Posts Tagged With: dog trainer

A Tired Puppy is a Good Puppy

I imagine that the vast majority of books written about puppyhood use some variation of the phrase, “a tired puppy is a good puppy.”

There’s a good reason for that: it’s true!

Tired puppies are much less likely to get into trouble, because they simply don’t have the energy for it.  If you play fetch until your little pup can barely hold his eyes open, chances are, your shoes are safe for the next few hours.

Sometimes, wearing a puppy out can feel like a daunting task, especially if the weather outside isn’t the most welcoming.  Here are a few suggestions for indoor activities to help encourage some long puppy naps:

  1. Obedience – Yes, you read that correctly.  Start working on obedience!  I don’t care if it’s day one and your puppy is only 7 weeks old – get started!  The earlier you begin teaching basic obedience commands and manners, the better off you will be in the future.  “Sit” is a great place to start because most puppies will naturally fall into a sit if you hold ANYTHING of interest over their heads.
  2. Handling Exercises – Practice handling your puppy so that future visits to the veterinarian and groomer are pleasant and stress-free experiences.  You may be surprised at just how much effort is required for a puppy to hold still long enough to have all of his toes touched!
  3. Toys – Make sure your puppy has several appropriate toys to play with, and encourage appropriate playtime!  Play fetch, tug on a rope, chew on a bone – but make sure that ALL of those “toys” came from the pet aisle.  Don’t set your puppy up for trouble by encouraging playtime with socks, shoes, children’s toys, or other household items that you don’t want chewed up in the future.

All of these activities should be fun in and of themselves, but sometimes, the best part is the long puppy nap that comes afterwards!  (But don’t forget, as soon as that puppy wakes up, take him outside for a bathroom break!)




A tired puppy is a good puppy!  Tucker June 2011


A tired puppy is a good puppy in the car, too!




Categories: Behavior, Blog, Puppy | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Are You Thankful for Your Dog?

Are you thankful for your dog?

Your immediate response might be, “Of course I am!  What a ridiculous question.”

If that is the case, then my second question to you, next Monday post-thanksgiving holiday, would be, “Are you STILL thankful for your dog?”

Did your dog behave well around friends and family this holiday?  Did he/she respect your guests’ personal bubbles, resist the urge to jump on grandma, and leave the feast on the kitchen counter alone?

If you are already fearful your dog may NOT be a good Thanksgiving guest this week, here are a few things to consider:

Dogs are not greater than people

Hear me – I love my dog immensely, but he is not as important as a person.  If I were afraid that Tucker would jump on and injure a guest (especially an older, more frail guest like a grandparent) he would not be allowed to participate in Thanksgiving events (or any other family gathering).  Here’s the thing – treating your dog like a dog for a few hours IS NOT CRUEL.  This is another great example of why I advocate crate training from an early age – if your dog cannot be trusted, a crate is the safest place for him/her to be.  I’m not suggesting you leave your furry friend cooped up all day or all weekend.  If you need to employ a crate, make sure to schedule times for bathroom breaks and exercise.  Remember, a few hours of boredom for your dog is a low price to pay to avoid a hip replacement for grandma.

Leashes are a great invention

If your dog has not been crate trained, or you just can’t bear the thought of locking Fido up for a few hours, a leash could be a great second option.  If you don’t trust him/her not to bug guests, eat leftovers off the counter, or sneak off and destroy your shoes, tethering him/her to yourself with a leash can be a great way to allow your dog some very supervised freedom.  As your friends/family begin to trickle into your living room to watch football or reminisce the day away, grab a chew toy and leash and require your dog to lay next to you on the floor.  If you haven’t done any training, getting your dog to lay calmly at your feet may be a task, but it isn’t impossible, especially if you’ve made time to include some doggy exercise in your day.

There’s still time

Whether you already know that Thanksgiving is likely to be a disaster or you’re reading this post-Thanksgiving and you KNOW it was a disaster, don’t lose heart – there is still time before Christmas!  If you’re unsatisfied with your dog’s holiday behavior, now is a great time to start looking for a trainer in your area who can help you work through problem behaviors.  While few long-standing bad behaviors can be fixed overnight, there is definitely still time to make good progress before Santa comes to town.  Don’t be satisfied with poor dog behavior – make the time to discover your dog’s full potential!


In this photo from Thanksgiving 2012, Tucker snuggles with me while I eat a plate of leftovers.  Does your dog have the self control to sit with you (or on you) while you eat without begging or trying to steal a bite?  Side note: Tucker had just been released from the Leader Dogs for the Blind training program the month before, so he was all about making up for lost time when it came to recliners and snuggles. 🙂







Categories: Behavior, Blog, Holidays | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Fake Service Dogs – Why It’s Never Okay

I just read an article on titled, “Don’t scam the service dog system just because you love being with your pet.”




I think this article does a great job of quickly and simply explaining some of the problems legitimate service dog handlers are currently facing.  I encourage you to check it out at this link:

I doubt I have many friends who don’t know exactly how I feel about fake service dogs.  I find it appalling that anyone would pass off their pet as a service dog.  To me, it’s just as offensive as illegitimately using a handicap parking space.  Now, I know that there are people who do this who don’t understand that what they’re doing is actually harmful to someone else – they aren’t being malicious.  However, in this day and age, with the educational tools at our fingertips, I see no reason why anyone should be confused about what is or is not allowed.


Allow me to expound on the information that is most often misrepresented:

  1. Service dogs are NOT the same as therapy dogs or emotional support dogs.
    • Most dog lovers will tell you that their dog provides comfort, support, and joy in times of stress.  That’s wonderful – mine does, too!  However, those general qualities do not make your pet a service dog.  I do not have a right to bring Tucker into Walmart just because I enjoy having him with me.
    • Service dogs are trained to perform specific tasks related to their owner’s disability.  People often compare PTSD dogs to emotional support dogs – they are not the same.  PTSD dogs have trained skills.  Some typical skills/commands are: standing between the handler and other people, notifying the handler when his/her name is called, and waking the handler from a nightmare.
  2. Service dogs are NOT required to wear or carry identification.
    • The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) specifically states that service dog handlers are not required to show identification or discuss the specifics of their disability with anyone.  If a dog enters your place of business, you may ask only two questions: is that a service dog, and if so, what service does it perform?
    • Personally, I think every business who claims to certify service dogs or promotes selling service dog materials to non-service dog handlers should be penalized.  I have seen numerous businesses advertise that they can certify your dog and add your name to a national registry.  Don’t waste your money folks – there is no such thing.  And yet, service dog materials ARE important since the ADA does NOT require certifications – handlers typically want something that notifies the public that the dog is working and should not be distracted.  It’s just another fine example of a product that was likely intended for good being abused.
  3. Service dogs CAN be asked to leave a business if they are not under control or are not housebroken.
    • In my experience, most legitimate service dogs don’t have many issues in this department.  True service dogs are highly trained and are typically very well-mannered.  Even so, if, for whatever reason, the handler is unable to control the dog, they may legally be asked to leave the premises.


Why does all of this matter?  Because fake service dogs, who quite often behave badly, give real service dogs a bad reputation and cause business owners to deny access to legitimate service dogs.  I have spoken to blind individuals with dog guides who have been denied access simply because someone assumed their dog was a fake.  It happens folks, but it shouldn’t.

Help me educate those who are unaware and call out those who are abusing the system.

If you have questions, please ask.

Here’s a link to a portion of the ADA: ADA – Service Animals

Chelsea Cutler, Certified Professional Trainer

Below: Future Leader Dog Tucker at five months old, bored out of his mind while I gave a presentation at Western Carolina University.  (2011)  Note: In the state of NC, service dogs in training with their trainer are given the same access rights as working service dogs.


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How We Contribute to Bad Behavior

I would highly recommend checking out this article from the American Kennel Club titled, “5 Things You’re Doing To Make Your Dog Misbehave.”

5 Things You’re Doing To Make Your Dog Misbehave

Why do I recommend it?  Because these five problems/scenarios are very common.

Their first point refers to a lack of exercise and their second refers to a lack of training.  While both of those points are extremely valid, and sometimes separate, I would argue that these two items are actually very closely related.  Until you’ve done an intense obedience “workout” with your dog, you cannot fully grasp the benefits of mental exercise.  Most of the obedience problems I encounter with my clients revolve around a dog’s lack of SELF control.  For a hyperactive dog, learning that you have self control and how to utilize it is absolutely exhausting.  If you’re the kind of dog who is used to always getting your way, (especially when it comes to running, jumping, and general chaos) learning to hold a sit for more than a second or two requires an incredible amount of concentration.  While that may not seem like “exercise” to us, it truly does wear them out!  I have had multiple clients tell me that the first thing their dog does after a solid “workout” or training session is take a two hour nap.

Their third point involves reinforcing bad behavior, which we do both knowingly and unknowingly all the time.  Sometimes, we let things slide out of fatigue or laziness, and the dog learns that we don’t mean what we say.  Other times, we purposefully condone behavior that we don’t realize will come back to haunt us later (see the video I posted on the Facebook page about a dog “protecting” its pregnant owner).

Some might argue that the last two points, which focus on breed and age, are out of the owner’s control.  I would disagree.  In my opinion, part of responsible dog ownership is doing the research required to choose a breed that fits your lifestyle and being prepared for puppyhood if you choose a young dog.  Our society is very much geared towards getting what we want, even if it is impractical for our current situation.  I think people often forget that different breeds exist for a reason – they have different characteristics and were created for very different purposes!

Now, I will say that choosing the best breed for you becomes harder if you are adopting a rescue, especially at a young age.  I recently read an article about breed identification accuracy in shelters and the percentage of incorrect identifications was staggering.  DNA studies are showing us that, as the saying goes, you can’t always judge a book by its cover!  Even so, make sure you get as much information from the shelter as possible, and if you have a friend in the dog world, try to bring him/her along for advice.

Finally, if you choose a puppy, be prepared!  Puppies are hard work from day one, but many folks think that as soon as they are housebroken or lose their puppy teeth, all will be well with the world.  Wrong!  Dogs, especially those who have not been spayed or neutered, will often experience a rebellious teenage phase just like humans!  I distinctly remember the day that my dog’s testosterone seemed to kick in – and boy was he fun to be around for a few months.  As the article states, consistency is your best friend during this time frame just as it is when you’re working with a brand new eight week old puppy.  Hold your ground and the rest of your dog’s adult life will be much more pleasant.

My last little bit of puppy advice would be this – push them to excel!  Yes, you always need to mindful of the puppy’s age and what is realistic for that age, but most of us don’t realize just how much a puppy can learn at a young age.

In this photo from July of 2011, Future Leader Dog Tucker was just shy of three months old – and he was holding a sit in order to get a cup of shaved ice.

Chelsea Cutler, Certified Professional Trainer

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Small Dogs – Why Training Matters

I’ve been working with dogs in some capacity for about a decade.  To this day, the only dog who has ever bitten me out of aggression/fear was a Chihuahua/Terrier Mix who likely didn’t even weigh ten pounds.*

In the BBC article I’ve linked in below, the author examines the theory that some small dogs may actually be more aggressive than big dogs.  The author discusses several theories for why this might occur, and finally concludes that no-one  can say with 100% certainty how much of the behavior is “nature” and how much is “nurture.”

Now, let me be clear that I am not stating that all little dogs are aggressive – far from it.  What I am stating is that despite what some may believe, little dogs can suffer from all the same problems as a big dog – including, but not limited to, aggressive behavior as stated above.

As the article suggests, I tend to believe that dog behavior has roots in both “nature” and “nurture.”  When it comes to little dogs, I think the “nurture” portion often takes the driver’s seat.  Why?  Because our society has a tendency to treat little dogs not as dogs, but as small babies in need of carrying, cuddling, and comforting.

The dog who bit me all those years ago rarely spent any time on the ground, running around, sniffing outside, learning commands, or behaving like a “real” dog – his primary caregiver (who was a child) carried him everywhere he needed to go and treated him very similarly to her baby dolls.  She, like so many, would try to comfort him like a child when he was frightened, not knowing that she was having an opposite affect on him and making him even more fearful.  Dogs don’t process that type of comforting in the same way a child might.  When you hold your dog close, pet it, coo to it, and tell it it’s going to be okay, that dog interprets your behavior as praise for its current state and confirmation that you’re upset, too.

So, when the dog saw me and started shaking (as Chihuahuas have a tendency to do), she held him close, told him it was going to be okay, and told me I should pet him.  Being a young teenager myself, I made the rookie mistake of trying to pet an anxious dog in the arms of his owner… and that poor decision led to several bandaids and a pretty painful finger.

But aggression is not the only bad behavior that plagues little dogs because of our own actions.  We very often choose to manage the inappropriate behaviors of small dogs because we can.  Small dogs jump on people too, but because they don’t tend to knock people over, few owners actually correct it.  Small dogs pull on their leashes, but because they don’t have the weight to jerk an arm out of the socket, few owners bother to teach leash manners.  Instead, we just deal with it or manage their poor manners by picking them up and removing them from situations where they might bother a guest or jump on a child.

So, small dog owners, let me ask you this – how well does your dog listen to you?  Does your dog come when you call it away from the feet of company, or do you simply go pick it up and take it to another room?

Small dogs are just as capable of better behavior and manners as big dogs – you just have to be willing to put in the time and effort to find it!  Your small dog has BIG potential – give us a call today and we’ll discover it together!

Chelsea Cutler, Certified Professional Trainer

*In this statement I exclude two scenarios – intentional bite work while in school at National K-9 and a few times when Tucker has accidentally missed a tug of war toy while playing and caught my hand (which has never broken the skin).

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Discover Your Dog’s Full Potential

What do I mean, as a trainer, when I state that I want to help you “discover your dog’s full potential?”

Miriam-Webster defines the word “potential” in this way: “existing in possibility – capable of development into actuality.”

Using that definition, and applying it to the average family dog, I believe it is POSSIBLE for your dog to DEVELOP the skills needed to be a well-mannered and obedient member of your family.  Your dog has the potential to bring joy and happiness to your home, not constant frustration and disobedience, and I want to see that dream become a reality.

I love seeing hyperactive dogs learn self-control and obedience so their owners are no longer afraid they are going to knock over houseguests.

I love seeing shy dogs gain enough confidence to go for a walk around the neighborhood or play with their owners’ grandkids.

I love seeing puppies learn not to bite early so that their owners can actually enjoy the majority of puppyhood.

These are the lifestyle changes we want to see for every owner and dog.  Don’t waste another minute frustrated over your dog’s lack of obedience – give me a call and let me help you begin to discover your dog’s full potential!

Chelsea Cutler, Certified Professional Trainer



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