Storm Watch & Success, Part 3 – Desensitization & Counter-Conditioning

This entry is part 3 of 7 in the series Storm Watch

Storm (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

So you’re ready to get started combating storm fear, right? Of all the various tools we’ll cover, these will be the most generally useful for the most cases.

Desensitization and counter-conditioning are often confused, and indeed they can be similar. Both involve starting at a very low level of exposure to the trigger and gradually raising it. But they are different processes. Continue reading

Storm Watch & Storm Success, Part 2 – Carry-on Allowances & Emotional Baggage

This entry is part 2 of 7 in the series Storm Watch
Figure 15 from Charles Darwin's The Expression...

Figure 15 from Charles Darwin’s The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Caption reads “FIG. 15.—Cat terrified at a dog. From life, by Mr. Wood.” Author’s signature is at bottom left. See also figures 9-14 and 18 by the same author. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Before we start with the nuts and bolts of helping pets with storm fear or phobia, we really have to discuss the emotional aspects of  fears and phobias. No matter how much has been written or described on this, I still encounter an amazing amount of misinformation which slows or counters owners’ best training efforts. Continue reading

Storm Watch & Storm Success, Part 1

This entry is part 1 of 7 in the series Storm Watch
Protecting our dogs from storm phobia (and bad Photoshop)

Protecting our dogs from storm phobia (and bad Photoshop)

It’s been a very stormy year across the country, and in the Midwest in particular. Since I have three dogs with three variants of sound/storm phobia or sensitivity, my former love and thrill for dramatic weather has degraded to a dejected, “Oh, more storms?!”

But storm fear or sound phobia doesn’t have to be the end of the world for your pets or the end of sanity for you. There are many options now to help fearful or sensitive dogs (and cats!), and no reason to tolerate unnecessary suffering in animals or humans. In the next few posts, I will share what is working well for us and for others, and you can be the hero in your own household! Continue reading

An Easy Pill to Swallow: Training Dogs to Take Pills the Easy Way

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series An Easy Pill to Swallow
from "How To Live With A Calculating Cat"

from “How To Live With A Calculating Cat”

There’s a fabulous cartoon series on how to get a cat to swallow a pill, in which the feckless humans tried to plead with the cat,  ratchet the defiant jaws open, disguise the pill in delicious food, etc., all without success.* I have to give the dogs pills occasionally, and I’m far too lazy to want to go through a hassle each time — nor can I count on always having a food product gooey and smelly enough to disguise the offensive pill.

So I’ve taught the dogs to take pills plain, on cue.

Continue reading

Silly Pet Tricks 102

I brought home a hula hoop a couple of weeks ago.  Valenzia was a little shy of it; she didn’t seem to like the shoop-shoop sound the sand made, nor the fact that it swung around in a wide arc that barred her from Mommy (me).  I didn’t want my dog to be uncomfortable with the hoop, and one of the best ways I’ve found to counter-condition a “scary” object is to turn it into a training target.

I’ve posted before about using shaping games and silly tricks to foster creativity or take the edge off a wired dog’s energy.  Since I was doing a few minutes of shaping anyway, I figured I could use our short training session for the next video installment.  So, here it is! Continue reading