About Me

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I am the Dog Trainer Girl. A wife to a wonderful husband, momma to 2 boys, one that is a mini-me and makes me call my dad and appologize on a regular basis. I am owned by a Corgi named Yadi. I'm a Baseball girl, who likes bats, ball and bases on my diamonds. Go Cardinals!!!

Saturday, December 28, 2019

embarrassed moment leads to lightbulb moment!!!

I've always been a big fan of talking about training because when you talk about it, things come out that you wouldn't have thought about in the beginning.  Now this blog post has taken on a totally new light since I started writing it 20 minutes ago.  I'm leaving the original post below in italics.
Riley - Black Standard Poodle

I'm not talking a little, I'm talking completely flushed and sweating I was so embarrassed!!!  So Riley is my new prospect.  She will be 6 months old tomorrow, I quit working her out in public for more than a short period at a time because she was just not handling her food well, she was allergic to chicken and I didn't realize it at first.  I was having a hard time getting her potty trained at home because of it and didn't want to risk an accident out in public because she had already had one.  
Kiera in the red vest, getting ready to do a recall past another dog (Riley)

Well last night I took her to work with another student of mine Kiera.  Y'all this girl is going to challenge me until I change everything about how I train, or I pull out every last hair on my head.  Now I know she was probably feeding off of me because I was nervous having her out anyway, and I had a headache so I was a little off my game.  This girl for one is afraid of other dogs, I don't know if she has picked that up from Yadi or something that happened before I brought her home.  

We get past her barking at Kiera at first and then we start to work on Kiera's lesson, she is amazing and she and her handler do beautiful together!!  So we start to head down to Target.  Riley gives me no warning at all and just pees as she is walking...  

I'm like what?????   You have to be kidding me...  

Clean that mess up and then continue on get to Target to work on ignoring food for Kiera and Riley just relaxing and being a distraction.  Before we could even get started there she pooped in the middle of the main isle.  OMG Riley!!!!   Now my student says...  I love how you even gave her a chance to go potty and she just stood there and looked at you.   Guys I wanted to crawl into a whole and hide, but this customer walking by as I was cleaning everything up says "did we have an accident?  Well it happens to all of us sometimes."  That made me feel a tiny bit better and then my student's mom says "you make me feel normal" and that made me feel better.  

I guess the take away from this is that we are dealing with dog's they are not perfect, they are not robots, I am going to take this a yet another learning experience with her and make sure that if we are going to work in public I take her out on leash to potty before going anywhere, and I'm going to work on teaching her to paw target my foot when she needs to go out to go potty instead of barking at me.

It was upon typing that last sentence it hit me, I did this to myself.  I took away my pups potty alert without teaching her a new one first!  Talk about a face palm moment.  Her cue to go potty was to bark at me, and since I have been correcting her for barking in public... when we are in public she doesn't know how to let me know that she has to go potty.

I know I will get a lot of flack for this post from people that will say I have no business taking my pup out to train if she is going to have potty accidents in public.  Believe me, it's not something I want to have happen, but it did and if someone else can learn something from my mistake then I'll take the flack for it.

Happy Training!!


Thursday, December 19, 2019

Feeling like a Fake...


I have never been stopped so many times over a service dog as I have in the last week.  Everything from “oh my gosh your dog is so pretty” as they pass by which I honestly don’t mind.  To people wanting to take pictures of the dogs I’m working with, and one guy that interrupted a training session yesterday because “I could just tell he wanted to sniff me” as he leans down and puts the back of his hand right up to the dog’s nose as I’m saying “He is a Service Dog, you can’t pet him” he says “oh I’m not petting him”.

I just blinked…

Last week I was working with a client dog Leo, and while I must admit he is a very handsome boy I was constantly being hassled from people wanting to take his picture.  Early this week I got in a patch that I ordered for Riley that says, “I’m a Service Dog not a Magical Unicorn” and I feel it came at the perfect time.  It’s hard enough when we are working with a young service dog in training to keep their attention and teach the the skills needed, then you add in the stress we feel having our dog out in public in the first place.  Most of us are so awarded of all the “Fake Service Dog” stuff going on that we are scared to death our dogs are going to do something and be labeled as fake, then where will we be?? 

Well here is my take on it, the difference between a “Fake Service Dog”, and a “Service Dog in Training” is all about how we the handler’s deal with issues that come up.  
Service Dogs are not robots. 
They are going to make mistakes.
They are going to have off days.
They are going to not know how to handle things.
What matters is how we help them though these trying times.  Remember we are asking our dogs to conform to our society and what we think they should be doing, it is our RESPONSIBILITY to teach them to succeed in this area of life. 

There is very little chance that you are going to be able to think of every single situation that you and your SDiT might find yourselves in to try and train it at home, and if you did by some miracle there is no way to know that your dog is going to be able to handle the situation the same way out in public that they did at home. 

The best advice I can give is to be prepaid for an anything to happen.  Riley is still under 8 months so I know we are going to at some point have a potty accident somewhere.  I’m hopeful now that I have her off of all chicken it won’t happen EVER again (yes I said again because it has happened before). Though we never want to think about it happening, at some point our dogs are going to have an accident. 

I usually carry some sort of bag with me when I’m out training, I try to always make sure that bag has the following things in it:
Unscented baby wipes/Antibacterial wipes
Hand sanitizer (great for cleaning the floor too)
Extra roll of poop bags
Water bottle and/or bowl
A small lightweight blanket to use as a place mat

So recently I’ve come to Realize that raising Riley with to Corgis she thinks she is a small dog too.  She is actually fearful of dogs her own size or bigger.  If I take her out to work with her and she barks, is she a fake?  Or is it an untrained reaction? 
She does the Tasks I need most from her, she interrupts my self harming behavior, and brings me back from Grey outs.  She has also learned to circle me so we are working on her doing that when we are in a crowd of people.  Does that not fit the definition of a Service Dog?  With just those few things, not even the things that we are still working on learning, has she not helped to significantly ease major portions of my life that have caused me from interacting with other people, helps me to deal with my PTSD in a health way that does not leave more visible scars that the invisible ones?  To me, the answer is Yes, so she can’t be a fake.  She still has areas where she needs to train of course, she will for the rest of her life, but she is a Service Dog in Training.  She has the chops to do the job, and she is such a wonderful girl.  I can teach her not to be afraid of the other dogs, and train her behaviors. 

There are going to be things our dogs have problems with, but we have to help them learn how to deal with it.  We have to teach them the appropriate and acceptable responses to stimulus that they come in contact with.  When you go out with your SdiT if you feel nervous because of people judging you, or that someone is going to say something to you, stick to the dog friendly but not heavily dog populated areas.  Focus on your dog and what your dog needs to be doing, and that you need to be communicating with them.  Remember to make the outing about your dog and not let other people get under your skin they all have opinions and your never going to please everyone so don’t worry about them, just think about you and your dog.    

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

A hard week for training

Last Tuesday I started feeling sluggish and achey so I knew what was about to happen.  As the week went on, it got worse, and I spent most of last weekend curled up with a blanket.  With the holiday coming I really wanted to just push though until I was off for the holidays.  However, my body had other plans.  I've done some work with my pups but not much.  Mostly just trying to stick to our routines, and not sliding backwards on any progress we have made.

Black Poodle sitting in the leaves
Riley in the leaves
Riley finally pooped out the other glove that she ate 2 weeks ago.  I had been watching her very closely for any signs of a blockage, so to find that other glove made me very happy.  Then she turned around and while playing with a tennis ball in the kitchen, she popped it and ATE it! I swear I'm going to have to just keep her on leash for the rest of her life!  She is the first dog I have ever had that eats things like that.  Her breeder told me she is pure Poodle but I think there is some goat in there somewhere.  

Yadi and Marley Yadi made some huge strides in the last week with his food aggression.  We have worked long and hard at getting him comfortable with the other dogs being around him with his food or treats.  Last week Marley sneaked up as I was fixing a cup of coffee and was eating out of his bowl with him.  I was amazed.  I've been working with making them lay down and giving treats out of my hand while they are near each other. 

He and Marley will still every now and then get into it when they are playing and get over stimulated and one of them takes something the wrong way, but that doesn't happen often.  They can both lay in my lap and not get upset at each other.  

Golden Doodle puppy
Little Blue


Since it was going to be a long weekend, I had a training puppy at home with me from Doodlebug Doodles and Poodles.  Little Blue is doing amazing.  He is so smart and so eager to train even though he is only 10 weeks, he will Sit, Down, and Stand with hand signals, Come when called, and is learning to be on a leash, and social skills.  Crate training has not been fun he doesn't like being alone, but we are doing it in small blocks with fun things to play with in the crate.  He sleeps with Riley because he just loves her.  He is sleeping though the night without potty accidents in the crate, and happily runs right outside for playtime with my pups.  

Yadi and Marley in the leavesThat's really about all I've been up to, I have not even been on Facebook much other than to look at posts I was tagged in.  I am hopeful today I would feel better and be up to doing a lot of work with Riley on her Tricks, but I'm just exhausted still. Hopefully soon though.



Thursday, November 14, 2019

A Few More Days of 365 Days of Training Adventures

Little Red
It’s been quiet the busy week so far.  Monday was a cold and wet day so I stayed inside with the Doodle Bug Puppies.  While working with teach them to walk on a leash, I tripped over a rug and fell.  So I was very sore but oh what sweet babies.  They are 6 weeks old now and have taken well to sitting with a lure and even offering a Sit from time to time.  They do a Down really well and are
starting to respond to Come even without playing the name game.  Tuesday I took it easy because I was so sore but Wednesday saw us working a full day.  

First pup of the day was a little Frenchie named Rogan, we were working on public access skills and learning to ignore things such as food dropping to the floor and Ms. Riley.  Other ladies sitting at a table near us who he just knew if he could get over to them, they would give him lots of loving.  He did amazing though as he always does, and within a few times of practicing each behavior he had it down.  It will take several more weeks, or months of practice before he is reliable at the behaviors but he is well on his way.  
Sadly I didn’t get any pictures of Rogan working.  

Later Riley went to work on learning to relax while out in public.  I have been letting her greet
Riley Tucking under a table while I have a coffee
strangers to get ready for the CGC test to help her learn to sit to greet them.  When I test my Service Dog client dogs for this, I practice the behavior with them and make sure they are able to sit for me...  AKA The magic treat lady.  When they learn to ignore me with the magic treat pouch, they can ignore anyone!!!  Well with my own dog, I am not able to do that with.  So we have done a few Therapy visits and then allowing her to greet kids because she so gentle and then we tell the kids what Service Dos do and that we should never distract them because of how important their jobs are.
Lately though she has decided that if someone is looking at her but does not move to pet her then she things it is acceptable to woof at them.  So we are no longer going to be greeting anyone and going to make sure that she understand that I am the only person she needs to be focused on.


We had a session with Ashlynn and her SD Lilly.  After doing several weeks of work with Lilly on just ignoring people and other dogs we have moved on to working on her Tricks titles where are going to be a walk in the park for her because she does so much for Ashlyn already.  As we were talking about something, I dropped my phone and Lilly calmly retrieved it for me from under Ashlynn’s chair.  She is such an amazing dog.  She helps Ashlynn with so many different things and it is so wonderful to see them work together.

After working with Lilly we did some more work on our own walking around the mall we went down to the Gear Head store to see if they had any dog boots in stock but they did not sadly.  Then we did
more walking around and worked on ignoring people.  Worked with walking beside a cart that I really wished I had been able to get a video of and finally as I sat down for yet another lovely dose of coffee, she got very comfy under my chair and passed out.

She is still very young and I like to give her time to nap or for us to go sit outside and her just relax in the sun, but with it being so cold we just took it easy on her.  She came home played like a crazy child with Yadi and then laid down and went back to sleep again.

While she was at home resting, I worked with one of my dogs that hopes to be a therapy dog.  She is a little nervous but we are working on it.

Today I went back out to work with the puppies I didn’t get any pictures of them today but I did get some videos I will post them soon.  I also worked with a couple of my Veteran Service dogs and a Therapy dog.  I will write up more about them tomorrow, so come back to hear about another day’s adventures.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Bark... bark... bark... I'm going to go hide...

There are days when my own issues get to me and get in the way of training.  It's all I can do something to hold it together, something causes me to cry and I can barely hold back the floodgates.   Yesterday one of those days.  Our training was mostly centered around the issues that we have been having at home.

We started off this morning with having a battle of wills for lack of a better word with Riley.  When I'm fixing everyones breakfast I put their bowls on the counter and put their food in the bowls then add the probiotic and then a hip and joint supplement for the Corgis.  Then everyone has to go to their places and then I put their food bowls down and they get to eat.  Well Ms Riley decided she didn't want to wait this morning and barked at me the whole time.  She jumped up and knocked her food bowl off.  But instead of letting her eat any of it off the floor, I told her to "Leave it" every time she went near it.  I gave Yadi his bowl and Marley her bowel, and I made Riley sit and wait while I cleaned all her food up off the floor.  I made her a new bowl and then go to her place and sit and wait before I put it down for her.


The Corgis playing 
Our biggest issues lately has been the Corgis and their herding instincts.  They rush out the back door and run straight to the gate and run our fence barking at the neighbor's dog Coco.  Since we have gotten Riley it has gotten worse not because she is joining in but it almost seems like they are protecting Riley from Coco, even though she is sweet as she can be.
So we have switched into management while trying to work individually on trying to get them to leave Coco alone.  Most of our fencing is covered in this green mesh because I didn't want the dogs chasing cars down the side of the fence that is on the street.  So I ordered more of it this morning to finish covering up the small area that they can see her.

They are only allowed to go out one at a time and let me tell you they are not happy about it.  They have pouted like crazy all day that they can't go out side together all day.  They are very bonded to each other and I don't think I really realized it until today.

Bacon Apple treats in bone molds ready for the oven
The other issue is Riley's counter surfing.  She has been stuck with me on leash because I don't trust her not to try and eat things she shouldn't.  Though this is part of her training anyway to help with her learning that she needs to stay right with me, it helps me know she is not getting on a table somewhere or sneaking off to pee while I'm working.  

I spent quite some time in the kitchen moving my plants out of the windowsill as it's getting colder, so overtime she put her feet up on my counters she got a 2 minute time out in the crate.  This didn't seem to phase her.  She would run right out of the crate and put her feet back up on the counters again.  So I guess she isn't even going to get any free time in the kitchen, she is going to have to stay on leash with me all the time.

We did however make lots of treats this morning for training this weekend.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Community Dogs make me so happy!

Yesterday was a very light day for me, I was feeling under the weather as it was cold and wet and the barometric pressure was up pretty high with the rain front moving though.  My head was aching, but I went to breakfast with the hubs which is something we try to do to do on his off days cause we really don't get much time together these days.  Then we went to visit mom at the Nursing home, which is always a stressful time in which I really wish I could have Riley with me, but I'm not sure how they look at that, since they are a state run nursing home and don't even allow therapy dogs to come in.  I'm not sure if they would allow service dogs.  I spent most of the time there writing yesterday's blog so that I could keep my mind occupied on something other than how stressed I was.

Later in the afternoon I had an appointment with Aspen one of my Therapy dogs in training.  Our main focus was her not forging ahead of her mom.  Leash walking can be such a source of frustration for us slow humans.  There are so many different ways to teach leash walking but one of my favorite ways is to teach your dog that if they pull on the leash you are not going to go anywhere with them.  I like this method of training with them because it teaches them that they can go where ever they want as long as they do not pull on you.  The walk itself becomes the reward for them staying with you but you have to make it a point to STOP every single time that they pull the leash tight.  I tell my students that you might practice for an hour and only get 20 feet and that is fine as long as you stopped every time your dog pulled the leash tight.

Also we have to reward them for paying attention to us while we are walking with them.  It is unnatural for our dogs to slow down to our pace and not explore while out on an adventure with us.  Apparently this is not something I have a video of working on so I need to fix this this next week while my hubby is off work and can make some videos with me.

After Aspen's appointment I took a group of Therapy Dogs in Training to visit our friends at one of our local nursing homes.  We have been going to visit these wonderful women and men for almost 3 years now and they love seeing us come in.  We have a set schedule of when we visit and we have pups that dress up and pups that do tricks and pups that just love to snuggle and make people smile.  

Scooby & Kevin
Lincoln & Ms. Joyce 
Scooby (grey Staffy) and Ms Lilly (yellow Lab) are both pulling double duty they are Service Dogs who like to go to the nursing home to give all the love they have stored up and are not able to give to people when they are on duty.

Lincoln is a Springer Spaniel who is going to be going to St Jude's to visit with the kids and help to cheer them up.

Of course Ms Riley is learning to sit politely for people to pet her since that will be part of her Canine Good Citizen Test.  Normally Ms Marley comes with me for Therapy Dog visits she is one of the ones that loves to dress up.

As we were leaving one of the ladies grabbed my arm and was so just so thankful that we had come and brought the babies to see them.  She said having to leave her baby behind was the worst part of having to go into the nursing home but she looked forward to our visits, and that helped me remember why I work as hard as I do.
Lilly & Ms Ashlynn

Riley getting some lovens

Ms Marley

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Training Riley

Yesterday was a good, but frustrating day for training Riley.  She is so good at some things and so annoying at others, but that’s why we are training.  We started our day out at Starbucks for a coffee and some quiet downtime before my day of training started.
She settled into a spot between my chair and the window and laid down to watch the world go by as I did some light reading and enjoyed my coffee.  She got lots of stairs and smiles and one guy even asked if he could take her picture.  I didn’t mind because at least he asked.  She behaved herself very nicely I was super proud.  
One of the things best things I was happy to see was that traffic didn’t phase her in the least.  As we crossed two busy intersections she happily stayed right with me in our heel position, and stopped when I did.    
 She didn’t care to walk in the rain at all, however every puddle we came to she wanted to drink it dry.  So we had to do a lot of leave it practice with puddles.  I was like I know I’m giving you plenty of water what on earth is going on???  She can drink a whole bowl bone dry in 3 seconds flat.  Which makes our potty training that much harder.  I have to remember that I have only had her for 2 weeks and we are making progress.  I need to teach a target behavior to let me know she has to go potty so that she can tell me when she needs to go out in public.  
We went to Lowe’s later and worked with a new Therapy dog student named Sam.  Riley did some barking while Sam’s dad held her for me and I worked with holding on to Sam.  Normally I would have used Riley to show Sam’s dad how to do the behaviors with Sam, however Sam was pulling really bad, and Sam’s dad had stitches in his hand so I did the work with Sam and let his Dad watch.  When he settled down I let dad take him back and I took Riley and had her work on Cover (her laying behind me to prevent someone from walking up into my personal space.). 

Later in the day we went to meet with Ashlynn and
Lilly to work on helping Lilly work on ignoring other dogs.  I’d say we had a wonderfully successful session.  Several people walked by and Lilly ignored them.  A guy walked by with a big cart and said “Hi Lilly” and she just kept her eyes on Ashlynn, I was very proud of her.  She is 5 years old and I’ve been working with her off and on since she was 12 weeks old!

Then we worked on ignoring another dog with the little spit fire Eve, a young German Shepard Puppy.  She was working on learning to settle down and not show her frustration at being not a being able to just do what ever she wanted to do.  When she gets over being a pushy puppy she is going to be such a solid girl.

I ended the night training with Keira teaching her not to pay attention to kids moving around her.  So we were at the mall, and enlisted Ian to help us train.  He was just inside the playground practicing his ninja skills while we played “look at that” from a distance.  Even the mall Security Guards were enjoying watching us work and came by to tell us so.

All in all it was a very good training day!  Happy Training everyone!!!

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Here I go again!!!

Tazie in a basket
Tazie 2007
Training a service dog is not easy, and only 1 in 10 actually make good service dogs. It's a very hard road to training a service dog.  There are days when my mental energy is so low that I just can't push through.  Just getting out of bed in the morning is more than I feel like I can handle some times.  I have a wonderful support system in my husband and friends though.  I know that there is a reason that this is my calling and the more I devote to it the more I love it.  
Marley & Yadi

I was very lucky with my first service dog Tazie.  I lost my hold on a lot of things when I lost my Tazie.  I felt that my connection to dog training had just been cut off as he was my partner.  He taught me that I could do things on my own if I would just trust myself the way he trusted me.  He was always up for learning, but then again maybe I was always up for training him, we were a good team that way.
I finally got around to trying again with Yadi. He however did not have the right personality.  He is feisty and barks at bigger dogs.  Though he did help me get back part of my love of training.  We did a great deal of tricks training and he even became an Intermediate Tricks dog.

Marley
I thought I might have a better chance with my sweet Marley but she likes to sleep when we are not moving and I don't think she will pay much attention to me and to what I need her to pay attention, to the subtle changes in my mood or the change in my breath that denotes a migraine coming on.

I've had an opportunity to add a beautiful little girl to our family.  So I'm going to work with her and pray that she is able to give me back the relief and confidence that Tazie used to.
So hopefully little Sidda will help me get back to who I used to be and what I used to love.  I am hopeful as I start training more with her and with the corgi kids that I'll find that love and passion I used to have for training again.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Training Marley - The Rise of my Panic

Marley sleeping on the job! 
Yesterday I went to the Neighborhood Market with Tim (my husband). We just had a few things we needed to pick up and then we had to run home and I had to run to an evaluation.  I got distracted by the candles and I heard Tim say something behind me and from the corner of eye saw him move off to my right.

When I was done picking out the candles I wanted I turned to go find him, and I couldn't!  I walked from one end of the store to the other but could not find him, and I felt gripped by the fear and panic of being alone surrounded by people.  As I got closer to the end of the isles that he could be on I felt like my chest was in a vice grip and I almost lost my breath.  It was literally all I could do to hold on to the candles in my hands and not drop them and sit in the middle of the floor and cry.  Once I got to the end of the isles I turned to see him behind me about half way across the store.  By the time he got to me I was completely shut down and couldn't even talk, or look up at him.

This was the first time in a very long time that kind of fear has taken hold of me, but it's also the first time since my accident that I've been alone when I wasn't training.  I'm usually training (which as I mentioned in my last post is my safety mask) or I'm with a friend that I trust.

When I got back home Marley girl came to my rescue.  She got in my lap and did DPT (Deep Pressure Therapy) and forced me to engage with her, instead of allowing me to fall into disassociation and avoidance.  She helps me stay in the here and now and I need that most.  Especially right now.

The picture above was from a few days ago, she was doing DPT for me and feel asleep!  I love this girl so much.  I love Yadi he is my boy, but he is not a cuddlier and will not stay on my lap for very long.  Marley also likes to get on my chest and that calms me so fast, and though "calming" is not a task it defiantly helps pull me back from a full blown panic attack and keeps me from falling into that avoidance that I talked about, and for me those two things are tasks.

So this morning I woke up and realized that I this is a perfect opportunity for me to talk about my experiences with training Service Tasks and how much they help.  I can't talk about what I do with my clients but I can talk about what I do for myself.


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

The iT in SDiT

SDIT Patch
We know that the world of Service Dogs is a one that is hard to navigate.  The laws are open to interpretation and there is no education to the general public.  That's one of the reasons I am all for the laws and regulations governing Service Dogs to be changed.  We put so much work into our Service Dogs to have someone that just wants to take their pet dog with them where ever they go and not put any training into it, causes us to have a harder time with our real Service Dogs.

I lost my Service Dog about 4 years ago and I've had to learn to live without him.  I've gradually shifted to needing to be with my husband when living my daily life.  I can't really handle being by myself unless I'm doing training.  I can't really explain that other than that I've been doing training for so long that it just feels so natural and I get more relaxed when I'm training a dog.  Many friends watching me train have often said that I am a different person when I train and I often attribute that to being of of the many masks that I wear to hide how I'm feeling.

I said that to be able to say this, I understand how hard it is to train with your dog when you have stuff going on that just make you want to stay in bed all day, or you have a medical issue where you need to stay in bed all day, but the training has to continue.  It can't stop just because we can't get out and go.
Yadi doing DPT while I was laying down.  
On those days you may work on relaxation techniques to help your dogs learn to calm down and relax on for times when you need to go to the doctors office or just want to sit and have a coffee with a friend.  Relaxation is a key element in a Service Dog's behavior.

The training has to be an ongoing 24/7 thing.  You cannot allow your dog to jump on you some times and correct them other times, you cannot allow them to pull on leash some times and not others.  You have to ask that they follow the rules all the time.  Allowing them to get away something only sets you back in your training.

Think of all of the time that you spend trying to cleaning up after a mess that your dog has made because you didn't work on leave it enough with them. Or how long you spend chasing them in the yard because you didn't reward them enough for coming when you called them, or maybe you even you called them to you and then got onto them for something they did when they came to you.

We have to approach our training with a proactive mindset and teach our dogs what we want them to do from the beginning rather than waiting until they have already reacted and then us responding to that behavior.

Feel free to email me at dog.trainer.girl@gmail.com with any questions you might have.

Monday, August 26, 2019

What is Your Dog Trying to Tell You?

Disapproving Corgi giving me the "Look"- Yadi
It has been said that a dog will talk to those who know how to listen, and this is true.  A dog will tell you everything they intend to do with their body language.  Knowing what our dogs are trying to tell us allows us to have a better relationship with our dogs.  We get the opportunity to see the things that frighten or make our dogs anxious and help to change the emotions associated with that thing.  We get the chance to make our dogs lives better by knowing how to listen to them.  
Something that I always suggest for my students is to pay close attention to their dogs at home and learn their dog’s normal postures. If you know your dog’s normal body posture, then you will know very quickly when your dog is not comfortable and secure in their surroundings.  

The parts of your dog’s body that you need to learn to read are the eyes, ears, mouth, tail and overall body posture.  When observing a dog’s body language, you must take it all into consideration, no one part of their body can tell you how your dog is feeling.  Just because a dog’s tail is wagging does not mean that the dog will not bite.  

Their eyes will tell you a lot about what your dog is feeling. Fear and excitement can cause a dog’s pupils to dilate and or become glassy.  Fear can also cause a dog’s eyes to open so widely that you can see the white of the eye all round the iris, we call this Whale Eye.  When nervous you may notice your dog’s eye brows may be furrowed.  When a dog is nice and relaxed their eyes tend to take on an almond shape.  

There are different kinds of ears and this makes it difficult sometimes to read them.  There are floppy ears which hang down against the side of your dog’s face and prick ears that stand up.  If your dog is actively engaged in listening to something you may notice the ears twitching.  This is something I have my students to look for when saying their dogs name. Often a fearful dog will have their ears held back and often to the side. A dog that feels threatened or on alert will have their ears facing forward.  All Diagrams come from Modern Dog Magazine

A relaxed dog will often have a relaxed and loose mouth or sometimes open with a slight pant, but you won’t see any tension around your dog’s mouth.  If your dog is feeling fear or anxiety you may notice that the mouth tends to be tight in a long line across their face.  Some dogs may have a heavy pant or drool when they are nervous or fearful. A dog that is feeling threatened will have anywhere from a slight to a very pronounced raised lip, showing teeth. 

Relaxed Dog
Tails are a lot like ears, they are hard to read.  Some dogs have tails that hang down nice and relaxed near their back legs.  It may wag slowly back and forth or wag so fast and hard it could clear a table of anything on it.  Some dog breeds tails are held high and curl over the dog’s back. The one sign to watch out of is a dog with a loose tail that stands up straight like a flag pole, this is normally a sign that the dog is ready to go on the offensive.  A dog that is feeling fearful or anxious may tuck their tail between their back legs.  A low slow wag can be an indication of a dog that is feeling threatened.  

When a dog is emotionally balanced, they stand with their weight equally distributed among all 4 feet. There are times when our dogs feel threatened and that weight will shift in one of two ways.  If they are on the offensive their weight will rock forward as if they are standing on their tip toes.  This is usually a dog that is going to make the first move in a scuffle.  A fearful or anxious dog will rock backwards on their feet, as if trying to lean as far back away from the thing they are scared of. They may turn just their head away as if trying to act as if the thing isn’t really there if they can not see it.   A fearful dog may lower their body in a crouching stance, they may or may not lower their heads as well.  


One of the more common misconceptions about body language is the ridge of hair that runs down the center of your dog’s back.  Some people refer to as the hackles, trainers refer to it as a piloerection.  The old wife’s tale is that this means that your dog is aggressive.  However, this is actually an involuntary reaction.  Adrenaline causes the muscles to contract and the hair down the back straightens as this happens.  This again is something that can be different depending on your dog’s emotional state. Some dogs get the hair from their neck to their tail standing up.  For some it’s only halfway down the back. For Some it’s a wide strip or a thin strip of hair. This reaction can be from any emotional response that releases Adrenaline such as Fear, Anxiety, Excitement, or Confidence.  Your dog’s temperament is going to denote how he/she responds to that emotion.  

Fearful Dog
Another very misunderstood way that our dogs commutate fear or anxiety with us is their growl.  A lot of pet parents think when their dog is growling, they need to get on to their dog to stop the growling. However, when a dog growls they are giving you a chance to help them out of a situation that is upsetting to them.  A dog’s growl is an early warning system, if we teach our dogs not to growl, we take away that warning to our dog’s emotional state.  

Once you are confident in how your dog responds to his or her emotions you and better communicate with your dog.  If you would like more information on how to read body language there are lots of free handouts and reading on the Sophia Yin Blog at https://drsophiayin.com and Modern Dog Magazine.

For more information you can reach me at dog.trainer.girl@gmail.com

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