. Older dogs still need to be taught where the bathroom is, and get rewarded for using it. For a step-by-step plan on how you can house-train your dog, check out our free eBook.

Puppy- and dog-proofing your home: Take the time to section off off-limits areas,  safely putting away those things you don’t want your dog to get to. As you learn more about each other, you can slowly increase your dog’s boundaries, allowing more freedom.

Sleeping arrangements: You’ll need to decide where your dog is and isn’t allowed to sleep. Will your dog slumber in his or her own bed? Crate? Your bed? Floor? Couch? There’s no right or wrong answer. Just make sure you’ve approved it, it’s safe and you’re able to monitor your pooch — at least initially, until you know his or her sleeping patterns.

Pet siblings: If this is a second dog or second pet, you’ll need to take the necessary steps to introduce your new dog to the seasoned residents. Allow each of them to set the pace on how fast they want to establish a relationship. Keep the vibe positive and easygoing, while at the same time safe. Read more tips on introducing a new dog to a resident dog.

Tracking down resources, gathering supplies, delegating responsibilities and establishing a dog-friendly environment are key components in setting you and your new canine companion up for success. We encourage new pooch parents to begin developing a plan of action to help your dog feel welcomed! This will make the adjustment easy on everyone, which leaves more time for fun and games (and belly rubs).

Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about human and canine behavior.

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Wanna share pics and videos of your inquisitive canine? We invite you to post on our Facebook page.

Dog Training Creates a Mutt-Match Made in Heaven

How to Play Mutt-Matchmaker

Dear Poncho,

Several years ago, I brought a new puppy into the family “to keep my older dog company.” That backfired because they fought constantly. The older one passed away a few years ago, but now I’d love to add another dog to my family.

What is the best way to introduce a new dog into a family with another dog while avoiding what happened the last time?

KG

Dear KG,

Geez, I hate when a mutt-match backfires. As you’ve learned, arranging relationships between two or more dogs living in the same home takes more than just pointing to the cutest nearby pooch or making the decision based on who you think your dog would like.

Speaking as an inquisitive canine who currently resides in a single-dog household, allow me to point out a few tips I’d want my folks to use if I ever decide I want a sibling. (Yep, that’s right, I said “if I decide.”)

Here are the four tenets of my Mutt Model:

Know Your Animal(s)!

In this case, know the likes and dislikes of both your own dog and any potential dog you wish to bring into your home. Some dogs are total social butterflies, loving each and every dog they meet. Then there are those who prefer to hang out with pooches of a specific breed or appearance, gender, age, and/or personality (a.k.a. temperament). And finally, there are those like myself, who enjoy being the one and only fur child in the house. Although, I am drawn to beagles, so if the opportunity ever presented itself …

Anyway, if your dog is more the type who wants to meet and play with all other dogs, then you’ll find it a bit easier to play matchmaker — as long as the potential sibling feels the same way. If your dog is more the loner type, then unless you want to take the training steps to create the pawfect relationship, you might want your current situation to stay as is, knowing you can continue to keep the door open, auditioning potential pals until you happen upon a best bud for your other best bud.

Now, if your dog falls somewhere in the middle, enjoying the company of another dog who fits into his or her ideal picture, then it’s best to watch and learn: Keep an eye on your dog’s body language and how he or she communicates toward dogs who float their boat — or, in this case, raise their paws. That’s one way he or she will let you know if it’s a match made in heaven (as opposed to that other place).

Whaddya Want?

What’s your goal for bringing in another dog? Because you want more? You feel guilty about leaving your dog alone? Or because you think your dog is lonely and needs a friend? Self-imposed guilt is not a reason for getting another dog. Also, hiring one non-human animal to babysit another non-human animal is not always the smartest plan — as you quickly learned the first time. Doggy daycare, pet-sitters, dog walkers and arranging play-dates with other dog friends or human friends are reasonable options for creating a more fulfilling, and less isolated, life for your dog.

If your main reason for wanting another dog is because you need an extra fix, how about volunteering at a local shelter? You can get your fill of dogs of all ages, sizes and breeds — including us mutts. This way, you can meet your wants, while at the same time not having to deal with the extra responsibilities and expenses. It’s also a great way to meet and greet lots of other dogs (or cats or bunnies), keeping your eyes open for a potential mate.

Set the Scene — and Reward, Reward, Reward

So let’s say you decide to adopt another dog. What’s a great approach to help make this relationship work? I suggest the following:

  • Creating scenarios in which both dogs are enjoying themselves, each other’s company and the overall situation. This is especially true for the initial meeting — first impressions are key!
  • Allow the dogs to set the pace at which they want to go, making sure they’re able to communicate in their normal doggy language while still having fun together!
  • Let them know they’re on the right track by telling them. Reward them with all things us doggies love, such as being pet, yummy treats and hearing,  “Good dog!” I do believe many dates you humans go on involve consuming beverages and/or meals together? Well, you can create a similar situation with dogs, as I can assure you, most all of us love a good pawty too!

Know Yourself

What exactly are you and other members of your family willing to do in order to start the relationship out on the right paw, and keep it going strong? Besides the initial meeting steps, you’ll want to maintain a happy home while also preventing disasters from happening. You can do this by:

  • Encouraging, recognizing and rewarding both dogs for any and all behaviors you want, such as showing interest in one another and interacting nicely
  • Allowing them to set the pace for how quickly they want the relationship to progress, establishing their own canine boundaries
  • Supervising interactions for at least a few weeks before leaving them on their own
  • Maintaining your resident dog’s regular routine as much as possible, since change of any kind can be stressful
  • Providing individual attention for both dogs — after all, everyone enjoys being mama’s boy or daddy’s girl now and again

Paws and Reflect

Before you go and fetch yourself another dog, first determine your reasons for wanting one, then decide if it’s the best choice for all involved (including the dogs and the humans). Then, figure out what you’re going to want from your dogs, and what steps you’re willing to take to help establish a meaningful and loving bond between the two of them.

Finally, keep in mind that when it comes to creating a relationship, it’s important to allow those involved to have at least some, if not all, of the say. Oftentimes, the one animal who’ll be spending the most time with the new resident should have the last word … or in this case, woof.
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Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho. Based in Santa Barbara, California, Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and human-canine relationship coach. Poncho is a 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

Shelter Dog Shopping Spree, Santa Barbara’s La Cumbre Plaza

Calling all animal lovers, animal rescue advocates, and shopaholics! This Sunday, August 25, 2013 marks the official GRANDE OPENING of the newly established Give a Dog a Home – ReTails Adoption Center at La Cumbre Plaza here in Santa Barbara.

Give a Dog a Home Grand Opening Poster

From 12:00 – 2:00 PM, you can join the adorable available adoptable doggies, along with the gracious, giving and dedicated volunteers who’ve launched this exciting venture. There will be food, fun, furry friends, local politicians, animal advocates, and community members celebrating all things rescue dogs!

What is Give a Dog a Home all about you ask? Well, thanks to the generous folks of La Cumbre Plaza donating one of their fabulous retail spaces, Santa Barbara shelter dogs are now able to spend time out of their kennels and in the presence of an enjoyable, paw-sitive location – meeting, greeting and socializing with the public.

Along with finding forever homes, the ReTails group will be providing education, resources, and training demonstrations for pet-loving members of our community.

Want to be involved? Visitors will be able to find out more about volunteering, becoming an “ambassador”, or even fostering!

For further information, please feel free to email the GIVE a DOG a HOME Adoption Center team directly, or download the attached flyer.

Building Trust with Your New Bashful Bow-wow

Dear Inquisitive Canine, 

Shy Puppy in Class

Our new Shih Tzu puppy hides from us, only coming out when no one is around. She also lowers her head when we pet her. I know it takes time, but I’ve heard some dogs will start interacting with their new environment after 1-3 days, and tomorrow will be her third day here. I just want her to be

a happy puppy. What should I do and how should I do it?

Renee T.

Dear Renee,

Poncho here! My certified dog trainer mom thought it best if I take this one. First off, allow me to say “atta girl!” for being inquisitive, aware of your situation and taking the time to ask questions about your new puppy. I’d also like to commend you for being such a keen observer of her body language and your ability to listen to what she’s “saying.”

Once a young pup myself, I can speak firsthand as to how learning to trust new people, places and situations takes time and practice. I’m happy to pass along a few simple dog training tips you can use to help your wallflower fido become the more confident canine you’d like her to be.

Treats, Love and Understanding

Let’s start with a few knowledge nuggets regarding the topic of fear. I’m talking about fear as it relates to her feelings, her emotional state and her ability to make her own decisions.

The primary stage of your dog’s life when she’s most open to new people and situations is 0-3 months — a very narrow window in which sociability wins out over being afraid. If your pup wasn’t introduced to a variety of people and situations during this time, then chances are it’ll be tougher for her to adapt, since the fear response starts to win the race as she ages. However, not all hope is lost. You can certainly teach her anything she is physically and mentally capable of doing, including trusting and enjoying her new life with you and all that’s in it!

Here are a few steps you can take:

  • Keep It Simple. During this crucial teaching time, you’ll want to keep things simple and fun. All you have to do is pair something your bashful bow-wow might be uncertain about with something she already loves! For instance, since we animals must eat, you and others can provide extra-yummy goodies for her, such as pieces of grilled chicken or steak (I love when my mom does that!), allowing her to approach you. If she’s still hesitant, try tossing pieces toward her, building the trail of trust till she is confident enough to approach.
  • Adjust Expectations, Little by Little. Believe me, you’ll want to take baby-steps when working with her. As long as she continues to advance toward you, accepting your kindness and that of strangers, you can keep forging ahead at a slow-and-steady pace. If and when she decides to back off, respect her wishes and allow her to make that choice.
  • The Triple-P of Giving Treats. Once she begins to show signs of confidence, coming toward you and being close to you, begin hand-feeding her. Others in your home can do this as well. As she gets more comfortable, you can begin the Triple-P Treat Training Plan: Pet, praise, then present the treat. Petting should begin with light touches under her chin, working your way around as she gets more comfortable. And — this is really important — all petting should be followed with a yummy nibble of treat goodness. I recommend making the top of her head the last location, since hands reaching over will cause her to pull back.

As for additional situations and locations, repeat the same steps in places you want her to enjoy hanging out. Over time, she should learn to believe that her new world is a fantastic place and her confidence should build, making it easier for her to accept and believe that novelty is the spice of life!

Paws and Reflect

Fearfulness is a normal reaction across many different species. Your pup is responding in a way that is innate — avoiding in order to survive. It can be difficult to not take it personally, but keep in mind that developing a relationship with strangers, especially those of a different species, is more about building trust and not about liking. With a caring dog-mom like you being patient, allowing her to set the pace, giving her control over her environment and being able to make her own decisions, your bashful bow-wow will begin to enjoy her life with you in time and blossom into that self-assured pup you want!


Dear Inquisitive Canine is written by Joan Mayer and her trusty sidekick, Poncho the dog. Joan is a certified professional dog trainer and dog behavior coach. Poncho is a 10-pound mutt who knows a lot about canine and human behavior. Their column is known for its simple, commonsense approach to dog training and behavior, as well as its entertaining insight into implementing proven techniques that reward both owner and dog.

Joan is also the founder of the Inquisitive Canine and developer of the Out of the Box Dog Training Game, where her love-of-dog training approach highlights the importance of understanding canine behavior. If you or your dog have questions about behavior, training or life with each other, please email them directly.

Santa Barbara Dog Shelter Celebrates Love of Irish & Dogs

Looking to adopt a dog this March? If so, make sure you stop by K9 PALS in Santa Barbara to see if you can find your mutt-mate. The kind folks of the Placement and Assistance League are celebrating their 12 year anniversary with special adoption rates. And, because K9 PALS wants to be your pal too, your perfect pooch with already come spay/neutered with all of their vaccinations. But wait, there’s more!  They’re even throwing in 4 FREE dog training classes to help you and your inquisitive canine start out on the right paw together!


K9 PALS Homepage

P R E S S    R E L E A S E
K-9 Placement & Assistance League, Inc.

Contact:  Janelle Ward
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Telephone:  805-570-0415
March 9, 2012
March is the time to Adopt a Dog and to Celebrate!

You don’t need a four-leaf clover to get the “luck” of the Irish to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, and to celebrate K-9 PALS’ 12th Anniversary of serving Santa Barbara County Shelter dogs.  You can get “lucky” when you adopt a dog from the Santa Barbara County Shelter.  Lots of adoptable “lucky charm” dogs are waiting to fill your life with love and laughter.  And as part of the celebrations this month, K-9 PALS will be sponsoring the following Santa Barbara County Shelter dog adoption promotion. Continue Reading “Santa Barbara Dog Shelter Celebrates Love of Irish & Dogs”

Resolve to Help Keep Dogs in Homes and out of Shelters

Dear Inquisitive Dog Parents,

The new year is officially here. For many, this means creating lists of resolutions with intentions of modifying one’s behavior. In honor of this tradition, my sidekick, Poncho, and I have decided to join in, talking about resolutions to help dogs stay in their homes and out of animal shelters. We encourage you to team up with us and add the dogs of your community — whether your own or someone else’s — to your list of personal achievements.

Solutions Start with Preparation

According to a study conducted by the National Council on Pet Population Study and Policy on Reasons for Relinquishment of Companion Animals in U.S. Animal Shelters, the top reasons dogs are sent to shelters have to do with living situations, cost, time, owners having personal problems and behavioral concerns of the dogs themselves.

As a certified professional dog trainer, I can attest to this, as I commonly hear similar complaints. As for Poncho, he used to live in a shelter, so he knows firsthand the reasons he and his buddies landed there. Together, he and I have compiled the following tips to help dog lovers everywhere do what they can to reduce the shelter dog population: Continue Reading “Resolve to Help Keep Dogs in Homes and out of Shelters”

Old Dog, New Year, New Resolutions

Attention Dog Parents!

5 – 4 – 3 – 2 – Wow! Welcome to 2012! As an inquisitive canine who knows a lot about human behavior, I’ve learned that many of you bi-pedals start the new year with a list of self-improvement goals for the next twelve months. I thought it would be the perfect time to jump on this little bandwagon, explore a few of the more common commitments found on these resolution lists, and apply them to life with a dog.

Here are my special tenet’s to honor the new year:

  • Get Fit: Looking for ways to stay in shape or lose a little holiday weight? What about your dog’s weight? Is he or she more on the curvy side? How about their endurance? If either or both are an issue, or if you just want to maintain your current condition, the new year is an ideal time to start fresh, don some new athletic shoes and begin an exercise program. You will find no better or more enthusiastic training partner than your dog. Walking, jogging, running, hiking, playing hide ‘n’ seek, attending a dog training class or joining a canine sport group, such as agility or Flyball, are all known to boost physical and mental health – for humans and canines alike!
  • Learn Something New: Think your dog is only able to absorb information when they’re a puppy? Newsflash, folks! You can teach an old dog new tricks! Yep – whether we’re old, young, big, small, male, or female, we are all eager to learn–and, we enjoy it! We’ll never argue about going to school, either! Dogs enjoy sharpening their skills, as well as learning new ones. Nowadays there are more options than ever for dog training classes and workshops. Once you’re done reading through your daily Edhat, head over to your Google search field and check to see what’s in your neighborhood or online in the virtual classroom. Continue Reading “Old Dog, New Year, New Resolutions”