The Professional Puppy Evaluator
#6125: Mallory Galatzer-Levy works for The Right Paw in Auburn, MA as a professional puppy evaluator. She evaluates the personalities of puppies in Shikari Vizsla litters to determine the best possible fit for potential owners — which is something the best breeders do for that reason. Mallory tells Tracie all about Daisy, the puppy picked for her.
Get That Puppy INTO Bed With You!
#6120: One suggestion that surprised Tracie in Stephanie Rousseau’s book “How to Raise a Puppy: Dog-Centric Approach” was to invite a new puppy into your bed. Steph explains how co-sleeping is normal and healthy for all mammals — and that dogs are proven to be “social sleepers.” So why deny a new puppy the comfort and safety of sleeping in your bed? Why not help a newly adopted dog feel like part of the pack? Tracie asks: But what about sex? What about enough room in the bed? What about little dogs who sleep under the covers all the way at the foot of the bed (and how do they avoid suffocating down by your feet?!)
Be Careful When You Call a Dog “Aggressive”
#6124: Dr. Sarah Cutler is a housecall veterinary behaviorist in Northern Westchester, most often called by dog owners for “aggression issues.” She cautions against even using those words, which demonize the dog and miss the root of the problem, which usually comes from fear.
How to Stop a Barking Dog
#6123: Barking is such a big problem for most dog owners. Carol’s first suggestion to end the noise is to get your dog’s attention: change the dog’s focus by saying “Watch me” while holding a (high value) treat up by your face. Practice frequently — always reinforce with very delicious treats, and in a low key situation without the door bell, truck outside, or people at the door that usually cause the barking.
The Perfect Dog Harness — Made in Italy!
#6122: Steph explains why she hates flat collars with a leash — and also hates slip collars, prong collars and “anti-pull” harnesses (which actually encourage dogs to pull because they are uncomfortable and pinch behind the armpits, so the dog wants to get away from the unpleasant feeling! Steph loves the made-in-Italy Haqihana harness because it is perfect ergonomically. Tracie found the dog gear store Clean Run in South Hadley Massachusetts that has the Haqihana products for way less than anywhere else.
Notice the “Question Mark” Above Your Dog’s Head
#6121: Tracie and Carol Borden talk about what causes a dog to fall short of our hopes and expectations, which can lead to a service dog “washing out” of her training program. But Carol believes many reactive issues with dogs can be nipped in the bud if noticed early enough. You can overcome a dog’s doubts and “answer that question” they seem to be asking when they recoil from something. “Bridging” is her solution. Touch your hand to the feared object, touch the dog’s nose. Repeat this exercise multiple times, never restraining or pulling the dog closer to the object. Before long, she’ll go right up and sniff it.
Don’t Judge a Dog by the Cover
#6119: Ethologist Kim Brophey confirms the scientific facts that certain breeds of dogs are genetically inclined toward certain behaviors. She wonders why some people are reluctant to make assumptions about how an individual dog in a breed is going to behave — like a Border Collie who relentlessly chases and herds — when their genomes have been developed by people to do just that?
Don’t Give Puppies as a Christmas Gift!
#6118: Probably the worst time to bring a puppy into a household is during the winter holidays. There is way too much social activity at this time of year to offer a puppy a nice predictable routine and pay the close attention to a puppy that she needs in the early weeks. A puppy needs a chance to figure out where she fits into your family and blossom into her own personality, which a quieter environment makes possible. Over the holidays you can use that “puppy love” energy to volunteer at your local shelter and wait for a more “ordinary” time to incorporate a pup into your life. If you have a child to whom you want to give a puppy, putting an “I.O.U” in their stocking in an elaborate card will give them something wonderful to envision for the new year (or next summer!)
Children Are Little Aliens!
#6117: Carol Borden and Tracie agree that children are entirely different beings than adults from a dog’s point of view — kids look different, smell different, move differently, sound different — and basically can be threatening or distressing for a dog without the child or their parents being aware of this effect. Carol has advice about how to protect dogs and children from each other — and eliminate the risk of the avoidable tragedy of dog bites.
Practice Counting Your Dog’s Toes
#6116: Tracie wonders why many dogs are so scared in the veterinarian’s office, while her own dogs love it there. Carol talks about acclimating your dog to the vet clinic by first getting the dog used to being handled — by you and then family members and friends — by opening his mouth, lifting his ears, and counting his toes out loud, one by one, touching each one as you go. Then take your puppy or newly adopted dog to the vet’s office without an appointment — give lots of treats, have an upbeat positive attitude yourself. Carol recommends advocating for your dog with the staff about the way they handle him, especially if he has a “nervy” personality and is cautious about new experiences, is generally anxious, or hates being restrained. And NEVER let them take your dog “to the back,” away from you to administer anything.