The Educated Dog Trainer

The field of dog training is an unregulated one.  A fact that, unfortunately, is not common knowledge.

Anyone can deem themselves a dog trainer if they feel the urge, no experience, or even an affinity for dogs, necessary.  Many different occupations are required to be licensed or certified by the state to practice said business.  This licensing is unique to the field of which it governs and requires its possessor to pass a lengthy test proving they are capable of performing the job.  It is entirely separate from a business license, for which anyone can apply and be approved.  Most of these occupations are responsible for the well-being of people (doctors, teachers, and therapists), or for protecting the rights of people (lawyers, land surveyors), or handle materials that could cause harm (cosmetologists, contractors, electricians).  Dogs are not people, but people are liable for them, and they can cause damage, which is why one would think the professionals in which people hire to train their dogs would need to be licensed.

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Puppy Training and puppy playtime-which are you paying for?

Puppy Training and puppy playtime- which are you paying for?

puppy class bellingham washington

I would happily spend all day watching puppies play, but that is not what I do for a living.  It is my job to ensure that the puppies leaving my class are well adjusted and have an understanding of social etiquette.  “But wait, I thought puppies need to play with other puppies to learn how to be social, isn’t that what socialization is?”  Puppy play is only a small part of a much bigger equation that is dog socialization.  Let’s compare to human children- you wouldn’t send your 5-year-old child to kindergarten and expect that they will learn manners from their friends do you? No, there are teachers and staff there to ensure your child is practicing good behavior while interacting with others its own age.  Kindergarten is not a free for all endless recess session and puppy class shouldn’t be either.

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All About Kongs

All About Kongs


All too often I find that new puppy parents know they should buy the classic Kong toy but are not sure how to utilize it to its fullest potential.  Countless times I have heard puppy clients say “we have a Kong but they don’t seem interested in it”.  This is for 1 of 2 reasons; 1) they don’t put anything in it and, 2) they stuff it to the brim with peanut butter.  With the latter the puppy’s initial reaction may be “wowee this is amazing, I have the best humans in the world!” but that reaction may quickly wear thin.  Think about it, have you ever put a spoonful of peanut butter in your mouth?  If so, how often have you followed it with a second spoonful?  That is without pairing it with milk or a banana?  Peanut butter is sticky stuff and when stuffed into a Kong it can make quite the challenge for a puppy.  Once they get past the initial first inch of the Kong they can either grow tired of the peanut butter or they simply can’t reach it well enough to work it out of the Kong. This is when they give up and find something easier to entertain themselves with.

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How do I get my dog to stop barking and lunging at x, y, & z while on the leash?

How do I get my dog to stop barking and lunging at x, y, & z while on the leash?

This week I requested that my Instagram followers ask me whatever training questions they had so that I may answer them.  I know, crazy right?  While I was somewhat unprepared for the pandora’s box I seemingly opened with that request, I thought it would inspire some new blog posts.  Well, it worked.

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The 3rd date rule-yes it applies to dogs too!

3rd date rule

Whether from personal experience, or education via Hollywood, we are all familiar with the 3rd date rule.  For those who may not know, the gist of the 3rd date rule is this: there is a minimum of 3 dates that must take place before a new relationship can and should become physically intimate.  The reason behind this rule is to encourage an appropriate amount of “get to know you” time before the pressure of taking the next step is expected.  While this rule’s application to human dating rituals is an entire discussion in itself, we are here to discuss how and why it should apply to dogs.

But wait, humans don’t date dogs; that would be weird, and well, illegal, right?  Right!  So how does the rule apply?  When it comes to bringing home a new dog, think of the 3rd date as being your 3rd week together.  Take the first 2 weeks to really get to know each other before placing any sort of expectations on your dog.  Bringing home a new dog is an incredibly exciting experience, whether it’s a brand new puppy or an adult dog.  Did you get it from a breeder, a shelter, a rescue?  It doesn’t matter where you got your new friend from, they all deserve an adjustment period.

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Would a dog by any other name still bark and wags its tail?

lucy embarking the pet dog

“It seemed just like any other day as we prepared to go out for our walk around town.  In many ways, it was the same but in one particular way it was a special day, it was the 4th of July.  This was the one day a year that our small little town of Blaine quadrupled in size.  The center of town is closed off for a car show that runs 3 blocks one direction and 5 another, a street fair with food and craft vendors. Live bands performing throughout the day, pony rides for kids, and a grand parade.  Then finally we close out the night with a large fireworks display over the harbor.  We’ve been going to this event for 5 years.

As we made our way through the crowds watching the parade, waiting in line for food, and admiring the cars we were greeted with compliments by strangers and familiars alike.  These comments were things we were used to hearing; “what a well behaved dog”, “she’s beautiful”, “such a nice dog” and so on.  While we are grateful for these compliments and love hearing them, however, there are the rare comments that stand out more than others.

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