November 2016 clients

November was another month filled with wonderful clients. It certainly helped me move past the loss of our beloved Uma, may she rest in peace. It has been bittersweet and emotional, and it’s still hard to believe she’s gone. I want to thank all my clients, colleagues and friends who have supported me this month through this loss. I am surrounded by so much love and positivity, and I am grateful!

You can view all our amazing November doggy clients by clicking on the below photo icons to go to our Flickr album; if you click on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon), you can view them in a fun slideshow format. Don’t forget to LIKE and follow our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts; we’d love to interact with you there!

Barney Gretel Lola Dieter Stella Gulliver Stout Parker Murphy and Kerry Sam Morrie Mueller, Kona and Ziggy Bronco Gyrus Leo Roo Winnie Riley Goldi Mochalatte and Katie Strider and Guillermo

Thank you!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Barney the golden retriever

Congratulations to our November client spotlight, Barney the golden retriever!


Barney says, Autumn is amazing!

Barney was born at the end of February this year but he has learned TONS in his very short life! His formal name is Barnabas Digger, Son of Paloma, and he is a English cream golden retriever who is in training to be a therapy dog. He knows how to sit, lie down, stay and come, and he is getting better and better at learning how to control his impulses and deal with distractions. On a recent visit to Aspen Grove, he impressed many shoppers!

Not only is Barney an amazing learner, he is also a consummate charmer. He adores everyone and enjoys all the simple pleasures in life, like chasing a ball, going for a dip in the fountain, and getting lots and lots of belly rubs and butt scratches! He has this funny little quirk, the same one my dog Jasper has, of putting his head down on the ground and extending his butt upwards to get a good scratch! He’s really funny and loving, and you can’t be in a bad mood when Barney’s around!

Barney is a very lucky boy to have such great parents who are very diligent and consistent with training, and he will be an excellent therapy dog! We plan to take his Canine Good Citizen Test early next year. He will no doubt spread LOTS of love and joy to anyone who needs it.

We really appreciate Barney and his delightful parents for choosing us to help with their training needs. It’s been a lot of fun working with them and seeing this pup grow not only in physical nature, but mental nature. Courtney and her dog, Greta May, recently assisted in helping us with teaching him how to walk calmly past other dogs, and she couldn’t believe how great he already is–we all know it can be very hard for friendly retrievers to not want to say hi to everyone!–and he has been doing an excellent job.

Keep up the great work, Barney!🙂
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Rest in peace, sweet Uma, dear teacher and friend

Yesterday we finally said goodbye to our MaxFund foster dog, Uma.


Such a pretty girl

It was a typical morning; all the dogs had finished breakfast and we were relaxing before taking morning walks. I was on the couch with Hidalgo and Uma. Suddenly Uma raised herself quickly and in such a way as I hadn’t seen before; she typically has twitches and acts strangely due to her being an old dog with neurological issues, but this was different. Her head and ears were extended so straight and upright that her head looked like that of a Great Dane. Thinking it would probably pass, as most things do for her, I asked her if she was ok, pet her, and went back to reading something, but it didn’t pass.

Worried she would have a seizure soon, I put her on the bed on the floor while Chris, my husband, readied the Diazepam. It was apparent at this point that she had lost function of her back legs. Something was definitely wrong—she kept moving her mouth in strange ways, and her head was wobbling. I got treats and she couldn’t seem to even follow them. Her eyesight was at least partially gone, and even her sense of smell seemed off. Yet, she wasn’t having a full-blown seizure. I called the MaxFund clinic right away and was told to bring her in.


Happier times with brother Jasper at Garden of the Gods

I carried her into the clinic and the tech agreed that it was probably time for her to go, after we went through what had been happening. At one point while she was on the exam table, she leaned over and her nose landed on the table, and she just let it be there, supporting her head. I’ve seen some really weird stuff at times but this loss of function was some of the weirdest. We put her back on the floor and I waited there with her for a doctor to come in an assess her. I called Chris and told him to come down right away. I just kept petting her and telling her how much I loved her, as she went in and out of sleeping and trying to “come to.” At one point she was so still I thought she might go ahead and leave, and told her it was fine to go.

The doctor who assessed her said her heart sounded much worse and that there wasn’t much they could do for her. We knew it was best to let her go. Likely her heart would fail, and that may be why she had been losing weight. (We had been trying to figure out why she had lost 10 pounds since March but only had some blood work done and were working on scheduling an ultrasound.)

Chris showed up and we spent some time with her before we ultimately watched her leave us, very peacefully, with help from the very caring doctor and tech.

Uma was our foster dog, but she was truly OUR dog.


A wonderful moment between Uma and Chris

I met Uma at the MaxFund shelter back in January 2012. I had been coming in to work on training with the dogs, as I was in the beginning stages of learning dog training, and I was going there very regularly. I had also decided to help with washing dogs. I was getting ready to leave one day when I saw her in a kennel—her beauty struck me right away, and many people know I have a bit of a penchant for good-looking herders. I asked a fellow volunteer, “Who is this?!” and found out that Uma had been found left alone in a local dog park, no one to claim her. Some good Samaritans took her in and tried to find her people to no avail, and ended up bringing her in to MaxFund. She had a very gnarly case of arthritis in her front legs, and a bad hot spot on front right paw. No doubt that spot was getting worse, waiting in a shelter kennel.

The following week I went back to see who needed baths. Uma’s was the only name on the list. I gave her a bath and a tech helped me trim her nails. She was such a sweet girl. I knew I had to get her out of there, though I wasn’t committed to adopting, so I convinced Chris to bring her home as a foster, and we did, on February 5, 2012. I was told by the vet that she was probably at least 13 or 14, and that she would maybe have another year or two of life, by how advanced her arthritis was.

Uma’s arthritis and bad heart (congenital heart murmur) were all she really had when we first brought her home. She and my dog, Jasper, who was a little over a year old at the time, got along well, playing in the snow in the yard. While she would still be limited by how bad the arthritis was, she never let it hold her back. We were able to take her out on short romps in the mountains (nothing too long or too strenuous!) and go for nice walks in town, and she and Jasper did love to play every so often.


Jasper and Uma play

In late March we were contacted by potential adopters. We did a home visit and they had a great home and seemed to be a perfect fit. The only concern I had were some stairs that weren’t blocked off, and told them they would need to install a door or a very good gate to ensure she didn’t try to go down them and fall; her arthritis made it impossible for her to navigate stairs safely. She was formally adopted by them and we took in another foster, but about six weeks later I got a call from the shelter saying she had been returned, and her front right leg was broken. Apparently the new family had installed a gate, but after coming home one day, found it broken and her at the bottom of the stairs. They returned her because they claimed she had more health issues than we had disclosed, and couldn’t care for her.

I was just anxious to get her back into my home. She had to stay in the shelter a few days so they could clear her medically to be back in my care, so I visited her every day there and told her I was sorry she had to be there, that I would be back to get her out. When we did get her back on May 3, we had to be careful as she was about 20 pounds overweight! With her broken leg/arthritis, we put her on a diet and once the leg was healed, she was able to get enough exercise and lose the weight.

About two weeks after we got her back, I was staying at a client’s home for an overnight pet sitting gig when Chris called me at about 2:30 in the morning. Uma was having convulsions and foaming at the mouth. I told him it was a seizure and to just wait it out, and to get her to an emergency facility, which he did. She had a grand mall seizure, the first we’d ever witnessed. We aren’t sure what started them, but perhaps a bump to the head falling down the stairs, or perhaps that is what caused her to crash through the gate and fall down the stairs—we aren’t sure—but this was the first we knew of, and we started her on meds to control them.


Lovin’ the belly rubs!

By October of that same year, I was noticing behavior changes in Uma as well. She’d always done fine around other dogs, and I would occasionally take her to dog parks, where she would usually stay to herself, sniffing around the parameter, or just lying down. She wasn’t one to play with lots of dogs, only Jasper occasionally. However, she started to be more like a herder—she would chase after dogs, barking, if they were playing or came into her space, and she would start staring more. There weren’t any problems and she always stopped or was easily redirected, but on Halloween, I noticed her staring more as we entered the dog park, and she went at a Rottweiler in a way that I felt was a little less “playful herder” and a bit more over-reactive, so I removed her and stopped taking her. She also started to become more leash-reactive: not only at dogs, but other people, birds, and random objects (like a recycling bin that was out on a corner).

A mentor trainer I had in the beginning came out to evaluate her and said I was limited in what I could do for her. The reactivity was likely from the seizures/her neurological issues, and training would be unable to really fix the problem because of the health issues compounding it. I was saddened by this news, as I was hoping I could relieve her (and my!) stress about this. I was embarrassed by her reactions and was terrified of her hurting another dog or person, or worse—a child. I avoided as many things as I could on walks with her, and if we encountered over-zealous off-leash dogs, I would drop Jasper’s leash to let him deflect the dog so she wouldn’t be in potential harm’s way.


Enjoying a dip in the water

By the following year I had been getting to know other trainers and discovered clicker training methods. I was doing everything I could to learn as much as possible not only for my own professional career, but for Uma. How could I help her? How could I keep her safe and rehabilitate her? I didn’t want her to be so stressed on walks. I wanted her to have a happier life. Finding Leslie McDevitt’s book, Control Unleashed and the Look At That method changed everything! Uma was finally able to learn how to cope with stimuli on her environment, and disengage from it and focus on me. Life changed for us, and I knew that if these kinds of methods could work for her, they could work for ANY dog. It was a true revelation to my life and hers, a revolution! I ironically took a video just this Sunday of her, being so good on a walk.

I would get inquiries about Uma, but when I’d list all the health/behavioral issues (bad heart and thyroid, arthritis and dysplasia that was now moving to the back end, seizures, her reactivity) and the commitments that came with them, it was too much for people. Later down the line it became more intense; as her liver got worse, she was up to medications five times a day, limiting how long Chris and I could be away, not to mention the cost of that plus the acupuncture treatments we got regularly for her. She had an intense routine and while her reactivity got better, her hunting for food never lessened. We had to be very careful about management with her, ensuring things were put away and sometimes even crating her. Everything in our lives had to consider her and what could happen to her.

In fall of 2014 she had a lump that was found to be cancerous. She underwent surgery like a real trooper, and became cancer-free. She kicked cancer’s ass, a true tenacious cattle dog!!!


Kicking cancer in the booty with a BIG smile!

Uma was a real treasure. She was always happy, always had a smile regardless of how painful it must have been to inhabit her body, and grateful for the walks to sniff as much as she could at her leisure. Some days she would surprise you by going that extra block, while a lot of other days it was a simple 20-minute walk around one block. Her spirit was inspiring. We had lots of nicknames for her, like Sassy Britches. She was full of sass and ready to take on the world, despite her frail body.

She taught me so much. I wouldn’t have become the trainer I am without her. She pushed me to learn and grow, and taught me a TON about patience, kindness and persevering. I owe her so much and wish I could have given her more…my heart is so broken today, the house so quiet without her demanding her breakfast or shuffling around to try and find any scraps she can, or to try and scramble on the couch for cuddles. I know I’ll get through this, but right now it’s terribly painful.


Hanging out with her beloved brothers

I will miss Uma terribly for a very long time. But I will also carry on and push through this in her spirit, as she has helped teach me to do. Uma led by example. She never let her pain hold her back from enjoying her life, from always having a smile, and always wanting ear scratches and belly rubs. She lived far longer than the year or two expected, at almost five! Amazing girl.

Rest well, dear Uma-loompa. Take care of our Soup, Buttons and Merlin, and we’ll see you at the Bridge, you playful, lovable pup, you!

Owner, Delightful Doggies

Holiday training tips

The holidays are just around the corner!

This time of year can be a challenge not only for us humans, but for our dogs. It can bring up a host of behavior problems, too–jumping, countersurfing, begging, destructive behaviors, hiding, and house soiling can be some of the most common. Some of these problems are because dogs are too happy, excited and not in control of their impulses, while others may be based out of fear or anxiety. Punishing dogs for these behaviors usually doesn’t help or work, so I wanted to put together some tips to help both humans and their dogs be better prepared for success!


Hidalgo has a great default down on his mat!

  • For the fearful dog: Remember, if your dog has a hard time with people coming into the home, with strange new sounds and decorations, and anything in between, that she or he is not doing it because they want to “ruin” your time, but because they are afraid and uncertain! These dogs should be able to have their own space away from the festivities where they can relax. Placing them in another area of the house just for them, with soft music and/or white noise and great enrichment activities can be key to their happiness and less stress for everyone.
  • For the hungry dog: Many dogs find it hard to resist the temptation of items left out on counters and other surfaces. Dogs are natural scavengers, so it’s up to us to manage the environment and teach them what to do. By keeping items out of reach as much as possible, we’ll have less to contend with, and less temptation for them to possibly give into. Beyond that, teaching a default LEAVE IT is key; I love this video from Emily Larlham/Kikopup on addressing countersurfing (and there are several other LEAVE IT videos on her channel too)!
  • For the super-social, I MUST RUN UP TO YOU AND JUMP ON YOU TO TELL YOU HOW HAPPY I AM TO SEE YOU! dog: Jumping and being happy to see you in an exuberant way is all very normal and natural for that friendly dog. You can teach your dog that standing or sitting are much preferred ways of approaching you by teaching and reinforcing these behaviors; I will typically give soft praise and maybe one treat for standing while sitting gets more! By “grading” it this way, the dog can learn that sitting is the most valued way to greet. You can also manage this behavior by keeping your dog on a leash or tether, or behind a gate when guests come over. Management is important so a dog won’t get more practice at the undesired behavior, and you can then prompt for a sit and reinforce it–not only with treats, but by ultimately getting to meet the guest! If the dog breaks the sit, the guest can walk away. Only by sitting does the guest get to come say hi, and give attention.
  • The magical mat: I am a HUGE fan of teaching dogs to relax on a mat, and use it as an alternate behavior in many situations. By having a dog learn a default down behavior on a mat, you can pair it with going there to greet guests, to get their own special stuffed Kong while guests enjoy their meal, and many more scenarios. By reinforcing the dog lying down on the mat, being relaxed on his hip, putting his head down, etc., he will view the mat as a place for doing those calm behaviors. You can also teach him how to go to the mat when the doorbell rings! There are many applications for this tool; we also love this list from The Modern Dog Trainer.

We hope these tips can help you survive this special time of year. Please contact us if you need more help! We do have openings in our schedule, and would love to work with you.

Happy Holidays!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

October 2016 clients

I can hardly believe how quickly October has come and left; I hope everyone is having a safe and happy Halloween today! I know I’ve been indulging in the holiday spirit, and I’m grateful that head Delightful Doggy Jasper is feeling so much better and able to resume normal activities! Thanks to all of you who sent us well-wishes.

You can view all our adorable October doggy clients by clicking on the below photo icons to go to our Flickr album; if you click on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon), you can view them in a fun slideshow format. You can also LIKE and follow our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts.

Mochalatte Katie Sam Teddy Marley Cooper Barney Vader Kuma Zoe Desmond Charlie Ziggy and Kona Mueller Roo Ryder, Indy and Nala Parker Stout Gyrus Jackson Morrie Gulliver Winnie Kerry, Rock and Murphy Bitte and Dieter Gretel

Thank you!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Mochalatte the Labrador retriever

Congratulations on our October client spotlight, Mochalatte the Labrador retriever!


Mocha has mastered Relax on a Mat!

Mochalatte has come a long, long way from when we first met her. We first met her in May, and did a consult where we concluded it would be best if she got help from a veterinarian with more behavior experience. I’ll admit–I was not confident I could help her, particularly at that point. She had a very moderate case of separation anxiety and I knew she needed more than we could provide at that point. Her parents took her in and got her on medication, and began working on some protocols, and she started to make improvements.

In August her parents reached out for more help, and we were happy to come back and re-evaluate where she was. I was very happily surprised that she was a lot more calm than the first time we met her. The medication and work so far had brought some major changes, but there were gaps and a need for more consistent effort to teach her how to be calm in all situations. We began to tweak plans and it was a lot of work for her and her parents–but they all came through!

Separation anxiety can be a very difficult issue for owners and their dogs. Mocha’s parents have done a great job of making it happen within their busy lives! We are inspired by how much dedication and work they have put in, and how compliant they have become. The featured photo in this blog shows how much their training has paid off–she completely mastered the Relax on a Mat exercise from Nan Arthur’s Chill Out Fido. This tool has been one of many we’ve used to help her reach a point where she doesn’t need to shadow dad or mom all the time. She has a place where she can be calm, on her own!

We really appreciate Mochalatte and her parents, and are proud to have them as our very deserved October 2016 client spotlight!

Thank you,
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Five-point checklist for a safe Halloween for your dog

Halloween is a lot of spooky fun for humans, but for some dogs, it can be downright scary! There are plenty of dangers that can be avoided if you plan and prepare well. Here is our five-point checklist to help you and your dog remain safe and happy.

  1. Keep candies and decorations out of their reach.
    Human candy is for humans only! Chocolate and xylitol, a common sweetener, are both highly toxic to dogs. Likewise, be careful when it comes to decorations. Chewing on electrical wires and unattended candles can be deadly risks. Pumpkins and corn decorations can also be harmful if ingested in large amounts: at the very least, these real foods can cause gastrointestinal upset and at the worst, if a dog were to chew off large chunks, a choking or blockage hazard. Glow-in-the-dark accessories and fake blood can also be toxic. If you suspect your dog has ingested something, rush them to your nearest emergency clinic or call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center for help: 888-426-4435.


    Reg loves his pumpkin costume!

  2. To costume, or not to costume?
    Many people love dressing up their dogs for Halloween, but do their dogs actually love it, or are they just tolerating it? Making sure the costume fits well and is introduced properly and positively is key. By putting it on slowly, little bits at a time, and pairing the experience with lots of little bits of high-value treats (i.e., deli meat without flavorings or additives, bits of cheese or natural hot dog, etc.), your dog may be able to tolerate a costume just fine. Remember your dog should be able to move freely in the costume, and to remove small parts if they can pose a possible choking hazard. If your dog still shows signs of not enjoying himself in the costume, don’t force him to wear it! Most dogs are happiest not having to wearing costumes, so it’s important to remember that. Remember, signs of discomfort/stress can be very subtle: licking of the lips, turning the head away, seeing the whites of the eyes, folded down/back ears, tucked tail, hunching over, furrowed brow.
  3. Preparing for Halloween trick-or-treaters and parties is very important!
    Some dogs don’t tolerate large parties or unfamiliar visitors coming to the door, and with Halloween costumes making everyone look and sometimes even smell different, it can be even more frightening. Opening and closing of doors can also pose a risk if your dog is likely to bolt from fear, or even excitement. Management is most important. For fearful or anxious dogs, having them in a separate area with some soothing music or white noise machine to lessen the noise of the party can be best. You can also opt to give some calming treats and enrichment, to assist as well as give him something to do. For dogs that may want to join in the party, remember to be careful with opening and closing doors—it may be best to keep him on leash or have gates in place to prevent him from going into areas where he could possibly bolt and escape.
  4. Bring them in!
    Remember that pets unattended in yards can always be at risk, regardless of the festivities taking place or time of year. Because so many more people are out on Halloween in costume, it can again be scarier for your dog and put him or her at added risk, so it’s best to bring them in and only take them out while you are able to actively supervise them.
  5. Don’t forget to have proper ID for your dog.
    Remember to have a collar with up-to-date contact information either imprinted on the collar, or on attached tags. Microchips are also a great tool to consider. This will ensure that, if your pet does go lost, you will be reunited more quickly.

In addition to our five-point checklist, we really love Doggone Safe’s Halloween Safety Page, filled with videos and other tips for the entire family.

Happy Halloween!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

September 2016 clients

Autumn is here! The changing leaf colors and cooler mornings have signaled the official beginning of the fall season, and we are very excited to have a lot of new clients coming on board, and returning clients, to enjoy this season filled with wonderful training fun! September is one of my favorite months, and I’m really looking forward to October.

Check out the September clients by clicking on the below photo icons to go to our Flickr album; if you click on the slideshow button on that webpage (top right computer/play icon), you can view them in a fun slideshow format. You can also LIKE and follow our Facebook page to see even more photos of client dogs, great articles, news items and blog posts as they’re posted; we are also planning on some fall and winter specials so be on the lookout!

Max Stout Lola Roxy Cooper Mochalatte and Katie Roo Quinn Olive Morrie Mueller, Kona and Ziggy Morty Stella Sammy Zoey Teddy and Marley Sam Penelope Barney Cisco and Nalu Vader Kuma Winnie

Wishing you an amazing autumn!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

A Weekend with Suzanne Clothier: The Elemental Questions

I was honored to attend a weekend-long event with Relationship Centered Dog Training expert Suzanne Clothier a couple of weeks ago, while she was here in Denver. A weekend full of learning with her was truly an amazing experience, and I took many great items of wisdom from it.

Out of that entire weekend, her “SEE the Dog: The Elemental Questions” made the strongest impression on me. I will admit it’s been hard to write about dog training lately, as I have felt some burnout at times. Many of my thoughts lately have been about the ethics—or lack of—within the dog training profession. The Elemental Questions Suzanne posited were very exciting and encouraging to me, as I view them as an essential way to determine if your approach with a dog is going to be based on trust and respect, and are in alignment with the ethics I strive to uphold.

The Elemental Questions are:

Hello? This is the introduction, the initial observation where we would look to the dog and how he interacts with the world.

Who are you? This is all about figuring out the dog’s perception—how does he respond to the items in his world? What does this tell us about the dog? Is he happy and confident? Or a shrinking violet?

Roo says, Yes! We can hang out together!

Roo says, Yes! We can hang out together!

How is this for you? This is the question you must ASK CONSTANTLY. It’s about being able to determine the mental, emotional and physical balance of the dog in the immediate situation. If we aren’t able to continue to ask and receive answers to this question, we risk damage to our relationship with our dogs, as the dog may be out of balance and in need of our intervention!

Can you? Is the dog able to pay attention to you? To sit when asked? To walk beside you? What is this dog able to do in this environment? With this distraction present?

May I? Will you allow me to look you in the eyes? Are you able to allow me to pet you? Do I have permission to take you by the leash for a walk?

Can we? What can we do together? Can we practice some tricks? Can we enjoy an outing to the park? Can we relax here together? This brings the relationship full-circle, being able to engage together in activities.

Answering these questions is very dependent on our ability to really read a dog’s body language, and make the best decisions based on that information. Dogs cannot tell us in English—we must be able to read, and respect, what their body language tells us. When we’re able to see what truly makes a dog happy, we can better fulfill his needs. When we’re better able to see the gaps in how comfortable he is, we can make plans to adequately address it. When we really understand the dog, and when he is able to think and learn with us, then we will have true training success.

I encourage readers to ask these questions of their dogs, and to always remember to ask, How is this for you? By really paying attention and listening to what our dogs tell us, we can make the best, most effective and efficient, and most humane training and behavior plans!

Let us know if we can help you better understand and build a relationship with your dog,
Owner, Delightful Doggies

Client spotlight: Desmond the Boston terrier

Congratulations to our September client spotlight, Desmond the Boston terrier puppy!


Desmond gives his best sit-stay

Desmond is around four or five months old; he is a rescue pup and is learning all the basics through our Day Training program! So far he has learned touch, sit, free (his release cue), down, leave it, drop it and come. He knows how to sit and wait for a release to get his food and toys, and he was housetrained very quickly! Des is smart as a whip, and getting a great start on learning everything he needs to be with his human companions!

In the last couple of weeks, Desmond has been teething a lot so we have also been teaching him proper bite inhibition, and getting him acclimated to wearing his leash without biting it! He’s also starting to learn how to heel, little bits at a time, as it is a complex skill and he needs lots of breaks to chew. Being a puppy is hard work!

Day Training is a favorite of ours because we get to work with dogs one-on-one and it’s a lot of fun! It’s also great for the owners because we are able to give more pointed advice on working with their particular dog, and “speed up” training so that it’s easier, more efficient and effective, and less stressful for all involved.

We really appreciate Desmond, and his mother and roommates’ dedication to learning how to best care for him and providing all that he needs to be the best little “Boston terrierist” he can be!😉 Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to work with all of you!

Happy Training!
Owner, Delightful Doggies

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