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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.


Things I Learned While Dog-Sitting

As a dog trainer whose days are centered around dogs, dog behavior, dog knowledge, and sometimes, dog poop, the last thing I want to do is take dogs into my home. It’s not relaxing and always takes about 3 days for things to normalize, but when a friend with a 9 month old mini Australian […]

Continue Reading     |     January 13, 2017


Director of Training Nicole Stewart shares her experiences dealing with “Catchmeifyoucan-itis”. It’s a common ailment, but luckily very curable. If you’d like to learn more, sign up for one of our Recall and Leash Manners classes, starting the week of August 17! ******** I can’t tell you how many calls I get like this: “My […]

Continue Reading     |     August 7, 2014

Just Another Reason to Train your Dog

I could list many reasons why training your dog is an important part of the dog-human bond – in fact, maybe I’ll list those in another post – but, for now, I’m going to focus on one. Sometimes there’s nothing better than a senior dog. Most of the time, at that point, they are really […]

Continue Reading     |     July 10, 2014


I’m in the land of kids. I’ll admit it. But the movie “Up” is really cute. And the dog is really… well… dog. What does that mean? Well, he can be doing one thing, and out of the blue, out pops a fast moving rodent. Snap! Just like that, everything he was doing is completely […]

Continue Reading     |     May 22, 2014

How Do You Handle a Dog Fight?

In my last post where I discussed what to do when an off-leash dog comes barreling at you and your on-leash dog, I teased you with the question “What do you do if your worst thought comes to be reality: a dog fight.” Fights can be scary, human or otherwise. However, much of the time, […]

Continue Reading     |     April 10, 2014

Danger, Will Robinson! Intruder Approaching!

As I was walking down the street the other day, I heard this: “No! Stop your dog! Get your dog! Nooo!” and then, “I’m sorry! Ralph! Ralph! Come! Ralph! RALPH!” As I looked up, I saw a pretty friendly-looking Lab running off-leash towards a woman and her on-leash dog. The woman was obviously frightened about […]

Continue Reading     |     March 18, 2014

Ask a Trainer – Compulsive Behavior

It’s time for another round of Ask a Trainer questions! 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”! We rescued a year old male cairn terrier (neutered). He recently started sniffing […]

Continue Reading     |     February 8, 2014

How Dog Training Has Affected My Parenting

I’m a dog trainer. I’m a parent. The dog training has clearly affected my parenting…  -> My work as a dog trainer has prepared me for parenting in ways I couldn’t predict. Here are a few examples that come to mind: Patience, repetition and consistency are the keys to building good, lasting behavior while developing […]

Continue Reading     |     February 6, 2014

The Holiday Crazies

As I sit here with bins of Christmas decorations strewn across the living room, I think for a moment about what this must look and feel like from my dog’s point of view.  So (don’t think I’m crazy), I knelt down to his level to take a look at the joint.  If I thought that […]

Continue Reading     |     December 13, 2013

Shopping Etiquette for Dogs

Shopping, traditionally, is a human activity.  I don’t think you really see wild dogs, wolves, or our local coyotes headed to the mall to check out the latest collars or Apple products.  There is an argument to be made that scavenging is a form of shopping, but the lack of wallets, and, let’s face it, […]

Continue Reading     |     October 4, 2013

Ian Dunbar Seminar Recap

Recently, many of us from AnimalSense attended a seminar led by Ian Dunbar, the founder of the Association of Pet Dog Trainers and a pioneer in the positive reinforcement training method. In debriefing with the other trainers after the seminar, it seems that the big take-away from this was the idea and importance of two […]

Continue Reading     |     September 26, 2013

Dog Park vs. Singles Bar

I’m going to tell you a little secret… I don’t really need, nor want, my dog to be overly interested in other dogs. Gasp! I know.  Seems weird, huh? I’ll tell you another one… Though I did a lot of time in a bar with friends in my early 20’s, I’m not sure I was […]

Continue Reading     |     September 9, 2013

Debunking Lassie

I loved Lassie. Still do. But basing the decision to add a dog to your family on her you might find a lot of class actions suits popping up for false advertising. (“She” was actually a “he”, let the jury note.)  The same goes for Benji, Toto and many other celebrity dogs, short Beethoven and […]

Continue Reading     |     August 9, 2013

Everyone Has a Limit

“My dog would never bite.” I hear this a lot, and I wonder why anyone would think that. I can’t even guarantee my behavior.  With the right circumstances, I can act a little crazy. Take my most recent airport experience: I had traveled through Atlanta to North Carolina with two children under 5 for a […]

Continue Reading     |     July 5, 2013

Shall We Do This the Easy Way or the Hard Way?

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you will know that I really believe that the most important aspect of dog training is building relationship between dog and human.  When you have that, you have a lot. So, for a moment, I’m going to put you in a dog’s shoes, if I may. It’s […]

Continue Reading     |     June 7, 2013

I Think My Dog’s New Friend is Using Him

I started out the care-taking process as a dog mom.  I did a couple trial runs early before I was married and had kids in order to make sure that I could keep a living being healthy and alive.  To be honest, my past with plants was not a good omen. There are so many wonderful things […]

Continue Reading     |     May 8, 2013

Love at First Sight

Imagine this:   Open to an empty parking lot. Two cars pull up with a space between them. One car opens and a woman gets out, standing with a look of expectation. The second car door opens.  A man gets out.  He goes to the back door and opens it. A beautiful Pittie Mix comes […]

Continue Reading     |     April 10, 2013

Wanting the Dog You Have

I have done private training for the past 13 years. I have seen people who get exactly the dog they had dreamt of, and then I have also seen people who get a dog with unexpected issues, drives or temperaments. This can happen in the case of the dog being adopted from a rescue or […]

Continue Reading     |     March 14, 2013

Winter Wear

As a mom, winter is enough to make me crazy with all the accoutrement that goes with walking out the door.  Not a day goes by that I’m not counting mittens and coming up with an odd number.  This then sends me on a search to find where the missing one dropped.  Like my dog […]

Continue Reading     |     February 13, 2013

Grow with Time

In my Bowser and the Baby seminars, I cover how to introduce baby to Bowser on that first day home.  At the end of that part of the presentation, I always say, “Don’t insist that your dog and your baby become best friends today.  Let the relationship develop over time.”  Well, this still holds true, […]

Continue Reading     |     January 11, 2013

Ask a Trainer Question Answered

Here’s the next round of answers for our Ask a Trainer feature on our 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”! We live in Florida, but I am asking […]

Continue Reading     |     January 10, 2013

Dog Toy vs. Baby Toy

I was recently at a party that a colleague was hosting, and she was nice enough to host my children as well.  She even brought out some toys that were geared towards my kids despite the fact that her own kiddos are well on their way to all grown up status.  This seemed beyond the […]

Continue Reading     |     December 12, 2012

Canine Holiday Hazards

As I thought about making everyone aware of things that might be dangerous for your dog during the holiday season, I started to feel like Debbie Downer.  I mean, here is a list of things that are toxic and/or can be life threatening to your dog: Food Chocolate, as you may already know, is toxic […]

Continue Reading     |     November 29, 2012

Leave It

There are about a hundred things that we don’t want a dog to touch or pay attention to… in a day.  Poor furry creatures.  They are scavengers by nature, and it’s this very trait that make them so good at finding just what, we humans, don’t want them to. Just to name a few: The […]

Continue Reading     |     November 13, 2012

Innocent Until Proven Guilty

I always open up my Bowser and the Baby seminar with a slide that is entitled, “Guilt” and has a picture like this:  I don’t know what caption you might put on this, but if I was to offer up one, it would be, “Who me?” This dog, Tank, really is going to have a […]

Continue Reading     |     October 30, 2012

What’s in a Name?

One of my favorite parts of the first week of classes is that I get inundated with new dog names. You have to be in awe of some of the creativity that lights up my classrooms that first day. Of course, there is always a Cooper, Buddy or Molly. In fact, the most popular dog […]

Continue Reading     |     October 10, 2012

You’ve Been Skunked

This might be a funny show to watch, but only if when Ashton Kutcher came popping out of the back, he took your dog away to be bathed and didn’t bring him back until he was fresh as a daisy again. A dog getting skunked is really no laughing matter.  It is a horrendous smell […]

Continue Reading     |     October 1, 2012

To Add or Not to Add (a dog), That is the Question

I’m a planner.  Anyone who has ever met me knows that I like to have a plan.  Whether it works out or not, I work better with one in place.  So, when my beloved Golden Retriever, Denver, was around 5 or 6 years old, I began to look at the plan for the next five […]

Continue Reading     |     September 21, 2012

Context is Everything

Have you ever met someone at a work function and then two days later run into that same person at the grocery store and it took you a moment to remember their name?  Out of the context of work, it can take our brains a moment (and a little conversation) to let all of the […]

Continue Reading     |     September 12, 2012

Boarding your Dog

Going on vacation is usually something to look forward to, but when your dog can’t join you, it can be stressful leaving them behind. There are some things you can ask and check out before you decide where to board that can set you at ease when you leave: Are the dogs crated at night? […]

Continue Reading     |     August 31, 2012

Jump Start vs. Boot Camp

I’ve been new thinking about a new service of ours that I’m particularly enthusiastic about, but I think needs a little clarification.  It’s called our Jump Start program.  We’ve created it in order to be able to offer people who want a stay at home option similar to a boot camp.  A traditional boot camp […]

Continue Reading     |     August 1, 2012

The Treat Pouch

The key to learning any skill is having the tools you need at any moment that presents an opportunity to practice it. For example: A hairdresser isn’t going to get any better if when a client comes in, they don’t have scissors. I can’t get any better at writing if I don’t have my computer […]

Continue Reading     |     July 30, 2012

Senior for a Senior

I received an email the other day from a woman wanting some advice on getting a dog for her dad who had recently moved into a senior living situation, and it got me thinking. When someone comes to me asking for advice on adding a furry friend to their family, there’s not one perfect recommendation.  […]

Continue Reading     |     July 11, 2012

The “People Food” Controversy

“Our dog has never had people food.” I hear this often after I’ve suggested that when training your dog in an area where there are distractions, the person might want to bring a higher value treat in order to compete for the dog’s attention. I usually recommend meat or cheese. In training, food is a […]

Continue Reading     |     June 29, 2012

Hug it Out… or Don’t

Here are a couple facts: Humans hug to show affection and love. Dogs don’t.  (Let’s be honest, they smell each other’s butts!) If you’ve ever seen two dogs who are playing, it usually starts out with chasing each other, alternating who’s on their back, maybe even a show of teeth bumping each other, but at […]

Continue Reading     |     June 13, 2012

Confining Hooch

Have you ever seen the movie “Turner and Hooch”? If you have, you’ll remember the “ginormous” dog named Hooch who basically steals every scene from Tom Hanks.  He is oozing with slobber, has a deadpan face and is large enough to do damage quickly.  The story is simple:  dog meets man, man hates dog but […]

Continue Reading     |     May 30, 2012

Who’s a Smart Dog?

It never fails that someone comes into my class with the idea that their dog is “dumb”.  Either, they haven’t had luck in training their dog themselves, they “failed” a puppy class, or it’s a breed who have a tendency to be a little “dopey” and the owner bought into it. Now, are there dogs […]

Continue Reading     |     May 11, 2012

Trick or Behavior?

When I teach a basic behaviors class, whether it’s Middle Management, Puppy Pre-School or Fido Foundations, I usually refer to Sit, Down, Stay, Come, etc. as “behaviors”.  They are things that we want our dogs to know because we are told that all dogs should learn them.  This can create a stress around training in […]

Continue Reading     |     April 25, 2012

Let Me be Me

AnimalSense holds a seminar called “Bowser and the Baby” at Prentice Women’s Hospital monthly, and I am one of the presenters.  This is one of my absolute favorite things to do because: 1. I really believe I can help expecting couples prepare their dogs for the new baby and 2. Being in a room full […]

Continue Reading     |     April 4, 2012

With the Wind in their Face

When people think of dog bliss, one image that might come to mind is a happy pooch with his head hanging out of a car, wind blowing through his hair and the amazing stream of scents that come fast and furiously as the car hurdles forward. There are, however, a couple things to think about […]

Continue Reading     |     March 23, 2012

Backyard Misbehavin’

My clients call me to their homes for a multitude of reasons, but one that often doesn’t prompt the call, inevitably comes up in discussion time and time again. “I can’t get Fido to stop (fill in the blank – jumping, barking, digging, ignoring me, etc.) in the backyard.”  Almost always I follow with a […]

Continue Reading     |     March 12, 2012

My Dog’s Gone on Walkabout!

When considering how to write about this subject, I thought about NOT telling you how it came to my attention, and focusing on the importance of knowing what to do if your dog goes missing.  As a dog professional that is also human, two things have come to my attention: 1.  This can happen to […]

Continue Reading     |     February 20, 2012

Mmmm… Poop

“Mmmm” and “poop” in the same sentence?  I know.  Seems, well…  gross, right? Well, that’s because it is for us humans who have not embraced the nutritional goodness of what is left over once it comes out of our bodies.  Dogs are, however, very versed in the poop varieties.  Let’s see, there’s rabbit, deer, goose […]

Continue Reading     |     January 18, 2012

Toddlers… Ugh! (A Guest Post by Finlay Stewart)

Toddlers are scary. To dogs. Well, as a mom, I can honestly say they scare me sometimes too. Let’s face it, they walk like they’ve had too much beer, they scream at a decibel level that might not yet have been discovered, and they come at you with no warning with a push, a tug […]

Continue Reading     |     January 2, 2012

Rub a Dub Dub

I read an entire article by respected Illinois veterinarian, Dr. Karen Becker, the other day on how to give your dog a bath.  Initially, I thought it funny that an entire article could be dedicated to such a basic activity.  I mean, in classes, we talk about how to get your dog used to be […]

Continue Reading     |     December 9, 2011

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