Ahimsa Dog Training, Seattle

Archive for the ‘Tips & Safety’ Category

Dog Relaxation: Training a Puppy or High-Energy Dog

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

With our young or high energy dogs we are often faced with the challenges of hyperactive behaviors such as excessive biting, chewing, jumping, destruction, and vocalization.  Most of these behaviors can be attributed to lack of physical and mental exercise, unintentionally reinforcing undesirable behaviors, and missed opportunities to reinforce calm behaviors.  Training calm behaviors is another important component to helping dogs learn to relax. When dogs are unable to properly relax, they find things to do in order to exert their energy and to occupy their minds…many of which can drive dog parents crazy.


Babette: Puppy Camp Success Story

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

We received this letter from a Puppy Camp student and I was thrilled to hear about puppy camp achieving exactly what I had hoped when we began it last year. We get thank you notes all the time from students (yay!) but this was so detailed and clear that I asked Dana for permission to share it on our website. Note: I also added in some links, but otherwise, this is Dana’s original email. It’s especially valuable feedback, because Dana is a Ph.D. clinical psychologist!


Dear Grisha,
My French Bulldog puppy, Babette, has been a grateful Puppy Camp student for eight weeks. I wanted to drop a note to make sure you are aware of what amazing work is going on there. I really cannot imagine how Babette’s development would have played out had it not been for Frank, Amber and Katie. (more…)

Poison in Green Lake, Halloween Tips

Tuesday, October 9th, 2012

Here is the October newsletter. Enjoy!

Hi folks, we have a few important announcements:

1. Toxic algae in Green Lake (Seattle)

Please do not let your dogs drink from the lake right now. It is poisonous. http://tinyurl.com/8kkgfjj

2. Vote for Ahimsa! Every vote counts. 🙂

We would really appreciate your vote for Ahimsa in the Best of Western Washington Contest. Voting ends very soon, so please vote today. If you have a chance to also leave a comment, that would be great! The more specific, the better. We are close to winning again, but we need some more votes:


Puppy and New Dog Tip for Spring!

Saturday, April 7th, 2012

Will this be your dog’s first summer in your home? Have your puppy spend some time in your back yard today to get used to the sights and sounds of spring. The reason to do this is to teach your puppy not to bark at people, dogs, and other distractions in your neighborhood.


“I Rescued a Human Today” – anonymous

Friday, June 17th, 2011

20110617-073213.jpgThis little story from a dog’s perpective is so touching that i just have to share. My shelter dogs certainly make my life so much better. See the bottom for some links with info on how to (or not to) pick a shelter dog.


Her eyes met mine as she walked down the corridor peering apprehensively into the kennels. I felt her need instantly and knew I had to help her. I wagged my tail, not too exuberantly, so she wouldn’t be afraid.


Teaching Your Dog to “Drop It”

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

If you’ve ever had a hoovering puppy or a dog that likes to explore the world with her mouth, you know that getting your dog to let go of something quickly is important. It’s also great for exercising your dog, because dropping the toy is an important part of fetch.


Should My Dog Sniff on a Walk?

Friday, January 7th, 2011

The short answer is, “of course!” Smelling (the nose, tongue, and the vomeronasal organ) is a dog’s primary way to take in information about the world. Dogs are olfactory creatures, we are visual. Their sense of smell is part of what makes our dogs so amazing!

Asking a dog not to put her nose to the ground is like asking a human to walk around with a blindfold on. My only requirement on leash walking is that the leash be loose, not that the dog walk without sniffing, unless I specifically ask the dog to heel.


Is Your Dog at Risk? 8 Important Safety Tips

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

I’ve gotten a lot of bad news lately. Just in the last few weeks, I’ve had two clients tell me that their dogs were hit by cars, one whose dog died from a routine surgery, a few who were attacked by loose dogs, and several others who tore ligaments in their knees. My wife and I found 3 sets of loose dogs in the last three weeks. A hero dog was accidentally euthanized at a shelter in Arizona last week, when she got out of her yard and was brought to the shelter without tags. It’s been a whirlwind of bad news.

We can’t really prevent all of the problems our dogs encounter. Let’s face it, they don’t live as long as we do, so eventually, we’ll lose the battle. But we can fight for them as much as we can along the way.


Watch us live on King 5 TV!

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Ahimsa Dog Training is on King 5’s New Day Northwest tomorrow along with some of our great PUPPIES!

You are invited to be in the studio audience for the show. I’ll be talking about puppy socialization and dog aggression – the dogs are there to be cute and get socialized!!

They say the whole show will be great. Dave from Dave’s Killer Breads is on to debut his new bread and to bring armfuls of deliciousness for the audience! Seats are FREE! Audience in at 9:30am, done by 11:30.

UPDATE: Click here to see the puppy socialization video clip. Note that any puppy socialization needs to be upbeat and positive!

Tuesday Tip: Instant Puppy Socialization

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

Just add an easy food puzzle, and mix!

Stuff a Kong, Squirrel Dude, Twist-n-Treat, or other food puzzle with wet dog food. Freeze it (have several so there’s always a frozen food puzzle for your puppy or dog).

Make sure your puppy understands the good-puzzle concept by having your dog work through a few inside the house (different days).

In a fenced-in yard or supervised on a leash, give your puppy the Kong to enjoy. It will last a lot longer, frozen. your puppy will passively hear the noises of the world, but not react to them. Do this a bunch!

Give a food puzzle and relax in different locations, too:
– Dog training class
– Bus stop
– Front yard
– Back yard
– Coffee shop
– On a bus (older puppy)
– At a busy park, like Green Lake (off the path)
– Near a playground

Repeat, repeat, repeat! Bring your own entertainment, like a book to read (Ahimsa training manual, maybe?).

Just make sure no other dogs try to steal your puppy’s great toy. You should also rehearse trading the food puzzle for a treat (then giving the toy back, usually), so you don’t end up with resource guarding.

For our students: also look at the training manual for the Relaxation Protocol, which is great to practice in all of the settings above.

Tuesday Tip: a Sure-Fire Way to Socialize Your Puppy

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

When socializing your puppy, take it at the puppy’s speed. If he wants to walk away from a person, go with him! He may just need a moment to regroup and build his confidence. It’s critical that puppies have good experiences as their own pace, not forced interactions.

Watch for body language while he’s being petted, like glancing away, turning his head, sniffing the ground, walking away, shaking off, or quickly licking his lips. If you see any of those, just happily say, “let’s go!” and walk a few steps away with the puppy. You can even hand out a treat at that point (for putting up with the stranger and for coming with you), and then possibly see if he wants to go back for more.

Do this with everything: other dogs, strangers, kids, garbage cans, etc. Let him check out scary stuff from what he thinks is a safe distance. The more he can trust you on the leash, the more brave he will be. And since most aggression is really just fear, now is your chance to do some aggression prevention.

Muzzle Training 101

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Here’s a great YouTube video on how to get your dog used to wearing a muzzle. Dogs hate muzzles when they first go on, so it’s essential to train them to wear them comfortably if you need one. Muzzles do not keep a dog from wanting to bite, they just keep them from being able to. I only use muzzles to introduce a dog to a person or another dog when I’m sure it should go well, but I still want the situation to be safe, in case I’m wrong. I also use them when dogs who may bite have to be handled, as at the vet. We can’t count on our own timing, because dogs are ridiculously fast!!


Do You Know Why Dogs Bark?

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I was asked this question by Marty Unger on Questionland today:

“My golden-doodle is incredibly sweet and wouldn’t hurt a fly but when she sees someone outside, whether she knows them or not, she barks like she wants to rip their head off. If she could speak english, what would she be saying?”


Can you please stop hitting that puppy?

Monday, March 1st, 2010

That’s what I asked the woman with her 10-week-old Golden X puppy.  I had just left Ahimsa to go get lunch and was about to turn right. Instead, I saw this woman and her young daughter up ahead with a puppy.  Cute! I thought, followed immediately by a mortified, “oh my Dog, did she just hit that puppy?”  She smacked it 3-4 times and then it moved away, and she hit it some more, probably yelling at the same time. I couldn’t hear her from inside my car.

So I barreled over there in my car and slammed on the brakes beside her.  “Can you please stop hitting that puppy?” She looked up, slightly embarrassed, and tried to excuse the hitting, since the puppy had just jumped up and bitten her child.  I told her that there were lots of great ways to get the puppy to stop biting, and I’d love to show her.  But of course, it’s hard to be receptive when a perfect stranger comes and criticizes you from their car window, so she politely walked off. At least she didn’t yell at me. (more…)

9 Good Things About 2009. What’s Your List?

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

This morning, as I read the posts on Twitter, I came across Edie Jarolim’s post “2009: It wasn’t so bad for me. How was it for you?” I thought it was a lovely idea for a post, so here’s my answer to Edie’s question. Please answer yourself in the comments or in your own blog!

Support the Angel Fund for Emergency Care

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

I received this from the staff at Elliott Bay Animal Hospital in Seattle, which is near the training center. I thought it’d be a great cause for all dog and cat lovers in the Puget Sound to know about, and possibly support. I like supporting local causes, and maybe some of my readers do, too! Here’s the info…

Wii – Could a Video Game Help with Puppy Socialization?

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I talked my wife into getting a Wii because it would allow us to play tennis in the winter, without even having to go anywhere.  We set it up yesterday and Peanut thought it was fine – just some new kind of DVD player.  Once we started playing tennis and boxing in the living room, though, he decided that we had gone completely crazy. He slumped upstairs to wait for our sanity to return.

That got me to thinking…what a great puppy socialization tool! Too bad I didn’t have this game 7 years ago, when Peanut was a puppy.


New Dog Toy: Pogo Plush

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

Ok, I love the new toy that Premier pet products featured a new toy at the Association of Pet Dog Trainers conference this year: the Pogo Plush. I brought home two of them, of course – one for each dog. They were an instant hit! The pogo is a plush toy, but there’s no stuffing (read: no mess), yet it feels like stuffing, because there’s a rubber frame inside. Genius!

The squeaker is free-floating, so even though Peanut is an excellent toy surgeon, the squeaker still works!! (more…)

Are You Sabotaging Your Training?

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

In my first training class, with Spoon (that’s her, to the left) I was told to lure my dog into a sit and simultaneously say, “Sit.”  Then I was to give her the treat and say, “Good sit!”

I doubt the trainer specifically wanted to teach my dog to only work if food was present, but I was sabotaging my training, and we were on the fast track to teaching her to ignore me if I didn’t have a treat!


Mathematician to Dog Trainer – My NPR interview

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Jeannie Yandel from KUOW in Seattle interviewed me last week. It’s going to play today at 1:06 p.m. on 94.9 FM in Seattle. It’s a personal interview on how and why I transitioned from a mathematician into a dog trainer. You can also listen to it now via the KUOW website.

Dominance Training Position Statement by APDT

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

Finally! Quoted from the APDT website (my emphasis):

Association of Pet Dog Trainers Position Statement

There has been a resurgence in citing “dominance” as a factor in dog behavior and dog-human relationships. This concept is based on outdated wolf studies that have long since been disproven. Contrary to popular belief, research studies of wolves in their natural habitat demonstrate that wolves are not dominated by an “alpha wolf” who is the most aggressive pack member. Rather, wolves operate with a social structure similar to a human family and depend on each other for mutual support to ensure the group’s survival.

Thundershirts – sound phobias, fears, etc.

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

We are now carrying Thundershirts in our online store (and in the little store at the training center). If there was a drug-free way to ease your dog’s fears, would you do it? I would! And the Thundershirt’s a lot less than the Anxiety Wrap (and easier to put on), almost half as expensive. We sell it for just $35.62!

I originally bought a Thundershirt for Peanut’s stress in the car. It helped! I even tried doing a comparison with having it on and off on different trips. 3 times with the Thundershirt – no shaking any of those times. 3 times without – shaking every time. TTouch practioners have known the benefits of anxiety wraps for a long time. Thundershirt is an affordable, attractive way to wrap your dog and reduce stress. Check out this video:

Crate Training, food-free rewards, & more in Whole Dog Journal

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The November 2009 Whole Dog Journal is out. Get yours today!

  • Alternate rewards for when your dog won’t take food
  • Easy Riding – tips for calm, safe car rides
  • Quick Crate Training Tips
  • What to look for in buying treats
  • Dancing with Dogs (hint: you don’t have to dance much, your dog is the star!
  • Is your dog’s microchip useless?

New issue of Whole Dog Journal

Monday, October 19th, 2009

We have the latest issue of Whole Dog Journal. If you have a dog that has issues walking by other people, dogs, bikes, etc., you won’t want to miss this issue!

October 2009 articles:

  • Good Growling? 5 things to do when your dog growls at you
  • Passing Fancy – How to teach your dog to calmly walk on-leash past other people, other dogs, bicyclists, skateboarders — you name it!
  • Needing Pain Relief – acupuncture
  • Do as I Say, Not as I Do – Even the best-informed owners can make mistakes with their dogs
  • Positive Show-Offs – Clickers and treats work as well for training show dogs as they do for the family pet.
  • Rally Obedient Dogs – Handlers can encourage and even reward their dogs in the show ring in this very fun sport, “rally obedience”

Order Whole Dog Journal from us online today!

Edmonds Dog park Halloween Howl is tomorrow!

Friday, October 16th, 2009

I will be giving a dog safety presentation at *noon*, particularly how to read dogs and how to avoid and break up dog fights at the park. Come with or without your dog!

Amazing, amazing dog video!

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

This is the power of reinforcement. Check out this dog trick/dance video and the skills the dogs are doing! Look fun? Try our Canine Freestyle (dog dancing class) to get started in this fun sport. (This is not a dog trainer from our school in Seattle, but just a sample of what well-trained dogs can do).

August 23 First Annual Dog Days of Ballard’s Summer

Wednesday, August 12th, 2009

Update: the organizers say they will be carding to avoid having too many dogs! 98117 and 98107 zip codes only!

There will be a fun gathering of dog folks at Ballard Commons on August 23rd. They’ve asked me to sponsor them, so there are three $50 Ahimsa Dog Training gift certificates to be had for their contest.

It’s not a commercial event – no tents, no booths, no microphones, just a gathering of dog folks and some contests with prizes. It’s a good place to go after the Sunday market in Ballard. It’s sponsored by the Seattle Parks Department as a non-commercial event.


Are Sticks Safe for Dogs?

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Do you use the carrot, or the stick? In it’s regular meaning, the stick is used to prod the donkey forward, so it’s not the kind of method I use for dog training. But sticks can be used as rewards, too. I use sticks to reward my dog, Peanut, for walking politely. I can surprise him with a ‘treat’ without carrying anything on me at all. Surprise rewards are the best kind to use when training your dog.

But are sticks safe for dogs?

Marley to Lassie in 7 days – How to Be the Center of Your Dog’s Universe

Thursday, August 6th, 2009

Does your dog pull on leash or not come when called? Do you wish your dog would listen more? Follow our daily plan below to jump-start your dog training. Your dog won’t actually be Lassie yet, but you will have a lot more focus than you do right now. Focus is the essential foundation before you can train anything else.

For this exercise, we use either a clicker or a word, like “yes,” to mark instant that your dog earns a reward. Every time you mark (click or say, “yes,”) you owe a your dog a tangible reward, like a food treat or toy. (Read more about clicker training). When you mark a behavior, give your dog the reward within a few seconds.


Dream List Radio Interview

Friday, July 24th, 2009

Dreamlist Radio is an excellent website that helps people find the career of their dreams. Melissa Borghorst of Dreamlist Radio interviewed me for the Teen section of the website, and the questions focused on what teens can do to become a dog trainer. The answers, you’ll find, will work for people of any age who are considering becoming dog trainers.

Click to Play Interview

If you have a teen or pre-teen in your home, or are thinking of changing careers, I highly recommend Dreamlist’s main website!

Related Post: How to Become a Dog Trainer in Seattle

How to Find Low-Cost Vet Care

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

A lot of people these days are finding they need to give up their dogs, cats, horses, or other animals because they can’t afford vet care. If you don’t have a pet yet, and are thinking about getting one, please make sure that you take into account the full costs of owning a living, breathing animal before you adopt or buy one. For example, expect a dog to cost $700-$2800 a year, or $10,000-$30,000 over the course of the dog’s lifetime (more info). Not all dogs end up being that expensive, but when we get them, we commit to be their caretakers – in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health.

But if you do already have a dog in need and you are thinking of rehoming or euthanizing your beloved family member, here are some organizations around the US (and beyond) that can help.

6 Quick Steps to Teach “Targeting”

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Once you teach your dog to “Target,” you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it.  The behavior here is that your dog touches her nose to a human’s hand, but this also works with a an actual target of some sort, like the Clik Stik pictured here.

I use targeting to move my dog around in space (from one side of the bed to the other, off of the couch, etc.). You can also teach them to heel nicely beside you or even to come to you. It’s great for teaching nervous dogs to go explore something that scares them, by having them touch your hand near the Scary Monster. It’s the foundation of “go say hi.”

Muttmixer – June 24 2009 in Seattle

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Summer dog event! Come see us at the Summer Muttmixer at Rock Bottom Brewery, 1333 5th Avenue in Seattle. Ahimsa Dog Training will have a little booth set up (I’ll be there!) and the event is FREE.

Your dog is welcome, but do make sure it will be a pleasant experience for him/her. Whenever you attend an event like this, your dog’s mental and physical well-being should be first priority. Even if you have beer. 🙂

Can a Dog Sense Fear?

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

I gave a presentation at a school in West Seattle today and a good question from one of the teachers stuck with me. Can a Dog Sense Fear?

My answer to her was something like, “Yes, dogs do seem to be able to sense fear. But just sensing fear won’t make them decide to bite you if that’s not in their personality.” Thinking on it more, I should have said some things that fearful people do that clues the dogs in and what they can do to appear more confident.

FDA is not looking into Nutro Dog Food

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

There’s an article at ConsumerAffairs.com that claims the FDA is looking into claims of several deaths and a lot of sick dogs over the last two years.

However, I went to the Nutro website and they deny that the FDA is looking into their foods. You can read the Nutro website here. I don’t know who’s telling the truth, but if you do feed Nutro, it would be a good idea to look into this. It’s always best to be informed! UPDATE: See video in this post, which says Nutro’s right, there is NO FDA investigation.


Video: Obamas Do Right By Bo (mostly)

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Here’s a quick video of Bo Obama’s intro to the world. I saw several things that they did right, and some that they could’ve done better (of course, can’t we all?)


Free Spay/Neuter/Training for Pit Bulls in Tacoma

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

If you have a pit bull and are looking for a free way to make your dog a better citizen, here’s the way! Even if you don’t live in Tacoma, this is probably worth the drive.


Teen Dog Play in Seattle

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Our first Teen Dog Play time is April 9th at 5:30. About half of our students have begun to opt for Dream Dog instead of Intermediate Puppy, I want to make sure they’re still getting supervised play.

When is a fence not a fence?

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

If it can’t actually hold your dogs in your yard, or keep trouble out, a fence can do more harm than good. It makes you feel like you have a fence, so you let your guard down. In one of my classes, a student with an aggressive dog said that they had a fenced yard. It turns out there is no gate, just a big gaping hole where the dog can get out!

I snapped this photo on a walk with Peanut in Seattle. There are two problems with this fence. The obvious one is the big hole where panels are missing and the dog can get out or other dogs or children can come in. The other is the height! If Peanut wanted to, he could easily jump over this fence.

Kid / Dog Safety book: Don’t Lick the Dog!

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Ever wish you had just the right way to tell young children how to meet a dog? There are some good books out there already, but Seattle artist Wendy Wahman has a great new book out that can help! I have to admit, I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m trying to get a copy so that we can use it as part of our Kids & Dogs training class at Ahimsa in Seattle and Bellevue.

Protected: Get SMART Seminar Carpooling Page

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

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Kathy Sdao Reward-Training Seminar will Rock Your World

Thursday, January 15th, 2009

(See the end of this post for a coupon!)

Why are reward trainers so sure that their methods are the more humane way to train? Because reward-based training works, and it works well, without harming or intimidating the dog.

But to get the best results with rewards, you need to know what you’re doing. The devil’s in the details when it comes to reinforcement. The more you know about training with rewards, the faster and more stress-free learning will be.

Reward trainers who only sort of know what they are doing just give fuel to the myth that training with rewards is somehow inferior. Don’t be that kind of trainer! Come to the Kathy Sdao Get SMART seminar on how to effectively use reinforcement on March 5-6, 2009 in Seattle, Washington.

How Much is That Doggie in the Window?

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

81-year-old singer Patti Page is my new hero.  You probably know her song, “How Much is That Doggie in the Window?”

Well…she’s decided to re-release the song, but has changed the lyrics to reflect the changing times and to promote her book, “This Is My Song.” She’s given the Humane Society of the US permission to use the lyrics to advertise their cause.

Here are the new lyrics, sung, of course, to the same tune of “How Much is that Doggie in the Window?”


Clicker Trained Dogs take over Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

This amazing video was made by a group of clicker trainers in Hungary. Just look at how happy and excited the dogs are.  They are really enjoying themselves! They’re also doing complex tasks from a distance.   

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, if you love dogs, you’ll enjoy watching these well-trained dogs and appreciate the power of clicker training!

Marley & Me – Marley Needs Positive Dog Training!

Friday, December 19th, 2008

If you see the movie “Marley and Me,” you’ll note that Marley is unruly to say the least. In the Real World, Marley might not have had a happy ending. How could we make him a better fit for a regular family?

Read the following press release from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers to learn more about Marley and how his family could benefit from positive dog training.

Snow is Dog Cocaine

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

If you live in or near Seattle, you know that it snowed in the Puget Sound last night. We woke up to inches of blissful snow!  Almost nobody is driving.  I even saw two buses that are stuck on the road next to my house.

If you have a puppy, you should be especially happy about the snow. If you aren’t off of work because of the snow already, you should go home to take this chance to be with your puppy.


Holiday Dog Photos – PAWS and Seattle Shelter

Monday, December 1st, 2008

Did you miss our last photo opportunity?  Here’s another chance to support PAWS and get some fun photos of your dog, to boot!  Last time, Ahimsa students raised a LOT of $$ for PAWs with Alyssa Rose Photography.  The photo above is from that photo shoot.


Holiday/Thanksgiving Safety Tips for Dogs

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season can be dangerous for dogs. Cooked bones, especially turkey & chicken, can splinter and cause choking or intestinal problems, even death. While most of us know not to feed it to the dog on purpose, your guests may not know this or your dog may get bones out of the trash.

Walking or Hiking Off Leash With Your Dog?

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Walking your dog off leash is like picking your nose, but more dangerous.

Both are something that no one else should have to see you doing.  Okay, it’s not quite the same – dogs LOVE to be off leash, and it’s a lot of fun.  If you know the dog is safe, it’s enjoyable to watch.  But some people are afraid of dogs, some are allergic, and some dogs don’t like other dogs. And picking your nose isn’t against the law. On a trail, when the people you meet don’t know you and your dog, and vice versa, it’s important that leash your dog up as soon as you know they might be in contact with another person.


Cocoa Mulch – Toxic to Dogs

Tuesday, October 28th, 2008

Cocoa Mulch, which was sold by Home Depot, Foreman’s Garden Supply and other garden supply stores, contains a lethal ingredient called ‘Theobromine’. It is poisonois for dogs and cats. Cocoa Mulch smells like chocolate and it attracts dogs. They may ingest Cocoa Mulch and if they eat a lot of it, they can die quickly.  Just a word of caution, check what you are using in your gardens!

Your dogs may also find cocoa mulch out on walks, so be careful!


Training Your Dog for Distractions (or Prepping Your VP)

Monday, October 20th, 2008

We want our dogs to respond to us in any kind of situation.  When training their dogs to behave in the face of big distractions, people tend to make a few key errors and throw their dogs in over their heads. A solid understanding of the principles of positive dog training might also help Sarah Palin prepare for interviews.


Oct 4 – Help the Seattle Humane Society

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Mark your calendar!  The Humane Society for Seattle/King County is hosting a Walk for the Animals event on Saturday, Oct. 4, from 9:00 a.m. – Noon at University Village in Seattle. If you have a friendly dog that would enjoy this event, please support the animals.  Click here for more info.


Pit Bull Breed Ban versus Dog Safety Legislation

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Is there a middle ground between banning pit bulls in Seattle and ignoring the fact that attacks like the recent awful, terrible, scary mauling of a 71-year-old woman keep happening, by dogs reported to be pit bulls? I think so. It’s not enough to target pit bulls.  We need to prevent aggression from all breeds.   I don’t think we should settle for protecting Seattle against pit bulls. Legislation should apply to all dog breeds, whenever possible, for the most possible protection.


How to Become a Dog Trainer in Seattle (and elsewhere)

Monday, July 21st, 2008

I get contacted a lot by people who have fallen in love with dog training and want to learn how to become a professional dog trainer. I decided to write this blog post so that I can quickly give a helpful answer.


April 2008 Newsletter

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Hi folks! In May, I’m going to redesign several of the classes, including Puppy & the Basic and Better Manners classes. If you have taken any of those classes and are interested in helping us teach more effectively, I’d love your feedback. I need ideas on what you liked as well as what you didn’t. If you didn’t finish the class, why not? If you continued to the next class, why? Were you happy that you did? Just reply to this email with ideas. Thanks!


It’s 2 a.m. Do you know where Fido is? Dog Theft on the Rise

Thursday, April 17th, 2008

The AKC reported 30 dog thefts for January-March 2008, compared to 10 in the entire year for 2007.

I don’t know the rest of the trend (maybe 2007 was a really low year?) but the AKC is worried and so am I.


What to Do When a Dog Refuses to Walk

Tuesday, April 8th, 2008

Is your dog a stubborn Donkey Dog? A lot of dogs pull forward on leash, but some dogs and many puppies pull *backward* or refuse to walk. This happens to French Bulldogs and English Bulldogs all the time! Pulling harder or luring with a treat only makes the problem worse, so what should you do to help your dog or puppy get moving?!


Is My Dog Fat? How to Tell Your Dog is Overweight

Thursday, March 6th, 2008

From StopCanineObesity.com: “The numbers are startling. Recent studies show that while veterinarians estimate 47% of their canine clients are overweight, only 17% of dog owners believe their dogs fit that description.”


Clicker Training – Reliability in Action

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I just made a quick video of my dog, Peanut, at Magnuson Off Leash Park in Seattle. I have him do the same chain of ten behaviors twice in a row: wait, spin, jump, heel, left turn, right turn, wait, come, sit, and carwash. There are a few dogs that Peanut just met at the dog park, for distraction.


Dog Fences: Invisible vs. Visible

Sunday, February 10th, 2008

I’ve been asked by dog training clients several times about my opinion on the Invisible Fence. The short answer is that I really, really don’t like shock fencing; I think it’s inhumane. Watch the video below, which shows several humans wearing a shock collar, for an indication of what it might be like for a dog to wear a shock collar. (more…)

West Seattle Dog Poisoning

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

There have been news reports of dogs in West Seattle that may have been poisoned with rat poison on dog treats, bones, etc, strewn about Westcrest and Fauntleroy parks where dogs run off leash (though possibly, they shouldn’t anyway, as I think they aren’t off leash parks).

Chocolate, Raisins and Other Foods Toxic to Dogs

Thursday, January 17th, 2008

Everybody knows that chocolate is bad for dogs, but do you know how much is too much? That 7 raisins could kill your dog? Or that onions are bad for dogs? Or that garlic is also toxic for dogs? (more…)

Dog Training for Busy People

Monday, January 7th, 2008

Have you ever taken a dog training class and then not done the homework? I have. I’ve also done months of PT and struggled to get through the homework. I just never had time, and the dog training ended up being at the end of the to-do list. The cure? (more…)

Sagan and the Blanket – Thinking Inside the Box

Tuesday, January 1st, 2008

Fixing dog behavior problems isn’t just about training the dog. Many times, a “management” solution, where you change the environment instead of changing the dog, is the best way to go. (more…)

Comfort Trainer head halter – fitting

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

If you have tried a harness and that’s not enough to safely walk your dog, the Comfort Trainer head collar is a great way to reclaim your walk from your pulling dog. The collar portion of the Comfort Trainer head collar should fit fairly snugly, but not as tight as you might fit for the Gentle Leader. You want the collar on tight enough that if the nose portion does come off, the collar itself stays on. (more…)

Breeding Dogs for Temperament

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Why do breeders continue to breed dogs that are not of sound temperament? The dogs meet the AKC beauty standards, but dogs can be dangerous, and living with an aggressive dog has a huge effect on our lives and the life of the dog. We should be breeding for calm, happy golden retrievers, labs, pit bulls, pomeranians, chihuahuas, etc. Temperament needs to be placed over beauty. Can’t we make a law? (more…)

Rules for Playing Tug with Your Dog

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Tug-of-war is good game for teaching the dog to switch between Crazy Dog mode and Thinking Dog mode (Limbic and Cerebral). Contrary to popular myths, tug does not cause aggression in dogs. (more…)

Dogs on the Bus in Seattle (King County)

Tuesday, November 20th, 2007

Seattle is a very dog-friendly city. Dogs can even ride the bus in Seattle, you just may have to pay for it. If you have a puppy, the bus is a lovely way to socialize your dog will lots of different people. Bringing a dog on the bus changes the dynamic – even the “normal” people on the bus will talk to you if you have a puppy!


How to Teach Perfect, Fast Dog Behaviors

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

The quick answer? Pay only for better than average behavior. The three aspects of fluency are precision, latency, and speed. The following training plans are designed to increase the fluency for three Rally Obedience exercises: slow pace heel, fast pace heel, and right turn while heeling.

Crate Training for Dogs Using Targeting

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

I wrote a different article about Crate Training Puppies and Dogs last week. Take a look at it before you read this one, if you haven’t done so already.

Many dogs can be crate trained faster by using targeting. With targeting, you first teach the dog to touch a target and then eventually put that target into the crate. Then you can put “getting into the crate” on cue. (more…)

How to Teach Your Dog or Puppy To Fetch

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Does your puppy grab a toy and run off with it instead of bringing it back to you? You should be able to play catch *with your dog* and having your dog fetch the ball instead of playing “catch the dog” and having to fetch her. Fetch should be exercise for the dog, not for you!:) (more…)

“Good Dog!” NOT “Good Sit”

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

You hear it all the time. “Sit, Fido.” (Fido sits). “Good sit!” It’s in my old training, too, but it’s a habit I’m mostly over. It’s not helpful for dogs when you use the cue (like “sit”) in the praise. It’s probably actually making your dog learn more slowly (more…)

How to Get Your Dog Comfortable in a Head Collar

Friday, October 19th, 2007

There are many different brands of head collars for dogs these days. Popular dog head halter brands are Gentle Leader, Halti, NewTrix, and the ones that we carry on our website, the Comfort Trainer and the K9 Bridle. Head collars give you a lot of control, but dog’s can take several weeks to get used to them. This post gives instructions desensitize your dog to a head collar.  I also have a blog post with fitting instructions for the Comfort Trainer. (more…)

I have other dogs. Does my puppy still need Puppy class?

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007


I get this question a fair amount. I’d rather get this question than have people simply skip puppy class, believing that their other dog(s) will socialize the new puppy. It helps to have dogs at home, but it’s not enough, and it may convince you to not be as diligent in socializing your new puppy.

Why it’s important to still take your puppy to a training & socialization class: (more…)

How to Click Your Dog’s Cute Behavior Into a Trick

Saturday, October 6th, 2007

Your dog does a million cute things every day, if you look closely. Yoga stretches, head tilts, lip smacking, barking, you name it. Let’s turn one of them into a trick using clicker training! Here’s how: (more…)

My Dog is Afraid of the Clicker!

Thursday, October 4th, 2007


Some dogs are nervous about the clicker. It does happen from time to time, and almost all dogs will get over their fears, given the chance. So you have one of those dogs? Here’s what to do. (more…)

Recalled Dog Treats – Smokehouse

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

It’s not an official recall yet, but Petsmart is pulling the following Smokehouse dog treats from their shelves, because of some dogs becoming ill after eating these treats. (more…)

Upcoming classes, call for volunteers, free training

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

In this post:

* Free Training Sessions moving to Thursday
* Volunteers needed for Growly Dog class
* Ahimsa won a “very close second” in the CityDog Magazine Top Dog awards (and the first place center isn’t in Seattle!)
* Upcoming classes
* Dog Training Conference (more…)

Hiccup Cure!

Monday, August 20th, 2007

The cure below is for curing human hiccups, but do dogs get hiccups? (hiccoughs?) Yes. Puppies are more prone to hiccups than adult dogs. My dog had hiccups every single day when she was a puppy, and has since grown out of that. But I wanted to write this blog entry because I got hiccups last night and was so frustrated that I couldn’t get rid of them that my wife finally began searching the internet for a hiccup cure. (more…)

Seatbelts or Crates in the Car

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

When I was growing up, the concept of having a dog in a seatbelt was never even considered. Even having a baby in a strapped-in secure, safety-tested car seat was a pretty new idea. But now that they are available, would you take your newborn home from the hospital just sitting on the car seat next to you? Or on your lap when you drive? (more…)

Household Poisons & Toxic Plants (Dogs and Cats)

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

People often ask what things around the house – and what plants – are dangerous for their dog. The ASPCA has a list of poisonous items. Some of them “just” cause vomiting, others are things that some dogs are allergic to and others aren’t, and some will kill any dog.

The ASPCA Poison Control Hotline is (888) 426-4435. It costs $55. I have also called the regular human poison number. (more…)

Recalled Dog Foods – Up-to-date list

Thursday, July 19th, 2007

I can’t seem to keep up with all of the different foods that have been contaminated with Melamine. I think what this crisis has shown us, more than anything else, is that most dog food manufacturers are relatively the same and treat our dogs as not being worthy of truly good nutrition. Makes you want to cook your own food. At the very least, find a place that is made in the U.S. that offers a balanced diet.


Collar Warnings, Foxtails

Thursday, July 12th, 2007

I have some awful news. A dog that took puppy class with me this spring passed away last week. Her harness caught on the exercise pen that she was kept in when her owners were gone for a bit, and she strangled.

The family emailed me because they wanted to prevent other dogs from danger. They asked me to be sure to tell people that it was a Shih Tzu – not the kind of dog one might expect to leap acrobatically into the air and get stuck on something high up.

I had heard rumors of this problem, and put my dogs into breakaway collars, but having never actually known a dog that had this happen, I thought it was very rare and got rid of the collars.

Looking into it, it seems it’s common enough to warrant warning you: 91% of vets say they have had 1-5 dogs in their practice who have strangled in the last year. I have just ordered several KeepSafe breakaway collars, which bust open if the dogs tangle in something but can be clipped to work like a regular collar when on leash. You can get them at the training center starting next week, or you can order them on our online dog store.

If you do get a breakaway collar, or have your dog go collarless in the home, it’s *especially* important to microchip your dog.

Love them every day, and don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short for dogs, even if we do everything right.

FOXTAILS – Danger!

Foxtails are a plant seed that land on your dog’s fur and then keep burrowing in, given the chance. I’ve had clients whose dogs and cats have had them in eyeballs, paws, and skin. They are known to go deeper, too, into the animal’s body, winding up in hearts and lungs. The dog parks are full of them and they are traveling now due to the hot weather drying up the plants. I spent yesterday removing as many as I could from the front of the training center.

Your Dog is Watching! Modelling Behavior in Dogs

Thursday, July 5th, 2007

Who knew that dogs could actually copy each other? Scientists have always said that dogs can’t learn by “modelling.” That is, they thought dogs couldn’t see other dogs doing something and then copy that behavior. Turns out they do that, and they do it in context! If they watch another dog going after a treat with his paw (rather than the mouth), they only copy that behavior if it looked like the dog had a reason they couldn’t see. If the dog had a ball in his mouth, they wouldn’t copy, maybe thinking, “well, he would’ve used his mouth, but it was full.” But if the dog had no ball in his mouth, they seemed to be thinking, “hmmm…Fido did it with his paw – must be a good idea!” They would paw at the food rather than following their instinct to go for it with the mouth. Now, we have no idea what they’re actually thinking, but this selective modelling is pretty amazing stuff. More info is in this Washington Post article from June. Amazing! So be careful about digging in the garden around Fido…

King 5 News Interview – June 07

Friday, June 15th, 2007

A visit with friends turned tragic when a child approached a family dog with a bone. You hear about this sort of thing all of the time, but too often, people “correct” the dog by telling it not to growl, rather than changing the emotionally charge of the situation. Now the dog is still angry or fearful, but it’s been told not to growl at people any more. Then we get the Silent Biter – the dog who shows no warning before biting. (more…)




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