Dog scissors - touch ups

dog grooming scissors

Every once in a while I come across a product that I absolutely love and just have to share.  So I am sharing my love for these little scissors today.  I bought these two years ago and have used them a lot.  For the price, they are amazingly sharp and precise.  I have used them to groom between toes, around eyes and nose and lots of other small places that need extra safety precautions.

I would recommend these for anyone with any breed; and would place them on my "essentials" list without a doubt.  With their rounded end, comfortable grip and small size they make tiny snips a breeze.  I've even used them to cut gum out of Elsa's paw that she picked up somewhere along one of our walks.

Long ago I had a pair of rounded tip scissors but they very quickly went in the trash once I acquired these little guys

The company also has a scissor trimming kit which looks like kinda cool.  I have not used it but for anyone wanting to do more trimming without an electric trimmer it could be a good alternative.   

So for those you would love a pair of i, sharp and safe scissors; these little babies just might do the trick.  

Leash pulling

Leash pulling dogs

Sitting in the coffee shop, sipping my organic home brew I enjoy the view from the outdoor patio down by the coast.  My seat allows me a great vantage point for people and dog watching; a bonus activity after a business meeting.  The sky is overcast which lends itself to more human/canine out enjoying the weather.   As I sit savoring the view; a woman walks by with a HUGE mix breed.  She is literally being dragged down the street behind her dog.  Obviously her monster of a dog is on a mission.  It is unclear if the guardian is aware of the mission or not but she is being dragged along for the ride.   

I hate seeing guardians being dragged by their dog.  Why?  Because I know that the human part of the team is not enjoying their together time with their dog.  With a little training they could both be enjoying the walk instead of just the dog. 

Even tiny dogs can be a drag to walk if they are doing the dragging.  Why do dogs drag their humans on a walk?  They drag their guardians because no one ever taught them to walk differently.  It is as simple as that.  Leash training should start as soon as possible; as soon as you add that little bundle of fluff to your family, it should begin.  If you’ve added an adult dog to your family then start with them immediately as well. 

If your dog already has an ingrained dragging behavior; it will take longer to get rid of but you can do it.  Starting today, don’t allow it.  This means when your dog pulls, you cease to move.  Very literally STOP and don’t move until they offer you some slack on their leash.  No cheating, you cannot give the slack, it must be them.  So you stand completely still and wait for them to move back, offering the slack needed to keep walking.

You can also implement the reward system for loose leash walking.  When your dog walks without pulling, reward them.  Using tiny little bits of treats, keep them coming.  I like to use the “catch” behavior as well.  It not only keeps your dogs attention on you, it is a great behavior to fall back on.

A dragging dog is no fun for anyone, no matter what size they are.  You can start working on it today.

Bicycles and dogs

Bicycles and dogs

I have a new bike and I'm super stoked about it.  After years of not being on a bicycle; my biking days are now back and I'm loving it.  I bought a beautiful crossover or hybrid bike.  This means that I can ride on the pavement/asphalt or dirt and grass.  So I've been out riding as much as I can trying to feel "one with my bike," after a long absence.  :) 

Having fun and being active is my main objective.  Enjoying the freedom of speed I am also very aware of safety.  I wear a helmet and am constantly scanning the environment around me.  That includes dogs.  Those who love to ride bikes must stay very aware to the dogs around them. 

I was riding down a path this weekend, where there were folks walking their dogs.  I zipped off and on the path when needed; always giving pedestrians and dogs the right of way.  Judging the distance of leash guardians had given their dogs and making sure that they knew I was coming; I took the needed amount of space between them and me. 

I am writing today because I had a few moments with dogs that I needed to address.  The first was an area that was very close quarts.  As I rode down the path, a more narrow path was ahead of me.  At the entrance of the path was a couple with their dog.  Their actions made me get off of my bike.  They had cornered their dog; the husband put his leg across the dog and the woman had a stick in ready.  Hmmmmmmm.  This looked like an accident waiting to happen.  Clearly the dog was not going to be okay with me riding by.

I got off my bike and gestured for them to go ahead.   "He loves to run with bikers," they explained as the dog dragged them my way.  "I could see that he was focused on me" I said back to them.  Before I could scoot around them the dog was sniffing my bike.  "How did you know?" they asked.  I told them I was a dog trainer and then we had an impromptu Q&A.  Being that I wanted to continue my ride I quickly answered some of their questions and started to move away.  The dog went into full CUJO mode where they continued to explain what was going on.  I already knew, smiled and continued my ride.  

The dog wanted to control my movement; he was not interested in a fun run by my side.  The dog's guardians were being ruled by their dog.  As long as I stood where he wanted me to stand, things were fine.  But when I took it upon myself to move away, he was not.  Had I just rode my bike passed them; I have no doubt that I would have had to deal with a large Lab/Border Collie lunging at me.  

The next incident was one where I also got off of my bike.  I was riding a long a path and saw a couple of women up ahead with their dogs off leash.  Off leash dogs is not something you like to see when you are on a bike.  I slowed and watched where the woman were going to take their dogs.  They FINALLY saw me coming and moved away from the path.  I got off my bike, both dogs were herding type dogs so I knew they would be more prone to my bike as a trigger. 

What happened next really shocked me.  One of the woman leashed their dog, which was good.  The other woman put her dog between her legs and held onto the collar.  As I got closer, the dog went so crazy that the woman could barely hang onto her dog.  This was direct at me just walking by, I had already got off my bike thinking about what might happen.  The other dog was on high alert, ready to pounce when given the chance.  Neither of these dogs should have been off leash EVER in public.  

So, I love my new bike.  I will enjoy it whenever I can.  Dogs are often triggered by bikes, it is a common occurrence.   It is much the same as walking vs. running trigger chase.  Many dogs have very strong chase drive; so this is something that a rider must be aware of.  Always be prepared to react to a lunge.  Always be ready and give yourself more space when riding by dogs.  

If your dog is not accustom to bicycles or has the drive to chase them; you must take extra precaution.  One lunge, even if the dog does not connect; can send a bike rider off of their bike resulting in a serious injury.  Keep your dog by your side and hire a positive trainer to help you to desensitize them with bicycles if needed.  

By desensitizing and counter conditioning, bicycles can be a problem in the past, very quickly.   

Private dog training

Private dog training

Private dog training, let's break it down.  (I love using definitions)  ;)

  1. Private - confined to or intended only for the persons and or dogs immediately concerned.
  2. Dog - a domesticated canid, Canis familiaris, bred in many varieties.
  3. Training - the education, instruction, or discipline of a dog that is being.

Private in-home dog training is one of the training services that I offer.  The other services are online consultations which is beneficial for those who don't live in my area.  

But my private in-home is a hands on type of training; highly personalized for you, your family and your dog.  This is essentially all about you.  Your home, your dog, your training.  

What are the benefits of in-home personal training?  

  • You have my undivided attention.
  • Training approach is specifically for you and your dog.
  • Training within your home allows me to see environment that you and your dog live in.  Enabling to work up a highly personalized training regimen.
  • Training in your home allows me to show you exactly how to train your dog in your day to day.  
  • Being in your home allows you to show me exactly what is going on and where.
  • In-home makes it easy for us to walk through a day in the life of you and your dog. 
  • We work on a plan that will specifically fit your family and your dog.

I love working one on one so to speak; with a family and their dog.  It gives me the chance to concentrate on only you.  You and your dog that is.  It is a great way to implement the whole family into the training.  No distractions, very specific training work, hands on demonstrations giving you the confidence to do it yourself.  

From the moment I arrive at your home until the day that I leave; there is a huge transformation in you, the family and your dog.  My job is to train you and the family to train your dog.  There inevitably comes the day when I have to say goodbye; and on that day, I have given you all the training to take it from there.  Of course there is always the open line of email and phone help when the need arises. 

Private in-home dog training.  I come to your home, your family and your dog to work on your problems.  Nice. 


Moving on - after losing your canine

Losing your canine

It's not easy, how do you move on when you may have lost the love of your life?  This was something that I dealt with after losing my Luke.  Luke was my heart dog and he left a huge gaping hole in my heart when he left.  Getting over a love like we had is never easy, not for anyone.  

Luke's goodbye

I lost Luke in January of 2015; so where am I now in the whole grieving process.  I've been through it all and am out the other side.  Oh, there are still days when I can't talk about him; it really depends on my mood and what the Luke topic is.  It is hard to think that you can ever have that again with another; but I know it will happen, I will fall in love again.  I am very ready to fall in love, as is Elsa. But how do you go from a mess; to being able to move on?  Grief, you must grieve such a loss or you will never get through to the other side.  Writing my book helped me immensely.  Each re-read brought fewer and fewer tears.  I can now read my book with only a few tears rolling down my face.  No sobbing, no heartbreak, just memories.  

The memories are what we need and when they come and bring joy instead of sadness; well then, you are almost there.  

You have to go through it, there is no way around.  Getting to the other side demands that you go through the middle of the sadness.  Deal with it, cry, remember, cry and cry some more.  You must mourn what you have lost, it is essential.  There is no easy way to get to the other side and if you take the easy road; then you'll likely have to go through it later in life.  

Going through the middle of it all was why I wrote my book.  It made me deal with every heartbreaking emotion.  Oh there was a lot of crying.  Some days I couldn't think of moving on.  How could I go through a day without him?  

But here I am, with all of my amazing memories left.  They bring smiles now; how can I not smile when I think of that big goof ball?  I loved him, I will always love him.  But now I only have memories and that my friend is a gift.  One that we should cherish.  

It's not easy, but you can get through it.   

My book


Dog harnesses

Ruffwear Harness

Harness your relationship, don't choke it.  

Harness:  together as cooperating partners or equals.  (love this)

Yesterday Elsa and I were out for our evening walk.  We had to cut our path walk short; turn around and head in the opposite direction because of a coyote siting.  Thanks to a nice person who was passing by, we were alerted to it's presence.  We made our way up to the park and continued our walk there; away from the coyotes.  

As we entered the park we noticed a little dog doing damage to his tiny neck.  The dog's human was oblivious to the fact that she was indeed choking her dog.  The little black and furry mix was dying to come to see Elsa.  Lunging and diving in attempt to see the lovely Miss Elsa, he was being choked by his collar.  The woman on the end of the leash seemed absorbed in everything but her dog as he choked and sputtered. 

I couldn't help but shudder as I imagined his little neck taking the impact resulting from his actions.  People don't realize how much damage can be done by a collar, any collar.  Throughout history humans have done a lot of ludicrous things.  If we do not take the time to stand back and reconsider the actions that we take; we can continue the senseless acts without change.  

Life is all about evolution; evolution is about doing better when we know better.  I love the saying

"Expect Better - and move towards better. 

Better is out there." 

If we blindly continue the actions of the people before us without stopping to ponder our behavior, we are not evolving or striving for better.  Sometimes those who came before us didn't know a whole lot.  Perhaps over time we have learned better and should then do better, right?  

This harness above is the one I use for Elsa.  I got it years ago when Luke was still around.  So it was his harness before Elsa's.  I love it and it is my "go to" harness.  It has a hook up on top and out in front to minimize those who like to pull.

As canine guardians, all we can do is our best.  When we learn better, we can do better.  Let's do that.  :)  

Take your life back

 Picture perfect - you can do it.  

Picture perfect - you can do it.  

I cannot tell you how many times I've heard "he doesn't want to," or "they won't stop."  Are you feeling like you've lost control of your life?  

Control - check or restraint.

Have you lost control?

Have you? 

Does your dog rule your life?  Are you feeling like your life is no longer your own?  Do you want to take your life back?  Read on.

We often let our dogs get away with behaviors that we later regret.  Our dogs will do what we allow them to do.  Taking charge does not have anything to do with being mean, cruel or bossy.  It has everything to do with guidance and creating a harmonious canine/human relationship.  Our dogs need us to step up to the plate.

Are you ready?

This all starts in your head.  You can do this, yes you can.  Is your dog charging out open doors?  Jumping all over you?  Counter surfing at will?  Whatever you don't want your dog to do, it is time to stop the behavior.  This all starts with you believing that you can be the one making and enforcing rules.

First, decide what you will allow in your home and life.  Next, think about how to control or stop the unwanted behaviors.  If you are at a loss and can't do it yourself, then get in touch with a positive reinforcement trainer to get you started.   A good trainer will give you the information needed to take your life back.  They should make you feel like you can do it; giving you the guidance to train your dog.

Life can be made better with a dog by your side, but sometimes it's worse.  If we allow the relationship to go amuck with no rules or boundaries set, it can go very bad.  A little guidance, modification and confidence can make a huge difference.  

If you need help, get it.  Life with dogs is amazing, and you can do this.   

Communication - human/canine

 A clear communication

A clear communication

Elsa and I head up the hill towards the lake at one of our favorite spots.  As we neared the bend a woman stood on other side of a narrow road with two large dogs in one hand and her phone in the other.  She kept nervously watching us as we continued.  Needless to say I was now watching her and assessing what exactly was going on before continuing any further.  She yanked at the dogs over and over again; pulling them in to an inch beside her.  It was what she did next that caused me to make the decision to u turn with Elsa. 

Watching the situation with the woman, dogs and phone carefully; it was obvious that she was not comfortable with us passing by.  Trying to balance her phone conversation and two large dogs she then held up one leg and put it in front of the dogs.  Okay, that was enough information for me; I did a quick u-turn and head back down the hill, taking our walk in a different direction.  

 The woman's body language clearly stated "I don't think I can control these guys with one hand."  She was not giving up on her phone conversation so she was hoping to rely on the one leg up and the other leg balancing to do the work.  Hmmmmmmm....

Sometimes it's just best to turn around.  She was not blocking our way at all but I saw the scenario as an accident waiting to happen.  A simple direction change rectified what I saw as a possible situation.  As we turned and head the other way I looked back to see the woman loosen her grip on her dogs and continue her walk.  So it was a win, win. 

Coming across someone who looks like they have no control over their dog can be as intimidating as a loose dog running around.  It fact, it was a woman who had lost control of her Bulldogs while still on leash that attacked Elsa several years ago.  I do not want to be the victim of someone's lack of control over their dog.  Either get control of your dog or don't have a dog so large and strong that you can't physically control it.  

The woman with the two large dogs had communicated to me that she was not confident in her ability to control her dogs.  Having both hands available and not trying to carry on a conversation; she may have been quite capable of controlling her dogs.  I clearly understood her body language because that's what I do.  I read.  Not everyone sees communication via body language and it is a big problem.  

Just the other day Elsa and I were out in a big open field playing catch.  A man with a Labrador started approaching.  Seeing that he was coming our way, I made a clear communication by moving further down the field.  He should have seen this "I don't want to interact," but he didn't.  He kept coming so I upped my communication.  I abruptly turned and walked away.  Nope, he was still coming.  It boggles my mind.  Finally I leashed Elsa, turned around completely and started walking away.  He then called out to see if they could play together.  Wow!!!!

Canines are far superior to us in the reading body language department.  We humans can in fact communicate without ever having to open our mouths.  But whether or not the other person we are trying to communicate with can read or not is the question.  


We can do better for our dogs


With camera in hand, my sister and I head out to visit her breeder.  Finally after all these years, I was going to meet Dawn; the woman behind all the stories.  Sadly I was meeting her after the passing of my sister's much loved Ruby.  

Turning into the driveway, I scanned the springtime terrain that was trying to escape the winter cover.  The ground was very wet and muddy; giving off the very familiar smell of spring.  Even though April is a messy time of year in Canada; it carries with it the hope of sunshine and warmer temperatures of summer to come.  

Getting out of the car, I stepped over a big puddle to avoid getting a soaker (foot submerged in water).  We head towards the house where we got our first sneak peek at the Tollers who were enjoying the outdoors in a fenced area off to the left.  The door opened and we were welcomed in with open arms and hugs.  Dawn and my sister (Bonnie) are family; family through the mutual love of a very special dog.

After our welcome we sat in the living room and waited for the releasing of the hounds.  Excited barking could be heard before a sea of red charged through the doorway and headed our way.   Three Tollers (Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers) and a small but mighty Toy Poodle welcomed us to their home.  Immediately after our welcome the retrieving started.  Tollers love to retrieve.  

Our conversation began with who was related; where everyone came from and breeding.  Dawn then opened a book that held a wealth of information.  I was amazed as she sifted through the family (Toller) records with the topic turning to Ruby's siblings.  Two siblings remained and Dawn shared the history of the rest.  It amazed me that she kept track of each and every family member (Toller) who had left her charge over the years.  The families who had adopted a Toller from Dawn were indeed family.

Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever

It is rare to find someone who is as passionate about dogs as I am but Ruby's breeder (Dawn) is most definitely that and then some.  I have not met a more conscientious breeder.  These are the type of breeders we need to support.  We talked about extensive health testing, health, breeding and temperament testing in detail.  I learned a lot as Dawn shared her Toller mission with us. 

Throughout our discussion Dawn shared a great deal of information that she had learned over the years.  We talked about a wonderful company that focuses on changing the future of dogs called Avidog.  She also explained Nomographs, which I have never heard of.   Nomographs are done by testing a mother's blood to see what level of antibodies are being passed to her puppies in  her colostrum.  This lets a breeder know when it is best to vaccinate puppies.  This explains why puppies given vaccinations too early can get ill.  Fascinating. 

Between the canine conversation, I tried to capture a few photos of the dogs.  It was clear that the little Toy poodle was the boss.  Easily outweighed by all the red dogs she was confident and happy to rule the roost.  

As our visit neared the end we head outside and toward the kennels.  Dawn also runs a boarding kennel.  We were going to meet Ruby's brother who is one of the two siblings remaining from her litter.  As soon as we set eyes on him, it was impossible not to see the resemblance.  Bonnie knelt down to meet the old man; a link to her much loved Ruby.  It was a moment; one that most of us never get to experience.  

 Meeting this old man was an honor for me.

Meeting this old man was an honor for me.


Before we left we were lucky to meet the future of Dragonluck kennels.  The new members who will continue the legacy of filling the position of much loved family members with their offspring.  

 Perhaps the future.  

Perhaps the future.  

As we drove away, back down the driveway and head for home we reflected on our visit.  This is what a breeder should be.  Dawn has a wealth of knowledge, a caring heart for dog and human; with a drive to do better and desire to know more.  This is what you want to find when you are searching for a breeder; no matter what breed you are looking for.  This is who we should be supporting.   

 The Queen

The Queen

Temperament testing in dogs

 A most perfect match made when Elsa joined our family.  Thank you Vicki.

A most perfect match made when Elsa joined our family.  Thank you Vicki.

I want to talk about temperament testing today, yes again.  This is something that I am very passionate about and wish that all breeders, rescues and shelters did.  Very few that I speak to think that temperament testing is important.  But why?  Well, from what I can glean from the conversations that I have, it seems that the idea of temperament testing is something you do when you don't "know" your puppies.  The common response I hear from the breeders who don't do it is this; "I don't need to temperament test, I know my puppies."  Leaving me to think that they feel that it is only something you do when you don't know your puppies.  Hmmmmm...

So what exactly does temperament testing do?  Well, let's first say that there is temperament testing and then there is temperament testing.  I have seen many dogs who have been "tested" that have been done completely inaccurately.  So that must be the first understanding.  When a temperament test is done it must be done by someone who is very experienced in dog behavior.  There are so many things to factor in aside from the initial result.  

What am I looking for when I test?   I look to find out who this puppy is as an individual.  What makes them tick; what they like, what they don't like.  How will they deal with life as it unfolds before them.   

What type of family scenario is going to best suit each individual puppy?  Temperament testing is not about finding the good and bad.  It has nothing to do with the best puppy; it is all about finding the best puppy for each family waiting to add one of the bundles of fur to their family.  Who would thrive in each very different individual family life?

  • Are they afraid of loud noise?
  • Are they independent?
  • Do they easily follow a human?
  • What is their recovery time after being startled?  A biggy for me..
  • Are they a soft or hard type dog?  
  • Will they do well with small children?
  • Are they forgiving?  
  • etc etc

There is no reason not to temperament test but a plethora of reason to test.  When a breeder does not test and opts to allow the families to pick their own puppy; every puppy/guardian pairing can be wrong.  It can start with the first choice to the last.  Most people have no idea what they are looking for; they go on a visual choice and who comes to them first.  Nothing can be gleaned from a onetime visit in among a litter of puppies.  

Each puppy must be looked at alone and offered many different experiences to show who they are as an individual.  Why not give each a chance for the best life that they can live.  Much more coming on temperament testing, stay tuned.  


Old Dogs

 Ruby, who I was honored to have photographed last November.  She was my sister's family's heart.  Ruby was cherished in her golden years giving both her and her family those special moments that we will always remember.  

Ruby, who I was honored to have photographed last November.  She was my sister's family's heart.  Ruby was cherished in her golden years giving both her and her family those special moments that we will always remember.  

Elsa and I were out walking early at the park yesterday morning.  We were enjoying the warmth of the sun as it rose over the hills and came through the tops of the trees.  I love this time of year; as the spring rains end, leaving a blanket of green and blossoms in their wake.  The sound of birds fill the air; bringing with it a sense of tranquility all around.   Early morning is a great time to get out and find some peace before the day begins.

As we made our way around the park we passed by others who were out enjoying the dawn.  We walked by a couple of little white fluffy dogs, a  Golden Retriever who was wanting nothing to do with retrieving, a big Akita, a rambunctious black Labrador and a Rottweiler.  None of the dogs phased Elsa, except for the Rottie.  As I discussed on my last "LIVE" session on my Facebook page; Rottweilers freak Elsa out.  The lack of tail and dark body leave her with little information to read.

As we continued our walk, further down the path and just ahead of us a bit was an old guy.  An old Siberian Husky who's legs told of his younger years gone by.  They buckled with each step; but his human guardian took her time.  She was meandering with him and smiling as he stopped to smell the bushes.  Old dogs make me smile.  I love old dogs.  

After living with many dogs through their youth, adulthood, middle age and into the golden years; I have been privilege to the joy and wonder of old dogs.  It is a time when we step up to be there.  Our dogs give us their all, they share their life with us and teach us many things throughout our lives together.  But it is in their final years when we learn the most about love, patience, caring and giving.  It is a humbling experience and one that I cherish at every turn.

Living with an old dog is a gift.  One that gives just by being in the moment with our dog.  The memories come flooding back when I think of my dog's golden years.  Luke was my most recent "old guy," and he left behind a legacy; one that I draw on regularly and lovingly.  He was my heart and those last months with him were some of the most precious moments of my life.

Yes, living with old dogs is work.  Many ailments can inflict a dog as they age, just like us.  How lucky are those of us who are given the gift of caring for an old dog.  Many people never get to experience this as they lose their canine companions before the golden years.  Giving is what life is all about.  It comes in many forms but is a life altering act.  

To give - to present voluntarily and without expecting compensation; bestow:

Old dogs force us to slow down, be in the moment, take in life as it unfolds before us.  Watching an old dog as they enjoy the warmth of the sunshine on their body, take in the smells of a passing breeze or simply sit and watch the birds all around, is moving. 

I have experienced so many "moments" with my old dogs over the years.  Just having their head rest on my lap as they sleep and dream of years gone by, is such a gift.  Far too often life gets too busy; we get wrapped up in everything else that those special "moments" pass us by.  Once gone they are gone, never to return. 

Right now, if you are living with an old dog, enjoy it.  If the golden years are still out in the future for your dog, look forward to them.  For those are the years that will impact you the most.  Of course a life spent with a dog by your side is wonderful at every step.  But after so many years together, those intrinsic years of gold are priceless.  


Isle of Dogs-the movie



The first time I heard about Isle of Dogs was only a week ago.  I don't know why it had not come to my attention and not crossed any of my feeds before then.  Once I finally saw the trailer and asked others about it, they had known about it already.  Anyhow, I went to see it yesterday and this was my take away. 

First let me say that I was shocked that you can now get wine at the theater, guess it's been a while.  So with a plastic cup of Pinot Grigio in hand I waited for the movie to start.  I didn't really have any huge expectations except that the movie was about dogs. 

My only complaint was that there could have been fewer humans in the movie; and more dog interactions.  But that is just me.  It was an amazing production when you consider how stop motion movies are made.  I can't even imagine the time and patience it would take to create the movie.  It was done expertly.

Isle of Dogs is set in Japan in the near future when the dog flu sweeps over all the pet and stray dogs and they are banished to a garbage dump island to live out the rest of their lives.  That is until some of the humans (the bad guys) decide to euthanize all of the dogs on the island.  The battle between good and bad ensues.

 The story is mostly about a young boy who loses his guardian dog to the island and he sets out to find him.  A gang of previous "pet dogs" take up with the boy and attempt to find his dog for him.  Albeit one stray dog (Chief) who was never a pet.  He has a rough exterior that he holds strong to retain.  

Isle of Dogs


The movie is not for children; it has a few disturbing scenes that would not be okay for young children.  Because of the animation idea around the movie; one might think that it is for kids but it is not, in my opinion. Some dark parts of the movie come from the humans who are against the dogs.  But there are also good humans in the movie who are trying to save the dogs. 

Isle of dogs

There is some translation throughout the movie so that you can understand some of the Japanese spoken segments.  But there are some that are not translated which leaves you with just getting an emotional feel for what is being said.

There are a lot of really big actors who lend their voice to this movie and they are great.  Some were recognizable to me, others not.  

I don't want to give too much away if you are planning on seeing it.   The movie is very artsy and I would assume will be winning awards for the work of art that it is.  It is different, not exactly what I thought it would be but worth seeing.  Being the dog lover that I am; of course I felt that I needed to see it. 

It is definitely a movie that leaves you thinking that this type of situation could actually happen in perhaps a lesser fashion.  Something to think about.

Hold tight to your dog and enjoy every second you can with them.  






Canine relationships


We have a house guest.  One of my Granddogs is here for the long weekend.  I have often had Penny here for several days or a week; but this time our visitor is Luna.  Luna is a little rescue mix.  We are not sure what she is but she looks like a mix of cavalier and Japanese Chin to me.  

Luna is a very tiny girl with a big luxurious coat.  She came from a rescue group with no past information on her life before her new one.  She is not fond of new people until she gets to know them.  It can take a couple of visits but once your in, your in.  She is not a fan of large dogs but likes others her size.  

When we introduced Luna to Elsa it took sometime until a face to face was advisable.  Luna is a very alpha female.  Elsa is a fun loving, highly energetic, rambunctious girl., mature and non submissive.  In other words she will always choose to play over anything but will not back down when confronted.  In the beginning of their relationship, Luna wanted to be the boss; telling Elsa what to do and when.  Knowing that Elsa would not appreciate this in her home, we took our time.  

As you can see from the image above, they now coexist.  If it was up to Elsa they would be best buddies.  When Luna arrives at our house, Elsa spins, leaps and smiles.  They charge out to the backyard where Luna stops.  She gives Elsa a "look" to remind her that she does not indulge in this crazy behavior.  Off they go with Luna peeing in the yard and Elsa peeing on top of every single pee that Luna does.  Is in Elsa's yard and she knows it.  

Not all dogs get along the in the same way.  Many relationships need a great deal of work to a good place.  Luna and Elsa now hang out together.  Luna is not a touchy feely type with Elsa and so they co-exist.  They can eat together and are at this moment on my bed together as I write.  The bed could be an issue but I have made it a very structured event.  Supervision, supervision.  

I love when I see them lying together on their own.  It is a funny relationship but it is just that, a relationship.  No relationship is the same as another.  Luna sleeps in another room and is only allowed on the bed while I write.  The bed is Elsa's special place and sleeping with me is her right as my constant companion.  Both girls are sound asleep right now, nice.  

When it comes to dogs and relationships with other dogs; you must look at each as a separate entity.  If you have a houseful of dogs; each will have a different relationship with each other.  You cannot force a relationship but you most definitely can nudge it with very careful work.  Knowing your dog/dogs is essential.  

I know that Elsa loves other dogs who are non threatening.  She will always choose to be friends if the other is willing.  That said if the other is pushy or threatening then it will not go well.  Luna is use to being the boss lady so she has had to learn that she cannot be the boss in this house.  

I have to laugh when I watch Elsa choose to lie beside Luna outside in the sun.  The look on Luna's face is priceless.  Her expression and body language clearly says "really blondie, you have the whole place and you have to lie right here beside me?"  :)   


Grooming your poodle

Today is grooming day.  With the temperatures rising, Elsa needs a shave.  She is a Standard Poodle and needs to loose some fluff to accommodate the upcoming weather change.  Elsa is a very active girl so keeping too much coat on her makes her uncomfortable.  Poodles and poodle mixes come with a grooming warning.   "Extensive grooming" most pages state.  With the regular grooming requirements can come big cost.  But it doesn't have to cost a fortune.  I have been grooming for almost forty years and love to share my experience with others.

"I can't do that" is almost always the response I hear when I tell others that I groom myself.  I am here to tell you that "YES YOU CAN."  Yep, if you want to groom your poodle, you can do it.  Should everyone groom their own dog?  Nope.  But those who want to, should.  If you have no desire to DIY then you shouldn't.

From the big fluffy and extensive groom of a show poodle to the easy peasy shave down and everything in-between.  I've done it all and can switch it up, touch it up whenever I like.  That is a huge benefit to doing it yourself; touching up whenever you like.  

There are many other reasons why grooming yourself is great.  

  • Bonding time.
  • Trust building.
  • Physical check up can be done regularly when grooming.
  • Your dog does not become stressed by having to go to the groomers.
  • Save literally thousands of $$$$$$$$$$

There is an initial expense of equipment; although you can do a great deal of grooming with very little equipment (which is thoroughly explained on both courses)  I groomed many poodles over the years with the bare minimum.  

Will your dog look amazing when you first dive into grooming?  Maybe, but chances are not.  It, like anything else you begin is a learning curve.  I have just started learning how to golf.  Am I great?  Nope.  

Grooming your own dog can be intimidating.  For this reason alone, I have created an in-between course.   Grooming in-between pro grooming visits can give you the confidence that you need to do full grooms.  

If you want to save a ton of money, want to groom your own dog, learn the ins and outs of maintenance, equipment and grooming techniques.  Take a look at my online courses listed above.  Oh.... and "YES YOU CAN," groom your own poodle.  In fact I know you can.  ;)



Indulging our dogs

 Those eyes, honestly.

Those eyes, honestly.

 Do you indulge your dog?  I do.

Indulge - to yield to an inclination or desire; allow oneself to follow one's will

There are days when Elsa gets to accompany me where or what I want to do.  Other times we go out it's all about her and then there are times when we get to both indulge.  

So what did we do today?  

Very early this morning, as the sun was just starting to hit the open field; we were out there indulging Elsa.  She was getting a good long round of Chuck it in.  With my hands tucked into my fleece jacket I tried to keep them warm from the early morning chill.  I was indulging Elsa.  That is why we were at the park so early in the morning; for some nice long Chuck it indulging.  

With her tongue hanging out and my fingers nearly frozen we head for home.  Once home we had some downtime for Elsa to cool down and I jumped in the shower.  After about an hour we ate.  We basically shared our breakfast.    I heated some some yummy Filet Mignon left over from the night before, scrambled eggs, added spinach, a little cheese and yum.  Elsa enjoyed it as much as I did. 

With the bulk of her exercise done, a rest time and full stomach we got ready to go out again.  We were heading to the outdoor mall for some shopping.  I wanted some new shoes and I know that Elsa is more than welcome at this specific mall; even inside the stores where the employees welcome her with open arms.  So off we went.

Once we were there I further indulged my girl.  Being that it is very dog friendly there is a lot of peemail to read and Elsa loves to catch up on her mail.  We meandered through the mall stopping at every single tiny bush.  I wasn't in a hurry and it makes me happy to make Elsa happy.  

To indulge is not a bad thing; if it is something that you want and you will not regret the indulgence.  Want to skip the gym and hit the donut shop?  Do it if your not going to obsess over the decision.  

I like to indulge Elsa at least once a day.  That could mean a great long retrieve session, maybe going to the park, a long slow peemail walk or play date with a friend.  If we can both indulge at the same time then we get to do more fun things together that we both enjoy.

Indulging is a good thing if you will not regret the decision.  If the end result is not worth the indulgence, then skip it.  

Do you consider the things that your dog would like to indulge in?



National puppy day

Do you want a dog

You want a puppy?  Do you really?  You think you want a dog but do you?

Many people go through the process of adding a puppy to their family only to discover shortly after that they don't want a dog.  

If everyone who was thinking about adding a dog to their family could see into the future and get a glimpse of what was to come, they might not get a dog.  Of course I adore dogs but not everyone does; not everyone wants to deal with dog issues.  Issues that are very species specific and normal for any dog but not just any human.  Sadly many people don't realize this until after they get a dog.  

Puppies and dogs are work, bottom line.  Dogs deserve companionship which often elude those who add a dog to their family.  Dogs should be considered a member of the family.  They are not a creature that you purchase to complete the image of a family.  Dogs deserve a life of togetherness; they should never be left in a yard to live their life alone.  Although the backyard is where many dogs find themselves after the family realizes that they didn't really want a dog.

Dogs are amazing; and what they give us should be given back to them.  The canine/human connection is a wonderful thing.  An intense bond forms from quality time together.  But is often lost from those who find a dog to be do much work.  

Isle of Dogs

Check out this new movie.  Isle of Dogs - I can't wait to see it and would love to hear if you see it.

Yes dogs are work, especially puppies.  But if you truly want to live with a dog; living side by side as true companions, the work doesn't feel like work.  When you love someone, acts of care and giving feel good; they do not feel like work.  

As I write this morning, Elsa is draped across my legs, dreaming.  She loves her mornings in bed and I love that I can work in bed with my laptop.  We are connected and this very special time in bed confirms that.  Elsa feels safe here and enjoys the comfort of connection restricted to family members.  

When a dog joins a family, they should be blanketed in the cloak of family.  They deserve nothing less.  Living alongside the family is where dogs belong.  Piled on the couch, resting on their own bed by the fire, enjoying hikes, mornings in bed, evenings on the porch and much more.  Loving a dog is good for you; it is a humbling experience.  To truly know a dog will change you forever. 

Once you've been connected to a dog, there is no going back.  

When we allow ourselves to connect with another species; to genuinely share our lives with a canine, we grow and flourish to a much better self.  Dogs deserve our very best because they don't know how to give us any less. 

Do you want a dog?  Just know, there will be work; and your life will never be the same.  Loving a dog will come back to you tenfold.  Do some research, find out if you really want a dog.  If you really want to live with a dog; you are in for an amazing connection.

If you've got a new dog and want to know what you need to know, check out my book.  




Protecting our dogs-United Airlines


It's our job to protect our dogs.  We stand between our dog and everyone else; creating a shield of human guardian protection.  We are appointed this very serious obligation when we add a dog to our family.  That dog then becomes a member of the inner family circle and protected as such.   

I want to address the incident that was in the news yesterday.  A young French Bulldog died after being placed in the overhead compartment of a United Airlines flight.  The owner has stated that she was told to put the dog in the compartment.  If she was told that her dog needed to be placed in the overhead compartment, she should have declined (if she thought that it was not a good idea).  If the employees of United Airlines persisted, she should have left the plane.  

How much protection do we owe our dogs?  Complete and absolute.  

Common sense dictates that free flowing and fresh air does not exist in the airplane overhead.  How any canine guardians would allow their dog to be placed in the compartment and then have the hatch shutdown, I just do not understand.  I would think that most guardian would say "NO," at this type of request.  That and then follow up by standing strong on the protection of their dog. 

This is such a sad scenario in so many ways.  Not to mention a horrific death for the dog.  It is our job to protect those living beings in our care.  This never had to happen.  So many humans failed this dog but the sole responsibility lies on the dog's guardian.  

Guardian - a person who guards, protects, or preserves.

It's our job, bottom line.

I am not pointing fingers; I am simply stating that our dog's well being and safety is in our hands.  We as guardians should never do what we deem dangerous with our dogs; especially at someone else's request. 

Humans failed this dog.



Frustration in dog training


Every person is an individual; every dog is an individual.  

Individual - a distinct, indivisible entity; a single thing, being, instance, or item.

This reason alone is why dog trainers need to be very flexible in the training approach.  There is no one size fits all when training individual dogs.  Knowing how a dog reacts to stimulus is very important when working towards a positive training session.  

I am an instant gratification type person.  Not that I need reward instantly but when working on a project, I don't like the finished result being weeks or months out.  Which is why I love digital photography so much; snap an image, plug it into your computer, presto!

Some dogs need rewards or success more often.  I have seen dogs being trained who become frustrated when they don't succeed fast enough.  They may even shut down, cease working at all as they have given up.  So what does frustration look like?  

  • walking away
  • barking at you
  • stress triggered behaviors like yawning
  • quickly offering other already known behaviors
  • shutting down

If  your dog becomes frustrated easily; breaking a behavior down into tiny baby steps can help to eliminate this.  Some dogs need such tiny steps and constant positive feedback that you may need to pre-plan your behavior lessen.  Sitting down and figuring out the steps needed to get to the final behavior should be thought out.  

Some dogs will "get" the whole behavior taught at once; but many need it to be broken down to avoid frustration in the learning process.  Neither  is better or smarter than the other.   The success lies in the trainer knowing how to teach the dog.  The ability to see a dog struggling is so very crucial to happy and successful training.  

Teaching your dog to shake

shake a paw

After sniffing the treat, Yogi stopped and gave me eye contact.  Asking "what do I need to do to get this treat?"


Shake a paw.  Everyone wants their dog to shake, right?  Strangers often walk up to dogs expecting them to "shake."  

Shake a paw is cute and very easy to teach a dog to do.  It can be evolved into other cute behaviors like high five and waving.  So how do you teach a dog to shake?  Patience, much like many other behaviors; you need to wait until your dog offers a behavior.  The best way to ingrain a behavior is for the dog to figure it out themselves.  That means no cheating.  No grabbing their foot and shaking their paw for them.  

The way that I teach the shake exercise utilizes both lure and shape training.  The lure is a piece food in the hand and the shape is waiting for the dog to paw the food.  

 Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Sniffing the treat under my thumb

Here's how

  • Put a small piece of food (not too high value) in the palm of your hand and cover it firmly with your thumb. 
  • Place your hand on the floor near your dog with your palm facing up.
  • You can break the exercise down into many baby steps but I normally prefer to wait for the pawing action.  But if a dog is easily frustrated I will then break the behavior down into baby steps (next blog) to avoid this. 
  • Wait for dog to paw at your hand and immediately open hand, rewarding dog.
  • Do this until the dog is reliably pawing at the hand immediately.
  • Then remove the food from the hand and put it into your other hand and behind your back.
  • Place the empty hand on the ground in the same position with thumb on palm and wait.
  • As soon as the dog paws at the hand reward them with food from the other hand.  Repeat.
  • Next paw attempt, hold your dog's paw gently while rewarding.
  • Move hand up from the ground and remove thumb from palm
  • Add verbal cue "shake, give me paw" etc. 
  • Gently add a full foot handshake while rewarding.
  • Be careful to never grab the dog's foot negatively (too hard, too long, too much shake).  This could create an unwillingness to continue. 

So there you have it, the shake.  

Yogi didn't get the shake behavior at my house on this day as we only worked for a few minutes on it.  I was showing his Mom what to do when she went home.  After a few moments at home working on it Yogi's Mom accomplished the highly prized "shake."  

 Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

Trying to nudge the treat out of my hand

You can evolve this behavior to the high five and wave by simply moving your hand slowly to different positions and rewarding.  




Dog training help now. Online Consultations!


No matter where you are...

"I need help, right now" the email said.  The woman was having some huge canine issues with her new puppy and needed HELP!!!!!!  I replied right away "I can help right now."  I sent her the questionnaire and we began immediately.  

The new canine guardian had been ready to pitch everything.  She was starting to regret ever getting a dog and was ready to give up.  Sometimes you need help right away; and that help can come in many forms.  One form of help that I offer is my online canine consultations and I have to say that "I LOVE IT."  I love being able to connect with people right away.  The ability to get them started on their very personalized remedy to their problem with their dog, instantly is wonderful.

So what does my online email consultation look like and who can benefit from this service?  First it is a very cost effective remedy to your canine behavior issues.   We work via email which enables us to communicate back and forth over a period of time.  This lets you, the canine guardian get to work right away.  We can span the emails out as far as you like.  As you and your dog make progress we walk through new things that arise until you have a handle on your problem.

And it doesn't matter where you live, which is the greatest thing EVER.  

Online canine consultations are geared to those who want to address their problems.  That means that I tell you how to help your dog.  Then you tell me how its going and we work on fixing more, until you are happy with your dog's behavior.  Sound good?  

I offer local hands on behavior modification but I'm not limited to local anymore.  I love helping people all around the world with my online canine consultations.  

Often a couple of emails are all that's needed for a canine guardian to be on their way to complete success.  And I might add, they did all the work; which I believe is essentially important for the best possible outcome.  This is because a guardian needs to understand what's going on. With the personalized give and take of an online consultation, that happens very naturally.

So wherever you are and whatever your canine problem, shoot me an email.