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Have a question? Ask a Trainer!

Questions that we will be answered in a future blog. AnimalSensibility will Make Heads and Tails of Your Canine Conundrums.

AnimalSensibility is the place to turn to for all of your dog training answers. Collectively, our staff has more than 75 years of extensive and comprehensive experience in dog training and behavior and of course, total dedication to dogs. We are active members of several professional organizations, regularly attend seminars and conferences and are happily obsessed with obtaining the most up-to-date training and behavior information available — and then passing it along to you. This blog is our opportunity to do that on a much larger scale. Our trainers will share new training techniques, case studies from the many classes and private lessons we conduct each week all over Chicagoland, stories from our time volunteering with rescues and shelters, as well as our experiences with our own dogs.

 

Learn to Speak Dog Trainer

Have you ever sat in class and as the trainer is talking, wondering “reinforcement what” or “luring who” or “attentionseeking whatchamacallit”? I try not to use too much trainer speak, but I am sure it creeps in more than I realize.  I thought a glossary of terms might help you the next time a trainer […]

Continue Reading     |     September 12, 2014

Giving Back to Your Community

Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to spend more time giving back to your community? Ever considered the dog (or cat) community? I would bet you $5.00 there is a rescue or shelter within a ten minute drive from your home. But, you say to me, I can’t bring another animal home! I know […]

Continue Reading     |     January 13, 2014

A Holiday Blog About Cats

St. Nick once told me that the holidays are about love, acceptance, and joy. With those lofty ideals in mind, I dedicate my blog to something I have struggled to love, accept, and find joy in – cats. So who better to discuss the finer mysteries of the feline persuasion with than my good friend, […]

Continue Reading     |     December 23, 2013

Living Harmoniously with a Fearful Dog

Do you live with an adult dog that is fearful of (or shy around) new places, people or things? I adopted a fearful dog a few years ago.  He used to be scared of just about everything, including a lot of household items.  I remember him being particularly afraid of the coffee grinder and hearing […]

Continue Reading     |     October 16, 2013

Get More Attention on Walks without Saying a Word

One of the most common complaints I hear from clients is that their dog doesn’t listen outside.  They say his name, try to keep him interested but he is just too distracted by squirrels, baby strollers, discarded chicken bones and other dogs. I, myself, used to have a VERY distracted dog on walks. Sonar never […]

Continue Reading     |     September 17, 2013

The Name Game

My dog has a lot of names: Huck, Huckleberry, Chuckleberry, Big Guy, Buddy, Bud, Wannagoforawalk to name only a few. Choosing a dog’s name is a ritual of sorts. We make lists, try saying them aloud, imagine calling our dog in from the yard and ask friends for their honest opinion. Once we bring them […]

Continue Reading     |     August 21, 2013

What are you Reading?

I went to school full-time until I was 25, so I think we can all assume I am bit of a nerd.  I am also an avid reader of two genres: fiction and dog training books.  Before I started dog training as my profession and I was just a dog owner, I was overwhelmed by […]

Continue Reading     |     May 21, 2013

How to Stop your Dog’s Annoying Attention-Seeking Behavior

In my blog last month, I discussed attention-seeking behavior.  There are two types of attention seeking behavior: necessary and nuisance.  Here, I will discuss why nuisance attention-seeking behavior persists and what to do to stop it. As I always say in my classes, the consequence of your dog’s behavior is either good or bad – […]

Continue Reading     |     April 19, 2013

Attention-Seeking Behavior: Nuisance or Necessary?

Let’s talk Attention-Seeking Behavior.  What is it?  Well, first and foremost, it’s annoying! I think we would be hard pressed to find a dog owner who hasn’t been annoyed by one or all of the following behaviors: Pawing or nuzzling your arm Whining Jumping up on you Barking Staring In reality, some attention-seeking behavior serves […]

Continue Reading     |     March 16, 2013

Off and Running

One of my favorite things to do with my dogs is to sit back and watch them run.  Living in an apartment in Chicago without a backyard means this is not something we are able to do everyday. Most days my pups settle for fetch in the house and a “slow” walk at their human’s […]

Continue Reading     |     February 19, 2013

Help Out with a Scientific Study

Be a part of a new dog – human play study. All you have to do is submit a video of you playing with your dog and answer a short survey. Easy peasy and FUN! The Horowitz Dog Cognition Lab is run by Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, author of Inside of a Dog: What Dogs See, […]

Continue Reading     |     January 17, 2013

Giving your Recall a Bump

Pull out a dog treat and look at it.  Maybe it is about quarter sized and hopefully fairly smelly and soft.  Imagine giving your dog this treat whole. He gulps it down and is on his merry way.  Sure he enjoys it, the treat satisfies his immediate desires and is enjoyable to eat. Now, imagine […]

Continue Reading     |     December 18, 2012

Without Force or Punishment

There is little doubt dog training with an aversive (punishment) works. When an aversive is applied immediately following a behavior, the likelihood of the behavior occurring in the future is reduced.  Easy peasy and if done well, rather effective. However, I choose not to train using punishment. I don’t use shock collars, prong collars, choke […]

Continue Reading     |     November 16, 2012

Fall for a Dog

Forget what common sense says… fall or winter is the best time to get a dog! I adopted my first dog in the middle of February and my second two years later in October, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Chicago street fests and baseball games are pretty much at a close and […]

Continue Reading     |     October 15, 2012

Taking “Find It” to the Next Level

In almost all of our classes, trainers teach a game called “Find It”.  The signal is “Find it” and the behavior is your dog’s nose sniffing the ground. This is an incredible mental exercise for your dog using his/her natural inclination to sniff.  And pretty darn fun and rewarding.  In class we start teaching the […]

Continue Reading     |     September 14, 2012

The “Jackpot”

As we discuss in class, it is necessary to reward the dog with treats continuously in the early stages of learning.  However, once your dog has learned what to do, you can reduce the number of rewards given.  Scientific experiments have shown that animals will work harder if they are rewarded occasionally at random rather […]

Continue Reading     |     August 23, 2012

Turning Old Toys into New

As I sat down to write this blog, I immediately felt a wet nose nudging my arm and a small furry head pushing its way into my lap.  My dogs were tag teaming me for attention!  I looked around my apartment and saw several toys my dogs seemingly loved a few days ago but were […]

Continue Reading     |     August 2, 2012

Shark Attack: How to Manage Mouthing

I find little more annoying than when puppies put their teeth on me even though I understand mouthing behavior occurs naturally in young puppies during play.  I just always feel slightly offended when a puppy bites my hand just a little too hard during when are roughhousing.  Plus, I know if the mouthing behavior is […]

Continue Reading     |     June 14, 2012

The Original Sit Test

Pop quiz!  In my last post, I discussed how dogs do not generalize commands.  If you’ll remember, my dog, Sonar, would only fetch in one direction?  Was she being disobedient?  NO!  I’d failed to properly “proof” her fetching behavior (pun intended) in all situations. Realizing this got me wondering, have I even “proofed” Sonar’s sitting […]

Continue Reading     |     May 14, 2012

I Swear She Knows How to Do This

Several months ago, I wrote about my ten-month-old puppy’s sudden fear of my toy throwing ability in Fright Night Take Two.  She is completely over those fears and is a fetch addict… or so I thought. I live in an apartment where if you are standing in the living room, the kitchen is straight down […]

Continue Reading     |     April 23, 2012

Book Review: Inside of a Dog

Ever wondered what your dog understands about life, his environment, and you?  Perhaps you’ve wondered why she runs to the front door when you say, “want to go for a walk?” but does not return a single toy to the toy box when you say, “want to pick up your toys?”  Why he insists on […]

Continue Reading     |     March 29, 2012

My Dog is a Dog

I’ve finally realized the most recent addition to my family is a DOG.  And I mean, a “dog’s dog.” She may execute a nice long sit/stay but she still sniffs crotches.  She may wait patiently until I release her to eat dog food, but she still enjoys digging in our trash and eating food off […]

Continue Reading     |     February 28, 2012

Fright Night Take Two

A few months ago I noticed unusual behavior in my 10-month-old puppy, Sonar.  During the months since we adopted her, I’d come to associate fetch as her game of choice.  She would hop hop hop after anything.  However, one morning I picked up her favorite rope and, as usual, I lifted it over my head […]

Continue Reading     |     January 13, 2012


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