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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.


I Don’t Have a Dog

When I tell people I’m a dog trainer, one of the first questions they ask me is if I have a dog. I don’t. It’s certainly not that I don’t want one, because believe me – I do. In fact, I’d probably want two or three! Most of the time I miss having a dog […]

Continue Reading     |     February 11, 2014

The Song Says Two Front Teeth, Not Piranha Teeth!

He was jumping on me, barking, kicking his back legs out (marking), standing on me, climbing on me, licking me, nipping me with his incisors, barking again and no, it wasn’t a puppy. Over Christmas, I saw a little dog I hadn’t seen in years. He wasn’t particularly well-behaved when I first met him years […]

Continue Reading     |     January 10, 2014

Quantifying, Compartmentalizing, and Labeling (With a Touch of Humor)

I’ve never understood why humans were so obsessed with labeling their dogs. “He’s a Husky/Lab mix, and man, is he smart!” Those are usually the first words out of a dog owner’s mouth when you ask about their dog. Breed and brains. There are certainly some very important reasons a dog trainer (and a dog […]

Continue Reading     |     December 11, 2013

When Cute Really Isn’t Cute

I adore a cute photo of a kitten, baby or puppy as much as the next person, and I think some silly dog behaviors are amusing tricks. But when do these things indicate a potentially dangerous situation? For example, what about a video of a baby being “protected” by a dog?  Or a dog spinning […]

Continue Reading     |     November 7, 2013

Great Expectations Part 3: I Will Never Become Ill

For over two years, I’ve worked at an animal hospital and have been amazed at how many people are in utter shock to find their pet is ill.  It’s certainly emotional, as we really never want our beloved four-legged family member to fall ill or have an accident. But unfortunately, it happens.  I’ve seen pet […]

Continue Reading     |     October 9, 2013

Great Expectations Part 2: From Naughty to Well-Behaved

You get a new pup and he is super cute!  He gives you kisses, loves to be held and is just a wonderful furry being.  “I love you, new pup!  Now, hurry up and be a perfectly well-behaved pup, will ya?” I think this is one of the biggest expectations of dogs and certainly one, […]

Continue Reading     |     September 13, 2013

Great Expectations Part 1: A Note to Joggers and Bikers

Last month, I was walking a long-time client’s lovely Golden Retriever in her crowded Chicago neighborhood when something potentially quite dangerous happened.  A young woman was jogging in her very high-tech and ultra-quiet running shoes (think “sneakers”) and ran up behind us on the side of the dog within two feet of her.  Neither one […]

Continue Reading     |     August 14, 2013

What’s In a Bark?

A lot of the time we think of barking in terms of an unwanted behavior or annoyance. It certainly can be problematic and annoying but sometimes we forget that it serves a real purpose. There are a ton of papers written about research done on decoding barks in domesticated dogs that are fascinating.  Then, you […]

Continue Reading     |     July 8, 2013

Focus on the Positive

In dog training, we always remind our clients to reward for positive behavior.  I remind myself routinely as well when training and also when things in life test me. What holds true in dog training holds true in life. As humans, we sometimes tend to focus on the behaviors and things we don’t want – […]

Continue Reading     |     June 10, 2013

Let’s Have Some Fun

As a dog trainer, it is my job to help you have the best relationship you can with your dog.  In class, we only have an hour each week to teach you the tools you need to accomplish whatever you wish to achieve.  I can teach you all sorts of things about how to modify […]

Continue Reading     |     May 10, 2013

Beyond the Garden Gate

It’s a beautiful, breezy spring day.  The dogs have a bigger case of cabin fever than you do and so you decide to let them out in the backyard to run around, play, and smell every intriguing scent being carried by the wind while you are inside catching up on work, cooking, laundry, or returning […]

Continue Reading     |     April 12, 2013

Remember to Breathe

The first week of training class is always exciting and a little stressful at the same time.  I love to see who returns to class, and to meet the new dogs and people.  I cannot tell you how much I look forward to teaching, learning, connecting, helping and having a good time in the process. […]

Continue Reading     |     March 13, 2013

“Smart Dog” vs. “Not So Smart Dog”

A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me a question along the lines of which breeds (or kinds of dogs) were “smart” and which ones were “not very smart”.  Not even a few weeks before that someone else proposed the same type of question as we were discussing her dog’s ability to work out a […]

Continue Reading     |     February 14, 2013

Soul Soothing Pets

The horrific shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT last month sent shock waves through most of our souls.  The thought of the emotional pain the adults and especially children there went through made me weep openly.  But something happened that made me feel better for all of those who survived such a […]

Continue Reading     |     January 14, 2013

Cabin Fever

Some dogs adjust well to the harsh winter months and really enjoy getting out in the snow and colder weather.  Dogs like Newfoundlands, Siberian Huskies and Swiss Mountain Dogs were even bred to excel in it. But other dogs aren’t really meant to deal with the snow and chilly weather.  Your Boxer, Chihuahua or Pit […]

Continue Reading     |     December 14, 2012

Just Exactly What Are You Teaching Your Dog?

I heard a rather funny story the other day from one of my coworkers at the animal hospital.  She has a friend who wanted some tips on keeping her dog busy during the day by means of enrichment.  Together, they came up with some ideas, which included hiding food throughout the house for the dog […]

Continue Reading     |     November 14, 2012

Blood Sucking Fleas

‘Tis the season!  Well, at least here in the Midwest.  In warmer climates, it is a year-round ongoing battle.  It is here too, make no mistake, but the late summer and autumn are the time of year we predominately see those blood-sucking critters on our pets and in our home (I’ll get to why later).  […]

Continue Reading     |     October 13, 2012

My Renaissance With The Little Dog

I was born into a small dog house.  Our little Yorkshire Terrier, Willy, was not even a year old when I was born.  I loved that silly little dog.  He was a really good dog and used to howl only to one thing; the theme song to the Andy Griffith show.  I remember cuddling with […]

Continue Reading     |     September 13, 2012

Bites, Rabies, and Protocol – Oh My!

Dog and cat bites can be serious business.  And not just in the physical injury department either; in your wallet!  It can be emotionally costly too.  Any time there is an animal bite that breaks the skin, there is a rabies protocol that goes hand-in-hand.  But do you know what it is?  What happens when […]

Continue Reading     |     August 6, 2012

You, Me and the Dog

I’ve recently started noticing the relationships people have with others: their friends, family, loved ones, mentors, coworkers and especially their pets.  I’m not exactly sure why I’ve been so hyper aware of it lately, but I think it has to do with me being a part of dog training classes. Over the past year, I’ve […]

Continue Reading     |     July 6, 2012

My Thoughts on Anthropomorphism

As a science geek, I’ve learned over the years to never anthropomorphize with animals. That’s when you attribute human characteristics to other animals. One of my first experiences of I guess “failing” with this came when I was a zookeeper caring for reindeer.  I told my supervisors that one of the reindeer, an older female, […]

Continue Reading     |     June 11, 2012

You’ve Got (Pee) Mail

I’m not sure exactly where I first heard the term “Pee Mail” but it still cracks me up.  It’s also pretty accurate.  Well, to dogs anyway. We generally get bored with our dogs when we are on walks and they stop and smell EVERYTHING.  “Come on, Spike!  We have two miles to run, have to […]

Continue Reading     |     May 7, 2012

What To Do Before You Take Your Pet to the Vet

We’ve all been there.  Loving Fluffy is suddenly nowhere to be found to go into her carrier.  Or, she tries to scratch your face off when you try to put her in it.  Even with catnip!  “You usually love catnip, Fluffy?!”  Fido cowers in the corner, shaking, before you make it to the car.  Or, […]

Continue Reading     |     April 10, 2012

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