6.05.2020

Intro to Disc Dogs!

Sports ebb and flow. And one of the things that I find interesting is that Disc Dogs is one of those sports that, for beginners, seems to get hot for a minute and then fades away a bit, but then comes back. I should say, this is true in my area and only really for beginners. In higher-level competition, that is ALWAYS hot.

dog fetch GIF by HuffPost
Keep in mind, not every dog is going to be into this sport.

We must be on an upswing as I've had a few inquiries about disc dogs in the last few weeks, and in a Facebook group I recently joined, we were talking about sports and inclusion, access to canine sports in particular.
One member noticed I did disc dogs, and I decided now would be a good a time as any to put a couple of feeler videos out for disc --- BUT The caveat is that I don't have a disc dog anymore. Sadie passed away in 2014 and now her memory resides in how I teach and I'm reminded of her when I see the ink on my right arm. Captain is SO not a disc dog. Not at all.
However, I can still teach the first couple of lessons - how to pick a disc, see if your dog is into the sport, resources and how to throw a roller. That's easy enough! The rest of the stuff I'm going to happily hand over to my assistant, Nic! He's the guardian of a beautiful one-eyed dog named B'Elanna and together they will go through the more technical aspects of disc, throws, skills, and more. So watch here, get started, and then bounce over to Nic's channel as soon as he gets it up and running!

dog frisbee GIF
What it feels like playing disc without a disc dog on these videos

In the meantime, there are other resources for you if you wanted to get started:
https://skyhoundz.com/
https://hyperflite.com/
https://usddn.com/

So get out and play with your dog! 
-M3

6.03.2020

Going Back?

Hi Everyone!


I know we're all excited to get back into the swing of things. Students are excited to go back to classes or have put off training online in favor of in-person training. Trainers are so excited to say, "So long, Zoom, and your tiny, tiny squares my students fit in! See you in person, class!" and I totally get that. I miss my students, I miss teaching, I miss everything about the teaching experience.

Miss U GIF

There is quite a bit of discussion about going back. Going back to classes, going back to teaching, all of it, but in a series of meetings I've had with a few different training outfits, there are some considerations that we really need to look at as trainers as we prepare to "go back to normal" and the first thing to hammer home is---

It's not going to look normal.  

Even if we do everything "right", state regulations and guidelines are going to severely limit how we can interact with people. If we're outside, we have to remain at least 6' away, which is good, which is the right thing, but we'll be in masks. Students will be in masks. Sometimes students have to use our facial expressions and mouth reading to get what we're saying when we are teaching in fields anyway, so our students who depend on those extra cues from our faces to understand what's happening won't be available to them. Hard of hearing students will likely feel, and will be, left out.

Church Reaction GIF by Robert E Blackmon
Y'all are going to take me SO seriously in my PPE! 


Parents with young children at home - I can speak to this as a teacher who has a 2nd grader in my home. I could put the burden on my husband who is working at home (our insurance, income, everything is tied to his job right now, and we're fortunate that he is able to work from home. Not everyone is so fortunate). But it wouldn't be fair for me to say, "Hey, work from home and help our daughter with school, with reading, with all of it AND keep up with your meetings, work, while I leave the house to teach." She can't come with me, she needs support here, so for the teachers who have young kids, this is really hard.

And the students who have young children: We'll be limited to 10 people outside - that includes the teacher and maybe an assistant. That could be 8 dogs (one handler each) and an assistant - or, it might be 4 couples (4 dogs total) and an assistant. Those people who have always been welcome to bring their kids won't be able to ---- 

----and with summer camps rightfully closed right now, where are those young kids going to go?

Summer Camp GIF by TV Land
The same can be said for staying at home all summer.


We'll likely not be able to help all of those families if they have to choose between having only one person take the dog to class and just not going at all.

The burdens are real. We can say, "Woo! Epidemic over!" but for someone like me, a higher risk person, the risk doesn't go away because the state says, "We are open for business!", and we'll have a population of students who will feel similarly and are not physically or emotionally ready to go back to classes in person.

Spaces will be affected - right now, we have some state guidelines, but cities have different regulations. Parks might not allow groups of 10 if you train in public spaces, or like one of my training gigs, we teach at a school. They aren't letting anyone in (rightfully so) and since they are busy with students, accessibility of online content for their students, getting lockers cleared out for the kids (since no one has been let back into schools since the shutdowns, lunch boxes are NASTY, festering in lockers!), etc, your renting gig might be (and should be) last priority. You might be stuck in limbo.

So while you technically are allowed to go back, you might not be ABLE to go back yet. And that's hard to grapple with.

As trainers, I think it's going to be very important to recognize that while we have had vocal students champing at the bit to come back to class, and we are so ready to go back, we're not fully there yet. This abnormal is not over yet. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try, but there are a lot of things we need to consider, too, about HOW we teach.

Canadian Comedy GIF by CBC

When I work with students in a class setting, I definitely come within 6'. Often. If a dog is jumping, chewing on the leash, unable to sit or down, I can calmly help my student. I can demonstrate skills with their dog. I can show them the mechanics and talk about body pressure, or tension in the leash, I can do lots of things up close. I can size harnesses - or send my assistant over to do so. If there is an emergency, I need to be able to get in and help, but now, we can't.

We won't be able to interact inside of 6' with dogs and people. 

Snl Reaching GIF by Saturday Night Live

We won't be able to come in close and have a conversation in class in hushed tones, "I see you're getting frustrated. You're doing a good job, but maybe you should take a break, come back next week. It's ok, he's over threshold, I see you, I understand. It's totally hard. I've been there, we see a lot of this," etc.

At 6 feet away, in front of the whole class, trying to talk loud enough our student hears it, it will likely be heard by other students, which will make what is usually an emotional conversation in private feel very pointed and directed, and might not be received the same way. An emotional connection and moment of a professional, intimate conversation up close with someone who is struggling can go really well as a teacher, and really wrong if that tool is no longer available.

It's going to be very different.

Just because we're "going back" doesn't mean it's going to be the same. For the trainers reading this, we're going to have to learn new skills all over again, the second time in a year, without a roadmap, without a lot of guidance, and with a lot of PPE.

We are all in this together but there is one more thing I'd like to bring up.

While so many things will be different when we do get to go back, I hope you don't stop communicating virtually with students or leaving that behind. What technology has done is allowed us to reach students who might have, for so many reasons, not have had access to, or felt comfortable in, positive reinforcement dog training classes.

I'm not going to speak in hushed tones here - dog training is very, very white. Especially in my little world of competition obedience. And yes, people of color (POC) are absolutely invited, but might not feel entirely welcome. Lots of glances that say, "What are you doing here" without ever saying a word. We need to do more, listen more, and be more supportive of POC who wish to train dogs in predominantly white spaces or support those who wish to jump into dog training as a profession. I'm so lucky to have two assistants whose voices are heard, and they are amazing dog trainers who I can't wait to share training environments with as they continue to gain experience, but I have a lot to learn from them, too.

Keeping online learning as an option for people who don't feel comfortable in white spaces is important.

Keeping online options for our community members who have social anxiety issues, or other hurdles to feeling totally comfortable in a dog training (loud, social, crowded) environment is absolutely a challenge. And they should have access to good dog training options and help.
Daniel Craig Puppy GIF by JustViral
Every lesson. Oh, this poor dog!




Keeping free Youtube content online for people who can not afford dog training classes (because it's not the cheapest thing in the world!) whether they lost their job due to COVID19, or not, it shouldn't matter. Dog training should be accessible to everyone.

Keeping options open for people who are working three jobs, or essential workers who are working 48 on, 24 off - those schedules are really hard to work around, and dog training might be something they really want to do, but due to the nature of their job, they might not be able to commit. They deserve and need support and quality information, too.

So whatever happens with dog training and reopening, it's going to look different, but I don't think we should throw away everything we've learned in the last 10 weeks. I think it's important to keep a lot of these things in place as we continue to move forward in this new abnormal.

-M3



6.01.2020

Hierarchy of Awesome!

Let me tell a quick story that will tie in nicely. When I was 16, all I wanted for Christmas was a Discman. (It was the 90s).
90s vhs GIF

All my friends had one and as cassettes were going out of style I thought I'd finally be cool. I'd be able to buy CDs instead of sitting with blank cassettes with my finger on the record button waiting for the DJ to play my favorite song, and for the DJ to STOP TALKING SO I COULD GET THE INTRO.

It was a different time.

So, Christmas morning, I came downstairs, and my dad handed me a box. He was giddy. Now, my dad taught weapons at West Point and was a corrections officer. He didn't do giddy, so obviously my anticipation started to build.

He then said, "This is what you wanted. I hope you like it!"

excited happy birthday GIF

I ripped the paper and saw a box. I didn't even look at what the box said - I just kept on ripping. I was finally going to get the thing I really wanted ---- Dad was on the edge of his seat, trying not to smile (which was standard operating procedure), and I got inside only to discover that Dad and I had a clear misunderstanding.

My dad thought he understood what I wanted. He was excited. He did not understand what I wanted.

I wanted a CD player.
He gave me a CB Radio.

Very different media devices.
radio GIF
My handle was "Little Cricket." 

I wish I could say I handled it well. But, I was 16, my hopes were pretty high, and so I ran to my room and cried for an hour. Not my proudest moment.

Now let's go back to this idea of the hierarchy of awesome. 

If we are giving our dogs what we THINK they want, assuming that it's rewarding to them because we tell them it's rewarding, because it's a present from us, then we might be missing the mark. We aren't reinforcing anything at all.

So, how do we find out what is really rewarding to a dog?

We sit down with members of the household and figure out their top 5 favorite things. Is it rolling in goose poop? Is it playing chase? Is it chicken?  Is it chasing chickens? How about cheese sticks? Sniffing things? Digging? How can we use what dogs find rewarding to our benefit? Nothing is too gross or weird. Really take some time to think about what your dog truly loves.



Above is a video of me creating a hierarchy of awesome with my 7-year-old daughter, Acey. In it, we discuss how certain things we can use in specific situations, and how things (like marrow bones, which are highly reinforcing to Captain, might work well for duration behaviors, but not so convenient for taking out on walks). I then use an example from this morning as to how I used the game, "Find It", Captain's favorite thing, to get him distracted when "Leave It" wasn't working.

When I think back on that CB Radio, I learned a LOT about the idea of rewards. They are always in the eye of the recipient. I also learned to be gracious, but dogs don't need to be gracious. They'll tell you they don't like it (or don't want it right now) by walking away, ignoring you, all those things humans just are taught not to do. So we have to start thinking of what they like, what will they really work for, what is really rewarding to THEM, not to us.

Think back to Harry Potter books: When Ron was given yet another homemade sweater his mother made him, he was bored, or just embarrassed. Yet when Harry got one, he was elated! That sweater meant he had a family. Identical gifts, one recipient rolled his eyes - the other was over the moon.

Weasley jumper | Harry Potter Wiki | Fandom

Funny epilogue: When I moved to Ohio to go to college, I owned a Ford Festiva. It was the size of a toaster and about as safe to drive as one. I did ultimately put the CB radio in the car for those long drives across the country to and from school. My college roommates superglued a whirliegig to the antenna in college, which at first really made me upset as I was trying to fit in, but ultimately I learned to love that little car and the stuck and also functional as I could find my shoebox car in a parking lot. Plus, it was fun to yell "Wheeeeee!" as I rode down the road knowing the whirliegig was spinning away. Not unlike the piglet from the Geico commercials. 


piglet GIF

So, take some time today and figure out the hierarchy of aweome for your dog. Every dog's list will be different. Captain's is in the video, but Sadie's would have been: 

Frisbee
Ball
The other ball
Chase a cat
Squeak toy

(Which is why when we did nosework, we used a tennis ball for a reinforcer, not food). 

For Zeppelin, our greyhound:

His bed
Access to couches
Your bed
Hot dogs (which we used for nosework) 
Cheese

So, make your list. I'm curious to see what your lists look like! 
 -M3

5.31.2020

The Nose Knows (Modified Museum of Science Presentation)


This is an updated and modified version of a live presentation given at the Museum of Science in Boston, Massachusetts in February, 2020. I had never been more excited to be invited live to give a talk as this time, I had friends! Some training friends came, Captain got to show off his scentwork skills, and we got to talk with kids. It was so exciting to be backstage at the Museum of Science, my daughter's favorite place to go in the city, my sister came down from Maine with her family, students came to see us talk,  I'm not going to lie. It was amazing. I felt like "we made it!"

This presentation was given once, then we were invited to come back for two more weekends leading up to the COVID19 crisis. We finished up, gave the stage to other performers who would come and engage with the museum patrons until the end of May when the exhibit was to move on to a new city....

Until Covid19 hit in mid-March, shutting down the museum and the "Dogs, A Science Tail" exhibit, which was the right call....

But, several of my daughter's classmates and schoolmates were planning on going to see the #DogsAScienceTail exhibit and missed it as it's a rotating exhibit.

I wanted to make sure that everyone who missed the exhibit was able to see something that could hopefully foster curiosity about dogs, remind them of the amazing gift dogs have (their sense of smell is not unlike Superman's X-ray vision - both can "see" through walls!) and I never turn down an opportunity to talk about aquaphobic black labradors who help researchers find whale poop. 

(Yes. Whale poop. This was targeted to a younger audience and my daughter said kids like poop. So, I found the biggest poop story related to dogs I could find. It was a big hit!)


So, if you're a kid watching this, see if you can answer how far below your feet can a dog smell? One standard 10'  basketball hoop? Two? (Keep guessing!) 

How can you teach your dog, right now, how to find food hides using the basic skills that cadaver dogs, cancer detection dogs, and police dogs use for detection?

What are the differences between passive alerts and active/aggressive alerts? (And why is it important explosive detection dogs do not give an active alert?)

So let's learn all about the dog's nose and how much we humans depend on it! And if you like this video, feel free to share with the kids (and curious adults!) in your life who are excited about dogs. Especially those who like museum experiences and would really enjoy learning about our best friends. 

-M3

5.27.2020

Beating The Heat!

It's hot out! There is a predicted high of 90 (f). Captain doesn't do well with heat, so instead of taking 3 walkies today, we are planning ahead. We got up a little early, went in a longer route so he could get the same amount of outside time despite missing a midday walk for to heat, and we stumbled across this! Now, you might see flats.

Not me. I see a nosework game, a mentally stimulative activity, exercise, focus and a way to tire out Captain!



I've started a YouTube channel in the hopes of helping my students find new ways to keep working with their dogs during the pandemic. I'll put some of those here and share in this way. I hope this (and some other videos!) will give you some inspiration during these trying times (and beyond!) If you try this with your pet, let me know! I'd love to see you (and your dogs!) working hard!

-M3







5.02.2020

Pivoting in the Pandemic Talk


Raising Canine has given me an opportunity to speak about how dog trainers are pivoting during the pandemic. Yes, I've had a bit of time to work on this talk, but man - I haven't had a ton of time to practice because every time I sit down to do something, the news changes, the technology changes, my inbox has a list of dog-related issues that change each week.

I could talk about city dog issues all day - and each of the talks I give on the topic has updated information, but the bulk of the substance is the same.

Talking about how Petfinder is Craigslist for puppy sellers? That's a talk I can give in my sleep. I just did a version of it this week and the only thing that has changed was that Petfinder had changed the way the website looked and the navigation was clunky - but websites are living things if you create them correctly, and those changes are minor compared to the changes that could help the placement of millions of dogs every year ---- and on that front, nothing has changed.





But this one - this talk on pivoting during a crisis, a pandemic that is constantly changing, getting worse, affecting everyone in new ways, the news dump feels like a tidal wave pulling me under every morning...the constancy of the inconsistent pivots is what's making this one so hard.

If it's clunky, it's ok. It's ok if it's clunky because the information will undoubtedly change by tomorrow when Sue needs the presentation and will most certainly be totally out of date by Wednesday, the day of the talk.

I'm not worried at all because we are all going through rapid fire adjustments and that, I suppose, is the takeaway. Maybe I'll focus on that?

I hope you are all doing well in your homes if you are home, and you are safe if you are an essential worker. I have had a few clients get sick and luckily, to the best of my knowledge, they are all recovered and doing well. This is impossibly hard for everyone, and I hope you are finding little ways to be ok with everything changing all the time. It will get better, soon.

-M3

5.01.2020

Red flags in Petfinder

We're on day 50 of quarantine in our city and I'm not going to lie. It's hard. Impossibly hard. But, I have had a bit of time to do some things I was hoping to do long ago that I never got around to.

One of those things was recording something relevant to my book, Considerations for the City Dog, how to find a pet ethically using the Internet. Which, it turns out, is harder than one would think. I've always wanted to show people how to navigate Petfinder and similar sites because there are some concerning trends that have been going on for years. And I'm saying this as a rescue advocate, someone who rescues and works for a rescue organization. Click-and-ship culture's effect on the acquisition of pets has pros and cons.

In watching the video above, start at around the 9-minute mark where we take a look at the first page of Petfinder. I have a search on for within 100 miles so I could see the dogs before making a decision - seems reasonable. The first page has 48 dogs, all are promoted on being within 2 miles of my zip code.

Only two, the first two dogs featured on the site, are actually here.

Where are the local dogs? They start showing up with a higher frequency after page four, which seems really unfair to the dogs who are here, who you can meet. But where are all these other dogs from? They say they are here...

The rest of the dogs on the site claim to be within two miles of your zip code, but in the demonstration, these dogs are all in the American South. After someone commits to a dog because the description sounds perfect and the face is so photogenic, the rescue group will then ask you to drive to Connecticut or other neighboring states to get your new pet. 

Have you ever thought about why that is? They are trying to duck a legal loophole, which leaves you unprotected if this dog isn't a good fit, isn't healthy, or isn't as promoted.



This video takes some clips from a longer presentation I've given a few times, most easily accessed through the Pet Professional Guild.  (Though, if you are a dog training professional or work with animals in a professional capacity, you can find a professionally targeted version here through Raising Canine). 

Responsible breeders or shelters will not lie to you, nor would they ask you to drive across state lines to a parking lot to pick up a pet just to get around Massachusetts State Law. Good breeders and rescues will ask you to meet the dog on site - and if they aren't asking you to do that, I'd say walk away. The rules are still the same.

If a rescue (or breeder!) feels they need to misrepresent where the dog lives to get clicks, that's really unfortunate and I question their ability to be ethical in the sale, the transport, and to take any financial responsibility if something isn't going right. For example, if someone were to get a dog shipped directly from Texas, a dog who is described to "love kids," but this dog doesn't like your kids, or the dog isn't handling the new environment well, what are you supposed to do? The dog who was supposed to "get along with cats" kills your cat? What if the dog is really lovely, but hates the city and can't go outside - she's shivering in a corner for days? 

The rescue will not come to pick the dog back up from Texas.

What if the dog arrives with a highly contagious disease that could do harm to existing animals in your home? What if the "house-trained dog who wants to be your best friend" is actually a former puppy mill stud dog who has never left a crate and he pees everywhere - including on the other dog in your home, and he barks non-stop? 

As imaginative as all of these possibilities are, they are all taken straight from my case files in the last few years. They all have one thing in common: They were all picked up over state lines, and there was no recourse for the family. They were on the hook for thousands of dollars in behavior work, medical work (one had to go straight to the ER from the transport for a lung infection - $2,000 later, the family could bring him home, and the rescue wouldn't help. "He was healthy when he got on the truck. Not our responsibility.")

No. Not all dogs who come up via transport like this end up as a tragic tale. Truthfully, most do not. My current dog, Captain, came from North Carolina, but, we met him locally and were able to make a decision if he was the dog for us (he absolutely was). This was after meeting other dogs, some even made it into our home for a short period of time, before realizing we were not a good match for those dogs. One was so sound phobic - and we live near two highways - it would have been torture for that dog to live her life here. One loved our daughter at the shelter but after we got home the dog developed severe separation distress, and that wasn't something we could handle with a 3-year-old in the home with an active schedule. That wonderful little dog went on to live with a woman in a wheelchair who never left home. They were a perfect match!  

Many of my students acquired dogs by driving out of state and it was fine. Many of these dogs are great learners, fantastic friends, and perfect companions. 

But when it DOES go wrong, it tends to be because dog and family weren't appropriately matched and there is no support after the dog is homed.
So please, exercise some caution. Do your homework and reach out if you have questions. 

For the record: I will always rescue my pets, but there is a way to do it responsibly. Going through groups like the MSPCA, Animal Rescue League, New England Brittany Rescue, Northeast Animal Shelter and others who have dogs locally who you can visit, whether through an established foster network or a brick-and-mortar facility is the way to go for rescue. Many even import dogs from other states get a reliable profile and ensure their health before sending them into a home. Just like I would always advise clients who want a purebred dog to do their homework and always meet the puppy at the breeder's home first, I always advise meeting a rescue or shelter dog first from a place who has a reputation of helping people after the dog goes home. 

Saved shouldn't be defined as "No longer in a shelter". I can't tell you the number of dogs who are not saved because they went to a home - they are more stressed because they weren't put in the right home or environment despite everyone in the home doing everything they can for the dog.

Saved should be qualified as thriving behaviorally and physically.

If you're going to do this, I beg you to do it right because when this is all over, my colleagues and I would love nothing more than to come to your home and work with you on sit, down, stay, and stop jumping - all the things many of our clients expect to work on when they bring a new canine companion into their home. The risk of going in without support or bringing a dog in sight unseen might mean we'll have to have bigger, harder, more challenging conversations at the end of this quarantine, which is more stress on you, and ultimately more stress on your new dog. 

3.19.2020

"In this isolation, we are not alone"

Test, test...*blows dust*...is this thing on?

Hi blog followers, if you still follow :) It's me. Melissa. I know it's been a while, but with Covid19, I felt it important to reach out.

Some dogs don't understand social distancing. For that, I'm thankful this one holds us up when we are sick, sad, or too tired to get up.

I wrote a post on Instagram today for people who are struggling. Initially, I had been making Dog Training Challenges in this Covid 19 pandemic to keep my students upbeat, busy, working. I recorded versions of lessons for three classes at Everydog Training Center for my personal students, dozens of videos with the team at New England Dog Training Club so they could continue with classes, and started daily challenges for my followers. I did it for them.

...or so I thought. 

Here is what I wrote. I think a lot of people might feel the same way, and I want you to know you aren't alone. Here are the words, and here is the OG post. If need to reach out at all or vent to the universe, I'm here. I will read every comment (even the spammy ones from places afar, because that's a thing!) but if you need anything, I'm here.

***

Real talk. 



I keep saying these #dailychallenge #dogtraining videos are for my students.
I'm slowly realizing they are for me, too.
In these videos are mistakes, mistakes I won't edit out because we all make mistakes. (Like in this one, forgetting to check the stability of a table before sending #CaptainLove up onto it for a proofing exercise.) I finished uploading all the training exercises for #NEDTC for classes to resume online for the foreseeable future, and some of the lessons for my #Everydog classes are also uploaded on my personal YouTube account, but as soon as the last video cleared the "processing" phase, I fell apart.

Socially isolated

There are jobs and there are JOBS. My job is my life, my passion. Communicating with students, working with animals, all of it is what makes life living for so many of us in the pet industry. The human connections I make through dog training isn't just a perk, it's necessary for my soul.

I am a teacher in my soul. Dogs give me a connection to people. A connection I love, crave and need as much as air or food.

So when the last video processed and I had nothing to complain about ("Why it's this taking so long?") or tinker with ("What's this button do?"), I had nothing left but to think about the new reality of being inside, like most of you.
I had time to think about my dear friend who is an ER doctor at the biggest hospital Boston, friends who are sick, my sister who works in a nursing home with the patients at the highest risk. My brother in the restaurant industry. I had time to think about my Dad sitting at home, him slowly realizing this isn't something bless out of proportion, but this is real life and death. Thinking about the kids in college who can't go home, or worse, have to go home even if they don't feel safe or can't get back into the US after because I suspect this is the next nail for xenophobia. And the people who will be forever touched by this novel virus.

So yes, these dog training videos are for you, my students and people who want to play along with me.

But I'm not going to lie. They are my anchor right now because without this connection, I feel like I'll become unmoored.

Helping students navigate the tunnel in last month's Tricks and Games class

Be safe out there. Check-in on your extrovert friends. Check on your hairdressers, dog walkers, dog trainers, veterinarians, doctors, parents, colleagues. Check on in your child's teachers, coaches, and Capoeira instructors. They are fueled by the same passion, and might appreciate a quick check in or virtual hug. 

In this isolation, we are not alone, and that's an important distinction.

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Twitter: @Muttstuff
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Youtube: Melissa McCue McGrath, CPDT-KA

9.17.2019

Environmental Considerations In Urban Dog Training

Have you ever wondered what it's like to see the city experience from your dog's perspective? 


Let's take hallways for example. Hallways are great for people. They are often the quickest way from point A to point B. If we're talking about a multiunit apartment building, then straight lines are the best way to put several units on a floor, then stack those floors above each other for maximum space usage, or maximizing the monthly income for the building owner.

When I see a hallway like the one below, I just think about how much fun it would be to rollerblade or skateboard down it.

These 400 square foot units would be approximately 7 billion dollars a month in my home city of Boston. 

However, this is perhaps more symbolic of the feeling dogs get walking down the hallway:


Consider what it would be like if there are doors that open (seemingly) randomly on both sides of a dog. That can be scary, especially if a kid jumps out screaming because she's hopped up on sugar. To a dog, it might look like people are popping out of the walls like the worst magic trick imaginable. There is nowhere to run, and assuming the dog is leashed, this can certainly add to the frustration. If there are two dogs walking towards each other, then you can imagine how things could escalate quickly for everyone.

Dogs can hear everything on the other side of each door with their sensitive hearing.

They can smell all the food created on the other side of each of these doors in addition to your neighbor's nail polish remover, or the cat box down the hall. All of this is undeniably overwhelming to a dog. 

Straight lines are essentially the third circle of hell for dogs, so hallways and sidewalks are just harder for dogs in many cases. 

Dogs do circles really well. Circles are just simply more polite. Exhibit A: 

dogs game show funny wheel of fortune butt sniff - 8140613632
Circles! 
But circles are not great for people as we think in lines when designing urban spaces. Back to hallways. If there is an elevator at the end of a hall, it might look like this to us: 

Pretty inviting for an elevator. 

However, to some dogs, this just looks like a trap. The doors open, people go in, then disappear. The dog might as well be walking right into this: 

Post image
Spoiler alert for Stranger Things, Season 3 

I have many clients who just can't get their puppy house-trained on the fifth floor because the puppy is too scared of the elevator. In addition to just getting into the doors, add the dropping sensation of what amounts to a moving box (flying coffin) the puppy is now trapped in. Each passing floor the puppy feels that sickening stomach drop story, by story, by story. Don't get me started on the kid who gets on the elevator with Axe Body Spray. 

How to teach your teen to use AXE body spray + a locker room printable


It's no wonder so many dogs struggle.

And this is just the living space! They all eventually have to venture outside where there are more straight lines, more noises, more traffic, and the worst of the worst to dogs everywhere: Skateboards by the dozens.

Because of these considerations and unique issues we are finding in urban dog training, Susan Smith of Raising Canine has invited me back to speak! This time, I've been invited to present on specific issues relating to training dogs in more populated environments. If you are working as a dog training professional in the city, everything you know as a dog trainer might go out of the 7th story window.

If you are a dog trainer interested on taking clients in the city, or if you are looking for some creative workarounds for common urban dog training issues, please feel free to join the webinar! It'll be October 2nd, 2019, at 10:30 Central (11:30 Eastern). I like to have fun with my presentations, as you can see.

Susan also has other webinars, many are free, some with CEUs, from top professionals like Jennifer Shryock (Family Paws, a resource I recommend to every new parent with dogs); Ian Dunbar; Teoti Anderson; Jolanta Benal; Jean Donaldson, and Nicole Wilde to name a few.

So, grab your autumnal beverage of choice, click on the link, and let's talk all things #citydog from the comfort of wherever you prefer to watch the internet. 

6.14.2019

It Started As A Joke...

During the #Train4Rewards blog party, there was a quick aside on a Twitter thread.




But then, I walked Captain and all I could think about was what WOULD this listicle look like if he wrote that piece for Huffpo? I mean, for something like this, there would need to be a strong perspective, a youthful voice and gifs. SO MANY GIFS.


Huffington Post - ENTERTAINMENT

15 Reasons You Should Let Me Roll In Goose Shit

By: Captain Love McGrath, Urban Dog Beat Reporter

You know the drill. Your owner gives you a bath and then cuts up the equivalent of 17 hot dogs as some sort of forgiveness tax, but it doesn't work. Dogs have RIGHTS, and I'm here to lay it out, right here, right now why we should - nay - have the RIGHT to roll in goose shit. Humans, listen up, because it's about to get reeeeeaaaaally real all up in here.
  1.  My nose is better than yours: Sure, it smells bad to you, but it doesn't to us. We have a more powerful nose, so we know what a good smell is vs. a bad one. I'll leave you to opening peanut butter jars, you leave the odors to me.



  2.  I'm not doing meth: Seriously. I could be doing doggy meth instead and end up in one of those Florida Dog memes (it's like Florida Man, but with dogs. Look it up).



  3. Urban dogs need to feel connected to nature: You humans do this by deep meditative breathing and focusing on a photo of a cabin in New Hampshire. I live in the same 600 square foot apartment you do, and I can't see colors (at least, not meaningful ones to you - photos don't do it for me, hunny). I can, however, connect with nature in a different way. By rolling in goose shit.

  4. Hypocrite: You have goose feathers in your jacket. Why can't I have a little goose in MY coat?


  5. I Don't Tell You How To Have Fun: I have seen what you call fun. You either stare at a screen, or drink that weird stuff and sing tragically off key to old Cher albums when you think no one is listening. I'm listening. It's offensive to my ears. I can't open the door and leave - because, no thumbs. This is ALL I HAVE.



  6. Instinct: Sometimes I just see it and I have to have it. I can't explain it. I have no idea what I'm doing, but it's great.


  7. Geese are tough. I mean, look at how mean these guys are. They take NO guff, not even from cows. COWS. Cows are bigger by like, a million per cent. Furrrrreal.




    If I can smell like a goose, maybe they'll be nicer to us when we walk by on our nightly walk. Just sayin'. I'm just trying to save your life by rolling in pieces of feces.
  8. I have no idea what I'm doing: Are you still reading this? Seriously? I mean, I thought you'd quit at Hypocrite...



  9. Parasites never hurt anyone:
    Wait, actually, they do. Have a gif of BoJack Horseman.



  10. You have your preferred Goose:  I have mine. And it's shit.



  11. This Simpsons gif: I'm a dog, and typing is hard. Have a Simpsons gif.



  12. All those times YOU came home smelling of goose: After Merideth's bacherlorette party, after your 30th birthday, after the break up from whats-his-butt-I-think-it-was-Josh? And you came to bed, stinking of it, and I STILL curled up next to you.




    I NEVER JUDGED YOU. I roll in one little goose poo, and it's bath time. Sheesh!
  13. I could resort to other tactics, but choose not to: Like, I was born with a particular set of skills, MAD SKILLZ, and I don't go around using those skills on things you love. But, I could, if I were that kind of dog, use these skills if I didn't get my way. ImmaJustSayin'.



  14. Whenever I see goose shit, I have feelings. Real feelings. Like, whenever I see goose shit, smell goose shit, it makes my heart go aflutter and I want to scream from the rooftops, "I Love You, Goose Shit! I LOOOOOOOVE YOOOOOOU!"



  15. But more than anything, I just really want to feel loved in return.


     
___________

Before you go, check out more Huffpo pieces, like: 
What Type of Carrot Best Describes Your Sex Life

And

Rage Rage Rage IT'S ALL BURNING Rage Rage Rage

And

Meet Denver Zoo's Same Sex Flamingo Couple, Lance Bass and Freddie Mercury*

(*actually, the last one is totally real and is super sweet.