Saturday, September 8, 2012

Helping an Unsocialized Dog

Here is a letter I got inquiring about help for an under-socialized dog who has been taken into a rescue. (Names and place have been taken out) and my response to it. It is a good reminder about dealing with dogs who come from bad beginnings. The exercise I outline is for dogs who are extremely under socialized and showing fears that would include trying to hide, shaking, avoiding eye contact, or peeing when a stranger is near.

Hi- I need advice for my new foster dog.  From my understanding he came from an abusive home. He is under 2, I believe ,and has never been inside a home/building. One of my main concerns is his fear of humans. If you have any tips or any advise that could help I'd appreciate it.

Sure, happy to help. 
 To start with try some target training. This means condition him to a word or sound like a clicker. I don't use clickers often because they can be a pain to carry so I say "yes" to my dogs. That means they did well and a treat is coming. To start with just get some good treats and say "yes" and then give the treat. "yes" treat "yes" treat. Do this over and over until he starts looking for the treat when you say "yes".

When he knows "yes" or the clicker is his target word/sound you can start some socializing. How afraid of humans is he? I'd try a week of the following exercise:

Put him on leash, get good treats and your friends to help. Sit on the floor in a small room with him. Have someone come in the room (this person should not look at, talk to, or touch the dog) When the person comes in you say "yes" and give a treat. When the person leaves go back to just sitting with him. Have the person (or several different people) come into the room many times. Each time a human comes in "yes" and treat. Do this in about 10 minute sessions. When he starts looking excited when the human comes in (either a tail wag, perky ears, open mouth) then you can start having the people give him the treat but still no talk or eye contact. Just a flat open hand with the treat. This could take a few days or a few minutes. It all depends on the dog and how deep his fears go.

Also remember not to act as if he is a victim or a "sad case". Dogs can pick up on this and respond that way because they think this is what you want. Treat him as if he is a confident dog who has never been a victim. That is the only way he will ever get past it. I so often see dogs who were abused years earlier and their owners are still telling the story, sadly petting the dog while they do. These dogs stay victims for their whole lives and never move out of their past, not because they can't, but because their human won't let them.

Julie Anderson
Bad Behavior /Good Dog

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Fun Trick To Try

Are you looking for a new trick to teach Fido this spring? Here is a really fun one that will get you both outside in the sun and provide hours of fun!

Teach your dog to hunt out smells:
(This can be used just for fun, or for a real job like search and rescue)

Step 1: Find a scent you want your dog to recognize and hunt for. I was just doing the game for fun so I used Basil.

Step 2: Find two or three small glass jars (glass has less of its own scent than plastic). Baby jars work really well. Place the scent in one of the jars. I shook about 1 tlbs of crushed Basil into the jar.

Step 3: Place the jars (only one has the scent in it) in front of your dog. When he sniffs the jar with the smell say "YES" and treat him. You could also use a clicker in place of the "yes". Do this several times. In fact, your whole first 10-15 minute session might just be encouraging him to sniff the jars and then rewarding only the sniff with the jar that has scent in it. Some dogs will be able to focus on this activity for a long time others may only stay focused for a few minutes. Just go at your dog's pace, and break it into as many training sessions as he needs.

Step 4: When your dog is consistently sniffing only the jar with scent have him wait and walk across the room. Place the jars down about a foot apart and tell him "find it". Then again, reward him for finding the right jar. At this point you can even start placing the jars around the corner and widening the space between them.

Step 5: When your dog has figured out that finding that scent gets him a reward take away the other jars. Have your dog sit and stay while you hide the scent jar out of his sight but still in an easy place. Again, say "find it" and when he does reward.

Step 6: By now your dog should be able to understand the game and you can move outside placing the scent jar in harder to find place. Each time reward with lots of praise.

There is no limit to how far this game can go for you and your dog. You can hide the scent in harder and harder places, go to the park and play it there. You can even start adding in more scents. When your dog gets really good at the game you can even try showing him one of your socks, or a toy. When he smells it tell him "yes" and then treat. Now you can place new objects under his nose and he will get that when you say "find it" he is to find the object he just sniffed!

Have fun learning and playing together!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

You Good Dog Training Class

Small Group Class

Coming Sundays in March: Julie Anderson, with Bad Behavior/Good Dog will be offering a small group class for dogs ages 6 months and up. The class will cover:

v Teaching boundaries

v Games designed to challenge and teach

v Dog body language and what it means

v Loose leash walking without a fight!

v How to properly introduce two dogs

v Basic obedience

v Trouble shooting

This is a great chance for you and your dog to get out and have some fun together while strengthening your bond! Only $50 a dog if registered by February 20th, and $70 after February 20th (one handler per dog). Dogs must not be reactive to other dogs in order to participate.

March 4, 11, 18, 25

1:00 to 1:45pm @ Charter Pointe Park (Lake Hazel and Maple Grove Roads)

Space is limited so please call today to RSVP 208-340-2824

Visit my website at

Sponsored by: Toby and Omar Dog Boutique

Friday, January 6, 2012

A Puppie's Progress

Our foster pup Ralphie during some of his training sessions. Ralphie is looking for the perfect home to call his own!

1. This is about 15 mins into his first session. I sit down on his level use a small room and only a small space in that room. I teach "follow" first so he will learn to follow my hand. This helps me postion him where I need him for later training. Lots of treats and praise.

2. The Same lesson as before but now I'm off the floor and using more space.

3. Stay is added in, I'm using the whole room and only giving treats after he has accomplished several commands in a row.

4. This is not the first walk session, he has had many. But here he has mastered stopping when I stop with no verbal or visual commands.

5. And this one is just teaching him some fun things like fetch. I use a soft toy to start because puppies have an easier time carrying soft things than they do balls.

Ralphie is available for adoption through Fuzzy Pawz. Find out how to adopt him at...

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dear Abby... dog style!

Here is a snippet of a letter I got asking for advice on some common dog problems and also my response. If you have questions you would like me to answer on my blog please go to and go to "contact me" you can email me your questions and I will reply to and post the most common problems here on my blog. I won't be able to address every question here so please understand you won't get a personal response unless your question is chosen for the blog. Head up your questions by putting "Ask Julie" at the top of your email so I'll know it was intended to be posted. Names will be changed or left off.

This question comes from a couple who recently adopted a 1yr old dog. The dog is neutered.

Q. "He is marking, we tried tying some fabric from an old shirt around him and after 15 mins he tears it off every time. I'm trying to be persistent and put it back on every time he gets it off. He's also getting up on counters, couch and on our bed. We take him to the dog park and play with him, we love how playful he is. The dog park normally wares him out but he still gets kinda rough with our little dog. He doesn't mean to, he just steps on her a lot."

A. The very best way to handle marking is to leash the dog for the first 24-48 hours. It is too late for that but if you leash him up now and keep him with you for a day or 2 you can catch him if he lifts and make a quick loud sound to correct him and get him outside. Also, get him on a schedule so he will know when he is going to be let out. Every 2hrs like clock work. An actual belly band will be less likely to be removed so easily and will be more comfortable so he might leave it alone.

As for getting up on things and being too playful, calming exercise will help. Dog park is really great for fun time but it works them up not calms them down. It's like a birthday party for dogs! (Think about how worked up kids are after an afternoon of partying.) Walking him at a fast pace and a good heel will be the best at calming him down. You can also hide treats outside for him to go search for like a dog Easter egg hunt. I use my dogs food and hide dozens of pieces... it can take them up to an hour to find them all! If he is getting lots of "calming" structured exercise it is not too much to ask him to lay down and stay on his bed when he is annoying the younger dog. Use a leash, take him to his bed, (if he doesn't have one you'll need to get one; it will help with getting on the couch and your bed) put him on it and tell him STAY. Every time he gets off it take his leash lead him back and do it again. Try for short amounts of time at first, 5 mins, then 10 etc...

Now is the time to start spending at least 30 min a day (broken up into 2 sessions) of working on sit, stay, down, come. Even if he can do some or all he needs to be practicing everyday! Try for a schedule like this: 30 mins a day of structured calming exercise (walking, jogging, bike riding) 20 mins a day of "fun" exercise (dog park, ball, find the treats) and two 15 minute sessions of command practice. If you do all that I promise you will see a different dog!

Hope this helped!
Julie Anderson

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Black in Style!

Do you own a black dog or know someone who does? You see them all the time at the dog park on the street, and in the parks. But did you know under that shinny black coat is a very sad secret? A secret that SNIP (Spay and Neuter Idaho Pets) is trying to let out of the bag. Black dogs, and mostly black dogs, are often the last to be chosen, or worse yet NEVER chosen for adoption in shelters and rescues.

Shelters are usually crowded places and often have poor lighting. Black dogs don't stand out as much as their lighter canine friends and are easy to walk by without a second look. Also, they are a dime a dozen. Black is one of the most common colors in dogs so people often are looking for something they perceive as fancier or more unique. And if all that wasn't enough to make black dogs last in line for adoption they are also fighting old folks tale's about black dogs being more aggressive!

Anyone who has ever loved a black dog knows they are every bit as loving, playful, loyal and sweet as any other dog, and they'd like your help! Did you know black dogs are the only dogs in Boise who get their own monthly walk to celebrate them? The second Sunday of every month SNIP hosts The Black Dog Walk to raise awareness that thousands of dark dogs are just waiting for you to take a second look at them. There are raffles, music, friends, give a-ways, and I am there every month with training tips and support.

The walk happens along the Boise River and starts and ends in the Ram parking lot. Dogs of all size and color are welcome to come have fun and show support. The walk begins at noon and usually lasts till 1pm. Each walk has a fun theme. To find the schedule visit SNIPS website at and please come help get the secret out...that black dogs are wonderful pets!