Online Dog Trends: Trainer approved.

Putting eggs in our dog’s mouth, dressing them up for Halloween, pretending to step over a “force field” that doesn’t exist, and making our dogs pose for a funny picture with our toddler is social media gold. All your friends are going comment about how funny it is or how their dog would never do that. You might even get a full-on belly laugh out of it.

Let’s take a step back. How do you think your dog feels?

We bring dogs into our homes. Using the help of dog trainers we teach them what items to chew, and where to pee. Dogs don’t get a choice in the food they receive, barking is not welcomed, humping is inappropriate, they learn how to play bite to your preferred level and let’s not get into what we do to their genitals.

This is a lot to put on our dogs already, they are so much more understanding than we give them credit for. At the end of the day we need to realize that we might find them adorable, sweet, kind and understanding but when we stick an egg in their mouth for a couple of “wow” emoji’s on our Facebook page, we are the biggest weirdo’s they’ve ever met.

The biggest issue here isn’t that these things make your dog uncomfortable, it’s that we have options to enrich our dogs lives and achieve the sacred “wow” emoji all at the same time and we don’t take advantage of it.

Here’s 3 online dog trends that are fun for you and your dog.

1.) Teach a new trick. There are tons of tutorials online that show you step by step how to clicker train your dog how to “say their prayers”, turn off the lights, spin and much more. Once your dog has learned, film it and put it up. Any dog can put on a Yoda costume but how much cooler is your dog for standing on their hind legs when you hold your hand out in the Vader chokehold pose?

2.) Hide treats throughout your house and watch your dog find them. Take your dog’s regular kibble or some delicious treats and hide them under pillows, in corners and under blankets. Let your dog into the room with the hidden treats and watch as your dog becomes the most adorable detective the internet has ever seen!

3.) Film a video of your dog using just a picture, I used pictures of my sisters dogs to make her think we threw a crazy party while she was away. One of my favorite apps to use is called My Talking Pet. It’s the best $.99 you’ll ever spend. Using a picture of your dog you identify where their mouth and eyes are, record yourself saying whatever you want, change the pitch of your voice and let the app put it all together. You can even string together conversations between your dogs using this app and a little editing.

There are so many options to make our dogs happy while still being the coolest kid in the virtual world. So, what are you doing reading this? You go out there and make quality viral material and make sure to give me a shout out when you get your 15 minutes of fame on Ellen.

Samantha Brown, Victoria Stilwell Graduate

Sam graduated with Distinction from the Victoria Stilwell Dog Training Academy.  While completing her studies she mentored under Tara. She is a Fear Free Certified Professional and is continuing to seek other ways to expand her knowledge base. Her background as a professional comedian compliments her skills as a trainer.  She volunteers at the local shelter and specializes in day training, kitty kindergarten, and class creation.


How to Party with Your Dog

I had a few friends over to my house not long ago. Drinks were passed around, we sat on the couch discussing the recent Walking Dead, how my roommate met his girlfriend, and how I came to have 5 cats in my apartment. With each discussion, we pushed our stereo to the max. It wasn’t until I went to the kitchen to get refills that I realized maybe this wasn’t the best environment for my dog. I turned the radio down and went back into the living room to see my dog being roughly petted and posing for snapchat. When she was in her younger days Maddie, my dog, had been a party animal, going from person to person for affection and leftover snacks. She could find the sucker in the bunch and follow them around like a puppy dog (Ha! Get it? Because she is a dog! Oh, I’m clever).

Maddie’s cousin: TicTac

It’s been a good 5 years since her party days and I could see she was distressed. I only had 4 friends over, I didn’t think she’d be so bothered, but I could see it then. Before I got the chance to say anything and say my dog is not comfortable my phenomenal roommate stepped up. Most people wouldn’t describe their roommate as phenomenal. I could type for days about why he is, but for starters, every day I come home from work I debrief him on what happened during my day. How dog trainers train. Why shock collars are outdated. How I use Skinner and Pavlov’s methods to enhance my training. How dogs talk more with their bodies than with their mouths. The way dogs say “I’m distressed” with their bodies (whale eye, lip licks, tight mouth). Turns out he had been listening the entire time. I know… pretty phenomenal, right?
The best part, instead of telling our friends that they were torturing the dog without knowing it for a good snapchat story, he grabbed a handful of treats and threw one on the ground letting Maddie chase that instead of being on the couch with the crazy humans. He then looked at them and said watch this. He gave her the sit cue, she sat, he treated. He gave her the down cue, she laid down, he treated. He gave her the spin cue, she spun, he treated. They were in awe. One of them even snapchatted Maddie doing her spin. This gave me time to grab her a frozen treat and put her in her crate for a puppy break.
Forty-Five minutes later Maddie was out of the cage doing sits and downs and spins on her own accord to get treats. I pulled out her mat and showed them how I reinforce her for staying on it and continued our conversation about The Walking Dead, my roommate’s relationships and my 5 cats. The music was back down and my pup was happy.

Sometimes we forget to be responsible dog owners, by sharing my knowledge with my roommate my dog didn’t have to suffer my shortcomings that night. I would have never thought that showing off my dogs sit would be the highlight of the night but dang it if people aren’t impressed. I train all day, and when I get home sometimes it’s tough to muster up the strength to train a little more. That’s where roommates come in. We tend to think that if you bring home a puppy it’s 110% your responsibility. However, just like babies, shouldn’t it take a village?


The great thing about positive reinforcement training is you are not going to permanently damage your dog if you don’t know what you’re doing, although you might accidentally reinforce an unwanted behavior. My roommates treat delivery is awfully slow, and his marker words (yes, good girl, yeah) are a little disorganized but Maddie gets the gist and loves him to pieces. So, if you have people in the home, show them everything and get them involved. Use the village.

I now have my girlfriend working on the 50-cookie-challenge (with Maddie, the dog), while my roommate works on targeting (with Kylo, the kitten) and I don’t even have to share my paycheck with them.

Yippie Goes to the Bar

Yes, you read that right, Yippie goes to the bar.  The bar in our kitchen.  He stands there until we guess what he wants.  Literally, just stands there and looks at me as I guess what is on his mind.  I should perhaps teach him the PECS system that is used for non verbal children, and perhaps when we are done with the Karen Pryor Academy behavior chain I will.

When he goes to the bar, it is typically one of three things (lucky for him, because I would lose patience after the third):

  1. Water
  2. To go out.
  3. He wants a treat.

First, I point at the water bowl and ask if he wants water… at least 60% of the time this is it.

Second, I walk around the counter and towards the back door where the doggie door is located.  If he goes out, that was it.  (20% of the time)

Finally, we walk back to the counter and I put my hand on something… If he goes nuts… he was just working me for a treat.  So we do a little mini-training session and call it for the next few hours while he naps in his stroller.  Yes, I said it… he has a stroller.  He loves that thing, but that is a story for another time.

Some tell me it is early stages of CCD, but I’m happy to report that there is nothing else in his life that suggests this to be the case.  After all, you did read he is participating in the Karen Pryor Academy, right?  For those that don’t know what that is you can find out more information here.  Further, Yippie has always been a bit of a goof.  Someday I’ll have to write up a fun post about the day Yippie decided to play hide and seek without telling us.  (Boy I really do digress sometimes.)

My point is this, as our dogs age, we let them get away with certain things.  For me, it is allowing him to treat me like a human PEZ dispenser.  If he hadn’t spent the last 14 years of his life as a perfect angel, I might not be so inclined to let him treat me this way.  We often called him Stealth Dog, because you could forget he was there he was so quiet all the time.  We took him to outdoor restaurants and many times, the waiter would come up the third time, and say oh wow, “I didn’t even know he was here.”

So, when Yippie goes to the bar, I stop and pay attention.  I don’t know if its a request to pay attention to him, or if he truly is forgetting why he walked there in the first place.  I don’t really care.  He counts on this from me.  If I’m not there in a flash, he will prance in place… it’s funny… tippity, tippity, tip of toenails on the floor.  For in that moment, it’s our time at the bar!