Monday, February 28, 2011

...and the award goes to...

We've been noticed! And by one of our favs: Pamela at Something Wagging This Way Comes!

I mean, come on. The name of her blog alone is one of those that makes you snap your fingers in an "aw shucks" kind of way; Aw shucks that I didn't think of it first because it's so dang awesome!

We're a humble blog, a small pebble in the vast ocean of online journalism. So when we're noticed by someone as talented and entertaining as SWTC, we can't help but blush.

Thank you Pamela - for being such a loyal reader (and commenter!) and for recognizing us for this flattering award!

How does this work?

The responsibilities that accompany this award are:
  • thank the blogger who gave the award  -- Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
  • share 7 things about yourself/your pets --these are deep - I was feeling rather emotional this morning
  • pass the award onto 15 other bloggers -- just 15!?!
  1. I rotate favorite dogs on a regular basis but I usually claim Sarah as my number one out of a feeling of obligation.
  2. If the sun is out and I'm inside, I start to get very grumpy very quickly.
  3. Since I moved out of my parents' home when I was a teenager, I've never lived in one place longer than 3 years. This new cottage of ours will be my first. That provides me with a great amount of peace and anxiety all at the same time.
  4. I'm a vegetarian because I can be.
  5. J is my rock. I'm blessed to have found someone who loves me more than I do.
  6. Bizzle makes me laugh, Kuna makes me feel young and silly and Sarah makes me wish we all lived forever.
  7. When I was young, my mom told me I couldn't be a vet because I would cry too much when the animals were in pain. No matter how much I tried to avoid it, my life still led me to working with animals and I am surrounded by people who feel the same level of compassion. As an adult, I've learned it's perfectly okay to cry for those who can't.
Now on to the best part - the 15 bloggers I think are just ridiculously awesome and therefore earn the Stylish Blogger Award:

Smart Dog University - she's got some good lookin' dogs and a good lookin' blog!

Rewarding Behaviors Dog Training - also a contributor on - who's more hip than Casey!?

According to Gus - go ahead...visit the blog and tell me that Gus aint the most stylish guy around

Dog Days - the logo makes me happy everytime I see it

Puppy Jones - this site is pure joy, especially when I need a little pick-me-up

I Pittie the Fool - seriously? Does it get more stylish then an adorable pibble!?

You Did What With Your Weiner? - this blog's title is just my style

Sneaky Dog Pics - such a cute idea for a blog!

Boulder Dog - I've always loved Deborah's clean no fuss style

Stale Cheerios - I love that the style of this blog is clicker training for horses!

The Apres Pooch - The whimsical style of this blog makes me smile :)

Through a Dog's Ear - Using music to soothe dogs!

Urban Dog Training - Their site is hot pink, for heaven's sake! They haven't been online in a while, which is a perfect reason for me to post this: Come back to us Urban Dog Training!

TAGTeach - The latest craze is learning how to be a better teacher and this blog is full of advice!!

Sit, Stay and Play - Totally cute name, totally cute blog!

So there are just a few of the folks I feel deserve the Stylish Blogger Award as well.

What blogs do you follow that we haven't discovered yet? Let us know!

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Mama Said Knock You Out!

OOOOO! Kuna just got his butt handed to him! And it was lovely!

Sarah is my ol' number one...mama's favorite.


Kuna was being his normal annoying self - chewing her face, licking in her mouth and chasing her when she tries to get away. He reminds us of a pesky mosquito.

Welp, today he just pushed her too far. Before we knew it, we heard her unleash the beast and yell at him.  I shouted "Hey!" to break it up and quickly saw that there were no teeth on skin and everyone was okay. 

Inside, it made me smile. Does that make me evil??

Let's face it - Kuna is a juvenile boy. He's cuddly and cute for, like, 2 hours out of the day. The other hours he spends awake, he's a total A-hole. Sometimes, it takes another dog (a very motherly one, at that) to tell him enough is enough!

Don't worry, they're still buddies at the end of the day, collaborating on how to mess up our living room with more stuffing and toys.

But I'm glad someone is able to tame this rambunctious boy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Think About This:

Question from a client:

When can I stop treating my dog for doing something right?

Answer (in the form of another question -- oooo!) from Kahuna's K9s:

When do you want your employer to stop paying you?

When do you want your spouse, friend, loved one to cease showing appreciation for the things you do?

Treats are a state of mind...

When we work with our dogs, food is the easiest and most common form of reinforcement. It does not work all the time for all dogs but that doesn't mean that clicker or what some folks refer to as "treat" training fails.

It just means we have to find what the dog considers reinforcing.

When we say to always reinforce a behavior, we're not saying you have to always have treats on you. We are saying that the more you prove to the dog there is something in it for them, the more likely you are to see that behavior again. It's science.

Kuna and the Bellowing J

The other day, Kuna was about to run towards the fence to bark at pedestrians. J hollered out "KUNA! GET OVER HERE!" (against my wise, trainer-ly advice). Kuna literally did an "about-face" and came running to J. When the wittle puppy got there, he looked expectantly at J and got....nuthin'. He literally looked at the floor, looked at his hands, scanning the area like a perplexed little bird. And John didn't even give him a "Good boy"!

Well I never! I was completely coming undone with anticipation!

"You're going to reward him, riiiiight???"

"I don't have any treats on me..."

"But that kid lives and dies for a little good ol' boy wrestling! Wrestle with him!"

J rolled his eyes lovingly followed my advice and started to rough house with him. Kuna couldn't care less there wasn't food there. And as the pedestrians walked by our house, Kuna continued to play.

So. For Thursday's Think About This, ask yourself:

When do I want my dog to stop doing what I ask?

What could I be paying my dog instead of treats?

Happy training!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

"My Dog Loves His Prong Collar"

An awesome article from
8 Reasons It’s Better to Be a Dog Now than 25 Years Ago
Our response to some of the comments left on the article is below. One commenter made me ill when I read her input, "Personally, I love love love my prong. And so does my dog. When he sees it he wiggles. I train using tons of treats, and a well timed correction when necessary."
My response to her comment specifically is at the end.

"It surprises me that so many comments are in favor of punitive methods, especially on such an upbeat article such as this one...

One commenter questioned, "...but how do you proof a dog without using proper corrections?" - I think that question points towards the issue here: the level of education on operant conditioning is not to the caliber it should be.

Mark and reward training is not bribery; in fact, it is critical that every person using the clicker/marker understands that no food presents itself before the click/mark. Bribery is when the "deal" is placed up front. Reward is when the payment is a result of the learner's action/behavior.

We all work within the same operant conditioning grid - I think many trainers forget that. Those of us who choose to use the positive reinforcement/negative punishment side of the house rather than positive punishment/negative reinforcement have a better understanding of the psychological fallout from poor corrections, etc.

{Update: it might not even be the fact that we have a better understanding, but that we do not want to take the risk of them being in a stressed environment that we have control over.}

PS - a dog can be conditioned to wag his tail at the site of the prong collar because it means he gets to go outside. It is fact that an organism will endure something unpleasant to get to something more pleasant. The cue means go outside.

People who smoke grab their cigarettes before taking their dog out. If the dog wags his tail at the sight of the cigarettes, does that mean he likes cancer?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

You're Making Me Uncomfortable

Today, you should hug a random person.

Better yet, walk up to a stranger, plant a wet one right on their lips and try to walk away without getting punched in the face! Ready?? GO!

Okay. Don't really do that. And if you do, don't hold me responsible for what may happen.

It's weird to kiss random people. It's weird to get a kiss from a stranger...

So why is it we often expect our dogs to tolerate these social faux pas?

Dogs should be even more deeply offended than humans considering it's not in their nature to show affection via hugging.

In fact, when a dog wraps their front leg around another's back, it's often a gesture of a take-over - a time when a dog is truly displaying dominance. That explains why when you hug your dog, they may lick their lips, avert their gaze, or look away: they're trying to be appeasing so you'll leave them alone!

But my dog has never complained before!

I'm not really a huggy person. Once I'm comfortable with you I dont mind but there are some people I meet for the first time that give gigantic hugs as if they've known me for ever. **shiver** That makes me feel so uncomfortable and yet people still do it and I let them! I would rather just endure it than make a big stink about it.

Your dog may be the same -- she's just enduring it because she understands that it will soon be over.

How do you know your dog doesn't enjoy it?

Hugging or kissing an unfamiliar dog can have disastrous results! (Being "human-affectionate" with a dog that is familiar with you isn't always safe either!)

Here are some pictures of dogs being hugged and descriptions below them of signs the dog is uncomfortable...

- Tight mouth
-Ears tucked
- Overall body language is tight
-Eyes look "worried"

- Panting, mouth open
- Whites of the eyes
- Leaning away from the hug

-Whites of the eyes
- Mouth is open
- Leaning away from the hug

But this sucks! I want to show my dog lovin'!

I know. Trust me...I struggle with this myself. I want so badly to squeeze my dogs until their heads pop off!! Sometimes, I catch myself reaching in to give Sarah a big giant hug but then I see her face: eyes squinting, head turned from me, body braced for impact..."GAWD!" I think, "She must really hate this!"

It doesn't necessarily mean you can never be close to your dog - it just means you've got to let them do it on their terms.

Check out this picture of Sarah and me:

I'm pulling her in close...notice how tight the leash is...look at her eyes, her head is turned away from me...she doesn't like being forced to come close to me. I'm also leaned in closer to her...

Here's a minute later, when I wised up:

I loosened the lead and had the person behind the camera make playful body language is more relaxed, I'm less "all up in her business"...

Sarah is a perfect example of the dog that hates affection but endures it...

Here's my Sarah showing affection on her terms - see, we can still be lovey!

When Kuna was less than 3 months old, I began his handling training - being held, being kissed, being hugged - because I knew he would be around our kids at an age that they have a hard time following instructions. We never leave the kids unsupervised with him but we also wanted to build up a solid and positive history with being hugged so he didn't take offense if they do reach for him.

We've now got a boy who is relaxed when it comes to snuggles (seriously, he turns to jello, throws his head over my shoulder and goes to sleep...). We've worked on this since day one!

Do you have pictures of you hugging your dogs? Can you find any where you can identify your dog's signals as being uncomfortable? Was that something you already knew or did it come as a surprise (as it often does to me when I look through old  all our photos)?


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Dog By Any Other Name...

How did you come up with your dog's name?

When I adopted Sarah in 2000, she was a meak little puppy huddling in the back of her kennel run. She was so timid and sweet that Sarah instantly came to mind. I knew it the moment I saw her...

Bizzle Fo' Shizzle didn't happen quite so quickly. It had been days since her homecoming and I was still just calling her "puppy". It wasn't until one day when all 4 lbs of her were ferociously tugging on my friend's pant leg that he exclaimed "Get off of me, you bizzle!" So far in her 6 years with us, she's lived up to her name every day.

Update: apparently, Bizzle is also a Christian rapper *tee hee* That is soooo not our Bizzle...

J and I were watching True Blood when we mistakenly thought one of the werewolves' name was Kuna when, in fact, it was Cooper. We thought "Kuna! That's an awesome name!" J knew Kuna was a perfect match to the name the instant we saw him. (I've since changed the name to Tuna...since our sweet little boy is too dang goofy to have a cool name like Kuna...)

What about you? Share with us by leaving a comment!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Piecing Together a Puppy Mill

Looking for a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, maybe?

Photo: The Daily Puppy

In this day in age, the first place you might look is on the Internet. You would come across a page like this, describing the breed.

Scrolling towards the bottom of that page, you'll see an ad for Zippity Do Da & Tiny Pet Kennels:


Lewisburg, TN (931) 637-5896

Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua

West Higland White Terriers & Shih-Tzu

S/W, health contract, parents on site, lap dog companions.
They sound nice...right? Health contract is definitely something I want to see and I've heard that seeing the parents is a sign of a good breeder...right??
Now it's time to find out more about the kennel. Google brings up these results:

 The first 3 links aren't even active anymore...probably because just under 100 dogs had to be rescued from their deplorable living conditions while they were housed at Zippity Do Da...


If you read our other post about puppy mills, you know that the number one thing keeping puppy mills in business is the fact that consumers have no idea they're buying their dogs from conditions like this.

These aren't dramaticized stories to tug at American heartstrings - animals are being born, raised and sold from horrid conditions every single day to caring homes across the country.

People buying these dogs aren't trying to be cruel. They think they're doing the right thing. But the breeders that put animals through this kind of suffering don't care about their well-being - they care about their wallets.

Remember the signs of a good breeder.

When it comes to buying, raising, training, feeding, etc. - ALWAYS ask questions. Lots of questions. Whoever doesn't answer those questions (especially after you've paid them for their services!) isn't in this business for you or your dog.

Here's more information about puppy mills and how to stop them.


Monday, February 7, 2011

A Case of the Mondays

Have you ever seen the movie Office Space? It's a hilarious movie about working at the office and some of the oneliners are classic! Here's the official trailer:

In the movie, there are a couple clips where they make a joke about the phrase "A case of the Mondays"...

What does Office Space have to do with you and your dog?

Let's face it: everyone gets bogged down at some point, usually when it requires quitting that fun thing we're doing (ahem...the WEEKEND!) and having to do something we're not really looking forward to - work!  Dragging your feet to your desk, you give it all you've got...but not really, because you'd almost always rather be anywhere else.

Guess what! Your dog feels like this sometimes too! Some days I'll be working with Bizz and I notice she's just not feelin' it and I say to her ('cause she can totally understand me) "It's okay girl - you've just got a case of the Mondays."

What to do when you're feelin' blue and your dog is too

You can still engage with your dog with luring games and hiding food games; that is, if you're not up for a snuggle. (I'm ALWAYS game for a puppy snuggle!)

Sometimes Often, I'll toss a handful of treats or kibble in the air, letting them land wherever. It's up to the dog's to find them. Then I sit back on the couch and unpause my DVR. tee hee.

Or, I'll put Easy Cheese in one of their marrow bones, put that in an old pillowcase, twist it up really good and tie a knot. Then, I hide it and sit back on the couch and unpause my DVR. Are you seeing a pattern here? ;)

Have you ever noticed your dog just not being themselves?

What do you do with your dogs when either of you have got a case of the Mondays?

BTDubbs, did you know this? A little fun fact about the Mondays...

Friday, February 4, 2011

Dog Blog: Snack-in-a-Box

We're always on the lookout for creative and safe puzzle or game ideas for our dogs, especially to share with folks who are stuck indoors with their pups because of the yucky winter weather!

Our pals over at Canine Mind's Dog Blog came up with a much cooler version of our cardboard box extravaganza and we couldn't help ourselves: we just had to share it:

Dog Blog: Snack-in-a-Box

Thanks Lizi for such a great idea!!

Does anyone have any other ideas of safe, fun, stimulating entertainment for stir-crazy dogs?