Friday, March 20, 2015

Reactive Dog Mom: Reactive Dogs & Teaching Your Dog to Use the Treadmill!

I have a reactive dog. She is particularly reactive toward other dogs. She goes bananas when she sees/hears another dog & her threshold is easily further than across the street at this time. That's pretty far! I get anxious. I avoid busy walking times to minimize the chances we'll run into other dogs. I get frustrated. Sometimes I just want to take a calm walk with my dog! Did it take some time & patience to learn how to manage her 'quirk'? Of course. Did we both need training? Oh yes. I taught her to look to me when we encounter a trigger. We always use proper equipment - harness, leash, safety clips, & martingale collar. Whew! But it works!

Do I wonder if & how I contribute to her reactivity? Often. Do I think she wouldn't be so reactive had I adopted her when she was a puppy (I rescued her at what we guess was 2 years old)? Maybe. But I remind myself that 'reactivity' can be a complex description & its sources even more complex. I get it. You aren't alone. Your dog isn't alone. As reactive pooch parents, we've just got to think outside the box a bit.

Is there hope? Definitely yes!

MANAGE. I've learned tricks from certified professionals & dog-savvy people who understand dog behavior & they've helped me tweak those tricks to work for my dog (redirection with treats, anyone?!). I'm always looking for tips, locations, situations, etc. that set my reactive dog up for success. I'd like to share a tip with you today - let your dog's exercise walk be on a motorized treadmill!

Why use the treadmill?

-Many times a reactive dog (like most any dog) is more reactive to outside stimuli vs. those occurring inside the home. Home stays pretty much the same for them - they're comfortable, they know the smells, sights, sounds. The outdoors brings tons of changing stimuli, often including your dog's triggers (i.e. sights, sounds, smells that trigger a reaction). You may find that as you work to manage your dog's reactiveness, this is a less stressful way (for you both) to exercise your pooch. It might encourage you to tread, too! ;)
- It's easy to teach & their love of 'treading' is natural. It's natural for dogs to work. & focusing to stay on the treadmill & keep moving is work - in a good way. It takes some major brain power!

Do I need a treadmill specifically made for a dog?

Nope. You can easily & safely teach your dog to use a 'human' treadmill. Plus, you'll never leave your dog unattended while she's treading (right?!). You'll always be on hand to stop the machine if need be.

Any safety tips?

-NEVER leave your dog unattended while she is on the treadmill. Not only can that be a safety hazard to her but you also risk a mishap & a bad association with the treadmill. Safety first!
- GO AT YOUR DOG'S PACE. Dogs learn differently just like one person can learn differently from the next. I'll remind you of this throughout.
-If you drop a treat while the treadmill is running, quickly get your dog's attention & offer another! This should discourage them from stopping while the belt is moving :)
-There's a small space between the belt & the panels encasing the belt on each side. If you're concerned a smaller paw or toe might get caught up in that space by accident, try using foam weather stripping to fill the gap. Get the kind that has a sticky side & stick it horizontally along the belt side of those panels. This has never happened to my dog as I purposely encourage she walk toward the middle of the belt. You'll want to encourage your dog to do the same but if you're still concerned, consider filling the gap.  

A pawsitively pawsitive point first.

Remember reactive-dog parents: REACTIVITY COMES ALONG WITH A MILLION GOOD THINGS! For me, I have a well-loved, deserving, smart, silly, intuitive, cuddly, so incredibly loving reactive dog I could just melt. I wouldn't have any other dog than my girl. I accept this part of her & focus on how I can help.

Let's get started.

What you need:
-your dog's harness (recommended for walking. Doesn't damage throat & can aid in proper management of your dog on walks) or regular collar (no chain/choker or prong collars)
-high value treats (treats that really mean a lot to your dog!)
-motorized treadmill

FIRST THINGS FIRST: potty your pooch! Once they get moving it's not uncommon that they cannot hold it. & don't follow a big meal with exercise. I hope this one is a given! :P

SECOND THINGS SECOND: *go at your dog's pace!* I won't stop reminding you. It's okay if you only get 5 minutes out of your pooch. Follow her lead. The idea is to make the treadmill a positive experience as you teach her what she's supposed to do with it. 

Mk9 friend Tinsel, also a rescue dog,
shows how a 'sit' can be part of
getting acquainted with the treadmill.

#1. Introduction: making the treadmill a positive thing.

-call her over, with treats in hand, & encourage her to climb onto the belt. When she gets on it, treat & praise her. (Target train? 'Click' now!)
             *stepping on the belt is difficult for her? Back up a bit. Treat her for coming near the treadmill, or even in the same room. Slowly encourage her toward it. It's okay if session one is just sitting on the belt. *her pace* 

#2. Walking on the moving belt

Mk9's Polly Pocket is guided
on the moving belt. 
Polly is earning those treats!

-stand on the treadmill with a foot on each side of the belt. With harness & leash already on, invite her on the belt with you. Treat her! Praise her! You want to be above your pup, holding her leash. Start the treadmill at LOW speed & hand her treats in front of her nose to guide her straight. (keep the praise & treats coming!) It's okay if this is awkward for your dog. Keep treating her in the right direction & guiding her with the leash. Your legs on each side of your dog will help form sort of a wall, also encouraging the move forward.
Reminder - *her pace*

Tinsel's tail wag says it all!

3. She's moving!

-when your dog is comfortable & walking on her own - let her be! Slowly increase the pace, &/or incline. Determine a pace, incline, & duration that suits your dog. You can wean away the treats over time. 



By no means am I a professional! I have a couple of years under my belt volunteering in dog rescue. I am lucky to work around certified professionals & other highly knowledgeable members of the rescue industry. This blog is simply to let others know what has worked for my pup & I. Using the treadmill does NOT replace her additional mind-stimulation games & exercises we do nor does it replace outside walks we take as often as needed. Please note that you should always, always consult your veterinarian before introducing your dog to a treadmill.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


It happens. Dogs get out of their yards, get off their collars or away from their owners.

If this has happened to you or you are trying to prevent this from ever happening with your dog(s) please read below.


Some dogs have a tendency to wonder or explore. They are always checking out the environment around them. Smells, pray drive or boredom can lead the dog out of their yard and away from their home.

Most medium - large dogs (and even some small ones) CAN & WILL scale/ jump a 4-5 foot fence. We have seen and know of dogs that dig under fences, climb fences and even chew through fences when left unattended.

ELECTRIC FENCES are a problem waiting to happen:

These invisible fences do NOT protect your dog(s) from outside sources such as, people wanting to take your dog or other animals. Invisible fences do NOT keep dogs inside their property line. We have seen dogs run straight through the invisible line chasing after a cat, squirrel or another dog. Once their adrenalin decreases the dogs can not get back into their yard due to the electrical collar that is around their neck preventing them from crossing the line. So, if the owner is not there to help them, they start to wonder...


For those that have 4 or 5 ft fences you will need to add on to these fences to make sure they are secure height wise so the dog can not jump them. If you can not add on to your fence you will need to resort to taking your dog(s) for walks or runs... get them use to a treadmill... use a long line to play fetch with them in your yard...  and/or give them mind stimulating toys/puzzles.

Make sure the bottom of the fencing is secure with built up land securing the bottom, concrete (for diggers), or adding a metal bar around the base so the dogs can not push under the fence.

If you have a 6 foot chain link fence already, a way to secure the dog from climbing or jumping is to add a strong cable that surrounds the top.. add PVC piping to the cable (cable going through the pipe). This will allow the PVC pip to roll so the dog can not grab on to the top and pull him/herself over. This is an inexpensive way to create your own "coyote roller".

If there is any part of your fence that is weak.. Fix it immediately before allowing your dog into the yard to roam off leash.
If your fence is not "up to par" and you decide to "tie your dog out MAKE SURE the theater is not too long to where the dog can jump the fence and hang him/herself. Also, there should be shelter to protect your dog from the weather (hot or cold) and clean water available at ALL times.

The better fence to install in your yard is a 6 ft privacy fence that is dug two - three feet into the ground. Now we know these fences can be pricey so in the mean time while you are saving for a proper fence, to relieve your dogs energy.. again: take them for walks or runs... get them use to a treadmill... use a long line and play fetch with them... give them mind stimulating toys/puzzles... take them swimming... etc....

The absolute BEST way to prevent your dog from escaping your yard is to be there in physical form with your dog while they relieve themselves, when they are playing or just relaxing. NEVER leave your dogs unattended. <-- you may see us write this more than once ;)

You being there with your dog will deter strangers from feeding your dog or even worse, steeling your dog. You being there to watch your dog will stop them from trying to escape if they are the venturous type. You being there shows that you are their guardian and will watch over them....
just as you would your children. Right?! - We hope so!


Put a extra tall baby gate in your door ways that lead out of your house. Some dogs are known to push screen doors open when they see something or someone they wast to get to.

Extra safety locks can be added to glass doors to secure them a bit more as well.



These items should be on your dogs when they are out of your house. A collar with your dogs ID tag should be on your dogs at all times, except when they are in their crates (some dogs get their paws caught in their collars when trying to curl up for rest).

Before leaving your house, check your dogs gear. Make sure it is fitted properly and everything is secure. If there are tears, broken buckles or weak spots - replace your equipment immediately.


We like to use the Freedom No- Pull Harness. It has an attachment in front of the dogs chest and between their shoulder blade. It also comes with a two part leash that can connect to the harness in the front & back or to the harness and a collar. Double thumbs up!

Check your dogs harness ever time you put it on him him/her. They tend to loosen from time to time due to the dog trying to pull or just simple usage.


We like to use Sirius Republic martingale no slip collars as an extra back up for wiggle pups. We secure our dogs ID (phone #, dogs name & address) tag, license tag, microchip tag & rabies tag to these collars showing people this pup is owned by a family and has the proper identification in case he/she does get lost.

Collars should be snug, about two fingers stacked width apart from collar to dogs neck. Not too tight and definitely not too loose where your can dog back out of his/her collar.


We prefer to use 4 to 6 foot nylon leashes with an extra safety clip.

You will NEVER see our dogs on retractable leashes.. if we want them to have extra space for training, hiking or swimming we use a long line.

Make sure leashes are not chewed on by the dog(s). Chewed areas can weaken the leash and your dog when pulling can snap the leash.



#1 - Immediately(not days later), call your local police department AND Animal Control giving them a full description of your dog. Give them your dogs: name, age, size, spayed/neutered/or not, color, markings, collar color & style, let them know if he/she is chipped, several phone numbers for them to call, your personal address and where the dogs was last seen.

#2 - If you can get to the police station or animal shelter, give them a photo of your dog with all of this information on the back.

#3 - If you know of a face book page that post for local "Missing/Lost" dogs in your area, send a photo of your dog and info such as: Name, Sex, Collar ID, If he/she is micro-chipped, spayed/neutered, where they went missing from (County, City) and a phone # you are willing to allow the public to have.

#4 - If your dog is missing after 24 hours you will want to put an add in the paper, make up flyers and drop them off at local coffee house, pet stores, fire departments, dog parks & gas stations. Even contact local radio stations asking them to keep an eye out for your k9 kid.

#5 - check with your neighbors often and check back with your local shelter to see if anyone has turned in your dog.


Prevention starts with an action! 

Be sure you are with your dog(s) at all times when outdoors. Never leave your k9 kids alone for long periods of time. Being with your dog can avoid them escaping your property or a stranger taking them. Being with your dog can deter them from harming him/herself, getting hit by a car/vehicle, dying from starvation/dehydration if missing for too long, shot by a neighbor or police officer that is not familiar in dealing with scared dogs and reacts instead of interacts.

YOUR dog is YOUR responsibility. Your job as a responsible dog guardian is to MAKE SURE you keep them safe. If you consider your dogs "family", then treat them that way. Protect them!

Yes, things happen, but you know (& the people around you know) if it was an "accident" or "laziness".


Be sure that your pups license and rabies are up to date. 

An added safety measure and a responsible dog owner bonus: 
#1 Have your dogs micro chipped in case their collar ever breaks off.

#2 Get an extra ID tag put on your dogs collar with his/her name and a phone# someone can reach you at if they do find your pup. You can even write your phone# in sharpie on your dogs collar if you don't want to buy an extra tag. 

Hope this helped a bit. Let's keep those pups safe and home!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"Water Proofing" Dog Beds

When searching for a new dog bed for your k9 kids, try to find something that has a zipper cover that can be removed.

After you get your dog bed picked out, pick up some garbage bags that are the same size or bigger than your bed. We use 55 gallon drum liners that fit perfect for our large size beds.
You can also use smaller ones for each side of the bed. 

By placing a garbage bag over the entire cushion it will prevent spills or messes from leaking through. Not to mention it is way easier to clean just the cover and not the entire bed. 
Small beds are doable, but med to large, is just a pain in the butt.

Using a simple garbage bag will also cut down the cost on "water proof" dog beds, which can be expensive due to the size of bed you may need for your pup.

This idea is great if you have a new puppy, a messy dog, dogs that lick their paws, dogs that drool  or for senior dogs. It is also great for people that like to wash their dog beds once a week... 
like us haha.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Modified k9's: k9 Rad Readers

These past few months Modified k9 has been working on a few new programs, shifting things around, smoothing things out and changing things up, all for the better of our community and our fellow canine companions.

We are excited to fill you in on one of our newest programs, the k9 Rad Readers

Our Mission for k9 Rad Readers:

Is to help improve the literacy of children through the assistance of our mentor dogs and to touch on the child's creative side with our art and illustration outreach. 

About The k9 Rad Reader Dogs:
All of the dogs aiding us in this program are registered Canine Good Citizen's and some are even part of our registered Mk9 Therapy Dog Team. Our K9 Rad Reader dogs also accompany us in our K9 Kid 101 & Rise Above programs. These dogs that are joined by their owners all meet strict guidelines relating to health and temperament. Our dogs are friendly with people of all ages and tolerate the presence of other dogs. 

If you think your dog has what it takes to join our program and is CGC certified , a registered Therapy dog or if you have other questions please email Michelle.

If you are interested in exploring this field with your dog and need to pass the requirements, please see our training page and contact Beth with any questions regarding classes.

About The Art/Illustration Aspect of This Program:

Derek Zielinski of Modified k9 leads this section of our program. With over 15 years experience in the art and outreach industry he offers multiple outlets for creativity. Getting the children involved with deferent mediums and showing them how to expand their imagination through their own art creations. 

After the children read their stories, the art section of this program helps them comprehend what they have read and communicate it visually. In addition giving them a keep sake to take home to share with their family
Derek at Kidz Jam - Performance Painting

In Addition:

The kids are allowed hands on experience with the dogs, learning about dog body language, dog etiquette and are even shown a few progressive training techniques. 

Clara & Brad Pit

mk9 Linda and her team member Lilly, showing the kids "Leave It"

Research Shows:

Reading to dogs can boost reading skills in children as well as help with emotional and social skills.

University of California - Davis Study

In 2010, the University of California - Davis Veterinary Medicine Extension conducted a study to find out if reading to dogs could really improve reading skills in children.  They had noticed that there was not a lot of research that had been done on the topic, other than testimonials from children, parents, librarians, and teachers.  They worked with Tony LaRussa's Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) to test and evaluate ARF's All Ears Reading Program.

Studies were conducted with a group of third grade students at an elementary school and also a group of home-schooled children.  The program lasted for ten weeks and the children read to the dogs once a week for approximately fifteen minutes, after having a few minutes to sit with the dog.  Two UC-Davis undergraduates who were trained to work with animals supervised the sessions.

In order to evaluate the readers, the Oral Text Reading for Comprehension Test was administered before and after the ten week session to evaluate reading fluency.  In the school setting, the readers improved their fluency by 12%, while the control students did not increase their fluency at all over the same time period.  Overall, the home-schooled readers increased their fluency by 30%.  

Qualitatively, the participants in the program believed it was a huge success.  Before the program started, many of the young readers didn't feel good about reading aloud.  Afterwards, they felt more confident in their reading skills and also felt safe when reading to a dog.  Their opinions of reading changed from feeling uncomfortable and self-conscience before the program to proclaiming that reading was much more enjoyable for them now.

View Video HERE:

Want Us to Visit Your Class?

Contact us, to see if we will be in your area. At this time we are visiting classes in parts of:

-New Jersey
-New York
**all must be within a 2.5 hour drive of Wilkes/Barre - Scranton Pennsylvania.**

We look forward to hearing from you!

SPONSORS FOR MATERIALS(books, art supplies & educational hand outs)

If you would like to become a sponsor for our k9 Rad Readers program please email Michelle for more details. 
Being a non profit we rely on the generosity of our followers to help us continue the work we do. Thank you all for taking a look at our new ventures.

Much love!


Thursday, July 18, 2013

Looking Past the Headline

Several months ago, an employee of Plains Animal Hospital, in Plains Pennsylvania, contacted Modified k9 a to see if there was anything they could do to help assist in an "Aggressive" Pit Bull Dog case. At that time, a very upset owner was bringing in his pet pit bull dog to be euthanized. The dog was given the title of "Aggressive Dog," after being part of " Two Dogs at Large" incident.

The employee of the vet hospital reported this dog was extremely friendly with the entire staff that had seen him, and his temperament was very friendly and accepting upon arrival of their clinic. The owner came to the decision to euthanize his pet because of the weight that comes with the "Aggressive Dog" title. Also, the title does not allow the owner to have his dog off property at any time throughout the dogs life aside from, relieving itself, or when going to the vet, and was required to have a muzzle on at all times when outdoors. The dog was not allowed to be re-homed or adopted out, and the owner was required to pay heavy monthly/yearly insurance fees on the title. The fees unfortunately became un-affordable, and the owner felt he had no other choice.

After receiving the call and hearing the story, Modified k9 contacted the owner of the dog to go over the situation at hand. He explained everything that went on, and that he understood the responsibility was on him that his two dogs were outside in a pen and had gotten lose. While they were lose and "at large" the two dogs had come across some pedestrians, one dog had nipped at the pant leg while the other dog (kaos) kept his distance. When the police officer arrived, the instigator dog had nipped at the officers pant leg while the other dog (kaos) kept his distance again. In defense, the officer shot the first dog at point blank range, immediately killing the dog. The second dog (kaos) was shot from a distance, resulting in injuries to its jaw, and front paw, (Per Owner Testimony, and Court Account.) The owner then provided us with a link to the television news report.

After hearing the case from the owner, a spectator, and seeing the court report and the media coverage, members of Modified k9 made several appointments with the owner, his family and the surviving dog. During these visits the dog was evaluated on response/interaction to strangers, and acceptance of new people upon approach. Now given the extreme news report and having this be a dog we never met before, members approached with caution to take a safe approach. Once our members arrived, we were greeted by the owner at the door, and no barking from the dog. When welcomed into the house, the dog greeted our Modified k9 members with friendly low tail wags and relaxed gestures. He sat at our members feet with his back turned, welcoming their petting, and showed zero signs of any human directed aggression. The owner introduced his family and his children who all played and interacted with the dog while in the presents of our members. On a few visits, our members noticed there were also cats living with the family that interacted well with this dog.

After the several successful visits with this family and their dog, a Lawyer was found. Modified k9 members approached the lawyer with the case at hand and what we would like to do to help this family, educate this family and secure the property for this dog. The lawyer agreed to take on the case. He filed an appeal to extend the trial so they could present a plea to remove the "Aggressive Dog" title. During this extension, the owner had the dog neutered, micro chipped and updated on all the vaccinations. A fence company was also contacted for an estimate on cost to secure the property with proper fencing (see estimate below). When the court case arrived, the owner willingly pleaded guilty to charges for lack of rabies vaccine and dogs running at large. The lawyer then requested the "Aggressive Dog" title and restrictions be dropped as the owner and family receives help and takes measure to secure their property.

Through the cooperation of the law enforcement officials, the Court and everyone else involved, the parties reached an agreement that could save this dog. It is required that Modified k9 assist the family with training for their dog, which we have undoubtedly agreed to provide. However, part of the agreement requires the installation of a fence at the owner's residence.

If the fencing can be put up in a few months time, the court is willing to drop the aggressive dog title and this dog can live his life muzzle free, return to attending hikes, camping trips and outings with his people as a loved family companion.


On a side note:
There are several lessons learned through this case.

One being the up most importance of responsible dog ownership.

Your job as a dog owner goes beyond walking them securely on a leash. It is the law to have your dogs under control at 
all times. This includes when you place them in a outside run, on a theater on your property and in a fenced area. You should know where your dog is and what your dog is up to.

It is the law to have your dogs properly updated on the Rabies vaccine. (no if, ands or buts).

As a responsible dog owner this day in age, having your dogs spayed or neutered is another great way to do your part not only for your dogs but for the community. Spaying and neutering your dogs decreases their will to roam, it decreases some dominance behaviors and can aid in the health of your pets, not to mention population control.  We at Modified k9 HIGHLY recommended spaying and neutering your dogs. If you visit our site you will find links to local low cost spay/neuter/vaccine clinics, please take advantage of them.

Last, but definitely not least. Please, do not allow media coverage to affect your outlook on specific breed of dog or in this case specific families at hand. What took us back were the comments we read under the media coverage article, people not knowing the family or the dogs and automatically accusing them of abuse, health neglect and harboring "aggressive" dogs. When Modified k9 met this family and the surviving dog from this case we found none of this to be true. This family adores their dogs and is heartbroken over the entire situation, not only for their dogs, but everyone involved. They never expected to be in this position (and this could of happened to any one of us). Which they now know could of been avoided from day one. This family is taking steps to learn and make better decisions for all, including their dog and their community. 

We all make mistakes. Now, what you do and how you learn from your mistakes will determine weather you will have a future with positive or negative life changes.

Lets learn from them, not allow them to happen again and move on.
Thank you all for taking the time to read this and also staying opened minded about the case at hand.

ALL dogs are results of human responsibility or human negligence.
ALL dogs are individuals and SHOULD be treated as such.

The Modified k9 Family 


Please meet the dog and family you are about to help move forward towards a better life.

This is Kaos or K Bear ( as we call him ;) 
and the Rimmer family.

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    comments that are deemed inappropriate, including general or self-promotional spam, offensive or harassing statements, rude language or comments unrelated to the post will be deleted.

Thank you to Rutkoski Fencing Inc of Swoyersvile, Pa
for taking time to give an estimate and the offer of installment if the funds are raised in time. 

Fencing estimate from Rutkoski Fencing Inc.


Here is the fencing project, the hard working volunteers, the family & the happy pup all together. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Positive Outlook with a Productive Approach; A Different Take on Prong Collars

The saying "Don't judge a book by its cover" is not only directed at people and dogs, it can be directed at a training tool known as a "prong collar". We know we know... use the word "prong" and most people cringe, become disgusted, and immediately begin judging in some way. (You can't tell us you didn't do at least one of those things.) - Mmm hmm... 

Before we continue, we ask that you try and stay as open minded as possible while reading this. Hey, if you're on a "pit bull" dog advocacy and outreach site you must be opened minded...Yes?... Okay, great... ;)

The title of this blog post is "A Positive Outlook with a Positive Approach". Two very difficult things to do when dealing with something you may not have had a good experience with, heard negative things about, or have not observed in a positive light. Kind of like the "pit bull" dog topic and the outlandish sites on the internet and fabricated media coverage, it's not uncommon for people to shut down and refuse to take another approach on prong collars.


Most people know that IF
 a dog is managed responsibly, it can be a wonderful family companion. They also know that IF a dog is managed through negligence, issues may and most often do arise. Well, the same goes for a prong collar. IF the prong collar is used and applied correctly, it can be a very useful training tool to both the dog and the handler. 
If a prong collar is not to your liking, that's fine. For some, prong collars make a world of a difference when it comes to keeping their dogs under control, at their side, and out of trouble. <-- Always keep that in mind - "under control".

Now this is where it gets tricky. This is where your mind needs to be W I D E open...
Remember we said "don't judge a book by its cover"? We encourage you to stop focusing on YOUR perspective of humane vs. inhumane but to instead focus on the perspective of the DOG. Is the dog communicating that it is being treated humanely or inhumanely? 

Next time you are out 'n about (whether surfing the net or actually outside of your home), and you come across a person whose dog is wearing a prong collar, take notice to the ENTIRE picture at hand.
Ask yourself:
*How is the dog interacting with the owner? 
*How is the owner/handler interacting with their dog?
*Is the collar fitted properly?
*Is the dog staying at the owner's side or pulling them down the street?
*Is the dog calm and focused?
*Does the owner/handler look like they have their dog under control?

When seeing someone using one of these training tools, try to have a "positive outlook" on the situation. Notice that this owner is taking steps towards managing their dog. You may not know that person, that dog, or what she/he can handle. If the owner and dog are working well together, despite the collar choice, look at the entire picture as a well-managed outing. Prong collars are not meant for "popping". When used correctly, they are used for redirecting and applying equal amounts of pressure to the dog's neck, giving the handler more control. For dogs likely to pull, the resulting redirection actually reduces the stress to the throat area. If you see the person struggling, the dog pulling, the collar two sizes too big, then consider politely offering some "friendly" assistance.


Ask the person if you can show them a few helpful tips. If the person accepts your offer, adjust the collar so it fits properly on the dog's neck. (Check out this short video: Fitting a Prong Collar by BADRAP). Politely explain why the adjustment is better for them, their dog, and how their current technique can cause future issues if not adjusted. Show them how to hold the leash, talk to the dog, and position themselves to better communicate with their dog. With just a few adjustments it is amazing how much the handler and the dog can improve. Or offer some contact information for your favorite dog trainer you have worked with. They may not know of other training methods or who to turn to for assistance. Take steps to guide someone and not push them away. 
A positive, productive approach will get everyone much further than a judgmental, snappy reaction.

**Just as a person should never be ashamed of owning a specific type of dog - a person should never be ashamed of properly managing their dog**


Every dog is an individual with their own needs and their own limits, just like their people. Some people benefit from a different type of training tool/method than others. Offer help where needed, look at the entire picture, and don't just focus on "the collar". Be thankful there are owners willing to work with their dogs.

Just because you see a prong collar on a dog does not mean that person is misusing it, abusing their dog, or a "bad owner". Many are simply looking for ways to keep their dog under control, something we want all dog owners to do, right?

Looking for a trainer?

When looking for a trainer to help you progress with your dog, you don't have to go with the first one you find. Do your research. You should want to find a trainer that will help you understand the method they are using and will develop a program that is fit for you and your dog. Quality trainers can and will help you develop healthy ways to build a relationship between you and your k9 buddy.

Need a local trainer? click here

Need a local behaviorist? click here or here
You can also find listings of trainers in your area through your vet, word of mouth or on line.

Doing your own research:

There are many sites, books, and DVDs out there that will help you move in the right direction with managing your dog. As an owner/handler you should be 100% committed to motivational, humane skills which in turn will be progressive for you and your dog - Prong collar or not. 

Here are a few that we recommend:


Click to Calm  by Emma Parsons
Don't Shoot the Dog by Karen Pryor

photo from a bing search off the net

This collar is two sizes too big for this dog.
The size of the prongs and the fitting (too many links) is a no no. 

This is an improper use of a prong.

A collar this size is not needed for a dog of medium - large build (if any at all) or dogs with short coats. 

This collar is fitted properly.

Positioned high on the dog's neck and you can fit 2-3 fingers between the collar and the dog.

Note the great communication from the handler and eye contact from the dog.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Teaching "Down"

As you know, when training a dog, there are several different methods to teaching a behavior or a command. When it comes to our dogs first learning a specific gesture we prefer to use positive reinforcement. Which includes a clicker, small soft treats (or their meal time food) and a happy ready to work pup. There is a communication barrier between us and our k9 kids. They do not understand what you are asking of them UNLESS you show them. Dogs in general are not naturally defiant so if you have to keep repeating a command to your dog over and over and over, that means your dog does not fully understand what you are asking of them. To learn more about clicker training please take time to visit one of our favorite sites Karen Pryor Clicker Training

Today we are working with rescue dog Uma. She is learning the basic concept of the "down". We start off by getting her attention and luring her into the position we want, which is - down. At this time you will not be saying the word "down". You want your dog to get the gesture/motion of "down" first. When you give the hand single and your dog downs a few times, then you will be adding the word. Now, some dogs take a while to understand what it is you are trying to get them to do, so have patience and allow the dog some time to think.  You may have to click and reward for the dog just looking at the floor. Eventually, that will bring the dog closer and closer to a "down". It's like a puzzle, you have to figure out all the piece to make it come together. You have to figure out how to HELP your dog understand this new command. It takes time and lots of patience.

Once your dog is getting the hang of the "down" motion, you will then add the vocal command "down" with the hand gesture. Click and treat for them going into position. Keep training sessions short. If you notice your pup getting bored get their attention, lure them into a down and end on a good note. Try again later on :)

Over time your dog will get better and better at understanding what you want of them. You will be able to replace the clicker with the vocal "marker word" - YES and their treat will be a pat on the head or back from you.

Quick break down:
1) Have on hand clicker, treats (or meal feeding) and a ready to work pup.
2) Get your dogs attention
3) Lure your dog towards the ground. When they go into a down (or even look at the ground) CLICK & TREAT.
4) Lure your dog to the ground a few times with OUT saying a word.
5) When they start to grasp the "down" motion THEN add the word "DOWN".
6) Keep sessions short & end on a good note
7) Have patience
8) Have FUN!
9) Do this often

If you have a deaf dog, use a small flash light in place of your marker/clicker. Flash the light towards their eyes and then treat. Deaf dogs also pick up on face expression so be happy when your dog is learning and gets what you ask of them. Some times we use a "thumbs up" for the dogs we are working with as a marker.

If you have a blind dog, hold the treats to your dogs nose and slowly bring your hand with the treat to the ground. Let your dog try to get it out of your hand, you will see their body get lower and lower to the floor. When they "down" click and open your hand so they can have their reward.