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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.

 

Is It OK to “Push” Your Dog in Training?

Just about every week in my classes I urge the pet parents not to push their dogs. By that I mean it’s best to take things slow and allow your dog to progress at his or her own rate. But this week I had a question about literally “pushing” a dog into a Down position. […]

Continue Reading     |     September 5, 2014

How Does your Dog’s Sense of Hearing Affect Behavior?

As a kid I remember being fascinated by the idea of a silent dog whistle – something dogs could hear but people couldn’t. It is true that in terms of hearing the biggest differences between us and our four-legged friends is that they can hear much higher frequency sounds. That could explain a few things: […]

Continue Reading     |     August 21, 2014

Before You Get a Dog

A while back one of my colleagues had a posting here titled Get A Dog. It focuses on deciding when to add a new dog to your family. That, along with a number of recent questions I’ve received from new puppy parents, prompted me to think about what should happen between the time you decide […]

Continue Reading     |     July 17, 2014

Crate Questions: Sleeping Through the Night

I recently had a pet parent ask me a question about crate location. This family has a new puppy and they are a two-crate household. They don’t have two dogs. They just have two crates – one in the bedroom for nighttime and one in the family room for daytime. I’m a fan of that […]

Continue Reading     |     May 29, 2014

Two Simple Truths About Your Dog

“The dog’s agenda is simple, fathomable, overt: I want. I want to go out, come in, eat something, lie here, play with that, kiss you. There are no ulterior motives with a dog, no mind games, no second-guessing, no complicated negotiations or bargains, and no guilt trips or grudges if a request is denied.” I […]

Continue Reading     |     April 8, 2014

How to Make “Sit” Mean “Sit”…No Matter Where You Are

So you’ve taught your dog to sit. And as long as you’re standing in front of him with treats in hand, he sits. But what happens when you’re out on the street? Or at the vet’s office? Or the pet store? A lot of times it may seem like your dog has never even heard […]

Continue Reading     |     March 11, 2014

A Movie Recommendation for Dog Lovers

I stumbled upon a movie recently that turned out to be one of the better dog movies I’ve seen in a while. I had never heard of it before. It’s a Japanese film called Quill: The Life of a Guide Dog. I almost always find faults with dog movies because I can’t help but focus […]

Continue Reading     |     February 18, 2014

Can My Dog See Ghosts?

A couple weeks ago my partner and I went to see a production of Ghost the Musical. It’s based on the 1990 film Ghost. You know, the one with Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze, a potter’s wheel and “Unchained Melody”. It made me think of a question that came up in a class a while back…and […]

Continue Reading     |     January 23, 2014

Why Is My Dog Acting So Crazy Today?

I sat down this morning to work on my blog. I had an idea of what I wanted to write about and started to type. But then my dog started barking. A lot. Every couple of minutes. So now I find myself wanting an answer to the question: Why is my dog acting so crazy […]

Continue Reading     |     December 20, 2013

How to Stop your Dog in an Emergency

Every time I teach Recall – or “come” – I find myself saying, “This is one of the most important things you will ever teach. It could save your dog’s life.” While that is true, there is another emergency tool that might be even more valuable in certain situations. Imagine your dog pulls the leash […]

Continue Reading     |     November 20, 2013

How Does your Dog’s Sense of Smell Impact Behavior?

I started my last blog with a story about a client asking me why his younger dog could not seem to recognize his older dog when the older dog was out in the backyard. The blog was focused (no pun intended) on how well dogs see. But it just as easily could have focused on […]

Continue Reading     |     September 19, 2013

Find Out What Your Dog Really Sees

I had a question in class a couple of weeks ago about how well dogs can see.  The question came from someone with two dogs.  They had noticed that there were times when Charlie, the dog I was working with, didn’t seem to recognize the other one. “That’s your brother out there.  Can’t you see […]

Continue Reading     |     August 22, 2013

Your Dog Sits, but Will He Stand?

When the summer weather gets too oppressive for a long walk, you can still spend time with your dog and exercise indoors… mentally.  Why not stay in the air conditioning and teach your dog a new skill? Nearly every dog owner wants to teach Sit and Down. They are basic behaviors we teach in many […]

Continue Reading     |     July 19, 2013

Taking Fido to the Street Festival

Last week, I stopped by a local street festival.  Street fairs, concerts in the park, parades and festivals… they are great places for people watching.  But last week I found myself dog-watching.  I was actually surprised at the number of people who brought along their pooches.  I was also a bit troubled, because the first […]

Continue Reading     |     June 19, 2013

Be a Good Neighbor

I was walking home from a Recall & Leash Manners class the other day when I saw a sign posted in a flower bed. I was intrigued/amused enough to snap a picture.  If you can’t make it out, the sign says in a combination of words and pictures, “Dear dog, please pee on a tree […]

Continue Reading     |     May 28, 2013

How Dogs Learn

A new session of classes is starting this week, and once again, I find myself talking a lot about “how dogs learn.” It is a topic we cover in the first week of almost every class we offer. Like other trainers, I’ve developed my own little standard talk about the three keys to learning: Motivation.  […]

Continue Reading     |     April 26, 2013

Crossing the Threshold

Last weekend I was sitting in my living room reading.  Ernie, my dog, was laying quietly on the floor a couple of feet away.  My partner Steve walked in the room just as I heard ominous steps on our front porch:  the mailman was approaching.  That is something that sends Ernie into a barking frenzy.  […]

Continue Reading     |     March 27, 2013

Is it Time to Eat?

Before I was a dog trainer, I worked in corporate communications. It was my job to take the ideas and words of management and put them into employee newsletters and emails. This blog is a little like that. The ideas and thoughts that follow are not just mine. They come from a recent Facebook discussion […]

Continue Reading     |     February 25, 2013

Why Don’t my Dog’s Feet Get Cold?

Dogs are sometimes full of mystery. We watch them do seemingly meaningless things and wonder why. We think about how they evolved into so many sizes, shapes and colors and wonder how. I recently was watching my dog slip and slide on the ice and found myself wondering aren’t his feet really cold? I couldn’t […]

Continue Reading     |     January 25, 2013

’twas the night before Christmas…

..and the shopping is done, including a new squeak toy for dog number one. Seems like the last few blogs here have been about Christmas and dogs.  I have never been one to buy gifts for my dog.  But this year I did.  What moved me to do that this year is that I have […]

Continue Reading     |     December 26, 2012

Fear of Dogs

A few weeks ago several of the AnimalSense trainers went together on a “field trip” to Wolf Park in Battleground, Indiana. Wolf Park is an education and research facility that is home to some 16 gray wolves.  One of the things we got to do was to go in with the wolves – inside the […]

Continue Reading     |     November 23, 2012

Why We Train our Dogs

So here I am at my first APDT Conference, along with some 800 other dog trainers, including several of my colleagues from AnimalSense.  APDT is the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.  When we told our classes last week that there would be no class this week, we said we would be at the conference and […]

Continue Reading     |     October 22, 2012

A Fear of Thunder (Shirt) – Part 2

Last month in Part 1 of this blog I described how the success I had with the Thundershirt seemed to be at risk because my dog Ernie was developing a fear of the shirt itself.  Every time I would pull the shirt out, he would turn and run. (The same way he does when I […]

Continue Reading     |     September 19, 2012

A Fear of Thunder (Shirt) – Part 1

A couple of years ago – or maybe longer – I started hearing radio ads for the Thundershirt.  Being the owner of 10-year old Westie – Ernie — who trembles, pants, paces and hides at the first sign (or sound) of a thunderstorm, I was intrigued.  But at the time, I thought, “this has got […]

Continue Reading     |     August 27, 2012

Walking, Talking and Texting

Is there anything wrong with using your cell phone while you’re out for a stroll with Fido?  Technically maybe not. But it is quickly becoming one of my pet peeves. A couple of days ago I was out for a run when I saw a woman walking two dogs.  Small dogs – maybe a Min […]

Continue Reading     |     July 25, 2012

What’s in a name?

Over the past few days I’ve realized that the most important word I ever taught my dog is “Ernie.”  That’s his name.  And it is the one word he will always respond to.  Always.* Why is that so important?  I was reminded recently of just how important “Ernie” is to my dog when I was […]

Continue Reading     |     June 25, 2012

Why NO may not work

In my very first AnimalSensibility blog I talked about a number of things I would differently with my dog having learned more about canine behavior and training.  Now I am adding to the list.  Lately, as I have watched more and more clients talking to their dogs in classes (and as I have listened to […]

Continue Reading     |     May 25, 2012

Baby Steps: One Secret to Training

For the last few weeks, I’ve been assisting another trainer with private lessons for a dog who’s reactive to strangers.  That is, the dog takes the idea of being a watch dog to the extreme and reacts (read “barks”) at any guest in the home.  We were using a relatively new behavior modification technique called […]

Continue Reading     |     April 20, 2012

Run, Toto, Run… a Lesson from The Wizard of Oz

Even if you haven’t seen this year’s Academy Award Best Picture winner, you likely have seen or at least know about one of the stars of The Artist, Uggie.  The Jack Russell Terrier is the latest in a long line of famous movie dogs.  Another we all grew up with is Toto from The Wizard […]

Continue Reading     |     March 5, 2012

Sit, Down and Stay a While

Last week, I was asked about my favorite thing to teach.  Since I am still fairly new at training, I didn’t have an immediate answer.  But after thinking for a few minutes, I said “Stay.”  I didn’t say that so much because I like teaching it; I said it because I like seeing it. To […]

Continue Reading     |     February 2, 2012

If I Had Only Known… Lessons from a New Trainer

As a dog owner getting my second Westie puppy, I thought I was totally prepared and knew everything I needed to know about caring for a puppy.  Well, I quickly realized I had forgotten how much work a puppy is.  And now, ten years later, I realize I am still learning.  As a new AnimalSense […]

Continue Reading     |     January 12, 2012


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