It’s Winter and My DOG is Driving me BONKERS!

So it is about this time of the year when I start hearing about dogs displaying bad behavior, getting into mischief and overall driving their owners bonkers.

We also drive ourselves crazy because we are not doing what we would be doing in the summer. Going for walks, hikes, meeting with friends, going to the local tiki bar, camping, swimming, road trips, vacations, you name it!

In the Midwest, we definitely are more active in the summertime and once winter rolls around we end up inside more than we’re outside. Our dogs are the ones whom suffer, because they’re not able to get out as often as they normally would. Currently, a lot of people are still working from home so their pups see more of them then usual. This would be super great because we could spend more time with our dogs right?

Wrong. We’re trying to get things done at home, on a work call or trying to watch tv and our dog is in our face saying “HELLO! I am bored, let’s DO something” and they are driving us bonkers!

Quite frequently, we are done with work, exhausted and don’t feel like taking them for a walk, doing any kind of training or interaction. We just wanna relax…

Here are some ideas of activities that you can do or use in the house to be able to help your pup feel like they’re getting the mental stimulation along with physical activity they are asking for. It is also a way that you do not have to exhaust yourself.

This pup is excited about his snuffle mat!

Snuffle mats are an excellent way for your dog to work for its food, work for a snack or basically just take time to eat. Some of these snuffle mats actually come as an activity mat with other areas that you can use to hide treats in and really make your pup work for it!

Tether tugs are great for dogs that like to tug!

Tether tugs are usually something that is used in the summer, but if you can find an area in your yard to put it in the ground, it can work. Or, you can attach it to something like a post and it can still do the trick!

An indoor tug!

They do make indoor tugs that can be used if you were unable to fix something up outside. Some dogs are more comfortable playing inside so this is definitely an option!

Agility is an amazing way to tire out your pup!

Agility classes can be held inside or outside. Usually, some training facilities can offer indoor agility during the winter. This is definitely an amazing way to tire out your pup physically and mentally, while learning something new!

Dock Diving!

Dock Diving is another opportunity that you can do inside during the winter. If your dog likes water, loves to swim or likes to retrieve this is definitely something that you could look into.

Nose Work! Let that sniffer have fun!

Nosework is a really awesome activity that you can do during the winter or even summer. All it takes is an open room, some treats and a dog that loves food. Find an open room, put treats around the room in plain sight to start and then let your pup in and tell them “Find the treat!” Repeat this a couple times until they start to come into the room ready to smell. Then, start hiding the treats behind furniture, up on a shelf within reach, or in a small corner.

On a treadmill? You bet!

Another really nice option to teach your dog in the winter time is getting them used to being in a treadmill. Let’s face it, a lot of us have a treadmill just sitting in our house not being used. (I take that back, it’s being used as a clothing rack!) So why not use it to help the dog exercise? At WOOF! Daycare they offer the treadmill as an extra activity for the dogs that have high energy. This is a wonderful way for dogs to focus and stay at a certain speed while tiring themselves out in the process. It is an excellent activity for dogs that have a lot of anxiety due to separation or nervousness.

Hunt those rats!

Barn hunt is also something that is done inside and can really stimulate a dog‘s mind. The whole point of the activity is for the dog to use its nose and sniff out where the rats are! Don’t worry, the rats are safely protected in canisters and they actually really enjoy it! The dogs also learn to go through tunnels and jump on the bales for additional fun!

Tricks, Tricks and more Tricks!

Lastly, there are some great trick books that can teach you how to train your dog to do amazing and fun tricks.! This is a perfect thing to do when you get home, you’re exhausted and you want to do something that will tire them out quickly. Teaching a trick is like studying for a test. You have to think about all the different angles and things to do in order to achieve an amazing trick. Give your dog 10 minutes of this and they will be super tired. Plus you’ll have some great things to show off with your pup when your friends come over!

Always remember that training with your dog is something that will benefit and help. Taking classes, keeping your dog engaged and learning something new is really important.

For more information on RUFF Academy and what they have to offer, go to


Crazy, Beautiful & Neurotic

What do Siberian Huskies, Australian Shepherd’s, Border Collies, and German Shepherd’s have in common?

They are crazy, beautiful and neurotic. They have high drive, are meant to do high drive jobs, are not designed to sit around and do nothing and one walk a day will not tire them out and make them satisfied.

Siberian huskies are bred to run long distances with high stamina and NOT STOP. Australian Shepherd’s and Border Collies are meant to herd sheep ALL DAY LONG from sun up to sundown. German Shepherd’s are meant for protection and chase and apprehend bad guys for the police and the military for the first 4 years of their life. All of these breeds need to be told when, where and how much. All of their drives have to be controlled and trained. If not, they will become neurotic and out-of-control.

What happens is these dogs go into a household with individuals or families with the expectation of a golden retriever. Happy, Social and full of life. They may take one training class, but that’s just for obedience(they say “because it needs to listen,”) as it is not and does not also cover an outlet for their energy. Outlets include Agility, doggie daycare, running, hiking, dog park, frisbee and other focus related activities.

A large percentage of dog owners obtain these breeds primarily because of their looks. This is where the problem starts.They watched Rin Tin Tin, Max, Megan Leavy, Hatchi, 101 Dalmatians, Eight Below or a variety of dog movies that showcase these amazing and intelligent breeds doing a JOB and told themselves that at one point they will have one of these breeds.

The wonderful thing about the movie Marley and Me is it shows what you should NOT do as a dog owner. People watch this movie and laugh, but I watched it and became furious. The owners do everything wrong. They don’t kennel train Marley so he destroys their house, they take him to a training class without the right training tools and he flunks, and after 6 to 7 years they love the dog because he has calmed down.

Perhaps as a kid your parents owned a dog that was one of these breeds and it was amazing, but you don’t truly remember doing anything with it because you were so young and most of the training had been done by your parents. Being that you had fond memories, you tell yourself, I want one of my own when I grow up.

I myself wanted a Dalmatian as a kid because they were super cool and beautiful. I knew nothing about the breed or how neurotic they are, but I wanted one because I liked how they look. I even bought a sweatshirt. You can only imagine what happened when I saw 101 Dalmatians! In theory, I still want one, but I’m super glad I didn’t get one as my first dog.  I definitely know what I would be coming against as I know the breed and characteristics now as an adult.

My first dog was a German Shepherd. He was a beautiful, calm, white beast of a dog that in the end was not a true Shepherd. He didn’t bark at anything, didn’t run after anything and was actually quite calm. So I had a German Shepherd that wasn’t a German Shepherd. Granted, before I got him I worked at a German Shepherd breeding kennel so I saw what they can actually do and what it entailed so I did not go into it blind, but it was still a lot of training and I remember crying after class because “All he wanted to do was play with other dogs and not focus on me and training.”

So many times, an individual or family decides to get a dog and upon the excitement of getting a dog, they don’t think about what could happen down the road. When the dog reaches sexual maturity and starts to exhibit signs of the breed standard, the individual or family starts to see that they chose the wrong breed and they don’t have enough time to dedicate to the breed and they decide to give it up.

I don’t see that as a bad thing because it would be better to find a better family than to put the dog through not utilizing his full potential. The hard part about it is that the dog ends up going from home to home and with each home he starts to feel like it has failed more and more.

I have seen the toll that it has taken on dogs that have been bounced to multiple homes and it’s really sad.

So what is the solution? The number one thing that we always talk about is making sure that you research the breed that you were interested in.

With the above breeds that we talked about specifically, if you are not ready to run, live on a farm with sheep or understand how protective a dog can truly be, you need to refrain from getting all of the above breeds. If you live in an apartment, have a full-time job and a family and do not have time for training, do not get the above breeds. Actually, just steer clear of any dog with herding instincts or prey drive.

That leaves an English bulldog or a cat. Lol

No matter what dog you get it needs training. That starts at eight weeks of age. We train our service dogs for 18 months to get them ready for their new home. Their family then trains them for another 18 months before they truly settle in to their job and their home. Just because we trained them for 18 months doesn’t mean they’re a robot in the family house and do nothing.

Respect is given to those that earn it. Those that put in the time and understand it will reap the rewards. How long does it take to train a child? 40+ years? You wouldn’t expect a child to move out, get a job and be independent at the age of 7!

*Keep in mind that for every year of a dogs life it equates to seven years of a humans life.

Why on earth would you expect a dog to know everything within one year, especially within that first year of exploration, adventure and excitement.

We end on this note. Getting a dog is exciting. Getting the dog of your dreams is amazing. Obtaining something that you’ve always wanted is an exciting journey, but it doesn’t work without hard work and consistency. I would love to have a “state of the art” training facility just given to me, but if I don’t have the money to keep it going and the means to make sure it stays a “state of the art” facility, it will become rundown and broken within a very short period of time.

Research, research, research.

Figure out what your current living style works with and what amount of time you can realistically handle. Then, research your breed of choice and see if it fits. Talk to the breeders, ask them questions. They will honestly tell you if you are crazy or not! Talk to people who own the breeds you are interested in and see what a day in the life of that dog is. Doing your research will only help you in the long run!

If you have questions regarding training or advice on problematic issues at home, go to and check us out! Send an email to us and let us know how we can help!

Only Dog Syndrome: Transitioning a rescue dog from a large pack to being the only dog.

Food for thought when looking to adopt a rescue dog.

I have had a couple clients schedule consultations regarding the same thing. They adopt a dog that was fostered with a large group of dogs on site and did great. THEN, they get adopted, are the only dog.

This would be fine if the new owners were educated about what to do to keep the dog socialized and stimulated properly.

This is what happens:

When dogs are in a social environment with other dogs, they form an order in the pack. They are regulated by the leader of the pack whether it is the human or a lead dog. They learn to share, eat nicely, follow social cues and enjoy being in a pack. If they choose to pick on one or start a fight, they have to answer to the whole pack.

When they go into a home where they are the only one, there is no pack, no social order, no sharing, no lead dog. That lead dog is YOU. If you are not prepared to be the lead dog and maintain that mindset this is what you will probably see: More focused behavior when seeing other dogs, protective or territorial behavior, over excited about EVERYTHING.

This doesn’t happen to everyone. However, these last two clients have dogs that are great with THEM, are selective with dogs and are somewhat out of control because they did not establish a routine and order on Day One. The dogs came in, said “Sweet! It’s only me! PARTY!!!” And took over. The owners then say “We love them, but don’t know why they are doing this. They lived in a group of dogs at their foster home?”

If you are a foster and you have a large amount of dogs on your home, here are some thoughts. Adopt out to people who have another dog. If they are they only dog, recommend classes, daycare, some kind of structured dog socialization outlet for them. NOT THE DOG PARK.

If you just reached a dog from a large pack at a foster, do the same. Don’t just hang your and do nothing expecting all those skills to transfer. They may show good face the first week, but it can change.

You would do best by offering your rescue dog more. Creating a structured environment is the best to start with. Positive things will happen from there. Fosters with large groups of dogs, please educate. Talk about socialization, recommend training and keep the positive going.

If I’m guilty of it, so are you. It doesn’t define who we are, but it does our dogs…

Don’t worry, we all do it. We don’t always think that it’s going to hurt anything, but in the end we do find it creates complications.

What am I talking about?

Giving your dog food from the table of course!

Some probably have had a huge sigh of relief thinking this article wasn’t as bad as what they thought, others will say “this does not apply to me” and the last group says “What? Why is that bad? My dog is healthy!”

In the title, I said “I am guilty of it and so are you.” This is true. I am, but I have changed. LOL

With my first dog, I’ve vowed to never give him table food or human food because I saw what my mom did. She literally fed our dog on her own plate at the table in her own chair…

I saw how she begged and thought that all human food was hers and I vowed to not have my dog beg AT ALL. So, I didn’t give him human food. I even trained him with a phrase. If he was begging I would say, “No human food!” He would immediately stop and look away.

Then my second dog came and I stayed true. It all went downhill with the third dog…

We all know what happens with roommates and not necessarily going along with the rules. However, it wasn’t all her because both of my dogs LOVE food and it was so easy to let them just lick the plate after eating. Better than a dishwasher! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t give them a large amount of human food, but they know what it tastes like!

The reason for this article is because we have recently started training two Service Dogs for children with autism. Pawsitism Inc. Service Dogs. Everyone was SHOCKED to hear that I have not given them an ounce of table scraps or human food!

I learned from my mistake and realized that if I didn’t want these dogs begging and getting into everything, I needed to not give them any type of food outside of the treats that they’re getting for training. Also, they had sensitive stomachs anyway so adding random food would’ve been even worse.

I definitely counsel my students in class on how to avoid giving their dogs human food and table scraps. They do however get nervous when I tell them about jackpot rewards such as string cheese, hotdogs, summer sausage, etc. I don’t classify these as human food or table scraps because they are used for a specific purpose.

I had one client who said that he would make pot roast and make a plate for him and then also make a plate for his dog. We all know what this led to. His dog was gaining weight and becoming unhealthy due to all of the extra protein that was not needed. His vets even told him that his dog needed to lose weight.. He told me “He gives me those eyes! It’s really hard to say no!”

I understand. I get it. When a dog looks at you with those puppy dog eyes and “asks” please, it is a very tempting offer.

The professional advice that I give, and what I am trying to stay true to myself, is to avoid giving your dog human food and table scraps. Jackpot rewards are fine and will not transfer into normal begging, but if you start to let your dog lick off of your plate and give them human food while eating, they will start to decide that begging is an amazing thing that gets them the reward that they want. Once they start begging, it is really hard to stop.

Every time we work with the Service Dogs and we stop to get food or even eat in a restaurant where food is being served about their heads, they could care less. They lay down, go to sleep and act wonderfully. This is so different from my experience even this morning where I made an English McMuffin and while eating it and watching TV my dog was LITERALLY sitting in front of me drooling and taking turns staring at me and staring at my food.

Did I give him any? Nope!

If you are struggling with your dog begging, stealing food or getting into the trash, we recommend that you bring your dog to professional training classes with RUFF Academy. Find a class that works for you, register online, and even pay online! Start your training class today and leave your dogs begging in the past!

Rescues: what they do incorrectly, what they can improve on…”behaviorally speaking”

So before everybody gets their panties in a wad, this post is NOT bashing rescues. I work with them frequently. However, as a professional behaviorist and dog trainer, I have seen a lot of the same issues arise.

Let’s start with what rescues do right:

  1. They have passion.
  2. They want to save lives.
  3. They DO save lives.
  4. They help educate people about how a rescue is just as good as getting a puppy from a breeder.
  5. They take care of everything from the vaccinations, spay/neuter, heart worm and flea and tick.
  6. They place importance on a good forever home.

Now what rescues can improve on:

  1. They need to include a training program into their business model.
  2. They need to include a behaviorist on staff or as a lead volunteer.
  3. Fosters need to be trained on how to train a dog from A to Z and watch for “specific” behaviors.
  4. All dogs need to be REQUIRED to go through a training program before AND AFTER adopted, even including puppies.
  5. All rescue dogs need to have a professional assessment done by a behaviorist before being adopted.

As you can notice, the positive things that rescues have going for them is that they are passionate. They are full of people who want to save lives. They are so passionate in fact, that their main focus is saving a life and not always thinking about the trauma that has happened while in the life that they rescued.

So this is the thing, when I started out as a trainer doing professional classes, I didn’t think rescues were any different than regular dogs. A dog is a dog and any of them can learn anything. I was wrong.

When I started working with rescue organizations, I started seeing that rescue dogs are 100% different than the average Fido. So many of them have fear issues, socialization problems, no foundation, traumatic events causing them to have a hard time coping, and all around they just have a harder time in life initially.

This doesn’t mean that they can’t be taught, they can’t be a great dog and in the end live a wonderful life. What it does mean, is that they go through things a little bit slower, need more time and in the end require more effort on the rescuer side along with the adopter.

Let’s face it, most people who want a dog, want a dog that isn’t broken. However, the thought of “rescuing” a dog is almost like an aphrodisiac to where they can confidently say to their friends and family “I saved a life.” They can then go on and on with their friends and family on the previous history of the dog and how if they would not have stepped in, the dog would have died by euthanasia or had starved to death. It’s a great story, but usually the end of that story doesn’t involve them saying “and because of all this Pup has been through, I DEFINITELY need to start training with RUFF Academy!

It would be wonderful if that was the case, unfortunately it is not. Don’t get me wrong, I now have a very large percentage of rescue dogs that come through classes which I’m really happy to see. The numbers have definitely gone up from when I first started and now it’s about 50% that is Rescue in classes. My puppy play house is usually all puppies that people got from a breeder, but all my basic obedience classes are mixed with rescues along with general dogs.

The people that attend classes recognized that the dog needed a helping hand. They also knew that they had to build a relationship with these dogs in order to be successful down the line. Some of them have had dogs with me in the past and now acquired a rescue and it was just second nature for them to come through classes.

So the dogs in classes are great, they may take a little bit of time but in the end they do amazing. The owners are happy, they recognized the dog has weaknesses and faults, but in the end they except it and love the dog nonetheless.

The issue, and one of the reasons why I am writing this article, is that I hear too many stories of dogs that have been adopted and then brought back to the rescue for many reasons.

The most common reasons are: the dog destroys parts of the home, shows aggression towards one member of the family, is “too scared,” dog urinates/defecated in the house on the first day, and more ridiculous things such as that. The number one reason why Dog’s come back is because of “behavioral issues.”

This is where it gets a little tricky. What rescues do initially is bring dogs up, provide an assessment before adoption, provide a foster if not adopted out right away and then adopt them out.


They train Fosters on basics and train how to be a foster until the dog is adopted. Let’s face it, rescues don’t have a lot of time for dog training because some rescues main focus is is to bring up large amounts of dogs at a time and find them homes so that they can do it again in a couple weeks. The main focus is saving the dogs from where their getting them from rather than taking a group of dogs and going through additional steps and taking that extra time.

We’ve all heard the horrific stories about how so many shelters down south are euthanizing thousands of dogs a month due to overpopulation, no spay/neuter and stray dogs being dropped off on a regular basis. Due to this “craziness” everyone is trying to Save dogs from being euthanized. The problem is that they focus so much on saving dogs that the behavioral training goes out the window.

Obviously, they are not bringing back horribly aggressive dogs full of infections and disease such as mange or heartworm. Those things are always checked. (What I do know is that I would not want to be the one having to decide who to take and who to leave. That alone would make it so I could not sleep at night.)

What they are doing is dogs come back to the rescue and have to be put into a foster home or adopted right away which is probably a complete 360 change from where they were before. They have to adapt, trust (which they’ve never had to do before in their life), and somehow be able to transition into a wonderful dog with no problems to then be adopted by a happy family.

Is this realistic?

As a professional behaviorist, it is not realistic at all. It is setting the dog up to fail. What doesn’t set the dog up to fail is taking time to transition from where it was to where it is now. Being assessed after its had time to transition, going through training to build confidence and leadership and then properly going into a foster home with no traumatic issues. The end result then is a wonderful adoption with a wonderful family. This takes anywhere from 4-6 months PER DOG. Most rescues can’t wait that long. They need to adopt out so they can get more dogs and feed their business. Save more lives.

What I like to see are the rescues that don’t take on tons of dogs. They have a limit and they stick to it and just focus on those dogs. They take the time, help the dog achieve great things and take their time finding the right family that fits the dog. They do training, help the transition and adjustment be positive and get to know the dog. Some stay in foster for months before they even THINK about adoption. They focus on success, not speediness.

Some rescues even send their dogs into programs for Pet Therapy or Service dog which is phenomenal!

The realistic side of it is that when you were working on making sure that your product is a good product, training is a huge thing. I don’t mean to demean Dogs and call them “Products”, but really as a rescue you have to think of it as a business. Your “business” is making sure that you are providing good dogs to good families free of behavior issues.

On the other spectrum, the family is adopting rescue dogs also have a responsibility. The responsibility is making sure that they understand the dog probably has some faults, need time and training, and it is their job to do all of those things. The dogs that go back to the rescue because of ridiculous excuses, those family should not be allowed to have a dog until they understand their TRUE responsibility.

Just recently, I have started a flyball class at another training facility. I drive an hour and a half to get there, but in the end it is worth it. Do I watch the other people in class and think about what they can do differently, sure you bet. However, I am there as a participant and not a trainer and I participate. I don’t tell everybody I am a trainer, I don’t brag about what I know, I don’t tell people what they should be doing, I just participate in the class. I see rescues and hear their stories, I just smile and get to know the people.

Training should be a part of everyone’s life. It should definitely be a part of a rescue organizations world and business model. If it’s not, the rescue will suffer behaviorally.

What they do right is they care and they are passionate. What they can improve on is learning more about dog behavior and helping the dog transition better. If they understand behavior, they can educate the adopter on what to look for and give them proper rules to follow. If the adopter fails to listen, that’s not on the rescue as they did what they could. The rescue will just take the dog back and find a better home.

As a professional trainer, I like to go to other training facilities and learn new things to help me grow. Rescues should strive to continue to grow their knowledge on behavior and definitely seek out trainers and behaviorists to help with this.

If you have a rescue and you are looking to get some inside help or advice, we are the place to go! We not only give you a rescue discount of 20% off classes and private training, but we also understand what a rescue Dogs world is all about. We take time, are compassionate and want to help.

Go to to sign up for classes and if you are not sure where to start, sign up for a FREE Private in-home consultation with one of our trainers! We can assess your dog and let you know what your steps are moving forward!

See you in class!


So many dogs don’t do well when another dog comes directly at them. Some even get frustrated when another dogs LOOKS at them. How dare they!!!!

When working with clients, I always try to reassure them that a large amount of dogs honestly hate face to face interaction. When the dogs have a chance to sniff the butt first while circling and get out of it when done, things are ten times better.

The next thing to factor in is if the dog is on leash, can they be ok with confrontation. Most dogs have issues with this. When they are off leash, they can rush in and rush out if needed. Get out quickly if they feel unsure. On leash they can’t. They end up panicking and then this results in a confrontation which can lead to a fight.

Think of an amped up situation between two people. If they can “choose” to cool off, a confrontation can be diffused. However, if the confrontation is in a tight area, response is usually the case. With dogs it is flight or fight. If they feel “stuck” it’s fight. If flight isn’t available, they fight. It’s survival at its finest.

So knowing that a straight on approach or confrontation usually receives a response, this is where behaviorally things have to be retaught so the dog can “trust” that not every confrontation will be the same.

Teaching new skills can be done, however, the dog decides when it “trusts” that every situation doesn’t equal confrontation. This means it has to have a ton of positive energy regularity with greetings to not have anxiety creep it’s ugly head into the scenario and bounce back into bad habits.

Positive socialization and good energy wins in the end again. Once good mindset is achieved and anxiety is not the contributing factor, the dog can start to think clearly and in its own to not expect the worst, but be ok with it being what it is.

It’s so hard because we don’t have positive social experiences at our disposal at any time and things need to be controlled to show continued value to the training. This is where a professional, some time and patience is the key. If the time is put in, it can be achieved and greetings can be more successful!

If you struggle with this, make sure to contact a trainer right away and set up your free in-home consult right away! We will take it from there!

Is that an electric collar? Why yes it is! This why I love them for some reasons and I will tell you why!

There are a lot of myths when it comes to training tools and what you should and should not use. I’m not going to get into a long debate about every different training tool and how it should be used properly, I’m just going to talk about one today. The electronic collar.

I used to work at PetSmart for almost 8 years as an Area Trainer and taught other trainers how to be Dog Trainers. I did a pretty good job. The only problem is, that I only trained them a certain way and did not teach them about all different types of train tools. Part of the reason was I didn’t know about all of them.

Now I do. I have pretty much used almost every single training tool that is out there. One of the reasons why I’ve done that is because that way I know how to educate other people about it. How can you confidently train people on how to use their training tools if you don’t know about them?

So, my quick chat today is regarding electronic collars that you would use to help work on boundary training, behavioral modification and specific training scenarios such as the related story today… a gentleman in his 70s with a 100 pound one-year-old black Labrador Retriever named Max.

This training client has a happy and rambunctious large black lab that has no idea of boundary and had to come up with a game plan. He had already pulled his owner down causing him to bruise his ribs. Thank goodness this owner has an awesome fenced in yard so the dog still has opportunity to be able to run around!

If it wasn’t for that, the lab would probably be beside himself and overstimulated all the time.

So, after assessing his strength, the frail nature of his dad and the end result needed, I tried a couple products that worked for me, but wouldn’t for him.

The one item that worked was an electronic collar. Max responded really nicely to it and I hardly had to do a thing and he followed me nicely, heeling well and started to build a nice respect for his owner.

I showed his owner how to use it, gave him the best products and after 4 sessions, I was pleasantly surprised when arriving at our appointment today.

I showed up and the owner was sitting in front of his house like usual and guess who also was there? Max! Max was off leash, hanging out with his owner in the front yard!

I was absolutely overjoyed and super impressed. I was even more impressed when he told me that for the last week he has taken him for two walks a day around the block! ON A FLAT COLLAR AND 6 FT LEASH!

By using the electronic collar in a responsible way, Max’s owner felt confident enough to take it upon himself to go for walks and even practice off leash work in the front yard!

As I finished my session today and I pulled away hearing him say “Come Max,” and seeing Max say “Ok!” and trot toward him happily, it made me so happy and proud to know that Max’s owner now sees Max’s training as achievable, that he can enjoy him more as the fun dog he is. As an added bonus, his home now has no gates blocking everything and his behavior is much better.

For the sake of a frail man in his 70s with control needed quickly, this was the best solution and will make a difference with safety and reliability. 🙂

For more information on how to use an electronic ecollar and how your dog can benefit from training, Contact is at We can help!

Aches & Pains with Socialization and Adult Dogs

So, you get a dog, you think nothing but wonderful thoughts and maybe you were even told some really good things to make you not think that anything bad can happen…

and then things start to happen…

You see issues with other dogs, people, aggression, assertiveness, or possibly fear-based behaviors. Plus, it isn’t always the same instance and you can’t see consistently the same thing happen every time.

You sit down in your chair and think “How did this happen?” “Do I need to take him/her back?” “Did I get a bad dog?”

Your next step is to get mad at the person who gave you the dog and think what on earth happened? What did they do to the dog?

You were told the dog was good with other dogs, good with kids, good when out in public.

What you’re actually finding is that none of these things are true. It may even go as far is you were told that the dog was cat tested and it is clearly a lie.

You took on the responsibility of a new dog thinking it was going to be like all the others, but now you found that it is not like the others and can you handle it?

Let’s throw another side wrench to this equation and say you have had a dog for years and suddenly your seeing the dog in a different light due to a life change, dog change or transition. Your life is turned upside down within a short period of time. Now what do you do?

This is the thing, most dogs are going to require work. However, one thing that suffers the most with rescue dogs or dogs that are rehomed through a rescue or from the Internet is SOCIALIZATION has been limited or done incorrectly. Behavior isn’t noticed right away and can become worse over time.

So what do you do?

Here’s some facts.

The best time to properly socialize and desensitize a dog is under six months. So from 10 weeks to six months, the amount of change in a dog make up sexually and maturely is huge. Plus, everything that happens to them is happening for the first time so the dog is building it’s knowledge based on memories and scenarios. Which means, if it has negative scenarios it learns to avoid those items and if it has positive experiences it learns to be confident.

If a dog is around a lot of dogs in a positive way for a long period of time, they’re going to see Dog’s as a positive thing. If they’re around kids from early on and have a lot of positive experiences with kids, they’re going to think kids are great.

On the flipside, if the dog is rarely around other dogs or is rarely around kids, the specific experiences that it has had is based on it’s knowledge on the subject. Example: It has three experiences with dogs and only one was positive, it may not feel as confident about dogs. It has three experiences with children and two of those experiences involved negative circumstances, the dog may start to shy away from children thinking they all are the same.

Regarding ownership and training, the dog only knows what is has been taught and how things are run at home. Things don’t change if there isn’t concern seen. Over time, symptoms become worse due to habit.

Does genetics matter?

Yes, genetics play a valuable role. If genetically, the dog was nervous and scared when it was a puppy and then it has two negative experiences with dogs, it’s going to show even more fear-based behaviors. If genetically, it is happy go lucky and does not have confidence issues and it has two negative experiences with dogs he can still have a positive outcome. Why? I will tell you.

The more balanced a dog is, the better they can handle situations. If a dog is unsure, insecure, or fearful when it’s a puppy it’s confidence in negative situations would be little to none. If a dog is happy go lucky and has a couple negative experiences, it can have a positive outlook primarily because it is not as emotionally affected as it does not have fear-based perceptions.

Now, let’s race forward through time and now a dog is three years old. The puppy who was insecure, unsure and had fear-based behaviors would be just the same if not more and probably not as social. The happy go lucky puppy who is a lot more confident will be even more confident.

Most owners do not think that they need to do anything behaviorally with a dog that is shy or nervous, most think they will just grow out of it and they will be just fine. Reality of the subject is that that dog needs to be guided and shown positive experiences in order to have more faith and trust in the environment. This will then help confidence grow to where the dog will be a lot happier and do better in life.

This is the problem. Most owners do not see issues until the dog is in an adult phase. Once the dog has come into an adult phase and is no longer a puppy who wants to play all the time or a puppy who is scared all the time, they start to see behaviors that are more assertive or reactive. They then become more concerned because obviously the damage when done would be much more harsh than if the dog was a puppy. This also means that socializing a dog to its full potential is a lot more difficult and can be extremely time-consuming. Even behaviors like pack order or “bullying” can increase over time because they were “allowed” to do it without the owner realizing it was happening.

Important factors in tools in resocialize and balance a dog include:

  1. A balanced pack of dogs that are not reactive
  2. A behaviorist to understand how to show proper socialization techniques to the new dog in the pack
  3. Time, lots of time
  4. Positive associations and memories with each training session
  5. The correct training tools in order to achieve this.

The most important one on that list is #3. Making up for lost time or building a foundation to a dog that has not had it from the beginning takes lots of time. Depending on the time frame it may not be ideal or work out in that same atmosphere.

As I always tell my clients, it takes one day to learn a bad habit and 27 days to undo that bad habit. Now, think about how many YEARS this dog has been habitually being fearful, scared or insecure. Or how long that dog has been bullying other dogs. The dog is now trying to use that fear as its primary motivator and reason for doing everything.

Think about “superstitions” or “habits” a baseball player has before they go to a game. The player will only wear the same underwear, they will only use a certain bat, they will not say a certain phrase or word the day of the game. Why are these things done? Over time while playing baseball, they learn that certain things work and certain things don’t. They get into habits based on what happens from those activities. They learn that if they sway from this routine and ritual that bad things will happen. So they get into habits.

This is the same with dogs. They learned that if they stay in their comfort zone and don’t go outside of their comfort zone that they can control their life and results. The problem is that if they choose negative scenarios to help them feel better they only grow in a negative way.

Sample, if they learn to bark at someone when they come in through the door as a puppy and it keeps that person at arms length away and no one corrects them, they start to do it more as they grow out of habit. Eventually, they bark enough to where the person can’t even come into the room. They have now manifested that survival skill to help them when really it only made them more nervous and now they are even more scared than when they were little. The scary item when they were a puppy has now grown into a full-size ogre wanting to come after them. (When in theory it is nothing.)

Hopefully now you understand with socialization and behaviors that these things need to be handled right away. A dog that is fearful or insecure or scared, the change isn’t gonna happen overnight it may not even happen over a couple years. Depending on the severity, it could take a lifetime.

For dogs that have acquired a habit based on years of activities, it is going to take more than just a bag of treats to change their mind. You have to retrain the mind which is very difficult. Plus, is the dog going to be open to this change since it could require a complete life change for both of you?

I have come across so many clients lately hitting the 3 year mark with their pups and suddenly things are changing. Behaviors are developing they didn’t see before and now there are questions on behavior and if it can be resolved.

The answer? I can’t tell you. It is different based on every dog. What I CAN tell you is that if you can understand WHY the dog is doing what it is doing and ACCEPT that, you are a lot closer to a happier dog and a happier you. It will also take patience, time and commitment to truly learn how to move forward which is why you MUST consult a behaviorist. Someone who can explain to you what is happening.

The rest is up to you!

And your dog of course! For more information on training, follow this blog and check out or website If you need a private consultation, schedule one online and a trainer will come to your home and have a discussion with you after meeting your dog.

Woof! Woof!

Some just like the pull

Back when I had my first dog, I liked the pull. I got Sam from a humane society, was given a flex lead along with adoption and thought, “Well that’s cool, he can go far!” I even had a routine down where he would be out in front and when an intersection came up (I lived in town at the time,) I would say “Sit! Sit! Sit!” By the third Sit! he would be in a sit waiting for me to come to the corner.

I thought it was cool, others watching it thought it was cool and we lived happily ever after…

Until I started watching dogs beautifully walk NEXT to their owners on a walk with little to no effort and wanted that. I tried, however, Sam wanted to be way up in front. That’s what I had taught him. That’s what he knew. So getting him back into the heel position next to me was not easy.

We actually compromised with him being a bit ahead of me, but not pulling. It was fine, as he got older and slowed down, he cane into the heel spot easier, however, he still preferred the spot out in front the best.

Now, almost 20 years later, as a professional trainer I prefer the heel next to me position rather than way out in front. I have tried doing the out in front of me position, but they just sway back and forth, pull whenever they want and having two 74 pound dogs it is way different. If I had two Pugs I would be good!

I watch other owners let their dogs “pull” them down the street, “pull” them around food trucks, use harnesses that give no support for good walking and try to help. We have good training tools and follow through now in place and people enjoy our classes. “Loose leash walking” is not really something we teach anymore as it is more about finding the right tool to have a nice respectful relationship with no pulling.

We recommend starting with a long line and practice turning and focus work(similar to Loose Leash walking,) and then bring the dog in closer. Using treats to reinforce and teach them to pay attention to you helps. Using items like Gentle Leaders and Easy Walk Harnesses can help using proper leash pressure and of course the quickest way is the extra small prong. It has immediate results using slight pressure and reinforcement with treats.

There is definitely good ways and bad ways to walk your dog and I see them everyday. Honestly, I truly think that some owners “like the pull.” They like their dog being out front and center and feel they are giving them more “freedom” that way. Structure isn’t part of walking their dog, they like to see them run and frolic out front while they smile and take in the scenery.

That’s ok. As long as they are happy, all is well. I just hope that when their dog sees a squirrel and decides to dart across the road or their dog sees another dog and decides to wrap themself around the owner causing rope burn that the owner just laughs and says “Oh Milo, silly dog” as they are laying on the ground thinking how did this happen? Now they can think of me!

Training, consistency and routine.

For information regarding how to improve your walking skills, training tools to help walks get better, feedback and advice, go to our website or check out the videos on our RUFF Academy YouTube Channel!

Animal Communicator

Recently, I was at an event. The event had fun activities and was set at a fun place. Baby goats jumping on people, beer & Cheese being enjoyed and a nice sunny day. There was also an animal Communicator by the name of Lois Reetz.

I was excited she was there because I wanted to ask her about the service Pups. As some know, we are training service dogs for children with autism and this year we started with our very first two. Isa is a Golden Doodle and we got her at 9 weeks old and Finne is an English Cream Golden Retriever and we got him at 8 weeks old. Both are from reputable breeders and have amazing temperaments.

As a trainer, I always wonder if the dogs are happy. I was wonder if they enjoy what they’re doing. I enjoy what I’m doing, but being a service dog is a big responsibility and a big commitment.

So, I asked the animal communicator about both of them and this is what she said:

Isa was destined to be a service dog even before she was born. This explains to me why when I ask her to do something, I can see her literally rolling her eyes. She already knows this, she already knows what she needs to do but she is humoring me.

Finne says that he is having fun and likes it, but he isn’t sure why. He also asked why he couldn’t “keep” Sarah his puppy raiser. She said that in his future, she sees pink bows in his hair which to me means that the child he’s going to end up with is going to be dressing him up for a tea party. This is adorable.

I asked her about behavioral things which made sense and also chatted with her about my own dog who had passed years and years ago. I found her to be quite truthful and a lot of fun to talk to. I saw others at the event also enjoy talking to her and finding information about their dogs as well.

If you haven’t spoke with one, I encourage it! She will be at our next event this next month on September 22nd at 3 Sheeps from 11-3pm!!