Tag Archives: DINOS

What The Hell Is A Flirt Pole!

Flirt Poles are awesome!

They are a fantastic way to exercise your dog! And not just in that “screw it, just get em tired” kind of way. But, in a way that can help establish rules, boundaries, and bonding.

It’s just like tug. Literally. It’s just an extension of your arm. You can make them cover more ground, and have exciting near misses in between your actual tugging bouts.

If they have reliable “outs” you can just play tug with the pole like you’re fishing for dogs! If their “outs” aren’t solid yet, you can just hand over hand down to the tug, and immobilize it to encourage the “out”. I’ve recently become a fan of the -P method of corrections!

In this way it’s just a higher energy draining version of tug.

But I’ve used it with a few dogs that didn’t have any desire to play tug. It’s been a great bridge to get to tug as a new activity.

One of them just wasn’t that excited about about the “prey” I was holding. I just couldn’t move it enough, or in a fashion to trigger her interest. But, with a flirt pole, I was able to draw her out. Literally, like fishing. I would throw it out like casting. She would sort of ignore it. I would make very small movements. After a minute or two she FINALLY got a little interested. When she bothered to give it a sniff, I made it jump and run away from her. It took about two of those for her to go absolutely apeshit chasing it. When I let her get it, I gently tugged “fishing pole” style. I am not going to start “outing” her for a few more sessions. I don’t want to discourage her drive in any way. If I can get it away from her, it means she’s not really gripping it. Which means her drive isn’t high enough. Once she can grip that thing and I can’t get it back from the pole I will transition into teaching the “out” and possibly switching to straight tug.

On another dog I was working, they had trust issues. They had a TON of prey drive, but….. If you tried to engage them in tug, they would just let you have it. They didn’t want to “challenge” you for this thing that you obviously wanted. Sometimes, you can just tug less vigorously to help build their confidence. But in this case it was bad enough that I had to use a flirt pole so that the toy didn’t seem “attached” to me. They could chase, and chase. When they caught it, I would tug “fishing pole” style, and praise a lot. Then once they are into that, when tugging, I will slide down the line and tug holding the line. I’ll get closer and closer until, I can actually tug while holding it. Once you can use the pole to engage rounds of hands on tug play, you may be able to just switch to straight tug.

Anyway, flirt poles are bad ass! Use them to build trust, or drive for tug work, Or just use them to wear you little one down. Cause, even though I am a HUGE proponent of obedience work, if a dog is tired, it’s hard for them to be bad!

So, Buy one. Make one.

Or call us…. We’ll bring ours!

“Reverse” BAT?


(Yeah, I know…. Shouldn’t drive like that. But….. Look how cute!)

She may look cute. But make no mistake……

If you aren’t part of her pack, and don’t come correct with doggy language……. She’ll eat you.

She’s not aggressive, per se. She just believes in rules. And, that’s fine. The problem is, no one else knows them, and she is the swift and harsh dictator of all she surveys.

Well, she used to be.

Now….. I have a few seconds to prove to her that my ability to “handle business” is still up to snuff. If I am on the ball, she’ll acquiesce. If I wasn’t……. I would be demoted, and she would rule the world.

Actually, I make her sound like a complete bitch. She’s not. She’s really just unsure about people. I figured out an interesting concept. And that is If she doesn’t have absolute faith in my ability/willingness to protect her, she will take it upon herself to be the sheriff. She is fearful. She needs to feel safe.
Here’s how I did the wrong thing:
I was pissed/embarrassed/frustrated at her being reactive to people so I would try to make her stop. I would scold her, or correct her. I would reassure the people that “she’s not usually this bad”, or “she’s sweet at the house”, or some such bullshit to lessen their disapproval. Sometimes, she’d be doing ok, and people would be standing there looking at her, or leaning over her, or god forbid asking to pet her….. And there I would wait, praying inside “please don’t go off Mabel”. And of course at some point she would. She would jump. And, I would scold. And it got worse, and worse.
She wasn’t sure of her safety. I wouldn’t “protect” her in her eyes. She was forced to “protect” herself. It works. When she reacts, it makes them leave, or makes us leave. Either way she got to choose to create distance by tripping out.

How I worked on fixing it:

1: solid pack structure protocol. Leerburg.com has a good DVD for more serious cases. The NILIF (Nothing In Life Is Free) protocol is good for the average pup.
2: Solid obedience. Sets a good relationship. Also, improves communication between you both. Most commands  I am working on for her, are “Look” (quick check in), “Front” (sitting in front with uninterrupted eye contact), and a “heel” ON BOTH SIDES (use different words for each side, obviously). These are management tools. They will not be enough on their own. Once she goes into “drive”/”past threshold” she won’t, or won’t be able to, obey. But, having a task to focus on instead of the fearful thing, will help delay threshold. And if you look at the commands I recommend they physically help prevent focus on/proximity to the object. The “look” gets a break in the focus and will help you see how close to threshold they are. The “front” is useful when a trigger is approaching or passing, because she will have her back to it and eyes on me. The “heel” on both sides allows you to pass something, while keeping her on the other side of you, allowing you to effectively “block” her from them.

3: Counter conditioning: The thing I have started doing is a kind of reverse BAT type of protocol! As in I have the trigger approach me. I work those commands as I have the trigger approach us. I TELL THEM TO STOP APPROACHING as I notice her reaching threshold. Then I HAVE THEM STAY and we keep working until I see her relax at that distance, then I reward by ME TELLING THEM TO LEAVE. This process has the exact same effect in counter conditioning, and response reprogramming as BAT, with one important distinction. She sees me controlling the trigger. This is important because it gives her more faith in my ability/willingness to control the environment. Once the triggers can come close, I get really in deep with it. I will put her in a downstay and I will walk short distance away. I will have the trigger approach her and I will intercept and “herd” them away (this is all done VERY calmly and slow/smooth so as not to trip her into drive). See a natural calming signal/tactic in pack behavior is called “splitting”. When two dogs play too intensely, another dog will nonchalantly walk between them giving a lull. I want her to see me regulate her environment. The more faith she has in me protecting her, the closer the trigger will be able to get before it trips her threshold. But as soon as I see it, I “split” and herd the trigger out. By this point you will see her check in and give eye contact as if to say “you getting that, or should I?”. That’s good! it means she thinks you handling it is at least a possibility, before it wasn’t. Once they can approach pretty close and stick around her without tripping her….. You ready for real proofing.
You take her out where you are likely to encounter a trigger that you don’t control. If they don’t directly address her it should go just like previous work, problem solved. If you see her particularly concerned with something…. Buffer her. Put her on the other side of you so you block/split them. Literally. It will reassure her you see her concern and you’re willing/able to handle it.
If they try to address her give her a competing command (down/front whatever) to give her something to think about, and reiterate your control of her to her AND the trigger. Then tell the trigger to ignore her. Tell them forcefully if needed (calmly though). When your dog has absolute faith in the fact that you WILL NOT LET SOMETHING TOUCH HER. She won’t feel the need to be reactive.
My little Mabel can hold a down while strangers step over her. But she has seen me literally push someone over that was crowding, and starting to touch her (Yes….. yes I did push an old lady into cat food display at PetCo. But that’s another story). I’ve learned to listen to her. I’ve learned to protect her. She doesn’t have to be the sheriff. It’s my job now.

Make sense?

PS. – Let me just say, I hope that all my rambling on this site gets taken for what it is. The excited “out loud” processing, of things I am learning about! I am not a know it all. Hell, all I know, is that I don’t know enough! But I learn by writing down my thoughts. It’s my process. If it’s in a notebook, I get no feedback from those that know more. And, it doesn’t help anybody who may know less. Not preaching. Not Teaching. Just learning out loud.

****EDIT NOTE: We have begun officially calling this drill the “Faith In Handler” drill.****

Behavior Adjustment Training

So, most of the people that are reading this blog, and fur sure almost all of the people interested in our services, have dogs that are aggressive/reactive. There is an interesting method called:

Behavior Adjustment Training.

I’ve seen a number of different methods for dealing with this. But this method is interesting because, it deals with this problem in a way that doesn’t seem detrimental to your relationship wit your dog. Obviously, go check out their site for more details. But the gist of it looks like this:

Now, it seems on the surface to be pretty straightforward. The more you do something, the more your dog is accustomed to it. But, if you read the Skinner post, you’ll see there can be a lot of science under the surface of dog training. The cool thing about this scheme is the use of “escape training” in a positive light.

See, this technique is “approved” by the “purely positive” crowd. But the theory that it uses is generally looked at as downright abusive by those same people. And the way it is typically employed….. It kinda is.

Escape training is defined as applying a punishment as a constant until the dog performs an action. When the action is performed the punishment is stopped. They learn to “escape” the punishment, by performing the action.

Most times someone uses “escape training” it’s kind of hard to watch. People put an electric collar on, say “Sparky, come!”, and start the shock. The dog flips out and runs around, and at some point happens to head in your general direction. Kind of like playing “Warmer/Colder” when you were a kid, you turn the shock off when they are getting “warmer”, and you turn it back on when they are “colder”. They learn that the way to turn off the collar is to get to you. It’s a quick way to get a reliable recall. But like I said, it’s hard to watch. And so, most people just write off escape training as a “cruel”, or “unfair” method.

But when you look at this BAT method, you realize that they are using escape training. The dog is learning how to off the discomfort of proximity to something by showing “calming signals”. The reward is the removal of the “pressure” of the trigger.

Kind of cool to look at training methods a little deeper, and try to understand how they tick.  And very cool to realize that it’s never the “theory” that’s screwed up…… Just how people apply them.

Keep your eye out for an article on a kind of “reverse” BAT method I’ve been playing with on a couple of our dogs. Needs a little more work, but I think it’ll be pretty interesting.

Missed Thanksgiving Because Of The Dog

Listen, I’m not bagging on you. I was you. Hell, I AM you.

We can’t leave town. Not unless we take an RV and put all five dogs in that bad boy!

Look, I know there are a lot of people out there who are totally bummed today because they had to tell their family they couldn’t come to Thanksgiving……. Because of the dog.

It’s a brutal situation. You can’t take Sparky to the boarding place cause he get’s pissy with people he doesn’t know. Especially if they act scared. And, you can’t ask anyone to come over and watch him because when you aren’t there, he just paces, and barks, and drives everyone nuts. Of course, he does like your sister….. But she’s going to Thanksgiving.

So, here you sit, with your piece of shit Hungryman turkey dinner.

And your dog.

Who you love…… And, who you’re really, really annoyed at.

Next time call us. We’ll come over and handle you’re little bundle of difficult.

And you, can see your family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

New Toy!!!!


3 Bad Bullies just got our hands on a brand new Kickbike Cross Max!

These things scream to be pulled by dogs. They are stable, and have shocks like a mountain bike. So, they can totally handle off road rough housing. But, they’re super easy to step off of if things get squirrely….. Which, with dogs pulling you off road, can sometimes happen. That’s the main difference for the dog sports. Bikes are hard to get off of at speed. But these are a little less sketchy feeling.

Anyway, We just added one to our arsenal of Canine Exercise Therapy equipment.

If you want to get your dog in on the action….. Give us a call. We’ll run ’em for you!


We Walk DINOS!

Dinosaurs? No D.I.N.O.S.

It’s a concept founded by Jessica Dolce, author of the blog; Notes From A Dog Walker.
Here’s her description:

What is a DINOS?

DINOS™ are Dogs in Need of Space.

DINOS are good dogs that need some space while they’re out on walks. They might be DINOS for a variety of reasons, such as:

•service and working dogs

•illness or recovering from surgery

•leash reactivity

•injuries and painful physical conditions, like arthritis

•intolerance of other animals

•fearful of unfamiliar people

•aging and elderly

•learning self control around other dogs

•fearful of unfamiliar or rowdy dogs

•are owned by people who want to be left alone


I LOVE her material! I know there a lot of  DINOS out there. 2 of our 5 are! So her concepts really resonate with us.

Check out her site. Support her movement. People out there with DINOS need to know they’re not alone. And they shouldn’t be made to feel bad for their dogs preferences. It is NUTS, the kind if response you get when you ask people not to pet your dog. They get downright angry sometimes. Her site has a ton of resources, and awesome gear to empower you, and educate others.

Our queen DINOS: Mabel

Mabel was really bad with strangers. Even as a young dog. It was weird. I had never had a Bully that was bad with people. I didn’t know what to do. So…. I did everything wrong.

I felt really strange telling people not to mess with her, which happened often because she’s cursed with unbearable cuteness. Because I wouldn’t say anything, they would approach. Of course, they would do it in a way a dog would consider rude. Mabel show a ton of signs of not digging it, that I hoped they wouldn’t see, cause I was embarrassed. Then, when all of this culminated in an unwanted handling, Mabel would “communicate”. Of course, I would correct her. And, that sucks for a number of reasons.

1. Correcting a dog in drive takes bigger corrections to get through. And I hate that.

2. Constantly getting corrected every time someone touches her, gives her MORE reason to dislike/distrust people.

3. Me ignoring the signs of discomfort she was offering on the approach, made her feel like she had to handle it on her own. This makes her lose faith in my ability to protect her, and tells her she needs to protect herself. Which then puts a huge tailspin on pack structure in the house, and leads to all sorts of behavior problems.

It really is ridiculous how easy it is to fix.

“Hey! Don’t touch my dog.” That’s it.

I began to pay attention to my dog. I realized those signals of discomfort were her asking me for help. So I did.

I would have people stop approaching when I realized she was getting uncomfortable. And at the beginning, that was about 20 yards.

But you know what….. After a while she had faith in me. That I would protect her. And, they would have to get a lot closer to shake her faith. I then earned more trust at that distance. And closer and closer.

And now I can put Mabel in a down and people can literally step over her and she doesn’t care.

Why? Cause I have earned her absolute trust.

She KNOWS, beyond all doubt, that I WILL NOT LET THEM TOUCH HER!

She has learned that I will pay attention to her, and I will protect her. So she finally can relax, and not be the Sheriff.

The DINOS gear makes it way easier to get this across to people. And, the cuteness softens the blow a little. So, owning a DINOS myself, I fully recommend their merchandise.

If you have a DINOS….. keep us in mind. We specialize in them! We prefer them! Our services were designed with them (you) in mind!

We will walk/work, sit your DINOS! It’s our pleasure.