The Walk: Tools and Tips

The Walk: Tools and Tips

Written by Jessica Purvis, adopter of Tobuscus

Jessica and Tobuscus, now Serge, Adopted 2013

Jessica and Tobuscus, now Serge, Adopted 2013

If walking your dog leaves you frustrated, stressed – and your dog still bouncing off the walls, you probably want to read this article.

Being in control of your dog doesn’t mean that you need to keep your dog on a rigid tight leash yanking them every two seconds with military precision. In an ideal walk your dog should be walking next to you with a loose leash, and be obviously aware of you. This means if you stop, your dog should be stopping or slowing with you, if you offer a physical or verbal correction your pet should show some response. Below are some tools that should help you improve your walk, take back control, and let you walk together without major incidents.


Tools: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly 

The creation of complex tools and their use is what makes us human, and these tools can either help make, or break your walk. Each dog is different, so make sure you find that tool that works best for your dog (you may have to try all of them before you get to the best choice).

Retractable Leashes 

Though an appealing idea for a walk, retractable leashes should only be used when your dog needs room to run (such as an open field) and are under 30 lbs. Because they lead to a lack of control over your pet, your pet is less likely to listen to you, more likely to pull, and is in danger of getting hit by a car, bike or other vehicle if you can’t retract fast enough or they break the leash (my 20 lb Westie can break the most durable of them).


Harnesses through out history have been put on dogs to pull small carts, wagons or sleds. A Harness allows a dog to efficiently use their full strength to do these jobs, and used with a leash, will let your dog easily drag you up and down the road.  Harnesses are best used for small teacup dogs who’s necks you might strain with the smallest jerk, or dogs who walk like perfect angels and their owners are just reading this for pure entertainment.

Choke Chains 

Now Choke Chains get a bad rap, mostly from their name. However, the use of a choke chain can cause an immediate difference in the walk. Two or three sharp well timed tugs can cause your dog to instantly stop chasing that squirrel. However, If your dog continues to pull regardless of the amount of strain on their neck, and is unresponsive to corrections, try something else.

Note: When purchasing a choke collar, be sure that the collar you select is not too long.

The Prong Collar

The Prong Collar is the more aggressive version of the choke chain. This tool is best used on a dog that outweighs you, is grossly stronger, has a thick neck, and is unresponsive to the choke chain. This tool works similar to the choke, but this should be your final option since it is the most painful for your dog.

Tools that Work Magic

These are personal favorites that I use with my own dogs. When used together, they can wear out and keep control of even the most high energy dogs.

The Gentle Leader / Haltie

There are no words to describe how awesome the gentle leader is. It keeps most determined cat chasers under control, and dogs that would normally be pulling you down the street are manageable. I would strongly recommend this for any dog owner. (Note: this will be less effective on dogs with short muzzles due to it’s design, e.g. pugs, shi tzus).

The Backpack

This is absolutely key for a dog that has more energy than you or is not tired for long (or at all) when you return from a walk. No matter if the dog is big or small (I use it on both my Westie and 90 lb Border Collie mix and they both love it), the backpack is a lifesaver on the walk. It not only wears the dog down, but the pups obviously get enjoyment out of having a “job” to do.

When weighting the backpack make sure that it is strapped securely but you can fit two fingers in each strap. If you put weight in the backpack, put no more than 10% of the dog’s body weight, any more and you can injure the dog. Finally, make sure to never to put a backpack on a dog younger than a year, or on one that has any muscular, bone, or intestinal issues.

How to Use the Tools

This is a great video that explains the proper use of the Choke Chain, the Prong Collar and the Gentle Leader.

Here is a link for the best of the two dog backpacks that I use. The way the front chest strap is set up makes it very comfortable for the dog and helps keep the weight more evenly distributed.


So now that you have the tools, grab some doggie bags, your canine, and get outside!


Added Note:

The Easy Walk Harness

The easy walk harness is another tool that you can use with your dog, below is a video on how to fit it and it’s intended purpose. This will probably be best used for a dog that only pulls a little or is on the smaller side, because it will give you little control over a dog that really drags you around. Remember that if your dog doesn’t respond, try something else!

We would like to thank Jessica for researching helpful topics for dog-lovers like us!  Understand that any product, especially collars, when used improperly, can cause harm.  It is very important that you research products like these, and take the time to learn how to use them properly.  ~ Gisele


Friendly Dog Collars

A great idea!

A great idea!

“FRIENDLY” Color Coded Green Semi-Choke Dog Collar & 4 Foot Leash Set (Known As Friendly) PREVENTS Dog Accidents By Warning Others of Your Dog in Advance!

Here’s a great idea, just in time for the summer.  Whether you order one from the company, or shop around for collars like these, it’s a great idea to label your dog when you’re out in public, especially when those tiny humans want to pet your dog! Personally, I was  happy to see one that says “Deaf” or “Blind”. The company is called Friendly Dog Collars, and they are based out of the U.K. Friendly Dog Collars

Protective or Scared

Lady Di

Lady Di

When people describe their dogs to me, even people I have never met, for example, while I’m waiting at the vet, they will explain that their dog is “protective”.   So while their dog is growling and showing its teeth at me, and trying to lunge at me, the owner writes it off and gives the dog not only an excuse for its behavior, they give the dog permission to act inappropriately by label the behavior as “protective”.

People humanize their dog’s behavior.  Your Dog is NOT Protective!

What is Protective?  Should someone enter into my home with a knife, or a gun, or an aggressive look on their face, my reaction would be to cover my children, and get them out of harms way.  I would use my body to block my children from this intruder.  I would try to protect them.

A dog that is standing between it’s owner and a dangerous snake, dodging back and forth to block the snake from attacking its people, is protecting.  A dog that lunges at a person who is harming its human, is protecting.

Scared:  Dogs that growl, charge or bite strangers are not necessarily protecting you, they are more than likely scared and because you are not showing your dog that you are in charge – the dog is in charge, and tries to correct the situation the only way he knows how.

Ziggy at the shelter

Ziggy at the shelter

Dogs that do not want strangers in their yard, home, or near their owner are dominating their property.  They think they own the house, they think they own you.  A well-balanced dog knows that you own him.

While my bark at strangers, warning me someone is at the door, when I open the door, they immediately back off.  They know that I am in charge, and I do not need them to make decisions.

Barrier aggression:  Ziggy would act vicious when anyone came toward his crate.  Vicki explained he had barrier aggression.  Ziggy created an imaginary line, and was afraid.  His show of force was designed to keep you at a distance.  Ziggy did not do well with strangers, however, once you met him and made friends he was fine.  Put him back in his crate, and he would repeat the show!

Ziggy with me

Ziggy with me

We believe that Ziggy was owner by an older gentleman.  It was just the two of them.  The owner had become ill, and could no longer care for Ziggy.  I’m confident that Ziggy was the man of the house.  His owner properly never corrected him for being rude to strangers, his owner probably enjoyed his alleged “protectiveness”.  Ziggy was not protective, he was not socialized and was afraid.  All Ziggy knew was that house, and nothing else.

After Ziggy was adopted, I suggested that his owner keep him in his crate when company came over.  Wait until the visitors were seated and relaxed.  Wait until Ziggy was relaxed in his crate, and ignore him!  Once he is relaxed, you can release him, and present him with a treat for good behavior!  It made a huge difference, but more importantly, it showed Ziggy who is the boss.  While he is in his crate, his owner is showing him that she does not need his help.  She is showing Ziggy that this is her visitor, a visitor that is allowed to be in the house, and it’s not his decision to make.

Today, Ziggy greets visitors nicely.  Sure, he barks at the door acting like he’s going to bite your leg off, but once the door is opened, he stops.  Perfect!

Dogs that have barrier aggression are never adopted.  Who would adopt a dog that’s lunging at them from a kennel?  The dog is simply insecure, unsure, and nervous – not aggressive and not protective.

Fearful dogs:  China was the only dog of mine that gave me the impression that she might nip at a stranger.  I am constantly watching and correcting her.  Why China?  She is incredibly fearful, because she is deaf and visually impaired, but more importantly, my daughter Sarah, babies her.  China is the only dog allowed to sleep with her human.  Every once and a while, China thinks it’s her job to protect Sarah, and she is corrected with a simple finger point!

Co-sleeping:  Co-sleeping sends the wrong message to an unbalanced dog.  Co-sleeping tells the dog you are equals.  It keeps an insecure dog insecure.    Co-sleeping does not increase a dog’s self-esteem.  The only dogs I have slept with were dogs that were borderline feral.  Sleeping with them, while holding on to their leash, forced them to experience human contact, showed them they would not be harmed, and it fast tracked their rehabilitation.  But once the dog was no longer afraid of human contact, it did not continue to sleep with any of us.  Can you imagine how many times we get a new dog and my daughter immediately asks, “Can I sleep with it?”


Sarah and Marbles "Can I sleep with her?"

Sarah and Marbles
“Can I sleep with her?”

If there is no harm being done to you, and you are not in fear of anything, your dog is not protecting you!  Your dog is scared.

So if it doesn’t happen in my house, it doesn’t have to happen in yours.  My dogs aren’t special, and I am not a trainer or a behaviorist.  Most of the dogs I foster are broken… they have been abused, neglected, yelled at, and handled improperly – yet they don’t charge strangers in my house or my yard!

When dogs come here, after a very short period of time, they learn that I am in charge.  If I’m not around, my kids are in charge.  All of my fostered dogs do not lunge at potential adopters who come to meet them, for if they did, they would never get adopted!  So why is it that the dogs that I foster, and the dogs that I own do not show this behavior?  Because they don’t need to.  They know I’m going to take care of them, and they don’t need to correct the situation for me.  I won’t allow it.  I don’t need to be protected!

A Protective Dog:  In my 51 years of being a dog owner, there is only one time I witnessed a dog protecting.  I had interviewed an at-home daycare when my son was only 3 years old.  In the backyard were swing sets, and a lot of wonderful toys.  The woman baby sat about 8 children every day.  In the backyard was a huge yellow lab.  The moment I went out the door to the yard, the lab tried to dominate me.  She jumped up on me, and wouldn’t get down.  She wasn’t excited to see me, or didn’t want to play, she just wanted to own me.  I refused her repeatedly and pushed her off of me.

Ozzie, not a protective dog!

Ozzie, not a protective dog!

As we went into the yard, at one point, my son tripped, fell onto the ground and started to cry.  I ran to pick him up, and the dog ran in circles and knocked me down from behind.  The dog continued to run circles around the yard, each time running a wider and wider circle to gain speed, and must have knocked me off my feet at least four times.  At one point, the dog actually trampled over my sons head, which made him cry even more.

The owner stood in the middle of the yard yelling at her dog, and trying to get her to stop but she had no control over the dog.

What I had witnessed was a very noble and loving dog, protecting it’s lamb – my son.  Protecting my son from me, and a dog owner who was clueless.  No matter how noble the dog’s intentions were, you can’t allow a dog to be in charge.  A dog can’t understand that I’m the mother of the child.  The dog doesn’t understand that I mean no harm, the dog doesn’t understand that stepping all over the child is wrong.

My son Ryan was fine, just very dirty!  Needless to say, I kept looking for other daycare alternatives!

Click here to read all of the articles we have written about Shy/Fearful Dogs, Feral Dogs and Fear Biters.


Got Munchies?

Know that cutting up your chip or cereal bag in half can save your dog’s life.  Thank you Anita and Stepher!  Please research this.

Here’s the Facebook page.  It reads:  Educating the public on the suffocation risks our pets face from chip bags and other products. This page is dedicated to the memory of Blue, our beautiful rescue dog, who suffocated on December 15, 2011 from a Cheetos bag.

Canine Reboot

Nutella, labeled a fear-biter

I’ve done this dozens of times… talked to owners who are frustrated with their dogs.  Wanting their dogs to be balanced, and happy.  Sometimes it’s the wife that hates the dog, sometimes it’s the husband.  Sometimes the dog doesn’t like the kids, or the grandparents.  Dog fights, cat fights… you name it.

One of the questions I HAVE TO ask when someone is trying to surrender their dog to me is, “if I can fix your dog, can you… would you… could you… keep your dog?”  sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no.

With the launch of Canine Connect, a service that I can offer to dog owners who truly care about the dogs, truly want the best for the dogs, but can no longer keep them, I’m asking that question more often.  “What if I can fix it?”

Over the past few weeks, the dogs I’ve fostered have really amazed me.  WiiGo transformed into the best little dog I’ve ever known.

McDreamy & McSteamy

McSteamy and McDreamy, terrified of everything, quickly became accustomed to home life and family living.  No longer afraid to walk through doorways, or put their paws on ceramic tile floors.  With their heads hung low all of the time, they were unsure, slow to trust, and not sure if I was friend of foe.  Just a few days later, I introduced them to the pack, one at a time.  Once they got to meet Lady Di… everything changed.  It was as if a light switch had been turned on, and they felt “safe”.  They exchanged play bows, and the heads were held high, tails were relaxed, and the playing began!  After that day they walked with pride, there was a bounce in their step, they greeted me with affection, and their adjustment period was about 48 hours.    Dogs do live in the moment.

Little Grace, being a happy dog!

And recently, Little Grace.  She was adopted yesterday, but before she left I had the pleasure of snapping a photo of her playing with the pack… and loving it!  It may not seem like a big deal to you, but it sure was a big deal to me!  It’s called joy!  If a dog can relax enough, be happy enough, have enough self-esteem, and know that it’s not going to be hurt, there’s absolutely no danger whatsoever, and it’s welcomed… they can play!  Way to go Little Grace… you made my day!

So if what if we could simply Reboot our dogs?  If I gave you a list of questions about your dog, would you know how to answer?

  • Is your dog shy, fearful, nervous, or anxious?
  • Is your dog aggressive, dominant or alpha?
  • Is your dog guarding you or protecting you?
  • Do you know why your dog acts like he wants to attack other dogs?
  • Does your dog have separation anxiety, or is he insecure?  Do you think the two are one in the same?
  • Do you think your dog is neurotic or bored?

Snapple, an Owner-Surrender

Snapple, Adopted

What would you think the main reason why people surrender or give away their dogs?

The Dog Liberator has rescued dogs that will otherwise be euthanized, OR at risk of being surrendered to a shelter or pound.

The Dog Liberator will help you rehome your dog through Canine Connect, thus preventing the dog from being adopted to the wrong family, which may ultimately lead to euthanasia.

Remember, owner-surrendered dogs are not protected under stray-hold policy.

Owner-surrendered dogs can and are sometimes put to sleep before their owners have left the parking lot.  


Chaos learns High Five

While I have spent over three years inviting strange new dogs into my home I:

  • introduced them to my family, friends, and neighbors
  • introduce them to new experiences like visiting the vet
  • going on walks
  • teaching them not to be afraid of the crate
  • teaching them to be quiet
  • starting them on housebreaking
  • show them how to properly greet strangers
  • teaching them not to bolt out of doorways
  • correcting them when they try to climb a fence.

My personal dogs have also spent three years inviting strange new dogs into their home, and they:

  • have showed them how to share a space
  • showed them that being rewarded has benefits
  • showed them how to interact with humans
  • showed them how to play properly
  • showed them how to come when called
  • but more importantly, my pack have taught dogs, how to be a good dog.

Deaf China takes Baby GaGa under her care

Dogs can teach another dog what a person can’t:

  • I can not teach a dog that greeting face to face is rude
  • I can not explain to a dog that sniffing the rear is polite
  • I can not approach a dog and correct their attempt to dominate… that’s Lady Di’s job
  • I can not initiate play with a dog who doesn’t know how to play… that’s China’s job
  • I can not show a dog that another dog is not a threat, that is Ozzie’s job

My home is what I used to call Border Collie Boot Camp.  Every fostered dog has had to find their way to survive and cohabitate here, eat side by side, enjoy bones without being growled at, and play ball without being attacked.  The result is probably the best gift I receive in rescue.  Watching a pack of dogs run together, play together, wrestle gently, and have a blast!

Lieutenant Colonel Di, Lieutenant Ozzie, and Private China!


There is no reason for the dogs to be nervous, fearful or anxious.  My pack clearly shows them that I am the pack leader, they can relax, and enjoy being a dog!  The true challenge is teaching the dog owners that their dog truly wants to be… just a great dog!

Maybe all your dog needs is a Canine Reboot!  Email me if you would like information on how we can Reboot Your Dog!


TDL Sponsors Free Dog Training with Paul Pipitone

Paul Pipitone, Trainer & Behaviorist

I’m very happy to announce that  The Dog Liberator is sponsoring a free one-hour dog training session with Paul Pipitone, Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida at Aloma Jancy Animal Hospital.  The next training session will be announced.

We are hoping these free sessions generate interest, because my intention is to provide them on the first Saturday of every month.  Paul will focus on the basics:

Crate Training
Leash Training
How to properly correct bad behavior and reward good behavior
The importance of Being a Pack Leader.


Can your dog do this?

This free training session is available to ALL DOG LIBERATOR adopters, fosters, transporters, and future adopters!   You can RSVP here, by leaving a comment.   As always, if you have any questions, please send me an email!

Bringing Your New Dog Home

So, you’re considering adopting a dog from The Dog Liberator.  If it is one of the puppies that I foster, we’re going to spend some time talking, and I’m going to share with you a lot of tidbits that I have learned over the years.  And then you’re going to get home with you puppy and not remember any of them!  And that’s okay; it is my expectation and my hope that my adopters will contact me with questions.  But just in case you are adopting a dog that isn’t one of my fosters, or you’re too embarrassed to call, here is a summary of some of my tidbits.

Cost: First and foremost, can you afford a dog?  Let alone a puppy?  They cost more than just the adoption fee and a bag of Old Roy dog food (more about that later).  Any dog will require both flea and heartworm preventive, each running around $50 every six months.  With a puppy, you’ll probably have to finish out the series of puppy shots plus a rabies shot at four months.   And then what happens if the dog gets sick?  It is very common for puppies, and even adult dogs, to become ill the first month in their new home due to all the stresses.  Indeed, coccidea (primary symptom sever diarrhea) most commonly appears in the first 21 days after a dog has changed owners or residence.  If you’re scraping together the money to pay for an adoption fee, you’re not ready for a dog.  Wait until you are in a more financially viable situation.  And consider pet medical insurance from a company such as ShelterCare.  It isn’t as expensive as you might think and can more than pay for itself.

Crate Training: Crates didn’t come in to common use until around 20 years ago.  They will make your life much easier.  First, you may see it as a cage, but your dog will see it as a den, its “safe” place.  Put the dog in the crate at night.  With my puppies, I go a step further and cover it with a sheet.  Don’t put the crate in your bedroom; every time you roll over, you’ll wake up the dog who will then wake up you!  While housetraining, put the puppy (or dog) in the crate when you are busy and don’t have “eyes on” it.  Crate the dog when you are gone for the first year.  You know that the dog is home forever, but the dog doesn’t.  When you leave, he doesn’t know you are coming back.  He may panic and destroy your great-grandmother’s chair.  Additionally,  puppies, like children, can go through fear stages; you don’t want to come home and find out that your 7-month-old dog had an anxiety attack and ate your couch.  Get a folding, wire crate, so you can easily take it with you when you are invited to your friends beach cottage for the long weekend; put the dog in it when you are at the beach all day so it doesn’t eat your friends couch and so mark the last time you are invited!  Most importantly, put your dog in a crate if a hurricane comes through.  You need to know it is safe (my friend who runs Used Dogs rescue in New Orleans still has Katrina dogs 5 years after the hurricane).  If your dog is used to its crate, its anxiety will go down.  If it hasn’t been in a crate in years, then its anxiety level will go up and you will spend a fortune in dog therapy for years!

Housetraining: Even housetrained adult dogs commonly have “accidents” the first few days in their new home.  Sometimes it is marking, but most commonly it is just stress.  If you focus in on housetraining for three days, you should be just about done.  It is a pain for three days, but is worth it.  Here’s what you do for a puppy; use a variation on the theme for an adult dog:  Day one, set the timer on your stove to go off every hour.  Every hour take the puppy outside through the same door and tell it, “hurry up.”  The next day set the timer for every 90 minutes.  The third day set it for every two hours.  Also, every time the puppy goes near that door, let it out.  By the third day, the puppy will know that if it has to go out, to go to that door.  It might only give you 10 seconds to notice, but you are well on your way!  Put a little towel or such at the door to catch accidents.  Don’t leave the water bowl down until the puppy is housetrained. Only give the puppy water when you are ready to go out for 30 minutes ~ puppies piddle 3 times within 30 minutes of drinking.  Don’t give water or food after 6pm, so the water has time to work its way through its system.  When you can’t pay attention to the puppy during the housetraining phase, crate the puppy ~ you don’t want it to find a secret spot behind the piano to piddle!  Remember, use the same door and the same command during this time.  You can give a small treat for proper performance, but you’ll learn quickly that your puppy will start to pretend to piddle just to get a treat!!!  Once the puppy is fully  housetrained, then you can give free access to the water bowl.

Note:  I have never played tug-of-war with any of my dogs, adult or puppy.  It’s just not a good game to start playing.

Baths:  If your dog has recently been spayed or neutered, you should not give your dog a bath until the stitches have been removed and your vet indicates that you can.  Usually you can bathe your dog 10-14 days after surgery.

Worms: Puppies have worms.  Period.  Because of the life cycle of a worm, they are dewormed and then dewormed again three weeks later.  But expect them to test positive for worms every time you take them to the vet.  Don’t panic ~ it’s just standard in puppies.  Watch for the signs of worms.  If you see what look like pieces of rice on the outside of their poop, that is tapeworms.  The worm itself is very long (12” or more), but is segmented, like pieces of rice lined up.  What you see in the poop is segments that have broken off.  Dogs get them by ingesting fleas.   If you see a long solid worm in the poop that forms a kinked circle when you pick it up (yuck) this is a roundworm, called round because they tend to form circles with their bodies.  Hookworms and whipworms are too small to be seen, but bloody diarrhea is an indication.  Again, your vet will probably do a fecal test each time you take your puppy in just to be safe.  Adult dogs are less inclined to worms, perhaps because heartworm preventives treat them as well.  The exception to this is tapeworms.   I treat tapeworms with a dewormer I buy in the pet section of Publix grocery store, saving me  a vet visit.

Heartworm Preventive: All dogs need to be on a monthly heartworm preventive, obtained from your vet.  Heartworms are  passed through a mosquito bite, therefore a severe problem in the south.  Puppies younger than 6 months are not tested for heartworms because the heartworm must be 6 months old to show up positive.  I recommend Heartgard for the first 6 months since the active ingredient, Ivermectin, not only prevents heartworms but kills them as well, therefore it will kill any juvenile heartworms that a puppy might have.  That being said, if you adopt a collie, use it with caution: about 45% of collies lack the gene that prevents Ivermectin from passing into the brain.  This can cause a reaction varying from mild to seizure, coma or even death.  Watch your dog for a reaction (your vet can test for the gene as well).  If necessary, switch to an Ivermectin-fee alternative such as Revolution, Sentinal or Interceptor.  Be aware that Ivermectin is also the common treatment for “puppy mange”, generally  brought on by stress.   You may need to use an alternative treatment such as as sulpher dip.  If you have multiple dogs and they do not have an ivermectin sensitivity, you may want to save money by buying Ivermectin in the liquid form from a feed store.  A bottle costing less than $50 can last years.  Generally, the recommended dosage is 0.1cc per 10 pounds of dog, but be sure to discuss this alternative with your vet.

Food: I estimate that at least 10% of dogs have food allergies.  I suspect that it is much higher.  The better quality food you get, the less likely you will have to deal with this.  Get a food that doesn’t have additives, fillers or grains.  Watch for food allergy symptoms: loose bowels, lack of appetite, itching, hair loss, coughing, mange, ….  Trust me, it is more than worth it to invest in a quality food!  Oh, and when you first get home, expect the dog to not have much of an appetite the first day or so, a normal reaction to change in environment, especially if this is the first time away from littermates. If, on the other hand, the dog gobbles its food, you may want to help slow it down by scatter feeding (scattering the kibble on your deck for him to hunt up) or wetting it, packing it into a Kong, freezing it, and then giving it to him.   If you already have a dog, be prepared for some food guarding at first too.  If such is the case, you may want to feed the new dog in its crate until everyone understands that they won’t go hungry, then slowly move the food bowls into the same room. One more thought: always keep a can of pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling) on your shelf.  If your dog develops diarrhea or constipation due to stress or something it ate, mix the pumpkin into its regular food.  There is something about canned pumpkin that helps stabilize their systems.

Chewing: Puppies chew.  Adult dogs chew.  And they always seem to chew your favorite things.  First, don’t let them chew on your hand, ankle, etc.  Correct them and put something allowable in their mouth instead (“no” is not enough; you have to give them a substitute).   My number one recommendation to help with chewing is that you go to the butcher section of your store and get a packet of marrow bones.  Freeze the extras for later and give the dog the raw bone.  He’ll eat the marrow right out of it in no time flat.  Dogs have an enzyme that allows them to eat raw meat, and the marrow is very good for them.  Then allow them to keep chewing on the bone.  Don’t throw them away.  Wolves don’t lose their teeth because they chew on raw bones.  My back yard looks like a dinosaur burial ground, and my house looks like a scene from a horror flick, but my furniture isn’t chewed!  Dogs seem to prefer marrow bones over anything that the pet store wants to sell you.  The first time you are gone for an extended time, put the dog in its crate with a new marrow bone (still frozen is fine).  It’ll keep him busy and happy.  Very rarely dogs get their lower jaw stuck inside the circle of the marrow bone.  To avoid this, you might want to pick bones that are either too big or too small, or have the butcher cut them into semi-circles.

Bordetella :I have found that about 20% of puppies develop a mild case of kennel cough after getting their bordetella shot, just as people often get the flu after receiving a flu shot.  If your puppy starts to cough, keep an eye on it.  If it develops other symptoms such as a colored nasal discharge or fever, go to the vet and get an antibiotic like doxycycline.  Most vets do not recommend antibiotics for the cough alone since they will wipe out the effectiveness of the bordetella shot.

Antibiotics: If you live near a Publix, get a copy of the antibiotics that they provide for free with a prescription.  They will honor a ‘script for a pet, so if your dog needs an antibiotic, ask the vet if one of the ones on the list will do the trick.  Why spend money you don’t have to?

Veterinarians: If you do not yet have a vet, please don’t pick one based on convenience of location.  If I have learned one thing, it is that all vets are not created equally, and price is no indication of quality.  Ask friends for their recommendations, but also call the office and ask for pricing.  For comparison purposes, ask for the cost of an office visit, spay, neuter, rabies, annual shots, x-ray, fecal exam and heartworm preventive.  You won’t need all these things, but it will help you gauge what the vet charges.  And you will be shocked at the range that you will get.  Resist allowing a vet to guilt you into an expensive procedure on the spot.  Go home and research  it.  I’ve known way too many people guilted into paying for everything from the repair of an umbilical hernia (which almost always heals itself) to fast-kill heartworm treatment (slow kill is a viable and less expensive alternative).

If you feel like your vet is strong-arming you into an expensive procedure, stop.  Many vets panic when they hear the word “rescued” or “adopted”, and assume there must be something terribly wrong with the dog, not knowing we have already spent a fortune in vetting.  Stress diarrhea is common.  A fecal check, metronidazole and canned pumpkin is all you need.

If your puppy has just received its parvo and distemper shot, he will test positive, not because he is, because he was given the live virus.  If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation while at your vet, do not panic, just call us!

Training: I strongly recommend that you provide some kind of training for your dog.  It isn’t so much a matter of teaching the dog to sit, as it is assuring the dog that you are in charge.  If a dog knows that its people can be trusted to lead, then it will relax.  If it perceives its family as being weak, it will believe that the protection of the home is on its shoulders and will become more high strung and nervous.  Training is about you, not your dog.

Life: Expose your dog to as much of life as you can.  Take it to Petsmart, to the beach, to Lowes, everywhere that you can.  Introduce it to adults, kids, dogs, cats.  The more new experiences that it has and “survives” , the less fear and anxiety it will have, the more well rounded it will be, and the better it will be able to cope with the changes that you and it will go through in life.



Giardiasis (GEE-are-DYE-uh-sis) is a diarrheal illness caused by a microscopic parasite, Giardia intestinalis (also known as Giardia lamblia or Giardia duodenalis). Once a person or animal has been infected with Giardia, the parasite lives in the intestine and is passed in feces. Giardia infects older dogs but more frequently infects puppies. Because the parasite is protected by an outer shell, it can survive outside the body and in the environment for long periods of time (i.e., months).

Can humans be harmed by Giardia?

Giardia is a common cause  of diarrhea in people, but dog Giardia is not generally considered to spread from animals to humans. While human Giardia may infect dogs and then be passed on to humans, the majority of human cases are of human origin.

How can I prevent a Giardia infection?

Practice good hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly after handling animals or their toys, leashes or feces. (Be sure to avoid contact with the feces by using gloves, a bag over your hand, or a scooping device.)

Make sure that your dog has safe, clean drinking water. It is important not to allow dogs to drink water from areas where other animals have left their feces.

How is Giardia treated and is it expensive?

Metronidazole is an antibiotic that has been widely used to treat Giardia in dogs as well as in people. This drug has reasonable efficiency against Giardia and has the added advantage of being effective against other parasite protozoa and some bacteria that may also have contributed to the diarrhea. It is also very inexpensive. Recent studies show that pyrantel is also effective against Giardia.


Giardia is a very treatable condition. Most dogs recover quickly and do not have additional problems. However, if proper preventive steps are not taken, it is common for dogs with a previous history of Giardia to become re-infected.

  • Giardia in dogs can cause diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, poor condition, or death. However, many infected dogs show no symptoms.
  • People can get giardia, causing diarrhea or other problems, but rarely from dogs.
  • Dogs get giardia from water that has been soiled with feces.
  • The incubation period is usually 1 to 25 days. Some cases can exceed 25 days.

Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC)

Division of Parasite Diseases (DPD)



Parvovirus or Parvo, is life threatening virus that affects dogs. It is the most common viral disease in dogs. It primarily affects puppies. The most common age for infection is between 2-6 months of age, but infection can occur at any age. All breeds are susceptible to this virus. Some breeds such as Dobermans, rottweilers, and Labradors are more susceptible to Parvo than others. It is not known why this is.

Parvo is spread through the feces of dogs infected with the virus. The dog does not actually have to come in contact with another sick dog. While Parvo cannot be spread to or from humans or other pets, the virus can be carried in to the dog’s environment on someone’s shoes, or by birds or other animals who have come in contact with infected feces. Parvo can survive in an environment for as long as 9 months. The only disinfectant known to kill Parvo is chlorine bleach. A 1:30 ratio of chlorine bleach in water has been known to be effective for sanitizing contaminated area. Any area known to be contaminated should be thoroughly sanitized.

The disease usually enters the dog’s system by oral ingestion. It attacks the digestive system, inhibiting them from absorbing nutrients. It also causes severe diarrhea and often vomiting, dehydration is common. It also suppresses white blood cells and may attack the heart as well.

Symptoms of Parvo include high fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting. There is not cure for Parvo. Veterinarians can help infected dogs by treating the symptoms and dehydration. Most dogs die if they do not receive veterinary attention. With veterinary attention, a dog has a reasonably good chance of survival. Early detection is important. Some vets have been trying antioxins and antiparvo serum with some success.

In some cases, dogs can have Parvo without showing any symptoms. They will not be affected by the disease, but they are capable of spreading it and their feces will be contaminated with the virus.

A vaccine is available for Parvo. The vaccine is usually given with several other vaccines, including distemper. Vaccination usually begins at 8 weeks of age, and repeated every 3-4 weeks until the puppy is sixteen weeks old, and then given annually. There is some controversy as to whether vaccinating too often may actually weaken a dog’s immunity to Parvo. Research is currently being done in this area. Until then, your vet will help you decide what is right for your dog.

Veterinarians can run a titre to determine the strength of a particular dog’s immunity to Parvo. Dogs should be tested for immunity to Parvo before being brought into an area where a previously infected dog has been.




*This is only treatable with Doxycycline*


The Influenza (H3N8) virus causes symptoms that mimic traditional “kennel cough”


If a pet puppy/dog exhibits coughing, nasal discharge or fever, the puppy/dog should be put on doxycycline by a veterinarian immediately.


  • The H3N8 influenza virus has jumped from horses to puppies/dogs
  • This H3N8 virus causes “dog flu”
  • Initial findings of H3N8 infected puppies/dogs were at a Florida grey hound racing track
  • “Kennel cough” is typically caused by bordetella bronchispetica bacterium
  • Other symptoms of H3N8 infection are nasal discharge and fever
  • Both H3N8 and bordetella are contagious between dogs
  • Approximately 80% of H3N8 infections will be mild
  • A small minority of infected dogs may experience complications such a pneumonia
  • A small minority of infected dogs will also be asymptomatic and will not show any signs of the infection. However, it is believed that asymptomatic dogs are infectious
  • The H3N8 virus has never infected humans
  • H3N8 causes a mortality rate of 5 to 8% in infected dogs
  • There have been verified occurrences of H3N8 in dogs in South Florida shelter, boarding facilities and veterinary clinics

If a pet puppy/dog exhibits coughing, nasal discharge or fever, the puppy/dog MUST be put on doxycycline by a veterinarian IMMEDIATELY.

Doxycycline will also treat “Kennel Cough.”

Traditional medications like Cefa drops, Amoxicillin, and Clavamox WILL NOT help/treat INFLUENZA. If your puppy/dog begins to show signs of “Kennel Cough” or INFLUENZA  and is not put on DOXYCYCLINE  within 1-3 days, the puppy/dog will continue to get worse and will develop pneumonia and/or die.


Puppy Worming Schedule

Initiate treatment from your vet at 2 weeks; repeat at 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 weeks of age and then monthly until the puppy is 6 months old. Thereafter, use a heartworm preventive medication that is also effective against hookworms and roundworms.

How Your Puppy Gets Hookworms

Hookworms are tiny, threadlike parasites that affect puppies and adult dogs. They are a particular problem in areas with warm, moist, sandy soil. They cycle begins when hookworm eggs are passed in dog’s stool to the soil. Your dog can swallow the young hookworms or they can penetrate its skin, usually through the foot. Hookworms are also passed from females to their young. Hookworms present a slight risk to humans if larvae (young hookworms) in the soil contact skin. Painful skin sores can result.

Signs of Hookworm Infection

Hookworms feed on blood and tissue by piercing your pet’s intestinal lining with tooth-like hooks. As a result, hookworms can cause severe blood loss. As few as 100 hookworms can kill a puppy. Dogs with heavy infections often have bloody diarrhea. Other signs include anemia, dehydration and apparent weakness. Some dogs show no outward signs of infection. This is why it is important to de-worm your puppy at an early age and to have the stool examined when recommended by your veterinarian. The veterinarian will examine the dog’s stool under a microscope and look for eggs. If your veterinarian can catch the eggs before the symptoms appear then your prêt doesn’t have to suffer the symptoms.

How Pets Get Roundworms

Nearly all puppies and kittens have roundworms. In many areas of the country, up to 70% of adult dogs are also infected. Infection usually begins when your pet accidentally swallows roundworm eggs in soil. These eggs hatch into tiny worms that move from your pet’s intestine to its liver and lungs, and then back to the intestine where they mature. The adult roundworm lays eggs that are passed in your pet’s stool to the soil. Roundworms can lay up to 200,000 eggs per day! Female pets can also pass roundworms to their unborn young or through nursing.

Signs of Roundworm Infection

Left untreated, roundworms can cause a potbelly and diarrhea, vomiting, a rough coat and poor growth are other signs. Heavy infections damage your pet’s liver, lungs and brain.  Death is possible.




There are four types of tapeworms in dogs. Tapeworms hook onto a dog’s small intestine with its mouth. Tapeworms can be as long as 8 inches to 2 feet long. One unique characteristic of these worms is that they are made up of 1/8 inch segments that break off over time and end up in your dog’s stool. The pieces that break off contain eggs that are released as the broken off segment dries. Pieces look like dried pieces of rice or cucumber seeds. The four type of tapeworms are:

  • Dipylidium Caninum—Most common. Contracted by eating fleas.
  • Taenia Taeniaformis—Contracted by rural dogs show are around farm animals such as sheep, rats and mice.
  • Echinococcus Granulosum—Found in mice and humans.


What Causes Tapeworms in Dogs

Tapeworms are most commonly spread when a dog swallows a flea that contains the tapeworm eggs. It usually happens when the flea is biting the dog. Since dogs try and remove the fleas with their mouth, they may swallow some of them. This is how they get dog fleas worms. There is another kind of tapeworm called Echinococcus that is found in small rodents. If a dog bites into or eats an infected annual, they can get tapeworms. Hunting dogs can contract up to 12 varieties of tapeworms.

Dog Medicine Tape Worms

All types of tapeworms in dogs can be treated with tapeworm tabs for dogs (Droncit Canine Cestocide Tablets and Tapeworm Tabs for Dogs and Puppies) cause the worms in the intestines to dissolve. Treatments are very effective and include praziquantel and epsiprantel. Although single doses are usually sufficient, an additional dose may be needed. Since fleas spread the worms, a flea collar is helpful in preventing the problem. Note that pinworms are often confused with tapeworms. While humans can get pinworms, dogs do not.

Human and Dog Tapeworms

Children can get tapeworms if they swallow fleas while playing with a dog or if they come in contact with partially digested fleas in a dog’s mouth. A child may have no symptoms or suffer from diarrhea and itching around the anus. Tapeworm is not passed between adults or children. It must come from an infected flea such as in a sandbox. Treatment is effective using the drug niclosamide.


Training Event by Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida

This Training event is from 11:00AM – 2:00 PM.

Aloma Jancy Animal Hospital
3370 Pet Country Court
Oviedo, FL 32765
(407) 671-1183

Hello again everyone. Last month’s free seminar went so well that I’ve decided to do it again. The date for the seminar is April 30th and the venue for this one will be Aloma – Jancy Veterinary Hospital located right off the 417 at Aloma ave. I will have a question and answer session beginning at 11:00-12:00, and 1:00-2:00. There will be food, drinks and other vendors so please bring your dog and your issues. We will address some of them on the spot. Bring water, treats, leashes and collars. No alcohol please. Feel free to post this on all your social media sites. The more the merrier. If anyone would like to have a booth set up, contact me and I’ll get you in touch with the right person.

Kim with Aloma Jancy says they will have raffle and offer drinks and snacks too!


RSVP here on Facebook.

Great Websites for Training Deaf Dogs

Special thanks to Fritzi for sending us this great information!

I do like this method and by chance, it’s the closest to the one I use.
This video has quite a few signs for dogs. The woman is using ASL only and not the common obedience commands. This is a huge amount of information and might seem a bit overwhelming.
This video covers training a deaf dog, not so
much on signs
Teaching sit
Teaching basics of using a vibrating collar and treats
Training using a vibrating collar. Some of this video is useful, but I HATE that she’s using a collar that produces a “nick” as well as a vibrate. Further, it is somewhat confusing in some of the cases she uses a buzz/page/vibrate.

Dog Training for Dog Liberators by Paul Pipitone

Free Dog Training Clinic


This is Paul with Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida. I have been working with several rescues over the past few years, including The Dog Liberator. Gisele, Holly and I would like to invite anyone with doggie issues, large or small, to attend a free 2 hour information and training seminar.

Fosters, owners, rescue workers, or potential owners, please bring your dog, your issues and your questions. From potty training, food, equipment or aggression problems, we will be touching on any and all topics. We will change some behaviors on the spot so come ready to be trained.

Remember, behavior issues come about because we the humans try to communicate with our dogs like they are humans too. The trouble is, dogs don’t speak human, so you have to learn to communicate with them in dog language. I often see cases where unclear signals are being given by the human. Therefore the dog gets confused and acts instinctively which we view as bad behavior. To them, they are just doing what comes naturally, so they don’t understand why you’re so upset with them which make them more confused.

It would be like you or I being in a foreign country and trying to communicate with the people there. You’d be speaking English, and they would be speaking their language. Confusion right!! Ever try to communicate with an Italian cab driver? Yikes. You could wind up in France.

The seminar will be held at the home of Holly Ryerson of The Dog Liberator. She has graciously offered up her back yard as the training ground. The date of the seminar will be March 13th. We will begin at 2:45 and go until 5 or so. Bring plenty of Fido’s favorite treats, a 4’ or 6’ leash, chairs if you’d like, and something cool for you to drink. (non- alcoholic of course.) Water for the dogs will be provided.

Please R.S.V.P. to Holly so we can get a semi-accurate head count. You can also RSVP on Facebook.

Hope we have a great turnout and I look forward to meeting you and your pooch.

Paul J. Pipitone
Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida. Orlando, Fl

Who’s The Leader Of Your Pack?

The Bryant family is very special to The Dog Liberator. They adopted one of our very first rescues, Augustus, now Charlie. A few months later they adopted the beautiful Sundrop, now Lola. And at our first Annual Reunion in October, they adopted our precious Durango, now Molly. Dog-savvy people, we love them!

Imagine how our hearts sank when we received an e-mail from them on January 22nd:

“A situation has developed with the dogs that Kevin and I do not know how to handle…. Molly and Charlie have been playing quite well until one day, they ended up with Charlie growling and barking and Molly snapping and yelping. It has happened several times since then. Last night she and Charlie were at it full throttle. I jumped out of the way and Kevin jumped out of his chair and literally had to “grab” Molly with his legs and push her back off of Charlie. Unless we are to resolve the issue, we will have to see if we can place her in another home, perhaps one without any other dogs.”

Independently of each other, Gisele and I both e-mailed back the same response: Paul Pipitone!

Paul is the founder of Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida and a wonderful trainer. The Bryant’s quickly made an appointment for him to come over and evaluate their situation.

Since the problem they experienced is a common one and was resolved so well and so fast, I asked both the Bryants and Paul to share what happened. Please keep reading….


Over the past two years, our family has been blessed to adopt 3 dogs from The Dog Liberator. Charlie was the first to come home in September of 2009, after barely making it out of the shelter. He was the recipient of our attention and affection. When Gisele posted the blog about Sundrop (now Lola), the blonde border collie, I was immediately smitten with her. She came to our home in May of 2010 and quickly made friends with Charlie, who was very patient with her insistent puppy play. Durango (now Molly) became a member of the pack in October after we met her at The Dog Liberator’s First Annual Reunion at Jesse’s place. She took her place as the youngest of the pack and life settled down to a household of 5 children, 3 dogs and a cat. 

As the dogs became older though, an interesting thing began to develop. Many people, myself included, have adopted multiple dogs and just assumed that they will all get along forever or that situations will not arise between them. Well, Molly and Charlie had been playing without any problems until one day, they ended up with Charlie growling and barking and Molly snapping and yelping. I had to get between them to break them up, which was pretty difficult to do. I do not know what provoked it and there was no toy involved. It began happening more frequently. Then one night, I was sitting on the floor of the office going over some paperwork and the 3 dogs were all lying around me. Molly leaned over and did her little what I thought was a playful “snap” at Charlie. I told her to stop, which she did for a few minutes. Then she did it again. I scooted her a little bit away and then she did it again and in a split second, she and Charlie were at it full throttle. I jumped out of the way and Kevin jumped out of his chair and literally had to “grab” Molly with his legs and push her back off of Charlie. What concerned us both is that we never knew when it was going to happen and we were not really sure what was provoking it. And what would happen if we couldn’t separate them? With a very busy household, it is hard to watch them every second even if I tried to keep Molly in the same room with me. It was hard for us to understand, especially since they have been together for over 2 months and each of the dogs, on their own, are very good.

Knowing that we had to find a solution, Kevin and I turned to the expertise of Giselle, Holly and Jesse. Their response proved to us once more that they are more than an agency who is just in the business of rescuing dogs and finding them homes. They immediately responded and put us in contact with a dog trainer, Paul Pipitone, at Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida. They assured us that yes, we do have three great dogs, but sometimes issues arise that need correction. We met with Paul and we found his explanations of dog behavior, pack interaction and human/dog behavior fascinating. First he spoke with us as he observed the dogs in our backyard and then he went outside with them. We watched from the window at how he was able to deter bad behavior, such as jumping, with simple techniques and reinforced their good behavior, without over-exciting the dogs. We were aware prior to the session that there were most likely things that we were unknowingly teaching the dogs or allowing them to do that was adding to the dynamics between the dogs. But, as we watched Paul with the dogs, and then listened to his evaluations of what were likely the causes of some of the problems, we gained a tremendous insight into what defines a lot of a dog’s behavior and what generally makes for a well-adjusted dog who knows his or her place in their pack. Paul was able to give us the guidance and instruction on the measures we could take to resolve some of the problems, as well as the assurance that we could call on him in the future with questions or concerns (without any pressure to sign up for multiple lessons!). Now we not only understand a lot better the dynamics between the 3 dogs and where we were not being the strong pack leaders we need to be, but we have the tools and skills to set the tone for the house.

It has been very fascinating to learn how they communicate and certainly interesting to see the reactions in the dogs. As we have implemented changes, I think the dogs are a bit confused on our change of behavior. One night when I got home from church, we let the dogs out of their crates and it was not too long before Molly and Lola were getting into each other’s space. It also did not take long after I started getting in between them and pushing back whoever was instigating the “playful” nipping or bumping, for them to give it up and just chill. We have decided not to allow any play in the house – if they can’t begin it, it won’t escalate to the rough-housing, altercation stuff we were seeing in our “den”. Both Kevin and I have noticed a lot more of the subtle things Lola has been doing to assert her place. Sometimes when she snuggles up to Charlie, she sits on him, a sign of dominance. Both the dogs get into Charlie’s space quite a bit, Lola a lot more than we realized. A couple of corrections now, and they give up. And, they have not had one “fight” since Paul has been here.

Kevin and I both can now truly appreciate the value of seeking professional advice, taking the time to be better educated and putting forth the effort to correct behavior. We are now beginning to experience a much more well-balanced pack. Unfortunately, in the beginning, we thought that we would have to find another home for Molly, thinking she was the instigator of most of the issues. What we thought were “cute” behaviors by Lola, were in actuality signs of dominance. We were basing our possible decisions on our unprofessional opinions, which clearly were in error. It makes me stop and think how many dogs are turned over to shelters and rescue agencies by owners who were beginning to get frustrated like we were? And, more importantly, how many of them could have stayed in their “forever home” if they had spent one hour with a reputable dog trainer?

~ Lynette

Written by Paul Pipitone:

After all the years of correcting doggie behavior, and seeing the success stories after my sessions, I never get tired of hearing them. It gives me such joy when doggie parents have that light go on in their heads and they see the situation clearly for the first time. When I arrived at the Bryants home, I could see right away that these were good, well-meaning people. A wonderful family with terrific kids and a love and passion for dogs. Obviously intelligent and well educated, they had legitimate concerns about the dogs fighting and creating chaos in the house, especially with young children possibly in the middle getting hurt. 

As always, I took 15 – 20 minutes to just sit, chat and observe the dynamics in the house between the people and the dogs, and between the dogs themselves. The Bryants expressed that they believed the issue was with Molly, the newest addition to the pack. It didn’t take long for me to see that the trouble maker was the sneaky little miss Lola instead. Cleverly disguised as an innocent bystander, she was secretly trying very hard to be the house pack leader above all dogs and humans. When I corrected a bad behavior she would snarl and bark, challenging my authority. After all, who did I think I was coming in HER house and thinking I could control her and HER pack.

After I explained this to the Bryants, they began to see things a little differently. The big picture revealed itself. So, I began to teach the Bryants the communication skills they needed to “talk” with their dogs in a language the dogs could understand. After all, English is not a dog’s first language. We discussed several situations where they were unhappy with their dogs’ behavior and found it unacceptable. Some of these included rushing the front door when the bell rang or someone knocked, charging and barking at the dreaded squirrel in the front yard through the dining room window. All of the issues they were having were because the dogs entered an over excited state of mind, causing them to do what comes instinctively to them, which is barking, growling or charging the target. I taught the family several techniques to create a calm relaxed dog. Each instance resulted in immediate results. It becomes very clear to folks when they see the transformation occur right before their eyes.

The Bryant family are well on their way to having a peaceful happy home where their furry friends know their place in the pack and understand who the pack leaders are in their home. As time goes on, the Bryant family will become better and better with their communication skills and become better and better pack leaders. I look forward to hearing more about their continued progress.

Thanks Bryant family for being such good students and caring enough about your dogs to seek professional help.

Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida

And the moral of the story is, don’t give up on your dog and don’t live with undesirable behavior. A good dog trainer can make a world of difference!

January 31st Update: 

Paul, thanks for your kind comments and such a great summary of your visit. I especially love your description of Lola! But you know, it just makes me love her even more. Maybe I empathize a little with her grouchy, “want-to-be-in-control” female attitude! She’s learning quickly and Kevin and I can’t believe how many things all the dogs were doing to assert themselves. Charlie has seemed a lot more relaxed and happier now that we are keeping the 2 girls out of his space. I’ll send all of you an update in another week or two.
~ Lynnette 

February 8th Update:

I was surprised to read the following comment on our facebook page from Jocelyn, who adopted our wonderful Whoa Nellie. I had no idea she had gotten in touch with Paul.

Gisele, just wanted to drop you a quick note and THANK YOU for putting me in touch with Paul. He is truly amazing! My husband asked me “…is he a Dog Whisperer?” My response was, I am not sure but let’s see what he has to say! Amazing that someone 3 hours away could help me with WHOA Nellie via a 1/2 hour phone call! I spoke with him last evening, and his affirmation that I was taking the right approach (with a few human tweaks) has already worked! Sometimes we just need the reassurance that we are doing the right thing, and a reminder that we humans need to be the Alpha! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Paul, you are amazing and I see a ‘meet’ in our future!
~ Jocelyn Pedler-Vanik”


Alpha Dog, Pack Leader, and YOU!

Lady Di, the Alpha Female

Lady Di, the Alpha Female

I get phone calls, sometimes 5 a week, from owners who want to surrender their dog. Usually, it’s because the dog is showing serious signs of aggression, sometimes toward children or other dogs. As I interview the owner, I am then informed that the owner not only allows the dog on their furniture, but actually sleeps with the dog. While I have slept with some of my dogs, it’s not a given, it’s a honor to be invited in my bed. I have never allowed a dog to own my bed or dictate to me.

If people would only realize that a dog is a dog, it is not your child. Even the smallest of breeds are famous for biting people and other dogs, why? Because the dog was babied, and is confused. The babied and pampered dog thinks it’s in charge, and to be honest, I don’t blame the dog at all! Most of these dogs, big or small, end up in shelters and pounds.

Here lies the difference between being a dog owner, and pack leader. I talk about Lady Di quite often. While she is very much a strong Alpha, she does not get away with any aggressive behaviors toward us or other dogs. Lady Di is the corrector. She is given respect by all of the dogs who come here, because she leads by example. Lady Di expects all of the dogs to play nice, and if they don’t… watch out! She will never harm another dog, but she will teach other dogs and puppies the rules.

I posted this on Facebook this morning: I’m sure you know, but many do not, what an Alpha Leader is. An Alpha is a dog that the pack respects. She or He is not a bully, but keeps law and order within the pack with just one look. Occassional the Alpha does have to use its teeth, but never to harm, only to communicate. The Alpha is also very nurturing, and… works hard to make sure the pack is well. Here’s a quick look at just one of her full time jobs working in rescue. So while I can spend valuable time correcting the new dogs that come here, Lady Di can communicate with them, teach them, show them, and redirect them in a second. She is very valuable here at The Border Collie Boot Camp, but never does she doubt that I am truly in charge. She has a full-time job, and she does her job very well!

Many times we have described one of our dogs that is available for adoption as an Alpha. It sometimes sends adopters running the opposite direction. Having a dog that is an Alpha does not mean it’s a bully! A bully is a bully! An Alpha can be described as the school’s principal.

Here is an awesome article that explains it all from Dog Breed Info, Why you need to be the Top Dog.

It reads:

Dogs descended from wolves, and deep within the psyche of your dog lies instincts they have retained from their wild ancestors. In order to live with and communicate with your dog you need to understand why you must maintain Alpha position in the “pack.”

Here’s a quick video I took of my Lady Di correcting Megan’s Huck. Huck was very young, and he was exciting to meet all of our dogs, but he got a little bit out of hand, trying to hump everyone. Lady Di, without hurting Huck in any way, let him know the rules of engagement at her home, and Huck has been a gentleman ever since!

Your dog depends on you for its survival. It has learned that it must cooperate with you through thousands of years of evolution and adaptation in human society. The first domestication by man was the wolf. About twelve thousand years ago we discovered that having a wolf as a “pet” was a great asset. They could hunt alongside us and they could guard us as we slept.

As the years went by, the wolf began to mutate into different breeds. Scientists are unsure exactly how the first breeds developed. There are several different theories that include natural mutations, climate, and environment. The breeds became more numerous and more specialized. That is how we ended up with groups such as herding, hunting, shepherding, guarding, and of course, companion and lap dogs.

Of all the animals that we have domesticated, only the dog has willingly allowed itself to accept the authority of man without constraint. But as I said, it still retains the instinct to test its position. Yes, even sweet little Lady, the Maltese lying at your feet, has the genes and instincts of the wolf.

Wolves live by rules and have a social structure. The entire pack cooperates under a single leader. Lines are clearly defined. The leader of the pack eats first, and then the rest of the pack can eat. When your dog growls at you when he is eating, he is saying “I am the leader, and you must wait.”

If your dog has a growling problem, here are some “rules to live by” that may be of help to you.

1. Never tolerate growling. This is a threat and it means your dog sees you as a subordinate meant to be dominated by him. Tell him No! Let him know it is not acceptable to EVER growl at you or your children. Make it clear that your children are the offspring of his Alpha leader (you) and that they are to be treated as Alpha “pups.”

2. Do not let your dog walk through the door first. If your dog always goes ahead of you, you need to get your leash and open the door. When he rushes ahead you pull him back and tell him “No. Wait. ” You walk in and then give him permission to come in. This will be easier and faster if you have someone help you.

3. Do not let a dog who is having alpha issues sleep in the same bed as the humans. This is a definite alpha position. A doggie bed on the floor beside you is your best bet for maintaining alpha position. This rule is for aggressive dogs or dogs showing signs they are forgetting their place. A pet that is well behaved and obedient can sleep next to you or your child, so long as it was the humans that invited the dog up. The dog should not be the one deciding to jump up on the bed. If you just can’t be without your dog in the bed, at the very least you need to make sure he sleeps at the foot of the bed and not on your pillow.

4. Socialize, socialize, socialize. I cannot stress enough the importance of introducing your dog to different places and people. Find something to do with your dog. Join and agility or obedience class. Take your dog to the park. If you have a laid back dog or puppy share your time with the local nursing home. Volunteer with disability groups so children and adults with special needs can enjoy the non-judgmental love a dog or puppy can provide.

5. Do not let your dog ride in your lap in the car. Make him sit in his own seat or on the floor. It is unsafe for you and your dog. Buy him his own seat belt or safety booster or use a kennel. Some states will give you a ticket for being a distracted driver.

6. Do not baby your dog too much. He needs to learn to be a dog. Do not over-protect him. He needs to explore and learn to be independent. You do not want to raise a flighty, paranoid dog. When he acts afraid of something that he should not be afraid of, do not pick him up and ooh and ahh over him. Simply tell him it is okay, and show him the object, person, etc. Your confidence will make him a confident and dependable dog. If you feed his imaginary fears, he will become a snappy and untrustworthy dog. He may develop fear aggression. An example of fear aggression could be a dog that sits in its owner’s lap and growls at people or other animals. If you pet him, and tell him “It’s okay.” You are really telling him this is the type of behavior you expect of him, and he will continue to do it because there is a reward attached to it. Tell him no and put him down off your lap. While some owners think it is sweet that their little lap dog is “protecting them,” it is not. When a child reaches to pet the dog or hug Grandma it could bite them if it is allowed to get away with this antisocial behavior. This is a dog that has taken on Alpha position and you are a subordinate. I have seen so many children chastised when they get bitten, when it’s the owner that is responsible. You will often hear people say “Now, you know Granny’s dog doesn’t like you to go near her. She is jealous, and protective. We have told you over and over not to do that.” What a shame. And it could all be avoided if we would just take the time to learn canine behavior. As much as we would like to believe that they think like us, they do not.

If you have a problem with your dog growling at you or another family member, you may want to try having the person your dog growls at the most be the only one to feed him. You want to make him sit to reinforce your position as the leader. He is learning that he depends on you and he must obey in order to eat. And if he growls after you set down the food, tell him no and take the food away. Tell him to sit again. This is how you will reinforce the “no growling rule.”

You must never tolerate growling because this will usually lead to biting. Not always, but it usually does. So you need to nip it in the bud as soon as possible. I want to make it clear we are not talking about puppy play growling. Only growling that is geared towards aggression growling. Puppies need to be able to be puppies.

Do not play tug of war with a puppy. Play fetch and tell them to release the ball. Never be overly harsh with your dog. Use common sense.

When a dog is constantly leaning on you, putting his paw on you, or touching you in some way, this is not your dog loving you, it is your dog displaying dominant behaviors. In the dog world, space is respect. A dog who is constantly nudging you and leaning on you, is not only disrespecting you, they are being the alpha dog. You are the one who must start and end touching and affection. Affection should only be given when the dog is being calm and submissive. Never when the dog is excited, anxious, scared, nervous etc… or you will be reinforcing that state in the dog.

One last thing… spend time with your dog. Train him. Walk him daily. Be calm, assertive and provide rules and boundaries your dog must follow. When you provide all of those things, play with him and love him up. Just as a child looks to his parents for guidance and boundaries, so does your dog. Sometimes we have to use tough love, but in the long run, you and your dog will be happier if you maintain the Alpha role.

If you would like a free training video by Cesar Milan, please email me at

If you have any input or suggestions, or if you disagree with anything written in this post, please feel free to leave a comment, and share your thoughts with us!

Bringing Your New Dog or Puppy Home

Bringing your new dog home

Click here to read “Starting out Right” .  This page contains everything there is know about bringing one of our rescued puppies or dogs to your new home!


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