dog behavior

Dog behavior issues

Learning manners

Learning manners

Are you dealing with k9 behavior issues? Do you feel like pulling your hair out daily because you feel overwhelmed about what to do? This is so normal…believe me, even dog trainers feel like this now and again. When I see a new behavior that I don’t like I take a breath and think. It is easy to go to a place like of helplessness; throwing your hands in the air and giving up. That’s usually when I get the call; and when we address the problem and the guardians ALWAYS wish that they would have called sooner.

As I always say each dog, person and problems are different. But hiring someone who can sit back and figure out either where the problem is coming from or how to fix it is easy peasy. With our new boy Riggs, we are dealing with lots of new stuff; many behaviors that I have addressed with client dogs but not my own. So in my home I have to consider how best to change it.

Many things factor into changing a behavior and the longer it has been going on, typically the longer it takes to change. A committed guardian is a big aspect; along with consistency and clear, precise directions and steps to take. The more complicated and foggy a solution to change a behavior is; the less likely the guardians are going to stick with it. I have long learned that people will only do what they find doable. This is huge to understand as a k9 consultant specializing in behavior modification.

I truly love helping people to smooth out a relationship with their dog. It is why I have a FB page and go live often on most of them. There are no stupid questions; asking questions makes you look smart in my books.

Change in dog behavior


Canine behavior is an intricate thing. It is imperative as a canine guardian that you get to know your individual puppy or dog. Each dog is different so how your dog responds to a stimulus will be different compared to how my dog responds.

This past weekend my husband and I took Elsa out for a good hard run. When we got back she was exhibiting some strange behaviors. What can sometimes be a normal occasional leg kicking thing became strange when it was happening over and over. Elsa was donkey kicking her left back leg and chewing at her foot. She was kicking her foot drastically as if something was stuck on it. Several times I went over her foot; feeling between her toes, her ankle and around each nail bed. I could find nothing. Something was definitely bothering her.

My husband and I sat watching her; trying to figure out what was going on. Could it be a bee sting I wondered? I ran and got a Benedryl just in case. If it wasn’t a bee sting, the meds would just make her sleepy and I wasn’t taking any chances. Looking closely into her eyes it did look like her pupils were dilated a bit. Watching is so important when you are trying to figure out a change in behavior. I was witness to her anaphylactic response to a bee sting years ago and didn’t want to see it again.

I got a wet cloth and prepared to clean her foot. It was bothering her so I was very careful. I gently held her foot and dabbed the cloth on the bottom of it. Her response to this was a huge and high donkey kick which landed just above my eye. It happened so fast and landed hard. She stood there watching me. I hadn’t anticipated a kick in the eye. I went back to watching.

We changed our plans for the day; she was not being left alone until I saw that she was going to be okay. So off we went to the car wash, storage unit and then home for a nap as her benedryl kicked in. After waking from her nap she was a new woman, she was fine. I don’t know if she indeed got a bee sting, perhaps twisted a toe or what but she is now fine.

A change in behavior is always worth noting. Dogs don’t just change for nothing. Of course there can be changes that happen over time but when it is sudden it is important. There could have been many different things that caused her to be making sudden and drastic donkey kicking motions. The important thing is that she’s fine now. Super happy and her normal self. I’m super happy too.

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?



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.    


Listening Part #2

So much being said.

So much being said.

This is part #2 - a continuation from my previous Really Listening Part #1 blog.  

As far as we humans are concerned, listening (although few people actually listen) is what we rely on for communication.  There is a great deal that can be heard if you read between the lines of what is said and watch as well.  Even though we depend on verbal communications for our preferred way of communicating; there is more to communication than words.

Dogs, on the other hand use body language first so listening to your dog means watching.  Of course canines use vocal communication but it is not their prime means of getting a message across.  Do you listen to your dog?  Which means do you watch?  

I love watching dogs.  So much is said within a few seconds and if you are not watching intently and clearly understand what you are seeing, you'll either miss it or misinterpret the message.  When Elsa has a play date with a canine friend, I find it hard not to watch 100% of the time.  I find it fascinating, so much information is shared between our dogs that we never even know about if we aren't paying attention.

Isn't it funny that we think that our dogs are so amazing at knowing what is going on with us.  "How did she know we were having friends over?"  "How does your dog know when you aren't going out?"  They watch, it's what they do and they know.  They know when things are good and when things are bad, they just know. 

If I am out and about I love to watch dogs and their constant communication.  I have tripped many times while turning to watch an interaction on my own walk.  It is what I love. 

Humans tend to take what they see in canine content and turn it into a human behavior.  When dogs communicate it is not in the same way that we do at all.  We have to explain it in human terms so that we mere humans can understand it but they don't do human things unless they are trained and asked to do so.  

Understanding canine communications is completely alien to us; that is unless we take the time to learn about it.  

Humans misread canine interactions on a regular basis, I see and hear it all of the time.  I see videos where people think that dogs are playing so cute; but they are just on the verge of a fight.  Photos of people allowing children to hug or sit on a dog and think that the dog loves it, sends chills down my spine. 

An extremely relatable example is guilt.  Humans often, far too often see submission as guilt.  "He knows he should not poop on the floor," is a common statement as an owner is yelling at their dog.  "Look how guilty he is," they say as the dog hangs it's head, averts eye contact and shrinks in submission.  The dog is reacting to the human behavior, not the guilt from what they have done. 

If you live with a dog or dogs you really should learn how to understand them.  

Dog Training - Interference in Learning

As I watched, I tried to remember it all.  The movements, the body language and the sound.  I was  at a training appointment to help fix some canine/human issues.  I watched the woman trying to hold her dog back when I entered the home.  I stood still, seemingly not watching but taking it all in.  "Let him go," I said.  He immediately calmed, not completely but much better than when he was in the trap of his guardian's arms.  

There are a lot of things that can interfere in the canine learning process.  Touch, sound and distractions can all factor in on learning.  But if we humans learn how a dog can learn, it works much better.  The woman with the problem dog who wanted to dive on everyone who came into the house was a prime example.  All she knew to do was restrain, but her restraining was backfiring.  Her touch, talk and body language just revved up the crazed behavior.

Another good example of too much interference was a German Shepherd and it's guardian trying to learn "stay."  I had been at an obedience class with another trainer for a photo shoot but the dog trainer in me was dying to step in as I watched.  It was not my place so I just surveyed from the sidelines.  The guardian repeated and repeated the "stay" while putting her hand up, then down, up then down.  She fidgeted with the leash and basically made it impossible for the dog to know what the heck was going on.  

Being quiet, listening and watching as our dogs learn is a big learning session for ourselves.  Learning how our dogs learn best is a win win for everyone involved.  But much frustration surrounds the act of teaching when we do not teach ourselves first.  How on earth can we teach our dogs if we don't understand how our dogs learn?

Most canine guardians do not understand how to teach their dogs.  There is much reliance put on the physical act; collar grabs, pushing, pulling, swinging arms and talking up a storm.   

Our dogs constantly watch us.  Their whole world revolves around watching and listening.  They rely on body language for the bulk of their communication so making our body communications clear and precise is extremely important in the learning curve.  The more we throw in the more complicated it gets, making it far more difficult for a dog to learn.

  • Touch is a huge interference.  
  • Sound is an interference.
  • Body movement can be an interference.  
  • Environmental stimulus can be an interference.  

If we as canine guardians take the time to learn to teach, we can accomplish so much more.  It is a win/win for the canine/human relationship.  



Subtle and personal signs in our dogs

My view waking up this morning.  A good sign.  

I sat and stared at her; I used my peripheral vision to watch and followed along when she moved.  She was not getting out of my sight.  Yesterday Elsa was acting strange.  I awoke to the glorious sound of heaving.  Tearing down the stairs and fumbling with the lock, out she went.  I thought that maybe her dinner had been lighter than normal.  I quickly went over her meal in  my head and decided that it was pretty usual.  Hmmmmmm?

We head back upstairs where I gave Elsa some morning snack.  "Now she'll be fine," I thought to myself.  She was off the bed in a flash with that "I gotta puke" face on.  Downstairs we went and she did puke.  Now I was worried; but assumed it must be an upset stomach from her antibiotics.  She did the usual perimeter check of her yard; sniffing the footsteps that each critter had taken during the night.  Not a step is missed as she assesses the visitors who come only in the darkness.  

Later in the morning came the bows.  Elsa stretched herself out in a bow; along with her neck.  I watched and wondered.  She settled down on her bed beside me in the office for a nap; then shot up like a bullet and bowed again.  She quickly turned to look at her rear end and then arched her back.  All of these physical actions are quite normal for me; Luke use to have an upset stomach monthly.  But Elsa had never shown these symptoms yet and I realized that this was not normal, not for Elsa.  Her stomach was really bothering her.  

When this happened to Luke, it was time to get food into him.  He never wanted food because he didn't feel good; but it was the only thing that would make him feel better.  I would go and get out his favorite food; and if he wouldn't eat it on his own, I'd get it into him.  I ran downstairs to get some food for Elsa; I could only imagine how her stomach was feeling, empty and on antibiotics. She wasn't interested so I coaxed and coaxed.  Nothing.

I decided that I should get a  Gas-x into her.  Not that I thought it was bloat, but just in case.  I poured a bowl of turkey broth and mixed in a gas-x. Since this all started, Elsa has become increasingly aware and suspicious of anything I mix up for her.  She is insanely smart and knows only too well that pills are hidden in some of the best food.  Thankfully the Gas-x was candy flavored and she drank it down. 

The stretching and general unease continued; so I made the call to the vet.  I'm thrilled to have found a vet who is close to me that will squeeze me in.  When you need to see the vet, the last thing you want to hear is "no, completely booked."  Though my new vet was booked solid he took my call personally and told me to come in. Though I was pretty sure that it wasn't bloat; I knew it was something, so off we went. 

I could not believe that we were going to the vet again.  Elsa has been one of those "healthy as a horse," dogs.  I guess the saying "it never rains" is fitting for us right now.  We do not like to go to the vet and I am not one to run off to the vet at every little thing.  But when you need a vet it is really great to have one that you like.   

Elsa trotted alongside the tech; off to have her x-rays done.  I sat with a churning stomach in the waiting room.  They were back very quickly and Elsa charged over; diving on top of me then up onto the seat by my side.  We waited and watched the other dogs in the room.  Soon my Vet came out and motioned for me to follow him.  Elsa and I were taken back to the back room to see the x-rays.  He said "her stomach is really unhappy."  Then proceeded to show and explain everything on the x-ray to me.  

It seems that Elsa did not tolerate the Clavamox she was put on which again was very different from what I am use to.  Tilley was on Clavamox often over the years and never seemed bothered by it. The Vet told me that he had taken clavamox before and suffered with a very bad stomach.  So Miss Elsa is on a new antibiotic this morning.  Because of all the upset she will not have a procedure today.  It is not a good idea to put a dog out when they are in this condition.  Fine with me, as long as the antibiotics are working.  

As always we will keep you posted.  

Humans really don't understand dogs.

So many humans really do not "get" dog language.  Just yesterday I commented on yet another of those guilt inducing, people pleasing videos.  This one had two black labs being coaxed into snitching on the one who took the cookies.  Obviously it was a set up and what it causes is just simply stress.  But what was so telling about the whole thing was the comments on my comment.  Humans are quite the species.  

After reading all the comments on my comment about it causing stress to the dogs and pointing out several of the stress signals in a further comment, people went on the attack of me.  I was called hysterical, a negative nelly, stressed and other things.  People were very angry at me.  Hmmmmmm???????  Why were people compelled to act so aggressively to my comment?  This is my exact comment put on the page about the video.  

"I cannot stand these videos and the sharing of them for entertainment. These dogs are showing many stress related behaviors. Please stop sharing."

Pretty simple, straight to the point.  I really hate these videos and they are becoming more and more common.  Why?  Because people don't understand what is going on.  Because people think that they will get their moment of fame by doing one.  So sharing these and promoting them as cute simply perpetuates the problem.

My comment came from being a dog lover; one who hates to see dogs put through these long and drawn out human entertaining videos.  But those who read it and disagreed because of their lack of understanding dog behavior felt something else.  They very quickly turned it around to me as a stressed out person who needed to take a chill pill.   

One woman even commented that I was reading human behavior into it.  On the contrary, I saw what they were saying as dogs; unlike what most others were seeing.  People get really nasty and on the defense with name calling and very insulting when you see something that they cannot.  It is really quite interesting.  

The comment was made by me, Sherri.  No one reading it knows that I am a dog trainer who specializes in canine behavior modification.  Would this information change the way that they felt about my comment?  I believe so.  Of course some would not care in the least and those are the ones who tend to throw stones the fastest and hardest.  

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion; I simply stand for dogs and try to enlighten as much as I can.  Dogs do not speak human; they can most definitely be taught to communicate with us to the highest degree of perfection.  But shouldn't we really try, just a bit to understand how they communicate?  

Canine behavior is a passion of mine.  Human behavior?  Simply perplexing and yet fascinating.  

Fiesta Island continuation

What a cutie.

Nice looking young Vizsla, but a bit too intense for Penny.

She didn't like being chased by this dog.   Lots of signals in this shot.

Lots of canine communications.  This bloodhound was fun at first but then got fixated on Penny which she didn't enjoy.  Elsa checking out the dog and checking on Penny.  She is very protective of her little Bull Terrier.  

She was submitting like crazy and got scared of the dog after a bit.
It just went on for too long and too intense.

A moment of play invitation from Penny. 

Then running away again.  

Elsa doing what Elsa loves doing.