Hope’s Story

This is Hope, the doggo formally known as Africa πŸ™‚ This super sweet girl came to me because between caring for her ill husband, two babies, 98 year old grandma, and her father with dementia, her previous owner just could not afford the time and attention Hope needed to be trained and held accountable.

Hope has spent the better part of the last year outdoors since she is such a high energy dog. One of her favorite past times is running into everybody – adult and child alike – with all the excitement and energy that is in her, and knocking them over. This became a real problem when her former owner was 8 months pregnant.

Since coming to me, she has shown quite a bit of nervousness and a reluctance to be pet. While some dogs just don’t like being pet, I really think her concern comes from being in a new environment around new dogs. She has only been around one other dog her entire life – a small rat terrior/dachshund mix. She has shown quite a bit of reluctance towards my larger personal dogs, but seems to warm up more quickly towards the smaller dogs that here for training and boarding.

Currently, Hope is a quiet calm pup. However, this is what I call the honeymoon period. Every dog goes through this for about two weeks. They are new the house, to the people, to other dogs, and they really don’t know what to expect from any of this. So they are on their best behavior…. Until. Until they become more comfortable. Until they have had time to really study each person and each dog and get a feel for what they can get away. This is where we are with Hope. So while she is still trying figure me out, I am putting down rather strict rules and structure.

I believe I will be able to begin looking for Hope’s forever home within the next three weeks, but we will have to see how things develop during her honeymoon period. How will she really be with other dogs? That is my biggest concern. The list of things we will be addressing as pretty standard and pretty basic:

Jumps on people
Steals food/objects/trash
pulls on leash
chews furniture/property
darts out doors/gates
excessive attention seeking
threatening/growling at other animals
jumps on furniture
understands but will not obey

Watch Hope’s story, and be a part in helping her find her next home. If you know anybody who is looking for their next family member, mention Hope.

Benson: Final Post

With all that has been going on, and the business of it all, I failed to post when Benson found his home. My daughter has always been fond of Benson, and towards the end of October everything worked out so that she was able to give him a forever home. It looks like a perfect match. Congratulations Erin, Drew, and Benson!

Annie: Day 334

It’s official. Annie is ready to begin looking for her forever home! This girl has come such a long way, and I am super proud of her.

When she came to me almost a year ago, Annie had a potential for aggressiveness along with severe separation anxiety. In situations that caused anxiety, she would show her teeth and growl, but there are zero bites on her record. During this time, I have worked with Annie and to help her get past these issues and gain confidence. For this reason, Annie is looking for a home where there are no children. Additionally, her new owner MUST agree to an owner training session before taking her home that will be 1 1/2 – 2 hours long. During this session, the new owner will learn the structure that Annie needs to maintain a balanced emotional and psychological state and how to use both the prong collar and e-collar that she has been trained on. We will also take a walk at the park and transfer leadership to the new owner which will make transitioning into her new home easier on both Annie and her new owner. Annie does exceptionally well with other dogs and cats, so a multi-animal home would be fine. There will be a “rehoming fee” that actually covers the cost of her e-collar. This is non-negotiable as it has been part of the solution that has brought balance. I will happily agree to a one month trail period.

Quite a while ago, I made an update on my Facebook page, but failed to post it here on the blog. I will include it below. To see more videos of Annie’s progress, please go to my YouTube channel ( https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCMwZQ9Caz-jo9GyIkojEuug ) and type “Annie” into the search bar. You can also find videos of Annie dispersed throughout my Facebook page.

October 8:
Miss Annie has been a very challenging dog to work with. She has been with us for about 8 months now, and if I have learned anything, I have learned just how stubborn she is. As long is everything is going the way she thinks it should be, Annie is a perfect sweetheart. But if you try telling her to do something she doesn’t want to do, she lets you know her disapproval by showing teeth and growling.

The truly most difficult task she has had to work past is settling in the crate. For the first two weeks, she would literally hurt herself trying to escape. At night, I had to have a baby monitor on Annie that would alert me to when she was trying to escape. From there, it took another several months to get her past barking and whining in the crate after she knew I had left the house. Now the ONLY crate issue we are having (and it really isn’t even the crate) is the noise making when we get off of what she believes is her schedule (a late feeding, not going outside at the exact time every day, etc). This stuff has less to do with crate and more to do with being bossy and pushy.

I took a time out from Annie’s obedience training to really work on the crate since it was so vital to her mental and emotional health (getting her past the separation anxiety). Now we are picking it all back up. I am almost beginning as if she hasn’t had any training at all – almost. No e-collar yet, just the prong collar.

Today she reviewed sit and I immediately put some distance, duration, and distraction into it. Since sit is something we have had her do before going through any threshold on a multiple times a day basis, she also received correction if she didn’t feel like complying. She still showed me her disapproval by redirecting on (biting) the leash. Through the obedience work, there this final piece of the puzzle will finally be addressed. I am hoping she will he ready for a new home in 3-5 weeks.

October 20:
Annie is working much more willingly. There is a bit more pep in her step and her overall attitude is more perky. I have put more distance between us as we work on the beginning phase of recall.

In the very recent past, after having extended time out of her crate, Annie would throw a vocal fit when it was time to return. That too seems to have disappeared. I hope this is a trend that continues.


Those who follow me pretty closely will remember Benson. He came to me for training last year at 8 months old for three weeks to learn some obedience commands and to learn how to let go of some major reactive tendencies. He has been doing very well. He is no longer resource guarding his food. He is super obedient and no longer barks nor lunges at people, inanimate objects, or cars. …until a little before December.

In December, I boarded Benson for about a week, and was told about his new reactive tendencies towards other dogs. He is just aggressive with certain dogs – lunging at them on leash, and chasing after them if one approaches while he is off-leash. So, for that week, I worked with him and sent him and his owner home with a session that showed her how to handle Benson and continue his progress. She has done a great job, but there was an accident.

Last week, Benson was able to escape his house and attacked another dog in the process. Because of this accident, he has been classified as a “hazardous animal.” His owner is rightfully worried about him and the care he needs. (She has a very demanding lifestyle right now as she is working towards getting her Masters.) If Benson has another incident, the city in which this occurred will have him put down. She struggled quite a bit with her options, but ultimately decided to put Benson through the Rescue to Rehab program.

For the next several weeks, I will be working to stop Benson’s aggressive behavior towards other dogs, and get him into a frame of mind where he can just exist around them. I am not looking for him to like every dog he comes across – that’s asking a lot of anybody. But if I can get him to ignore and exist around other dogs, I just might be able to find him a home that can continue the work he needs.

I will do my best to keep Benson’s story updated. Please follow along. πŸ™‚

Louie – Day Fifteen (Final Entry)

After the last couple of weeks of working with Louie, I think he is going to make an amazing pet for somebody. He has not shown any anxiety about being separated from Lacy, and he has taken to the kennel very well. He does have a tendency towards fear, but a large part of that could be due to his age. Louie is 8 months old. The second fear stage in a puppy’s life can happen anytime between 8 and 16 months of age. During this time, a puppy may show caution or fear towards different people, objects, or situations. If their experience is positive, confidence will be built, but if it is negative, it can set the tone for a response for the rest of their lives.

In addition to the fear stage, Louie is also going through the rebellious teenager stage. As training has progressed, there have been times when he has shown a disinterest in working. This seems to happen when there is the distraction of another person or dog in the next room that he would rather be interacting with. During those times it is as if he has dug his heels in the mud refusing to be moved. I have had to turn the e-collar up as high as 20 to get him to cooperate. With gentle, clear, and consistent “yes’s” and “no’s”, Louie will come out on the other side of the stage of life being very happy to work alongside his handler in a sound confident manner.

Besides these seemingly stage of life issues, Louie shows a very classic Golden Retriever personality. He is extremely gentle and genuinely happy to receive affection – and to give it. He will be ready to find a new home as soon as he completes his obedience training. I’m hoping that will be in a couple more weeks, but I am taking my time with him.

In the last two weeks, he has had several sessions. He understands sit, down, and place. We have begun working on duration and a little distraction. He has gone from looking for every opportunity to sneak away from the place command to sitting still as long as there isn’t a distraction. As soon as a distraction comes into the room, though, he is up. He still has a long way to go in that department. You can tell when he is really fighting his impulses as he shivers. He is doing a fantastic job of sitting and waiting for permission to go through thresholds in both doorways and before going into or exiting his crate. He is also heeling very well so far. (We have yet to try walking past other dogs or high sources of distraction.) Louie has also quit trying to use excitement as a ploy to get out of working and to cover any nervousness he has.

There is a video of some of the work he has done below. I will post more in the next blog post.

Annie: Day Thirty-six

Annie is doing a fantastic job getting over her separation anxiety. She is just fine in her crate in a room by herself. She no longer makes noise at all unless she needs to use the bathroom (and with her schedule, that doesn’t happen very often), and of course that means she is no longer trying to break out. Since that has started melting away though, I am finding new problems popping up under the surface. Her owner told me of Annie’s fear issues to new objects in the house or when things have been moved out of place in the house along with her aggressive reaction to times when she had done something wrong, but I have found that she also becomes reactive to things over her head.

Additionally, twice in the last two weeks I have tried to give her affection by either giving her extra pets or by playing with her when she finally offered it, and both times she proved to me that she just is not yet ready for it. The first time, I had offered Annie some extra attention and petting during a training session. She had been doing well, but immediately following the affection she began refusing to work. I gave her a correction with the e-collar and she immediately became combative. She was given a pretty high correction for that and affection has been removed. Her willingness to work has been excellent for each session after that one. (Videos below)

The second time I offered affection was through play. After using the bathroom, she offered to play with me by basically running to and from me (almost a tag type situation). We came in and met Angus (my regular daycare/boarding client) at the door. Up until this point, there has been ZERO indication of ANY kind of problems with ANY of the dogs in the house – including Angus. Angus had come through the front door, Annie was getting attention from me and Angus’s owner, and when he came back to check in with what was going on, she snarled and snapped at him. This was definitely a resource guarding situation. She was getting attention and didn’t want to share. As it turns out, not only is Annie fearful and full of anxiety, she is also a bit bratty. So, Annie is not ready for affection yet.


Sweet Louie is having a rough time. One of his owners has suffered a stroke leaving the other owner very little time to love and care for him. He is a super sweet boy that has some anxiety along with the typical Golden Retriever hyperactivity. In addition to all of this, he was recently diagnosed with hip dysplasia in both hips. I have a feeling this is going to make it very difficult to re-home him.

He came to me with his sister. Many of you will remember Lacy. She has already found another home, but is here just for a refresher in her training and to build a little more confidence before she goes to that home. The suspicion is that once she is gone, Louie is going to go through some separation anxiety.

I have had to order another crate for Louie, so he is currently in the same room as Lacy. As soon as the crate arrives (in a couple of days), Louie will be moved to the common area of the house to get used to being away from Lacy.

Due to his hip problems, Louie is also going to be going on a diet and begin taking some supplements. I have switched him over to the Victor name brand of dog food. He is getting half active dog and puppy formula and half Hero formula. The Hero formula has a high amount of glucosamine. I will be monitoring how much he eats in order to get any unneeded weight off of his hips. He is also going to begin taking 1/2 to 1 tsp. of golden paste per day, the proper dosage of collagen by Modere, CBD oil, and Endurance by Volhard Nutrition.

This guy had his first session today. We did a little prong collar dancing to get him used to directions cues, and we did a little clicker conditioning. During the clicker conditioning I was able to lure him very easily between the sitting and lying down positions. He catches on very quickly and is eager to please.

Annie: Day Twenty-Two

This girl has turned a corner. Last week, we had gotten her to a place where she could relax most of the day and night in her crate. The only problem we continued to have was when I had to go somewhere. This week, I spent one evening and one morning to fix this problem.

I went out to my truck, took the baby monitor and the remote to Annie’s e-collar, started the truck, and waited. I didn’t have to wait long before she was standing and whining. Whenever she did this, I corrected her with a pretty high level on the e-collar. It only took two or three corrections before she decided to lie down and relax. After she had relaxed for a good 15 minutes, I turned off the engine and waited. She remained relaxed. Yay!

I went back into the house and did some housework, then went back out to the truck and repeated the process. I did this one more time that evening. The next morning, I tested it again before I had to leave the house. Annie did great! I left all the monitor and remote with my husband, was gone for about an hour, and when I came back he said he didn’t have any issues at all.

Since that day, we have left her completely alone (nobody home to monitor her) twice. I don’t know if she never whined or didn’t get anxious, but I do know that there were no signs of her trying to escape her crate. The next step is to put a bark collar that has a counter on her when we leave to see if she barks at all. Additionally, I have reached the point where I am not going to be taking the baby monitor to bed with me tonight (for the first time)!

Annie has been getting more and more time out of her crate during the day as she progresses in her obedience training. The time that is spent outside of her crate is either in active training or in “place” (passive training). She has proven to me that with extra love – petting, talking to, etc. – she becomes more pushy and stubborn. For that reason, I have gone back to kibble treats instead of petting as a reward for training, and she doesn’t get a lot of free time.

As of today, Annie has learned the down command and the e-collar stimulation that goes with it, the beginning of being sent to place, and quite a bit of duration along with some distraction and some distance (my walking away from her) while in the place command. She has taken a walk up the driveway and to the mailbox with me once, and she has been introduced to my personal pack of dogs as well as a couple of tiny training client dogs. She does fantastic with other dogs. Now we just need her to do fantastic with humans. πŸ™‚

Annie: Day Twelve

Annie is sleeping through the night! I am sleeping through the night! Annie is finally in a place where she is able to settle in her crate, in a room by herself with the door shut. She gets stirred up a little when my personal dogs get excited about going outside, but as long as I’m home she is able to settle. However, when things get quiet she starts to worry.

When do things get quiet? When I leave the house and when I go to bed. I need to leave the house on an almost daily basis to take dogs for walks, but thankfully with my husband working from home, he is able to give a correction when needed. (Another bit of good news: Yesterday was the first day that Annie did not escape from the kennel while I was gone!) The good thing about this is that he sits in his office and quietly does computer work, so in Annie’s mind nobody is home and the e-collar correction she is receiving doesn’t have a person behind it. This is going to be helpful when she goes to her new home (which is probably several months away).

At night when things get quiet, she has been waking me up several times. Two nights ago, I decided to take the e-collar off of her and only had to get out of bed twice within an hour after going to bed to give her a bonker correction. Last night I was able to stay in bed, only giving her a verbal correction over the baby monitor. Yay!

Yesterday evening I was thinking about how well she was doing, but I had to stop and remind myself that there would probably be a regression soon. That happened today. While I was working with my board and train dogs, Annie had a down right fit. Throwing the bonker (what was working earlier) just brought out her aggression. I hadn’t put the e-collar on her yet, so after she had calmed a little, I decided to go ahead and do that. She had really escalated to the point that even the e-collar wasn’t doing much for her at sensible levels. Once she calmed (it took about 5-10 minutes), and stayed calmed for a while (another 10 minutes) I took her out of the crate and did some obedience work with her. She spent about 15 to 20 minutes at the end of her session holding the Place command, even going to sleep. I put her back in her crate and she went right to sleep. When it was time for me to leave the house, Aaron manned the baby monitor again. He said he only had to make a couple of corrections. This is big — And it means that this is another day that she did not escape. I am looking forward to the day when she is just able to relax.

As far as obedience training goes, Annie has done a little heel work indoors. We will be repeating that lesson one more time before taking it outside. She has also started learning the Place command along with learning what e-collar stimulation means – Finally! (videos below) Her working level is between a 1 and a 2. Boy is she sensitive! I truly hate that I have had to use the e-collar to correct her before teaching her what it means, but I felt it was necessary as she was hurting herself trying to get out of the crate.

I have discovered that Annie has some kind of metal allergy/sensitivity. The e-collar has been leaving contact sores. I know this is not from the stimulation, because her prong collar is doing the same thing. I have ordered comfort pads for her e-collar (this collar is an absolute necessity at this moment with the crate issues) and comfort tips for her prong collar. They should be in no later than Monday. In the meantime, the collars are only on her when absolutely necessary, and I have been doctoring her wounds.

Annie: Day Eight

Things with Annie have been a bit interesting. As expected, as she has gotten more comfortable with being here some of her issues have begun to make themselves known – the biggest being separation anxiety.

Friday (the day after my last post), I needed to take Cosmo (my board and train) to do some work in public. With Annie’s crate reinforce and no new attempts at trying to free herself from the crate, we left and were gone for about 2 1/2 hours. I came home to her head sticking out of the corner of the crate again. It wasn’t the gate she had worked loose this time, but the font panel (again). This time, she had really beat herself up. This told me two things – 1. although she seemed to be getting better with separation anxiety, she was really relying on Cosmo. 2. Even though I didn’t want to, it was time to start correcting her with the e-collar – for her safety.

In this house, Saturday’s are all about resting (for human and animal). For that reason, I left her crate in the room with Cosmo to offer as much comfort as possible so that she could rest. I did put the e-collar on her to prevent her from hurting herself just in case she did try to work herself out of the crate. And she did. I started at a pretty high setting and corrected her anytime she pawed at the crate, put her mouth on the crate, or tried to push on it with her nose. There were a few corrections, but she caught on pretty quickly.

Sunday I did a lot of work in the living room with Cosmo, so I didn’t move Annie’s crate again. On this day, she received corrections for whining. On the previous day, each time Annie would try to get out of her crate her attempts were always preceded by a whine. With a whine, I can see the escalation of anxiety begin. Since she wouldn’t understand me if I told to her calm down or to stop worrying, I have to correct her state of mind at the earliest possible sign of escalation. The corrections started fairly high, but with each correction I would lower the level on the e-collar. The great thing about correcting at the earliest sign of escalation is that the correction level doesn’t need to be anywhere near as high as if I wait until she is already lost in her anxiety. That is what we worked on Sunday.

Both Friday and Saturday night I took the baby monitor to bed with me, and Annie had to wear the e-collar through the night. I wasn’t sure what times had actually left her crates on the previous nights, so I needed an alert to be able to correct her if she tried while we were asleep. Early morning on both days she did need a correction.

I went ahead and moved Annie’s crate to a room where she would be by herself today. I am surprised the progress she has made. I have only corrected her a couple of times, and after each correction it is taking less time for her to settle down this morning.

I did have to take Cosmo out again today, but my husband was home. I took the baby monitor in to him along with the remote for the e-collar and asked him to keep up with Annie while we were gone. My thought was that she would know we were gone, and would probably try to escape thinking that she the corrections only came while we were home. It seemed to work…UNTIL the battery died on the baby monitor. (I’m going to have to double check that the monitor has a full charge next time.) My husband put it in another room on the charger, and when I got home Annie was out of her crate. *Sigh* I could have put a latch on her crate door to make sure she couldn’t get it open, but she is also smart enough to know when the latch is on there. I am also wanting to work on that. We are back to square one…

In today’s session, Annie got a reminder on sit and place with prong collar pressure. She also learned what downward prong collar pressure means through the lure of her favorite treat. (Videos below).