Biting dogs...

by Steph Mahrle

It is possible to be involved in an abusive relationship with a dog. If you find yourself making excuses for your dog’s dangerous and/or unpredictable behavior, there’s a chance you’re in an abusive relationship. When you’re ready for change, schedule with a balanced dog trainer. Help is available.


Fabulous Five Dog Walking Tips

by Steph Mahrle

Here are my fabulous five pro tips for a relatively chill walk with your dogs. 

1. Before you even touch their training equipment (dog leashes, e-collars, prong collars etc.) Let the dog(s) out, for potty break first. Once both of my dogs poop, I will start prepping myself for their walk. I live in the burbs now, so garbage cans are few and far between. I am not a fan of schlepping bags of poop around. If you get the potty shenanigans out of the way first, you can all focus on the walk, instead of marking up the neighborhood. -For the folks that live in the city, I suggest going to your dog's typical potty spot, before starting your walk. Dogs love routine. Meet those basic needs first. 

2. Walk in an area that is busy (if you can). I gravitate to walking on streets where there is reliable traffic for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the dog can practice heeling in an area with a fair amount of distractions, and secondly, people in residential neighborhoods that live on busy roads are less likely to leave their dogs out and unattended in their front lawns. That means a lesser chance of a surprising dog-on-dog confrontation. 

3. Don't be a hero. If you see someone else walking their dog, cross the street. I do this everyday as I walk my own dogs. Trained dogs are rare. Suburban dogs see other dogs on leash, less frequently and as a result, they tend to be reactive (barking, lunging, growling etc). Just avoid threading the needle, be a courteous neighbor, protect your dog from the excited dog and keep on walking. -Remember your goal is to walk, not stop and kibbutz with every furry character and person you encounter. It's BAD ADVICE to make your dog sit and feed it "high value" stuff as it watches another dog walk by. 

4. Ear buds! I use my music wisely. If I'm on a stretch of the walk where I don't really need to do a lot of listening to my surroundings, I rock out. Lately, I've been really into Die Antword. Totally off topic but they're weird, and sometimes, I like a lil weirdness in my life. My point is, sometimes music can be a great accompaniment to the dog walking experience. Sometimes it's a drag though. Things like traffic, runners, and even off leash dogs can pop up out of nowhere...especially if you're rocking out and not hearing any incoming distractions. If you're confident you and your dog can hustle through surprises, cool! Ear bud-it-UP! 🙂 If your dog has more nuanced behavioral issues, I still recommend putting ear buds in, just don't turn your music on. Decoy ear buds make you look like you're listening to something, this way you look somewhat unapproachable. Other people are less likely to interrupt your walk. 

5. If you've got a dog that has massive issues with people and/or dogs, avoid walking the dog between 12 am and 3:30 am. Some of the most gangsta, dangerous, unbalanced dogs I have trained with were walked during those's not super safe out there. Schedule training with a balanced trainer near you. That way, you'll get actual results and be able to walk with your dog during daylight. 
Those are my fabulous five walking suggestions! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out. I'm happy to help with suggestions to improve your walking experiences.

How to address aggressive dog behavior / anxious dog behavior

by Steph Mahrle

Too much, too easy, too soon. Ever hear that phrase? It's an old school phrase which typically was applied to spoiled children. In this instance, I'm referring to dogs. 🙂 Humor me. Spoiling your dog endlessly will not lead your dog toward better behavior. I know because I tried the spoiling method, and failed. Miserably. My current structured lifestyle with my dogs allows my dogs to experience more freedom, and spend more quality time with my family and I, than I could have ever imagined with my first dog Karma. People reach out to me for training advice daily, struggling to cope with really horrible aggressively behaved dogs, and the answers are in these ten steps.

1) Crate train the dog. The dog should be able to sleep for eight hours in its crate overnight, and should be crated when you are not present to interrupt bad behaviors. 2) Avoid providing the dog with unearned affection, talking directly to the dog, dolling out treats, playing with toys scattered around your home, and avoid excitement in general. 3) Teach the "place" command. 4) Don't worry about walking your dog, if your dog has aggressive and/or anxious behavior outside on leash, letting the dog practice that aggressive and/or anxious behavior isn't working to resolve the bad behavior. Instead, begin calm, quiet obedience training indoors without distractions. 5) The dog needs to hold long durations of the "place" command, and/or the "down" command. The idea is for the dog to get into the habit of doing nothing, on command, until released from the command by you. 6) If your obedience is tight enough, testing your dog outside with distractions will be very easy. If you find it hard, return to obedience training in your home. Tighten that up. The dog shouldn't break command unless released. Then, retest outside with distractions. 7) Continue a life of structure, if you loosen up on structure, your dog will let you know right away if they can't handle excitement, affection, playing, or other freedoms. 8) Always do what the dog NEEDS, and not what you WANT. Everyone wants to pet the fur off their dog, snuggle the bejesus out of them on the couch, and excitedly greet them by rolling around on the floor the instant they arrive home from work. Not every dog can handle that level of excitement, affection, and/or freedom. Make a conscious effort to give your dog what he/she needs, and avoid doing the easy stuff that makes you immediately feel good. 9) Be at peace with your dogs limitations. Not every dog is a super easygoing muffin of a dog to spend time with. 10) Set goals, and work toward them together. If you find you're all struggling with implementing a life of structure, contact a balanced dog trainer, that can help guide you and your dog through a behavior modification program.

E-Collar Training A Puppy

by Steph Mahrle

If you've ever thought that training your puppy on an e-collar would make your puppy fearful, shut down, and/or aggressive, take a minute to watch me working my own personal seven month-old puppy Cricket.