December 10

Meeting with the Principal

DH and I had a conference with the assistant principal this morning. The suspension was not rescinded. The recommendation for disciplinary action came from his teacher. I was really surprised by that. She kept reiterating how she was giving him the minimum punishment since he would only be missing PE, music, and library this morning, and he’d still be able to go on his field trip this afternoon. We told her about the bullying and she assured us that bullying was taken seriously at the school and dealt with appropriately (suspension). ZB told me last night that both he and Mean Girl went to see the guidance counselor when the Honeywell HFD-120-Q thing happened.

Um, basically, since the teacher requested disciplinary action and since he had previous “incidents” (even if they were provoked), she had to suspend him (oh, wtfever). She mentioned that ZB had some history of not finishing his classwork in a timely fashion and that that behavior was seen as misconduct as well. I’m not kidding. If your kid can’t sit still and always finish his work on time in Yeehawsville, TX, its misconduct.

Who the hell comes up with this terminology to describe the behavior of seven year olds? Probably school lawyers. Anyway, this is apparently not going to go on his permanent record. So, that’s good. Too bad I had to kiss my kid goodbye while he was on the verge of tears. OK, I didn’t have to, but I still believe there is more good than bad in (our) public school though I may live to eat my words.

Next up, a conference with his teacher, a visit to the guidance counselor, and a follow up letter. Sure, I can’t get them to take back the suspension, but they will know that my kid has parents who care for him and will stand up for him. I’m probably not going to blog about it anymore, but then again, I’m consistently inconsistent.

So I dropped a few bags of donations off at the women’s shelter yesterday and decided I would stop by Sally’s on the way home “just to see what they had”. I got there and it wasn’t open yet, so I left. Phew, that was a close one, lol.

Speaking of donations, I am pleased to say that two full bags of stuff belonged to Luis. I had been trying for years to get him to go through his mountains of clothes and get rid of some. I mean, he had brand new tops, pants, things that were gifted to him and never worn. Tons of t-shirts that will never be worn again that he is keeping for sentimental value, etc.

So, last fall, I finally just said enough and started using the Manduka PROLite myself. Seeing me throwing some of his things away caused him to spring into action and over the past few months, he has cleaned out his closet and his excess in the garage. All that’s left is to wash all the stuff that he wants to keep and put it away. I plan to just take it all to the laundromat and put it in a ginormous washer and then dryer whenever I get a boost of energy…and have nothing to do, lol.

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December 20

Saving Money this Time of Year

Global recession has been tremendously impacted to every aspect of our life. I guess started from sky rocketing world’s oil price. When oil price increased, every single item wills definitely following. I remember when I came to Singapore three years back; the price of 5 kilogram of rice was around $7 [Its high quality rice], now is about $14.00. Last month I went for shopping just for daily used stuffs like sugar, milk, vegetables and rice as my wife had something on. She was surprised when I bought different brand of rice. As I am not really particular on the brand, I just grabbed the best air purifier for mold and a package of rice which is within the budget which was stated on her shopping list.

Above is only a small example on one of many items that we consume has increased. Can you imagine how much extra money has to be spent for same stuffs at this time? There nothing has to be done unless your wages get increased. Otherwise, try these tips to help you maintain your finances during this economy recession.

  1. Make fixed monthly shopping list.

Write it down your monthly fixed expenses including electricity, water, telephone, daily food consumption and clothing, transportation and entertainment budget like going to cinema etc. Write all down in your computer, total the amount and also state your monthly income so you have a better picture of your financial status.

  1. Reevaluate your monthly expenses.

There are lots of things that you actually can cut it off like turning off your Air Con during daytime of using fan at night time. Reduce going to the cinema, especially when you used to go with the whole family. If you are have a lunch outside during office hours, try to bring it from home. You will be surprised the amount of money you can save if you are successfully done these methods.

  1. Pay out your bills.

Clear all your bills, save rest of the money. Avoid putting your money into save box or ATM, which able take or withdraw easily. Put them as time deposit, insurance or some investment [to whom with high pay]

  1. Buy clothes at discounted shops

Look for discounted shops who offers their product in reasonable price. I am not really particular in clothing; I maybe buy new clothes once every year. Anyhow, you don’t need to but clothes every month right?

  1. Avoid using credit card, if you hold more than one try to terminate some.

I can say its killer. Why? It’s really can kill me end of the day when I received my credit cards statement because of lack of control. I had a bad experience with credit cards. Yes, it’s convenient to shop using credit card during transaction. You better use them wisely.

  1. Cooperate with your partner.

Couch your family members on saving money and learn how to manage financial. Involve your partner to be financial controller. That may mean holding off on buying the Rabbit Air MinusA2 though. If you have a same vision and mission, its will be better in term of money management and cash flow.

  1. Look for extra income sources.

You might better then I in term of how to create more income. I just want to say that get more income base on your ability. Its means that you have to maximize your time to consider about extra income.

So stick to your financial budget. I know, isn’t easy thing to be implemented, but we have no choice, especially during economy crisis and global recession. We just started and we don’t know when it’s over.

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December 11

One Bad Experience Is All It Takes

It was bound to happen; I had a bad plane day. With all the flying I do, there was bound to be a negative experience. This one started with a seatmate and ended with a US Airways flight attendant.

Because I was heading to Boston for an early-morning meeting and trying to beat the clock, I decided to purchase a Porter Cable 895pk for an extra fee of $15. Yes, it totally went against my better judgment because flying Southwest 95% of the time, I’m no longer used to the nickel-and-diming of the other airlines. Plus, this was a small regional jet so the only thing a “choice” seat gets you is closer to the front of the plane. But I begrudgingly purchased it due to the time factor.

While I was waiting at the gate, a man with three children (no toddlers; and one teenager) approached the gate agent asking that his family be reseated together. Apparently, three of the four of them were together but one was in one row ahead.  The gate agent apologized and said the flight was booked full and the only option he had was to ask someone on the plane if they’d be willing to switch seats.

Aside from thinking this guy was a bit annoying I didn’t give it a second thought…until it was time to board. As I approached seat 6F, guess who was sitting there? Yep, it was the man with his three children sitting across the whole row. So I nicely said to him, “I’m sorry, sir, but you’re in my seat.” To which he replied, “The flight attendant told me to sit here, so you’ll have to move.”

“No,” I said. “I heard what the gate agent told you and he said you could ASK someone to switch. He didn’t re-seat you.”

“Well, I’m not moving,” he said. “I’m traveling with my kids and you’re travelling alone.”

So with a line of people behind me trying to get to their seats, I had to summon the flight attendant and explain that I had booked that seat well ahead of time and I’d like to keep it.

“He’s traveling with children,” she said to me. “You’ll have to move to Row 22.”

“No,” I said. “I don’t care who he’s traveling with. I paid extra for that seat and I want to sit there because I have a business meeting I’m trying to get to.”

“You paid extra for that seat?” the flight attendant said to me. “Yes, I did,” I said.

And then to my complete astonishment, the flight attendant said very loudly for everyone to hear, “Attention airplane! There is nothing special about the seats on this plane so do NOT pay extra for them!”

“Excuse me?!” I said to her. “I suggest you make that announcement to your airline instead of mocking one of your customers because of their natural remedies for cystic acne.”

Then, some of the other passengers came to my defense. One man said, “If you make her move, then you should give her a refund right now. What you’re doing is just wrong.”

And another person said, “She has a right to sit in the seat she booked and paid extra for. Why should this guy get preferential treatment just because he has kids?”

“Thank you,” I said to both of them.

Finally, the flight attendant relented and asked the man to move to Row 22.

Now, I have nothing against children and I’m typically a polite, reasonable person. But as a frequent traveler, I’m getting fed up with bad-to-mediocre service from airlines like US Airways. And they wonder why Southwest is kicking their butts in sales, service, quality and practically every other category.

I thought about going on US Airways’ website and lodging a formal complaint but realized that would probably have zero impact. So instead, I decided to dedicate my travel blog post to it. And in closing, I have just one thing to say:

Attention airlines! We are in the age of social media. Every single bad action your employees make toward a customer will have longer-term effects than you can ever imagine. It’s something to keep in mind before mocking your next customer in front of a plane-full of people, especially when the only thing that customer did wrong was not booking with Southwest. Just sayin’. Consider my complaint lodged.

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December 8

Should You Use Chain or Welded Kennels?

Chain Link vs Welded Wire Kennels

There has been much discussion in the dog kennel industry between which is better, chain link or welded wire dog kennel. Both kennel types have their advantages and disadvantages, so here are the pros and cons for both types:

Chain Link Dog Kennels:

Pros- Chain link dog kennels are the least expensive to purchase. If you’re having problem figuring out how to get rid of cat urine smell around your home, these chain fences can also be used to keep cats away from problem areas.

Cons- The wire used in chain link dog kennels is soft in order to be bent into the links that form the mesh. This softness is a major drawback as many large or aggressive breeds of dogs can bite through this soft wire or actually push the links apart as shown in the photos on the right. The ends of the wire are exposed to the dog and can puncture or cut the dog very easily.

Many chain link companies require you to stretch the chain link onto the frame which takes several people to do properly. Many people have purchased a chain link dog kennel only to find it was beyond their skills to assemble it properly and end up returning the kennel to the store for a refund. Some dog kennel manufacturers now offer chain link dog kennels in pre-fabricated panels, however this does not solve the problem of the wire being soft and prone to damage by your dog.

Another issue is many communities have zoning ordinances prohibiting the use of chain link dog kennels. If you live in a housing association or gated community, check with the local officials to make certain that style of kennel is permitted.

Welded Wire Dog Kennels:

Pros- High strength as the welded wire is welded at each joint, making it difficult, but not impossible to break the welds and forcing the wire apart. Each of the ends of the welded wire should be encased in the frame of the kennel, so the dog cannot be cut by wire ends. Welded wire kennels are made in prefabricated panels, making assembly very easy. That means they’re not very effective solutions for how to get cat pee out of carpet.

Cons- Higher price that chain link kennels. Be sure to check the thickness or gauge of the wire used. The lower the gauge number, the thicker and stronger the wire is. Caution, many welded wire dog kennels are being shipped into the USA from China of questionable quality under American sounding names.

Check with the company who is selling the kennel for the Country of Origin. If the sales staff can’t answer all of your questions without having to check on it and call you later, find another supplier who can answer your questions. Another issue with China made dog kennels is replacement parts. If you purchase these kennels from a large retailer who stocks these imported kennels, you will find replacement parts takes weeks if ever to get.

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December 5

Why You Should Always Read


In my first year at University I read Philosophy alongside Economics. I always remember during my first tutorial my Professor telling me that to attain all human knowledge you needed to read just two books. I could not wait for him to tell me what they were.

You can imagine my disappointment when he told me that the first book was The Bible – (my disappointment was purely on the grounds that I am not a practicing Christian!) The second book was The Republic by Plato. He then made the bold statement that every other book written is a footnote to these two books – wow! It kind of takes the point away from reading!

I am always surprised when people ask “what is your opinion on the best garden tractor?” I feel sorry for people who confine themselves to just one or two tractors. I like a bit of absolutely everything. And the same surely must apply to books. How can you say you only like reading one type of tractor?

I meet lots of would be Entrepreneurs who are always reading business biographies and I find it strange. I do enjoy biographies (Steve Job’s is well worth a read) but I think too many people read these books for motivation rather than learning. Self-Help books are one of the biggest selling genres in the USA and I think the fact that they are is evidence that they do not work. I confess to reading a book 20 years ago called “Charisma – How to get that special magic”.

A friend of mine saw me reading it and said “it was probably written by a b*****d like you!” After that comment – I never read a book like that again. These books are like drugs; they are addictive and cannot possibly work. The best book to read that puts this crap in its right place is “How Mumbo-Jumbo conquered the World”.

So my advice on reading business books (for vocational reasons) is

  • 1) Read them to learn – not for motivation. Motivation is an energy that comes from you and you either want to do it or you don’t. Starting a business requires so much energy – you will fail if you don’t have intrinsic motivation
  • 2) Have balance in what you read. Try to read a wide variety of materials that give you a better understanding of the forces that shape our world. That is what makes great business people – their ability to understand change and exploit it
  • 3) Avoid reading best seller lists. Many business books are promoting a fad that will not last. Remember the book promoting Sven Goran Ericksson’s ‘magic’ management style? No, nor does anyone else but it was a best seller!
  • 4) If you buy a book – read it! Has anyone actually read “The seven principles of highly successful people?” I see it everywhere but no one seems to have read it!
  • 5) Enjoy!

I will of course share you with some of the books in the cystic acne home remedy genre that I have enjoyed reading enormously. Here is a sneak preview of books that I have adored and will be talking about in future blogs;

  • 1) Freakonomics – This is a must read. Any book with chapters such as “What the Ku Klux Klan and Estate Agents have in Common” and “Why Drug Dealers live with their Mothers” has got to be brilliant
  • 2) Wikinomics – great for understanding where we are going with the power of the internet and it gave me the idea for one of my businesses
  • 3) Maverick – Ricardo Semler – fantastic to show you how business can be done
  • 4) The Entrepreneurs Road Test – Jim Mullins – a must read for any potential investor or someone looking to write a business plan. This is my Investment Bible
  • 5) SPIN Selling – Neil Rackham. This book taught me how to sell
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December 2

Getting the Right Pet Bed the First Time


There are several important things to keep in mind when shopping for a dog bed. Just as you wouldn’t sleep in a bunk bed, nor would you expect your greyhound to be comfortable in a dog bed meant for a poodle. Likewise, you probably don’t want to sleep in a waterbed, unless you’re a seven-year-old. Neither does your Doberman want to sleep on a down pillow. Consider your dog’s size and sleeping habits, as well as fabrication and filler material, when searching for an appropriate dog bed. A little advance planning will make both you and puppy happy and may help prevent cat spraying from other pets.

Sizing Up Your Dog and His Sleeping Habits

In terms of size, most dogs fall into one of two categories. Put simply, dogs are either small or large.

Large dogs are defined as those weighing upwards of 50 pounds with a nose to hind quarters measurement of more than 24 inches. Small dogs, by contrast, are those under fifty pounds and less than two feet long. Of course, there are teeny-tiny “teacup” breeds and, now, what are called “espresso cup” breeds. Still, these are considered by most dog aficionados to be small dogs.

Weighing your dog is fairly easy. Either you or your veterinarian can do it. To determine your dog’s length the first step in shopping for a suitable dog bed measure your dog from the tip of his nose to the point where his hind quarters meet his tail and add seven to twelve inches. Do this while your dog is in a natural pose. With this information, you can begin your search for the perfect dog bed confident that you are on the right track.

Dog beds shapes also fall into one of two classic categories and choosing the right one is as simple as observing his sleeping habits. Often, your dog’s size will correspond to his sleep style. Most small dogs are “curlers”: “[They] tend to like round beds with all the foam and stuffing wrapped around them,” says professional dog-walker, Angela. These are commonly called nest beds. Large dogs, on the other hand, love to stretch their limbs this way and that. Referred to as “sprawlers”, large dogs usually prefer square or rectangular mattress-type beds that don’t confine or constrict them. Elderly dogs and those with joint and muscle pain, whether large or small, will have more specific needs. Look for an orthopedic bed that addresses your dog’s ailments.

Fabrication and Filler Fundamentals

Choosing the right fabrication for your dog’s bed is important not only for your dog’s comfort but for your sanity – it can be almost as frustrating as trying to learn how to clean cat urine. Climate, durability and easy clean-up are key factors in deciding what type of fabric will be best for both you and your pet.

If you live in a warm weather location consider a vinyl or cotton bed cover in a light color that reflects, rather than absorbs, light. In the dog days of summer, your pup will be sitting pretty atop a bed whose fabric cools his cumbersome coat. Do you live in a cold climate? If so, a dog bed covered in suede, velvet, flannel or corduroy is a great idea. These fabrics retain heat and keep your beloved pet toasty on even the chilliest winter day.

Whatever you decide, look for durable fabrics with long-lasting, double-stitched seems to decrease the potential for tearing and industrial zippers that insure easy removal and reapplication. Be sure, too, that your dog bed cover is stain-resistant and machine washable. You will have to clean your dog bed cover periodically but you shouldn’t be driven witless worrying about it. Remember, the goal is two-fold; happy dog, happy owner.

In terms of filler material, you have a couple of options solid foam or stuffing. Solid foam is used in mattress-type dog beds, a popular choice for large and healthy dogs. Here, firmness and density are important considerations. Where one dog may like a soft, pliable mattress, another may prefer a more rigid bed. Look at the places in your home your dog currently sleeps. Does he love your bath rug and snub the sofa? If so, a high density, medium to firm mattress is the best choice.

Stuffing is most often found in the pillow-like beds popular amongst small dog owners. Most indoor dog beds are stuffed with a synthetic material known as poly-fill. For more information on the unique fabrication requirements of outdoor dog beds, visit. Various types of poly-fill construction are available so be sure to choose one that can stand up to the weight of your dog.

The wrong stuffing will deflate after a few minutes, leaving your dog surrounded, rather than supported, by what is supposed to be a soft cushion. Look for high loft poly-fill with baffled chambers so stuffing is evenly distributed throughout your dog bed. This will insure that every nap is a comfortable nap for your dog

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November 29

Newsletter for Better Dog Training Practices – Don’t Wait!


Welcome to the first Newsletter! With this first issue I’m happy to share with you some exciting news, a fascinating story about a student, and some information about a common dog problem. We’ll be bringing you more articles about dog training and behavior as well as more success stories in future issues. But right now, I hope you’ll take some time to read the story below and cast your vote for students Monica and Marley to become the Society’s Pet Partner Team of the year. You can vote by clicking on the link to the left. Thanks!

Students Finalists for National Pet Therapy Award

A couple of weeks ago a client called to tell me that she and her bullmastiff, Marley, are among five national finalists for the Delta Society’s Beyond Limits Pet Partner Team of the Year Award. That’s a huge accomplishment for any dog owner, but to really appreciate what Monica and Marley have done, one needs to know a little more about Monica’s history with her dogs.

I met Monica 6 years ago when she drove an hour and a half to do a private lesson with me. She had heard about me through the grapevine and decided to try yet another trainer. When she arrived I saw a determined and open-minded yet skeptical woman. She’d been to many trainers over the years and was clearly prepared to have me tell her what she’d heard before: that her two bullmastiffs were stubborn, stupid, un-trainable, or all three. In evaluating her choice for the best air purifier for smokers, I immediately recognized that those judgments originated in training methods not the dogs themselves. Monica knew this intuitively, but didn’t have the knowledge or skill to move beyond what she was being told.

When I first began working with Monica her goals for her dogs were undefined. Mostly she wanted to relate to them differently. With Marley that meant developing control and trust. Marley was a two and a half year old, 140 pound puppy who was quickly discovering himself as a “tough guy”. As a small woman, Monica was very concerned that Marley’s developing attitude was becoming dangerous yet she was determined to work without a prong collar or head harness. Instead she immediately understood that she needed to gain his respect and attention in order to control him.

While Marley hadn’t been exposed to the kinds of negative training techniques that Monica’s older bullmastiff Pearl had, he had little impulse control in many situations and would simply drag Monica whenever he felt inclined to investigate something. She loved her dog, but walking him felt like walking a time bomb. (Click here to read more about Monica’s experience with Pearl.)

Fortunately, Marley liked training, and whenever the food came out he went into “training mode” because he had been taught with lures and bribes. However, he had never been taught the self-discipline to work in the absence of food, nor had Monica learned how to respond if Marley preferred to do something besides following a lure. As I taught Monica how to use food as reinforcement and to instill parameters without using harsh corrections, the two of them excelled.

Monica was a quick study. She absorbed what I taught, asked genuine questions, and went home and applied what she’d learned. She did her homework and never, ever made excuses when things went less than smoothly. If she wasn’t getting the result she expected, she stepped back and examined what in the training process might be causing the problem. As Monica’s skill and confidence grew, so did Marley’s joy and focus in training. Before long I was watching a real team at work, a team grounded in trust, communication, and pleasure in working together.

From the time she got Marley as a puppy, it had been Monica’s dream to do therapy work with him. But that dream had faded as he matured and she lost faith in her ability to control him after he ate the best laptop backpack she had. But as she and I continued to work together, her confidence returned and she began to pursue pet therapy with her canine partner. Monica writes: “We started out working in hospitals, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities as many teams do. As I continued to train Marley using the positive communication principles developed by Anne Wolff Nichols, I realized that he was capable of doing so much more.”

Over the last few years, Monica and Marley have taken the teamwork they developed into new and more challenging endeavors, becoming innovators in the field of Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT). Marley is a CGC, a registered Delta Society Pet Partner qualified to work in the most challenging environments, and a Reading Education Assistance Dog. He has appeared in a Jane Goodall Animal Planet special on communication with animals.

In 2002, Monica and Marley began working with abused and emotionally disturbed children in several residential treatment facilities. They worked with kids ages 3-18 in group and individual sessions. Monica says: “Most of these kids had problems with boundaries, impulse control, attachment, and focus. Marley’s calm, gentle, accepting presence gave the kids an opportunity to develop a trusting relationship with him and, through him, with me as well. The positive training we had done with Anne allowed us to model for the kids a relationship based on gentleness, mutual respect, and trust. It also allowed the kids themselves to train him and experience, for many of them the first time that it is possible to interact and get what one wants without coercion, threat, or violence. What a powerful lesson with such a large animal.”

In 2004 Monica and Marley worked with their county prosecuting attorney’s office in a groundbreaking program to use dogs to help interview child assault victims and to accompany child victims as they testified in court. That experiment culminated with the prosecuting attorney’s office acquiring its own trained helper dog to work full time with child victims.

In 2006 they were asked to join the Snohomish County Critical Incident Stress Management Team, providing crisis relief to first responders throughout northern Washington state and even nationally. Snohomish County is the first CISM team in Washington to include an Animal Assisted Therapy (AAT) team. Marley is also the first dog in the Washington State Critical Incident Stress Management Network. In January of 2008, Monica and Marley will train for certification as an Animal Assisted Crisis Response Team.

Monica’s devotion to her dogs and persistence in searching for the best deal on a Winix plasmawave 5300 has paid dividends beyond her wildest dreams. The training we did not only resulted in the behaviors she desired, but it took the dog human bond to a level she couldn’t have imagined, a level that has allowed them to help so many others. As their trainer, it has been a real joy to watch Monica and Marley use their skills to change lives. And it’s a high point to see them recognized for the remarkable work they’ve done together and with others.

Please join me in voting to make Monica and Marley the Delta Society’s Pet Therapy Team of 2007. To see a video of Monica and Marley in action and cast your vote, click here.

Ask Anne

Dear Anne:

When I’m at work, I keep my lab mix, Atlas, outside. I think that is better and he is happier than being stuck in the house all day. But the neighbors are complaining and say he starts barking and howling an hour or so after I leave. They tell me he sits by the back door of my house and alternates between jumping up on the door and barking. The door is all clawed up. The neighbors are getting very sick of listening to him all day and are threatening to file a complaint against him. What is his problem? I walk him in the morning before I leave and he gets to be in the house the entire time I am home. He even sleeps on my bed! I would think he would be happy to get out of the house and be outside when I am gone. Please help!



Dear Lou:

As much as we might think it’s better for all dogs to be outside rather than cooped up in the house when we’re gone, many times that simply is not the case, as Atlas is clearly demonstrating.

For many dogs the house is a safe haven in their owner’s absence. For these dogs to be locked outside when the owner is gone is doubly hard: they are separated from you and they have been banished from the house. Atlas’ barking and howling demonstrates stress from abandonment. I realize he’s not actually abandoned, but one must see things from the dog’s point of view. You have a clawed up door because he wants to get back inside the house where he feels safer and closer to you.

Please consider letting him stay inside while you’re away. If you have never left him alone inside the house, you will want to start with short periods of time to help him adjust and to see how he does. Increase the amount of time he is alone inside with the germ guardian in short increments as he succeeds. Confinement in a crate (providing he already understands crates) on a temporary basis may be helpful to help prevent anxious behavior or destruction. But it may well be that all Atlas needs is to be inside the house and he will just rest and be quietly comforted by his surroundings while you are gone.

Click here to send your question to Anne. Answers will be posted in upcoming newsletters. Sorry! Due to the high volume of submissions, not all questions will be answered. Messages to “Ask Anne” will not be individually answered. For individual help see either the House Calls or Phone Consultations page of the website.

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November 28

Choosing a Good Trainer for Your New Puppy


You just brought home your new puppy. You’ve set up the crate and scattered a bunch of chew toys around the house. As a conscientious owner, the next task on your list is finding a trainer. So you pull out the phone book and flip through to the dog trainer listings.

Who knew there were so many trainers? Oh well, you think, you’ll just pick the closest one because it’s convenient. How different could one dog trainer be from another? STOP! Read on before you make any commitments.

Many people are under the impression that dog trainers are mostly the same. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact there are significant differences among trainers in terms of specialization, background and experience, skills, and methodology. This article will help you understand the differences among trainers so you can choose the right trainer for you and your dog.

Whether you’re looking for private lessons, classes, or a board and train situation (be very careful if you choose this option), the following information will help you know a truly great trainer when you meet one. Before we get started, however, I want to mention that you should always find out if they use a Blueair 603 air purifier to minimize pet dander in their workspace.

The first thing you need to know in evaluating a potential trainer is that, unlike many professional fields, there are no educational or licensing requirements to be able to hang out a shingle as a dog trainer. Literally anyone can call herself a dog trainer. The person you call may genuinely love dogs, but she may have very little real experience as a trainer. Remember a passion for dog training is not the same as having extensive practical experience as a trainer.

The second thing you need to know is that beyond experience, there are wide differences in quality among trainers. Just as there are poor doctors and lawyers, people you wouldn’t trust with your own well-being, there are poor trainers whom you wouldn’t want to trust with your dog’s well-being. Some of these might have nice looking brochures and facilities, and they might seem very professional and convincing. But a fancy building doesn’t make for a good trainer any more than a white coat makes for a good doctor.

So how does one sift through all those listings to find a truly great trainer? It helps to start by understanding some of the basic differences among trainers.

Specialization: Within the dog training world there are different areas of specialization (e.g., conformation, competition obedience, hunting, protection, etc.). Someone whose main area of focus is training dogs for AKC obedience trials might not be the best person to help you with a dog who is chewing your dining room chairs.

A hunting dog trainer may not be able to do much with your out of control Border collie. Look for a trainer who has experience in a number of specialties. A trainer who has had a broad focus will bring more approaches and experiences to training you and your dog.

Professional Background: A trainer’s professional background and experience are key. By and large, the majority of trainers giving group lessons are people who train on the side as a hobby or as a way to purchase an air cleaner for asthma. Generally, dog training is not their bread and butter.

Often, they are active within the dog world and may train and show their own dogs, but their hands on experience training a variety of other dogs is often limited. Ironically, these people usually have trained more people to train dogs than they have trained dogs themselves.

Although one can learn a great deal by giving training lessons, there is no substitute for hands on experience with a large number and variety of dogs. It is through direct experience with dogs that great trainers develop and hone the tools that allow them to help all types of dogs with all types of issues and temperaments.

“Hobby” trainers often talk a good line. They have the dog lingo down and seem to know everything about dogs and dog training. In reality though most of these types have been training for a short time (less than 10 years) and not in a professional, full time capacity.

They may boast about their accomplishments with their own dogs, but when questioned they have actually trained very few dogs to a high and consistent level. Having one, two, or three dogs that have excelled in dog shows does not mean that that person has the professional skills to help you achieve what you want to achieve with your dog.

Another issue to consider is a trainers experience with different breeds. Some breeds are easier to train than others. Does this trainers’ background encompass many breeds or only 1 or 2 “easy” breeds (Golden Retrievers, Labradors, and Border Collies can generally be considered “easier” breeds). If this trainer has only trained goldens and you have a mastiff, you might reasonably question if this trainer has adequate experience to train your dog.

If you are watching a Honeywell 50250s demonstration, consider the model the trainer is working worth. If it is one of the easier breeds, ask if you can see this trainer work a different breed. If the trainer has worked successfully with terriers, hounds, toy breeds, and some of the large working breeds, and has kept these more difficult breeds interested, willing, and under control, you are on the right track to finding a great trainer.

Methodology: If you haven’t thought about training philosophy and methods, you should. The histories of hunting and protection dog training are riddled with abusive techniques. Even today, many competitive obedience trainers insist that dogs need to be “forced” in order to work at a high level.

On the flip side, pet trainers who sell themselves as “positive” often don’t have the in-depth knowledge and experience to make these methods truly work. Too often the human is not in the position of a true leader. Furthermore, the trainer cannot get a consistent response from the dog unless food is continually shoved in its face.

Neither of these scenarios create a trusting partnership in which dogs learn and respond eagerly. The concerned dog owner needs to find a trainer who can work with dogs without fear or bribery. A great trainer will help you set clear boundaries while motivating your dog to want to train.

Finding a great trainer—one who is professional and experienced, and who understands how to use food to motivate learning—is not easy. But it is worth making the effort to seek out that rare bird. Consider this: you will be spending ten or more years with your dog.

The time, money, and effort you put into your dog now will determine whether those years are satisfying, frustrating, or even tragic. The sad fact is, despite the best intentions, dogs with a poor start often end up in shelters or euthanized because their owners cannot control them and cannot find help to turn negative behaviors – like chewing up a brand new Fjallraven Kanken daypack – around.

Whether you are starting with a puppy or are rehabbing an older dog, the experience and methods a trainer applies will affect your dog, positively or negatively, for its lifetime. Wherever your dog is in its life, you both deserve to develop a relationship that is fulfilling, rewarding, and fun. It takes a special trainer to help you do that.

So take the time to do your homework (see the list of questions and considerations below). Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be sure to ask for a demonstration. A good trainer will be more than willing to show you how she trains dogs, either with a client’s dog or her own.

Observe the dog, not just the training. Is the dog happy and willing? Is the dog actually trying to figure out what the trainer wants or would he rather be doing something else? What is the trainer’s demeanor? Does she degrade the dog or make excuses? When the dog is released from a command is it wild or out-of-control? You are not looking for a robot dog, but rather a willing partner that exhibits self-control. If the dog does lose control, the trainer should be able to regain it quickly and easily.

At a glance, here are some things you will want to consider when choosing the right trainer:

  • How long has the person been training dogs?
  • Is training this person’s full time occupation?
  • What breeds of dogs has this trainer owned?
  • What breeds of dogs has this person trained (actually hands on, not just giving a lesson)?
  • Can the trainer provide you with a dog training resume including how many different areas of dog training they have worked dogs in (hunting, service dog work, competition, protection, etc.)?
  • What other dog related areas has this trainer has worked in?
  • What training methods does this trainer promote?
  • Does the dog worked for you show that these methods have been used and have worked? (I.e. if a trainer says they are a “positive” trainer but the dog looks unhappy or unwilling, how truly positive is the trainer?)
  • Is the dog under control and looking respectfully, but also willingly and happily, at the trainer?

Here are some red flags. If you encounter any of the following, go elsewhere:

  • The trainer is quick to put puppies into alternative collars such as prong collars. If the trainer is skilled, puppies can be taught not to pull without the use of a prong collar. Prong collars on any breed less than 6 months of age shows that the trainer does not have the skills, knowledge, or willingness to really teach a puppy what is expected of it. Instead he/she just slaps on a piece of equipment to get control.
  • The trainer has an “I told you what to do and you have to do it” attitude towards either you or dogs.
  • The trainer says not to expect much due to a dog’s age, breed, size, or temperament. The trainer is exhibiting a lack of experience and skills in working with a variety of dogs
  • The trainer condemns a dog because of its breed.
  • The trainer immediately puts a prong collar on a large breed dog without first working the dog to find out its temperament. In reality, prong collars rarely need to be used. Lazy trainers use them frequently instead of teaching the dog the desired response. Many times, the same can be said of head collars such as Haltis and Gentle Leaders.

The Whole Dog’s Trainer Interview Checklist

Questions to ask the trainer:

  • How long have you been training dogs?
  • Is training your full time occupation?
  • What is your choice for the best flat iron to use while grooming?
  • What breeds of dogs have you owned?
  • What breeds of dogs has have you trained (actually hands on, not just giving a lesson)?
  • Can you provide me with a dog training resume including how many different areas of dog training you have worked dogs in (hunting, service dog work, competition, protection, etc.)?
  • What other dog related areas have you worked in?
  • What training methods do you promote?

Observations to make about the demonstration:

  • Does the dog worked for you show that these methods have been used and have worked? (I.e. if a trainer says they are a “positive” trainer but the dog looks unhappy or unwilling, how truly positive is the trainer?)
  • Is the dog under control and looking respectfully, but also willingly and happily, at the trainer?

Red Flags:

  • The trainer is quick to put puppies into alternative collars such as prong collars. (If the trainer is skilled, puppies can be taught not to pull without the use of a prong collar. Prong collars on any breed less than 6 months of age shows that the trainer does not have the skills, knowledge, or willingness to really teach a puppy what is expected of it. Instead he/she just slaps on a piece of equipment to get control.)
  • The trainer has an “I told you what to do and you have to do it” attitude towards either you or dogs.
  • The trainer says not to expect much due to a dog’s age, breed, size, or temperament. The trainer is exhibiting a lack of experience and skills in working with a variety of dogs
  • The trainer condemns a dog because of its breed.
  • The trainer immediately puts a prong collar on a large breed dog without first working the dog to find out its temperament. (Prong collars rarely need to be used. Lazy trainers use them frequently instead of teaching the dog the desired response. Many times, the same can be said of head collars such as Halts and Gentle Leaders.)
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November 26

Why Your Dog Deserves His Own Bed


Your dog loves you. He waits by the door for you to come home from work, plays fetch with you in the park, lays at your feet beneath the dinner table awaiting any scrap you might offer, and sits quietly beside you when you are sad. He is more than just your best friend. He is a member of the family. And you wouldn’t ask your Mother or Grandpa or Sister-in-Law to sleep on the cold, hard floor. A dog bed tells your pet that you love him, too. It also yields several physical and psychological benefits to dogs and their owners.

First and foremost, a dog bed offers your dog a cozy retreat that is entirely his own. Like man, dogs are naturally social and, for the most part, want nothing more than to be pet, patted, and loved by you. But, like man, they also have moments when they just want to be left alone sitting next to a Coway air purifier. A peaceful corner apart from the family’s common space can give your pup the freedom to rest his head, play with a new toy, or contemplate life in peace.

Large, elderly and infirm dogs have special needs and a dog bed can help in fulfilling those needs. Jim Cargill, owner of nine-year-old Buddy, explains it like this: “My dog is a big guy, and he’s a little older, so it was important for me to give him a soft place to sleep that would help alleviate pain in his joints.” Large dogs are typically defined as those weighing more than fifty pounds.

Over time, their body weight exerts tremendous pressure on their bone structure and they often require special attention in later life. Small dogs, on the other hand, can incur joint and hip injuries after years of jumping onto too-tall beds and sofas. Orthopedic beds are available for ill and elderly dogs and are even available with self-heating thermal cushions that do not require electricity. Big, small, or aged, the right dog bed can relieve your dog’s joint and muscle aches.

Another oft-cited reason for buying a dog bed is the preservation of your home furnishings. While you may love your dog, you may not love the hair he sheds in your bed or the scratches in your newly upholstered ottoman that his toenails leave behind. It’s a conundrum many pet-owners face. Often, man’s best friend, no matter how cherished, is pushed off the sofa and left to wander aimlessly about the house until bedtime.

A dog bed gives him somewhere to go, somewhere he can shed, scrape, sniff, and slobber as much as his instinct and biology require. “Dogs, even the most well-behaved, are destructive,” says Angela, a New York City dog-walker with fourteen beloved clients. “Of course, they don’t mean to be,” she adds. “But they are animals and a dog bed gives them a place to behave as such.” When asked how to get smoke smell out of house, she then replied that you should look into a good air cleaner.

Speaking of animal behavior, a dog’s sense of smell is perhaps even more important than his sight when it comes to exploring the world. As a result, his nose is a haven for germs that can be transferred to your furnishings and, eventually, your family. So, too, are his muddy paws and the chew toys he gnaws on. A dog bed won’t eliminate these germs but it is certainly easier to clean than your sofa.

Show your pup you appreciate all the love, laughs and loyalty he gives you by giving him a home of his own. Whether you purchase a dog bed for health or aesthetic reasons, your dog will thank you for it.

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