Everyday Needs

Tomorrow is July 4th, the day when the most dogs run away from home out of fear. To help make July 4th an enjoyable day for your dog instead of a terrorizing one, follow these tips:

1) Be aware of your emotions on the days leading up to the holiday. Are you nervous, anxious or fearful because your dog will feel it and think that something bad is coming. Instead, stay cool, stay calm and think thoughts of leadership to help communicate to your dog that nothing out of the ordinary is going to happen.

2) Take your dog on a REALLY long walk on the morning of July 4th (like 2 hours ending at the dog park). Add a backpack loaded with water bottles if you have one. Take your dog for a long swim at the beach. Get him as tired as you know how so that when the excitement begins (family, BBQ, laughter, fireworks, etc), he will be too tired to respond.

3) If your dog is fearful, put him on a leash and attach the leash to your belt loop. Don’t talk to him, pet him, or feel sorry for him, just keep chill and pretend like he’s not there. This will show your dog that there’s nothing to worry about because the pack leader isn’t worried about it.

4) If you don’t have the mental ability to ignore your dog through calm, assertive leadership and you suspect that your dog will have a really hard time with the fireworks, consider boarding your dog at a vet’s clinic so that your dog can stay safe and contained  instead of bolting.

Have a safe and happy 4th! Happy Birthday, America!

Lead your dog!

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My little Emma Penelope is now 6 months old–Wow, how time flies! It has been an amazing journey so far, and I am looking forward to even more that God is going to teach me through this little one.

We ended up giving Princeton to our friend’s  in Kentucky because I wasn’t able to give him as much exercise as he needed. Nothing bad happened to cause us to want to re-home him, but when I realized that it would be better for everyone involved including him, it just made sense. Sounds like he’s getting plenty loved on. Click here to see Princeton with his new family: http://karicorsi.blogspot.com/2012/02/we-are.html

Meanwhile, Mr. Bennett has adjusted great to being Emma’s…brother/pack member/kindly Uncle. He is a faithful companion to her when she’s in her highchair (wonder why) and lays next to her in the sunshine. He gently but firmly keeps other dogs away from her at the dog park (it’s quite sweet actually, but I am careful not to let him get too bossy). Highlight of their interactions so far was that they were laying next to each other by the window and I walked away for a moment. I heard him yelping and ran back in only to find that Emma had him by the beard and he was just calling for me to help him out. He could have disciplined her like a puppy by gently using his teeth to correct her, but instead he just called for help. What a sweetie pie.

Life is pretty awesome right now I must say. Lead your dog!

A girl from church told me that she wanted to get a dog, but she had no idea what to expect because she has never owned a dog before. My suggestion was to lend her my schnauzer, Mr. Bennett, for a few days. That way she can actually see what it’s like to own a four-legged friend instead of just hearing about it. However, I knew that I couldn’t be dog-less, so I gave her Ben while I was boarding a daschund named Casey. We have been having a blast! This old man (he’s 11, but you’d never know) makes me laugh every single day. My favorite things about Casey is how he BURROWS! The dude sleeps under two fleece blankets (which he arranges and gets under by himself) and often nothing is sticking out except a nose. It’s hilarious. I love the way he scratches his long back on the floor by wiggling his butt, belly-side up. I love that often you can’t tell if he’s sitting or standing because he doesn’t get any shorter when he sits. Another precious thing about Casey? I took him over to my parent’s house and he really bonded with my sister Lizzy (she has special needs, but Casey sure didn’t know!).  Enough words. Meet the guy in photos:

He arranged these blankets himself:

Ah well. All in all, I like Daschund’s… Lead your dog!

I came across your site while I was desperately surfing the net to find someone who can help me with an issue I have with one of my dogs. My husband and I live in Dubai and we have 2 dogs mixed breed dogs that get along really well. 

One of our dogs, Bailey, is literally scared of anyone. He is fine with us petting him but he is not ok with anyone else. He was about 2 months when we got him and he was scared then. I thought it would pass by eventually.

The major problem I have with Bailey is that I can’t get him to walk on the leash, so whenever we need to take him out to the vet or grooming salon, we have to carry him! So we don’t do walks with him because he runs away whenever I take the leash. I was hoping you could guide me with some points of action.

Warm Regards,
A Concerned Owner

Dear Concerned Owner,
Thank you for your e-mail. I hope these guidelines will be of some use to you–know that they are my personal opinion and fit in with my personal training philosophy of positive reinforcement and intervention.
I had a dog who was very fearful, so I am familiar with the issues involved with fearful dogs and them “shutting down” and needing to be carried. Let me say that with fearful dogs it is all about TRUST which takes a long, long time. Take small steps, knowing that this issue is far harder to cure than aggression or dominance because of the time it takes to cure. But it is possible!! Here are some thoughts for you to consider.
1) When you pet a dog, you are rewarding their state of mind whether you mean to or not. When a baby is scared, you pick it up and comfort it, but that is not what you should do with dogs. When you pet a fearful dog you are telling him “keep being scared, and I will keep giving you attention”. It is impossible to correct fear through affection; you cannot love your dog into being unafraid. When Bailey is afraid, it is best to not give him any touch, any eye contact, or any vocal attention. Ignore the issue. By ignoring you will be transferring the message “there is nothing to worry about”. Read more about the the right time to give affection here.
2) To help Bailey with his issue of fearing people and strangers, you need to instruct visitors to not look at, touch, or talk to Bailey. Just have them completely ignore him. Dogs learn to trust through smell, then sight, then sound. Once enough visitors come through without giving any attention to Bailey at all, he will want to experience them in this order: sniffing them (continue to ignore!), then looking at them, and then being touched/talked to.
3) I agree with you, that the biggest issue is not being able to walk Bailey. The longer a dog goes without walking, the more energy he will have built up into his system, and the longer he will fight you to not have to face his fear. The first thing I would do is put a leash on him, and let him do something he loves (ex. eat, play with a ball, given a bone, etc) and don’t touch the leash, let him drag it around. He needs to associate the leash with something good, not with something bad (remember, this takes time). Then he needs to learn that wearing a leash means forward motion. In order to teach him this, you need to show him some tough love. Don’t look at him or talk to him, but apply gentle pressure to the leash (ex. pull on the leash with just two fingers). Don’t release the tension until he makes any kind of forward movement. As soon as he steps forward reward him by relaxing the tension. Then do it again, and again. Do this only inside the house until he is moving in any direction with the leash on (may take days!). Then I would carry him/drive him to an area he has never been before (he may associate outside your front door with fear since that has always been his battleground). Then do the same thing outside: apply steady pressure on the leash until he moves, then reward him by relaxing the tension. When you encounter something that makes him fearful, practice no touch, no talk, and no eye contact. Then ask him to move forward again.
Lastly, I am a firm believer in treadmills since it forces the fearful dog to move forward. If you have access to one, please read my article on treadmills!

Hope these things give you something to think about. You CAN make Bailey the dog of your dreams!

Lead your dog!

The most common type of obsessive barking occurs when a dog is focused on what it cannot reach (usually out the window or at another dog while on a leash).  It may or may not happen when you are home with your dog, but it most certainly happens when you are gone! “How can I stop my dog from barking when I’m gone?” you may wonder, and I sincerely hope that these suggestions prove beneficial to you and your neighbors!

1) Exercise. If a dog is properly exercised, the occurrences of obsessive barking are almost entirely eliminated.  Walking, jogging, or biking with your dog are the best ways to exercise since they help you relate side-to-side with your dog (which is extremely important to all canines). Other exercise forms would be fetching, a trip to the dog park, fetching up and down the stairs, or having your dog learn to ride a treadmill. I recommend at least a 30 minute walk twice a day for a barker (you can read about mastering the walk here).

2) Training.  You can train your dog not to bark out the window by taking the following steps. First, make sure your dog is exercised. Second, place a leash on your dog (preferable not a flexi-leash since you cannot give a proper leash correction with one easily). Third, purposefully create the barking scenario. You need to make the barking occur so that you can stop it in that moment (thus showing your dog what is expected of them). For example, if your dog is a leash barker, walk past lots of other dogs. If your dog is a window barker, ask a friend to walk in front of the window with their dog. Fourth, correct early on. As soon as your dog begins to become obsessed (you’re looking for level 2 excitement–don’t wait until level 10 when they are already barking like crazy) give a calm, quiet leash correction to the side (think “snap” of the leash: loose, tense for 1 second, then loose again). Give the correction when your dog’s ears go up, his tail becomes alert, or he gets anxious.  Do not become frustrated. You are teaching your dog a new concept: that barking is no longer acceptable behavior. Remember that when you discipline your dog you are disagreeing with the behavior, not with the dog personally. Fifth, repeat, repeat, repeat!

Once your dog is no longer barking with a leash correction in front of many different dogs (or window distractions), take the leash off and repeat some more. You are now teaching your dog that it cannot bark even with the leash off. Now is the time to use auditory or physical corrections (snap your fingers, say “ah-ah”, block your dog from getting closer to its target, use “the touch“, etc). It will make much more sense to your dog if you come between them and the thing you are barking–do not try to call them away. Another note: if you have more than one dog that is an obsessive barker, target the stronger one/instigator. Whenever you have two dogs, one is the leader and one is the follower. By correcting the leader/instigator first, the follower will calm down too.

3) Don’t give them reason to worry. If your dog is a alone-at-home barker, one way to diminish barking is by conveying to them the idea that it’s no big deal to be home alone, and that the home is a place of rest. You can help your dog understand this by not working them up when you come and go. Don’t say “ok, honey, Mommy’s going to leave now, but you just stay home and be a good boy!” Nonchalantly pick up your keys and go without a word to your pup. When you come home, practice no touch, no talk, no eye contact to help your dog understand that it’s no big deal when you come home either (I realize that this takes a lot of self discipline, but it IS worth it to your pet!). Feel free to love and cuddle your dog like crazy when they are being calm. Your goal as pack leader and authority figure is to promote calmness in your canine (this is what pack leaders do in the wild).

4) Authority. As you take charge of your dog by showing them that you are in control of every situation, you will see their behavior improve in other areas of life as well. All dogs want to be followers. Your dog will live a more contented, happy-go-lucky life if you don’t let them rule the roost.

Lead your dog!

Most humans take great pleasure in giving their dogs variety of food (aka people food). I don’t think the dogs think half as much about it as humans do, but I’m not opposed to you making your dog be calm and work for some after-dinner tidbits. Be aware that there are some foods that your dog should never taste.

Grapes and Raisins– cause major stomach, kidney, and renal issues

Avocados–cause upset stomach, vomiting, and pancreatitis

Garlic and onions–even in small amounts (raw or cooked) damage red blood cells, cause anemia and kidney damage

Chocolate and caffeine–causes stomachache, rapid heartbeat and seizures

Macadamia nuts–(even a few) induce vomiting, weakness, diarrhea, and rear leg paralysis

Fruit pits and seeds–cause breathing issues, seizures, and coma

If you suspect that your dog has eaten something poisonous, contact your vet asap.

Lead your dog!

I groom a lot of poodles and ‘oodles and bichon’s. I was recently asked how to keep their coat looking full since they tend to get curly and flat very quickly. The answer is the slicker brush!

A slicker brush has short metal bristles which separate the hairs. You can brush with the grain or against the grain with a slicker brush and the more you brush, the fluffier your dog will become. There is a drawback, however, and that is that the bristles are metal and therefore can make your dog uncomfortable if you brush too hard. If you brush our your wirehaired dog with a slicker brush twice a week, you will have a fluffy, mat-free puppy!

I suggest putting your dog up on a counter or table (with a leash on and always being held onto) so that they know that they are about to be groomed and not to give you any fuss. Grooming a dog on the couch or floor works too, you just need to bend over and they can easily get away from you. Pay attention to your energy and body language. Grooming your dog should be relaxing and enjoyable but if you are nervous, anxious, stressed, hyper or in a hurry, your dog will sense your unbalanced state and not be relaxed either. Breathe often, take your time, don’t talk to them unless it’s a calm “tch” to snap them out of any inappropriate behavior (trying to pull away, pulling their leg out of your hand, trying to move around, or fixating on the brush). Dogs get most uncomfortable with their front legs being brushed, so go slowly and gently. Try to get as close to the skin as possible. It is common for owners to brush out their dogs on the surface, but if you examine the coat closely, it is still matted underneath. Brushing on top of a mat is painful to your dog and is often the reason why they fuss when being brushed. Brushing frequently helps eliminate this issue. (Don’t forget to sanitize your counter or table when you’re done!)

If you find a mat or knot in your dog’s coat, cut it out immediately. Knots start off harmlessly enough, but they work themselves closer and closer to your dog’s skin, pulling and itching them to the point where they can make your dog bleed. Avoid this issue by chopping them out asap. Trouble areas for mats include: inside the ear, where the ear connects to the head, armpits, and thigh/belly.

Lastly, keep an eye on the hair that grows in your dog’s ears. It needs to come out to avoid mixing with the ear wax and forming a knot (super uncomfortable for your dog and your groomer). Just pull it out with your fingers–it comes out super easily and doesn’t hurt your dog at all.

Lead your dog!

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