Archives for Learn From A Dog category

What’s On Your Dog’s Bucket List?

Posted on Aug 14, 2015
Dog Psychology, Dog's Bucket List, Dogs Express Emotion, Learn From A Dog, Uncategorized, Yorkie
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Recently, videos of people and their dogs fulfilling the dog’s bucket list are making the rounds on social media.  It made me think of my own dogs and, in particular, my senior Yorkie, Melody.  When I got her, her age was estimated to be between 10-13.  (She’s been 13 for five years!)  Regardless, I am aware she does things now that reflect her age (let’s call them senior moments).

A recent scare brought to mind the idea of a bucket list.  What would her bucket list be?  I thought of all the things that make her act excited and silly. The answer was simple – being with me.  I took her on a camping trip and with the cooler temperatures, beautiful trees, and even with squirrels everywhere, she only wanted to be with me.

I’m absolutely certain our dogs express joy and happiness; just as they also express fear and anxiety.  I know from my dogs that while they love going for walks, playing with toys, chasing lizards (or cats) – I’m at the other end of the leash, I’m the giver of the toys, and while Zoe would prove me wrong for a brief moment of time, they prefer me over chasing anything.

The bucket list?  That’s for us.  That’s us going for one last run or walk, one last toy toss, sharing that burger we never wanted them to have.  It’s all for us.  They don’t have an I’m-not-ready-to-go-yet list of things to accomplish.  They live in the moment.  The moment.  With us.

Yorkie Nanny

Posted on Jan 29, 2014
Behavioral Modification, Dog Training, Energy and Dogs, Learn From A Dog, Palm Springs Dog Trainer, Palm Springs Dog Training, Training, Yorkie
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I have often said, “The best dog trainer is another dog.”  A well-adjusted, trained, and dog-friendly dog that is.  I do my job of observing and contributing when needed but mostly I say things like, “Wear them out, Zoe!”

Zoe looks like a giant Yorkie and that makes their interactions that much more enjoyable.

If you need assistance in training and/or behavior modification from either Zoe, myself, or both of us, we are here to help!

How To Train A Puppy

Posted on Jan 20, 2012
Behavioral Modification, Dog Training, Dogs and Instinct, Labradoodle, Learn From A Dog, Standard Poodle Puppy, Uncategorized
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It is 2012!  With the start of a new year and the puppy adoptions that have happened and will happen in the coming months of spring, it feels like it is time to do a few posts on life with a puppy.  I have a few suggestions, but am starting off with a video that demonstrates one of my favorite suggestions for not only how to train but also how to exhaust a puppy – use an older,  well-behaved dog!

Be Responsible

Posted on Oct 18, 2011
Dog Psychology, Learn From A Dog
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I have been told by more than one person that having a dog is a huge responsibility they just aren’t sure they can handle.  When I say I have three dogs, then they multiply my responsibility by three.  Caring for a dog does take some of our time, so I decided I would write down a few of my responsibilities in having dogs.  Here’s what I came up with:

I am responsible for …

Talking sweetly to Melody as she wiggles, crab-crawls, and “gets silly”

Picking up Moby and dancing around as I sing our song.

Brushing Zoe as she paws for me not to stop.

Walking Zoe as she frolicks in front of me and runs back full speed to sit for a pet.

Telling Moby that Zoe doesn’t have the only bone in the house.

Laughing every morning as Zoe talks to me (seriously!) and the little ones look to see if I’m awake as they prepare to meet the day as if it were the best thing ever.

Opening the back door and letting the dogs out…then, opening the door to let the dogs back in.

These are just a few of them…

I can now see why others perceive my having dogs as a HUGE responsibility.  I gotta’ go now – there’s a dog that needs a hug.

Thoughtful Thursday – Being In The Moment

Posted on Aug 11, 2011
Dog Psychology, Learn From A Dog
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This post is a reminder of how our dogs live in the moment and what we can learn from them.  Dogs are in the moment.  The moment.  They aren’t thinking about dinner, wondering how far we are going to have to walk, or wishing they would have brought their phone or ipod.  They are full of awareness of the myriad of scents, sights and sounds as they take each step.

It reminds me of the study on gorilla behavior while in the wild.  If a gorilla is walking through the forest and sees bananas in a tree, they will then look for a stick to use to reach the bananas.  A gorilla has never been observed to pick up a stick and walk through the forest in the event they may later find bananas to eat.  You might be thinking that it’s good to prepare and that’s what separates us from animals.  I agree – to a point; however, they have the added benefit of not worrying about what comes next. . .how about you?

Zoe is exuberant about her walks and meeting people.  She stops to smell the roses along the way (okay – maybe the scent is not actually from a rose).  One moment, I’m joining her in appreciation and observation of what is around me and the next moment I’m thinking about what to buy at the store later this evening or I get lost in the concerns of the economy.  The point is to challenge ourselves to take a thirty minute walk with our dogs (or with a two-legged companion) and see if we can stay in the moment for the entire time.  I am working on it, and it is a practice.  Thanks to Zoe (and wonderful friends), I have great teachers.

It’s thoughtful Thursday – take a walk even if it’s from your work to your car and see if you can stay in the moment.  It’s an amazing way to live – just ask your dog.

Little Dogs Can Be “Top Dog”!

Posted on Dec 09, 2010
Dog Psychology, Dogs and Instinct, Dominant Dog, Labradoodle, Learn From A Dog
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If you have a small dog and a much larger one, and particularly if they are the same sex, you have most likely witnessed some form of competition and posturing for the position of “Top Dog”.  Sometimes, that positioning is demonstrated physically.  In this image Moby shows Mac, “he who is higher wins”.  I don’t think Mac knew he was playing that game, so we won’t tell Moby.  

A Dog’s Love

Posted on Nov 21, 2010
Great Dane, Learn From A Dog, Maltese
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It’s not important why we love who we love. . .just that we do.


It’s Just A Dog

Posted on Jul 15, 2010
Adopt a Shelter Dog, Dog Psychology, Dog Rescue, Learn From A Dog, Rehoming a Dog, Socialization
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I can’t take credit for writing the following.  Since you are reading my blog, chances are you will find some truth in it. . .

From time to time, people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or “That’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, the time spent or the costs involved for “just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come about with “just a dog.” Many hours have passed and my only company was “just a dog,” but I did not once feel slighted.

If you too think it’s “just a dog,” then you wll probably not understand phrases like “just a friend,” “just a sunrise,” or “just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person.Some of my saddest moments have been brought about by “just a dog,” and, in those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “just a dog” gave me comfort and reason to overcome the day.

Because of “just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks, and look longingly to the future. So for me, and folks like me, it’s not “just a dog” but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past and the pure joy of the moment.


“Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day. I hope that someday they can understand that it’s not “just a dog” but the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “just a man.” So the next time you hear the phrase, “just a dog,” just smile, because they “Just don’t understand!”

Dogs And The Wind In Their Face

Posted on Jun 11, 2010
Dog Humor, Dog Training, Learn From A Dog
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Usually, when you think of a dog enjoying a breeze on its face, you think of them riding in the car with their head out the window.  Some dogs really love it.  I can only imagine the 1000’s (that’s a modest number) of scents they are aware of as they stick their muzzle out as far as they can.

In California (and other states) there is a $500 fine if someone reports you for having left your dog in a car.  I understand the law was made for those who are inconsiderate or perhaps naive to think that when it is 100 degrees outside, there may be temperatures double that in a closed car – and in a very short period of time.  I’m not writing to talk about this; however, maybe it’s a good reminder or information for those who don’t know this law exists or if someone needs a law to prevent them from accidentally endangering their dog.  Whether or not this law is necessary year-round is a topic for debate.

This time of year in the desert, there aren’t many places to take your dog where you can have the window down as they ride along feeling the wind in their faces.  As I sat in my living room, I witnessed how my dogs also love this experience but they don’t have to leave the comfort of the ottoman to have it!  The fan was oscillating and little did I know (until now) how much they enjoy it.

Do Dogs Really Want To Please Us?

Posted on Jun 02, 2010
Dog Psychology, Dog Training, Dogs and Instinct, Learn From A Dog
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It is often said by dog lovers and advocates that our dogs just want to please us. All they want is for us to be happy and happy with them. There is a lot more to it than this.

I consider myself to be a practical trainer/behaviorist. I do what I do because of my love for animals with my focus being on the understanding and ever-growing knowledge of canine behavior. Personally, my dogs live a grand life. They have nice beds, they respond to commands, they are all now to a stage of wanting to please me. Why?  Because they know me, and I know them.   It can take years to create this type of relationship. It is worth it.

Pleasing humans is not inherent in a dog’s psyche. Being a member of a pack is. They don’t walk down the street and see a human and think, “oh, there’s a human being, I want them to be pleased with me.” In fact, the opposite may be true!  They may have learned that humans are good and will give them food and affection, or they may have a negative association.

Much as it is with humans, respect of a dog is earned. I like to think the feelings are mutual – they respect me, and I respect them. Gaining a dog’s respect only happens when they know you and what to expect from you (this goes both ways).

Now, back to the question…do dogs really want to please us? Yes. Why? They want food, AND they do enjoy our attention and affection and all of the other experiences we share with them.

You may have a dog that has no interest in pleasing you.  Some dogs act as though they just don’t care what we think and there is not an ounce of the need-to-please in their body. You can’t train that into them. You can accept their nature and look for ways to connect with them using their natural drive and instinct.

So, whether your dog appears to only want to please you or it never does; it is important to understand what makes them who they are and to be patient with the process.