K9 Lifestyle


As I sit here writing this blog, Riggs is on a bed in front of the patio window sound asleep. Elsa is up on the big (human) bed asleep as well. My life pretty much revolves dogs; my dogs and lots of client dogs. Are you living the k9 lifestyle if you have a dog? Not always. For me, the k9 lifestyle is sort of like the whole ”Living your best life” with Oprah. It means living your best life with your dog/dogs.

I have been a dog trainer for a very long time but living a great life with dogs is a lot more than just training. It is true that dogs that have no training or guidance can be a real pain to live with but it is the humans who need to do the work. If they don’t do the work then they suffer the consequences.

So let’s look at the definition first.

Lifestyle - the habits, attitudes, tastes, moral standards, economic level, etc. that together constitute the mode of living of an individual or group.

So what one lifestyle may look like another will not. Your lifestyle probably does not look like mine. But within all of the different lifestyles there is the k9 lifestyle. The style of living with dogs as family members. There is lies the difference; it is not how you live but how you live with your dog.

As a dog trainer I help clients live their best life with their dog. That often means that I am giving nutrition advice, purchasing of beds help, recommending great products and sharing about waste of time products. There is so much more that goes into the canine/human relationship than training.

K9 lifestyle can improve and decline by taking certain actions, purchasing products and better understanding of the “dog.” I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. There is a big difference in just a dog trainer and a dog trainer/dog lifestyle coach. I hope to share my K9 lifestyle work with you all in my upcoming blogs.

There are a lot of products out there and sifting through them all can be daunting. I’ll share what I think is good and not so good. There are some things listed already on my website under my “store.” Some behaviors of our own can make matters worse for our K9 lifestyle; one of those is allowing our dogs to make the rules. You can read about that in my first free article on my website. l will be adding to the article page soon.

So stay tuned, lots of life with dogs coming soon.

Canine evolutions


Life is an evolution for all of us; each day brings with it new experiences and lessons. We should hope that we evolve and strive for evolution for both ourselves and our dogs.

Evolution - any process of formation or growth; development:

So how do our dogs evolve? Dogs evolve like we do, through experience and knowledge. It is not merely training…learning to follow specific behavior cues. Evolution is growth, so for our dogs it is learning how to live in our human world; acquiring life skills so that they can manage their way through without too much stress and anxiety. It is about learning about impulse control; something that Riggs is in the midst of. He is very VERY impulsive. Evolution means to grasp what is acceptable and unacceptable.

It is our job to help in the evolution of our dogs. When they come to us they are the rawest state of themselves. Of course the breeder has had a part in who they are at that moment; so they may be thriving with early life experience or lacking drastically. From the moment they enter our family, it’s up to us.

Helping our dogs in their growth to become a good canine citizen is a very big job. There is a great deal to know about your dog before you even attempt to assist them with their evolution. If you are a first time canine guardian then I recommend that you read and read and listen and listen until you feel prepared to help in your dog’s growth.

Your dog in your hands

I am a big fan of guardians doing the work. When you live with a dog in your home, they are a part of or should be a part of your family. The more you learn about your dog, the more you can help them to acclimate in our world. This in turn helps you in your own evolution; at least in your evolution to be a better canine guardian.

Life is an evolution of oneself. Is your dog evolving? Are you?

Living with dogs

Elsa and Luna coexist. It is important to understand their communications.

Elsa and Luna coexist. It is important to understand their communications.

I am constantly asked what I do. My licence plate says Justdogs so when people see it or I give them my email address they always ask “what do you do with dogs?” My typical answer is “I’m a dog trainer,” but if they really want to chat about dogs then I elaborate to photographer, writer, blogger, webinar creator, baker for dogs, temperament testing, online courses…etc. etc. But what I really do is “life with dogs.”

My Just dogs with Sherri mission statement is:

To bring humans and canines into a symbiotic relationship.  Where each thrive with the presence of the other.  Alone they are just man and just dog; together they complete the perfection of a "canine lifestyle."

Life with dogs should be amazing but it isn’t always. The relationship can take a beating when we don’t understand one another. Humans understanding dogs is the first step to creating an amazing connection. When we understand our dogs; then they will be able to understand us.

Let’s face it, humans often forget that dogs are not furry humans. Sadly many of the biggest issues when living with dogs is the fact that we treat them like humans. We put human emotions on our dogs and assume that they communicate as we do. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Dogs are dogs and to think of them as furry humans is a disservice to them. In many ways dogs are far superior than us; especially in the communication department. But if we don’t now how they communicate then we don’t “get them.” So many people have no idea what their dog is saying or trying to communicate. Humans often misread information given by their dog and there in lies the biggest issue.

Dogs have a lot to say. It’s funny because just the other day as my husband and I were walking Elsa and one of our Grand-dogs, I thought about the fact that our dogs never say anything. My husband and I were chatting away as we walked, Elsa and Luna said nothing. That is, they didn’t say any words but they were constantly communicating. Our dogs often have a great deal more to say than we do, but are we listening? Watching?

Understanding how our dogs communicate is all about watching. They are master body language communicators. But much of their communications go unnoticed because they are so tiny and fleeting that we miss them. I often hear from guardians that they have no idea what happened when there dog seems to have a behavior issue. This can be because we regularly miss what they are saying. Some folks haven’t a clue what their dog is saying ever.

Living with dogs can and should be amazing. But, living with dogs can be stressful, frustrating and regretful. If we don’t take the time to learn about the dog or dogs that we are living with, then there will be fallout. Finding out how your dog communicates, understands and learns will lead to a much better relationship, bottom line.

We expect so much from our dogs. Sadly many of us don’t really understand how dogs work. Many people tell me “I’ve lived with dogs all my life,” meaning that they know dogs. But if you’ve never taken the time to really learn about canine communication; it doesn’t matter how long you’ve lived with them. You simply may not have been understanding them the entire time.

Admittedly I don’t know much about cats. I don’t live with cats so it doesn’t really matter that I don’t “get them.” If I was interested in them then I might do some research; but I’m not a big cat person so I stick to dogs. I believe if you are going to live with an animal; you should know as much as you can about them.

Our biggest problem is us. We humans tend to think like humans and put those thoughts on other animals. It is the easiest for us to not have to learn about other animals but it is most definitely not the best. Truly learning about the animals that we live with means putting our human ways aside for a while. If we are going to have dogs in our homes with us; then we should learn about them and how they work, right?

I love dogs, they are amazing creatures. There is nothing like a canine/human connection at it’s bet.

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?"  :)   


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.  




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.  




Dogs and common sense - Using grey matter


"I just got him yesterday," the man said.  My daughter was at the park with her children when she met this man with his "new" dog.  The dog was off leash and as any savvy Mom, my daughter was being extremely cautious.  She hovered around her two year old as the dog ran around the playground.  

First, no dog should be running around off leash in the playground area; that is unless there are no children anywhere  in the area.

Second, even leashed dogs need to be strictly supervised around children, especially children that are not your own.  

As my daughter conversed with the man she learned that the dog had just been rescued the day before.  Not only was this dog running loose in the playground, but the man didn't even know this dog.  They were in fact complete strangers; the dog didn't know the man and the man didn't know the dog.

This could be an extremely dangerous situation for everyone involved.  The man did not know how the dog would behave with children.  The man had no idea what would happen should the dog run off.  Well as it turned out, the dog did run off with the guy in hot pursuit (but of course it did.)  Honestly.  Listening intently to my daughters story, I was fuming and shaking my head.

Can you imagine rescuing a dog and then letting it off leash the next day?  I can't even ask "what was he thinking" because clearly he was not thinking.  I LOVE dogs and I ADORE children; but when the two come together, great care must be taken to protect both involved.  Not all dogs love children, especially unknown children.  I often see dogs at parks where there are lots of children and they are typically on leash and very close to their guardian; which is where they should be.  Dogs should not be wandering around a children's park off leash.  

Just a couple of days ago I was at a park with my daughter and two grandsons.  They were having a great deal of fun and as we were leaving a man with an off-leash bulldog headed our way.  I immediately got in-between them and my two year old grandson.  But I was happy to see the man leash his dog as they got closer.  You just never know how a dog will behave around children; there is no way for everyone to know every dog.  Many people don't fully know how their own dog deals with unknown children.  It is always best to veer on the side of safety.

The off leash dog at the park, who was just rescued the day before has me still shaking my head big time.  Come on...

Dogs and Hot Weather

T his little man was comfortably panting.  What a cutie.  :) 

This little man was comfortably panting.  What a cutie.  :) 

There is a huge focus on dogs and hot weather right now.  Finally people are starting to realize that the car on a hot day is not the place for your dog.  Although there are still people who do it; and I've personally had to hunt people down to save their dogs.  On the flip side, there are those who think that too much emphasis is being put on dogs and hot weather.  They feel that too many car windows are being broken; they also think that too many people are being falsely accused of heat crimes with their dogs.  

I think that the attention to dogs being left in cars is good.  Perhaps it will save a few dog's lives.  

But what about exercising our dogs in the heat?  This morning Elsa and I were out early; it was warm but not as warm as yesterday.  We were lucky to squeeze in a full fifteen minutes of power chuck it.  Half of the field was shaded which was great; but I still kept a very close eye on Elsa's body.  I always get out early or late with Miss Elsa; although some mornings are hot early.  So I watch her tongue and her body.  

What I'm watching for:

Excessive panting.  Dogs pant, they have to pant as they get warm; but fast uncontrollable panting is different.  It is essential to know what normal panting is.

Foam.  Once a dog starts to foam, they are overheating.  Typically the panting becomes frantic before that.  

Slowing down.  If at any point she starts to slow down, time to stop.  

These three things are most important.  Often a dog's tongue will hang out the side; this can be a sign of overheating but it can also be how a dog's tongue is so you need to know your dog.  

You also want to be sure that your dog can cool quickly.  Elsa had already stopped panting by the time we got home which meant that she was perfectly fine after her power workout.  

Being environmentally aware is so very important with dogs.  I see people out in the middle of the day running their dog down paved roads.  The dog is foaming at the mouth with their tongue hanging very far out the side, not good at all.  It's actually horribly cruel to do this to your dog.  

There are folks who think that we should work or exercise our dogs in the heat, makes them tough.  But given the choice, our dogs would choose not to.  If you ever watch a pack of wolves in the summer, they will not be out hunting midday; they are much smarter than that.  Our dogs are also that smart; and in the heat they will head for the shade.  

Something to remember as well is that old, sick, disabled or flat faced dogs will suffer more from the heat.  And dogs that carry extra weight are more susceptible to heat issues.   No dog should be fat, even a few pounds can make a huge difference in a dogs health.  More on that in the next blog.  

It really is all about common sense; sadly something that seems to be void in much of life today.  If I get out of the car at the park and it feels really hot; I may walk around the park once with Elsa and then jump in the Xterra with the AC on.  Today gave us a nice window to get Elsa a power workout in; it is so good for her MOJO.  :)  Just like us, dogs feel good when they exercise.  

Not sure what the day will hold for our evening retrieving; it might just be done inside in the AC.  Stay cool everyone.   

Are you a leader?

Are you?  Are you your dog's leader?  How about your pack, are you the leader of the pack?  No matter what your pack exists of; whether it consists of one dog, three or more, you should be leader of the pack.

Leader -  a person who manages or controls other people, esp. because of his or her ability or position.

So what does this mean?  A canine pack leader guides, educates, creates rules and enforces them.  A leader is understanding, patient and firm.  Being a great K9 leader is about giving your dog the tools to maneuver seamlessly through their life in a human world.

From the moment your dog becomes a member of your family; it is time for you to be a leader.  Feedback is a huge part of living with dogs.  Feedback is a great thing for humans as well.  If no one ever offers us feedback we are at a disadvantage, so too are our dogs.  

Just yesterday I called Elsa into the house.  She is typically very obedient and comes in quickly.  But there is a rabbit that has taken up residence in our backyard (wonderful).  This means that Elsa is very preoccupied much of the time that she is out there, even if the rabbit is not present.  There are many footprints to smell and trails to follow.  I needed her to come in, so when I called and she ignored me, out I went, immediately.  If I didn't need her in and saw that she was otherwise preoccupied I would not have called her.  She was having fun being a dog and I like her to have fun.  But I needed her to come in.

I kept my very serious body posture and said "in now."  She looked at me like "crap, really?"  With one last look over her shoulder she did as she was told.  Much of our day to day is very casual; as I offer suggestions of things to do rather than strict rules.  "Wanna come in?" I ask her and leave the decision up to her.  But when I give a rule that must be followed it is essential to enforce. 

Life rules are all about what is okay and not okay to do.  Many puppies will leap all over their new guardian at feeding time that might seem cute and funny at the time.  If you do not change this at that point in time then you will have a large adult dog trying to get the bowl of food away from you at feeding time.  Not okay.  

If you don't teach your new family member not to dig in the backyard or give them an alternative activity to replace that; you may come home one day to your yard totally destroyed or a missing dog who dug underneath a fence.  

Being a leader is not about being bossy.  A leader offers guidance to their dog so that they don't make mistakes down the road.  It is our job to do this.  Often we fail to educate and then become furious when our dog acts like a dog.  That is our failure, not theirs.   


off leash dogs

"My dog is friendly" they shout out as their dog charges us.   How many times have I heard this?  If we have snuck up on someone off leash, which happens from time to time, I get it.  But typically even when people see us at the park, they unleash. 

The other day I pulled up to one of my favorite parks when I saw a woman entering the park with her two dogs.  Neither were on a leash; so I waited to see what she was doing.  "Great," she was walking around the park.  I called out to her to leash her dogs.  Like most every person I run into with dogs off leash, her dog would not come.  She called and called while Elsa and I waited to head out on our walk.  

I don't trust people.

My big issue with dogs off leash is it is typically people who have no control over their dog and don't understand their dog.  I had a guy say to me "he won't come," when I asked him to leash his dog.  Ummmmmm...what?  Yep, true.  Like the woman in the park; she could barely get her hands on her dog.  

She finally leashed her Golden Retriever up and had a straggling Doxie trotting behind; because she only had one leash.  Seemed like we could head out so I got Elsa out of the car and we started on our way.  Not minutes into our walk I turned around to see that the woman had unleashed her Golden and it was now romping in the park with an off leash pit bull.  I watched the interaction and it was too intense.  The two got into it, sounding like two Grizzly bears brawling.  The Golden was the instigator and after ending the first fight he immediately went after the other dog again.  Stupid, stupid, stupid.  

The man with the pit bull leashed up his dog and head out.  Elsa and I were almost at the car at this point and got in.  I was furious.  

                         People like this ruin it for everyone.  

Should you unleash your dog?  Perhaps.  But ask yourself this.  

- Is there anyone else around?

This is the most important question.

Even if there are no other dogs around; there may be people who don't feel comfortable around unleashed dogs.  At one of the parks where I walk there are a couple of people who are very uncomfortable around dogs.  Unleashed dogs are downright scary to them.  Respect that.  

No matter how friendly your dog is; other people and/or dogs may not want an interaction.  If you would like your dog to have an interaction with another, ask first ON LEASH.  

- look around, is there anyone else in the area?
- is the area a safe place to unleash?

Just because others are out with their dog, like you; does not mean that they want anything to do with you.  This is something that always puzzles me.  If you are out for a nice dinner; do you want to interact with everyone else doing the same?  NO.  

Think about it.  

Just Dogs with Sherri update

Good Monday morning.  Last week was a very busy one with lots of great things happening.

#1 - I'm a Grandma; which is about the most exciting news ever.  Yep, a new Grandma to an adorable little man.

#2 - I got to visit with my sister and brother in law which is always a highlight in my life.

#3 - My dog related bohemian bracelets at Sherri Lynne Designs are really making a splash, and

#4 - I'm working on an exciting new project.

Oh and I got a new washer and dryer, woooohooooo.  :)

A busy week also brought with it some horribly hot weather.  That has meant out in the early hours of the morning and then hunkering down inside for the rest of the day.  I'm hoping that the horrid weather will break this week.   As a northerner I am not a fan of temps in the high 90s and into the 100s.  Give me a 65 degree day with a breeze, and I'm a happy camper thank you very much.

Elsa and I have been checking out some new, cool dog products that I hope to share over the next couple of months.  We love to try innovative dog products that make the whole dog/human relationship even greater than it already is.

I cannot believe how many puppies are out there right now.  With all of my FB groups I'm seeing a whole lot of new babies.  If you are one of the lucky ones who have a new canine family member, my book is a great addition.  Feedback for you and your dog is just for you.  It is also available on Amazon in both paper and ebook version.  As for us, we are hoping for a new canine addition in the new year, I can barely wait.

Just a short update for this morning, many, many, many things to get done today.  Have a great week.



Cupcakes for dogs, you bet I tasted them. 

The nice woman handed Elsa a treat from behind the counter which she very promptly spit out, blah!!!  I said "oh she just needs to check it out first."  Elsa reached down and had a sniff at the item she had seen cause to remove quickly from her mouth.  She looked at me as if to say "you expect me to eat that?"  I laughed inside while handing the once bitten and spit out bakery item to the woman.  "Sorry, she's not eating it," I explained.  "Oh, let's try this" she said handing Elsa a freeze dried piece of liver.  I had no doubt that she would gobble that down, and she did.

As a longtime baker of human baked goods and foodie; I love good tasting food.  This love of food flavor has seeped into my dog's bowls.  I make dog cookies and my dog cookies have to taste good.  Yes, I eat taste them and they have to be good.  So many times I open a box of dog cookies and shudder at the smell.  "Does anyone ever taste these things?" I often ask myself and the dogs.  Even fancy "dog bakery" items may look very fancy and adorable but if they don't taste good, a dog may not eat them.    

Some dogs will eat anything, true.  But, from personal experience, the more they are offered a varied diet; the more fine tuned a dog's pallet becomes, like our own.  If a dog is only offered one type of food throughout their life; then yes, they will be stunted as far as food experience.   I'm sure that much of the dog food out there does not taste great so if they are offered an alternate food at some point; then most would likely gobble it down.  But, if a dog is offered a wide variety of foods so that they develop a preference for one item over another; then they can begin to differentiate between what they will eat, like to eat, eat if nothing else is available or not eat at all.

Luke optimized fussy; never have we ever had a dog like him.  I don't know how many times we would say "what dog turns down meat?"  Luke, that's who.  Luke knew what he liked; but it went further than that for him.  Luke knew when and where he liked to eat particular foods; he was a fussy guy in general which added a tad of craziness to his food fussiness.  If you tried to offer him what he would classify as a "nighttime snack" in the afternoon, well... he just had to leave the scene.  It still makes me smile. 

Most dogs like food.  That said, if they have never been offered a variety of food items then they will not have expanded their food pallet. Most dogs like this just wolf back and don't think about taste.  Sort of the opposite of those humans who are fussy as far as food.  They don't like "different" food because they don't know different tastes.  Although dogs who have not been given the opportunity to expand their food experience, they may seem to like anything.  Many dogs who eat cardboard like kibble may gobble anything that resembles real food compared to their dry option in the bowl each day.  

Each and every one of my dogs have had different likes and dislikes.  Jessie liked just about everything except citrus; she was a very typical Jack Russell in that she LOVED food.  Tilley liked most everything except for fruit, eggs and fish.  She would eat eggs and fish but did not prefer them.   Luke, well, it was always hit and miss with Mr. Fussy pants but he almost always loved beef, liver and anything with a very strong meaty taste.  Although as many of you know he loved butter, chips and smoked turkey cold meat (nitrate free).  :)  

Now as far as Elsa is concerned, she likes good food.  She has changed over the years and the more variety she is offered the finer tuned her pallet has become.  It is very easy to see what she likes and doesn't.  She loves fish, the fishier the better, YUCK.  She loves sardines and smelt.  There have been very few things that she has turned her nose up.  The occasional almond can be seen lying on the floor beside her bed, she is not a fan. Luke loved almonds so I tend to forget that Elsa doesn't like them until I see it on the ground.   She will not eat fruit unless it is smuggled into something that she does like; which is fortunately quite easy to do with her.  She is not a fan of raw meat but is learning to like it if it is flash seared.  I have recently discovered that she ADORES feta, the girl has taste.   

It always amazes me what we expect our dogs to eat.  Delicious is always better than simply edible.  Yep, even for our dogs.    

Wine tasting and dogs

One of the hundreds of Vineyards in OR.  Does it get any better than this?

I spent this past Saturday at some wonderful Vineyards in Oregon with my hubby and great friends.  Elsa was at home with my amazing sitter, but I was missing her terribly.  

There is nothing more beautiful than rolling hills covered in grapes; that is of course unless there are dogs in the picture as well.  When we arrived to one of our favorite vineyards, we were in for a nice surprise.  The two boys pictured below were decorating the floor of the tasting room at Coeur de Terre Vineyard in McMinnville, as we walked in. 

The boys lay there on the floor for a longtime before Jack got up to say hi.  Jack is the yellow guy on the left and Blue is the black boy on the right.  Jack is approximately 12 years old and Blue 4 years.   

Jack was the first to get to his feet and come visit.  Blue never did get up except to go outside, although he did accept attention when offered.  Jack came around the tasting bar for some petting and then plunked down again.  Anytime a person approached or walked near his tail would thump loudly on the ground.  He reminded me of Elsa and her thumping tail.  The two Labs were like magnets for us and the other visitors.  


The host at this vineyard is welcoming and friendly; giving a full run down on the wines and the dogs.  Both dogs were rescues who seemed to have hit the jack pot as far as where they got to live.  They were relaxed and enjoying the good life.  That's what it's all about right?  

With only my cell phone in hand, I tried to capture the beautiful images that were before me.  Two beautiful Lab boys living the life on a Vineyard.  You don't need a big fancy camera to take great shots.  

 It was very clear who the leader of this small pack was.  Each time Blue tried to get in on the attention; Jack gave him a subtle yet clear signal that he was the top dog.  Blue moved away and stood in the distance.

Blue heading over to see what Jack is checking out in the vineyard.  You can see Jack in the grapes on the left in about an inch.  

Jack, doing the rounds.

What an wonderful old face. 

Jack blends into his life.  

Jack lay at my feet and gave me a glimpse of his life.  

Our host was wonderfully engaging and as we went through the tasting; he explained each wine in depth.  The whole atmosphere and warm feeling of the vineyard and host make you want to stay a while.  The wines at Coeur de Terre are fabulous and we left with several bottles.  

Enjoying some attention from my hubby.

The life.  

Jack was an amazing dog and I feel honored to have met him.  I don't know how many times he gave me his paw, asking for more attention.  


There are no stupid questions, true.  That is if you haven't just ask the same  one and didn't pay attention to the answer.  If you don't know, ask.  Answering questions is probably my favorite thing to do with regards to helping others with their dog/dogs.  So many people think they know but they don't really.  

Dog behavior may not be brain surgery but it is most definitely 'difficult to figure out for humans.  I really cannot believe that humans can have an animal live in our house with no prerequisite courses or books to read first.  Yep, just add a canine to your family and assume that it's all going to go to plan.  Hmmmmmm.  

There is a great deal to know about dogs.  Facts about dogs in general, behavior, health and nutrition are a never ending learning curve.  Think you know it all?  Nope.  There is always something new to learn about dogs.  In fact, most people don't know anywhere near what they think they know about dogs.  

You see, even if you have a houseful of dogs; you still may not know about dogs.  To really understand dogs you must learn how they work; once you have that then your dogs at home can teach you much more.  But if you are looking at your dogs and seeing the wrong information or not seeing them at all then your dogs will teach you nothing.  

If you don't know, ask.  I am a need to know type of person.  Of course dogs are my passion but I like to know about everything.  If  am mid conversation with someone who is in the know; I may stop them for a factoid to further assist my understanding.  "How does this work, what happens when, what if," I ask a lot of questions.  One of the reasons I was so excited about my new vet is that he answered all of my questions.  

No question is stupid.  There are tiny little questions which require a yes or no all the way up to huge monumental life changing questions.  Even if you've been doing something or thinking something for years; if you have a question about it, ask.  Ask, ask, ask, ask.  

Next Q&A over at Just dogs with Sherri Facebook page September 10, 6:00pm PST.

So hot

It's so hot.  Yesterday's temperature hovered around the 100 degree mark, too hot.  I hate this weather but as we  moved into August I know that it is coming.  Typically September is our hottest month of the year so a great deal has to be considered before exercising the dogs. 

The other day I was out with Elsa; we hit the park early in attempts of beating the heat.  We were there at about 8:30 in the morning but even still it was very warm already.  The first thing we did was to seek out the shade for some power retrieving.  The most  intense activity calls for the coolest spot.  Just getting in a few tosses was plenty in the warmer temperatures. 

Before hitting the path for a slower paced walk I checked the temperature.  The path is a light color so it doesn't heat up like a darker surface does; even still I tested before walking.  This is something you should always do when warmer weather has arrived. 

It truly boggles my mind to see folks out running or even walking their dogs when it is scorching hot out.  The temperature from the ground can be scary hot.  Our dogs are very close to the ground; much closer than us, so with the added heat coming from below they can overheat easily.  A warm walk for you might be an extremely hot walk for your dog.  CONSIDER YOUR DOG. 

CONSIDER YOUR DOG, please.  So many people obviously do not consider their dog when they head out.  I often take note of the heat coming from a parking lot as cross, heading into a store (while Elsa is safely at home in the A/C).  People regularly walk their dogs on dark hot surface without thought.  It's not fun for your dog and can be dangerous or lethal. 

Yesterday I let Elsa out back to pee.  As soon as she was done we head back indoors, it was unbearably hot.  I can't imagine leashing her up and heading out to walk down the street.  If you feel that you must take your dog out in the heat, hit the shade.  Consider the heat when you think about activity level.  Watch for signs that your dog is overheating.  Panting is how dogs cool themselves, regular panting vs. frantic panting are two different things entirely. 

Make sure you have water with you.  A little water more often is better than a lot of water gulped down at one time.  When it's scorching out, stay in.  Spend time playing indoor games when it's really hot out.  It won't last forever, the cooler temps will be just around the corner.  But for now in the high temps, keep cool with your dog.  Your dog will thank you for CONSIDERING them. 

A half of a year

Elsa in a quiet moment.

I cannot believe that it has been one half of a year already.  Today marks a half year of our life without Luke; it doesn't seem possible that it has been so long already.  It really feels like only yesterday that he left us.  But as time has passed it has softened the blow; it is true about time and how it is needed to heal.  I am often called to help those who cannot seem to deal with a loss and the bottom line is always time; that and moving on, as we must. 

My husband and I were talking about Luke over the weekend, as we often do.  We talked about another, that we do indeed need to add to our family.  Together we also came to a very clear realization; that this time alone with Elsa has been good.  It has given us some one on one before we add #2.  Much time at the end of Luke's life was focused on him, as it should be.  Of course I spent a great deal of time with Elsa as well but when you care for a very old dog there is a great deal of focus on them. 

This time with Elsa has been all about Elsa.   I did not have this one on one with any of my other dogs after the death of another.  It has been a learning experience, like everything else in life.  Elsa has changed in these 6 months; she had to like us, she has adjusted to life without Luke.  She has done well and is doing just fine now; but she needs a companion in the form of a canine.  Elsa does very well with puppies and brings them into her circle quickly.  There will be one in the not so far future.  But for now Elsa is getting out and about and dealing with life as Elsa, only Elsa. 

Not a day goes by without my mind going to Luke at some point.  His loss still brings a tear to my eye but it is only one that can be brushed away and followed by a smile.  A dog like Luke creates such a void when they are gone; he was an amazing and very special dog who I still cannot believe is gone.  Luke was a life altering dog; he changed my life forever and for that he is always with me.  Death does not remove love; you can never stop loving such a dog.   

We carry that love with us and onto the next.  We must go on and that is what we are doing. 

Pay attention

                 One of the amazing shots from my surf shoot. 

I'm a watcher.  Being a dog trainer who specializes in behavior modification, watching comes with the territory.  But when I watch, I am watching the whole package; that means I'm watching the dog, the human and the interaction of the two.  I see things that others do not.  Watching and seeing are two different things; just like listening and actually hearing are different. 

The other day I watched a man who was walking up ahead of me.   I was out on a surf shoot; taking the long walk down to the beach, there were many dog and humans out and about.  I was not in my training mode, but my watcher never turns off.  The man ahead of me walking his dog caught my eye.  His dog was slightly behind him and kept moving further and further back.  I very quickly popped into my behavior dissecting mode.  What was going on here? 

It only took a moment to see that the dog was being hit in the face with his very large buckle and leash.  The dog had on a chain leash which I do not understand at all.  They are heavy and cumbersome for both human and dog which I explain in my new Feedback book.  The dog was dealing with it, but not enjoying his walk like he could have been.  I see this on a regular basis. 

Our dogs are responsive to life and experience around them.  As such they will respond to things that we may be oblivious to.  I am often called to a behavior appointment to unravel a mysterious behavior.  When I arrive it is watch time and typically it doesn't take long to uncover the mystery. 

Many humans go through their day to day with a dog by their side.  But we don't always pay attention.  It is amazing what you will see if you pay attention.