accomplishment ACE Adopt the Internet Day advocate AKC ALIVE Andrea Arden APDT attention aversives Be the Change for Animals beagle beds Bianca bibliophile birthday blessings blog hop BlogPaws board and train Boston Terrier bullied by the blog C-WAGS C.L.A.S.S. call to action CCPDT CDSP certification Certified Pet Dog Trainer change chapter 1 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Christmas Cincinnati click and treat clicker expo clicker training coming when called commitment common sense communication competion coupon cpdt CPDT-KA craft crisis response Dads Daisy decisions dog shows dog training dominance Easter economy emotions empathy equine Face of Crisis facebook family focus food Fortunate Fido Frames of Mind fraud Gardner giving goals group class harness holy week house guest humanity Husker Ian Dunbar individuals instinct integral internet Jade Jean Donaldson joy K9 Chaplains K9 Comfort Dogs Karen Pryor Ken McCort Lake Township Lana Mitchell learning learning theory leash aggression life experience lifestyle training living positively mama beagle Meagan Melissa Alexander minature horse Morgan Specter Mr. Chewy mule Nevada Humane Society Never Shock a Puppy normal Northern Illinois University Open House openminded opportunity pack theory Parents of Murdered Children party Patricia McConnell peace personality pet blogger challenge Pet Blogger Hop Pets without Parents Philadelphia polite greetings POMC positive reinforcement positive reinforcement clicker training precious priorities product review puppies puppy class Rainbow Bridge Rally Obedience relationships relaxing research review rewards routine safe versus dangerous service dogs SPA sports stress success Sue Ailsby Sweet Spots Doggy Ice Cream TDInc. teacher technology The Clicked Retriever therapy dogs thinking time tools tornado toys training plan training tip travel tricks twitter unconditional love video work in progress

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why I Love My Dogs

I love my dogs because they give me so much without asking for anything in return.  I love my dogs because they keep me warm when it's cold.  I love my dogs because when I don't feel well they keep me company and give me comfort.  I love my dogs because when I'm feeling sad they put a smile on my face just by being themselves.  I love my dogs because they love our family and our friends unconditionally (except Aik who always acted strangely with Kim, but he's at the Rainbow Bridge now and I know he's playing tag with Kim's dogs who are there and I know they are telling him how wonderful she is!)  I love my dogs because they don't have to do horrible things to others to elevate themselves.  I love my dogs because they find great joy in a stick.  I love my dogs because certain words make them want to do backflips every single time they are said ("breakfast," "dinner," "let's go to bed," "walk?" "let's play," "treat," "let's go to school" -- and probably a few others!).  I love my dogs because they do what I ask them to do, when I ask them to do it, and they hardly ever argue with me.  I love my dogs because they know the "sweet spot" of sunshine on a sunny, but cold day.  I love my dogs because they love learning.  I love my dogs because they are wise beyond words.  I love my dogs because they have found me, they lift me up, they love me, and they do it all unconditionally.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Puppy Tails...A Firm Foundation

So many times I see families with great dogs getting very frustrated because their dog is not "getting" something.  The huge majority of the time it has to do with the shaky foundation they have laid for their dogs' training.  What I mean by this is that their dogs were really smart and seemed to be picking up on training quickly, so they either speed through steps and not give them enough attention or they skip steps altogether.

If you are building a house, you can't do anything else until you have a firm foundation.  The same is true for dog training.  Without a firm foundation, ultimately your house, and your training, will crumble.

I see this happening in Puppy Class.  One of the "rules" I have during Puppy Playtime in class is that you don't call your dog to come to you during this time.  I do this because a) the puppies don't have a firm grasp of "come" and if we call them and they don't come, we are setting them up for failure and b) it's just too much to expect a young puppy who doesn't quite understand "come" to leave the fun and her playmates to listen to mom or dad.  Once the puppy is coming reliably 100% of the time when called in low-distraction, familiar situations, you can assume the very basic foundation has been laid and you can start building on that.

The other part of building a firm foundation in your dogs is breaking down behaviors and understanding what it is you need teach your dog. Again using "come" as an example, there are other skills that are essential to the foundation -- attention, focus, willingness, knowledge that "come" equals something good.  In class I teach that knowing their own names is important too, and it is, but you can teach a rescue dog to come reliably without using a name.  Our foster puppies all are learning "come."  For those that have not been adopted, we use just the word "come."  Sometimes we use "puppy" and we always work on attention and focus.  It's an awesome thing when we can call "Puppies, Come!" and nine puppies thunder across the yard or the room to get their reward!!!  They have all learned that the word "come" means that they are going to get something they really, really like and the foundation is laid.  For their forever families, it shouldn't be too difficult for them to teach them their names and add that to "come" for reliable, life-saving coming when called.

The foundation is key.  You wouldn't start building a house in the middle of the house -- you would start with the foundation.  Do the same thing in your dog training and you will have solid, well-behaved, reliable dogs who do what you ask when you ask.  How easy and wonderful is that? 

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Blog the Change

Blog the Change

After an initiative at a conference last spring, pet bloggers everywhere gather together four times a year to try and elicit a change for animals.  We are trying to build awareness of the many situations and factors that negatively impact the animals in our lives.  It's the old theory that even the longest journey begins with one step.  If we all take just a single step out into trying to even start making a change, all of those steps will combine and be a giant step!  Today is another Blog the Change for Animals day.  Please take a few minutes to read just a few of the blogs and I know you will find something that inspires you.

We have been on a new journey at our house with a rescued mama beagle and her puppies.  It has truly been a labor of love.  To recap quickly, mama was found, already pregnant, wandering in a parking lot.  It was determined she was too far along to do anything except wait for the puppies to be born.  We agreed to foster both mama and the puppies.  Mama had a litter of 10 puppies on October 20, 2010.  We have spent the time ever since taking care of the great big brood of beagle mix puppies.  We currently still have nine of the puppies at our house.  Mama has gone to another foster home where hopefully, she is getting the love and attention she deserves (with all the puppies, it was so hard to find time for her) and she is looking for a forever home.  One lucky puppy has been adopted and he is living the good life with his new forever family.  Another puppy has been adopted, but she will be with us until Easter, when we will deliver her to her new forever home. Another puppy has been adopted by our oldest daughter and we are adding one to our family.  Six more pups are waiting for their perfect forever families.

How does this all change anything?  Hopefully it changed the lives of these 10 puppies and their mama.  Hopefully it will change the lives of the families who adopt them.  Hopefully it will change other lives that the situation has touched.  But the change I truly want to share is to do something now.  Don't wait.  Don't put it off thinking there will be a better time, a better place.  If you have always wanted to be a foster family, just do it.  If you have always wanted to volunteer at a local shelter, just do it.  If you have always wanted to positively affect the lives of animals, just do it.  The time is now.  Putting it off only puts it off.

I don't know about anyone else, but we have very often said we would do something when -- insert excuse -- the kids are older, we have more time/money/energy/etc., we have a different job, we have less work to do, and so on and so on and so on.  If we waited for everything to be perfect, we would never do anything.

We had no plan of going down this road with mama and her puppies.  We certainly had no intention of keeping any of the puppies.  We never planned to put our lives on hold and take care of 10 puppies and their people and attention loving mama.  But we did it because it was what we knew we needed to do regardless of all the reasons why we should not do it.

So, don't wait to Be the Change.  Do it now.  Find a cause, rescue an animal, support an initiative.  Do it whether it makes sense or not.  Do it because you have a passion for it.  Do it because you want nothing more than to make a change that makes just one animal's life better.

For our puppies, we are working with the Society for the Protection of Animals in Fremont, Ohio.  If you are interested in knowing more about them, supporting them, or adopting one of their animals, their website is  They always take donations and they would love your support!  They are currently trying to offset the enormous cost of raising our foster puppies (vet care, food, heartworm preventative, etc.) in addition to their other financial needs.

And if you do get out there and do something as a result of Blog the Change for Animals, please let me know!  I would love to hear how you are Being the Change for Animals!!!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Puppy Tails...Training Tips for Living with the little Seek-and-Destroyers! :)

I find it a little ironic that the Pet Blogger Challenge yesterday seems to have jump-started my brain and now I have lots of things I want to write about!!!  Maybe it was all the other blogs I read...

Having 9 puppies in the house right now makes life more than a little interesting.  And puppies seem to be coming out of the woodwork, so to speak, at the business!  One of the most common issues with puppies is their tenacity.  They want to play and play and play and when you think they are done playing, they want to play some more.  (But then, at least at my house, they sleep and sleep and sleep!)  For many families, this is an issue because it becomes undesirable when it involves unwanted behaviors like nipping and biting, jumping up, chewing, and pottying inappropriately.

One of the hardest things to convince people to do with their dogs is to completely ignore unwanted behaviors.  Let's use the chewing as an example.  Puppies are chewers -- period.  They need to have appropriate and safe things to chew.  But if you yell, yank the item away, and otherwise make a big fuss when you find your puppy chewing on something they shouldn't, you are actually reinforcing the chewing on the item (or worse, encouraging your puppy to chew in "secret" -- more on that below) by giving the puppy attention.  To a puppy, any attention is good!!!  They don't know enough about the world to think anything different.  So interacting with your puppy when you remove the item reinforces the chewing and it will probably happen again.

Instead, stay quiet, get an appropriate chew toy, and trade your puppy for the inappropriate item.  No words, except maybe the puppy's name to get her attention away from the inappropriate item long enough to trade items.  Then when puppy is chewing on the good item, praise her and tell her what a good puppy she is!  Ta-da!  Puppy is happily chewing on something good and wonderful, you are happy, and you have not reinforced the wrong item.    

Chewing in "secret" typically starts when you make such a fuss over the inappropriate items puppy is chewing, that puppy decides it is "dangerous" for her to chew on things when you (or whoever makes a fuss) is around.  Puppies (and dogs!) don't necessarily know right and wrong (unless we teach them), but they know "safe" and "dangerous."  It's safe to chew on things if you are quiet and calm and trade for appropriate items.  It's dangerous to chew on things when you yell and scream and yank things out of puppy's mouth.  This "safe versus dangerous" idea is applicable in many areas of puppy and dog training.  If your puppy or dog is doing something in secret or away from you, consider how you might have reacted to cause your puppy or dog to decide it is dangerous to do that activity around you.  It's not that you are a bad person or even a bad dog person, it's probably that you reacted too strongly to something you should have been quiet and calm about.

Puppies are so much fun and they grow up way too quickly.  Enjoy your time with your puppy, marvel at their learning and development, and be sure to take lots of pictures -- before you know it, they will be wonderful adult dogs!!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Pet Blogger Challenge -- Striving to NOT be Bullied by the Blog

A month or so ago, I read a post over at Go Pet Friendly, Bullied by the Blog, and it struck a nerve.  I was feeling badly that I had not blogged in a while and after reading this, I decided that I was wasting time with these negative feelings.  Our blog is about feeling good about our relationships with our dogs and if I am spending time worrying about my blog, I can't be spending quality time with my dogs, my husband, or my children, and then I won't have anything to write about in our blog!!!  I hate when those vicious, circular, rock-and-a-hard place things rear their ugly heads!  So thank you Go Pet Friendly for helping me to realize that I don't have to be bullied by my blog and that it's really in both my readers' and my best interest to do what works at my house in my life.  Thank you readers for your support and your understanding -- I know that you will read a better blog now at Gone to the Dogs.  Happy New Year!!!!

1. When did you begin your blog?  March 27, 2009

2. What was your original purpose for starting a blog? 
We had just decided to open our own dog training business and I was feeling very unsure and vulnerable about this big decision.  It came following a very tumultuous time in our lives and while I knew it was what we wanted and needed to do, I was very nervous.  Having the blog gave me a creative outlet for sharing my thoughts about this time in our lives and a place to share our passion for dogs, our family, and other things we feel strongly about.

3. Is your current purpose the same? 

I would say so -- some of the life circumstances have changed, but I still have the same questions and the same passions.

If so, how do you feel you’ve met your goals?  I wanted to share with people the every day life of a professional dog trainer -- to show that we are not magicians, that our dogs can be "rotten" (and wonderful!) too, and that we all can communicate effectively and share our lives together.

4. Do you blog on a schedule or as the spirit moves you? 

As the spirit moves me...

If the latter, do you worry about… well, whatever you might worry about (e.g. losing traffic, losing momentum)?  Absolutely!!!  During the holidays, with all our foster puppies and everything else that goes along with the holiday season, I didn't blog at all.  I missed it terribly, but it had to take a backseat to life temporarily.  I don't have a huge number of readers (yet!), but I felt badly that I was not able to communicate with them -- since communication is an important thing for me, that was difficult.

5. Are you generating income from your blog? 

No, I don't know much about that.  I would love to know more and investigate the possibilities.

If not currently, do you hope to in the future — and how?  yes, but I don't know!

6. What do you like most about blogging in general and your blog in particular (bragging is good!)? 

I like that I get to share my thoughts, experiences, and feelings (mostly) about dogs and dog training.  There are so many dogs in rescue and dogs that spend their lives in the back yard because families don't know what to do or how to train their dogs.  Dogs are such insightful, supportive, loving creatures that make life more wonderful just by being around.  It's a shame when people don't know how to communicate with them to have the life and relationship with their dogs they desire.  I hope I have shared with people even a little bit of how to do that and enjoy the journey they are on with their dogs.

7. What do you like least? 

I wish I knew more about designing on the computer because I don't love how our blog looks.  I don't know how to make it look like it does in my head!  It's okay, it suits the purpose, but in my head it's so much better!

8. How do you see your blog changing/growing in 2011? 

I love multi-media so I hope to add more photos, more video, maybe something interactive (if I can figure it out!).  I am going to keep plugging away on learning advanced techniques on the computer and maybe it can start to look like my vision.  I would like to learn more about generating income and I want to continue sharing training and communication tips with dog lovers everywhere!

Enjoy reading all the great posts in the Pet Blogger Challenge! 

Monday, January 3, 2011

Chapter 7 -- Puppies Looking for Forever Families

I would be remiss if I didn't expound on the wonderful attributes our puppies have.  We have six of them seeking forever homes -- 5 girls and 1 boy -- and they are all solid, amazing puppies.  All of them are crate-trained, we have begun clicker training, we have a good start on housetraining, they have been socialized and exposed and loved and held their entire lives by many, many people including children, and any one of them would make a fabulous addition to a family.  When they were very young, we followed the "super puppy" protocol and did the early neurological stimulation with each of them each day (click here for a great article on this).

Yes, of course they are puppies.  They chew, they have accidents, they sometimes cry and whine when things aren't going the way they think they should.  But they are playful, curious, loving, and very attentive.  They all love it when the clicker and treats come out for one-on-one time and they are all learning quickly.  We regularly take one or two or three of them out on field trips (a couple have already made their first "therapy dog" visit when they went along to see some of the staff at the facility where Daisy and I visit regularly).  We have worked hard to give these adorable puppies the best possible start in life and we hope and pray that they find loving families who will give them great homes and lives.

If you are interested, or know someone who is, please contact me or complete the online application at and tell them I sent you!  (We are located in northwest Ohio.)