Separation Anxiety 

Separation anxiety is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed and mistreated behavior issues. Many veterinarians, pet store workers, and even trainers misdiagnose dogs and provide owners with bad advice that will be counterproductive to True separation anxiety. Separation anxiety or any other anxiety is never fixed overnight. 

Is it truly anxiety?

1. Is your dog anxious and other areas? Does your dog easily become stressed in a new environment?  It is pretty rare for a dog to only be anxious in one area such as during separation. Most of the time dogs that have true anxiety will display anxiety and other situations as well

2. Is your dog chewing and digging at the doors and windows? Or is your dog chewing up everything? Most dogs with separation anxiety will fixate at points of exit such as the front door or window.

3. Does your dog start to get anxious when you’re getting ready for work in the morning? A dog that is simply chewing or getting into trouble while you’re away due to boredom will not become worried when you start preparing for work however a dog with anxiety will.

I like to break down treatment of separation anxiety into three separate categories. Management, training (behavior modification), and medical.

Here are some MANAGEMENT (not treatment) rules for separation anxiety. 

1.     Leave a radio or T.V. on.

2.    Give a high value bone as you are walking out the door.  As soon as you come home pick up the bone.  You want him to think “oh man, mom’s home.”  These bones also act as a pacifier. Pick up raw natural meat bones at specialty pet stores such as chuck and dawn, heroes pets, or wag and wash. Be sure to switch them out daily, so your dog doesnt get bored. 

3. Never get excited when you come home.  Stay calm for the first ten minutes and ignore the dog.
4. Your dog needs to be exercised hard enough that they are out of breath.  Not a little out of breath, exhausted.  This will release the same feel good chemicals in the brain as it does in humans.  
5. Practice Calm behaviors before leaving the house such as relax on a mat.

6. Record yourself reading a chapter or two out of a book. Play it looped when you leave the house and another room.

7. Dog walker, dog daycare or dog sitter. Some dogs me still experience anxiety when their owners are out of site, but a stranger is present. Most dogs have a much easier time to adjusting if they are being checked on through the day or even better staying with somebody through the day.

Separation anxiety is never treated through just one method. It frequently takes layering treatments such as medication and behavior modification for separation anxiety to be treated.  
I strongly recommend that you get with a veterinarian who has additional education in Behavior. We call these Veterinary behaviorists. They can address all three elements needed to truly treat separation anxiety.

 For more information on separation anxiety please visit the videos.

What is Anxiety in Dogs
Treating Anxiety in Dogs

Canine Good Citizen

I love the Canine Good Citizen test and I know my students that have earned the title love it too. We have a lot of fun in these classes and it is the first title that most people earn with their dogs.    Any dog regardless of if they are AKC registered can earn the Canine Good Citizen certificate.

This is a title that handlers of all ages can participate in.  Our youngest for handler I’m the last testing event was just nine!

This is a great title if your goal is to have a well-behaved family dog or if you’re interested in moving on to Dog Sports like Rally  or IPO.  

Week 1 in our Canine Good Citizen package starts off with a mock test allowing us to evaluate where each dog is in their training.  We work with each dog and handler then the week before our test day we actually go out and enjoy a patio lunch with our dogs after class.  This allows dogs practice holding a down stay while their pet parents enjoy a lunch.  It’s a great opportunity for dogs to practice their training in a real life scenario, plus it allows students to show off the skills with their dogs learned.

There are other benefits to earning a Canine Good Citizen as well such as free City Licensing, discounts on renters insurance and discounts on hotels when you travel with your dog.

Here’s a little about the test!

1: Accepting a friendly stranger
2: Sitting politely for petting
3: Appearance and grooming

4: Out for a walk (walking on a loose lead)
5: Walking through a crowd
6: Sit and down on command and Staying in place
7: Coming when called
8: Reaction to another dog
9: Reaction to distraction
10: Supervised separation

This intermediate obedience class is designed for dog’s who have already completed formal beginner obedience and formal intermediate obedience classes, or have a very solid training foundation at home.

 Not sure if your dog is ready for this advanced obedience class? Just ask us, we are happy to help! 

For more detailed information about what each test involves, please visit

We offer a 6 week CGC Training Package for $130 and if you only want to test it’s just $15.00

The Hard Breed Myth

I hear the myth all the time that corsos, neos , rotties, american bull dogs and pitbulls are hard dogs on a lifelong quest to establish their role of dominance and they can only be tamed with methods that use bulling and assertiveness. Okay, maybe that is a little exaggerated, but I commonly see new students bringing in bullys and acting like real bullies. Their dogs are seldom thinking about dominance, but are seeking out some fun or self-rewarding behavior. Even though their intention is to provide them with good structure and teach them to be good dogs there are far more effective ways of doing this.  
I often wonder how these highly motivated, drivey, and highly trainable dogs ended up with such a label. I can’t say for sure where these ideas came from. Maybe it came from the fact that these are working breeds not content to lay on the couch all day, maybe because they need more socialization with people and dogs than the average golden, but I think it may have a lot to do with where training has come from.
20 years ago most competitive dog trainers and many pet dog trainers relied on escape avoidance training.  Most people who went to puppy classes or dog classes 20 years ago where handed a choke chain OR told to go buy one. The basic go to training methods taught dogs to turn off pressure. Pressure based dog training required the dogs to be uncomfortable enough that they would actually work to turn off the pressure.

 Many of our breeds that are considered to be “hard” have a high enough drive that adrenaline may make them appear to be more pain tolerant in heightened situations. Which means that in order for escape avoidance training to have worked they had to issue harder corrections than to the lower drive breeds or softer breeds. Which meant in order to successfully get compliance an owner had to be really get comfortable giving a high-level correction.
In recent years even the highly competitive obedience, IPO, agility and ring sport trainers have started switching the way they look at teaching dogs. Even at this year’s police canine training seminar there was a huge focus on making the switch to motivational methods.

 Many haven’t made the switch because they are “bunny huggers” or truly believe a jerk on the collar is going to break the spirit of a 120 lb presa, but because motivational methods create a better product. A stronger heel, a better recall, and a dog who truly wants to dog those things. 

These training methods are built off of harnessing and utilizing the dog’s drive and creating win-win situations that teach the dog to want to work for the things that were once thought of as a distraction.
 I encourage you to go to a trial near you and see what dogs are placing the highest now. It’s the dogs who love what they do and want to work. We are also seeing a switch in what breeds professional trainers are wanting to work. They no longer think of a pitbulls as a difficult breed, but a dog that has so much potential and willingness to work. Maybe that is why this breed has earned more UKC Superdog titles than any other breed combined.
People often see my dog heeling beautifully with joy, animation and engagement. Guess what, that’s what judges want to see too. I think that many people who aren’t familiar with my breed think he is a little bit of a marshmallow when they see how hard he tries to work to get his prized toy. I can assure you he is no marshmallow, just a dog who REALLY REALLY enjoys working for me. He doesn’t enjoy working for me because I shout heel and jerk him when he grabs the leash to play tug, but because he knows if he heels he will be rewarded with a heart pumping, growly, a rough game of tug.
Dogs with harder temperaments are most easily trained through motivational, engagement methods that use the distractions around them as motivators.  

Keep in mind that the definition of dominance is not bulling, aggressiveness or assertiveness. It is simply controlling the resources. You don’t have to be a bully to train your bully.