Teaching a dog basic manners doesn't have to be through aggressive techniques

Dogs need manners. All dogs need to understand basic commands for their own safety, whether they live in the city or country. Our front door faced the street. One of the first commands we taught our new dog was "wait", to prevent her from dashing out after another dog, or the man in brown into the busy avenue and possibly a car.

I believe strongly in reward-based training. It was clear from the start our dog responded to positivity more than aggression or dominance. Her strong desire to be with us, and her obvious delight when she pleased us was mutually rewarding.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com

"It is more parsimonious to interpret dogs’ behaviour as if they were simply trying to maintain access to essential resources, perhaps the most important being, uniquely for this species, access to one or more human attachment figures."

As my friend Debbie Jacobs (FearfulDogs.com) reminds us regularly, dog training is a unregulated industry. Therefore, I was glad to read the Psychology Today article, "Dominance" in Dogs-Again, by John Bradshaw, Ph.D.

In addition to the wonderful quote above, Dr. Bradshaw explains clearly why, in my view, we do a great disservice to dogs, writing:

“So it is suggested that Dominance Theory, when applied to dog training, may serve as a self-reinforcing hypothesis: by using physical force, the owner elicits an aggressive response from the dog, which in turn is interpreted as a sign of dominance; alpha-rolls and other forms of physical confrontation may actually increase the risk of an aggressive responses from the dog”.

The dogs of today don't need to be dominated to learn how to be a wonderful companion. At a minimum, dogs want companionship, even the street dogs of Turkey I met wanted access to humans in a comfortable format.

Teaching a dog basic manners doesn't have to be through aggressive techniques. We can do better. Positive reward-based training allows you to show a dog why it's worth it to listen and learn from you. It worked for us.

- Sharon Castellanos

What about you, do you trust the accuracy of Dr. Bradshaw's canine science?

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SF SPCA Behavior & Training Team Hosts Yappy Hours at Indoor Dog Park

On March 4th, the San Francisco SPCA Behavior & Training team began holding Yappy Hours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at their Mission campus indoor dog park! Come see the adoptable dogs mingle and play...who knows, you may find your new furever friend!

Come hang out with small dogs on Wednesdays, and big dogs on Saturdays! See flyer below for more details.



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Just because she's pretty doesn't mean this dog wants your attention

It may come as a surprise to you but some dogs aren't interested in being the center of attention. Reactive dogs like Teddy need their space. When she's ready, she'll seek you out.

image from www.grouchypuppy.com


For a dog lover, it can be hard on your feelings when you're turned down by a pretty dog, but since spending time with Teddy here, when she decides you're okay by her, and you are allowed to give her a scratch or two on the butt -- it felt like winning a prize! Being allowed to give Teddy some affectionate attention was a wonderful sensation the first time, and many years later, the excitement hasn't diminished.

Have you ever had a reactive dog offer you their affection, or the chance to make physical contact with them? How did it feel?  


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Who else needs a really fun dog toy that you can make yourself?

What a great project and fun dog toy! This video was circulating on Facebook last month. They are calling it a bottle game in the video. Not only does the dog toy look simple to put together, the materials look easily sourced. Everyone with a dog who enjoys puzzles and treats will love this.

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Photography and agility training turn rescued dog into Instagram star

Like many dog people most of the photos on my Instagram account are of Cleo, and our life in San Francisco. If you scroll through the photos from three years ago, you'll be able to see how Cleo has gone from long walks in different neighborhoods to a senior dog who prefers naps and cuddles.

Meet Niner, the Instagram Star. This has to be one of my favorite stories. According to SF Weekly, Niner was an abandoned dog who not only found his forever family in Jaymi Heimbuch, but with her help along with training from the SPCA, Niner found he has a very special talent.

image from blogs.sfweekly.com

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Can a blended rescue dog become an AKC National Champion?

My dog Cleo is a big part of why I started Grouchy Puppy four years ago. She showed me that dog adoption is worth the risk. Cleo is my first blended dog, and has since convinced me that you don't have to be a pure bred dog to be smart and cute. A rescue dog can give fearlessly and influence positively. I'm forever grateful to the San Francisco SPCA because they saw Cleo's potential at a shelter. They gave us a chance to have this wonderful life with her, and gave this dog a chance to be the ambassador and success story that she is today.

Roo the rescue and new role model

Roo the rescue dog is a new local success story that began at the SF SPCA. Her tale will make you cheer and cry at the same time. This previously abandoned dog is the first rescue mix to become a national agility champion!?! How did she go from rambunctious pup running loose near the Excelsior District to the 2013 AKC National Agility Champion? Read this amazing San Francisco story to find out how Stacey Campbell, SF SPCA dog trainer, and longtime volunteer trainer for Muttville Senior Dog Rescue, sees Roo's potential and guides her all the way to the top! Enjoy this wonderfully inspirational story, it reminds me a little of National Velvet. Roo along with Stacey's loving dedication is why I believe in the power of the human animal bond, adoption, and blended dogs.


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How to protect your dog from bad animal behavior professionals

Who doesn't want the best for their family? Billions of dollars annually swirl around the pet care industry. We love our dogs and include them as family members. It's easy to see why more dog-related businesses are started each year. 

Miss Basic Obedience Class Graduate - SFSPCA 2005

I know that my big dog in the city needed a few skills to successfully navigate life here. When we adopted her from the San Francisco SPCA, Cleo's adoption fees included a series of basic obedience training classes. It was during one of these valuable sessions that I learned about the fabulous Jean Donaldson, founder of The Academy of Dog Trainers. Recently on Facebook one of Jean's students, Cory Cordes, wrote a post that immediately caught my eye.

Continue reading "How to protect your dog from bad animal behavior professionals" »

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UCLA's Hospital Therapy Dogs Showcased in New PBS Documentary

image from www.newswise.com
Via Newswise

Newswise — Several four-legged volunteers with the People-Animal Connection (PAC) program at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and their human counterparts will star in an upcoming episode of the PBS television show, “Shelter Me: Let’s Go Home,” premiering in April.

The docu-series celebrates shelter pets with positive and uplifting stories about people's lives being improved when they adopt a shelter pet. The show followed a handful of human/dog teams with UCLA’s animal-assisted therapy PAC program as they volunteered at the hospital. All of the dogs featured were adopted from shelters and now help people by bringing comfort to patients and their families, as well as joy to the doctors and nurses.

Read the full story

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Former rescue dog Ladybug helping senior citizens as therapy dog

image from www.vancnews.com
Via Lake Gaston Gazette-Observer

It’s a good bet Ladybug, a rescue dog turned therapy dog who calls Lake Gaston home, would not be alive today without the help and support of multiple do gooders in the community.

She seems to know as much, which may be why she enjoys being petted, not only by her current owner, Suzanne “Snoozie” Atkinson, of Henrico, but also while visiting senior citizens, patients and residents of homes and healthcare facilities around the area and beyond.

“I think Ladybug knows she’s doing good for those people,” said Atkinson.

Read the full inspirational story


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Influence Positively Story: From Bait Dog to Pet Therapist


image from www.philly.com
Photo credit: (Photo/Connie Kang/Daily Pennsylvanian)

Via philly.com

From bait dog to therapist, Philly terrier honored at Natl. Dog Show

Meet Vivian Peyton.

The Staffordshire Terrier mix started life as a bait dog in a dog fighting ring. Now Vivian Peyton is a certified therapy dog and will be honored for her good deeds at the show.

It took a while for Vivian Peyton to come around. Skinny and wounded, she was plucked from what might have been a one-way trip to the Animal Care and Control Team shelter in Philadelphia by New Leash on Life - a wonderful program that matches troubled dogs with prisoners.

She graduated from the three-month program earlier this year and she now will be the toast of Valley Forge this weekend as one of the Purina Therapy Dog Ambassadors at the National Dog Show at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center today and tomorrow.

Read the full inspirational story

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Second grade kids learn about service and therapy dogs

image from www.craigdailypress.com
Via Craig Daily Press

Craig second graders found out what hands on learning meant while attending the Meeker Classic Sheepdog Championship Trials throughout the week of September 5th.

Students had the opportunity to watch border collies compete in herding sheep, learn about service and therapy dogs, visit a petting zoo and watch an agility demonstration.

Teachers said they took their classes on the field trip because it ties into their curriculum and meets state science standards.

Shawn Steele, second grade teacher at Sandrock Elementary said the trip ties directly into the state’s science component about humans and animals interacting with one another.

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New England pet therapy nonprofit brings pooches to nursing homes

via www.tauntongazette.com


“Thank you for letting us see him,” Marcy Lima said after enthusiastically petting Chip, a 3-year-old, cocoa brown Yorkshire terrier.

Chip, along with Feathers, a 2-year-old Maltese papillon mix, are two of the therapy dogs who volunteer with their owners for New England Pet Assist Therapy. They travel to nursing homes and assisted-living sites in Fall River, Tiverton, Taunton, Lakeville, Dartmouth and elsewhere.

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Give Fearlessly Story: Meet Service Dog Jacob

via www.baltimoresun.com

When Debbie Catena wakes up at 6:25 a.m., it’s not the beep of an alarm clock that gets her attention, but a nudge and a sniff from her golden retriever, Jacob.

A childhood illness left Catena with 60 percent hearing loss in her right ear and completely deaf in her left ear. Jacob is a hearing dog that was paired with Catena, a 55-year-old Ellicott City resident, through Fidos for Freedom, a nonprofit organization based in Laurel that provides service dogs, hearing dogs and therapy dogs to residents of the Baltimore-Washington area. Catena is unable to hear her alarm most mornings, but Jacob makes sure she is up in time to catch the MARC train to Washington for work.

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Marine now raising his 13th Puppy for Leader Dogs for the Blind

via www.jdnews.com

At home, 5-month-old Hero is a typical playful and curious black lab, one that loves belly rubs and games of fetch. At work, he is an attentive and protective companion that will one day become a future guide dog for the blind and visually impaired.

Hero is the 13th puppy that has come into Brad Vande Hei’s life for a great cause. Since age 11, Vande Hei has seen the impact that raising a leader dog has in the lives of host families and future leader dog owners. Growing up in Wisconsin, his parents served as volunteer puppy raisers through a Michigan based organization called Leader Dogs for the Blind.

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