Category Archives: Training and Behavior

Are All Dogs “Good Dog” Candidates?

They are if they have “Good Dog! Practical Answers to Behavior Questions” author and certified animal behaviorist Steve Dale in their corner! What questions wouldGood Dog you ask Steve if you had a chance? Does your dog jump on everyone who comes to the door? Does he terrorize your boyfriend or destroy something every time you leave the house? Steve’s new e-book, “Good Dog”, is a treasure trove of answers to these and so many other questions. You may find your dog’s puzzling behavior is not, after all, uncommon, and can be readily adjusted. Admittedly, Steve can’t do much for a terrorized boyfriend, but he can help the dog.

Steve’s books are always an easy read and one of his important messages is focus on the positive, hence “Good Dog.” Your best friend probably shouldn’t think his name is “no.” The behaviors your dog has developed really have nothing to do with wanting to upset Continue reading

Pit Bulls, Lovers Not Fighters

Pit Bulls die needlessly every day because of the weight of negative stereotypes perpetuated for more than a decade. In truth, they are good dogs and make great family pets, as capable of love and good deeds as any other dog. They were in recent history known as the “nanny dog” because they are so good with children.There are countless instances of pit bulls saving people, and yet they are reviled because a dog that looked like “the type” was reported to have hurt someone or someone’s dog.

Author Ken Foster sits down with Steve Dale to discuss his book “I’m a Good Dog: Pit Bulls, America’s Most Beautiful (and Misunderstood) Pet.”


Guess Who’s Coming to Animal Cafe? The Gorilla Whisperer!

You may have heard that Steve Dale recently branched out to become the Gorilla whisperer in Rwanda, but he’s back from the mountains in the mistSteve Dale and Animal Cafe is thrilled to announce that Chicago’s best, brightest, and busiest animal advocate, journalist, and broadcaster is joining our team!

Steve Dale, a long-time syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services, has two nationally syndicated radio shows, Steve Dale’s Pet World and The Pet Minute, where he shares his years of experience, his expertise (he is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant) and his humor with guests and callers. He’s been on the red carpet with amazing animal advocates, like Betty White who, by the way, wrote forwards to his two new e-books, Good Dog and Good Cat. He has Continue reading

Fearful Dog Tips

Fearful DogFearful dog behavior can be quite a challenge to live with and witness. It’s both frustrating and heartbreaking to watch a fearful dog navigate a world populated with scary sights and sounds. Our hearts go out to these poor shy creatures that are often even afraid of their own shadow. But what to do? How does one go about making a shy dog more comfortable in her environment? Is it okay to comfort your dog when he’s feeling nervous? Should you ignore the behavior?


In this interview, dog trainer Amy Cook answers these questions and provides empathic insight into life with a shy canine. Amy is a shy dog specialist who is also working towards her doctorate in Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley with a focus on the human/canine relationship. She is also the owner and moderator of the Shy-K9s Yahoo Group, which is an excellent resource for people who are dealing with fearful dogs.


In this interview, Amy and I chat about the origin of shyness, what defines it, the trial and tribulations of living with a shy dog, and how to best address shyness or fear from a behavioral standpoint.


Is a shy dog born or made?


What are the chances that a shy dog will make a full recovery and overcome her fears, and to what degree?


How do you integrate a shy dog into your home and how do you build trust in your relationship with your fearful dog?


Most importantly Amy wants everyone to know that it is not really possible to reinforce fear and make it worse. Fear is an emotion and emotions cannot be so easily manipulated or contrived operantly. A frightened dog deserves comfort and a safe place to hide and peek while you do your best to resolve the issue via classical conditioning and training, which will take some time, patience, and understanding.


Please listen to the podcast below to hear Amy answer the questions above and more. If you’d like to learn more about fearful dog behavior and training, or have a shy canine and would like to reach Amy directly please join the Shy-K9s group on Yahoo.



Shelter Dog Training And Behavior Is Enhanced By Playgroups

shelter dog playgroupsShelter dog training and behavior is enhanced by playgroups in many ways and Cindy Bruckart of the Multnomah Animal Shelter, an open-admission, official Open Paw Shelter, is here this week to tell us why playgroups are good for shelter dogs and how to go about doing them in a safe and manageable fashion.

Shelter dogs are often quite pent up, as they generally spend about 23 hours a day in a kennel environment, often with lots of frustrating stimulation going on right outside their kennel run door. While manners training, practicing household skills such as settling and chew toy training, and continued socialization are very much top priorities when deciding what sort of environmental enrichment to provide for shelter dogs (see for more info), playgroups may be incorporated as one ingredient in a wellness program for maintaining or creating healthy, adoptable shelter dogs.

Exercise provides a much needed outlet for amped up dogs, but it also provides an opportunity to build confidence for shy dogs and some much needed cheer for dogs displaying signs of depression.

That said, a shelter dog playgroup should not just be a willy-nilly free for all. Cindy runs her playgroups bases on the SIRIUS Puppy Training methodology of incorporating training into play sessions. Doing so both blurs the line between training and play, to make them one and the same in the dog’s mind rather than mutually exclusive, but it also offers handlers a fantastic opportunity to use the super-high value reward of play and dog-dog interaction as a reinforcement for following their requests, such as recall out of playgroup or a brief “down-stay”.  In other words, there are lots of training breaks in the play session to maintain control and focus at all times.

In order to initiate shelter dog playgroups it’s essential to have at least one trained professional, who is experienced in both reading dog behavior/body language and in managing multiple dogs, involved in each session. Volunteers must be trained before participating and Cindy believes that the ratio of dog to human should be no higher than four dogs for each human helper.

In the podcast below, Cindy also talks about what kind of dogs are suitable for playgroups, lists the top three reasons to incorporate playgroups into your shelter dog training and behavior program, and shares a heartwarming story about a shelter dog who’s life was turned around, and likely saved, by the opportunity to grow and shine outside of her kennel.

If you’d like to learn more about shelter dog playgroups please visit Regarding Rover for a full schedule of Cindy’s two-day seminar offerings all across the U.S.

Dog and Baby Safety – The Dog and Baby Connection Program

Dog and baby safety is job one for Jen Shryock, founder of Dogs & Storks and certified dog behavior consultant. She helps parents understand the hows and whys of preparing dog and baby safetydogs for the arrival of the new baby. When you consider there will suddenly be a lot of new smells and sounds for instance, baby crys or screams, you’ll need to know your dog’s level of sensitivity to sound as a stressor and then what to do to relieve that stress.

Happy, scared, excited, nervous and avoidance signals exhibited by their dog are part of the behavior playbook taught to parents. Giving new parents the tools to deal in an appropriate and positive way to their dog’s reactions is important. When parents better understand dog behavior and subtle body language signals, fear of making mistakes with your child and your dog is not an every moment of every day companion. Say goodbye to some of your high stress!

Dogs & Storks is an international program preparing families for dog and baby safety from the first homecoming, offering on-going support through their first year. People have praised this training, saying it made the introduction of the baby to the dog a flawless process. Now there’s a “next stage” program that started up just last year.

Jen talked to Eric Goebelbecker about The Dog and Baby Connection  a program that helps families work with their dog when baby starts walking. If you’ve ever seen a dog’s eyes get big like saucers as a toddler runs screaming toward him, you’ll know having insight on how this changing dynamic might affect your dog will be useful in preventing mishaps. A choice of do-it-yourself instructions and/or hands-on training, gives families the support and management techniques they need to make these transitions happy for the whole family. ( Note: This is from our archives – the interview mentions a chat which has been discontinued)

If you’ve tried this program or have had experience in this area, please share.