Wednesday, November 30

What's Up Downtown December!

What's Up Downtown DECEMBER!  Wow, we are really here and there is A LOT going on downtown.

There are the FREE Grand Performances for the Holidays and Pershing Square for the Holidays, which includes concerts, skate and sing-a-longs, a winter festival and many other holiday specific events.

If you are the mood for a true winter activity, you can ice skate in the middle of the city at Pershing Square's Downtown on Ice Rink or head over to all the lights of L.A. Live's Holiday Ice

All throughout the month the city has special events happening everywhere, starting this weekend.  You can kick off December by seeing your pick of tree lighting ceremonies, on December 1st both the Millennium Biltmore Hotel and Chinatown are holding their ceremonies and on December 2nd L.A. Live will have theirs.  If you are looking for a movie to put you into the holiday spirit, Miracle on 34th Street will be playing at the Million Dollar Theatre on December 4th.  As the month moves on you can catch sing-a-longs, children events, readings and special tours to name a few of the events you can find.

Lastly, as you are out and about doing your shopping or just enjoying the holiday spirit in the city, don't forget to try one of the new places to downtown to grab a drink or a bite to eat.  Here are a few I am excited to try: Crepe X-Press (529 W. 6th St.), Monty Bar (1222 W. 7th St.), and Semi Sweet Bakery (105 E. 6th St.).

Whatever you do, have fun and enjoy our beautiful city.

Find your perfect event, bark on the link to view the calendar:  Bark!

Monday, November 28

Miracle Sky or Just Beautiful Light?

I thought since we have officially moved into the Christmas holiday time with everything from the store displays to the holiday stories and movies on T.V., it would be appropriate to share this amazing story from Dogster.  Decide for yourself if this is a miracle sky that happened right in front of this photographer or just a beautiful interplay between light and the camera lens.

On the day before he was killed by an IED in Iraq, Justin Rollins found a litter of puppies living with their mom in a portable toilet in Iraq. He and others in his Army squad were smitten, and spent time holding and snuggling with the pups. Someone took several photos of Rollins with a couple of the pups. He couldn’t wait to send them to his fiancee back in New Hampshire. He told her she was going to love the photos. He didn’t tell her what the subject matter was, so it would be a surprise.
But before she could look at the email, terrible news came. Rollins had been killed by an IED. At the funeral two weeks later, top brass asked Rollins’ grieving parents if they could do anything for them. They had one wish: To get one of the pups their son had held, a pup that had made him so happy just the day before he died. It was a tall order, and by a miracle (and a lot of lobbying by congressmen and others with clout), it happened. Hero made it back to New Hampshire, where she lives a heavenly life with his parents.
Mom Rhonda says the dog sometimes looks at her in such a way that she wonders if her son’s spirit is somehow in the dog. She has always had a deep connection with her son. In an ABC story, she says that at 6:30 a.m. on the day he was killed, she was getting ready for work and she felt a big jolt go through her. She worried it had something to do with Justin. It turns out that he died at pretty much that moment in Iraq.
ABC News was recently at the Rollins’ parents’ home taping part of the story of Justin and Hero. During the session, video cameras captured footage of a beam of sunshine enveloping Hero. It’s the kind of sunshine some people call a “miracle sky.”
The moment was not lost on ABC News’ Kimberly Launier, who was holding one of the cameras:
“All of a sudden, the clouds broke and a light began to solidify in a beam directly down on Hero — a kind of vertical halo. As this dramatic ray of light was shining on Hero she turned to look at me, and it was all I could do to hold the camera steady and not drop it in astonishment.
“It was an unforgettable moment, and made me wonder if in fact Justin was in there. Then the light vanished.”
The moment didn’t surprise Justin’s parents. “I truly, truly believe I’ll see him again,” said dad Skip, “because he sent us a sign so many times that, that he’s OK things that are too astronomical to not believe.”

Wednesday, November 23

Thanksgiving Safety Tips For Dogs - The Food

Last year I published a safety guide for Thanksgiving that Dogster put out.  I am publishing that again this year to remind you of the dangers within our food.  Even if you know them all by heart, your friend or relative may not and end up feeding your pooch something harmful.  Below is a guide to help you and your pooch have a safe Thanksgiving.
This is a wonderful time of year for us humans and it can be for our four-legged friends as well.  But it also can be scary and in some cases dangerous.  I know this is a holiday for sharing and being thankful, but we shouldn't share everything with our dogs (bark for a list of items for your dog to avoid).  Dogster has put out a great list of tips to help us out for the holiday and I really found it to be useful.  I also have a few of my own tips that I didn't see on there, so I will list those at the end.

Stuff Your Turkey, Not Your Dog

It's easy to want to give your dog a big fat bowl of turkey, mashed potatoes, and whatever else you think she might enjoy. But that's a bad idea. Overindulging in fatty foods can lead to an upset stomach, diarrhea, or a life-threatening condition called pancreatitis. A few strips of turkey on a dog's normal food is fine, but don't overdo it, no matter how she may plead with her "I'm STARVING" eyes. Keep in mind that turkey skin can wreak havoc with a dog's digestive system, so make sure she gets skinless, boneless turkey.

Stuff Your Dog's Kong, Not Your Dog

Here's a great way to keep your dog busy and happy during your meal. Put a bit of your dog's regular food in a Kong, and then stuff a little boneless turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy - just a tad, mind you - in the Kong. It's not much food, but it will keep him occupied for a long time.

Make no Bones About It

Cooked turkey bones can be a danger to your dog. They're sharp, and potentially very dangerous. You may not know a dog has a turkey bone lodged in your dog's digestive system for days. Don't leave plates with bones lying around. Ditto for the turkey carcass. Hungry dogs have been known to run off with the remains of a carved turkey. It can happen in the blink of an eye. You notice the turkey is gone. You notice the dog is gone. With luck, you find their hiding place before anything happens. Put plates in an unreachable area if you can't dispose of everything properly right away.

Know this Sage Wisdom

Sage and some other herbs have essential oils that can cause tummy upset and central nervous system depression if a dog eats them in large quantities. Most dogs aren't going to nosh on a fistful of sage, but keep herbs out of reach just in case.

Don't Cry Over Onions

Onions are toxic to dogs. They can lead to a dangerous form of anemia that may not be detected for days. Make sure your dog stays away from the pearly whites, and yellows, and reds.

Don't Give Her the Raw Deal

Unless your dog is already on a raw diet, we wouldn't recommend plopping a piece of raw turkey in her bowl (the change from her regular food might cause an upset stomach). But more importantly, keep your pup away from the uncooked dough for bread or rolls. What helps make dough rise? Heat. If a dog eats raw dough, what's it like for the dough in the dog's stomach? Warm. The dough rises in the dog's stomach, and if the dog has eaten enough, the swollen dough can cause pain, vomiting, and bloating -- conditions that can send you to the doggy ER on Thanksgiving.

I hope these tips have helped!  Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Don't forget to do something fun with your dogs.

Tuesday, November 22

Thanksgiving Safety for Dogs

With Thanksgiving only a couple of days away, I wanted to post some safety tips for your dogs.  Today I want to focus just on the people aspect of the day.  You may have people coming over to your home, you may be going to someone elses home with your dog or just on your own, leaving your dog at home.

Let's start with people coming to your home.  Depending on the temperament of your dog, you may want to crate your dog as people arrive, then let your pooch out to roam and explore and get use to all the new people in your home on their own.  If you have a shy or fearful dog, you will most certainly want to do this and instruct all the people to just let the dog approach them, not chase after your dog for a pat on the head.  As well intentioned as that can be, your dog will just be scared. 

If your dog is a jumper, you may want to crate him or just put on his leash and get him to sit as people enter the home.  You wouldn't want your dogs paws to ruin your guests clothes or end up in the pumpkin pie!

Taking your dog to someone elses home can be nice, since your best friend will get to join in the day with you.  But it can also be tricky.  You should first make sure the home you are visiting is okay with your dog coming into it and likewise, you should make sure it is okay with your dog to go there.  For example, will there be children there, other dogs, lots of people?  If all of these things are okay with your dog, have a fun day.  But if these are scary things for your dog, you may want to rethink bringing your pooch along or bring their crate or bed so they have something to comfort them.  Also, having their own space will allow them to go somewhere to stay out of trouble.

Lastly, if you are leaving your dog at home all day, pay attention to the time.  Though your dog may be fine for 8 hours, don't push it.  Try to get home to let them out in a reasonable amount of time.  It will help to do a big walk before you leave or if you have time, do a hike in the morning.  Even a walk with some fetch time will be good.  Just try to get some energy out before you ask them to stay home all day.

No matter what you do, be safe and have fun.

Thursday, November 17

Off Leash Dogs

Yesterday as I was walking my dog through the 2nd street park, which is the lawn behind the police station, I saw yet another horrific moment take place, a little dog darted into the street and was inches away from being hit.  Thankfully, another park goer taking her dogs home was right there to scream at the car and they stopped just in time.  The owner of the dog was too busy looking at his phone and only looked up when he heard the screams.  Such a lucky dog!

This is a growing problem at this park. The neighborhood residents have converted this lawn, with only a side walk and some plants separating it from the street, to a off leash dog park.  It started with only a couple of dogs off leash playing ball while the rest of us walked our dogs around on leash to potty them.  Slowly more and more people allowed their dogs off leash, no matter if they have an appropriate recall or not.

I am not even going to go into the problems of it being a dog park like environment, that is for a different blog, what I want to focus on is how unsafe it is to have your dog off leash when they shouldn't be.

Let me be clear, the people that have their dogs off leash and can call their dogs back to them and no matter what the dog will turn and come to them AND they are watching and interacting with them, I have no issues with those dog owners.  They are in control of their dog, they are watching them, interacting with them, in my opinion these are the people that CAN have their dogs off leash.

My problem is with the people that have no control over their dog, I have a bigger problem with the people that have no control over their dog and they disengage from their dog by reading or texting.

Yesterday marks the 15th time I've seen a dog run into the street and somehow someway not be hit.  Not every time was the owner not paying attention, but I would say over half of the 15 times, this was the case.  How is this good for your dog?  Why is it necessary to have your dog off leash when their is no way to keep them safe?

I understand wanting to give your dog freedom, but go to a place that is fenced in.  The Los Angeles State Park is only a few miles away and completely fenced in.  Or if you can't do that, just attach a 50 foot long leash or even longer.  Is giving your dog freedom worth their life?  For me it is not.

What do you think?

To give me your opinion, bark on the link:  Bark!

Wednesday, November 16

Another Pooch Parade Success!

Last night was the Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade and we had a great turn out!  I don't want to brag, but I think this was the best one yet.  We ended up with 8 dogs, 5 were puppies, which made it that much more fun. 

We had blast going through the streets of Downtown's South Park District and around L.A. Live.  The dogs were so excited by the lights and busy energy, it really challenged their owners to get their focus back on them.

The owners were really put to the test with some of the exercises I made them do, but we all had a good time doing them and their dogs behaved perfectly.  All the pooches played along and may have even been making fun of how silly their human counterparts looked!

After the dancing and prancing it was time for some serious rewarding!  I passed out the beautiful gift bags from Pussy & Pooch that everyone loved.  The treats of course were enjoyed right away by the dogs, the discount cards and samples their owners saved for later.

By the end, we were all ready to sit down at Big Wangs for some human treats and refreshments.  While we enjoyed our rewards the dogs entertained themselves hanging out under the table.  Many took a nap for the first few minutes but were then up and ready to mingle.

All in all, it was a good night with a lot of good dogs and people.  My favorite part was being able to sit down at the end and hear all the great conversations and enjoy the company of fantastic clients and their pooches!

Tuesday, November 15

17-Year-Old Dog Euthanized Within 3 Hours Of Going Missing

As I prepare to celebrate our love for our dogs at the Pooch Parade tonight, I was struck by such great sadness by this story.  I think the worst nightmare for any dog owner is that your dog will go missing in some way, but for Allen and Alison Holmes this was only half of it.  What no one could imagine is that their 17-year-old Corgi/Border Collie mix would be euthanized 3 hours after she went missing.

Her name was Basie and she was loved by the Holmes for 17 years.  Yes, she was old and having many health problems, but the Holmes were providing her a happy, loving retirement until this awful event happened.  The video below tells the story of this tragic event.

Our thoughts are with the Holmes.  I think we all know how hard it is to have a pet euthanized, but I can't imagine it being done without my knowledge.

Friday, November 11

Happy Veterans Day!

Happy Veterans Day everyone! I hope we all can take a moment to remember all the veterans both human and K-9 that have served this country.

If you are lucky enough to have this day off, I hope you do something fun and exciting .  For those of us that have to work, here is a little silliness to make your day brighter!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 10

Help Bring An End To Police Shooting Of Dogs

It doesn't seem like this is something that we should have campaign for, ending police shooting dogs, but sadly it is.  Below is an article to explain the situation and the cause and all the information on how you can help.  Thank you K9 Magazine for bringing us this story.   I urge you to help all that you can.

More than 3,000 people have joined a popular campaign on calling on the police department in St. Petersburg, Florida, to stop using lethal force on dogs.
Nancy Smith, a member of the volunteer group Hand4Paws, launched the campaign on after hearing that a St. Petersburg police officer had shot and killed Boomer, a 12-year-old arthritic golden retriever owned by couple Roy and Lauren Glass. Smith had been taking action online for animals for more than two years, but because of her own senior golden retriever, Boomer’s story felt even more personal, inspiring her to start the petition on Boomer was only the latest in a series of dog killings by the St. Petersburg police.
“Seven dogs have been shot by St. Petersburg officers this year,” said Smith. “In just a few weeks, more than 3,000 people have signed our online petition campaign on The animal community is extremely passionate and thousands more worldwide are sure to join if the police don’t stop this deadly trend by immediately improving their officers’ training on dog handling techniques and adopting a clear policy that lethal force should only be used as a last resort.”
The campaign is in support of Boomer’s owners, Roy and Lauren Glass, who want to see their local police department change the way it deals with dogs.
“The grief is real, severe, and continuing, passing from sorrow to anger,” said Roy Glass. “With the help of others, we established the ”Boomer’s Voice” Facebook page and a campaign on to improve pet handling in police training and education and to sponsor and promote legislation to provide a means of statutory redress for the deliberate or reckless injury of killing of pets by others. Many fine and caring people from all walks of life have joined in our effort.”
“What these pet lovers have accomplished in just a few days is remarkable,” said Director of Organizing Stephanie Feldstein of, the world’s fastest-growing platform for social change. “By using social media and, Nancy and Hand4Paws have managed to recruit thousands of people demanding action from the St. Petersburg Police Department. is about empowering anyone, anywhere to demand action on the issues that matter to them, and it has been incredible to watch Nancy’s campaign take off.”
The U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing Services Office recently issued a publication on dog-related police incidents, stating that “the use of a weapon is seldom required in dog-related incidents or encounters.”
Live signature totals from Nancy Smith’s campaign:

St. Petersburg Times coverage of the campaign:

Live signature totals from Nancy Smith’s campaign:

St. Petersburg Times coverage of the campaign:

Tuesday, November 8

Puppy Mills Leave Dogs With Long-Term Psychological Harm

Dogster's blog yesterday was a report on a study done on puppy mills.  Basically, the Best Friends Animal Society and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, conducted the first ever study on the long-term effects puppy mills have on the breeder dogs that are forced to live in these horrific conditions.

I have had a few encounters with dogs from this environment, two I know for a fact were rescued from a puppy mill and a few that I was convinced this was their past life, but the owners and shelter had no idea of their previous life.

The damage these severe and disgusting conditions do to these innocent dogs is beyond any words I have.  Watching my mom breed Dachshunds as I grew up, I know how amazing the process can be.  But she did it on a very small scale.  We had two mamas and one stud, who slept in our beds and were very much a part of the family.  When the mamas had pups, they also became part of the family, at least temporarily until they were old enough to be adopted to a fit family.  I look back at that experience and cannot even begin to understand how anyone could treat these amazing animals the way it is described below.

Please read this article and let it enrage you as it has me.  The more of us that are set out to stop this disgusting practice the better chances we have of succeeding.

We all know about the deplorable conditions at puppy mills, where puppies are mass-produced for sale in retail pet stores or online. The breeding dogs are confined in small cages or enclosures for their whole lives, get virtually no exercise or kind human contact, and usually sleep in their own excrement and urine.
Sadly, on the occasion that these breeding dogs make it out of the mill and into foster or adoptive homes, life doesn’t just automatically turn around for them. According to a study of 1,169 dogs formerly used as breeders in puppy mills, the psychological damage can be long-lasting — or even lifelong.
It’s something those who work with puppy mill rescues have seen for years. But this large-scale study, by the Best Friends Animal Society and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School, is the first of its kind, showing that even those mills approved by the government can be extremely damaging.
“The results of the study indicate it really doesn’t matter if the breeding operation claims to be shiny and clean, abiding by the laws, or even whether or not they are licensed by the USDA,” says Frank McMillan, lead researcher of the study and director of well-being studies for Best Friends. “This study gives us strong evidence that the dogs kept in these large-scale breeding facilities don’t just suffer while they’re confined there, but carry the emotional scars out with them for years even when they’re placed in loving homes. Many of the dogs show difficulty in simply coping successfully with normal day-to-day life.”
The study shows that former breeding dogs have greatly elevated levels of fears and phobias, strong compulsive and repetitive behaviors like pacing, increased sensitivity to being touched and picked up, and problems with house soiling.
Fortunately, many such dogs are able to overcome the damage with a lot of love and patience. But not all can.
“The saddest stories are those from the kindhearted people who adopt these dogs and work hard for years to give them love and acceptance. They’ll sometimes report that even after several years the dog will simply sit and stare blankly into space,” McMillan says. “They tell me that it’s like ‘he’s not really there,’ or that the little dog is reminiscent of a severely autistic child.”
The word “heartbreaking” does not come close to describing the damages inflicted by these places …
Photo description:
The cages were approx 1.5 feet high and 2 feet deep and 2 feet wide. The cage floors were of approx. 1.5″ x 1.5″ coated wire. No solid surface for support — just look at this poor Mama’s splayed paws, and long, untrimmed nails curling around the wire. And can you imagine how uncomfortable it must be for her to lie down? The piles in the foreground are feces.
The buildup of feces and urine were beyond comprehension … the urine puddle beneath the Mama Doxie was cheeselike in consistency. The collection tray was full of mold. … The foul odor and flies were beyond comprehension. I could not fathom this as being an acceptable, much less humane, way to raise man’s best friend. It made me sick to hear her whimpering as she looked at me … like what did I do to deserve this? — F. Menish, A Silver Lining Awakening (from No Wisconsin Puppy Mills)

Friday, November 4

Happy Endings!

Over the past few days I have had the difficult job of helping a client accept the fact that the dog she so tried to make fit into her life was simply the wrong choice for both of them.  Yesterday she returned him to the rescue.  This choice was beyond difficult for her, for me, for everyone.  But, the choice was the right one.  She nor the dog could go on living together in the state they were in.  She needed a very different type of dog due to her health issues and age, but she couldn't reject the hyper, young and loving dog her family gave to her as a gift.  No matter how obedient he was she still found herself being pulled to the ground more times than she could count, scratched up to the point of needing stitches and ending up with a fractured foot, it was time to face the fact that this dog was more than she could handle.  He needed a home that could exercise him properly and play with him.  She needed a more serious and calm dog.  It was just a bad match.  

The silver lining in this story is, once the rescue knew he was coming back, they called a family with a 12 year old boy that had seen this same dog at an adoption event, but by the time they decided they wanted the dog, he had already been adopted out.  Luckily, the family had not found another dog yet, so they agreed to be at the rescue when my client returned him.  This lucky dog then went home with a family that in my opinion is a much better fit and I have my fingers crossed that this will be his forever home.

It made me think about my own adopted boys and how lucky I am.  Both my dog and cat are special in different ways.  My dog was so fearful most people would have never taken on that responsibility and my cat was considered an elder when I adopted him out of the shelter.  Two animals that others would have passed on, but for me they are perfect.  I could not imagine my life with any other dog or any other cat.  With all their issues I love them and accept them and they love and accept me with all of mine.  I also realized how lucky I am that I don't have to worry about my health or age being a factor in the care I give to my animals. 

I found this video that has a compilation of happy endings for some lucky dogs and cats from this rescue.  Sit back and enjoy the smiles and warmth you get from it.  If you are the proud owner of a rescue, I hope this makes you think of your own story.  

If you want to share a story, give me a bark!  Bark!

Thursday, November 3

Guide Dog Allows Blind Teen To Keep Running

This is an amazing story that was sent to me from about a teen that is legally blind but loves to run.  Now, her guide dog has made it possible for her to continue to do the thing she loves most.  Enjoy the read.

Sami Stoner is running proof that adversity doesn’t have to keep you from the finish line.
A legally blind 16-year-old runner, Sami is traversing cross-country courses this season with her new guide dog, Chloe, and is believed to be the first high school athlete in her home state of Ohio to compete with an animal.
“I don’t run for time or place or anything, I just run because I love it, and I’m glad I can share my love of running with Chloe now,” says Sami, a junior at Lexington High School who’s on the junior varsity cross country team. “I love having Chloe. She’s helped me so much.”
Now in her fourth year running cross country, Sami won a waiver from the state high school athletic association that allows her to compete with a dog. The golden retriever puppy, who guides Sami through the crowded hallways at school, also takes her safely through the running trails of Ohio.
“She watches out for roots and she tries to pick the clearest path for me,” Sami says cheerfully. “The ways she moves, I can feel it in her harness, so she has little ways to signal which way to go and what to do.”
At the starting line, Sami and Chloe stay back 20 to 30 seconds so Chloe doesn’t get spiked by another runner, but they’re usually passing other competitors by the first mile on the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) course. Sami is ineligible to score, and she must avoid finish-line chutes if they’re deemed too narrow, said Dale Gabor, the director of cross country and track and field for the Ohio High School Athletic Association.
“She gives a lot of hope to other kids,” said Gabor, who approved Sami's waiver and believes she's the first scholastic athlete in Ohio to compete with an animal.
Running with just some peripheral vision is scary, Sami says. But Chloe is highly focused, which has helped Sami feel secure enough to improve her personal record to 29:53.
“There is still a little element of being terrified you’re going to fall flat on your face,” Sami says. “She’s given me a lot more confidence in my running.”
Her dad, too, is wary when Sami, the youngest of his three girls, starts a race.

“It’s an amazing, scary thing to see her take off and all you can do it pray that everybody comes back safely. This is my baby,” says Keith Stoner. “She’s not necessarily up there collecting a medal at end of the race, but in our heart she does win them all.”
Sami began running cross-country in eighth grade, and by the end of that school year, her vision deteriorated and she became legally blind. She was found to have the untreatable Stargardt disease, which is similar to sight-robbing macular degeneration that affects older adults.
In high school, she worried she wouldn’t be able to compete, but teamed up with a friend, Hannah Ticoras, who ran alongside her as a guide.
“All I wanted to do was run, and running with Hannah gave me that opportunity,” says Sami.
But Hannah graduated at the end of Sami’s sophomore year, again putting Sami’s competitive future in limbo. Her mobility teacher thought she’d be a good candidate for a guide dog, and after a month of training over the summer, the Stoner family welcomed Chloe home in August.
Sami is grateful she’s still a part of the team she loves so dearly.
“I just hope people learn that just because you have a disability or some kind of disadvantage that it’s not the end of the world,” says Sami, who has a 4.0 grade point average this year. “You can still do stuff, you just have to find a way of doing it.”
For the original story, bark on the link:   Bark!

Wednesday, November 2

Don't Hire A Mechanic To Do A Trainer's Job

Dogster had Casey Lomonaco as a guest blogger again today and the topic was right on point with a frustration I have been dealing with, people that are not qualified to be giving training advice or actual training doing just that.  This has occurred with present clients, past clients and clients that are coming to me to fix what has been done by "a friend helping".  Usually it is a friend or family member that wants to help but unknowingly does the wrong thing.  But I have had a few cases recently where a dog walker has given bad advice or suggested the absolute wrong equipment or a pet store employee recommending the wrong line of treatment.  Not to say that all dog walkers have no knowledge of training, some do and the same for the pet store employee.  But in both cases they are rare.

I really enjoyed this article and thought it really expressed what I am feeling and what I am sure many other trainers feel.  I hope you find it as informative and entertaining as I did.

As some of you already know, I am a bit of a late bloomer when it comes to driving. I was nearly 30 before I got my license. While I don’ t believe my exact date of birth is any of your business, I will confess that I have been driving for less than five years (significantly less than five years, which will be the trend indefinitely because I refuse to continue aging).

Let’s imagine your car is making strange noises. Concerned, you call me. “Casey, your car made loud noises that one time, didn’t it? What would you suggest I do to fix my too-loud vehicle?”
“Well,” I answer proudly, “you are correct. I do drive a vehicle. In fact, I’ve been driving vehicles for five years and I’ve driven a number of vehicles that made a variety of noises. Despite all of my experience with loud vehicles, I cannot fix your vehicle. Therefore, nobody can fix your vehicle. I recommend you just junk it and move on, preferably to a car that is not predisposed to noise pollution.”
“Yes, I have driven a loud vehicle. I’ve found that placing Silly Putty over the holes in the muffler fixed the problem. If you just place Silly Putty on your muffler, it will stop making noises.”
In the first instance, I’m insisting that because I cannot fix your vehicle, nobody is capable of fixing your vehicle. “If I can’t do it, it can’t be done.” In the second scenario, I am asserting that one simple solution can fix all vehicle noise-making problems.  Granted, your car may be making noise for an entirely different reason, but my one-size-fits-all approach will surely fix the issue.
Both of these scenarios sound absurd, right? Believe it or not, the same types of conversations happen every day between well-intentioned dog owners struggling with unwanted behavior in their pet companions and their well-intentioned friends who have had success using a technique to rehabilitate one or more of their own dogs.
Living with one or many dogs throughout one or many years (or decades) does not make you a behavior expert any more than driving a car makes you a mechanic.

Recently, I worked with a client who had just rescued an American Bulldog mix. The dog was growling, barking, hackling, fence-raising, and snapping when guests would walk by the house. She would attempt to bite people who tried to grab her or give her a pat or scratch on top of her head.
Initially, the client went to her groomer for help with the dog’s behavior problem — the groomer had groomed her last dog well and had a few very nicely behaved dogs of her own. The groomer was confident that she could “fix” this broken dog.
Ninety minutes later, the groomer called the owner and said, “I have tried everything I can and nothing worked. I cannot help this dog. There is no hope for her; she must be put to sleep.”
The owner was devastated. Here was an animal professional, who worked with dozens of animals each week, telling her there was no hope for the dog. Luckily, this plucky lady was not the type to take no for an answer and called me.
When I met with the dog, I saw a startlingly different picture — a young dog who was a great signaler and had displayed amazing restraint when put in situations where she was fearful. This was a dog who was bright, easily motivated, and very responsive to positive training.
While this owner still has a lot of work ahead, in the first lesson we were able to have her dog targeting hands through the gate with her nose as opposed to biting the hand that reached toward her. The dog’s body language went from tense and stiff to loose and wiggly. “I can help this dog,” I told her. The owner visibly relaxed, as if an enormous weight had been lifted from her shoulders.
Most of my clients who are seeking help for dogs with behavior issues are coming to me as a last resort. While I don’t have human children, I imagine that rearing a child is much like raising a dog — anyone who has done it before has virtually limitless reserves of advice for you on what you’re doing wrong or could be doing better.
But let me make this very clear: NOTHING IS WORSE THAN THE WRONG TYPE OF TRAINING. It doesn’t take long to make literal mountains out of what were initially behavioral molehills by doing the wrong things.
When you take the time to research and hire a qualified professional, you are making an investment — an investment in the quality of life you’re able to share with your dog.
Trainers and behavior consultants spend years, decades, tens of thousands of dollars, and hundreds or thousands of hours on their craft. They strive to hone their skills as trainers of dogs and teachers of people. While your Avon lady may have three dogs (one of whom had a minor problem with nail trimming but is now muzzled for the procedure), a qualified local trainer has probably trained 3,000, and probably at least 30 of those have had behavior problems just like your dog’s (separation anxiety, perhaps — nothing to do with nail trimming), each needing a subtly different, customized training approach.
While it’s perfectly fine to talk with your friends, eyebrow-waxer, mechanic, landscaper, groomer, veterinarian, or newspaper delivery boy about your frustrations with your dog’s behavior, if you are truly concerned about a behavior problem placing your dog, your family, or your ability to live well together at risk, seek the assistance of a qualified behavior professional. Don’t rely on YouTube videos, television reality shows, or late-night infomercials; instead, read and follow these guidelines from the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior on how to find a good trainer to help you improve your dog’s behavior.
To view the Dogster blog, bark on the link:  Bark!

To train with Bark & Clark, bark on the link:  Bark!

Tuesday, November 1

What's Up Downtown November!

WOW!  Here we are in November, this year is moving fast!!  But this is one of my favorite months and there is a lot to do!

The Downtown event I am most looking forward to is on 11/17 the Pershing Square Downtown On Ice opens! Beyond that, there are concerts, films, lectures and let's not forget the American Music Awards on 11/20.  But the event I hold closest to my heart and am over the moon about is our very own Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade on 11/15!  If you want to attend, you better sign up today, there are only a couple of spaces left.

To find out all the great things happening this month Downtown, bark on the link:  Bark!

To RSVP for the Fall For Your Dog Pooch Parade, bark on the link:  Bark!