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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.


Put on a Happy Face

For the last two weeks I’ve been on vacation. We have a lovely rental house deep in the Wisconsin woods. There are no visible neighbors, no big roads and no fenced yard. This is the fourth summer that our lab, Tucker, has spent here, but the first for our recently adopted dog, Hobo. Tucker has […]

Continue Reading     |     July 24, 2014

Meeting the New Neighbor

This weekend we got an exciting addition to our neighborhood – our next door neighbors adopted a rescue dog. The new arrival was happily welcomed by kids and adults up and down our dog-loving block. However, I wasn’t so sure that the every member of my household would be equally thrilled. I was worried that […]

Continue Reading     |     May 15, 2014

My Dog Doesn’t Resource Guard…or Does He?

Resource guarding is a term used by those who study dog behavior to describe a set of behaviors that dogs display when trying to communicate that they have something they really want to keep and don’t want you to take away. These behaviors can be displayed around their food bowls, bones, toys, sleeping spots, and […]

Continue Reading     |     April 17, 2014

What Breed Is He, and Why Does it Matter?

When you have a new dog and you go to sign him up for a training class, inquire about boarding, or call a dog walking company, your dog’s breed is almost always one of the first questions you will be asked. The big question is: why do we care so much? There is an important […]

Continue Reading     |     March 13, 2014

He’s Probably Not Housetrained

“He’s probably not housetrained.” Those words were thrown out casually by the adoption counselor as he completed the paperwork for us to take Hobo home. The excitement of having finally found a dog to adopt, combined with my [over?] confidence that I knew how to properly housetrain a dog, overrode any hesitation I felt at […]

Continue Reading     |     February 4, 2014

Big Dog, Small Dog

I am a big dog person. I have never lived with a dog that weighed less than 50 pounds. I like my dogs to be substantial. Although Tucker, our 70-pound lab, doesn’t agree, my kind of dog doesn’t fit on my lap. I like a dog that barks, not yips. I can’t imagine carrying a […]

Continue Reading     |     January 21, 2014

Choosing a Rescue Dog

Two and a half years ago, I wrote my very first AnimalSense blog about choosing a puppy. This time, I wanted to share some lessons I learned during our most recent dog search. Rather than going the puppy route, for a variety of reasons, my family decided that we would adopt an adult dog. We […]

Continue Reading     |     December 16, 2013

A Different Kind of Dog Park

My lab Tucker is now 2.5 years old, and some may think he has led a bit of a sheltered life. You see, until recently, Tucker had never once been to a dog park. For many reasons that are perfectly articulated in Nicole Stewart’s  blog comparing dog parks to singles bars,  I don’t think that […]

Continue Reading     |     November 18, 2013

Dogs Don’t Speak English… or Do They?

In my last blog, I wrote about how often us humans turn to our most natural means of communication – verbal language – when trying to communicate with our dogs and how confusing that must be to our dogs at times. The bottom line is that they do not speak English… but there are times […]

Continue Reading     |     October 17, 2013

Dogs Don’t Speak English

I can’t count them number of times I have reminded my clients (and myself) that dogs don’t, in fact, speak English.  They don’t have any idea what most of the sounds that come out of our mouths mean.  While we all know that when we stop and think about it, there are still so many […]

Continue Reading     |     September 18, 2013

Doggy Destruction

At the risk of seeming really anti-dog, I am going to pile on to Nicole Stewart’s wonderful and gross blog about dog ownership and point out another less than ideal aspect of dog ownership. Dogs wreck your stuff. Here are just a few examples: Twelve years ago, my husband and I bought our first home.  […]

Continue Reading     |     August 15, 2013

I Just Can’t: Why Your Dog Isn’t Responding to You

When your dog doesn’t do what you’ve asked him to do, what do you think is behind it?  Reasons I often hear from owners include, “He’s being stubborn” or “He doesn’t listen to me”. I would like to suggest that there are many other reasons that a dog may not respond, including: He doesn’t fully […]

Continue Reading     |     July 15, 2013

Mom, Can We Get a Puppy?

If you have a child that likes dogs at all, chances are you’ve heard this phrase more than once.  Puppies are irresistible to most kids, but in my experience, the reality of life with a puppy sometimes doesn’t match up for kids. The cute factor is impossible to deny and even us grown ups have […]

Continue Reading     |     June 17, 2013

Off to School

It’s puppy season!  Seems like almost every day I bump into someone at my kids’ school who is proudly holding a brand new puppy.  Of course, being a trainer and puppy lover, I am always one of the first in line to meet the new family member.  Very often people ask me how old their […]

Continue Reading     |     May 17, 2013

May I Please NOT Pet Your Dog?

I think that most people who have kids will agree with me that, at times, parenting feels like a multi-year nag.  “Use your napkin.”  “Say please.” “Don’t jump on the couch.”  You get the idea.  In my house, several of these long standing reminders have to do with dogs.  “Don’t put your face in the […]

Continue Reading     |     April 22, 2013

Do Nothing Training

OK, it’s time to be honest.  What is the number one thing that we as dog owners want our dogs to do?  I think that if we are really being honest, the answer is nothing.  Yes, we want our dogs to respond to our cues so that when we ask them to sit, they sit.  […]

Continue Reading     |     March 20, 2013

In Search of the Perfect Chew

One piece of advice that us trainers are always giving to our clients is “give your dog something to do.”  Whether it’s getting them accustomed to a crate, settling on a tether or not bothering your family while you are eating, there are many occasions when giving your dog something to keep him busy is […]

Continue Reading     |     February 15, 2013

Canine Teenagers

Adolescence. It is a word that sends shivers up the spines of parents the world over. This includes not just parents to human children, but also parents of the canine variety of teenagers. While the time period and symptoms are pretty easily identified in developing humans, they are not as widely known for dogs. For […]

Continue Reading     |     January 21, 2013

‘Tis the Season

Every year as I make my Christmas shopping list, I find myself checking and rechecking to make sure that I have everyone covered.  Did I send something to my husband’s great aunt?  Do we exchange presents with those neighbors?  Oh my god, I forgot to get something for the babysitter! One thing is sure, though, […]

Continue Reading     |     December 17, 2012

Why Use a Bowl?

I recently attended a pet industry trade show and was astounded by the variety of sizes, materials and styles of dog bowls that were on offer.  There is a mindboggling array of choices, most of which are a far cry from the typical stainless steel, no-frills bowls that we are all familiar with. There are […]

Continue Reading     |     November 21, 2012

DON’T Drop It

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog about “drop it” and just how often I use it with my 18-month-old lab, Tucker.  Recently, I taught him a variant on “drop it” that I call “give.” The “give” cue was born entirely out of my laziness. I found that often when I was tossing […]

Continue Reading     |     October 19, 2012

Don’t Fear the Food

As anyone who has taken a class at AnimalSense knows, we use a training method called positive reinforcement.  Simply put, that means that we reward the dog for doing what we like, which makes the dog more likely to do that thing again the in future.  The reward we use most often is food.  Food […]

Continue Reading     |     October 10, 2012

Size Doesn’t Always Matter

When looking for the ideal playmate for their dogs, many people first try to find a similarly sized dog.  Small dog owners want small dog playmates for their pets, and big dog owners think that their dogs could only be happy romping with another big dog.  However, when trying to find an appropriate companion for […]

Continue Reading     |     September 18, 2012


This July, my family and I headed to northern Wisconsin. Bayfield is a wonderful location to visit; there are few crowds, lots of dog-friendly accommodations and beaches and the beauty of Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands to enjoy.  For the last several years, my family has rented a house on the shore, deep in […]

Continue Reading     |     August 15, 2012

Don’t Tie Me Down

I know it’s tempting.  It’s a lovely day and you don’t want to leave the dog stuck at home when you have an errand to run.  You can kill two birds with one stone – walk the dog and pick up the dry cleaning all in one fell swoop, right? Or you stroll past the […]

Continue Reading     |     July 16, 2012

The Game of Drop It

I live with a one year-old Labrador Retriever and two children.  If you have even a passing familiarity with this particular combination, you will not be surprised to know that the cue that is used far and away most often in my home is “Drop It.” Just for fun, I decided to keep track of […]

Continue Reading     |     May 23, 2012

Ask a Trainer Question Answered

Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our new website. It’s your chance to get dog training advice from the pros at AnimalSense. Stay tuned for more questions & answers, and if you have a burning dog training question, just “Ask a Trainer”! Please note this question has been edited […]

Continue Reading     |     May 15, 2012

I Can’t Take it Anymore

How many of us have had that thought after a particularly bad day?  Your boss changes his mind about your presentation and now you have hours of work to do at home tonight to make your deadline.  Then, you find that you have a parking ticket when you leave the office.  Once you get home, […]

Continue Reading     |     April 18, 2012

Scaredy Dog Myths

Fear is normal.  It is evolutionarily smart.  The animals (or humans for that matter) that had no fear were easy pickings for predators and didn’t get the chance to pass on their genes.   Today, however, it is not uncommon to see fearful behavior in our dogs directed toward everyday objects – the vacuum cleaner, garbage […]

Continue Reading     |     March 21, 2012

If I were my client, what would I tell me to do?

Ever heard the phrase the cobbler’s children have no shoes?  Well, I will make a confession; my dogs do not always have the picture-perfect manners one might hope that a trainer’s dog would possess.  They know all the basic commands, a couple of cute tricks and generally respond to what I ask them to do.  […]

Continue Reading     |     February 17, 2012

The Wonderful Kong

As the mother of two, I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have made it through the exhausting newborn period without the help of my good friends the infant swing and the vibrating bouncy seat.   Usually one or the other worked to give me enough time to do something requiring two arms, like showering, and kept my […]

Continue Reading     |     January 23, 2012

Take a Break

If you read my previous blog post about picking a puppy, you know that this summer my family decided to get a puppy.  So in addition to dealing with all of the energy, training needs and general craziness of a puppy, I’ve also had to cope with some of challenges of going from having an […]

Continue Reading     |     January 10, 2012

Take a Break

If you read my previous blog post about picking a puppy, you know that this summer my family decided to get a puppy.  So in addition to dealing with all of the energy, training needs and general craziness of a puppy, I’ve also had to cope with some of challenges of going from having an […]

Continue Reading     |     January 4, 2012

Pick a Puppy, Not a Picture

As some people know, my family decided to add a new canine member this spring.  The journey through picking a puppy was a really eye-opening one and left me with one bottom line piece of advice to share – pick a puppy, not a picture. My two previous dogs were chosen the way that I […]

Continue Reading     |     December 14, 2011

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