Category Archives: Leadership/Motivation/Counseling

Dog Art with a $20 Million Dollar Purpose

Dog art and animal artists have had, in my experience, a long-time relationship with animalDog art shelter fundraisers. Artists have focused on societal ills such as dogs and domestic violence, dogs and breed specific prejudice, but an idea from An Act of Dog was unusual, fresh. To some traditionalists in the shelter world, it is also controversial.

Mark Barone and Marina Dervan, the artist and his partner, are working to protect the lives of animals by ensuring that America’s animal shelters adopt the no kill model. Why? Because when Marina found that 5500 pets were killed every day in shelters across the US, and there was a fully-functioning no kill shelter open admission model saving lives every day, both she and Mark felt compelled to do something. That something turned out to be a big idea: Continue reading

Training Companion Dogs For Sport And Competition

Training companion dogs for sport and competition

Sandra Mannion and Havoc Competing in AKC Rally

Training companion dogs for sport and competition may seem a bit like barking up the wrong tree. After all, you see your dog as your best friend and got a dog so you’d have sidekick for strolls in the park, car rides, and life’s various adventures, right? So signing up for a series of classes and spending endless hours of practicing specific skills and routines that have nothing to do with your every day life may seem tedious at best.

San Francisco Bay Area dog trainer and behavior counselor, Sandra Mannion, believes that the notion there is a big difference between pet dogs and working dogs is a myth, because every dog was created for a purpose. Many of the sports available to dogs today are versions of standardized tests that were originally designed to showcase a breed or type of dog’s specialized abilities.

There are sports and competitions for nearly every activity that dogs were originally bred to do. Gun dog trials and dock diving games for retrievers, scenting competitions for hounds, herding trials for collies and shepherds, and so on.

There are even companion dog sports such as rally, obedience, and the canine good citizen test which award titles you can earn to show that your dog is well mannered and excels at being a good companion. These sports highlight basic behaviors that would benefit any dog living in our human society with all of it’s non-doggy expectations and rules. Skills such as focusing on the handler, coming reliably when called, and staying in one spot when required, and not pulling on leash are useful in every day life, so it’s not far fetched at all to try your hand at training your companion dog for sport, in fact it will only enhance your communication and relationship with your dog.

Sandra feels that integrating competition into your companion dog’s routine is a good idea because many pet dogs are underutilized with their natural inclinations and energy left untapped. If a dog’s inherent skills and impulses aren’t appropriately channeled and given an outlet, problems may ensue. Like a pressure cooker, that energy that is being generated must go somewhere!

Sandra argues that beyond basic classes (which she feels are absolutely necessary) it’s important to honor your dog’s history and genetic predispositions from the beginning by providing a fun outlet for her inclinations. Doing so will help you gain appreciation for where those (sometimes to us) annoying habits that are actually a long-standing extremely useful part of your breed or type’s heritage come from and why they exist.

Sandra’s favorite part of her job is helping people realize the amazing potential their dog has when they get past the “behavior problems” their dog is exhibiting and learn to use the dog’s energy and enthusiasm that was previously going in the wrong direction and put it somewhere productive. This leads to rewards beyond their expectations as they watch their dog develop and excel. This fresh perspective often saves relationships that were going down hill and ultimately keeps dogs in their homes with people who have a new appreciation for the amazing creature we call our best friend.

In addition to discussing the benefits of training companion dogs for sport and competition, in the podcast below Sandra and I also cover the top three things all dog owners should consider before bringing a dog into their lives in order to get the most out of the relationship and to produce a happy, well adjusted dog. For more information about Sandra, please visit her website








Pet Behavior Consultant Steve Dale On Good Dogs And Cats

Pet Behavior Consultant Steve DaleSteve Dale is a modern day Dr. Doolittle, but with a twist. Instead of just speaking to the animals, he has dedicated his career to speaking for the animals via his many media venues. Steve is a pet behavior consultant, syndicated columnist, national radio host, and the author of two new ebooks, “Good Dog!” and “Good Cat!”.

I’ve always appreciated the common sense approach that Steve takes on even the most hot button issues among animals advocates. His vast knowledge of every pet-related subject possible, from pet health care to dominance in dog training, illustrates his pure passion and good will for all creatures. Steve always wants what is best for the animals, and they have no better friend.

Last week I was fortunate enough to chat with Steve about what is on his mind in the pet world these days. We discussed the idea of dominance in dog training, whether it’s okay to see dogs and cats as members of the family, how most of what we humans see as behavior problems in our beloved pets, really aren’t, and even how to avoid offending squirrels!

Steve also reveals the number one behavior question he gets asked in his role as pet behavior consultant at his Q & A newspaper column. The question that accounts for over 50 percent of all of the questions he gets.

To hear all of this and more, please join us in our eclectic conversation by listening to the podcast below. And if you’d like to ask Steve a question yourself he can be found in oh-so-many places but the best way to reach him is on his internet home: Steve Dale’s Pet World.

Setting Rules In Dog Training

Setting Rules in Dog Training with Andrea Arden

Andrea Arden

Setting rules in dog training, as you may expect, is very important. However, what you may not expect is that the very first rules that should be identified when considering adding a dog to your home, or when addressing problem behaviors with your current canine, are rules for you!

Animal Planet pet expert and dog training book author Andrea Arden believes that the starting point of a successful relationship with your dog begins by setting rules for yourself. How are you going to help your dog become the best dog she can be? It’s important to examine your lifestyle and expectations to determine what you’re looking for in a dog, and how you’ll fit a furry friend into your family.

Setting rules in dog training begins by taking time to consider how you are going to approach teaching and caring for your dog, because if you don’t have a clear idea of what your expectations are in advance, it’s really not fair to expect your dog to follow rules you’ve never fully outlined or explained in a way dogs can learn and understand. After all, that’s what training and management are all about – clearly communicating your boundaries and wishes and then guiding and motivating your dog to set them up for success.

Having a well mannered, or to use a more old fashioned term, obedient dog comes down to setting realistic expectations and then taking the time to teach your dog how you want her to behave. Often, because dogs do so many amazing things for humans, such as search and rescue or assistance dog work, and because of childhood fairytale stories of wonder dogs such as Lassie and Bolt, people tend to forget that dogs don’t come pre-programed to do our bidding. Nor do they arrive at our doorstep rulebook in tow.

Additionally, things dogs do naturally often aren’t things we find desirable, or even tolerable. So, while setting rules in dog training is important, ultimately when a dog is untrained, or unmannerly it really is the fault of the owner. Remember, your dog’s behavior is a reflection of you and of the time (or lack thereof) you’ve put into training and explaining.

It’s crucial to keep this in mind, because when a dog “misbehaves” people tend to get very frustrated and either begin to get angry and want to punish their dog or, in many cases just give up on her entirely. The shelters are full of dogs whose humans have failed them.

Please join me and Andrea as we dissect what setting rules in dog training really means, where the breakdown in relationship between dogs and people begins, and the top five realistic expectations of life with dog.

If you’d like to hear more from Andrea you can read her new book, “Barron’s Dog Training Bible” , or look her up on her website

Grieving the Loss of a Pet: How to Cope when Your Pet Dies

Pet Loss and Grief

The loss of a beloved pet is one of the hardest things an animal lover ever has to experience.

Grieving from the Loss of a Pet

The loss of a pet is accompanied not only by grief but also often by feelings of guilt. This seems especially true when it is necessary for a pet owner to euthanize a pet. Most times, the guilt is unwarranted but that doesn’t stop us from feeling it. There’s always that small nagging doubt. “Could I have done more?” “Would it have made a difference if I’d done this or that differently?” We can’t keep those types of thoughts from entering our heads even when we know the decision was the right one.

And even when the pet’s death is a natural one, that doesn’t stop us from grieving, or from doubting and feeling guilty.

In addition, many pet owners dealing with the death of a pet feel isolated and alone. All too often, we hear comments from others that, though well-meant, make us feel even worse and even more isolated. Comments like “He was only a dog” or “You can always get another pet” are common.

Unfortunately, getting over the loss of a pet is not an easy process. We grieve for our pets in exactly the same manner that we would grieve for a lost family member or friend. And, in most cases, we grieve just as deeply, sometimes even more so.

Our pets provide us with unconditional love and companionship. For many pet owners, our pets are as much a part of our family as our spouse or our children. Why, then, is it surprising that we should grieve for their loss?

How to Deal with the Death of a Pet

Everyone handles death in a different manner. People grieve in different ways and for varying lengths of time. Often, even when we think we are recovered from the loss of a pet, something unexpected will remind of the pet and the feeling of grief and loss will return just as strong and fresh (and hurtful) as the initial loss.

While the grieving process may be painful, it is necessary to move through the different phases of grief in order to recover from the loss of your pet and move on with your life. To do otherwise is unhealthy, both mentally and physically.

But how do you do that? What are the phases of the grief process and how do you move through them? How do you even begin to recover from the death of a pet that you loved?

A 30 Day Guide to Healing from the Loss of Your Pet

Gael J Ross, author of A 30 Day Guide to Healing from the Loss of Your Pet, talks this week with our own veterinarian, Lorie Huston, about pet loss. In the interview, these questions as well as many others are discussed.

Gael speaks not only from her experience as a therapist but also from personal experience in dealing with the loss of her own beloved pet. She provides some excellent advice and a unique perspective.

Here’s the interview.


Don’t forget to join us again next week. Our travel correspondent Edie Jarolim will be here with another great guest and more wonderful pet travel tips.

Dog Training: Cues, Commands, Obedience, And Punishment

Dr. Roger AbrantesDog training is a form communication. We attach meaning to cues, signals, or commands to convey information to get our dogs to do what we’d like them to do. In this podcast Dr. Roger Abrantes and I discuss whether the words you use to describe dog training affect your relationship with your dog.

Dr. Abrantes is a dear friend of mine, a scientist, an expert in dog training, a blogger, and someone I very much admire. His experience and knowledge goes way beyond dog training. Roger’s formal education is that of an evolutionary biologist, however, as a well traveled citizen of the world who has lived in places such as Denmark, Portugal, Thailand, and Africa, he has also become a de facto expert in languages, and communication in general.

Words always come along with some sort of association. For example, when requesting a behavior from a dog, such as “high five” or “shake”, many people will tell you they are giving the dog a command. Dr. Abrantes explains that the word “command” has a militaristic connotation. A command is something that is issued and must be obeyed. No questions asked. Disobedience to a command in many cases must be severely punished. But is that really how you see your fun little request to shake your dog’s paw? Must she obey? Or, more accurately, are you simply requesting a friendly interaction with your best friend, or practicing a routine you learned in a dog training session? Is non-compliance truly a punishable offense? Shake is a friendly gesture after all.

Roger points out that before a command becomes a command it is a signal. A dog cannot obey a command he does not understand.

He believes that when we are interacting with, and communicating with our dogs it’s just like communicating with a friend or colleague. We generally don’t command each other but rather signal back and forth in a friendly and reciprocal fashion.

We also discussed whether other words commonly used as dog training vernacular, such as “obey”, should really have a place in describing the partnership that takes place between a human and a trained dog. Especially how often when people use the word “punishment” what they really mean is they are seeking “revenge”.

It was a fascinating conversation, and I hope you’ll tune in below and join in the conversation. Roger and I will be taking questions and entertaining your input in the comments section below.

If you’d like to hear more from Roger he can be found blogging away at both Dog Star Daily and his WordPress blog.