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How to Teach Your Dog Loose Leash Walking

If your dog pulls on the leash, then the walk is neither healthy for the dog nor relaxing for you.  It’s also a sign that you and your dog are not paying attention to each other — it takes two to pull.

Pulling on leash is very rewarding to a dog.  What do we mean by this? The action of pulling doesn’t feel so bad at the time and it gets them where they need to go.  Any behavior as rewarding as pulling on the leash takes a lot of commitment to fix. Keep in mind that a dog that’s beside you on a tight leash is still pulling!

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Dog Relaxation: Training a Puppy or High-Energy Dog

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.

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“I Rescued a Human Today” – anonymous

This 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.

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Should My Dog Sniff on a Walk?

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.

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Wii – Could a Video Game Help with Puppy Socialization?

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.

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New Dog Toy: Pogo Plush

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!! Continue reading New Dog Toy: Pogo Plush

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Are You Sabotaging Your Training?

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!

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Thundershirts – sound phobias, fears, etc.

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:
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New issue of Whole Dog Journal

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!

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Amazing, amazing dog video!

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).

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August 23 First Annual Dog Days of Ballard’s Summer

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.

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Are Sticks Safe for Dogs?

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

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.

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How to Find Low-Cost Vet Care

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.
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6 Quick Steps to Teach “Targeting”

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.”
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Muttmixer – June 24 2009 in Seattle

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. 🙂
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Can a Dog Sense Fear?

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.
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FDA is not looking into Nutro Dog Food

There’s an article at 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.

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When is a fence not a fence?

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

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.
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