“Insecurities are loud, confidence is quiet.”

This statement is CERTAINLY true with people and it’s absolutely true with dogs. The catch is that dogs, like people, are not one thing or the other. They’re not simply insecure or secure. We are all multi layered. We all have things that make us feel less than and we have things about ourselves that empower us and make us feel confident. Some dogs and people are consumed by their insecurities. It takes over their life and makes them act out. Kiana’s insecurities began to slowly take over her life and her owner’s.

Dogs that struggle with stranger-danger issues or fear-based reactivity in general are typically lacking confidence in some department. With that insecurity comes a “display” of behavior that is an expression of how the dog is feeling about that situation. Dogs do what works and the insecure dog over time becomes empowered by their reactive display because it’s highly effective at making stressors go away. Soon it becomes an auto-pilot reaction for anything that is bothering them. Meanwhile, the confident dog is secure in its own skin and the scenario. It doesn’t feel the need to try to control the situation and has no motivation to vocalize or react in any way, other than just be accepting of the situation that is occurring.

Kiana has come so far during her stay with us. Thanks to the training, new tools and techniques, Kiana understands that her humans will alter the the environment for her to make her feel better; she doesn’t need to do all of that “talking” to make herself feel better. She is gaining confidence knowing that when she subtly communicates she is understood by humans. She doesn’t need to go ham to get her point across. This is something that all pet dogs struggle with. Dogs are constantly trying to tell us how they feel but a good 90% of the time we don’t heed that communication and we actually make things worse for the dog.

Every situation and new experience with your dog is a chance to prove to them that you can make them feel better about the things that make them fearful and insecure. However that does require clear communication and an understanding on both the human and dog’s part. Knowing all of your dogs layers is the best place to start. Knowing what makes them insecure and knowing what brings out there confident side is so important. Working with a professional trainer can really help you clarify these individual characteristics in your dog and how to work with them. We are now confident that Kiana and her mom are going to be able to navigate her moments of insecurity using the training Kiana has received here during her board and train.

Kiana looking bold and confident thanks to the training she has received.

Kiana looking bold and confident thanks to the training she has received.

Flash Dog Training's Shadow Program

Shadowing a reputable professional through their day-to-day routine as they practice their craft is a great way to learn a trade. When that craft is training dogs in a home-based environment, it's great insight to what this “lifestyle” is like. It’s not just about the repetition of teaching the dog obedience, you are watching the ins and outs of what it’s like living with dogs that have behavioral issues and what the process looks like to resolving them. 

We have had shadows work with us for a weekend, week, month and even 3 month period. The length of stay is fully customizable and we will meet you where you are at experience wise and hit on topics you would like to learn. The other part of the program is showing you our system and the core of our philosophies and techniques. Stories will be shared and swapped over meals after the dogs are done for the day. We have housing options available and we encourage you to bring a dog. We have even had people shadow along while their dog was in our board and train program.

Amanda is our current shadow student at our Denver location. Amanda has worked at a training and boarding facility, as a vet assistant, and she currently works as a staff manager at a pet resort. She began shadowing with Flash in early November. Here is what Amanda says about why she’s shadowing to grow her skill set:

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

Amanda makes a connection with board and train dog, George.

 “In my experience in animal care so far, I found dog training to be the most rewarding job. The reason I feel so strongly about balanced training is because I've witnessed the results. I believe it is the most effective way to communicate with our dogs and e collars are the most life-changing tools. Since moving to Colorado in June, I struggled to find dog trainers with similar goals, techniques and values as me. It was also important to me to find a trainer who genuinely wanted to help me grow as a dog trainer. I knew of Kerry from a past job in New York, but didn’t have the courage to reach out to a stranger until I needed approval to join a local dog trainers Facebook group and she happened to be an admin. I researched Flash, watched practically every video on Instagram, and read every Facebook post. Everything I read or saw resonated with me. I’m most interested in behavior modification and seeing Kerry’s phenomenal results working with any behavioral issue showed that she had a lot of experience and knowledge to offer. I also wanted more experience with the e collar because I’d like to educate more dog owners on the benefits of e collar training. I love how Flash prioritizes the intricate conditioning process of the e collar and how all of their dogs are happy and upbeat working on the tool.”

We are so pleased to see the benefit of the value our students received in our program and how they apply their knowledge afterwords. If you're looking to get into dog training as a career, shadowing is a great way to see if the industry is right for you. It is fantastic for owners who really want an intensive amount of coaching for themselves, rather than just taking lessons. We also have other dog training professionals shadow us who are looking to add more training tools to their tool belt. Wherever you're at in your career or if you are thinking about making dog training your career, we can customize a shadow program for you.

We are looking forward to having students join us at our new location in Bend, Oregon this coming year. We will still be taking shadows at our Denver location with our trainer Breanna. If you are interested in shadowing please contact Kerry@flashdogtrianing.com for program details and rates.

 

I can now take Atlas on trails off leash and feel a sense of relief instead of stress...

I reached out to Flash Dog Training after countless failed adventures where Atlas ignored all commands and got himself into trouble by going face to face with unknown leashed dogs while I was giving him the freedom to be off leash. Atlas used to practice selective hearing, somedays he listened and other days it felt as if he didn't even know his own name. We had been working on recall primarily and had been approaching it all wrong. Nothing I tried worked. I would give him freedom he hadn't earned which almost always resulted in me leaving each adventure in tears or feeling frustration toward Atlas. He also had issues of over excitement when greeting new dogs and would relentlessly push himself into their space. 

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With Kerry and Bre's help through the introduction of balanced training and use of both a prong collar and e-collar, Atlas is able to properly greet new dogs, understand personal space and come when called away from ANY distraction. I can now take Atlas on trails off leash and feel a sense of relief instead of stress. The communication we have established feels more freeing than anything in the world. Sending Atlas to the three week board and train program was the best decision I have ever made for the wellbeing of Atlas and I's relationship. If you are seeking professional training or at a loss of where to turn to next, call Flash Dog Training. They are guaranteed to have a solution that works for you and your dog! 



Tiler Grossman 

Denver, CO 

Taking the Bite Out of Bark Collars

The bark collar is a tool that doesn’t get enough credibility or exposure when dog trainers talk about all the tools in their training belt. Years ago before I knew anything about bark collars, intuitively I thought that if you put a bark collar on a barking dog and they got corrected, it would make them more anxious and frantic. What bark collars do is actually the stark opposite of that.

When dogs bark continuously they adrenalize themselves, essentially working up into a frenzy. That frenzy can lead to very dangerous behaviors, like breaking out of kennels, lighting up at other dogs or even attacking other dogs. Also, the barking leads to pacing, whining, stress panting, dilated pupils, hyperactivity and a general “cracked out” state of mind of full blown stress. If the dog cannot bark, the stress is exponentially reduced. They stay in a healthier state of mind where they are more likely to take food in crate training exercises and actually rest in the kennel. This keeps the environment much safer, as well as calm and peaceful.

Before putting a bark collar on a dog there are a few things you should know. Proper fit and placement are essential. Read the directions. Don’t just slap it on the dog. In a perfect world we like to condition dogs to the E collar first. What this means is we like to familiarize the dog to working with the stimulation in a hands-on training context. However, sometimes dogs come in so out of control that we have to put a bark collar on them day one. This is how we do that: we set the collar to the automatic setting, not a number on the dial. We only use collars that have an automatic setting. What happens is when the dog barks, they will receive the lowest level stimulation correction. If they bark again it will go up one level higher, increasing the level with each bark. This way the dogs can learn the cause and effect of the tool without being flooded by a high level correction off the bat. 

Bark collars are not only essential for maintaining a calm environment so dogs around the barking dog are not stressed, but for safety. I have to emphasize that again. I have had dogs come in, going hysterical barking in a kennel, biting at the door, throwing themselves from side to side, trying to bend the door with their head and/or trying to chew their way out. As soon as they cannot bark, the next time I check on them they’re laying there peacefully, looking like an angel. I’m serious. Worst case scenario the dog will be panting, but more often than not, the majority of dogs will be laying calmly without any signs of stress. This is how relevant bark collars are to stopping that toxic surge of adrenaline in unstable dogs. Typically, after only a few days, we don’t even need the bark collar anymore. Because of all the structure the dog is receiving in training, they quickly morph into a more balanced state.

Like anything else the tool has to be introduced properly and it cannot be abused. It should not be left on for extended periods of time and dogs with different fur and skin issues will have different needs for contact points.

Bark collars are beneficial in many other contexts outside of using them in a board and train program. Do you own a dog that incessantly barks when you leave the house whether it is crated or not? Can you not have your dog outside in the yard for more than 30 seconds without him barking like crazy and disturbing the neighbors? A dog is much more likely to make good choices when they can not spiral down an adrenaline rabbit hole by barking.

Bark collars are not a replacement for training. They are a tool just like all the other tools that we use when working with dogs. But if an owner  doesn’t have time to exercise their dog that day, using a bark collar to keep their dog quiet at times is far more humane in my opinion, than letting a dog bark his head off constantly with pupils the size of quarters.

Again, a bark collar isn’t a permanent solution to your dog’s barking. This tool helps a dog become more stable because of EVERYTHING ELSE we are putting into the dog training-wise. They help keep the dog far away from unhealthy, aroused states of mind. Dogs learn to settle faster and even dogs that are not crate trained will learn to not only accept, but enjoy the peace and comfort of being in a kennel with the help of a bark collar.

Like any other tool in the world, it can be used correctly or incorrectly, humanely or inhumanely. When used properly the bark collar is an incredible tool that can facilitate relaxation even in the most stressed and excitable dogs.

Consult a balanced trainer in your area to help teach you appropriate contexts for using a bark collar to help your dog.

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With the tools that Kerry gave us, we now take her out and about all the time with the confidence that we are in control…

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Our experience with Flash Dog Training has completely changed our lives. Up until Pepper went through 4 weeks of board and train with Kerry, we had lost hope in fixing some of her behavioral issues and we were actually changing our lives to cater to her instability. We were no longer going on hikes, taking her out in public, etc. because she simply could not handle herself around strangers, dogs, or people riding bicycles. Leading up to our decision to contact Kerry, we had tried extensive positive reinforcement training as well as rounds of different medications and nothing was working. After using balanced training with Kerry, it became clear to us that Pepper needed stronger leaders to guide her through life and the tools Kerry gave us enabled us to be that for her. We were finally able to effectively communicate with Pepper in a way where she actually listened to us as opposed to taking matters into her own hands. 

Before Pepper’s board and train, the sight of a person riding a bicycle would cause her to completely shut down. She was so fearful that she would go into hiding and not even her favorite toys or the most delicious food could bring her out. While this issue is so severe that it will always be a work in progress, she can finally see a bike pass by with little to no reaction! Pepper’s extreme excitement and demanding attitude when seeing another dog used to be so uncontrollable that we would avoid hiking and taking her out into public. Now she can walk by other dogs (even ones that are reacting to her) will little to no reaction. Her fear of strangers has always been an issue for us because her reactions were so unpredictable that we wouldn’t dare take her out in public with the fear that she could react and we wouldn’t have any control of the situation. With the tools that Kerry gave us, we now take her out and about all the time with the confidence that we are in control. We are now finally able to proactively work on socializing Pepper with strangers without the fear that something could go terribly wrong.

All in all, Pepper’s training with Kerry has been worth every penny. Our only regret is that we wish we would have gone to her sooner. 


Janna and Ben

Erie, Colorado




The Solution For Difficult Dog Nail Trims: The Grooming Sling

This is a step by step tutorial of how to use what is, in my opinion, the most effective tool for helping dogs who are fearful of nail trims. I have tried every technique out there with my dog Mudd, who developed a phobia of foot handling due to a chronic, brown nail. The nail ultimately had to be completely removed. In addition to that he has had to be put under numerous times for ripped nails. His nails grow like weeds. My attempts to trim them over the years led to a build in Mudd's distrust of me when it came to doing anything to his body. This was heartbreaking and I knew that there had to be a solution that he would be comfortable with.

The result you will see in this video took months upon months to create. Mudd was not one of those dogs that you see in some videos where they put the dog in the sling and magically they just hang there and allow the clipping. First of all, he would not even wear the sling. He would only let us put it on him as a jacket. You can see the other video of me conditioning him to wear the sling on our YouTube channel. Even after getting him to be comfortable wearing the sling, once we actually had him hanging, he would still thrash and try to bite. Long story short, this took essentially months of consistency to accomplish this result. Hopefully most of you out there don't have a dog as difficult as Mudd and that using this sling will really be a game changer off the bat, but you also must prepare that it may not be that simple.  

I consider Mudd's case to be the worst of the worst. Therefore, I am so happy to share these little tips and tricks of the trade that have taken us from worst case scenario, to an easy-breezy five minute procedure.

How Dogs Help Me Cope with Hedonic Adaptation

So you have a great job, you’re making decent money, you hang out with friends on a regular basis and things are going well. But sometimes it all just feels like, blah.

On paper you should be happy, but it just isn't that way day to day. You have everything you need and most of what you want, so why don’t you FEEL as happy as you think you should?

You loved your job in the beginning, but now you’re bored and sick of it. You are in love with your partner, but the relationship just doesn’t have the same thrill that it used to its first couple of years. You feel like you should experience euphoric feelings more frequently, but you just don’t. Why?

If you can relate to any of this you are experiencing what is called hedonic adaptation. Essentially hedonic adaptation, or “pleasure adaptation” is the ability to adapt to changes in life, either good or bad. It’s also a theory of a survival mechanism in the brain. If you experienced a traumatic event, like the loss of a loved one or a car crash, hedonic adaptation helps us go back to relatively normal level of contentment, a “set-point.” Every person’s set point or baseline is different, thanks to genetics. It helps balance us after a traumatic event so we can go on living life and function day to day. So what happens when you don’t have a traumatic event happening weekly in your life? Hedonic adaptation is still at work, so things just start to feel boring. What was once exciting is now mundane.

This feeling has plagued me so badly over the years. It bothered me so much I started researching why I felt this way. Once I found out that hedonic adaptation is actually a thing, it really helped me get a grasp on my feelings. Just having the understanding that we are programmed to adapt to our routine and environment really helped.

I consider myself a gypsy and I have enjoyed living in different places over the past 15 years. The biggest motivation behind these moves has been boredom of my environment. I get sick of the state I’m living in and seeing the same place every day. The things that the location has to offer don’t fulfill me anymore. Where I work and where I live by far made me feel like I was on the “hedonic treadmill” so many times throughout my adult life.

Using a treadmill as an analogy helps paint a picture of how HA makes us think. Essentially you can go through life accumulating all the material items/personal goals you want, only to remain stuck at your natural state of happiness. The riches you gain and goals you accomplish will only raise your expectations and leave you no better off. SEE-WANT-OBTAIN-HAPPY-ADAPT-BORED. Does this cycle sound familiar?

Because human beings have the remarkable capacity to grow habituated to most life changes, almost any pleasure can become monotonous overtime. We are prone to take for granted pretty much anything positive that happens to us. Whether it’s a brand new car or reaching a personal fitness goal, that initial boost of happiness fades over time.

So how do we combat these feelings? The number one thing we can do is to acknowledge that adaptation exists. Just understanding that we are biologically programmed to return to a baseline of happiness in order to survive trauma was probably 50% of helping me feel better. Secondly, be grateful. Look at all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for that you take for granted every day. I bet that list is really long; I know it is for me. Lastly, and I would say most importantly, dogs can greatly enhance our happiness. The way dogs’ view life is the antithesis of hedonic adaptation. Dogs see everything through new eyes, everyday. Every morning is like Christmas morning. Every game of fetch is the best game ever. Surrounding myself with dogs and making them not only my career but my lifestyle has helped me snap out of that humdrum, daily-grind feeling so many times. Dogs spark the zeal for adventure and lust for life that I know is always in me, but don’t feel everyday.

Naturally, there are days where I just don’t feel happy at all even though I love what I love where I live and what I do for a living. Now when I feel those emotions, I take a break from what I’m doing and go walk in nature with my dogs, or simply observe them. The pure joy that they experience from something as simple as a stick, recharges me. The more time I spend watching them in their constant state of bliss, helps me put everything into a different perspective. I re-experience the pleasure of smelling the fresh mountain air. I re-experience the joy of just being. I re-experience gratitude for my health and my life.

As if dogs couldn’t do any more for us; they are our greatest role models of how to truly LIVE.  Happiness is infinite from their perspective. It’s always there just waiting to be tapped into; we just have to be mindful to get off the treadmill and enjoy it with them.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry Hall is the owner of Flash Dog Training in the Denver, CO area. She is a Certified Canine Specialist and Behavior Consultant who specializes in behavioral issues and off-leash training. 

http://www.flashdogtraining.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stubborn? Not Your Dog

Why are people so quick to call dogs stubborn? Stubborn implies that the dog understands what is wanted by the human and then refuses to comply. As a trainer, I know that dogs are rarely stubborn. They truly don’t understand what is being asked of them because they’ve never been properly taught. If one of my dogs blows off a command, it’s likely because there is a competing motivator in the environment, not because they are being willfully defiant. Just because a dog will sit for a hand lure with a treat, does not mean that they understand sit while riding in the car. When the dog refuses to comply with the sit while riding in the car, he is not being stubborn; he doesn’t understand. He has never truly practiced that behavior in that context with a handler that is going to ensure success by using the correct and precise timing of reinforcement. Why do we presume dogs are just going to “get it?”

Trainers know that it takes hundreds if not thousands of repetitions for certain behaviors before the dog truly understands what the word-cue means. Additionally, the average dog owner can be incredibly inconsistent when it comes to the cues they give the dog and is typically not the best at follow through either. Trainers know not to expect a behavior when a dog is in the learning phase. It will take quite a while before that behavior becomes reliable in different environments and for different handlers. 

You control all of your dog’s resources. You are literally the hand that feeds, so how and when you choose to feed your dog will directly impact how willing your dog is to LEARN a behavior and also perform it reliably around distractions. If you are not using food to your advantage, it's likely your dog has little to no motivation because they’re used to getting everything for free. With intentional feeding, you can create an awesome boost in their motivation and engagement.

Dogs will forever be living in a world they will never understand; a man-made confusing world where they don’t speak the language. Engage your dog with empathy and ask yourself if you have actually taken the time to not only teach the command, but generalize it to different environments for reliability. For example, does your dog understand a release cue? If not, you can’t expect him to hold a down- stay if he doesn’t understand that the command has a beginning and an end. Also, ask yourself if you have the knowledge to really teach the dog by communicating in their language. Remember, dogs are a non-verbal species, so you cannot rely on verbal commands until he has been taught the sound’s meaning and context. If you want more reliability and confidence in your dog’s behaviors, seek help from a professional so you can understand how dogs learn and the importance timing, consistency and motivation in training. Your dog isn’t being stubborn or defiant, he just hasn’t been taught with the proper communication. 

2018: The Year of YOUR Dog

I think most of us know that a typical New Year’s resolution may be dumped in a matter of days or weeks with little thought about it a few months from now. My intention with these few paragraphs is to inspire you to commit to one very specific type of New Year’s resolution; not so much for you, but for your dog. See here is the thing, the dark scary thing that I don’t like to think about, yet I do almost every single day; Our beloved dogs simply do not live that long. We forget this painful truth daily as we are overstimulated with world around us. Here’s why you should think about it. What if you only had 10-15 years to live? Or less?! You would likely choose to only allow certain things to occupy your mind, time, and life. You would savor the little things that go unacknowledged and unappreciated in a world where time was abundant.

There is something that I see on a daily basis that hurts my heart. People are out walking their dogs and they're either texting or talking on their phone. There is no connection whatsoever between dog and handler. I can promise you with every cell in my body, that when your dog’s time is up you will regret not squeezing every single moment of joy out of the time you had together. The hours upon hours we waste on social media and other things may seem fulfilling at the time, but you have the greatest gift right in front of you that can make you laugh, feel accepted or “liked”. Just look at them. Look how resilient and happy they are, for no reason. I get emotional thinking that my dogs are not going to be here forever. But instead of dwelling in sadness, I use it as motivation. The only time I am on my phone when I am out with them (within reason) is to record or photograph their most adorable moments so I can cherish them forever. Of course we need to work from our phones to communicate and your dog doesn't need attention 24/7. But let’s be real; we are mindlessly looking at dumb shit on the internet too frequently. Save that for the toilet and be present when you are with your dog.

Dogs innately know how to relish every moment here on earth much more so than we do. They know how to let an uncomfortable incident go and move on from things that stress them. They are so eager to explore, adventure and learn. They don’t complain and they greet the same day-to-day things with boundless enthusiasm.  Worrying about the future is not something they are even capable of and I envy them for that. They are our greatest teachers, personal comedians and companions. They are our ultimate cuddle buddies and mood enhancers. They improve our quality of life on earth so immensely that it’s impossible for us to picture life without dogs. Make your New Year’s resolution to live your best life with your best friend. Enroll them in that obedience or agility class you’ve always wanted to take. Start running or hiking with them regularly. Teach those tricks. Make your daily walks a bit longer and more adventurous. Call a dog trainer for help with behavior problems you have been struggling with so you can live a more fulfilling life together.

I am endlessly thankful for the simplistic, meaningful moments they share with us on a daily basis. They would take way more of those moments if we were more aware of creating them. We pass up so many of those opportunities because our brains are enticed into focusing on other things. Prioritize. Give your dog more time and be more present in the time you are sharing with them this year and your entire lives. You will both be better for it. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kerry Hall is the owner of Flash Dog Training in the Denver, CO area. She is a Certified Canine Specialist and Behavior Consultant who specializes in behavioral issues and off-leash training. 

http://www.flashdogtraining.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Since the training she has listened better...

I called Kerry at Flash Dog Training because I felt I had tried everything with my Australian Shepherd, and nothing was working. Nell's behavior was going from bad to worse, and I didn’t know what to do. Not only was her leash reactivity out of control towards other dogs, but she exhibited other aggressive behavior towards people and dogs (especially ones on TV in our home). This was a very big issue for me, as we spend a lot of time hiking on busy trails here in Colorado.

After meeting with Kerry, I committed to the 3 week board and train program and I couldn’t be happier that I did. Kerry taught Nell how to be more confident as a dog, how to work with the e-collar, and most importantly that she can socialize and even play with other dogs. She has also taught me how to be a better leader and owner for my dog. I can tell now that Nell looks to me for guidance and direction, rather than feeling like she has to defend herself against perceived threats because of her lack of confidence in me. Since Nell has come back into my home, she has been a better listener, more confident, and exceptionally well behaved on every hike with other dogs I have taken her on. If you considering help for you and your dog, don’t hesitate to call Flash Dog Training…you will not regret it.

Ashley LaMonthe

Denver, CO

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Kerry taught her commands that helped Maggie calm down...

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We got Maggie as a puppy from the SPCA. A few weeks later, I found out I was pregnant! Maggie is definitely a quirky dog. In our first few months with her, she was aggressive, hyperactive, and demanding. But, Maggie also had a sweet and loving side. As my belly got bigger, we got more and more nervous that Maggie would not cope well with a baby in the house. We decided to work with Kerry, to see if she could help!! Maggie did 1 on 1 training in our house with Kerry, as well as a three-week intensive sleep-away camp training. Kerry taught her commands that helped Maggie calm down. She also taught my husband and I how to continue the commands and how to interact with Maggie. Kerry was with us the day Maggie met her new baby brother. We are happy to say that Maggie is now the best, most well behaved big sister!!!

Now we can all enjoy time with Ben...

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We are extremely happy that we were able to train with Kerry as our instructor! After training with Kerry, we became sure that everyone in the family including Ben, our Cock-a-poo, would live together with satisfaction. Before training, Ben would bark continuously at people out of fear, especially towards men. However, after learning a command called "place", he started to calm down and would be able to stay without feeling overwhelmed. During walks, we would use commands such as "sit" or "heel" to keep him occupied when walking by pedestrians. While occupied, he would not bark or lunge at people walking by, and the commands also work when he spots squirrels. 

We as owners were also trained as well. We learned that each dogs need a different way of approaching and conquering training. We learned that for Ben, who would get overwhelmed by the fear of strangers, it is important to calm him down by letting him know that he is managed and safe. 

We were also advised to slim Ben down a bit since he was losing the contour of his belly like dogs his kind were supposed to have and he would be too full to receive treats. His fullness connected to his obedience using treats; He would not listen to our commands when using treats because he did not want the treats. We started a raw meat diet for him, which was one of the few suggestions Kerry had given us, and we saw a difference after about a week. His running seemed to be lighter than before and his body's proper shape could be seen. He would also be hungry enough to want the treats we give him, which made training much easier.

Again, we are extremely grateful to Kerry and her guidance. Now we can all enjoy time with Ben while Ben himself is feeling good.

Thank you,

The Yoshidas

Panda is the perfect dog when out and about now...

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Kerry,

I just want you to know how much I appreciated all that you did for me and my three wonderful dogs for the last two years!  Thanks to you, Panda is the perfect dog when out and about now.  She is totally manageable and so much more tolerant when around other dogs.   Cash is still a perfect dog as a result of your skilled training.  My son, Antonio, now gets to swing and ride on all his toys with wheels without being charged at!  Mikey, the monster, is still a work in progress since you left US for Colorado.  LOL  But he is a very different dog then when we first brought him home, thanks to you! The tools and the knowledge that you shared with me was instrumental in my having a happy family.  I continue to use the knowledge; you shared with me, on a daily basis.  

We miss you and wish you well in your new business.  I have no doubt that you will be very successful as you are extremely personable and have an innate ability with animals.  You are the best trainer I have ever known, and believe me I have known many.

Thanks so much,

Kristen Testa

We now feel more comfortable with him around us and others...

We just want to thank Kerry for transforming our dog from a disobedient, angry dog to a really great pet. 

Our Shiba Inu, Austin, is a tough breed who is very set in his ways and tough to train. Not only was he tough to train the basics to but he had a food aggression issue. He would lunge and snap at us after he was done eating; we couldn't go near him, look at him or even walk by him when we gave him a treat, he would either drop it and snap at us or eat it and then snap at us. It became very stressful because he was such a good and loving dog otherwise but we were scared and had no idea how to fix it. We did tons of research and couldn't find much help, until we found Kerry.

After 3 weeks with Kerry and three sessions with us that lasted over two hours each, we now have the best puppy we could ask for. With the e collar training we aren't afraid of him anymore. With just a few taps he learned that aggressive behavior isn't tolerated and he hasn't been aggressive since. He's a new dog. We now feel more comfortable with him around us and others. Not only did the remote collar training help with his food aggression, but it taught him basic obedience as well. We can take him for walks now without him pulling on the leash and we can put him in his crate without him getting mad. He really pays attention to us now and is calmer, realizing we are his source for food and happiness. You have to be committed to listening to Kerry and her advice and as long as you do what she tells you, you will be very happy with the results.

Thanks again Kerry. Your remote collar training is life changing, not only for the dog but for the owners.

Jess and Tom

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We are getting so much out of him as he is both smart and well trained...

Our first Bernese Mountain Dog, Macduff, was a wonderful gentle giant from a puppy onwards. We thought that we knew the breed but when we got our new puppy, MacLeod - wow!! We realized that we did not. He stole anything that he could, surfed the counters, ate socks, chewed his way out of his wooden pen - three times! and just generally misbehaved. He was clearly very smart but would not obey any commands and simply pleased himself. We decided to send him to boot camp and turned to Kerry for help.When we got him back after three weeks he was much calmer and Kerry took us through the training and what to now expect of the dog. He would consistently obey basic commands, especially the most important one of all "Come!!" However he continued to be an opportunist thief and steal socks, dishcloths and absolutely anything edible that he could find when we were not looking.Kerry came to our home for a second training session but rather than do that we sat and talked about his behavior and the fact that we had to clean up virtually every morning as his food was clearly not agreeing with him.

Kerry recommended an electronic educator to correct his behaviour and suggested that we put him on a raw diet. She trained us and him with the new collar and showed us that it does not cause any pain to the dog, almost immediately his behaviour began to improve. Over the course of three months we have had to use this less and less and are at a point now where we don't even have his collar on but just show him the handset and we have his attention.

The raw food diet has worked wonders. His stool has been solid for several months and there have been no more clean ups required.

So here he is at 10 months old, a lovely adorable animal. We are getting so much out of him as he is both smart and well trained.

Many thanks Kerry we are now so enjoying our puppy - we would never have got here without you!!

John & Linda Sievwright

Greenwich, Connecticut

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On-Leash Dog Greetings and the Uncomfortable Human

Everyone loves an appropriately behaved dog, right? A dog that can play well with others, a dog that does not jump on guests and a dog that is well adjusted in any scenario you put him in. We as humans sure have our own ideas about what makes our dogs appropriately behaved. We want dogs to do the things that WE want them to do, all the time, every single day. We stop them from doing natural behaviors like sniffing and exploring because we want them to sit and down and stay. To most people a dog that is obedient and follows instruction is a good, polite dog. So why do people get so bent out of shape when dogs politely greet one another? That butt sniffing just makes us so awkward, doesn't it? Because we cannot possibly conceive of greeting another human being in such a manner, we transfer that emotion onto dogs when it comes to them smelling each other. We pull our dogs away when they are trying to get information about the other dog and add tension to this normal exchange. If the dogs are commingling in a group setting, we interrupt this transaction verbally. It makes us feel weird, uncomfortable, and we typically stop this behavior as soon as it starts. But your dog was being appropriate and polite! Why would we stop that? We stop it because we don't like how it makes US feel and here your dog is, being all polite. 

Generally speaking if your dog does not want to smell other dogs’ butts, that should actually be a blaring red flag to you. It tells you that your dog is either too fearful and overwhelmed by the environment, they lack basic social etiquette, or they are in a really unhealthy state of mind where they are not engaging their nose. Not allowing your dog to sniff the rear end of another dog is like allowing your child not to say hello when someone greets them. It's rude and you're actually preventing social behavior and discouraging self confidence. Dogs should not be ramming their noses up other dogs’ butts, nor do they need to say hi to every single dog that passes by. That is super rude and inappropriate. A nice nose to tail greeting should consist of a few nice whiffs without necessarily even making contact with the other dog.

I do not condone random on-leash greetings.  It's not that I have never allowed my dogs to greet other dogs on-leash, but in the rare exception that I do, I am reading the other dog’s communication and using my instincts, plus my years of experience to assess the situation. I will never have a green light attitude towards on-leash greetings, but there is a way to facilitate them more safely and less stressfully for both parties. When dogs are on a leash they are essentially trapped. Simple flight or fight instincts kick in the more a dog feels threatened by lack of options to alleviate what is stressing it. When we have removed option number one of flight, dogs are going to be much more likely to react defensively and "fight" to push back the dog that is now making them uneasy. 

 If you're going to do it do it right. If you want your dog to meet a new dog on leash, here is how I recommend facilitating it: 

The first thing you need to assess is what kind of equipment is on the other dog and what its current behavior is like. If the dog is in any kind of a body harness I would pass on meeting that particular dog. The harness empowers the dog as the dog braces into the harness with its chest, the strongest part of him. The handler does not have control of the dog’s head. If you don't have control of the dog’s head, you do not have control of their mouth. Additionally if that owner was to put tension on the leash the dog is going to be on its hind legs within seconds which will feed a lunge/snarl/snap type behavior much more easily. Both dogs need to be on collars, preferably a slip lead, or prong collar, a head harness would also do. These tools will give the handler the most control. Doing this exercise with a perfect stranger will prove risky as they are not necessarily going to follow your lead to the T and anything can go wrong, making both dogs fail. This exercise is best performed with two on-board handlers and dogs that are not lunging, barking or whining. If you think you have found the appropriate pair to practice this exercise with, here is what an "on-leash-stacked-greeting-in motion" should look like:

One handler and dog is going to take off walking while the other handler and dog walk behind them. While the dogs are walking you are going to allow the dog that is behind to slowly drift forward on a LOOSE LEASH and sniff the butt of the other dog for no more than two seconds. 

Handler of the dog being smelled is going to encourage their dog to move forward with some soft, verbal praise and patting their thigh. They are going to ensure that their dog does not whip around and go face-to-face with the dog that is momentarily investigating them. Believe it or not the faster you move the easier this exercise is to do. It is much easier at a jog than it is a walk. 

After the two second sniffing you will promptly turn around and change walking directions, switching roles of ‘smeller’ and ‘smellee’. The number one most important thing to remember is to KEEP MOVING, again KEEP MOVING. People tend to stop moving as soon as the sniffing is actually taking place. Bad idea. Motion is your best friend in an on-leash dog greeting. Do not let the dog who is smelling ever sniff any longer than three seconds. Two seconds is more than enough. Once you do this a couple of times, walk the dogs side-by-side together.  The thrill of smelling one another will be over and they should be far less interested in one another in an excited way. This will be a much healthier state for them to be in for further socialization. 

That wasn't so bad, was it? When you see your dog want to gently sniff another dog’s butt you should be proud, really proud that your dog knows how to communicate and greet so nicely. If your dog pounces on other dogs, trying to play immediately and avoids sniffing, you can't allow that. Never make excuses for your dog, "oh, he's just excited." That behavior can lead to getting your dog snapped in half by another dog who is incredibly intolerant of rude behavior. If you do allow your dog to meet unknown dogs, it is a game of Russian roulette. If your dog likes to sniff other dogs, but doesn't like to be smelled you should practice this exercise with a trustworthy partner and dog that is super neutral. Too often I see people pulling their dogs away from another dog's butt and allowing them to "say hi" face to face. Your dog had the right end. Face to face in the animal world is confrontation, let alone if you throw some good tension in there while your dog is being restricted by a rope.

Doing this controlled stacked greeting can actually be quite beneficial to a lot of dogs. But allowing a strange dog to come up to your dog with tension on the leash could be the moment that ruins your day, week or year. So you're saying that dogs sniffing each other's butts is good, but you shouldn't let them meet on leash? Yes, that's what I'm saying, unless the transaction is being controlled by two aware handlers with the same goals who can vouch for the dogs' past behavior. Be smart, be safe, and be selective if you are going to allow your dog to engage in this type of restricted greeting. If your dog is mingling off leash with a group of stable dogs, smile every time you see them take a butt-wiff.

 

 

Is a Dog's Comfort Zone Really That Comfortable?

"Your comfort zone will kill you"

I couldn't agree more. Only after breaking out of your comfort zone, patterns or dependent habits can you truly grow. 

Dogs practice behaviors that produce rewards as well as behaviors that relieve stress. They may practice aggression BECAUSE it's a release of stress. It becomes comfortable to do so. 
It becomes comfortable to just act the way you act, and use your old mechanisms to deal with the things that bother you in life. Even though it may not look like it, a dog's "comfort zone" can be really uncomfortable: barking, whining, reactivity, restlessness, hyperactivity etc. Only once we help them cope with the same stressors via a different approach have we helped them out of their comfort zone. #deepthoughts

Half of Dog Training is Doing Nothing

 Dogs don't know how to do nothing. They're really bad at it and they need our help at making them feel like it is a comfortable option. Let's be real, left to their own devices dogs will make really, really crappy decisions. Even if they are well trained, in the absence of the owner they can make really poor choices. Most dogs do not know how to self soothe in any way. Crate training, place command and obedience commands with duration, teach dogs to control their impulses, regulate their adrenaline, and feel comfortable doing nothing... even when the world around them is doing all kinds of stuff.

Duration work is not something you do all day every day. That would be pretty boring and really unfair. It's a skill just like any other that should be practiced, but not over-used.

Milling around the house is a pet peeve of mine and falls into the category of the rehearsed behavior of a dog that does not know how to relax. Milling does not lead to chilling. Tether training is a wonderful option to teach a dog to self soothe that does not involve any actual commands. Tie your dog up to a strong fixture in your house and go about your morning or evening routine. Expect that there will be protest or tantrums. Never leave the house or go upstairs to take a shower with a dog tethered. You don't need to keep constant eyes on the dog, but you need to be there to check in. Turn on the radio and do the dishes. When your dog stops fussing and actually lays down to rest, go ahead and release him. Rinse and repeat and you will have a dog that knows how to self soothe within seconds and actually enjoys doing so.

Anxiety in Pet Dogs and CBD

Anxiety is probably the biggest emotional issue in pet dogs today. They are anxious for so many reasons: they are not performing job/tasks for what they were bred for, we shower them with unearned affection, we allow too much freedom and not enough structure, we are completely confusing to dogs with our constant talking/fawning over them. Pet dogs live in a world-wind of confusion.

Hampton a current board and train student, has lashed out aggressively in many ways. But his barking/biting/lunging is not his "problem" his problem is his anxiety. His anxiety is what's making him lash out. You can treat the symptom for example: I can correct him for lunging at other dogs, but I'm not treating the root of his problem. When he doesn't feel anxious and his world is more structured, he's not going to have to display that aggressive behavior to alleviate his anxiety. If you change how a dog FEELS, you automatically change how they ACT.

Dogs can calm down so much more easily than people think that they can. It's actually pretty cool to teach a dog to relax on cue. Most dogs within a couple of weeks can self-soothe and shut off. Hampton is a dog that just will not stop whining, no matter what. He is the exact type of dog where I like to use CBD as a tool to help teach relaxation.

CBD is the non-psycho active ingredient in cannabis that acts as Mother Nature's muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety pill. There are no harmful side effects and it is 100% natural. What is most amazing about CBD is the dog needs less of it overtime, not more like a pharmaceutical. It just helps them "get there". Hampton's real issues are outside of the home, and CBD will definitely help him on walks too. It helps a dog self regulate and not be so hyper-reactive to the environment. It keeps them focused and poised and they can go about their daily routine with no problem. Dogs do not act "drugged" on CBD. They may get a little sleepy, but they can function completely normally. It also increases appetite for fearful dogs or dogs that will not take food in the presence of triggers. I can't say enough good things about CBD. It is my go-to training aid for anxious dogs in conjunction with duration exercises like "place". His family will be able to dose him as needed when they take him out on adventures. It will just take the edge off, making him more manageable and mentally collected.

The Power Of The Place Command

The "place" command is probably the most posted and talked about command/skill in dog training. Place has all kinds of uses for all different types of behavioral issues. I love place for hyperactive dogs to use as an off-switch for arousal. I will use place as a "safe zone" for extremely fearful dogs. I convince the dog that when they are on the bed no one ever comes over and "pops their bubble". You can actually transfer that concept of the dog feeling like they have a safety bubble around them, to the outside world and different objects. It's really neat! The number one benefit I see from a generalized place command, (not just on the bed, but the dog is now seeing tree stumps, playground equipment, anything else as place) is the benefit of creating bodily awareness. By having your dog place on an object where he has to focus on his balance and overall footing, you are bringing the dog's mind that is typically obsessed with the eternal, to the internal. It is a calming, self-centering exercise and they have no choice but to focus on the task at hand.

Place has so many applications and uses. It is the easiest way to teach our dogs impulse control which typically they need in areas outside of the home. By teaching a dog to stay on the place bed and not jump off or react to things going by it, you can then transfer this concept to the walk. They will be able to walk past other dogs way more easily because they have this basic skill ingrained in them from what they have learned from place. This amazing command can help dogs live so much more harmoniously with us. It builds a dog's confidence and gives them some place where they can completely let their hair down and relax; that does not have to be the crate. Crating is fantastic for dogs, but the place command allows dogs to be more a part of family activities while still remaining calm and under control.