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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

A common concern I receive from parents is their dog ignores their small child (from toddler through grade school, even high school). Whether it is the dog pulling on sleeves and pants or jumping on the children, the bottom line is the dog isn’t listening to anything the child is saying.

Most kids only know how to be kids. Kids are loud, fast, darty, bouncy, goofy, and confusing. All of this is interpreted by the dog in a million different ways. Here are a few of the biggest mistakes I see kids making:

Run Away. Of course a kid isn’t standing there while his dog jumps, nips or chases. The child is going to do what his DNA says to do. Run Away! However, this speaks as more fun for the dog! Instead, we teach children to Be A Tree, while calling or counting loudly. A cue to a parent to intervene quickly. Stop, look at your feet, fold your hands. Start calling loudly to parent. Dogs don’t chase trees. Be A Tree.

Yelling. I frequently hear kids yelling. First they are yelling just because kids can be naturally loud. But that turns into yelling cues to the dog or yelling at the dog to stop the unwanted. Or yelling louder because the dog is ignoring them, but the dog has tuned out the yelling.

Rapid Fire Cues. I hear parents faulty of this but I hear nearly 100% of kids rapid fire at their dog. “Fido! Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit Sit. Fido! Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit. Sit!” Usually including a finger point or sometimes a sharp finger to the dog’s shoulder. The dog tunes out the rapid fire cues, I would tune you out too, if you said, “have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch, have a seat on the couch.”

What a dog trainer’s kid does: I started guiding my Little on proper training and interactions around 18 months old with our Hadley, our Yellow Labrador. Up until this point, there was non-stop management and re-direction to keep both kid and dog safe.

Height helps. I used a 2 level step stool. The height helps the kid have some confidence and keeps safe distances from dog to eliminate silly kid reactions if the dog does something unexpected. She would run through our dog’s behaviors with my guidance. Kids love to help with training sessions because they think its magnificent when the dog listens to them. The height also helps the dog learn high value kid treats are tossed to the floor so dog will learn to keep space from kid and turn focus to floor once kid is on the floor.

Delivering cues. She uses both hand cues and verbal cues together. Then she would use only hand and then only verbal. Then she would squeal when Hadley would respond. Ha!

Ask/Wait. My Little learned on the first training session from her stop stool, We ask Hadley ONCE then count to 5 before we ask again. We never rapid fire cues.

Kiss A Hip. My Little always offers our pup love in the morning when she wakes and in the evening before bed, but she will always kiss/hug Hadley’s hip. Never Hadley’s face or mouth. Never her nose or feet. She shows respect to our dog by kissing the least offensive or intimidating part of the dog. The back end!

Stranger Dogs. My daughter would never run up to any dog. She knows to ask permission from the owner before touching. She know to let the dog approach her because not all dogs want to be pet. She knows to pet on the shoulders or hips.

As soon as your child is old enough to understand what you are communicating to them in life, teach them to properly communicate to a dog!

You can contact Amber Walker at (630) 53-PUPPY, or visit her website


Now that we’ll be hitting the springtime streets (with some seriously built-up winter cabin fever!) I wanted to remind dog owners of some basic behaviors all dogs in every household should know. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve been in the dog training business for so long that I’ve developed a different perspective on “common sense” commands. For instance, this morning I helped my neighbors retrieve their dog who had run away. They’ve never actually trained him on a recall command. When I asked about this, they said “ well, he should just know what to do.” It would be wonderful if this were true for all of our canine companions – but the truth is, almost no pup simply “just knows” without some kind of focused, dedicated training effort!

I have a surprising number of clients tell me, “I just want a good dog like my friends have, but I don’t want to actually do any of the training.” Now, there’s nothing wrong with hiring a trainer to assist in training – or even to conduct the majority of the training — but that statement still shocks me. It’s like saying, “I just want good kids, but I don’t actually want to raise them.” Every interaction with your dog is a teachable moment. And it doesn’t matter how good your trainer is if you undo all the training at home.

Training Basics

Smart and loyal as they are, NO dog will ever “automatically” learn key commands without focused training. But enlisting the expertise of a professional trainer — and including healthy, yummy treats like Cloud Star Tricky Trainers — can make training a fun and rewarding experience any time of year!

So here (in no particular order) are the behaviors that I think every dog, in every household, should know — because each behavior is so important when it comes to general safety and being a good family member:

  • Sit: This is how dogs say “please.” Your dog should learn to sit automatically for everything: doors, treats, dinner, curbs, etc.
  • Target via Nose Touch: This means any dog body part (like their nose) touching any object (like your hand). This behavior is a way to move your dog anywhere via your hand — including from a distance, like a recall.
  • Recall: This is coming when called. Your dog should be able to come to you from a minimum of 20 feet away, from any location.
  • Stay: This means don’t move, or don’t follow me. Stay is usually a stationary behavior in a Sit, Down, or Stand position. It’s very important that your dog knows what it means to stay in one spot.
  • Leash Walking: All dogs should know how to walk politely on a loose, “J”-shaped leash. This is not a Heel — just a relaxed walk that is enjoyable for all.
  • Leave It Alone: This is not “Drop.” It’s used when dogs are headed toward something they should not have – a proactive way to request that your dog not interact with an object.
  • Drop: This is not “Leave It.” It’s used when your dog has already acquired something. The dog is holding an object in his mouth, and you now are asking him to release it and give it to you.
  • Mat/Relax: This is a “go to your bed or mat” behavior that is portable – meaning it can be used when going to the vet, a company picnic, a neighborhood barbeque, etc. The key to this behavior is step 2: teaching your dog to relax on the mat, which basically becomes your dog’s safety blanket. This command teaches dogs that they do not have to get stressed over things — they have a choice to relax.
  • Lie Down: When your dog is lying down, it’s much harder for him to engage in any unwanted behaviors. It also takes more effort to move from a “Down” position, so your dog is more likely to stay there longer.

So now that the warmer weather is upon us, head over to your local Two Bostons, grab some healthy training treats, and let’s get training! It’s one of the best things you can do to ensure a safe and happy Spring — and it keeps yielding benefits all year long.



Most of us over the age of 16 drive a car, and most of us know how to interpret a traffic signal: Green means go. Red means stop. Yellow means caution.

Tara Palardy, a dog trainer Alberta, Canada, realized that some dogs require extra space and caution when being approached. There are lots of reasons this might be the case – maybe the dog is recovering from surgery, or is older and arthritic, or is a small dog terrified of larger dogs; or maybe the dog is too young to have had sufficient obedience training. In some cases, the dog is a shelter or rescue pet who has been abused or neglected, and struggles with pronounced anxiety among humans. These types of dogs are not necessarily aggressive, but very often contend with ongoing issues of fear or discomfort.

Tara realized that fostering an understanding of these special needs could help enhance the safety and well-being of dogs and humans alike. So in 2012 she began a movement to identify “Yellow Dogs” – in other words, dogs requiring a little extra caution, a little extra space. The Yellow Dog Project has since blossomed into a global initiative to assist these dogs and their pet parents. Its central goal is to educate the public (dog owners and non-owners alike) about how to approach these dogs in an appropriate way that helps them feel more comfortable and secure. It also helps pet parents to recognize when a dog they own may qualify as a Yellow Dog.



Yellow Dogs are not necessarily aggressive dogs — they simply require a little extra space, compassion and TLC.

As a not-for profit organization, The Yellow Dog Project oversees educational initiatives that help us humans understand why it’s generally smart to get permission from a dog owner before initiating contact with any dog. It also promotes the use of special yellow ribbons that identify Yellow Dogs as needing some extra space; and encourages pet parents to develop relationships with local positive-reinforcement trainers as a proactive way to assist their beloved pets. All of the monies and donations raised by The Yelllow Dog Project are used to purchase additional ribbon material, representative tee shirts, and educational posters for display.

If you’d like to get involved with The Yellow Dog project, you can download additional details directly by visiting This site allows you to sign up as a volunteer, make donations, and access helpful resources designed to assist with the unique challenges of Yellow Dog ownership. The organization’s Facebook page is listed as “The Yellow Dog Project” and it can be found on Twitter at @yellowdogproj.

Do you have a Yellow Dog? Do you have firsthand suggestions for interacting with a Yellow Dog, or for helping to make these special pets feel more comfortable and secure? Share with us below!



The Yellow Dog Project uses special yellow ribbons to alert and educate people about dogs who just require some extra understanding.

Well, the time is arrived. My baby shower was last weekend which means a zillion new things have come into the this house that my Hadley has never seen before OR that look identical to the toys she already has (minus the bone chew toys!). She has spent this entire week, trying to get into all the boxes and bags to get a “closer look.” A close tie between the “Singing Stork” and baby socks seems to be her favorites so far.
We’ve been able to “Leave It” and re-direct for everything but there are nearly 50 new boxes & bags filled with 100 new items in every room of the house so there is a lot of Leave It’s and re-directing.
My maternity leave begins very soon (maybe sooner than later if baby keeps painfully kicking my ribs. I wrote a few emails yesterday and thought I had just run a 5K! Making a baby is exhausting.).
But maternity leave will not be eating peeled grapes while my husband fans me with palm frons. My maternity leave will be training my 9 year old yellow lab to accept all the new stuff that’s come into this house. First on my list: Polite Leash Walking next to the…STROLLER!
Hadley has a great walk, but can she maintain that walk while a giant City Mini GT is walking next to her? Not sure yet. But I am not going to wait for there to be a baby girl inside to find out. We will be taking mock walks with doggie and stroller. But beyond the stroller, there is more training to be had.
Training ahead of time:
-Look At That game (created by Leslie McDevitt author of Control Unleashed) on all toys that are similar to hers and all noise-making toys that look more fun than hers.
-We have the car seat, lets get it in the car and then load up Hadley too in her “new” car riding location- way in the back!
-Research other Hadley activity options for mental and physical stimulation such as doggy daycare or neighborhood play dates. Plus, Hadley will need a baby break.
Training once baby arrives:
This is our first baby, so I don’t know exactly what will need to take place but I have a good idea…
-Dan will bring home a blanket of the baby’s smell before baby comes home for Hadley to check out.
– When we return from the hospital, Hadley will be eager to greet us so I’ll likely hand off baby to Dan and greet her calmly and alone. Then Dan and I will switch. Then she’ll likely go with someone else + treats to another room so we can get baby stuff inside.
-After the initial greeting, Hadley can come sit next to the baby and get treats for being appropriate so she has a positive association with the “alien” that’s just entered her home. I think it goes without saying that ALL interactions are supervised.
-We’ll try to keep somewhat of Hadley’s routing normal- but perhaps unrealistic!
-Hadley will get 1 on 1 time everyday to avoid the need of “attention seeking behaviors.”
-Hadley will participate in the activities I researched ahead of time like day care!
And look for my Post Baby Blog to address all the things I will be learning about co-existing dogs and babies!
Good luck to you new moms out there!!! And quite frankly, good luck to us :o)