Dog Flu | How to keep your dog safe – and alive!

New highly contagious Dog flu is spreading like a wild fire.

Many animal hospitals are at capacity and asking their clients to delay non-emergency visits.

Many doggy daycares are voluntarily closing their doors -taking a direct financial hit- Just to help slow down the spread of this deadly disease.

We asked Dr. Samantha Stanley from Good-Vets Charlotte to educate our listeners about Dog flu and help spread the word about 

  • Safety of our dog population during this viral outbreak
  • How to prevent our dogs from getting sick
  • How to limit exposure
  • When to seek veterinary care… and much much more.



Good-Vets Charlotte

NC Dept. of Agriculture 

VEG Charlotte


Zen of Dog Ownership Podcast

by Dog Owner’s Academy

Be the owner your dog deserves™

Coping with the loss of a dog

Losing a dog is the most difficult day in the life of a dog owner. It can be hard to know how to cope with the loss of a pet, but there are many ways that you can process your grief and find peace.

Just know the loss of your dog may result in a variety of emotions: denial, guilt, anger, sadness, shock, or pain. To move forward, it is important to deal with these emotions following the death of your dog.

It is crucial to remember that people respond differently to the loss of a dog and any given person (including your) may experience all or none of these emotions. If multiple people live in your home, respect the feelings of other family members. Recognize that each family member may share a different level of bond with the pet, as well as grieve differently.


“Grief is like the ocean, it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

– Vicki Harrison

Grief is a healthy and normal response to loss. Coping with grief is an individual journey of healing. What works for some, may not work for all. Grief can feel like being lost. The familiar things we relied on to live each day are gone. We must find new anchors or stabilizers along the way and learn a new way of relating to the world and people around us. This can be especially true when a companion pet was heavily integrated into our daily routines. It is common to replay the last moments of your dog’s life repeatedly in your mind, as a video playing the same scene over and over.

What can make the experience of pet loss different from other losses is that it is considered a form of disenfranchised grief. This means society still doesn’t recognize it as a ‘valid’ form of grief when compared to the loss of a human life, which means the social support one would normally expect during such a difficult time may not be as readily available. Your loss is valid and so is your grief.

No one can rush the process or provide a magic cure for grief. When grief is new, it is common
to feel exhausted: physically, emotionally and spiritually. Changes in appetite, sleeping patterns or health are frequently reported. Those who are grieving often describe feelings of being out of control, isolated and lonely. Things that seemed so important before now may seem trivial. Others may experience a sense of “life isn’t fair” or being in a tunnel or fog, while everyday life swirls around them.

All of these feelings are normal and part of the grieving process. Grief follows no organized plan, formula or schedule. You may start to feel better, and then feel as if a wave has hit you. There will be ups and downs in the process of grieving.

The purpose of healthy grieving is not to “get over” the death of a loved one, but to integrate the experience of loss into present life in a functional and healthy way. In this process, it is not unusual for certain memories of your dog to become blurred. This does not mean you are forgetting your dog or that your love is diminished. The truth is, you will always love this very special member of your family. The hope is, as time goes on, the feelings of sadness will become less difficult, not that you will never miss or forget your dog. Initially, you may be sad to think or talk about your loss. Eventually, the hope is that you will be able to reminisce and even smile or laugh with good memories.


Guilt is one of the most common emotions people experience after the death of their dog especially if they had to make the hard decision to put their dog down. It’s normal to find yourself thinking continuously about what you perceive you could have, should have, or would have done to prevent or postpone your pet’s death.

Some suggestions for coping with guilt include:

  • Be truthful with yourself about why you feel guilty.
  • Do a reality check. Most people assume that if they had done something differently, the outcome would have been better. It’s just as likely, however, that if you had done things differently, the outcome would have been the same.
  • Remember that you are human. No one is perfect.
  • Remember that all living things die. There is not always an answer to why bad things happen and you do not need someone or something to blame. Realize that sometimes you are powerless and you cannot control everything that happens to your loved ones. What you can control is how you choose to respond to the events in your life.
  • Some owners find it helpful to write an “apology letter” to their pet, expressing the feelings with which they are struggling.
  • Try talking to a trusted friend or an advisor about your feelings of guilt. Expressing your emotions in a safe non-judgmental space can help you feel, express, and process your feelings.

Healing your own way

One of the greatest healers is time. Time only heals if you allow yourself to grieve and let yourself feel the emotions that accompany your grief. Afterward, you will be able to make peace with your loss, start to heal and move forward.

Below you will find some practices to consider when in mourning:

  • Be kind to yourself. Grieving is an intensely personal process that you should take at your own pace.
  • Allow yourself to feel the pain of loss in a safe environment. Give yourself permission to cry. Avoid suppressing intense feelings, so you can heal and start to move forward.
  • Talk about your loss to those you trust will understand. This will help process your feelings and help you look at the unique relationship you had with your pet. This may guide you from a place of shock, denial and guilt to a place where you can start to process your grief.
  • If possible, avoid people or situations that may prove upsetting. Some people may have never experienced a very special relationship with a pet and may not understand what you’re going through. Minimize contact with those who you know will not understand your loss.
  • Read information on pet loss. There are many books and online resources that offer support when grieving.
  • Take care of yourself. Incorporate physical activities into your daily schedule to support your sleep and overall well-being. Walks are one of the best forms of exercise. If you have memories associated with walking your dog, take your walks at a different time and place initially. When you feel better you can go back to your previous routine, such as meeting with other pet owners with whom you used to chat.
  • Although you may feel some initial resistance, make time to visit friends and family. Try to go out more frequently and on a regular basis. You can still take memories with you and share them, if you choose.

This content is courtesy of The Ohio State University – Veterinary Medical Center. Honoring the Bond, Support for Animal Owners. To Learn more or to donate to this program please Visit OSU from this link.

Dog flu is spreading in Charlotte like a wild fire

Thousands of dogs in Charlotte area have already had it and it can progress into something more dangerous like pneumonia. Hospitals are reaching full capacity.

Veterinarians said that although dog owners are calling it kennel cough, it’s actually a ‘K-9 infectious respiratory disease complex,’ which is a combination of viruses that dogs can pick up at the same time

It’s airborne and easily spreads at dog daycares and kennels. If left untreated, it can quickly progress into something more dangerous. Vets are urging pet owners to do what they can to keep their dogs safe and know the signs and symptoms.

Even when treated, the cough can last four-to-six weeks, and dogs can spread it up to three weeks after they stop coughing.

The best thing you can do is keep your dogs home. Don’t put them out in social situations.

If you can avoid taking your dog to doggy daycare, dog bar, dog parks type of places you’ll reduce the risk exponentially.

Happy Client Testimonial : Auckland, NZ

Dany & Avalyn from Auckland, New Zealand reached out to us when they got Marvel The border collie.

Marvel is their first dog. Naturally, they had questions about dog ownership, and obviously 🙂 the usual border collie issues.

At first I was skeptical about the effectiveness of dog training via Zoom, but things worked out super amazing.

Obviously a benefit of the virtual dog training sessions is the flexibility of scheduling. Dany & Avalyn live in New Zealand; literally 16 hours ahead of Charlotte. So what was Friday afternoon for me, was Saturday morning to them.

Another benefit of the virtual dog training program is clients develop better training skills. When we’re working with in-person clients, we do some of the heavy lifting which is not an option for virtual clients.

If you want to schedule a FREE consultation to see if Virtual Dog Training is for you, CLICK Here.

Dogs Safety During The Holiday Season

Holiday season is approaching faster than my dog 7 can steal a food from a baby.

As far as your dog is concerned Holiday season is insane time.  More people are in and out of the house,  family’s energy is out of whack.  Not to mention lots of strange boxes & plants are being placed in the house.  In fact as far as our dogs are concerned all the human energy is insanely abnormal.

Your dog will enjoy the holiday season right along with you if you consider 2 areas. Dog Safety and dog sanity.


If you’re going to have a live tree in a home with dogs. Remember the tree water at the base of live trees can be harmful. Often preservative chemicals are added to prolong the life of the tree. Keep your dog from drinking the water. You can cover the tree basin with foil or a tree skirt.  You can also use this as a Dog Training Opportunity. To practice your “Off” and “Boundaries” exercises.

To prevent your dog from knocking over your holiday tree(s), anchor your tree with cord or wire to the ceiling directly above the tree’s trunk.  Not a good idea to attach it with wire to a wall behind the tree. Your dog could get caught in the wire if he is behind the tree.

Always hang your ornaments with ribbons rather than hooks. This will keep your dog from accidentally swallowing something that could get lodged in his throat.

If you’re going to have a party try not to use toothpicks for hors d’oeuvres. The smell of food on a toothpick will attract dogs. If your dog swallows a tooth pick, it can get stuck in his throat or puncture internal organs.

Electrical cords are the enemy of puppies. Always, always, always secure the electrical cords. If a new dog enters into your house, or if you are at someone else’s house with your dog, have eyes on your dog for about 5 minutes. See where your dog is exploring. If it’s near electrical cords, then good time to practice your “Leave It.”

Next is


1 Enjoy the season

Stay calm. We all get stressed out during the holidays, and our dog picks up on our stress. She looks to you as the leader. If you are calm, she is calm.  If you also try to spend a little quiet time with her every day – it will help too.

One thing you can do is to freshen up on your dog’s basic obedience exercises.  Don’t teach her something new during this stressful time, but practice what she already knows & reinforce yourself as a leader and someone she can trust.

2 Keep the routine with your dog

Keep your dog’s regular daily routine. Feed and walk her at the same times as you usually do. Changing her routine can make her stressful, and she can seek attention by misbehaving. According to your dog, any attention, even if you are screaming at her, is better than no attention.

3 Play with your dog before your party.

If you tire her out, she’ll be too tired to get into any mischief when guests arrive. If that is not possible, hire a dog walker or take him to doggie daycare.


Find out the location of the nearest emergency vet in your area NOW. Don’t lose precious moments during an emergency.

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Making Your Dog’s Food at Home

I begun making our dogs’ food at home consistently when my doghter Zilli (my Vizsla) had some health issues.

Until then, I thought about making their (dogs) food at home, but I never took the action. I was too busy, I was already giving them good food, I thought it would be too hard to figure out what to feed them, etc etc etc.

Then one day I came to the realization buying the best food bowl, the best dog toys, the best dog bed for my dogs were nice gestures for my dogs. However, if I am being totally honest with mySelf they were mostly to make me feel better about mySelf as a dog owner. But they did not contribute much to the health and well being of my dog. After all other than taking our dogs to vet for  regular check-ups what we feed them is the most impactful thing for their health.

Technically speaking there is nothing wrong with feeding your dog commercially made food .

Technically speaking you could eat McDonald’s every meal. But if you were to eat every meal at McDonald’s you can -and should expect some health complications down the road. This is not to poop on Mickey D’s (my first employer), but to point out whenever the food we eat is heavily processed, it naturally loses the nutrients our bodies need.

Think about it.  Why everyone loves the taste of home grown tomatoes vs the one you get from the grocery store.  The reason home cooked meals “feel” better when we eat them, is because for our bodies they ARE better. They just are. Don’t take my word for it, just refer to your own life experience.  

Making my dog food at home was much easier and cheaper than I thought.

My first assumption was I was too busy to make dog food at home. I thought most days I don’t even cook for myself. There is no way I have time for cooking dog food at home. But it literally takes no time to put all the ingredients into a crock pot, turn it on and 8-9 hours later I have enough food cooked for roughly 10 days.

Assumption #2 was I was already feeding them “premium food”. I know we all want to believe the premium dog food we buy at the store is indeed premium. Then I recognized all the horrible crap FDA allows to be in the human food, what must be “allowed” in dog food.

Assumption #3 was It’s going to be hard to figure it out. Yes just like everything else there was learning curve to making my dog food at home until I got comfortable with it. I think after the 3rd time making it I felt like a pro.

This is what and how I do it

There are infinite ways and combinations to making your dog food. This is just how I make my dog’s food. My purpose for this post is to be the catalyst for you to try it for yourSelf. Give it a try for a month and see how you like it…… I know your dog will love it.  If it works continue. If not you can always but another bag of dog food.

Use a big enough Crock Pot. Crock Pot is what makes things super easy. Larger the crock pot more dog food you can make. I’m not sure how big ours is, but I know it’s relatively big. I simply put all the prepped ingredient in the crock pot, let everything cook for eight or nine hours, and I am done. It’s that easy

Food Processor is a miracle. When I first started I didn’t use a food processor.  I was just cutting veggies to small pieces and cook them that way. Since everything is cooked for long time in the crock pot they all kind of blended together. Then, one day my wife introduced me to our food processor. WOW! That thing is amazing. You don’t need one, but you want one. I went from cutting veggies for 30 minutes to 10 minutes.

Keep it Simple. Don’t get overwhelmed with ingredients, If you don’t have a kitchen scale just buy frozen veggies; The bag tells you how much they weigh. The meat you buy will already have the weight on it.

Remember your “Why.” I have done it long enough to actually love making my dog’s food. I love picking the veggies, I am consciously flowing and infusing the food with my love and appreciation for my dogs. When I’m chopping the veggies, when I’m blending the ingredients, I consciously think how much I love my dog(s), how much they love eating it, how happy they are, and how happy they make me just being with me. Love was the secret ingredient of my grand mother’s cooking, and it is my secret ingredient too.

Simple Recipe For You To Start With

The photo has everything I use. And you might be a little overwhelmed (especially if you noticed that large bowl of organ meat)  Don’t start there unless you’re Enneagram 3 or Type A.

The first couple of years I used

  • 3lbs of meat (half pork and half ground beef)
  • 1 lbs of broccoli  or Brussel sprouts which ever was on sale (some times 2 bags of frozen type)
  • 1 1/2 lbs of  zucchini  (some times 3 bags of frozen green beans)
  • 4 Carrots
  • 1 can of Dark kidney beans
  • 6tbs of coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric and Mustard
  • 1/3 tsp calcium <THIS IS IMPORTANT to have
  • 1 cup of Brown Rice

Chop all the veggies, and put everything EXCEPT the rice in to slow cooker, add 4 cups of water.

Cook at LOW HEAT for 8 hours. Then add the rice, and cook for another hour.

That’s it. Turn everything off and let the food cool. That should give you about 10lbs of food. If you have a small dog, you can freeze the extra. It takes 24-36 hours to thaw in the fridge and about 4 hours on the counter.

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Be the owner your dog deserves

If you asked 1000 dogs if they think they need dog training or not I bet they wouldn’t even understand the question.

Training for what???? to be a dog ????
I’m already a dog they would say.

What most people want from their dogs is unreasonable, and to be honest unfair.

Here is what our reality looks like to our dogs.
We say our dogs need training. But what we are meaning is I want my dog be less like a dog. I want my dog to ignore his instincts and do what I tell him to do instead. Dogs need training. In fact  the first step of becoming the owner your dog deserves is to learn how to train your dog. But before you start barking orders at your dog get your head in the right place. Then your dog training journey will be a rewarding, bounding experience for both you and your dog. Stop having a confrontational battle where you human always have to win. Be The Alpha, Be The Boss, and become “the Trusted Guide” for your dog to follow.

I’ve seen it happen thousands of times when my clients finally “got it!” The light bulb flashed in their heads. “OOOOh You mean working WITH my dog, rather than keep telling my dog I’m the boss Is that what you mean?”

Yesss. That’s what I mean. Working with your dog. Having your dog be an active participant in the relationship. Two mutually loving beings co-existing together (with different responsibilities) being together because they love each other.

If this is resonates with you, give yourSelf a permission slip to shift your paradigm. Give yourself permission to start seeing your role with a fresh lens. Forget everything you saw on TV Shows.Forget most of the things you heard from friends, family, co-leagues. And ignore a lot of the dog training material out there. Even if things sounds amazing like “You should never correct your dog.” Ignore everything that looks contradictory to raising a 4 year old child to become a fully functioning adult.

If you’re triggered by what I just shared about correcting your dog, Please listen to the Interviews I recorded with Kim Greco who trained along with dogs horses, dolphins, sea lions, and polar bears, and other professional animal trainers.

Let’s start with one of the core causes of human-dog disagreements.

We humans think we are more intelligent than dogs. This is true in many ways, but dogs are also intelligent -in other ways.

Imagine a real brain surgeon with triple Phd from Ivy League Schools leaves the hospital and while he’s driving home, his car engine just stalls.
He calls Road Side assistance and waits for the tow truck. The tow truck driver shows up in 30 minutes. A high-school drop out in greasy coveralls gets out of his truck, spits his chewing tobacco asks the brain surgeon to pop the hood.
He tinkers with a few cables, taps a few things and yells “Give it a go.” Lo and be-hold! Car starts…. Who is more intelligent in this story, the brain surgeon or the tow truck driver? The answer is: It depends. I don’t want the tow truck driver to operate on my brain and I don’t want a brain surgeon to work on my car.

If you start seeing your Dog-Human relationship the same way you’re on a good starting point. We are intelligent and we have human instincts. Dogs are intelligent and have dog instincts. I know we often forget our dogs are actual predators, hunters, even killers.

But we have this animal, that can run faster than us, can smell better than us, can kill things, and often a better judge of character than us willingly submit to us. And What do we do?
We get into a power trip.

I’m going to mess with your food, I’m going to tie you to me and insist you walk as slow as I do, I don’t want you to smell stuff.  Obey me. I’m the Boss. I’m the Alpha. Can you imagine living with or being around someone with that level of insecurity? That’s the life we submit our dogs to.

Are you ready to enjoy your time together with your dog?

You have to accept your dog however smart she is, she is always like a 4 year old human. Very smart, but still needs to be guided and lead through life. And just as you would with a 4 year old child,
your dog needs  patience and compassion while she’s learning the rules of life. And Just as with a child, it’s better to have fewer rules you follow through than lots  rules you don’t follow through.

Become a  “Benevolent Leader™”
Stop the mindset of “I am the owner. Whatever I say goes. Obey me.”
and replace it with the mindset of “You’re smart and have a lot going for you but I lived here for a while and I know the rules. I can help you get to all the things you want with ease.”

When you accomplish this, what you’ll find is an eager participant in the relationship who wants to learn from you.

To become a “Benevolent Leader™,” to become the owner your dog deserves™.

You have to learn to lead, you have to learn to guide, and you have to be balanced.

The good news is the changes you have to make starts with first shifting your mindset. Regardless how long it’s been, you can become a benevolent leader right now. Without a doubt your dog will adjust and accept the new way much quicker than you.

The way you approach your dog impacts how your dog responds to you.

Here is a pro tip.
Dog’s don’t have the same time concept as humans.They live in a series of “Now” events. Now, Now, Now, Now.
And you can use this to your advantage.

A while ago….
One of the rescue groups we provided free training to had an aggressive bully that was returned to them 3-4 times.
The dog was fine until the new owners got home with the dog. Then she would lose all her marbles. Became super aggressive, so much so they couldn’t even get her out of the car.

She stayed with us for couple of weeks for rehabilitation. All her problems were addressed, she had many successful car trips without any issues. We trusted her enough to be free to roam the facility and hang out with us and our dogs, just as any dog we train. One day she was  rough housing with another dog. When I told them to “knock it off” She perceived my correction as threat. In a split second I saw the switch in her eyes from “Yaaay We’re having fun” to “Don’t come at me bro.” I recognized the Freeze before she lunged at me to bite. I was able to move quick enough to grab her back legs as I felt her teeth snapping at my shirt, and my side. Once I grabbed her back legs one of the trainers opened the door to the training floor where we put her and shut the door. So behind the door a pissed off dog that just attacked a human, with 2 missed bite attempts. On the other side of the door 3 dog trainers

What did we do?

Because I knew dogs only in a series of Now events. I knew If next time I see her -when I open the door- she will perceive that interaction as a new stand alone interaction. So If I showed up with I’m the boss, I’m going to kick your butt attitude, we would start the new interaction with a confrontation. Not a winnable position either of us.

First I got mySelf into a calm state. After all she almost bit me couple of times and she knew she scared the crap out of me. So I drank some water, took some deep breaths, grabbed a leash, and open the door walked in saying (and projecting) “Hey, there you are let’s train some more.” She walked right up to me, I leashed her and went straight into training. Obviously we immediately started teaching her how to deal with stress and give her new behavior options than aggression when she is stressed.

The moral of the story is:
Whenever you’re entering into your dog’s sphere, your dog is viewing that interaction as a stand alone interaction. They don’t drag their past baggages like we do. So PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR MINDSET. Don’t let your memory of your dog from yesterday ruin your connection with your dog now. NOTE: I have dealt with lots of aggressive dogs prior to this. Unless you are a professional dog trainer with experience with aggressive dogs DO NOT APPROACH AN AGGRESSIVE DOG. You can be injured or die.

Another key to being a Benevolent Leadership is to be balanced. That means you are acting like a balanced person with your approach to your relationship with your dog. I love my 5 y/o nephew Benjamin, and I want him to be happy always. But regardless of how much I love him, he can’t have ice cream for every meal, he can’t drive my car, and he has to take a bath regardless of his protests.


Is it normal for a dog to chase a cat, rabbit, squirrel ? YES. But “chasing” is not always acceptable behavior. Like when you’re walking along a busy street. The instinct to chase is in your dog’s nature.

Is it normal for a dog to hump another dog? YES. But this level of domination is not always acceptable. Perhaps with your neighbor’s dog. However, your dog’s instinct to show his level of dominance is a natural instinct.

Remember your goal is NOT to restrict your dog more, but to teach her how to behave successfully in the world of humans that you live in.

View your training journey with your dog as a learning experience for you. Learning to bond, and guide your dog to the right behavior.  Decide on the behaviors you want, teach them like you’re teaching it to a 4 y/o
and enjoy the process. I promise you this will bring joy to both you and your dog.

This discussion continues on Dog Owners’ Collective Facebook Group

Pandemic Puppies | Separation Anxiety

Even though dogs do not feel every emotion we do, they do feel anxiety. Being the social animals they are anxiety for separation is something we see often in dog training world. There has been a jump on the number of Separation Anxiety cases during and after the C-19 lockdown. Many calling this phenomenon  “Pandemic Puppies” If you can look pass the clickbait branding, the issue is Separation Anxiety.

I dealt with 100s of cases of separation anxiety issues over the years.

You can Listen to the Podcast Episode I recorded by clicking here.

Just to clarify, Separation Anxiety is different than being destructive for being bored. It is a dog that becomes anxious when left alone any period of time showing signs of stress (panting, drooling, general anxiety) and may lead to unwanted and/or destructive behavior, or self harm.

One fo the most severe cases I dealt with was a Ridgeback that destroyed an entire couch. When the owner came from work the only thing left from her couch was the wooden frame. Everything.. seats, cushions, arm rests.  everything was completely torn off. But an average Separation Anxiety may look like dog escapes their crate, maybe whines when the owner is leaving, barks for some time or for a long time.

The least obvious manifestation of separation anxiety which is often overlooked by owners is when the dog follow their owners from room to room wherever the owner is. Even to the bathroom.

Causes of Separation Anxiety

Dogs are visual animals, they are also habitual animals, and they like predictability. These qualities that make them such amazing protective creatures, also are what  causes them to have separation anxiety.

Remember dogs don’t have abstract concepts like “Now” and “Later.” Just as a 3 year old toddler doesn’t understand Mommy has to go to work, but she will be back in a few hours, and they are sad to see their Mommy go, your dog can’t understand My Human is gone now, but will be back later.

So If your dog is not conditioned to your departures and arrivals, whenever you are not present where she can see you could potentially create anxiety for your dog. And if your dog doesn’t have self-soothing skills or stress coping-mechanism in 8 hours of stress can lead to “destructive behavior.”

Even before C-19 lockdown I dealt with many separation anxiety cases. One of the category we identified was with dogs where the humans are always home. Self Employed people, tele-commuters, older people who don’t leave their homes as much unintentionally created an environment where dog is never alone. Therefore never developed their stress-coping skills.

Another cause of Separation Anxiety we see is when dogs don’t know where they fits in the family.  They don’t understand their position in the family hierarchy (That was my polite way of saying when the humans don’t have good boundaries with their dogs.)

One last thing I noticed over the years is often the humans reinforce the anxiety. Like leaving “sad,” or making a big emotional deal for our departures. In turn our dogs pick-up our projected anxiety, Then the human reinforce it by petting the dog and talking in high pitch or smooth voice “That’s OK. Mommy Will be back Soon. Daddy Misses youuu.” So the dog learns from the human’s example Human leaving = Sad. When the human is sad, then I the dog should be sad. This is what is reinforced, that means this is what is expected from me.

How to Prevent Separation Anxiety At The First Place

The saying an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is applicable for Separation Anxiety cases.  By using some of the techniques I’ll show you here you can help your dog learn and develop self-soothing, and stress management skills.

First !  Don’t make a big deal when you’re leaving home.  Trust me. You don’t have to hug your dog every time you’re going out to dinner. You also don’t have to project “I’m leaving… I don’t want to leave you” towards your dog. You are a human being and that means there are times in your life where you can’t take your dog with you. Just like there are places where you can’t take your child with you. Also don’t ask if your dog is sad or look for clues for your dog’s sadness.

Second. Don’t reinforce anxiety. Either ignore it or at least be neutral in your response. Your dog loves you even if she isn’t sad to see you go, but it is normal for your dog to feel anxious at first. Don’t blow this out of proportion. The only way for her to feel “normalcy” of you leaving and coming back is for you to be and act “normal.” Just like when a toddler first learning to walk takes a tumble, if the parents make a big deal, then the child is likelier to cry, but if the parents are like “oopsie daisy” and rolls with the bump, then the child is likely to roll with it too.

Third. Don’t spend your every awake hour with your dog. Create separation, teach your dog through your example she doesn’t have to be up in your business all the time. Trust me your dog loves you even when she is not always next to you looking at you. That level of neediness is neither good for you nor for your dog. Practice having boundaries with your dog. It’s a good practice for the rest of your life also. If you’re someone who is always home make sure you leave home a few times/day longer than 10 minutes leaving your dog home alone will condition his seeing you leave and come back, leave and come back. So he will be conditioned to your departures.

OK But What About If Your Dog Has Separation Anxiety. What Then?

Maybe you have a rescue dog that came with this issue or perhaps you got a puppy during the lock down and now you’re heading back to office. What then. The Good news is dogs don’t cary their emotional garbage like we humans do. So have the mindset of “Fresh Start” and have the attitude of easy training regiment. -Assuming you Figured out it’s anxiety, not  boredom.

Start by teaching your dog separation is not the end of the world. Crate your dog while you’re at home or blocking your dog from being in the same room with you. This will start creating some separation. Let him see you do your thing without being the part of it. Always start with short enough time for your dog to succeed and expand the duration.

Then desensitize her to your departures and arrivals. Since your dog doesn’t experience time linear like we humans you can use this to your advantage. Instead of leaving once or twice day, just leave for a 15 minutes, come back, leave for 15 few minutes, come back many times thought out a day when you can practice this. Obviously DO NOT make a big deal of your departures, and returns…

Pro-Tip: When you’re doing the departure desensitization it’s important that you look exactly like when you’re leaving for work (or whatever situation stresses your dog.) If you have a garage and when leaving for work your dog hears the garage door open make sure you open the garage door and drive away. The point is to desensitize and recondition your dog to help her NOT go through the motions.

And finally don’t gush over your dog every time you come back to the house. I know this usually is the hardest part, but if you want to be the owner your dog deserves, then sometimes you have to do the right thing for your dog regardless of how it makes you feel.

When you get home, maybe go to bathroom and wash your hands, go get a glass of water. Something/Anything to occupy you for about a minute so your attention is not on your dog. This will help your dog break the codependency on you. Don’t worry she will not love you any less. She will just be a healthier and more balanced dog.

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Bringing Home Your New Dog

There are right and wrong ways to bring a new dog into your house.

Any time a dog enters into a new environment it is a big deal for the dog.This is true for any new environment for a dog be it a new car, dog park, a house, and it’s especially true if this new house that is going to be her new home.

If you want to help your new dog adjust to your family with ease, there are 3 areas to focus on.

  • Your New Dog 
  • The Family. AKA humans who live in the house, and
  • Other animals maybe living in your house.

Your New Dog.

Dogs are social animals and hierarchy is very important to dogs. Whenever a dog enters into a new environment the first thing she needs to figure out is where she fits in. She needs to know who is in charge, who is following who? Who is responsible for the survival and the protection of the pack? She will need  to figure things out instinctively. She will not accept her position based on what you’re thinking/dreaming/planning, but based on her observation. This the “Observation Period” is what humans from corporate world call  “onboarding.”

The Observation Period is different for each dog. An 8 week old puppy maybe be like a sponge vs a rescue dog with some bad experiences with former humans likely will need much longer time to learn to trust again.  But a good rule of thumb is your first month is the most crucial period for the successful relationship with your dog.

What I noticed with dogs we worked with is the first 2 weeks  your new dog will be observing you, The next 2 weeks she will begin making “statements.” I can’t tell you how many times I heard clients start their calls with ” We got this new dog first 2 weeks she was amazing….. Then, he started doing ___________.”

You and Your family 

Just know as soon as your new dog arrives your life will be different. Therefore, it is important for you and your people to have some ground rules before your new dog arrives.

What are ground rules ? Things like is the dog allowed on the furniture? What’s the dog’s feeding schedule? Where’s the dog going to pee or poop? Is she going to sleep with us in the bed?  There are infinite number of things you need decide before the dog comes in so making some of those decisions as a family before your new dog arrives will make your life easier… Trust me on this. The fighting over if the dog sleeps in bed, or allowed on the couch is real.

Whenever you are considering the Ground Rules consider the adult dog not the tiny puppy that fits into your forearm at 8 weeks of age. Speaking of Puppies If you’re bringing home a new puppy make sure to puppy-proof your house BEFORE she arrives. Puppies like babies are very inquisitive.  She will start exploring/ discovering your house as soon as you put her on the ground.

Remember The first 2 weeks of your new dog’s arrival will be the time she is observing and studying you. This is the time to establish the hierarchy in the family and the rules of the new pack. Set the boundaries of how to play, 

Is he allowed to jump on you or not. I like  physical dogs and I allow my dogs to be physical with me, so I taught my dogs how I invite them to be play full contact with me. 

Is she allowed on the furniture or not. Many of my clients love to cuddle with their dogs on couch, but don’t want dog hair covering their entire couch, so we teach dogs to be on a designated blanket.

In dogs’ world one who controls the movement and the one who controls the food is the one who’s in charge. So, freedom of movement for your new dog can tell her where she fits in. Also where and when she receives and eats food will tell her where she fits in too. So these are two critical areas when you can naturally and instinctively establish the humans of your family as the leader(s).

First figure out a feeding schedule. Is your dog going to eat once, twice, three times a day? Puppy usually eat three times. Most Adult dogs eat once or twice. Then decide where will you feed you feed her, and who will feed her.

Pro-Tip: If you’re feeding your dog kibbles once you pour the food in the bowl play with the food for about 10 seconds to infuse your scent on the food. Your dog will begin associating your scent with love.

Next is control of the movement. New dog should not have full free-access to the entire house right away. Good house rule for new dogs (also applicable for teenagers) Freedom is earned! So make adjustments in your home to have some new-dog free areas. You can use crate, leash to make this happen. In fact having a crate as a safe space in the room where you spend time as a family where your new dog can observe your family for couple of weeks will be the best practice you can implement. ABSOLUTE BEST!

Last point. You must allow your new dog to adjust to your family (remember 2- 4 week span) During this time don’t worry about training with “commands.” Just enjoy your dog,  learn her personality, demonstrate Global Rules. You will have plenty of time to teach, Sit/ Roll over/ Play dead etc. Also if you have small children at home it is your responsibility to be the leader. Make sure your children are NOT torturing/annoying your dog to death because they are super excited and they love her so much.

Your Existing Animals

If you are introducing a new dog to your existing dog there are additional things to consider. Don’t bring a new dog in to the house declaring  “Hey. I got you a new brother. Here you go. Play!” This could be very dangerous -even deadly. 

Let new and old dog meet in a neutral environment. Have a quick walk with 2 dogs on a leash with 2 humans. Let them smell each other, walk together, pee on bushes, look and size each other up, even a gentle body-check is OK If they are both goofy then they’re okay you can breathe easier and then continue with the plan.

Inside the house your existing dog was already the leader or the only child….. until the new dog came. As soon as a new dog enters to your house the leadership role has to be established. Remember just because your existing dog was there first doesn’t mean he is going to be the the leader. For Leadership size doesn’t matter, age doesn’t matter, breed doesn’t matter, and most importantly YOUR DESIRE OF WHO SHOULD LEAD doesn’t matter.

Your existing dog at home will have the advantage of living there, having his routine, smell, toys etc. So it is going to be more stressful for your new dog. This is another reasons to crate your new dog… Quite a bit.

A Crate will help her get used to the new home safely, as long as you don’t allow your existing dog to torment the new dog.

ProTip: Do a light training to demonstrate  your relationship with the existing dog to your new dog while she is crated. So she can see your interaction and hierarchy with your existing dog. This will send the message: Dogs are not really competing for THE LEADERSHIP position.  “I’m the real boss.” And it will ease the stress between dogs.

And Finally let’s  talk about The Second phase of Observation Period starts around 2 weeks mark. First two weeks Your new dog observed you and your family. It’s been 2 weeks…. She now knows she lives here… So she is going to make some statements. 

Depending on the dog’s dominance levels and how well you did the first two weeks, your new dog is likely to behave differently. Stealing socks, challenging your authority, grabbing your pants -to see if you fall. Maybe pushing on you and letting you know “Hey. I have muscles too,” stepping on your foot,maybe marking. 

You will have to deal with all of these situations. This is the time for you to really exert yourself as a leader of the dog. So remember the first two weeks you were setting  the global rules, the second 2 weeks  you will set The Dog Rules.

You are the Leader!!

A Good Leader is not the person who is going around and yelling everybody that everything they do is wrong. I want to remind you that your dog never thinks  “Let me drive my human crazy.” All she is able to do is being a dog. When your new dog starts making statement is the time to start some of the behavior training. When she is acting an unwanted way you can actually start introducing some commands. Teaching him Sit command… Then teaching him where and when to sit. Like before getting the her food, before walking out the door, before getting out of the crate. It is also a good time to let them play more, allowing your kids to have more access to your dog, reduce the crate time…. even stop crating. Perhaps have full access to your house and your existing dog. So, based on the trust she earned from you her world is expanding more and more.… 

If you’re planning on hiring a dog trainer this phase will be a good time to find one. If you want to learn how to find the best trainer for your dog, then listen to the episode How to find the best trainer for my dog.

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