Callie and Bandit Enjoy a Visit

July 17th, 2013


Callie Golden Retriever is an amazingly social dog — probably more social than any other dog I’ve had.  She has lots of people friends and doggie friends, and she just loves to make new friends.   She isn’t indiscriminate in picking her friends.  She has a strong sense for which people and dogs will work for her.  For example, she generally avoids poodles, who don’t seem to care too much about Golden Retrievers.  But a Golden Retriever puppy that looks like Callie?  Perfect!  Bandit is about six months old and very calm for a puppy.  She and Callie had a wonderful visit at the Lake Arrowhead Village.  Which, by the way, is a great place to socialize dogs.  Bandit’s mom brings her to the village several times a week, just so Bandit can meet other dogs.  How smart is that?  Good #dogbonding and good doggie socializing.  Don’t forget the #dogbonding conversation on Twitter!


David Frei, Co-Host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on the “My Doggie Says…” Show

February 13th, 2013

Here is David Frei, co-host of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show, on the “My Doggie Says… Show.”


DogStars: How to Turn Your Dog into a Movie Star: Podcast with Georgina Bradley, of

July 30th, 2012

Georgina Bradley, certified professional dog trainer, is the founder and backbone of  Her training center in Vancouver, British Columbia, not only turns out DogStars, it helps them find opportunities to show off their stuff.  For example, Georgina helped train the dogs for the 1995 movie, “101 Dalmations.”  In this podcast, Georgina explains some of the basic training required for a dog to become aDogStar, and she teaches you how to train your dog to do the “eye line” trick, a key behavior for a dogstar.

Here’s Georgina on the “My Doggie Says… Show.”


Making Doggie Friends at Lake Arrowhead Village

July 12th, 2012

Callie Golden Retriever loves to make friends at Lake Arrowhead Village — both people friends and doggie friends.  Yesterday, she sat patiently with Cody, a lovely Australian Shepherd puppy, while Barbara and I had lunch at the waffle restaurant.  The restaurant has some nice outdoor seating, so Callie can sit in the shade just a few feet away from us while we eat brunch — at the edge of Lake Arrowhead.

You don’t have to watch a dog for very long, sometimes, to get a feel for its personality.  Well, Cody was really fun to watch.  He’s just full of beans and energy.  Inquisitive.  Friencly.  Non-threatening.  But very confident.  He’ll be a great, well-socialized adult.

Callie loved Cody, but that’s not unusual.  Callie, too, is an incredibly well socialized doggie.  It’s especially fun to see her interact with smaller dogs, because she plays a very humble and submissive role.  She tries to make herself smaller (lower) than the other dog, and it pretty much always works!

Should Your Child Have a Dog?

April 30th, 2012

Should your child have a dog?

Dog-human relationships can be very special, but nothing surpasses the dog-bond that can occur between a child and a dog.

Research  has shown that petting a dog increases levels of oxytocin in both the human and the dog. Oxytocin is the hormone that helps bond a nursing mother to her baby. It has a calming effect, which can contribute to the bond between a person and a dog.

This effect may be one reason that it can be invaluable for a child with Down syndrome to have a dog. John Barczak, a fifteen year old boy with Down syndrome, has a five-year old rescue Maltese dog named Alex. In this article, dog trainer Sarah Rothberger says, “There’s also something very tactile about dogs for people with disabilities. It improves the way people feel. It de-stresses them.” (Click here to read the full article at

Just the idea of trying to understand dog communication had a very life-changing effect on an autistic child who studied the photographs in “My Doggie Says…” The student’s teacher, in an elementary school in Cleveland, Ohio, used the book to get her normally non-communicative student to begin to relate to Jamie’s “messsages.” The teacher felt that the experience had a profound positive effect on the student.

I also see this “de-stressing” effect when my granddaughter Lauren visits with Callie Golden Retriever. Lauren loves to snuggle with Callie and to pretend she is Callie’s vet. Actually, Lauren, age seven, has declared that she wants to be a vet when she grows up. This positive feeling toward dogs probably started with Lauren’s relationship with Jamie Golden Retriever, heroine of “My Doggie Says… Messages from Jamie.” Here’s a photo of Lauren, at age two years, “experimenting” with Jamie.

On a recent trip to the east coast, I got to watch grandnephew Ferris interact with his new golden labrador retriever, Cooper. You can see from this photo how Cooper has tapped into Ferris’s positive reactions to touching Cooper. In this photo, you can feel the “de-stressing” of Ferris and Cooper’s relationship at work. (Ferris has no shortage of energy.)

One lesson I have learned is that children do not always have good instincts about how to deal with a dog. Granddaughter Amelia, two years old at the time, was very afraid of Callie’s exuberant displays of affection. When Callie approached Amelia, Amelia would turn and run, which, of course made matters worse with Callie. With a few hours of help from a professional dog trainer, we solved this problem. Amelia just had to learn to “stand up” to Callie. Once she learned to ignore Callie’s aggressive behavior, Amelia and Callie settled into a playful and loving relationship.

With a little special effort and dog training, you can help a child experience the joys of having a strong dog-bond with “man’s best friend.”

How to Train Your Dog To Respond Properly When Someone Knocks at the Door

March 12th, 2012

How do you train your dog to respond to a knock on the door or a ringing doorbell?

This has been a difficult issue with Callie Golden Retriever. I think a knock at the door presents her with a doggie dilemma: Who’s there? Is it a friend or a foe? Callie is as people-social as any dog I’ve been around. So I’m sure she thinks one of her friends might be at the door.

On the other hand, she’s very protective, so she has to be concerned about strangers coming to the door.

My approach to this dog training challenge has been to train Callie to “sit” when someone comes to the door. Sometimes the excitement of the moment overtakes her training, but she’s doing pretty well.

I am often impressed, though, at how clever professional dog trainers can be at solving these kinds of dog behavior problems. In this article, Lisa Moore talks about an interesting approach. She trains her dogs to go to a special place when she commands them to. And she is constantly knocking on the door to “desensitize” her dogs to the sound.

Seems like a good way to train your dog so it doesn’t cause problems when someone comes to the door.

Dog-And-Human Relationships: Articles Offer Food For Thought

March 1st, 2012

An essential ingredient for truly enjoying your dog is creating a strong “dog-and-human” relationship.  It’s the focus we put on “dog bonding.”  Having a close bond with your dog — based on trust and frequent mutually satisfying interaction — is much more enriching that simply walking your dog, feeding it, and learning to control its behavior.

Here are some articles that might give you some fresh ideas about how to strengthen your “dog-and-human” relationships.

In an article in The Bark, “Building the Dog-Human Bond,” Victoria Schade emphasizes the importance of “trust, mutual respect and regard.”  Victoria, by the way, was a guest on the “My Doggie Says…” show on March 3, 2011.  (Click here to hear her interview)  Here’s Victoria’s article in “The Bark.”

This article, from “ohmidog!,” describes three different kinds of dog-and-human relationships.  Which one are  you?

This article titled “The Human-Dog Bond,” by Joyce Kesling (Responsible Dog and Cat). talks about how your dog-and-human relationship can influence your dog’s behavior.

Here’s an intriguing article, “Dog-Human Relationship & Communications,” that talks about the history of dog-human interaction and makes some non-intuitive observations about how dogs interpret our emotions and behavior.  You might be surprised.

So much of dog training — books, TV programs, and professional advice — are aimed at helping you control — or demand obedience from — your dog.  But in my own experience — supported by interviews with hundreds of dog trainers, authors and dog owners — suggests that the most rewarding experience of a dog comes to people who have the strongest dog-and-human relationships with their pets.

Dogs Like Structure — Video Of Callie’s Five Daily Soccer Rituals

February 27th, 2012

We know that dogs like structure.  They seem to be at their best in comfortable surroundings and familiar situations.  I think that, given the opportunity, they even invent their own structure.  Callie has certainly done that with her Lake Arrowhead swimming routine — jump from the dock, retrieve the Frisbee, swim ashore, drop the Frisbee to shake off, grab the Frisbee and race back out on the boat dock to do it all again.

In this video, you’ll see the five “ritual” behaviors that are part of Callie’s (and my) daily soccer game.  First, the “invitation” to play.  Second, doing “nosers,” or “bonking” the ball off her nose.  Third, playing “keep away,” so I can’t pick the ball up and end the game.  Fourth, “begging” to keep playing.  And, finally, “high-five” to say, “good game!”

Video of Dog Swimming (1:19): Callie’s Superbowl Sunday Swim

February 22nd, 2012

It’s always fun to watch a dog swimming.  It’s Callie’s favorite thing to do at Lake Arrowhead.

She jumps off the boat dock, swims out to retrieve her Frisbee, swims ashore, and brings her Frisbee back to the boat dock for another toss.

The water temperature wasn’t too bad — about 43 degrees.  The humans had their “polar bear” swim that day, so we know it wasn’t too cold for dog swimming.  But when Callie got out of the water, we were careful to dry her off as quickly as possible and get her back into a warm and cozy place.

When Callie climbs out of the lake, she’s pretty far from the camera, but notice how she picks up her Frisbee and brings it back out on the dock.  It’s part of her dog training, and it’s a great behavior.

What better way to bond with your dog than to help it do one of its favorite things?

A Rescue Dog Gets A Great Job — “On Toby’s Terms” with Charmaine Hammond

January 27th, 2012

Charmaine Hammond’s rescue dog, Toby, got off to a pretty bad start — by turning Charmaine’s house totally upside down.  But, with help from an animal communicator, Charmaine solved Toby’s behavior problems and turned him into a rescue dog with a mission in life.

Rescue Dog with a Super Job

Here’s Charmaine’s description of how Toby, the rescue dog, would enter a hospital and announce his presence — with a couple of loud barks.  And how Toby has some special instincts about how he can help each patient he interacts with.


Here’s Charmaine talking about “On Toby’s Terms.”  It’s really a great story about a rescue dog, an animal behaviorist, and a creative and very effective solution to a dog behavior problem.