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Dog Blog

Board Your Pup in Our Home When you Go Away!

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Going on a trip? Save a little $!

See Spot Sit is now offering boarding for your furry family members.  Going on Vacation? Going on a business trip?  Let us keep your pooch in our home! We keep staff on site 24/7 so that som
one will be there to give your dog everything they need and more!  our goal is to give you the peace of mind that comes with leaving your beloved pet with a good friend or trusted family member.

If you already have a trip planned or you want to plan a trip, pre-pay and get 15% off for boarding or board and train.  Board and train means obedience and/or help rehabilitating a behavior that you aren’t crazy about!  We can lay the foundation for a new behavior and help you learn some new behaviors too!

My belief is that our behavior and actions greatly affect the behavior and actions of our dogs!  This belief is well founded and proven out by lots of studies done by people more educated and lots smarter than me!  Luckily, we can reap the benefits of those studies! I have devoted my life to YOUR dogs and mine and learning what makes them “tick” (pardon the pun).

Let us welcome your dog into our family while you are gone and save some money by pre-paying for services!

For more information, please fill out the “Contact Us” form on the home page.

We do small play group socialization and group dogs together not just by size but by social skills and level of comfort.  Never more than 4-5 dogs per human.  Here, we treat the dogs as part of the family and I live on premises.  We also offer some training services while boarding if needed. They won’t be in the kennel or crate (your preference) except for sleeping at night and rest time during the day.  Dogs MUST have some down time during the day.  They naturally will choose to rest or nap several times during a day.  If they do not get that, they can become stressed and overwrought, leading to stress and anxiety which can cause them to be “grumpy” and reactive.

At night, some of them will sleep on a bed in the “doggy sleep room” without  being crated or kenneled if that is what they are accustomed to and they sleep through the night.

I want people to feel that they are leaving their dog or dogs with a trusted friend or family.  This work is my passion and I love every dog who comes through my path.  I have worked with over 1800 dogs for training and/or behavior rehabilitation.


Boarding, with socialization is $45 a night.  Each additional dog is $30 per night.

If a dog has aggression issues, we will assess them first and depending on the level of aggression, the price may be different.  Severely aggressive dogs will be required to receive behavior modification if they are to be boarded here so Board and Train prices will apply.  We hope that if a dog has aggression issues, their human guardian will choose to allow us to help them while they are here.  That can always be discussed at the time of intake.

All shot records are required of course and food needs to be provided, especially if they are on a special brand or type.

Our “stock food” is 4-Health from Tractor supply and is a very high quality food.  We use the grain free choices.

This is Not Day Care! This is specialized socialization in small groups.

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Sometimes our dogs can be shy or even fearful around other dogs and people.  Sometimes they are young and just need proper socialization.  What we offer are small groups for those dogs and they are with people and stable dogs so they can learn proper play skills and learn to feel confident and safe in our human world.  They are also in a “home” setting since this is my home 🙂

Half day: $15 (3 hours).  Packages of 10 visits (to be used within 3 months) can be purchased at a 5% discount.  Larger packages receive the same discount.

If they need to come every day, 5 days a week, for a half day or whole day, it’s 5% off for half day, full week packages and 10% off for full day, full week packages. 🙂

Nea and Susan :) A Success Story

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I just had to share this wonderful picture and story with you. Nea and I went with Carolyn and Djibril to Puppy Mugs at UALR on Saturday after training. I was very proud of Nea and the staff there. We walked up a flight of stairs AND down the flight of stairs. Nea was terrific! She didn’t pull and was only a little nervous on the way down. She paused halfway and looked up at me!! Yahooo!! I just calmly said “good girl! You’ve got this!” And she continued down the stairs. It was a surprisingly narrow stairwell! We waited for treats until we were on solid ground. When we arrived, there was a full hallway of people and dogs. I about had a panic attack. But I remembered MY training and knew I better change my attitude quickly!! Several people nearby tried to reach for Nea to pet her. I just said please don’t, she tends to be nervous and they backed up. Thanks to Carolyn’s quick thinking, Nea and I were allowed to wait in another empty hallway that others just passed through until it was our turn. As people and their dogs steadily streamed by us, Nea just sniffed and watched. I lavished her with treats! There was only one dog that she growled at. But it was quietly, brief and the owner had stopped to talk and was not paying attention to her own dog that was in Nea’s face. This was fantastic since, as you know, Nea doesn’t usually give a warning growl. When it was our turn to have pictures, the workers asked everyone to make a path, that a nervous dog was coming through. Then I told Nea, “with me” and walked my Queen of the world walk straight through the crowded hallway. Shoulders back, head up. People and dogs on both sides. Not one bark. Not one tug on the leash! We Rocked the Walk!! And look how relaxed she looks in the picture!! She sat and stayed for pictures and down stayed for more! Notice the leash laying flat on the ground! She wasn’t startled by the flashes but did want to investigate. The photographer did a few practice flashes and took the time to let Nea look through the room before we got started. And then walked back through the crowd like a champion!! I was so very proud of her!! And the staff was made up of students!!! Not professionals! They were so fantastic!

Thank you for all you have taught us!! Without you, this awesome Puppy Mug survival story wouldn’t be possible!!

Sincerely Amazed and Thankful!!

~Susan and Neakita

Breed Specific Legislation – Effective? Statistically Absolutely Not!

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Are Breed-Specific Laws EffectiveEmail this page

Dealing with Reckless Owners and Dangerous Dogs in Your Community

Dogs permitted by their owners to run loose, and dogs who attack people or other animals, are real and often serious problems in communities across the country; but how to best address dangerous and potentially dangerous dogs can be a confusing and touchy issue.

“Breed-specific” legislation (BSL) is the blanket term for laws that either regulate or ban certain breeds completely in the hopes of reducing dog attacks. Some city/municipal governments have enacted breed-specific laws, as has the State of Ohio. However, the problem of dangerous dogs will not be remedied by the “quick fix” of breed-specific laws, or, as they should truly be called, breed-discriminatory laws.

It is worth noting that in some areas, regulated breeds include not just American Pit Bull terriers, American Staffordshire terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, English bull terriers and Rottweilers, but also a variety of other dogs, including American bulldogs, mastiffs, Dalmatians, chow chows, German shepherds, Doberman pinschers, or any mix of these breeds – and dogs who simply resemble these breeds. On the bright side, many states (including New York, Texas and Illinois) favor laws that identify, track and regulate dangerous dogs individually, regardless of breed, and prohibit BSL.

Are Breed-Specific Laws Effective?

There is no evidence that breed-specific laws, which are costly and difficult to enforce, make communities safer for people or companion animals. For example, Prince George’s County, MD, spends more than $250,000 annually to enforce its ban on pit bulls. In 2003, a study conducted by the county on the ban’s effectiveness noted that “public safety is not improved as a result of [the ban],” and that “there is no transgression committed by owner or animal that is not covered by another, non-breed specific portion of the Animal Control Code (i.e., vicious animal, nuisance animal, leash laws).”

Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC) decided not to support BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). The CDC also noted the likelihood that as certain breeds are regulated, those who exploit dogs by making them aggressive will replace them with other, unregulated breeds.

What’s Wrong with Breed-Specific Laws?

BSL carries a host of negative and wholly unintended consequences:

  • Dogs go into hiding
    Rather than give up their beloved pets, owners of highly regulated or banned breeds often attempt to avoid detection of their “outlaw” dogs by restricting outdoor exercise and socialization and forgoing licensing, microchipping, and proper veterinary care, including spay/neuter surgery and essential vaccinations. Such actions have implications both for public safety and the health of these dogs.
  • Good owners and dogs are punished
    BSL also causes hardship to responsible owners of entirely friendly, properly supervised, and well-socialized dogs who happen to fall within the regulated breed. Although these dog owners have done nothing to endanger the public, they are required to comply with local breed bans and regulations unless they are able to mount successful (and often costly) legal challenges.
  • They impart a false sense of security
    Breed-specific laws have a tendency to compromise rather than enhance public safety. When limited animal control resources are used to regulate or ban a certain breed of dog, without regard to behavior, the focus is shifted away from routine, effective enforcement of laws that have the best chance of making our communities safer:

    • Dog license laws
    • Leash laws
    • Animal fighting laws
    • Anti-tethering laws
    • Laws facilitating spaying and neutering
    • Laws that require all owners to control their dogs, regardless of breed
  • They may actually encourage ownership by irresponsible people
    If you outlaw a breed, then outlaws are attracted to that breed. Unfortunately some people take advantage of the “outlaw” status of their breed of choice to bolster their own self image as living outside of the rules of mainstream society. Ironically, the rise of pit bull ownership among gang members and others in the late 1980’s coincided with the first round of breed-specific legislation.

What’s the Alternative to Breed-Specific Laws?

In the aforementioned study, the CDC noted that many other factors beyond breed may affect a dog’s tendency toward aggression—things such as heredity, sex, early experience, reproductive status, socialization, and training. These last two concerns are well-founded, given that:

  • More than 70 percent of all dog bite cases involve unneutered male dogs.
  • An unneutered male dog is 2.6 times more likely to bite than is a neutered dog.
  • A chained or tethered dog is 2.8 times more likely to bite than a dog who is not chained or tethered.
  • 97 percent of dogs involved in fatal dog attacks in 2006 were not spayed/neutered.
  • 78 percent were maintained not as pets, but rather for guarding, image enhancement, fighting or breeding.
  • 84 percent were maintained by reckless owners-these dogs were abused or neglected, not humanely controlled or contained, or allowed to interact with children unsupervised.

Recognizing that the problem of dangerous dogs requires serious attention, the ASPCA seeks effective enforcement of breed-neutral laws that hold dog owners accountable for the actions of their animals. For help in drafting animal control laws, contact the ASPCA’s Government Relations department.

more on crate training

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Remember you are the CEO, the minute you give in and let him call the shots, then you’ve lost the respect of your dog and it will be an uphill battle to train him from that point forward. As long as your dog sees you as the one in control at all times, then the task of teaching a new behavior (such as staying in a kennel for hours at a time) becomes easier over time, rather than harder.


#1.  Stick to your goal. And don’t be intimidated by your dog.

Introduce your dog to the crate by placing it in a ‘people’ area (kitchen or family room). Use an old towel or blanket for bedding. Put your dog’s toys and a few treats in the open crate, allowing your dog to come and go as he wishes.

Feed your dog in the crate with the door closed. Clean up any spills promptlyit’s very important for the crate to stay clean. Your dog doesn’t need to stay in his crate long, but should get comfortable eating his meal there.

Put your dog in the crate when he is tired and ready for a nap. As soon as you hear him start to wake up, go to him and take him outside. Do not let him out if he is barking or whining because this will reward him for being noisy.  – Never let your dog out until you give the release word!  He should stay inside even if the door is open until he hears the release cue.


#2.  Resist the urge to change things inside the kennel.

If they tear up their bed or any other “comfort items” leave all of the old shredded bedding inside his kennel (after closely inspecting and removing any small or dangerous parts).  Often this will stop them from shredding stuff in their kennel! Perhaps because is very little left to shred. Perhaps it was because it makes them finally feel in control and comfortable with their environment.


So, this may be one time when a little messiness doesn’t hurt… in fact it may HELP!


#3.  Slowly increase the amount of time you leave your dog in the kennel.

Leaving your dog for 4 hours in the first week or so of crate-training may be too much too soon.

Several smaller increments of time spent inside the crate, as opposed to just 1 or 2 long spells in a day is very often much more successful. To achieve this, you may have to disrupt your usual “routine” a bit.


#4.  Make your dog stay in the kennel when you’re home sometimes, too.

This is to teach them that:

  1. A) You call the shots; and
  2. B) It isn’t a bad thing to have to be in the crate.

To do this, you have to make them spend time inside the kennel for no reason — several times throughout the day. Since you will be home and they will know it (sometimes seeing you and sometimes not), it can help them begin to feel more comfortable inside the crate. Of course they always get a BIG reward any time they stayed in there quietly for a long period of time.

You can change up the things you stuff the Kong with and change up the “only in the crate” treats, adding an antler or hoof, etc.

These “positives” help to make it a pleasant experience for your dog.  


#5.  Never use the crate as a bargaining tool or as a form of punishment.

No matter what, you can never use the crate as a form of punishment… or, as a bargaining chip whenever you’re communicating with your dogs.

“Stop it, or you’re going in the crate!” will set you back a few weeks in the course of your crate-training process. Especially if you carry out your threats and make the dog(s) go in the kennel at a time when they were being “bad”.

It’s simply confusing to the dog.

So remember, time inside the crate should always be a positive experience.


#6.  Don’t force your dog inside the kennel.

This could mean that you have to adjust your personal schedule (or arrive late sometimes), simply because you haven’t allotted enough time to properly crate the dog, stuff the Kong with dog treats, put his favorite toys in the kennel, etc.

Your aim is for your dog to have a good experience with each and every aspect of the crate — from entering, to lying down, to standing up, to playing with *new* or “all-time favorite” dog toys, to snacking on his most favorite dog treats, to spending long hours inside the kennel, to the moment the door is opened and he’s eventually let out of the crate.


#7.  Never set your dog up for failure.

As with everything you want to train your dog, you should never set your dog up to fail. Forcing your dog inside the crate only increases his anxiety, and puts him on edge right from the start. This increases the likelihood that he will perform some form of destructive behavior inside the crate. You are setting him up to fail.


Instead, try this:

Set things up so that your dog always views himself as having succeeded. With crate-training… you should go through a series of baby steps where your dog is rewarded for spending even milliseconds inside the crate without barking or digging. This is setting him up to succeed! Your dog should always enter the kennel of his own free will. That is the first sign of success, and he should be rewarded dearly (with a special treat) for that tiny bit of success.


 #8.  Praise & reward like crazy whenever you spot even the tiniest bit of progress.

Give TONS of praise for being good in the crate. (“Good” is a relative term… “good” if he’s made some improvement over his past behaviors.)



  • Every time you see LESS destruction inside the crate than the time before, you give MORE praise than the time before. It can start with the basic (unemotional) “Good boy. Good dog in the kennel.” This was immediately followed by a big bear hug, at which point, you both go outside for frolicking and fun in the backyard.
  • The next time, if there is even less destruction, you raise the pitch of your voice to sound even happier with the dog’s progress and physically show them with longer hugs (or whatever form of affection they love the best – some don’t like being hugged) and bigger smiles that you are very proud of him for being a “good boy inside the kennel.”
  • You get the picture.  The better the behavior in the crate, the more wonderful the rewarding praise, treats, fun games, etc., until your dog knows, without question, how incredibly proud you are of his achievement and how this FUN time together of hugging and praising will happen every time that he’s good inside the crate.
  • In the end, despite the fact that this process of crate training an adult dog can be actually torturous sometimes, the end result will be worth it.  


Boundary Training Your Dog

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1. Carefully consider where you want the boundary line to be and don’t change it once you have decided. Walk the perimeter without your dog and make sure the area inside is safe. It is helpful to use visual markers like small flags (I suggest you get the ones with metal stakes rather than plastic). If you have a dense tree line around the boundary, or shrub line, you can use those natural landmarks. If you want your dog to stay out of certain areas like gardens, flower beds, etc., put the flags around those as well. Dogs are extremely visual and have a remarkable ability to remember visual markers. Be sure to incorporate their sense of smell. For safety purposes are sure to keep the boundary line two or three feet back from the “real” boundary. This is especially important if the real boundary is at the edge of a street or sidewalk. Everyone in the household needs to be involved and be consistent! I cannot stress that enough.
2. After the boundary is established, start walking your dog along the boundary line on leash. Do this at least four to six times a day for 3 days to a week (depending on the dog). Be sure to encourage them to sniff along the line. Never let them cross the invisible line with a paw or even a nose – not even an inch. If they do, give them a verbal correction like “EH EH” or “TOO FAR!” and if necessary use a quick leash correction. You can use “No” which is the universal human-to-dog correction word if your dog knows that word and responds to it for any behavior you do not want.
3. When your dog is no longer attempting to investigate anything outside the imaginary line, begin walking him up to it and stopping. It is beneficial to teach your dog “wait” “stay” and “stop” for many reasons but particularly useful for this training. Don’t forget to continue walking your dog around the boundary line every day while advancing the training! Work on this every day until your dog is consistently stopping at the line.
4. Usually within a week you are ready to cross the boundary line while instructing your dog to stay behind the line and knowing he will do just that.  Step over the line just a few feet at first after giving the “stay” command. How consistent your dog is with “stay” will determine how long you wait before returning to your dog, giving them their release word or phrase to let him know he can break the stay and then praising and treating. Remember, stay isn’t finished until you have released your dog and he has broken position. Just like with training “stay” you will want to begin to “proof” your dog’s understanding of the boundary and ability to respect it no matter what is going on beyond the mystical, invisible barrier. You can begin by tossing treats or a favorite toy or ball just a few feet over the boundary. Hopefully, you have taught your dog the “leave it” command and he is solid with that one! If you have, it will aid in helping him understand that anything outside the line is off limits! If he looks at you rather than trying to get the treat or toy or whatever you have tossed IT’S PUPPY PARTY TIME! Use a DIFFERENT treat or toy reward and lots of praise!
5. It is imperative that you are consistent and that he is never allowed to cross the boundary line without your permission (using his release word or phrase or a separate one just for the boundary line like “Lets go walking” and only use that one when you are taking him outside of the boundary at the ONE designated spot that you have predetermined. If you want to use his leash, start early so his advanced cue can be simply presenting the leash. It is imperative that he only learns egress and ingress from ONE spot, so determine that spot early on.
6. After a couple of weeks of reinforcing the boundary over and over every day, your dog should be catching on. It is time to drop the leash and let it drag. In fact, I suggest making yourself a very light weight lead (strong enough to stop your dog if you have to step on it of course) so he feels “free.” Using the lightweight long lead, repeat Step 4 and let him impress you with what he has learned.  Use lots of treats or whatever rewards motivate your dog most and praise when they remain inside the boundary or ignore items tossed over. Be sure to reward ONLY INSIDE the boundary line so you are not tempting them to cross.
7. Once your dog is consistently respecting the boundary line and ignoring treats, toys, etc., raise the stakes. Begin to incorporate more tempting distractions, like a neighbor or friend walking outside the boundary line, having someone (kids if possible) tossing balls and playing outside the boundary, someone riding a bike, etc. When you think your dog is ready for the “ultimate test” have someone walk their dog on leash outside the line. It is also good to leave your dog inside the boundary line while you walk past it, i.e. into a neighbor’s yard, and have a conversation while your dog waits for you inside the line. Don’t ruse the advanced steps! Remember set your pooch up for success by making each goal attainable!
8. If your dog struggles or makes a mistake at any point along the way, don’t get frustrated, just simply go back a step or two and continue to consistently reinforce the rules. You must lead by example when teaching your dog. In other words, you must make sure you are always, without fail, consistent. Never harshly punish them for making a mistake; just go back a little and reinforce from the point your dog was successful.
9. Practice walking toward the boundary as you FOLLOW your dog, walking behind him. The goal is for him to stop at the line on his own. You can use the “Stop” command if necessary. It is a good command for your dog to learn anyway, especially for this training. Call him to “Come” to you, away from the boundary. Remember to use lots and lots of praise and treats when your dog returns to you on command. This command can save your dog’s life and should be reinforced for their lifetime.
10. Make it fun and be creative with your temptations to cross the line and be sure to work at different areas along the boundary line. This training is something you must reinforce over and over throughout your dog’s lifetime if you want it to become so deeply ingrained that it is a natural behavior and nothing in the world besides your permission cue will get them across that line.
Solid boundary training can take a few MONTHS so please do not rush it! Have fun with it and celebrate each victory, as you should when training your dog any new behavior. Once it is successfully and fully trained, your dog can run around outside without a physical boundary and you can feel safe knowing he will stay inside the “safe zone” you have created with your dog.
Boundary training is important even if you have a real fence or an invisible electric fence. Those types of containment methods do not teach dog boundaries. They simply confine them and many a dog has learned to escape those containment barriers. If your dog understands boundaries and respects the boundaries you have determined and taught him, he will be happier and have much less desire to “break free” so to speak.
NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER tie or chain your dog to ANYTHING as a means to contain your dog. This only creates a stronger desire to break free. This is largely because they are forced into a situation of being a sitting duck and they absolutely know that if any danger approaches they have no ability to flee to safety and that is cruel beyond words. Your goal should be to teach, not just restrict your dog.
Remember, boundary training does not keep unwanted visitors – whether it is animal or human – outside of the boundary so never leave your dog outside when you are away.
Also, remember that some dogs can become more territorial of the space inside the boundary line so be sure to invite friends, neighbors, family and friendly dogs (with their human guardians of course) into the space while working on the boundary training. 

Unsocial Dog?

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Tense encounters between dogs are not unusual. In fact, dog-to-dog aggression is one of the most common problematic behavior challenges that owners, breeders, trainers, shelter staff, and rescue volunteers consistently face.
Many expert behavior specialists believe that one of the main reasons is that puppies are not well socialized with other dogs who are stable and dog-friendly.  This often results in adult dogs who are “socially awkward” and uncomfortable with other dogs.  The severity of the problem varies as do the behaviors displayed.  It also causes a communication gap between them and other dogs who are well-socialized early on in life.  They are not able to “read” other dogs and exchange common, subtle communication signals with them.
If puppies miss out on positive socialization experiences with other stable and playful playmates, they are more at risk of developing fear-based aggressive behaviors toward other dogs.  These dogs tend to be kept more isolated than dogs who have good social skills, which exacerbates the problem and the behavior only gets worse as they mature.  This is not something they “grow out of” but rather something they “grow in to.”
Of course, lack of socialization is not the only cause of dog-dog aggressive behavior.  Other causes include negative experiences with other dogs, i.e., being attacked or being born to a mother that belongs to a breeder that never allows her to socialize with people or other dogs. Puppies learn much of their socialization and trust or mistrust of humans during the highly developmental stage that they are with their mother.
If you happen to own a dog that doesn’t work and play well with others, the good news is that there are many training techniques, some still being developed, that can help you teach your dog socialization skills even after they reach adulthood.  Taking your dog to obedience classes, with a trainer who is also experienced in behavior modification, can improve your dog’s manners so that you can feel comfortable handling him in public again.
The work you will do in these classes will be geared mostly to teach your dog to associate other dogs with positive things, and to teach your dog that good behavior in the presence of other dogs will be rewarded. It will also focus on teaching your dog to look to you for the information as to whether the situation is safe for them.
The first method commonly used in these classes involves simple classical conditioning – the dog learns that the presence of another dog predicts a food treat, much as Pavlov’s dogs learned to associate the sound of a bell with dinner coming.
Operant conditioning is also used to teach the dog that his own actions can earn positive reinforcement in the form of treats, praise, and play. Both types of conditioning attempt to change the underlying emotional state of the dog that leads to aggression (CER – conditioned emotional response – which if you have been to any of my classes or worked one on one with me you have heard me talk about often. This is much more effective than just suppressing the outward symptoms.

In the past and, sadly, still used by some, were punishment techniques such as a hard “pop” (yank) on the leash which is attached to a prong collar.  Punishment results in additional negative side effects. A dog who has been punished is left feeling more stress than before, thus making it more difficult for him to calm down.  Also, when punished for growling or showing signs of unease with other dogs, a dog may simply learn to suppress his growling and visual signals of discomfort, which can often result in the dog instead just suddenly striking out with little or no warning.
These are some of the reasons that behaviorists like Ian Dunbar and Jean Donaldson believe that it is absolutely necessary to eliminate all punishment and reprimands from aggression rehabilitation programs.
In the most effective aggression-retraining programs, unpleasant or punishing training methods are avoided as much as possible. Control over the dog’s behavior is obtained by putting the dog on what is known as the “Nothing in Life is Free” regimen. The basic premise is that the dog must respond to an obedience cue in order to earn every right, freedom, and privilege. These include meals, treats, toys, play, games, walks, and even attention and petting. The goal is to teach the dog to appreciate his owner as the provider of all good things in his life.

Dog to Dog Resource Guarding

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Dog to Dog Resource Guarding

Write it Out:  Sit down, think long and hard about it and write out exactly what’s going on; i.e., circumstances and item of every instance when Resource Guarding (RG) occurs and where the dogs are. State exactly what the guarder does, being as detailed as you can. Does your dog go stiff and close their mouth before beginning to growl? Or bark and lunge with little warning? What does the other dog do? What do YOU do? This process can be tedious, but I can’t emphasize enough the importance of writing out as many details as you can. I have done this with my own dogs.  Doing it can also be extremely helpful to me, or whomever you bring in for help.

Manage, manage, and manage some more:  Each time a dog growls or lunges at another dog it learns something, largely dependent on our reaction. Our reaction to any behavior can have an extremely significant impact on what our dogs learn, i.e., they can learn to be more nervous, anxious, stressed, fearful of losing a valued resource, etc.  They can also learn that the behavior worked. (Much like learning that barking at the window until a car, motorcycle, jogger, biker or even the mailman goes away if they bark incessantly at them.  Of course, we know that isn’t true, but that is covered in another blog and is changed with positive redirectors and alternative behavior options.  Learning them, causes them to repeat the behavior because it is effective!  If they learn, from our reaction, that it elicits a very negative (angry face and tone) from their owner which, to the dog, means that their owner is going to be really, really mad every time another dog walks into the room when they have their chew toy or bone (valuable resource) they are even more upset/anxious/nervous than before.   This is one of the reasons you really need to manage the situation while working to change the CER and prevent as many incidents as you can. (Another reason why writing it out is so important.) It difficult to prevent something if you don’t know that it is going to happen, or recognizing the “trigger.” If a dog growls over the dinner bowl, feed the dogs in separate rooms and hide the chew toys.  Never, ever leave “valuable resources/items” lying around in a multi-dog household!  This is a perfect way to set them up to possibly have an altercation.

It may sound difficult, but really it is just a matter of giving much thought to ways that you can prevent the reactions you are trying to change while you work on changing the reactive dogs emotional response.  (More detail below.)

TEACH IMPULSE CONTROL:  Teaching a dog impulse control is another indirect way of alleviating this issue and handling the problem, but it’s important. Resource guarding in dogs is often exacerbated by dogs who simply are unable to handle not getting what they want when they want it. Humans must learn this skill as well.  I mean, if we didn’t, how many of us would actually ram that car that has cut us off or swerved into our lane while texting and caused us to be extremely irritated (or is it just me who has that split second thought “man if I had a Hummer or tank I’d just ram that rude person!”?  It is imperative to help dogs learn to self-regulate their own behavior and reactions in many different contexts. I always recommend good, solid basic obedience, including “wait” “stay” (sit and down) and “leave it” as well as waiting at the door for you to go in and out first” (covered in the Rules).  Remember, leaders lead, they do not follow and you are the leader!

One of my favorite tools for teaching impulse control is by using a Play and Train pole (often called a flirt pole).  I make them and use them for exercise and training that I make.  If a dog responds well and loves playing with it, you can completely eliminate treats for training lots for many types of impulse control, as well as “wait” and “stay”.  You have nothing to lose and lots to gain by teaching dogs  to be patient and polite.

COUNTER CONDITIONING:  This method focuses on exercises that help to change a dog’s emotional response to another dog approaching their very valuable resource (“treasure.”)  I am using the example of food, here but it really pertains to any item (or person) that a dog guard guards from another dog.   It is a very simple concept, actually.  You simply teach the resource guarding dog to have a positive emotional response and hopefully, eventually actually love it when another dog gets food or food treats, rather than feeling stressed and protective.  When practicing this exercises the dogs should be on leash and at least 10-15 feet apart.  You want the stay outside the “reaction threshold,” as well as keep everyone safe.  Staying outside that threshold simply means keeping the dogs far enough apart that you prevent the RG dog from stiffening or growling when another dog is in the vicinity of his bone or dinner bowl.  First you give the non RG dog a treat and then give the RG dog one IMMEDIATELY after.  Repeat this several times until you notice the RG dog start to anticipate getting a treat when the other dog gets one.  This starts to make a positive association for the RG dog and thus begins the process of rewiring the RG’s brain to have a positive CER to treats/food while in the presence of another dog and that is the response you want. 🙂  You may not see this in the first session but don’t worry. Just keep it up.  3-5 times a day is always my recommendation.  Please be sure to keep the dogs a safe distance from each other each time to prevent the RG dog from showing any signs of stress or potential negative reactivity toward the other dog.

When you notice that the RG dog displays a happy anticipatory response while doing this exercise, you can begin to move the dogs closer together. If you do not have a helper for this exercise, you can certainly still do it if the dogs have a good sit-stay  or you can keep gates between them, or even tether the RG dog.

HOW YOU HANDLE OR REACT IS VERY IMPORTANT: Of course your reaction will largely depend on the seriousness of the RG dog’s level of RG and how many  different types of things the dog guards, the personalities of the dogs, etc.   Your job is to create situations in which the RG dog learns that the appearance or approach of the other dog always leads to something wonderful for him. Rather than stress and anxiety caused from believing that it might lose it’s bone or other treasure.  It usually transitions from ambivalence to the presence of another dog or actual happy anticipation because they know that if the other dog gets something, they will also get something!  “Hey, you other dog, come on over here  a little closer.  I love it when you do because I will get CHICKEN!”

RESPONDING TO RG: I want to be clear here that sometimes, no matter how hard you try it is often impossible to eliminate all instances of RG in a dog while you are working on modifying the behavior.   Whether or not the behavior is inappropriate is a complicated issue because dogs do not think in terms of “good” and “bad” and they behave and respond based on instinct that runs deep and is hard wired purely by DNA.  It is explicitly related to feeling “safe” or “threatened” and by the desire to survive and ensure the survival of their pack.  However, it is not an acceptable behavior in our human world, you know the one we are expect them to follow our humans rules ha).

Always avoid raising your voice when your dog exhibits this behavior but be serious and confident.  I like to call it the “teacher voice.”  Stay focused! Say something like “Hey Fido, what was that!”  Then, move forward toward the dog and back him or her up, using your body and walking toward or “into” them just a step or two.   I am going to repeat this because it is important, try to stay calm and quiet yourself but make it clear that you are directing your attention toward the dog who is guarding a resource.  Tell the dog to sit and stay in a low, flat, but authoritative voice and say something like “that is not allowed in this house and I’m the CEO so I make the rules.”  (Okay, I’m indulging myself by using the terms I use in my own house.)  While the dog will not understand all of those words, and it actually may have little or no effect on the dog, it’s quite satisfying and makes you feel more confident!  Then, go over and pet or treat the other dog for a moment.  If the RG dog stays in place and is polite, praise and reward him or her with a treat.  Again, this aids in teaching the RG dog that good things happen to them if the other dog gets food/attention/toys etc. Exactly how this is done depends very much on you, the dog and exactly what the dog did.

CALL IN HELP: It is often a good idea to have assistance from another person who acts as a coach or simply provide moral support (or call in the village and get a group if you need to so you can be confident) but make sure that the person or people are able to a) read dogs well; and b) understands the importance of and how to properly use positive reinforcement and classical conditioning to influence canine behavior.  Typically, that’s not going to be just any person you may know.  That would be like getting medical advice from the person selling perfume in a kiosk at the mall, right?

I cannot tell you how many times I have made the statement that positive reinforcement and counter and classical conditioning are absolutely the most important tools in your “tool box” to aid you in modifying, rehabilitating, or as I like to call it “reshaping” a dog’s behavior.  The word “rehab” always makes me think of dogs in a rehab center having group therapy, and it conjures a comical mental image.

Also, I will say this for what is probably the millionth time and I even said it in a recent television interview.  Remember THEY ARE DOGS!  They do not think in “good” and “bad.”  Those are human perceptions that we force upon our dogs.  I am not saying that teaching dogs to follow the basic rules of human society is not necessary, I am just saying that we must remember that they are not born knowing those rules and it is our responsibility to help them learn what those rules are and how to follow them, WITHOUT causing them undue confusion, stress or anxiety.

“We are forever responsible for what we have tamed.”

If you have read this all the way through, thank you for letting me take up some of your valuable time and please do not hesitate to contact me if you need help with this or other issues you may have.

Charlotte (Mallion) Watkins

See Spot Sit Training and Behavior Modification of Central Arkansas


Need to put weight on your dog? Here is a great recipe for it!

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10 pounds hamburger meat [the cheapest kind] 1 lg. box of Total cereal
1 lg. box oatmeal
1 jar of wheat germ
1 1/4 cup veg oil
1 1/4 cup of unsulfured molasses
10 raw eggs AND shells
10 envelopes of unflavored gelatin
pinch of salt

  • Mix all ingredients together, much like you would a meatloaf.
  • Divide into 10 quart freezer bags and freeze.
  • Thaw as needed and feed raw!

You can scale this down if you have a small dog, of course.