About Laura VanArendonk Baugh CPDT-KA KPACTP

Laura was born at a very young age and started playing with animals immediately after. She never grew out of it, and it looks to be incurable. She is the author of the bestselling FIRED UP, FRANTIC, AND FREAKED OUT. She owns Canines In Action, Inc. in Indianapolis, speaks at workshops and seminars, and is also a Karen Pryor Academy faculty member.

Toes for Treats

 

I really don’t have time for a blog post today, but this is for everyone who’s been told “dogs just don’t like having their nails clipped” (or going to the vet, or being brushed, or whatever).

Of course they don’t like such things straight out of the womb. Those are unnatural, weird human ideas. But we can condition them to enjoy and participate in all kinds of weird games.

So today I went to the drawer where I keep the nail trimmers, and Penny looked up. (I wasn’t even facing her, much less talking to her.) I picked up the trimmers, and she dropped a bully stick from her mouth and ran to me.

So of course we trimmed nails. And of course she got some treats for quietly holding her paws in my hands, which is what she expected and why she thinks nail trimming is a dumb game but worth the time to play.

Afterward, she went back to her bully stick (a favorite treat) and carried on.

It’s all about how you train this stuff!

17 Essentials: My Shopping Haul for New Puppy Gear

Beagle puppy

Not my puppy. But darned cute. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What does a professional trainer buy for a new puppy? I already have a full complement of Kong toys and other standards, but you can always use a few new items. And sometimes there’s a special gap that needs to be filled — like during travel.

(By the way, I’m not really trying to be coy when I only say “puppy” in this post; at this time of this writing, I actually don’t even know the puppy’s gender yet. I will happily introduce you all when things are settled.)

array of puppy gear on wooden table

some of the shopping haul

Bringing home this puppy is a bit more complicated than usual — we’re flying back from Europe. So not only do I have to travel with a puppy, hotels and all, but I have to keep it happy — or at least quiet — for 10 hours in a pressurized tube.

So, how does one plan for that? Here’s what I pulled out of storage, dusted off, or purchased new for the trip. Continue reading

Jurassic World and Training Dinosaurs

 

You might not have noticed, but there’s been a bit of a reaction in the animal training community to the blockbuster release of Jurassic World. And not just the recreations of actor Chris Pratt’s pose — which I absolutely love, by the way. (No way I’m picking a favorite pic. Go scroll through them.) Continue reading

Puppy Toes.

 

It’s been mentioned online, but not formally announced here: I’m getting a puppy.

Yes, there will be the patter of puppy toes, as someone put it! And the chatter of puppy teeth. Lots of puppy teeth.

This is a Doberman puppy, a near relative of Laevatein and from the same breeder (Ascomannis). I have a preference for black, but I don’t know yet if my puppy will be male or female. No wagering, please.
Continue reading

Mindy-Penny and the Return to Ordinary Life

This entry is part 25 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So Penny, née Mindy, is a pet dog now. Aside from the obvious things like no longer accompanying us into restaurants, church, grocery stores, etc., her life has changed in other subtle ways. Like, I can feed her what I want now, instead of sticking to a national brand available at any big box store. And she can have treats beyond her strict diet, like popcorn which falls on the floor during game night, which she previously had to ignore.

This has been a rougher transition than you would think. But really fun. Continue reading

Mindy: She’s Back!

This entry is part 24 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

So, this is awkward.

You may have followed the adventures of Mindy as she prepared to serve as a Guide Dog for the Blind, and her return to the GDB campus in early March. Then I stopped updating, at first because I was waiting for news and then because I had news and I was waiting for an outcome.

Apparently she was doing well, acing pretty much all the weird stuff they threw at her — all that socialization and practice paid off! — but then there was some sort of weird episode. It was observed and reported by a single volunteer, and not any of the training staff, so without any disrespect intended to the volunteer, I just don’t have all the details I want. But it put Mindy’s career in jeopardy. There are obviously very high standards which must be maintained when placing a dog in literal life-or-death service work. Continue reading

Goodbye To Mindy

This entry is part 23 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

sign: "Guide Dogs for the Blind National Headquarters"Today was the day. I delivered Mindy to Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Mindy had done several kennel stays locally in the last two months, where I paid for extra playtime and stuffed Kongs and all the good things that would make her love staying in kennels, and indeed she was excited to enter the kennel lobby and trotted happily away with staff without ever looking back. This was important to me because I didn’t want her worrying about being left at GDB.

black Labrador Mindy smiling at camera

Just before turn-in.

It worked: today she sat for the GDB kennel worker to put on her leash, and then she went straight away with her, walking nicely, ears and tail up, sitting on cue. It was about as painless and stress-free as possible for her. (Me? I was doing fine until the GPS countdown hit single digits. Not gonna lie, I cried. But to be fair, I did more prep work for Mindy.)

Continue reading

Recall Roundup

This entry is part 22 of 25 in the series Service Dog Training

Black Labrador Mindy in her green service vest beside an enormous prickly pear

Last November — yes, I’m more than a little behind on posting — Mindy took a trip with me down to my aunt’s ranch in Texas. I knew this would be an exciting trip for her for a variety of reasons, not least of which that the ranch is a seriously cool place for puppies to explore, with lizards, snakes, rabbits, deer, boar, turkeys, and many other things. (Some of these are fun to watch or even chase; some should be explored by sniffing their tracks only.)

The ranch is big, but not so big that a dog couldn’t find her way off it and get into local trouble. I would never have allowed Laev off-leash even for a moment there, if I’d ever taken her; Laev would have tangled with a rattlesnake and then chased a rabbit or deer straight off into a neighboring sheep ranch. There’s a ranch gate on the road which for years has been decorated with the hanging bodies of the latest coyotes or dogs which had been shot while hunting or harassing their stock. Continue reading

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival!

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival Today the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival goes live! And today I realize that probably the week before Christmas isn’t the ideal time. I heard from several people that they wanted to participate, but just hadn’t had time to get a post done and submitted.

But you know what? We’re all about accessibility and doing what you’re able here at the ADBC, and so we aren’t judging. If you get your posts to me later today or even later this week, I’ll just add them as they arrive. (And remember, you don’t have to be a service dog trainer or user to participate! All are welcome to share their thoughts and experiences.)

And this might be a good thing, because it lets me spotlight a very honest and thoughtful post from Jeremy Medlock, who is training his own dog to aid him. Service dog work isn’t all romantic key-fetching or traffic-stopping — sometimes it is doing what dogs do best, being quietly supportive and there for us, a bias-free slate. I encourage you to read this from someone who uses a dog for an “invisible” disability and is brave enough to discuss why. Continue reading

Assistance Dog Blog Carnival deadline extended

carnival_button_4Hey, everyone! I know it’s busy, between holidays, and I know I’m several blog posts behind myself (I want to share posts with you about ignoring the vacuum cleaner and driving 2600 miles with a puppy), but just in case — the Assistance Dog Blog Carnival submission deadline has been extended.

The new date is December 16th, to allow more people to get their posts ready. You can see the guidelines here and remember, you need not be a user or trainer to participate! Any relevant post is welcome.

I look forward to seeing your work!