Spokesdog's Canine Couch

A journey about dogs and their people by Diane Rich

Summer Solstice Adopt-A-Thon at Seattle Humane

June 18th, 2014 at 5:10 pm by Diane Rich
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tricks chase bow deck 6-13
c Diane Rich 2014
Enjoy extended hours and up to 50% off all pet adoptions on June 21
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Celebrate the longest day of the year with pet adoption discounts and special extended hours! Seattle Humane will be open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. for a Summer Solstice Adopt-A-Thon on Saturday, June 21st. Arrive early and get first pick at hundreds of adoptable animals and adoption discounts on the longest day of the year. We’re offering 50% off all pets from 11 a.m .to 5 p.m. and 25% off all pets from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.Every pet in Seattle Humane’s care has been vaccinated, microchipped, health-checked, and spayed/neutered. Most adoptions include 30 days of pre-paid health insurance, a collar and identification tag, and a certificate for an examination by a King County veterinarian. To learn more and view adoptable pets visit seattlehumane.org. SummerSolstice2014_FB.jpgSpeaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC


About the Seattle Humane Society
Seattle Humane Society has been awarded the coveted 4-star rating by Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator for the fifth consecutive year! Founded in 1897 to bring people and pets together, Seattle Humane Society provides incredible companion animals for adoption 7 days a week, pet workshops and training, a pet food bank, a low-fee spay/neuter surgery program, humane teen club, a visiting pets program and more.

Trainer Hopping

June 16th, 2014 at 7:55 pm by Diane Rich
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Finding the Right Fit

c Diane Rich 6-14

Some dog owners who have an interest in dog training and the time to continue with their training
past one class may trainer hop just to learn different methodologies of general dog
training.  However, some dog owners who parent dogs that present specific problems past
the usual puppy behaviors or have adult dogs that are not responding to cookie cutter
training techniques may have no option but to trainer hop to achieve desired results.

Then there are those other owners who are unsatisfied with trainer #1  for personal reasons so hop
along to  trainer #2.  The owner does not see  #2 as the right fit either so now that dog owner
moves on to #3. Trainer #3 now joins the ranks of the two previous trainers and is history and the
hopping continues.   I have found myself to be trainer #3,  #4 or  even #5.  If this is the case, I sometimes
wonder if the client just got unlucky with their previous choices of dog trainers, had unrealistic
expectations of the process or just didn’t connect with that trainer. For whatever reason, the match-up
did not work out.

One pet parent may do very well with one particular trainer be it in a group structure
or 1:1 and another owner may find that same trainer not to their liking.  An owner may initially like a
trainer then change their mind along the way and just did not retain that good connection.
I have been in this business long enough and am sure I have been hopped over also and that is
perfectly fine,  and that decision may be the best decision for all involved.   The bottom line is
that the dog gets trained and everyone is happy.
c Diane Rich 2014
The following are just a few direct quotes from clients as to why they trainer hop:

1.  “The trainer was nice but my dog and I did not learn that much”

2.  “The trainer talked too much during the session”

3.  ”I did not get enough personal attention in the class”

4.  ”I did not like the way the trainer handled my dog”

5.  “The trainer was condescending to me” or “the trainer was rude to me”

6.  “The trainer was great with dogs but not with people”

7.   “The trainer would only use clicker training and I did not like that method”

8.  “The class was too chaotic”

9.  ”The trainer allowed aggressive dogs in class and that made me nervous”

10.  “I found the sessions boring”

Hopefully you will find a professional trainer that meets or exceeds your criteria.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC


Book Review: Life’s A Bark, What Dogs Teach Us About Live And Love

June 6th, 2014 at 3:41 pm by Diane Rich
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By Larry Kay

c Diane Rich 2014

The author writes, “ There’s a lot we can learn about life and love from our canine friends.”
I could not agree more.  Throughout this delightful book Kay captures the essence of our beloved
dogs reminding dog lovers that we should be more like our canine friends and just enjoy life.

Kay reminds us that:
1. Dogs live in the moment
2. Dogs don’t judge themselves
3. Dogs don’t beat themselves up for imperfection
4. Dogs open their heart fully to humans they trust
5. Dogs raised in a positive environment seem to have a spark.

The author notes how dogs present unbridled joy over a stick, the earth and greeting
their person. So, to tap into just letting it all go Kay makes suggestions throughout the
book as to how we can keep the human spark alive since many people choose to control
their emotions and not know or forgot how to kick up their heels once in awhile.
For those people who tend to be too tightly wrapped, Kay suggests they dance naked
around the house. My initial thought was who hasn’t done that?   Although, I am hopeful
if someone does decide to do a naked happy dance they save the public from the view and
close the shutters or blinds before throwing caution to the wind.

I found this book to be a fast, enjoyable read that may just remind you to rediscover the
simple things in life.   Life’s a Bark would make a great gift.

Disclaimer:  I was asked to review the book and have received no compensation for my review.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Camp Korey’s Family Day A HUGE Success

June 1st, 2014 at 3:15 pm by Diane Rich
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The Magic of Camp

ck 2014 family day kiki lewis firetruck 6-14
c Diane Rich 2014

Around 400 people enjoyed the sun, the fun, the food, seeing old friends and meeting new ones at Camp Korey’s
Family Day today.

On our way back to the car we stopped to get a tour of the fire truck that firefighters bring to camp
every season to hose off  all who opt in for the food fight.  This delightful and messy activity is a
hit every summer and a sight to see.  Jack Lewis  was just finishing up my tour when they all got
beeped for an emergency.  Within minutes of that call they closed up the truck and were off. Very impressive.

Summer camp begins this month and we are all excited to get back to camp to be with the kids.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC


Book Review: Sergeant Stubby

June 1st, 2014 at 8:41 am by Diane Rich
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How A Stray Dog and His Best Friend Helped Win World War I and Stole the Heart of a Nation

By Ann Bausum

c Diane Rich 2014

If you like history and dogs then this is a book you will thoroughly enjoy by award winning author Ann Bausum.   Bausum  introduces us to a soldier, Private J. Robert “Bob” Conroy who befriends a stray dog, a little stump-tailed terrier mutt at a military training camp on Yale University Campus.  It was not love at first sight for Conroy but Stubby won him over and they became best friends, inseparable friends.

Stubby’s  heartwarming  story begins in 1917 when America is about to enter the war.  The 102nd infantry division was called into action and Conroy would not leave Stubby behind so this little dog became a stowaway aboard a troop transport ship bound for Europe.  Of course Stubby was soon discovered and won over not only the hearts of the entire infantry but also the commanding officer.

On the battlefield, Stubby was a source of comfort in the trenches and to the wounded and even captured a German soldier.  He helped soldiers cope with stress on and off the battlefield by offering comfort to those soldiers suffering from  PTSD which during WWI was called “shell shock.”    He could easily be the Father of all therapy dogs.

In addition to offering his heart and love to the soldiers, he was on the front lines. He would alert to the scent of gas and had his own gas mask.  Stubby also pointed medics toward wounded allies on the battlefield.   On February 5, 1918 while with his soldiers who were defending battle lines along the Chemin des Dames highway, Stubby was seriously wounded by shrapnel in the battle of Seicheprey.  He survived.

Stubby proudly wore  a military coat specially made for him that included well deserved victory medals.  This fearless, devoted dog became the mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment Yankee Division in WWI and the most famous dog of WWI.  He was the first dog to be given rank the U.S. Armed Forces.

Bausum captures the humanity of war and the bond that can be forged between dog and soldier, even in the most horrific conditions. His talents continued after the war and he continued on as the Yankee Division’s beloved mascot and became a star of the vaudeville stage.  After his death, he was stuffed and now resides in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

I highly recommend this book.  You will not be disappointed.  Thank you to all in the armed forces, both human and canine who bravely serve our country.

About the Author: Ann Bausum has written 9 National Geographic books for young readers which include 6 works of social justice, 2 presidential history reference books and a photobiography.  She has won numerous awards including a Sibert Honor Award from the American Library Association.

I wanted to include some information about the foreword writer, David E. Sharpe.   He struggles with PTS and with the help of a rescued Pit bull pup named Cheyenne, veteran David Sharpe founded Companions for Heroes, which provides companion dogs rescued from shelters to military personnel, veterans and first responders recovering from physical and psychological challenges.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Getting to the Bottom of Poop

May 27th, 2014 at 4:11 pm by Diane Rich
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 Is It Too Soft, Is It Too Hard, or Is It Just Right?
c Diane Rich 2014

A couple months ago while researching a specific canine disease I stumbled across an incredibly informative website on my topic of interest and decided to click through some of the links. One of the links led me to a Vet Clinic’s website that featured a fecal scoring system from Nestle’ Purina that I wanted to share with my readers for reference.

fecal chart
Image referenced from; http://www.foothillpethospital.com/pet_info-fecalscoring.html

Dr. Oz
Dr. Oz broke the ice years ago on his popular TV show discussing the hush hush topic of human poop and went into detail as to what human poo should look like.  Dr. Oz recommended that each member of his audience, along with all his viewers play detective when looking into the toilet bowl at their own poop and based on the information and references from that show can do a layman’s health check.  America’s Doctor told his audience that poop offers valuable information with regard to the health of a human and in the case of my blog, canine poop can offer some clues as to the health of the family dog.

A Picture is Worth- Well, You Know the rest
Should you enter into a discussion about your dog’s poo with your Vet,  your description of it may be different than what the Vet is visualizing.  So, before one of my recent Vet visits with Chase I had printed out the chart to bring with me so I could point to the photos depicting his poo. Different day-different poo so several of the reference photos were spot on.

Look at It
Those pet parents who must walk the family dog daily for potty time are more apt to notice any changes in the dog’s stool than owners with dogs that poop in the back yard.  Dog poop deposited in the back yard may go unattended for days, or longer so a pet parent may not notice if there is a problem.

Top Ten Poop Pointers
1. Color
Note the color of your dog’s poop. The poop should be a chocolate brown.  The food your dog consumes which includes treats and digestible chews can affect the color of your dog’s poo.  If your dog destroys toys you may note pieces of the toy or other consumed objects in the stool.

2. Shape and Consistency
When you scoop or bag up the dog’s poo note if it seems rock hard. It will be obvious if it is runny. Poop should be shaped like a log, not segmented in small pieces. It should be firm but not hard.

3. Size Matters
The quantity of poop should be consistent with the size of the dog and amount the dog eats.  Volume of stool is something to note be it too little or too much.

4. Poke Around
Ok, this one is not motivating to do. Find a stick or some disposable object for this task. If you see what appears as mucous, or pieces of some substance, or what appears to be little grains of rice or wiggly things which could indicate parasites always a good idea to take a stool sample to the Vet.

5. Stinky Poop
Commercial diets and raw diets produce a variance in odor.  Foul odor can be caused from the diet, an imbalance of bacteria in the digestive tract or a medical condition.

6. Fecal test
If you note something is off with your dog’s poo, you may want to have your Vet run fecal test on your dog to check for worms and parasites, especially if your dog frequents dog parks or daycare.  In addition, if you note the stool has some red streaking in it,  is tarry looking or resembles numbers 4-7 on the fecal chart take your dog to the Vet.

7. Problem Poopers
If your pet is straining when she tries to poop or can’t seem to get into a comfy position to poo or goes for days without pooping take your dog to the Vet. Constipation is not healthy and could be symptomatic of the wrong diet, a dehydrated dog or could be due to a blockage or obstruction so a Vet visit is your best bet.

8. Be Proactive
Bottom line is don’t be shy and check your dog’s poo frequently.

9. Leftovers
A good rule of thumb is after you scoop the poop there should not be any residue on the ground.

10. What is Normal?
All dogs have loose stool on occasion although some dogs seem to have it more than others.  With the advice of your Vet as to your dog’s normal you can monitor the consistency, color and quantity for any deviation.

I would recommend that all Vets have this chart available as a visual reference for clients.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Humans and Their Pet Dogs; Shared Cancers, Shared Hope

May 22nd, 2014 at 10:49 am by Diane Rich
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Dr. Matthew Breen’s Research

Featured at 2014 ACVIM Forum, June 4-7 Nashville, Tennessee
Matthew Breen speaker ACVIM
Photo credit: Wendy Savage, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine

(Denver, Colo.) In human medicine a gold standard of diagnosis and prognosis for numerous cancers has involved cytogenetic (linking the study of genetic inheritance with the study of cell structure) assessment of the tumor cells.

Within the past few years scientists have demonstrated that characteristic cytogenetic changes associated with human cancers are shared in corresponding canine cancers. Researchers are now exploring the broader use of cytogenetics in veterinary oncology as a means to advance clinical management and treatment options for cancers affecting pet dogs.

To pursue this first required the development of key reagents and tools specific for use with canine specimens, says Dr. Matthew Breen, a North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine professor of genomics.

Dr. Breen’s  Bio:
Dr. Matthew Breen graduated with honors in Genetics from the University of Liverpool, U.K. in 1987. He completed his PhD, working on cytogenetics of the Equidae in 1990. Dr. Breen was employed as a Post Doctoral research scientist in Molecular Genetics at the U.K. Medical Research Council’s Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh, Scotland, where he was responsible for developing improved fluorescence in situ hybridization techniques as part of the Human Genome Mapping Project. Dr. Breen then spent four years working for the Australian Thoroughbred industry, based at the University of Queensland, Brisbane Australia. In 1996 Dr. Breen returned to the U.K. where his laboratory developed molecular cytogenetics reagents, resources and techniques for application to canine and equine genome mapping, comparative cytogenetics and cancer cancer studies. In 1998 Dr. Breen was awarded membership of the Institute of Biology and the title of Chartered Biologist.

In 2002 Dr. Breen relocated his laboratory to NCSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine as part of their Genomics initiative. His research interests continue to focus on genomics, genome mapping and the comparative aspects of canine cancer

Breen will address the 2014 ACVIM Forum attendees Wednesday, June 4 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville with presentations titled, “Genomics & Genetics in Veterinary Medicine: An Overview” and “Cancer in the Domestic Dog: A Genome With Two Tales,” detailing the latest advances in the field.

Breen’s laboratory has developed an extensive cytogenetics “toolbox” designed to provide the necessary means to identify key cytogenetic signatures in numerous canine cancers.
As a result of these efforts, several cytogenetic assays have been developed that will allow veterinary scientists to:

(1)    Accurately predict the duration of first remission in canine lymphoma patients treated with doxorubicin (an anthracycline used widely in cancer lymphoma treatment)-based therapy. Canine lymphoma affects an estimated 300,000 dogs per year.

(2)    Diagnose the presence of a transitional cell carcinoma/urogenital carcinoma using a urine sample. TCC affects an estimated 50,000 dogs per year and to date accurate diagnosis has required an invasive biopsy of the mass, generally in the bladder.

(3)    Identify a signature that allows for accurate differentiation of lymphoma from histocytic neoplasms (tumors). In some cases, discrimination of the two cancers poses a challenge and this is overcome with the new assay.

All of these are being developed in a format that will provide a report within 48 to 72 hours, facilitating more informed treatment and better clinical management.

Breen’s group has also demonstrated that the cytogenetic changes observed in several canine cancers are shared with the corresponding cancers in humans. This allows the team to now consider the dog as a means to accelerate advances in our understanding of cancers in both species.

“By considering the canine and human genomes in such a comparative context,” he says, “we have identified that the genomic complexity of cancers may be less than human studies alone have suggested.

“By working with human cancer researchers the data developed from assessment of canine cancer samples is being transferred to the human patient with some intriguing findings that will ultimately provide greater depth of understanding and potentially improved patient care for human cancer patients.”
For example, by analyzing a particular form of brain cancer affecting humans and dogs, Breen and colleagues have reduced the number of genes of potential interest from over 500 to fewer than 10.
Breen is working with dog owners and breeders to identify and reduce defective genes from our pet populations while collaborating with other scientists seeking clues to human cancer. “Within the canine genome,” he says, “we are starting to find the answers we have been looking for in our own genome for over a half century. The domestic dog’s genome is providing clues to helping us unlock some of nature’s most intriguing puzzles about cancer.”

Media Note: Accredited members of the media may attend the 2014 ACVIM Forum at no charge. However, you are required to register with the ACVIM. For media registration, please fill out a registration form or contact Laurie Nelson at Laurie@ACVIM.org or 303.231.9933.

On-site Press Room
Location: Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center
Wednesday June 4, 2:00–5:00 pm
Thursday June 5, 8:00 am–5:00 pm
Friday June 6, 12:00–5:00 pm
Saturday June 7, 8:00 am–12:00 pm 

About the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM)

The American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of animals and people through education, training and certification of specialists in veterinary internal medicine, discovery and dissemination of new medical knowledge, and increasing public awareness of advances in veterinary medical care.

The ACVIM hosts the ACVIM Forum, an annual continuing education meeting where cutting-edge information, technology and research abstracts are showcased for the veterinary community. More than 3,000 veterinary specialists, veterinarians, technicians and students attend.

The ACVIM is the certifying organization for veterinary specialists in cardiology, large animal internal medicine, neurology, oncology and small animal internal medicine.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

Is Your Dog Friendly?

May 16th, 2014 at 12:47 pm by Diane Rich
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Does Your Dog Bite?

c Diane Rich 2014

The first question in the subject line of this blog  is usually directed towards owners of either small dogs, or dogs with fluffy fur. The second question is usually asked of people with German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Pit Bulls, Boxers or Dobermans.

This is National Bite Prevention Week and although tips to prevent a bite are plentiful on websites, print media or TV, those tips do not seem to reduce the number of bites people experience on a yearly basis.  In fact the number of bites is on the increase.  I am not surprised.

Here are some stats from the CDC (Center for Disease Control)
1. Nearly 4.5 million Americans are bitten by dogs each year

2. One in five dog bites, about 850,000 bites result in injuries serious enough to require medical attention. Half of these are children

3. In 2012, more than 27,000 people underwent reconstructive surgery as a result of being bitten by dogs

4. The CDC goes on to state that children between the ages of 5-9 years of age are more likely
than adults to receive medical attention for a dog bite

5. Male adults are more likely to be bitten than female adults

6. As the number of dogs in the home increases, so does the incidences of dogs bites. Adults with two or more dogs in the household are five times more likely to be bitten than those living without dogs at home

Stats from the American Humane Association

1. Approximately 92% of fatal dog attacks involved male dogs, 94% of which were not neutered

2. Approximately 25% of fatal dog attacks involved chained dogs

3. Approximately 71% of bites occur to the extremities (arms, legs, hands, feet)

4. Approximately two-thirds of bites occurred on or near the victim’s property, and most victims knew the dog

5. The insurance industry pays more than $489 million in dog-bite claims each year

6. Approximately 24% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs off of their owners’ property

7. Approximately 58% of human deaths involved unrestrained dogs on their owners’ property4

Although there are no guarantees here are some tips to help prevent a dog bite:

  1. Spay or neuter your dog.  This is not a magic bullet but can help take the edge off
  2. Never, EVER leave an infant or young child alone with a dog

keenan fraser by car 9-3-09
c Diane Rich 2014

3. Teach children to not approach an unfamiliar dog.  That doesn’t mean make the child afraid of dogs. Your child will model your behavior so if you ask permission to pet a dog and do so properly your child may emulate you
lab cloud pet t session dennys 5-14
c Diane Rich 2014

4. Know your dog and prepare your dog to properly greet guests and if possible prepare your guests for proper meet and greets with your dog.  Even if your dog is friendly people should not be given carte blanche with the family pet.

Example: When I lived L.A. I was at a party with friends. One person was playing fetch with the family dog and also enjoyed petting the dog throughout the evening.  She thought they became best buddies. When this person was about to leave she went in to hug this dog goodbye and the dog bit her on top of her head.  The injury required stitches.

5. Dogs that are fearful, nervous or skittish also need to work with a seasoned professional behavior expert as these dogs if backed into a corner may respond defensively

6. Do not Approach any dog that is tethered in someone’s yard.  Or even if tethered outside a storefront

7. Although difficult if you are afraid, do not run from a dog or scream. Remaining motionless is recommended but if a dog is intent on biting, that posture, or rolling up on the ground does not always work

8. If you need to be on the ground, roll up in a ball and protect your face and neck

9. Although dog lovers like to stick their face in the face of an unfamiliar dog or go in for a hug, dogs don’t look at that act of love as intended by the human and many feel encroached upon and restrained.  This applies to guests wanting to hug the family dog.

10. Avoid direct eye contact with an unfamiliar dog

And, lastly dogs should not be forced to or expected to just “take it” from a child crawling on them, invading their space on the dog bed, pulling their ears or tail or swatting them.  Kids should not be allowed to tease a dog or be next to a dog when that dog is eating.

I am hopeful we see a decline in dog bites this year.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC




Seattle Humane Broke Records at the 2014 Tuxes and Tails Gala

May 12th, 2014 at 9:50 am by Diane Rich
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More Than 1.3 Million Dollars Raised at this Popular Fundraiser

Shelter to grow their Community Outreach Programs to save more lives

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I absolutely love Seattle Humane Society.  I love how it is run, I love the fact that the volunteers always seem to have a smile on their faces, I love the care given each and every pet that finds its way to this shelter, I love the Maxmobile and I love the support the community gives this amazing organization.Nearly 1000 guests enjoyed SHS’s 25th annual Tuxes and Tails fundraiser in Bellevue recently which is a testament to SHS.Local media and former Super Sonics Slick Watts and Gus Williams, showed their support by walking the runway with Seattle Humane’s adoptable shelter pets.

“We’re proud to host Tuxes & Tails – a spectacular event for a great cause,” said CEO David Loewe, “but we could not do it without our charitable sponsors, hundreds of supporters who procure and donate auction items, our dedicated staff and volunteers who ensure that the night goes off without a hitch, and our guests who give so generously to the animals.”The special “Fund-A-Need” project was the highlight of the live auction and raised more than $570,000 for Seattle Humane to expand its Community Outreach Programs. These live-saving services provide critical pet food and vet services to thousands of pets belonging to low-income seniors, cancer patients and people disabled by HIV/AIDS. This Fund-A-Need ensures that thousands of people in our community will not be forced to give up their pets when they need them most.

If you couldn’t make it to Tuxes & Tails this year, it’s not too late to make a difference! You can still make a donation to the Seattle Humane Society at tuxesandtails.org. To make a donation to the Fund-A-Need to expand our Community Outreach Programs, go to tuxesandtails.org or call (425) 373-5382.

Speaking Woof,
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC



Baby Steps When Working With The Shy Or Timid Dog

May 5th, 2014 at 5:39 pm by Diane Rich
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From My Files

Baby steps       c Diane Rich 2014

Caller:  I recently adopted a dog from  SaveaLife (made up name) Dog Rescue. She doesn’t wag her tail, in fact her tail is usually tucked.  She seems to be scared of everything, won’t look at me and is not bonding with my family. She doesn’t even play with her toys.  Sometimes she won’t eat and just stays on her dog bed. We have only had her a month and I am thinking of taking her back to the shelter but my kids want to keep her and I don’t know what to do.

Caller:  My family adopted a dog over the weekend and he follows me from room to room and if he is not near me he whines constantly or barks.  I can’t live like this as I can’t take him everywhere I go.  I live in an apartment and have already had one complaint. He is 3 or 4 years old and he is also having accidents in the house even though we take him out all the time.  We like this dog but if he continues to pee in the house and upset my neighbors we can’t keep him.

Caller:  We found our dog on line and adopted him.   We wanted a lap dog but he wants to be on our lap all the time or he gets anxious. If someone comes near me when he is on my lap he growls at them.   If he is on the floor and any of us make a sudden movement even a small movement he runs away and barks. He sometimes growls at people.   I was sweeping my floors the other day and when he saw the broom he cowered so we think he was abused. He is also afraid of men but is warming up to my husband.

Caller:  I just adopted my dog a week ago. She is 3 months old.  She loves people but is afraid of other dogs and I want her to be social. When I have her on leash and make her sit and have other dogs approach her she wants to hide behind me.  I don’t like it.

Acclimating to a New Environment
From the Dog’s POV (point of view)
c Diane Rich 2014

Everything is New
Whether you rescue a dog from a shelter or rescue group or buy a dog or puppy from a breeder from that dog’s perspective you are new, your environment is new, the neighborhood is new, a collar and leash could be new, your kids and their friends are new, being the only dog is new or being part of a different pack is new.  Your intention to give a dog a home is wonderful does not always make the transition for a timid or shy dog an easy one or a quick one.

The Back-Story
A puppy or dog that is bold, curious and confident usually makes the transition to a new family and new home quickly but for the dog that has limited to negative social experiences, is the product of poor breeding and handling and presents nervous, skittish, shy behavior the acclimation process is going to take more time.  Sometimes the back-story on your new addition is clear and other times it can be a little murky

An Analogy
If you watched the fabulous movie,  Shawshank Redemption you may recall the part where inmate Brooks, the old timer who after 50 years of incarceration was finally paroled to a world he no longer knew or understood. His voice-over took the audience on his journey of  trying to “make it on the outside” as it was unfamiliar, overwhelming and frightening on a 24 hour basis. He couldn’t cope so he killed himself.  Then, towards the end of the movie the storyline beautifully took us on another journey with another inmate, Red who was played by the talented Morgan Freeman. He was finally paroled after serving most of his life in prison and met with the same challenges as he too was terrified of this new, unfamiliar life. However, the writer gave Red a goal which was to find a hidden box buried by his best friend Andy, played by Tim Robbins who escaped Shawshank. That goal was the ticket to help Red cope.
It is up to us, as the dog’s new family to patiently help a new dog, especially a timid and skittish new addition to cope with their new life.

 Obedience Classes
Many owners who have not parented a dog with behavior such as anxiousness, noise phobias, issues around movement may be told or believe a training class will help the dog work through these problem behaviors.  Unfortunately, that is usually not the case and these owners soon realize after completing their class, the behaviors not only didn’t go away but became more pronounced.

You are the Critical Component for Success to be Realized
Your goals for your new addition must be in place from day one.  Understanding what the dog needs and learning proper strategies to help the dog fulfill those needs should in the end help you realize those goals.

A Dog’s POV
1. I don’t understand this new place. It smells different and unfamiliar. All these people keep touching me and getting in my face. It’s scary.

2. I don’t know where anything is, where do I sleep, where can I hide.  Why are they putting this thing around my neck and dragging me outside. The noises outside are scary.

3. Why are these little humans hugging me so much.  I just want to get away.  I am trying to tell them I am uncomfortable but they don’t listen. I may have to growl at them.

4. I sense your tone of voice as unsure. How can I trust you if you are unsure?  When I am scared you hug me and you are not allowing me to get away from your sounds. I feel trapped.  But, when I am nervous you pet me so I guess being nervous is how I am supposed to be.  I am confused.  I don’t have a lot of experience with people. I don’t trust anyone yet.

5. I hear so many noises and can’t tell where they are coming from or what they are or if they will hurt me. The dogs outside, at the house next door sound upset and I don’t want to go outside as they may get me.

6. The outside is busy and noisy.  Maybe I can run away.

7. I try to go potty outside like I did at my other place,  but it is too noisy here and you keep talking to me. I prefer to potty where it is quiet so will wait until I get back inside.

8. You don’t really know me and I don’t really know you.  Maybe we can trust each other with time.

9. All this space inside your home is scary.  Glad I have places to hide.

10. I wish you understood me.  I don’t want to be like this, nervous all the time. Help me.

Hiring a Behavior Specialist
If your dog is nervous or shy, consider scheduling a training session with an experienced behavior specialist to come to your home within that first week.   After the dog’s confidence improves then a small training class may work.

Dog Parks
dog park corgi scared hiding under bench
c Diane Rich 2014
Lastly, I would not takehim to a dog park at this time until he is bonded with you, has some training and you can predict his social skills.  Dog parks are not the proper environment for a dog to learn social skills and could be incredibly overwhelming for your nervous dog.

Play Dates
Consider contacting your friends who have dogs with impeccable social skills for some play-dates or find a doggie daycare that serves a small number of dogs. You may be able to find a small class for socialization but even a small class can be overwhelming for some dogs.

The Reward
 I love working with shy and nervous dogs and their new family.  Being a part of the transformation process is quite rewarding.

Please be patient, good luck and don’t give up!
Diane Rich Dog Training, LLC

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About Diane Rich

I have been training dogs and their people for over 25 years. I work with pups from 7 weeks old to senior plus dogs and offer basic obedience to advanced off leash training both privately and group classes. Other services include behavior consultations to help both ends of the leash with everything from aggression, puppy/dog manners and public manners to separation anxiety. As a "real world" dog trainer, I take training out of the classroom or home when both the pet and family are ready, and take training to the street. I also offer pet therapy training classes preparing both the handler and dog for their therapy test and future service as a therapy team. I also coordinate several pet therapy programs in the Seattle area. My complete bio, description of services, class dates and on line class registration is listed on my website at www.spokesdog.com.

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