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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.

 

Get a Dog

I love to have a plan. I generally have a plan A and a plan B (and sometimes even a Plan C). It is not just the big things I plan for – it is pretty much everything. I think it stems from a childhood spur-of-the-moment trip my parents decided to take to the Wisconsin […]

Continue Reading     |     June 19, 2014

Are You Interested in Therapy Dog Work?

I have been involved in animal assisted therapy for about fifteen years as a volunteer, as an evaluator, and as an instructor. In some ways, it is actually what I imagined it would be like, but in other ways it is totally different. For example, when I first started volunteering with my dog at hospitals […]

Continue Reading     |     April 15, 2014

Dog Ownership Doesn’t Stop When You Do

I was having a conversation with some friends about parrots the other day. The topic was life expectancy – an African Gray parrot can live to be 80, a Macaw can live to be 100. Unless you get the bird as a baby and take great care of yourself it is likely that the bird […]

Continue Reading     |     March 27, 2014

The Patience of a Dog Trainer

There’s an old saying that patience is a virtue, and I have to say that for most of my life it was one of the many virtues I did not possess. None at all. Zip. Zero. However, I recently said, “I’m in no hurry” to somebody, and had a real moment of self-awareness. What happened? […]

Continue Reading     |     March 6, 2014

Dogs Who Love Winter

I have always wanted a dog that sleeps by the fireplace. I love the image of a dog lying there while I read a book and have a cup of tea – all of us snuggled up for a lovely winter day. Have I ever had that? Of course not, because I am drawn to […]

Continue Reading     |     January 6, 2014

Make an Early New Year’s Resolution

This past weekend was the annual meeting and holiday brunch for the animal assisted therapy (“AAT”) group with which I volunteer. Every year I am struck by the number of hours people commit to volunteering and the diverse places that they go. Like all AAT Groups, we go to a lot of hospitals, nursing homes, […]

Continue Reading     |     December 9, 2013

Protect your Dog from Theft

Several years ago, I got a call from the police that my horse Doc had been stolen.  It was, needless to say, a very disconcerting call.  I was upset but didn’t have a lot of time to process because they caught the thief a few hours later. Turns out a girl from a group home […]

Continue Reading     |     November 8, 2013

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I receive a lot of dog catalogs and other info about dog-related products, so here’s a list of what I consider to be the Good, the Bad and the Ugly. The Good I will focus on an old favorite, the Gentle Leader.  If you don’t know, the Gentle Leader is a head harness for your […]

Continue Reading     |     October 15, 2013

Think Positively: Why Use Positive Training with your Dog

There are lots of reasons to use positive reinforcement techniques for dog training.  Perhaps the ones that are most persuasive are those that cite the science behind it.  It is worthwhile to check out the American Veterinary Society of Animal Behavior and look at some of the studies – if you are on the fence, […]

Continue Reading     |     September 16, 2013

My Perfect Dog May Not Be Yours

I have been dog training for a few years now. Each time a new class starts, I know there are certain questions that will inevitably be asked but one continues to surprise me:  “Is that okay?” Dog owners ask this whenever they do something that they think might be unacceptable, like letting their dog jump […]

Continue Reading     |     August 16, 2013

Why Your Dog should be a Canine Good Citizen

After teaching AnimalSense’s Canine Good Citizen class for awhile, I became an evaluator last year. I now test dogs to see if they are worthy of the CGC title. (Yes, that’s what it is now. As of 2013, if your dog passes the test, he can  be awarded a title by the American Kennel Club […]

Continue Reading     |     July 12, 2013

What Dog Device is your Must-Have?

In a recent issue of Food Network magazine, many well-known chefs were asked “What is the one kitchen device you can’t live without? Not one but two chefs picked something called a Microplane zester, which is apparently essential if you have a fresh nutmeg emergency. I decided to ask the same question of a number […]

Continue Reading     |     June 12, 2013

Remembering Rin Tin Tin

My favorite breed of dog is the German Shepherd.  I have never owned one but have always thought they were everything one would want in a dog – beautiful, smart, brave and loyal.  In my head, I even have a picture of the one I would own, and he would be named Stanley. I know […]

Continue Reading     |     May 13, 2013

Bad Dog

I came across a show called “Bad Dog” on Animal Planet recently.  The title was intriguing, so I gave the show a try.  It was exactly as represented. One segment featured a dog that liked to chase golf balls. He would find a golf ball and toss it down the steps. He liked to do […]

Continue Reading     |     April 17, 2013

Left or Right Paw?

Ten percent of people in the world are left handed. This got me wondering whether the percentage is similar for dogs. Yes, dogs have actually been shown to have a preference for one paw over the other. Turns out that the preference in dogs runs along gender lines.  According to a study done at the […]

Continue Reading     |     March 18, 2013

How Do You Keep a Dog from Being a Dog?

Following my dog’s recent hip surgery, the vets gave us a daunting set of instructions to follow to make sure the hip replacement healed properly. The most important rule was that there was to be absolutely no walking for one month. She could go outside to eliminate, but that was it. The first week or […]

Continue Reading     |     February 22, 2013

The Painful Truth

This week, my husband, Sophie the Newfoundland and I are going to Columbus, Ohio so my dog can have a hip replacement surgery.  This is a trip that will last from Tuesday through Friday, so my friend has taken to calling it a “surgication”  – Sophie has surgery while we try to have a vacation. […]

Continue Reading     |     January 23, 2013

Bah Humbug

I have a confession to make: I am the Scrooge of doggie Christmas! Katie Moody’s recent blog about including dogs in family Christmas celebrations was lovely and what one would expect from a member of the AnimalSense family. Like Katie, I also hang stockings for the dogs; the difference is that we don’t actually fill […]

Continue Reading     |     December 24, 2012

Cooking for Dogs

Most people do not consider me to be an especially good cook. In fact, the list is probably limited to my son-in-law and my sisters.  Actually it’s probably not even that my son-in-law and sisters really like what I make – they just appreciate the fact that having someone make you food is nice. You […]

Continue Reading     |     November 22, 2012

On Track to be a Therapy Dog

All of my recent dogs have been registered therapy dogs, and I want the same for my 11-month-old  puppy, Sophie.  However, as I have been trying to train her for this, I realize how difficult it is to practice some of the elements required to pass the test. The basics of the therapy dog test […]

Continue Reading     |     October 24, 2012

There’s an App for That

I recently updated the software on my phone and noticed some of the new apps.  I decided to see if there were any dog related apps that sounded interesting.  I haven’t actually tried any of these but here’s a list of ones to check out. Pet Acoustics This is an app that plays sounds and […]

Continue Reading     |     September 25, 2012

I Don’t Think I’m in Kansas Anymore

After having a corporate job for many, many years, I gave it up to become a dog trainer. The other day, it occurred to me that dog training and the dog world in general have colored my world in a way that my other job never did. For example, I was watching the Wizard of […]

Continue Reading     |     September 20, 2012

Beware of Bloat

A few years ago my Newfoundland developed Gastric Dilation Volvolus, commonly known as “bloat”.  Because I had recently read an article about the condition,  I was able to recognize it and got Molly in to an animal emergency hospital for life-saving surgery. Because of this, I think it’s a good idea to remind people about […]

Continue Reading     |     August 22, 2012

What’s in a Name?

We got a puppy last December and my family had long discussions about what to name her. In fact, there was more consideration given to her name than I gave to my daughter’s name. My top choices – Turnip and Petunia  – were voted down.  We ended up calling her Sophie, or rather, my husband […]

Continue Reading     |     August 7, 2012

Pounding the Pavement

It seems to me that lately there has been a shift in how dogs walk. I don’t mean a physiological change. I mean they do not seem as excited to walk on a leash as they used to be. Yes, its been extraordinarily hot here in Chicago lately, but this change seems to predate the […]

Continue Reading     |     July 18, 2012

Fashion Faux Paws

I see a lot of Internet traffic discussing the appropriateness of dogs in costumes.  A consistent question is whether costumes impact the dignity of the dog.  Those are interesting discussions to read, but I do find it hard to wrap my head around a dog being dignified. After all, these are creatures that generally don’t […]

Continue Reading     |     June 26, 2012

Say Cheese

I was recently at a seminar about dog behavior and a few of the speakers showed YouTube videos of babies or very small children interacting with dogs – generally large dogs.  I suppose on some level they seem cute but what is really happening is quite different.  What you generally see is the small child […]

Continue Reading     |     June 18, 2012

A 120 Pound Beagle

I bought a Newfoundland, but I think I got a beagle. I don’t really mean that, of course. I have a six month old puppy that looks like a Newfoundland and even has papers saying she’s a Newfoundland. However, she doesn’t always act like my last Newfoundland puppy. Sophie is a barker, which is annoying […]

Continue Reading     |     May 16, 2012

Inconsistent Training

I am about to commit dog training heresy.  Let me start by saying that the three main principles of dog training are repetition, timing and consistency. Consistency is often considered the most important. However, sometimes even the best dog owners have periods of inconsistency. This is even more likely if there are multiple people training […]

Continue Reading     |     April 27, 2012

The Value of a Reward

At AnimalSense, we talk a lot about rewards and their “value”. Value in training depends on the dog and the circumstances. For example, when I train my five-month-old puppy inside my house I use her kibble.  She loves her kibble but it’s something she gets three times a day so it’s nothing special.  However, when […]

Continue Reading     |     April 6, 2012

Timing is Everything

There’s a television show I watch called Hoarding (my guilty pleasure is now out) that involves people with serious psychological disorders who hoard massive amounts of stuff.  The stuff that they collect may even include garbage.  I was watching one episode that involved a particularly gross kitchen.  Immediately after that visual of filth, a commercial […]

Continue Reading     |     March 28, 2012

There’s Still a Puppy in My House

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about our new puppy Sophie.  At that time I focused on the stuff that’s not so great about puppies – the trips outside in the middle of the night, the housebreaking accidents, and the teeth – oh, those puppy teeth. It’s been a good puppy week so […]

Continue Reading     |     March 7, 2012

It’s Just Dog Training

Over the past several years, I’ve attended a lot of AnimalSense classes – as an observer when I was learning to be a dog trainer, as an assistant trainer and as a student. One of the most consistent things I see is that very few people – myself included – have as much fun as […]

Continue Reading     |     February 29, 2012

There’s a Puppy in My House

A few years ago, Sony developed a robot dog .  The dog supposedly did all the cute things dogs do but I personally thought it was a pretty stupid idea.  However, a few nights ago when I had my fourteen-week-old puppy out in the freezing rain at two in the morning I finally understood the […]

Continue Reading     |     February 3, 2012

Size Does Matter

Certainly all dogs should be well socialized and well trained.  That way they can live with you and your family manage-ably as well as in the outside world.  However, when you have a big dog, training becomes even more important.  Picture an off leash Yorkshire Terrier that comes hurling at you from across a park […]

Continue Reading     |     January 9, 2012

Hello Kiddies

We all know the perfect scenario for a meeting between dog and child:  The child would come up to you and your well-behaved dog, ask if he may pet your dog, and then, after you say yes, the child pets your dog in a totally appropriate way.  My neighbor’s children actually behave this way.  They […]

Continue Reading     |     December 31, 2011

Animal Assisted Therapy

A number of AnimalSense clients tell us that they’re interested in getting their dog into an animal assisted therapy  program (AAT – informally known as pet therapy) so I thought I’d share some personal experiences and a few lessons learned. In 1999, I decided I had the perfect dog for AAT so I did some […]

Continue Reading     |     December 19, 2011


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