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Obsession Toys! Teaching your dog to behave in a Sarah Minute…

As a dog trainer, I’m blessed to work with both dogs and people—two of my favorite species!  I spend most days interpreting dog or puppy behavior, and coaching people to teach their dog English as a second language.  Dogs, like young kids, want desperately to be a part of things.  They excite, sometimes over-enthusiastically, to every day transitions, like people coming to the door or family members leaving.

A Tail of Unconditional Love

The little computer screen had finally projected sunny after a solid straight run of rain—a happy sight just weeks after our move. The kids blasted out of bed, eager to head down to the lake as my husband collected his papers and promised to help when he came back.

As I pushed my three canines out the back door to enjoy their new enclosed backyard, I was happy to appease my inner dictator who was demanding another day of unpacking, weather regardless!

Safety 101: Teaching Dogs to be Good Neighbors

As a professional dog trainer, I see all kinds of dog behavior and I will be the first to tell you that most bad behavior is simply bad training. But I’m also a mom and sometimes my momma instincts override my trainer’s cool. This weekend, my son was threatened by a neighborhood dog and I felt heart-stopping fear followed by deep frustration. This didn’t have to happen.

A Page from the Dog Trainer’s Diary

What happened on a recent visit to train a canine version of Bonnie and Clyde.

Next week, I will address getting a dog or puppy to match your lifestyle.  Pure breed or rescue?  Young puppy or older dog?  How much does the breed influence the temperament?  Male or female?  Please forward me your questions to help me shape my article! Meanwhile, here’s a page from my Dog Trainer’s Dairy.

Meet Rocky, a Cane Corso, with a boxer’s name and attitude. He’s big. He’s bold. He barks with authority. And he’s only 14 weeks old. Uh-0h.

Walking Your Dog: Who is Training Who? The psychology behind the modern day leash walk

The psychology behind the modern day leash walk

Thanks to those readers who commented or emailed me on my article, “Winter’s Perils.” It was a great way to get to know some of you and a fitting introduction to my new bi-monthly column, “Ask the Trainer.” This new format will let me shape my column around your dog training questions and concerns.

Based on sheer volume, it seems the number one concern among my readers and clients is leash pulling.

Dog Trainer, Dog Trainer…Who do I choose?

Treat your dog like family, not just a member of the pack.

Recently, I was trying to finish up some last-minute work projects while my 7-year old daughter, Lindsay, studied the guest list for her imminent birthday party. Did I order the cake? Were the balloons definitely going to be purple? Should we call?

Frustrated and hoping a small project would distract her, I told her to look the numbers up in the phone book. And just like that, we had one of those generational moments. She had no idea what a phone book was. The times they are a-changing.

The Dog Trainer’€™s Dark Side

The hardest thing to control in life, is not a dog…it’s your temper. 

I’m proud to admit that I have a reputation for patience. Whether presiding over the first chaotic moments of a new group dog training class, sitting in a client’s kitchen listening to a long list of canine misbehaviors or guiding my daughter through the complex and sometimes volatile social strata of first grade, I manage to keep my cool.

Training a Dog to Love their Bath

The kitchen door slammed and there they were: my two children. Soaking wet and covered with mud. In April. I was wearing a fleece vest and Ugg boots, they were half-dressed, squirting each other with the hose. I’m so mid-life.

Setting my coffee cup aside, I hoisted my wet, wriggly toddler in one arm and took my daughter’s hand. It was time for an early afternoon bath.

The sound of the bathtub faucet alerted Whoopsie that there was water happening. Crowding into the upstairs bathroom, she looked longingly into the tub...

Shar Pei Meets Vizsla: A Page from the “Dog Training Diary”

One of my favorite things to do in my private dog training practice is untangle knots. Not the knots in leashes or long lines, but in the complex relationships between clients and their pets.

Sometimes the knots are simple…the “I just got a puppy, now what do I do?” type of call. Others are more complex: hair-raising tales of furniture destruction, car chasing, non-stop barking and seemingly incurable housebreaking problems. 

This week, I'd like to share a story about the multi-dog household—another common dog training issue...

The First Time

I had had enough. I tweeted, I posted, I answered emails and phone calls and then…I had enough. The weather icon on the bottom of my computer screen was showing nothing but happy little sun faces for the next several days so I made an executive decision: this family was taking a day off—midweek—and going to the beach. We were all playing hooky–from camp, from work, from Facebook.

Aesop the New Dog

Meet Aesop, the dog trainer’s dog. Eighteen months old, unreliably housebroken and occasionally a bit clingy, Aesop needs a little work. But he’s got something that can’t be taught: a gentle, devoted heart.

Oh—and us. Aesop’s definitely got us. Big time. Here is his story and how we all decided to let our hearts be buried in the fur of yet another dog.

Born Dog #58225 in a breeding kennel in the Czech Republic, this beautiful dog was repeatedly passed over by buyers because of a miniscule imperfection: an ear divot, a small nick in the upper corner of his ear. Buyers of champion German Shepherds demand perfection and that tiny flaw made Dog #58225— kennel-named Ezopp—hard to place. 

Holiday Tips For Dog Lovers

My daughter is very imaginative. One minute she’s a leopard, the next a frog and a 30 seconds later, she’s a dragonfly. And woe is me if  my day is on overload and I fall behind on the transformations. “Moooooom,” she’ll say somewhat impatiently, “I’m a SEAGULL now. You’re not paying attention.”

Dogs, too, enjoy our undivided attention and predictable routines. When the holiday season interrupts the regularly scheduled household programming, dogs can become unsettled and anxious. Here’s how to keep your pooch—and your family—on an even keel during the hubbub.

Wordless Wonders

My son is going for the gold. He’s determined to break the world record for the oldest toddler never to utter a word. Einstein didn’t talk until he was 5, so I’m okay with his wordlessness, but still… no “mama,” no “dada,” just a complex combination of bellows and hand signals that convey his immediate desires with startling specificity. He’s only 2 1/2 feet tall, but he’s figured it out: why use up valuable brain cells learning to talk when you can bring an entire household to its knees with one perfectly timed, glass-shattering ARGHHHH! And maybe he’s fine-tuning the theory of relativity, who knows.

Presidential Pets

Sure, everybody knows Bo, the current four-legged White House occupant, but did you know that the White House is also home to 70,000 well-tended bees and has welcomed silkworms, raccoons, cows, an eagle, an elephant, a possum and a tiger? Not to mention dozens of dogs, cats, birds and farm animals? If the White House carpets could talk, they’d have quite a story to tell.

Recent presidential pets seem plagued by the same problems that afflict many of my dog-training clients. While Bo is well-behaved and stays out of the spotlight, some canine residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. have behaved in most un-presidential ways. 

Tails of the City

For dog owners living in New York, it’s hard to choose a favorite from the long list of personal services. Is it the gourmet meals and custom beverages? Maybe the abundance of personal grooming salons, fitness studios, daycare services, private tutoring and excellent public schools? Perhaps you’re a fan of the poop pickup and takeaway services or live in a building that offers round-the-clock pet concierge services. As with so many other things, New York leads the way in dog-centric activities and all-around dog love.