Twinkies in Class

Twinkies in class

The teacher gives the students a note to take home to their parents/legal guardians:

“We will be practicing reward based learning in class tomorrow.  We will give out twinkies for correct answers.  Because we want your child to be highly motivated to learn, please be sure he/she does not eat breakfast before coming to school. Also be sure to reduce the size of her/his dinner accordingly. We will be giving out lots of twinkies and we don’t want your child to gain weight while learning.”

A little far-fetched no?  Then why do we practice this same procedure when training our pets?  Those who have attended a formal training class know that I’m talking about.  The instructor tells you (rightfully so) to reduce your dog’s regular kibble so he/she doesn’t gain weight and to not feed your dog before class so he/she will be hungry and willing to learn. Great advice.   But one thing we need to look out for is what we feed our dogs during training. You don’t want to replace his healthy at-home meal with treats that are laced with sugar, preservatives, artificial coloring etc..

Pet parents are lucky because a lot of things that dogs love are actually good for them – unlike human kids.

I’m actually very lucky (with one of my dogs at least). Matt-Matt will take anything I hand him – even in a highly distracting environment. He is happy to take his own kibble from me, vegetables, fruit etc.. He is even happier to take freeze dried fish, baked chicken, or a grilled sirloin.

Take a good look at that supermarket or pet store treat that you are feeding your dog.  Dogs do not need honey, sugar or salt to make something taste better.  If manufacturers have these items in the food it probably means that it has been so highly processed that all the real flavor is gone. Not only are these snacks physiologically unhealthy, they can also have an effect on your pets mental well being.   Do you feel better or worse after eating a carb heavy or sugar heavy snack?  Your dog might have the same issues.

And what’s the deal with the artificial colors? Does your dog really care if that sugar filled snack has the same color as bacon?

So, you’ve made the decision to carefully review your dog’s treat labels.  While you are at it, go ahead and take a good long look at the ingredients in your dog’s everyday kibble. Don’t just look at the wholesome pictures of fresh meat, fruits and veggies on the package.

A great unbiased dog food review site is

You can click on Index at the bottom of the page to see a list of food reviewed:

Or click reviews to search for your dog food:

A good friend recommended this book to me:

Dr. Pitcairn’s New Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats

I’ve only read the first couple of chapters.  I’m not endorsing or opposing anything in the book.


Snappy Poodle

Question: My Toy Poodle is Snappy. What do I do

Dog aggression should be addressed as soon as possible. Especially if children are in the house. If the behavior is not addressed, it will only get worse.

Dogs are much faster than humans and it’s important to know that you can’t snatch your hand back from a dog quickly enough to avoid being bitten. If a dog wants to bite, he/she will. If a dog snaps, that was a warning. Not a biting attempt.


But if the dog is giving you a warning, the dog is likely to bite in the future if warnings are not heeded. And dog bites must be taken seriously. Small dogs can do damage and even the tiniest break in skin can cause a serious infection. A infection can happen even if dogs and humans are up to date on vaccinations


The absolute worst thing you can do in the case of dog aggression is to counter with aggression. Never yell, hit, slap, poke, yank, jerk, alpha roll, etc.. This will make the situation worse.


.One of the best things you can do for dog aggression is spay/neuter.

See Cathy Rosenthal’s article on preventing dog attacks:


The dog must be up to date in his/her rabies shot. This is extremely important. Rabies is always fatal in dogs and almost always fatal in humans. If a human is bitten and needs medical attention, the doctor will have to report the incident to animal control. A dog without a rabies certificate will probably be taken by Animal Control. A dog with a certificate might also be taken.

Humans should be sure their tetanus vaccinations are up to date.


Please continue reading for more details:



Until you figure out the root cause and work on that cause, the safest thing to do for everyone is management. Children can NOT be near the dog and children must never ever be with the dog unsupervised. If the behavior is serious or getting worse (if the dog is charging) then children can’t be in the same room as the dog.

Until the issue is resolved, humans must avoid things that make the dog snap.


Does the dog snap when she is in Mom’s lap? Then she can never be in a humans lap. Or any elevated surface for that matter – sofa, bed, chairs.

Does the dog snap at people when she has food? Then never bother her while she is eating.

Does the dog snap when she is touched on top of the head? Then don’t touch her on top of the head.

Does the dog snap when people put their hands her face? Then don’t put hands in front of her face.

Doe she guard her toys? Then don’t bother her when she has a toy. Don’t give her raw hides or large bones until the issue is resolved.


Videos on managing behaviors:



No matter what the cause of biting, spay and neuter is always a good thing.


This will NOT automatically fix the problem, but most experts agree that a dog who isn’t a slave to his/her hormones is a happier, healthier, less stressed dog.


Some people have reported that immediately after surgery, their dogs’ temperament improved tremendously. This is probably atypical.


Spay/Neuter plus other techniques can be successful though; and spay/neuter can most likely speed up the effects of other techniques.


There are many other great health reasons to spay or neuter your pets. Besides, dogs with aggression issues probably shouldn’t reproduce anyway.


Don’t delay. The earlier the dogs are fixed, the better. The longer the dogs have their sexual hormones, the more the undesirable habits become ingrained. Here is a very informative post about hormones and fighting:


Your regular vet is the best place to get this done. But any vet can perform the surgery. If money is an issue, contact Animal Control or Animal Defense League. Their prices can be as low as free depending on income level, and other circumstances. See the low coast spay/neuter link for more info:

Talk to your vet

In addition to spay/neuter surgery, have your vet do a full medical workup

If the dog just started snapping, then a physical ailment could be the culprit. Many issues could make a dog become aggressive – like a thyroid condition, pain from an injury or arthritis, etc..

So far, we have discussed management and spay/neuter. These two are imperative for a safe environment. A full vet workup is important to rule out any issues and a dog should get a checkup every year even if no problems are not apparent.

The rest of the info below will actually depend on why the dog is snapping.

Once you have management the situation temporarily, got the dog checked by a vet and fixed, you will have to find a professional. Because kids are in the home, this is not an issue that you can deal without the help of a professional.

Picking a Trainer/Behaviorist

If you use a behaviorist to help you figure out the problem, be sure to thoroughly interview him/her.


Under no circumstances hire a trainer who advocates any type of punishment after the fact. No leash corrections, no yelling, no shock collars, no hitting, alpha rolling, poking, kicking in the butt, etc…


Actually, don’t use any trainer or behaviorist who would have you use your hands in any way to solve the problem.


You need a professional who will examine the home life of the humans and the dog and find ways to prevent snapping long before it happens.


Run away from anyone who offers quick-fix solutions. Ask the behaviorist about classical and operant conditioning. If she/he doesn’t seem to know what that is, then do not use him/her.


Don’t be taken in by anyone who “talks with authority.” Just because someone sounds like they know what they are talking about, it doesn’t actually mean that they do.


Anyone can call themselves a “trainer” or “behaviorist.” There is no governing body that checks this. So be careful. There are trainers who get certified but this is not mandatory. You can ask the trainer what organizations he or she is a member of. Here is one site that lists trainers who have gone through their certifications: Association of Pet Dog Trainers. Note: being on the list doesn’t mean a trainer won’t use negative methods (which you need to avoid) and not being on the list doesn’t mean a trainer is not good. It’s just one tool to use. If you use a trainer from a major chain or franchise ask the trainer what type of continuation training he/she has received since being certified by that chain.

I repeat: A professional is imperative in this matter. Until you get find a good trainer, here are some things you can work on:

Be a Benevolent Leader

All humans in the household must establish themselves as benevolent leaders.


Being the leader doesn’t mean being mean or yelling or scaring or putting your hands on the dogs harshly. It means letting the dogs know that you will protect them and take care of them. It means that all good things come from you. Don’t put the dog in a position where she feels she must “protect” you.


Some dogs might snap because they are being “protective” but many dogs will snap or bite out of fear.

If the dogs know that the humans are in charge, if they know that they can look to the humans for protection, they will be less scare


Leadership Articles:



The dogs must know that you control the resources. Do not allow free-feeding. Actually, as you establish yourself as pack leader, you might consider not using bowls at all. Hand feed the dogs separately (only if not food aggressive). Ask for a behavior before feeding i.e. sit, lay down. If the dogs have not learned some basic commands, then you can just wait until the dogs are calm before feeding. Do not feed them when they are jumping around, barking, etc.. More about establishing a calm household later.


Other ways to make the dogs work for their food:

Broadcast it out in the yard so that they have to search for it. Make sure they see you putting the food out.

Once you have established that food comes from you, you can put the dogs in one room or another part of the yard, then hide the food then let them out to search for it.

Food puzzles – like a kong or other food dispensing toy. See this video for a cheap food dispensing toy:

 Here are my dogs with food puzzles:


Always be ready to step in front of danger or perceived danger so that the dogs will see you as their protector. This could be something as simple as not letting visitors or strangers pet your dogs too roughly

Life Isn’t Always Fair

Teach the dogs to cope with disappointment. i.e. She can’t always get a morsel of your food when you are eating dinner.

Nothing in Life is Free

In addition to working for food, the dogs should also work for petting, for walks, for rides, to go outside etc.. Make the dogs sit or lay down or at least wait until they are calm before giving them anything that they enjoy

Read Doggie Body Language.

Watch your dogs closely for signs of stress, aggression, etc.. and be ready to redirect long before any snapping occurs.

Reactivity, aggression

(more about stepping in and redirecting later in this document)

stiff body

high and stiff tails

quivering stiff tails

a tail that wags at the end and not at the base

“hard” eyes



tight lips

lips forming an “O”

Weight shifting to front legs

curled lips


teeth showing

ears forward

One dog putting his head over the shoulder or back of another dog

One dog humping another dog

One dog putting his paw on another dog

Hackles up


Fear, Anxiety, Stress

Wide eyes

lots of white showing in the eyes

Grimacing (it looks like a smile but isn’t)

Weight shifting to back legs

Tail tucked

Legs or whole body shaking

lip licking

sweaty feet

running nose



Maintain Calm

You can maintain calm by rewarding calm and ignoring excited behavior. Yelling, scolding, physically correcting hyper behavior will at best make the behavior worse. .

See my video on rewarding desirable behaviors.

See Kikopup video on teaching calm:

Calm Petting

Pet the dogs in long slow strokes. No vigorous rubbing. Never pet on top of the head.

Keep humans calm

No running and rushing about. Practice good time management so you are never in a rush to get to work, etc..

Keep talking at a minimum

Especially excited chatter

See my article on remaining quiet as I leave the house helped to reduce my dog’s anxiety:

Feed Quality Food

Too much sugar, carbs, and preservatives can make a dog hyper and agitated — which can lead to snapping. Review your dog food at

Do not feed any wheat, corn or soy. Many advocate no grains at all. Makes sure the diet is high protein. Make sure any treats are also high protein and healthy.

Homeopathic Remedies

Check with your own vet or a homeopathic vet about some natural remedies for maintaining calm. Here are some homeopathic remedies that have been suggested by some experts (be sure to check with your vet before trying any of these. Tell your vet about any medications that your dogs are already on)


Bach Flower Essences

Lavender Essence

Valerian Root

Dog Appeasing Pheromones


As soon as you see trouble – like a stiff tail, happily call the dog and engage in a game of fetch or do something fun to make the dogs they were about to snap.


See video on stopping unwanted behavior before it starts:



See Kikopup video on a positive way to interrupt undesirable behavior:


What NOT to do

Never yell, or use your hands or any part of your body. Try not to scold. This might just teach the dog that bad things happen around the other certain people, and it could increase the level of aggression.

Obedience Training

It can sharpen and focus the mind. Creating a more relaxed, balanced and calm dog. And a calm dog might be less likely to snap.

.And once the dog is trained, you can put the dog in a down stay when you see her about to agress (or use some other training tool)


When picking a trainer to help with obedience training, use the same guidelines as picking one to help with the fighting. Don’t take a class unless it’s fun and enjoyable for you and the dogs.



Other things that can mentally stimulate your dogs and create calm and focus:

A change of scenery – take them for rides and walks

Exercise is extremely important and running around the back yard is great for that. But dogs need so much more. Twice a day walks will help a lot. They could also use other mental stimulation

This is a great blog post that addresses this issue:

Examine Home life

Dogs are very perceptive and will pick up on any stressors in the home. Is there tension in the home? A new family member? A family member who has left or passed away? An illness in the family?

Other Things That Can Cause Tension, Frustration, Aggression:

Electric fences, hot wire fences, shock collars, prong collars

Let the dog live as a family member

See cathy rosenthal’s article on dogs who normally bite aren’t family members:

Prepare for baby long before baby arrives

Cathy Rosenthal teaches a pets and babies class

Article: Pets and New Babies:


I have mentioned several remedies that will require expenditures. Especially fencing and doors to keep the dogs separate. If money is tight, consider all the things that are less important than your dogs. Click the link for suggestions.


All of the above definitely looks like a lot. But don’t be discouraged. Start with the most important stuff like spay neuter and management then start trying some of the other things one at a time.

Some of the above suggestions can be practiced while you are watching TV or reading a book. Take all the data in pieces. Don’t try to look at everything and get overwhelmed.

Even if it does turn out to be a lot of work, the fur kids are worth it. They’d do anything for us.

Best of luck to you!


Negative Reinforcement Anthem – It’s a Hard Knock Life

It’s a hard knock life for us

It’s a hard knock life for us

Stead of treated, we get tricked

Stead of Kisses, we get kicked

It’s a hard knock life

Sometime they even pinch my ear;

All we ever learn is fear

We get yelled at all day long

Stead of love songs, we get prongs.

Sometimes we even get spanked

And by our necks, we get yanked.

It’s a hard knock life

We get poked and we get choked

And we sometimes get alpha-rolled

I wish I knew what they wanted, I just want to do things right

But all they do is punish, when will they ever see the light?

Some days I want to throw the towel in

Sometimes I want to fight

It’s a hard knock life for us

It’s a hard knock life for us

We’d learn so must faster; if you were nice instead of mean

A home with compassion is what fills our dreams

It’s a hard knock life!

Positive training can’t be beat

Get a clicker and some treats

And watch us perform great feats

It’s a better life!

It’s a better life!

It’s a better life!

What To Do About Dog Fights?

Question: My 5 dogs get into fights. What do I do? 
Fighting dogs can be awfully scary for humans to observe.
Most dogs have a lot of fur and most dogs have thicker skin than we have.
Some times fights look way worse than they actually are. Especially if the dogs are evenly matched. So try not to panic.
The absolute worse thing you can do in the case of dog aggression is to counter with aggression. Never yell, hit, poke, yank, jerk, alpha roll, etc.. This will make the situation worse.
The absolute best thing you can do for dog aggression is spay/neuter.
It’s also very important to not let fights continue and to step in before a fight happens.  
Please continue reading for more details:
Continue reading

Benevolent Leaders


In my last article, On Leadership and Dominance, I addressed  attributes that do not make a leader.. such as beligerence and violence.
While leaders do not command respect by throwing their weight around; they also get very little respect if they let their people run all over them. 
Watch parents at the grocery store. 
Have you ever seen a child throw a temper tantrum because she couldn’t get a toy or a candy bar?  What if the parent gives in? What has that child just learned?   In the short term, temper tantrums work.  If the parent continues this type of behavior, the child might grow up assuming that the world revolves around him or he might not even learn the coping skills to self sufficient.
We can love and cherish our dogs and still set boundaries for them. If your dog jumps on you and you pet him, the dog just got rewarded for jumping. You shouldn’t get mad at him for jumping on the neihbor’s 3 year old.  If you are eating dinner and your dog barks at you to give her some of your food and you comply, you have just taught the dog that barking get him what he wants.  Does this mean that you yell at or push around your dog for jumping or barking? No. There are positive solutions to those problems.  Basically you can ignore unwanted behaviors and reward desired behaviors. Ignore jumping, reward calm.
A friend who loves his dog dearly told me that he practices “nothing in life in free.” His dog has to “work” for everything.  If the dog wants to go outside, he must wait by the door. If the dog wants food, he must perform a trick.  “[It’s] about.. the bigger outlook” says my friend …”that they have the potential to learn, be good canine citizens, listen and pay attention to their human, etc…  In return, they get food, shelter, social interaction, and lots of activity (and lots of love and attention) – it seems like a fair trade-off.  I look at them like children, no more – no less.  In a lot of ways, they are smarter and better-behaved.  I would expect my child to listen to me and do what I say, just as I expect [my dog] to…” 
A good leader will set boundaries.  But leadership is also about responsibility. You rescued or adopted or purchased your dog so you have a responsibility to take care of her, to protect her. This is also leadership.
If the neighbor’s 3 year old grabs your dog’s tail or pokes her in the eye, its your responsibility to put a stop to that.  Even though your dog might be docile, this type of treatment is not enjoyable to your dog.  Ask the neighbor’s parents to pull the kid off of your dog or don’t let this kid around your dog.
If a stranger allows his off leash dog to come bounding up to your dog, jumping on your dog’s head, harassing your dog, don’t discipline your dog when she snaps at the rude dog. Ask the dog’s owner to take his rude dog away or stand in front of your dog, blocking the rude dog’s access.
If your dog gets harassed at the dog park, defend your dog or leave the dog park.
If you take your dog to a training class and the trainer uses unreasonable force on your dog, calmly take your dog away from the trainer.

References, Further Reading, Videos, Links, etc..







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Dominance Leadershp Respect

On Leadership and Dominance
Years ago I was walking down the hallway at my job. A contractor (or supplier or something) tried to hit on me. I had no interest in him at all, so I just kept walking. As I walked past him, he grabbed my wrist to prevent me from leaving.  I already had no respect for him at all.  When he grabbed me, my respect for him went into the negatives.  I wasn’t any more interested in what he had to say because he attempted to use physical force to make me stay there to listen to him.  I was actually much less interested in someone who didn’t have the intellectual ability to maintain my interest with intelligent conversation.
Look at your organization. Who is the actual leader? Yes, you have an official supervisor/manager/president. But who is the actual go-to person in the organization? At parties, who gets the most attention? Who do people gather around?  Is it the person who throws his/her weight around? The person who is loud and belligerent, who uses anger, curse words, threats, even physical force to get his/her way?  Or is it the calm, intelligent, witty person?
Take a look at this video of a teacher using force in the classroom Did he gain any one’s respect that day?
Someone who uses a lot of curse words has a limited vocabulary.  Someone who resorts to shouting, threats, physical force is out of ideas.
A teacher who uses physical force in the classroom has not be schooled in proper classroom management
If a “trainer” or “behaviorist” instructs you to shake, yell at, poke, hit, yank, jerk your dog, this “trainer” has not spent a lot of time learning operant conditioning.
Imagine if every time you came in late for work, your boss punched you. One of several things might happen depending on what type of person you are. You might quit working there, you might start showing up on time; you might develop an unnatural fear of time clocks, you might punch your boss back. Or you might have a breakdown and attack all of your coworkers. 
Excessive force might work on some dogs. But it also has the capability to permanently damage a dog and it can turn a dog defensive and aggressive.
A lot of trainers talk about dominance, leadership, being the pack leader.  But dominance and leadership are not synonymous with physical coercion and/or threats. Leadership is exactly the opposite of coercion. Real leaders don’t use threats or physical force. Real leaders frighten people into following them. 
You might see a submissive dog roll over on his/her back for a dominant dog. But you won’t see a balanced alpha dog push over a dog. The submissive dog chose to rollover out of reverence and respect for the alpha dog.
So the next time, you feel like yelling at your dog because she/he did something that’s perfectly natural for dogs, think about that out of control school teacher, think of that crazy boss who yelled till she/he was red in the face, the one whom no one respected. Think about what it really means to be the leader of your pack.
So what are some alternatives to physical coersion, yelling etc..
 Desired Behavior               Old Method                                                     Non Aversive, positve Method
Sit                                    Push down on butt and/or pull up on leash          lure into sit with treats, no touching or
                                                                                                            wait until dog sits, praise and treat (capturing)
Lay down                          Pull down by the collar                                     lure into down with treats, no touching or
                                                                                                            wait until the dog lays
Stop Barking                     Yell at the dog                                                 Ignore barking; praise and treat quiet
Loose Leash Walking          Yanking, jerking the leash                                 Turn around or, stop walking when dog pulls

References, Further Reading, Videos, Links, etc..






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Loose Leash Walking

Note: La Trenda is not a professional trainer.  None of the info below should be used a substitute for the advice of a professional trainer* or behaviorist.*
La Trenda takes no responsibility for any injuries or damage that might be incurred as a result of following the info in this article 
Loose Leash Walking

Author, PhD, and Professional Trainer Patricia McConnell said (paraphrasing): All dogs are different and different training methods work well for some dogs but not others. The only constant is that there is no need for harsh, aversive punishment methods in training – especially by non professionals.
The first section of this article talks about what I do to help my dogs walk loosely on a leash, the next section summarizes some of these things I have read and learned about loose leash walking. The last few sections contain links to references, books, articles, videos
Table of Contents 

My Personal Experience

All my kids

Before walking any of my children, I make sure they are calm before we leave the house.  If they leave the house in a frenzy, then they are more likely to be too excited to walk nicely.
So I never say “want to go for a walk! want to go for a walk!” like some parents do.  Most of the time I never talk at all.  If I do talk, it’s in very quiet, soft tones.  As I’m getting leashes, harnesses, protective equipment, coats, etc.. ready, I move very slowly and fluidly so as not to get the dogs excited. 
They have to sit nicely by the door as I put on their harnesses, collars, leashes etc..  If they don’t sit still, then I stand there perfectly still holding the leash, harness, etc.. until they settle down.  If it takes more that a couple of minutes for them to settle down, then I start using doggie calming signals.  I mainly yawn, but I also do slow blinks with soft eyes. I might turn my head to the side.
Because we have been doing this for a while, they know that they have to sit before they go out.  So I usually wait until they sit. But if it takes more than a couple of minutes, then I might use a hand signal (to avoid talking) to signify that I want them to sit. On the rare occasion that they still don’t sit, I’ll speak the command softly and quietly. If they should choose not to sit, then they just don’t go for a walk.
After sitting, getting their harnesses and leashes on, etc.. they must remain calm and still as I open the door. If they try to run out the door, I body block them and remind them to “wait” until I open the door.  I try hard to never ever snatch the leash to get them back inside if they to bolt out the door. 
Once we are out the door, I use different methods for each dog with an exception for meeting other dogs, other people, other animals etc..
I want my dogs to not get into the habit of feeling any tension on the leash at all. So when we encounter things that might make them pull – dogs, humans, squirrels, etc.. I gently encourage them across the street, off the trails etc.. I put them in a sit and I praise them highly, talking lots of baby talk and shoving treat after treat into their mouth until the exciting thing is gone. I got this idea from a friend who is also mentioned below in the equipment section of this article.  I try my best to see the exciting thing before they see it. If they see the exciting thing before I do, and if they get so riled up that they pay no attention to me, then I just stand very still until they calm down. Once they are calm again, I gently say, “let’s go” then we start back walking. I don’t yell or jerk the leash.  This is only going to encourage more excitement. Additionally, I try not to drag them away unless there is some type of safety issue.

My Individual Kids


is the best at listening to my requests and learning new tricks. I’m usually able to stop Matt from pulling before he starts. I ask him to walk by my side.  If he starts speeding up ahead of me, I use a gentle, high pitched, happy, lilting, sing-song voice and I say “Matt-Matt, you went to fast; try again. As I do that, I give the leash a lot of slack, and as I pivot to the right, I take a half step back with my left foot and I encourage him to pivot with me until we are all the around and traveling in the same direction again. As he lines up on my left side, I praise him highly and we continue our walk. 
Occasionally when he is walking well, I tell him “Okay! Free!, you may potty” and I encourage him to sniff and potty by a tree, pole or other interesting place. When he is done, I praise him and encourage him to line up by my side again. 
Occasionally, to keep him focused we will stop and do some tricks like sit, sit pretty, lay down just for fun then continue on our walk.


refuses to do the “crazy man” or to turn around with me. Of course I could try to force her to turn around with me, but that defeats my goal of never letting my dog feel a tight leash. So when she starts pulling, I stop still like a tree.  There is purpose and action in my stops. Not only do I stand still, I let my eyes go soft and I almost meditate while I’m standing there – trying to send calm signals to Lupe.  As soon as I feel some slack in the leash, then we keep going.
Also, I let Lupe walk at whatever pace she prefers which is normally quite brisk.  I allow her to stop and smell and/or potty whenever she wants – as long as it isn’t in someones front yard.


came to me walking pretty good on a leash. He has joint issues and since he normally doesn’t pull much, I just let him go at what pace works for him, letting him potty and sniff whenever he needs to


is my youngest and most head strong dog.  She is easily distracted and I’m still looking for a positive non-aversive method that works best for her.  In the mean time, I take her on very short walks using a combination of stopping and turning around. Lots of praise when she isn’t pulling.  I’ve found when she gets very distracted by a smell or by a bird or something, I can use a deep low voice to get her attention then a baby talk voice to call her over to me for a treat.  I call it the Man/Baby and I will be posting more about that later. 

My Review of the Literature  (with personal commentary added in – noted in blue)

Why Do Dogs Pull?

1. Because it works.  They pull, they get to go forward.
2. Because it’s uncomfortable.  It’s a catch 22 because when they pull, they choke themselves. Then they pull harder trying to get away from the choking feeling, pulling harder causing more choking and so on and so forth.
So what are some non-aversive ways to help your dog walk better.
1.  Don’t reward a dog for pulling.  Will they pull, turn around or just stop.  Pet parents have to be very consistent with this.  We can’t stop or turn some of the time.  If this means spending 2 hours to go one mile, then so be it. I took Puddin to the Riverwalk once. It was so interesting to her that we only went 1/4 mile in 1 hour.  We tried too much, too fast.
2.  Being dragged around by the neck can be uncomfortable.  Turid Rugaas, a renowned animal behaviorist and author says that harnesses are much more comfortable.   Many (if not all trainers) don’t believe in ever using a harness for a walk. I have personally walked hundreds of dogs in my life time (shelter volunteer) and I can say from experience that some dogs actually walk better in a harness.  Of course all dogs are different.  I say try a harness. If the dog gets worse then don’t continue using it. If the dog is the same or better, then give a harness a chance.


Dogs love smelling new things, and walking in a new environment can be very exciting and distracting for them.  Many times they are too excited to pay attention to your requests to walk nicely.  For this reason, you need to teach loose leash walking in the least distracting environment possible. And as they learn how you would like them to walk, you can start slowly increasing distractions.
If there is room in the house, teach them how to walk nicely on leash in the house.  When their loose leash walking or healing is rock solid in the house, then try the back yard.  When they are good in the back yard, then try the driveway.  When they are walking well in the driveway, then try the sidewalk in front of your house.  If you know your dog is a big puller then taking her/him to a popular walking trail that has dog smells, deer, rabbits, etc.. is going to setting up your dog for failure.
So what do you do if you have a high energy dog who needs a 5 mile walk?  While the dog is learning to walk, try to make sure she/she gets exercise in other ways.  Fetching in the back yard. Dog park romps if you have a dog park kind of dog. Sometimes mental stimulation can be just as exhausting as physical stimulation.  Teach your dog some new tricks, have your dogs sit still in the drive way and watch the world go by. Give your dog some food puzzles, etc.. An excellent article on mental stimuation:
Since Puddin is still learning how to walk properly, I take her on short leash walks but I take her to training classes for mental stimulation, I play fetch for physical stimulation and I also let her roam around on a 20 foot leash as long as she doesn’t pull and she doesn’t bother anyone (we usually go out to parks when no one else is around)

Dog Walking Devices

A friend once said to me that the leash and collar/harness etc.. should just be a safety item. He wants his dog to learn to walk beside him without using any type of corrective item.  I completely agree.  But there might be times when some type of contraption might be needed.  For instance, a pet parent who might be petite with a large pulling dog who is so strong that he/she can’t be walked at all without some type of contraption.  It that case, some type of contraption might be better than not walking the dog at all.
I feel that whatever type instrument used should work but not cause any pain or harm to your dog. 
For instance, some people might advocate putting a the leash up high behind the ears of a dog.  Many times this will get a dog to comply and this might be a great thing do use in a emergency situation (like if your 80 pound lab is about to pull you into traffic).  But I wouldn’t suggest this method all the time. It works because the leash/collar is on the most sensitive part of the neck and it causes pain.
Prong collars and choke chains might work if used properly and used under the guidance of a professional, but if your dog continues to pull in one, then stop using them immediately. They can cause injury if used improperly.
More on dog walking devices here:  Once again, the blue parts are my commentary. The rest is information that I got from various literature. This article was written for an animal shelter environment but most of the info can be extrapolated to pet and parent environment.

References, Further Reading, Videos, Links, etc..




Realted Articles, Videos by La Trenda


More Pet Articles By La Trenda:


More Videos By La Trenda

* when picking a trainer or behaviorist, be sure to use one who uses positive, non aversive methods only. If a trainer tells you to yell at your dog, shake our dog, “alpha roll” your dog, poke, push, hit, yank, jerk the leash, etc.. please find another trainer. There are better ways to train, and there are better ways to treat your family member. Training does not mean punishment. Training can be fun for the pet and the parent.
Puddin is available for public appearances. For more info, please see


updated 09-23-2020, 5:35 PM 

Caution – stray dogs and cats can carry diseases – including Rabies which is fatal to to non humans and can be fatal to humans. Exercise caution when approaching any unknown animal.  A frightened dog or cat can be just as likely to bite as an aggressive dog or cat. 



If any links to do not work, try copying and pasting directly into your browser’s address window.



San Antonio is one of the worst cities in the nation for strays, euthanasia and road kill.  So you have probably seen a stray dog/cat or two. There are many good Samaritans in San Antonio who will rescue these strays.  Are you one?


Please note: If one of the links doesn’t work correctly, please try copying and pasting the link directly into your web browsers’ address window.


Table of Contents 





Ask Yourself

Before picking up the stray dog, cat or other furry or scaley friend, ask yourself a few questions:


  1. Am I able to keep this dog, cat etc.. for a few days once I pick him/her up?

    1. In most cases, you will have to keep this pet for a while until you can find the pet-parents or until space opens in a shelter or a foster network

      1.  Because of the awful stray problem that San Antonio has, no-kill shelters and foster networks are always full.  The wait to get an animal into a no-kill shelter can range from a few weeks to a few months depending on the type and size of animal you have.

      2. Municipal shelters aren’t as limited as no-kill shelters but there can still be a wait of a few days. And most municipal shelters (Such as San Antonio Animal Care Services) are NOT no-kill.  Although municipal shelters have adoption and foster programs, surrendering a dog or cat to a municipal shelter could mean death.  Please note that sometimes a humane, quick death by injection is better than slowly dying of injuries on the street.

      3. If the baby is wearing a collar with tags, you might be able to find his/her parents, but that could still take a while.  If the animal is wearing a rabies tag, there will be a phone number of the agency who provided the vaccination.  If you pick up an animal on a Friday night, it could be Monday or Tuesday morning before you can call the vet to get to call the parents.  And sadly sometimes the parents don’t want their baby back.

      4. Be aware that many irresponsible pet parents will let their pets run loose. So you might take several hours to find the right home only to see the fur baby out again.

  2. Are my family members (human and other) safe if I bring this animal into my home?

    1. You won’t know the vet care or vaccine history of the animal you bring into your home.  He or she could have communicable diseases such as rabies, distemper, parvo, etc..  If your own pets have not been vaccinated, do not let them interact with the stray at least until the stray has seen a vet.  Also be aware that some animal diseases are communicable to humans – rabies, sarcoptic mange, ringworm to name a few

      1. Also be aware that certain diseases have an incubation period. The animal might be carrying a disease that is not immediately evident. 

    2. You also won’t know the temperament history of the animal.  While the animal seemed friendly enough on the street, he/she might be afraid or aggressive towards children, might be aggressive towards a different gender or might be food or resource aggressive, might be aggressive towards your animals.

  3. Do I have the finances to take care of a stray until I can find a home or shelter?

    1. At the very least, you are going to need to provide proper nutrition for the stray (please no table scraps)

    2. If you take on the responsibility for picking up the stray, you should take the responsibility to keep or make the stray healthy

      1. This means getting rabies, distemper, and parvo vaccinations at a minimum.  If you have a stray dog who has been out for a while, the chances are high that he/she will have heartworms.  Treatment can be anywhere from 400 to over 1,000 dollars.  Many strays get hit by cars.  Fixing broken hips and legs can cost thousands of dollars

      2. See the following websites for agencies or info on financing vet care and for info on agencies who might help with vet care. These sites also have info for low-cost spay/neuter:

  4. Will my landlord/apartment manager, homeowner, parents, insurance etc.. allow me to bring this dog into the home?  

    1. While your rental agreement might allow pets, you might be at your maximum number of pets. Additionally many apartments will not allow certain breeds – Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, German Shepherds to name a few. Even if you own your home, be aware that many insurance policies will not cover certain breeds

  5. Do I have the time and space for another animal?

    1. If you must keep the stray separate from your own animals – consider how this will be done.  Do you have a spare bedroom? A garage is not an ideal location to keep any dog.  Most garages are not insulated and are therefore much too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter.  A crate is good but only for short periods of time. The dog should not “live” in the crate. This can be cruel. Outside all the time is not ideal but could work if the outside dog has a suitable dog house or adequate shade.  Never ever leave a dog unattended on a tether, tie-out or chain.

    2. Before taking in any extra fur babies think about your own dogs. Will extra dogs/cats you bring in take away from valueable time you spend with your own dogs/cats etc..?  Do you dogs/cats have issues that need attention i.e. separation anxiety, destructive chewing, housebreaking, etc..? If so, then think twice about adding more more pets to your household

Find the Owners

The first thing you should do after picking up a stray animal is to try to find the owners.  If the animal appears to be in bad shape (matted, underweight, etc..), don’t assume the owners did not take care of him/her.  It might just mean that the animal has been lost for a while. Or the animal could have been stolen and then let go once the robbers learned how much responsibility goes into caring for an animal.  If the animal was dumped by somone don’t assume that the person doing the dumping was the owner of the pet.  This person could be somone who picked up or stole the pet then grew tired of the pet or wasn’t able to make money off the pet. This person could be a scorned significant other who is trying to hurt somone by hurting the pet, etc..


  1. Don’t put the animal back on the street after picking up

    1. Extremely important. If you pick up a pet, then decide you can’t keep him/her do NOT put the pet back out. If you feel you must put the pet back (please don’t) at least make sure you put him/her back in exactly the same place you found him/her. It would probably be less cruel to take the pet to animal control rather than picking him/her up then putting him/her back out so now it will have a harder time getting back home.  San Antonio Animal Control holds strays for at least 72 hours before putting them down (many times much longer). If pet parents are  physically checking for the pets, the pet will be safe until the parents can pick him/her up (and much easier to find).  If the pet is left on the street, he or she could get injured, sick or killed and at best be harder to find and/or track down.

    2.  Get the animal scanned for a microchip

      1. This can be done at most vets and animal shelters.  If a chip is found, call the company to get the owner’s phone and/or address.  The vet or shelter can help you with this

  2. Call the phone numbers on the tag.

    1.  If the animal has an I.D. tag, call the phone number.  If the animal is wearing a rabies tag or city license tag, call the number of the agency who issued the tag. That agency should be able to get in contact with the pet parent(s)

  3. Let People Know you have the Animal so the owners can find you.

    1. Put up “Found” posters in the area where the animal was spotted

      1. Note that the Internet will reach more people, but there are still some people who are not on the Internet

    2. Put up found posters in near-by vet clinics and animal shelters

    3. Walk door to door in the area ask if anyone is missing a pet or if the pet looks familiar to anyone

    4. Contact the San Antonio Express News. You can place “found” ads free for 4 days

      1. (210) 250-2345, (800) 411-2527

        FAX (210) 250-2360


    5. Post the animal on the Internet










  4. Look at “Lost Dog/Cat” ads

    1. Posters, fliers, Internet, classified ads, vet shops, animal control, shelters, pet shops, etc..

  5. Make sure animal goes back to correct home

    1. When posting information on the found pet, be sure to leave out some details that only the real pet-parent would know – i.e. color, a spot on the ear, etc.. What color collar.  You want to be extra cautious if you have found a purebred or a so small so called “cute” dog or cat. Some people will pretend the animal is theirs just to take him/her to sell.  You also want to be extra cautious with “bully” breeds or those dogs who have “reputations.”  Many unscrupulous and cruel people will use pit bulls, rottweilers, chows for inhumane purposes. Ask potential parents for vet records, family photos, etc..

  6. Be aware of scam artists, hoarders, etc..

    1.  People will tell you that they will foster the dog/cat until they can find a home only to sell the animal to the highest bidder (or even worse, sell the animal to a research facility,etc..

    2. Be especially weary of people who advertise that they will take in your found animal.  On any given day, there are thousands of strays on the street and thousands of pet parents wanting to give up their own pets.  There are way more strays around than there are people to take them in.  Anyone who contacts you directly about fostering the animal or rescuing the animal from you or anyone to advertises on craigslist that they will take rescues is probably not a rescuer but a seller or worse. 

      1. Even if you find what you think my be a legitimate rescue or shelter, be sure to check them out closely. See how their animals are housed, what conditions the animals are kept in. Ask them what vet they use for for the pets and then call the vet to confirm.  Inquire about their 501 C 3 status.  There are some great rescues who don’t have 501 c 3 status but most legitimate rescues at least know waht this means (IRS tax exempt status). Ask about their adoption process – ask them how they vet their animals – what shots the animals get. If the rescue doesn’t know about rabies, parvo, distemper, feline leukemia, FIV, deworming, spaying neutering, then you don’t want to leave a pet there.

    3. Be extra cautious during Halloween

      1. Sadly, all white or all black animals can be used for awful purposes during Halloween time.


If you cant find the owners

  1. Get on a waiting list at local shelters

    1. You might want to start with the larger shelters.  Call Animal Defense League at 210-655-1481 X115 and leave detailed info. If you don’t hear anything in two weeks, call again.  Intake procedures for SA Humane Society:

    2.  More shelters:


  3. If the animal is a purebred or displays dominate characteristics of a certain breed, check with some the purebred rescues



    3. Do a google search for [breed] rescue [city where you live]

  4. Work with a foster network

    1. If you can keep the pet in your home for a while, get with a foster network.  You foster the animal and the foster network advertises the animal on their site. As the foster parent, you take the animal to adoption events and you possibly will have some say as to who gets to adopt the animal

      1. Look into SNIPSA.  They ask for a small donation to be come part of their network but they provide free spay/neuter. Also, look at other organizations if you aren’t able to work with SNIPSA. Tell them you are willing to keep the pets in your home if they will post your pet on their websites and invite you to events (petsmart, petco, etc..).



  5. Let AAPAW (many rescues belong to AAPAW)know that you have found an animal:

    1. Go to, click “contact us” and send a message

    2. Go to facebook and become friends with “AAPAW” then post a picture, story and description on the wall. This info will be shared:

  6. Find potential new parents yourself – Adopt out

    1. Get the animal spayed or neutered, up to date on shots, Heartworm Preventative.  This is very important.  For low cost spay neuter and vaccination resources, see

    2. Be sure to check out the potential adopters and be sure to charge a reasonable fee – at least 50 dollars – (many small rescue groups charge much more)

      1. Information you can use to check on potential adopters

      2. Tips on re-homing


    3. Do a home visit – check the condition of the yard, fence

    4. Get personal and/or vet references and be sure to  call

    5. Have the pet parents fill out an adoption application and if approved, have them sign an adoption contract.  Check out other rescue’s adoption contracts/applications and devise your own.



    6. If you are looking for new pet parents, you will need to let people know your fur baby is available for adoption

      1. You can post on craigslist – be extra cautious when posting here.  You will want to thoroughly check out any leads

      2. Post at vets, pet shops, etc.. If you have rescued a dog, talk him/her to pet friendly events.

        1. Not only will this avenue provide great exposure, but you will be surrounded by a lot of people who think of their pets as family members rather than just a creature that they throw in the back yard.

          1. Check out

      3. If you regularly rescue strays, look into getting a petfinder account.  Many people looking for new fur babies use this venue:


      4. If you are not an official member of petfinder, you can still use their classified section:


          1. Be aware that many scammers patrol petfinder’s classified sections,

            1. Do not talk with anyone from out of town

            2. Do not talk with anyone who seems more interested in the fee than the fur baby

            3. Do NOT cash any checks mailed to you – they are fakes.

      5. Other websites for advertising: Go to this website:, look to the left side under “Links” and view all of the places this pet was posted – including Dogster, Adopt-A-Pet, etc..

      6. Take lots of pictures of the animal. Place him/her on picture sharing sites like Google Picasa, Photobucket, Flickr so you can easily share photos.  Take different views and angles so potential pet parents have a good idea of the size and look of the dog or cat

      7. Take a lot of videos of the dog or cat.  Upload to Youtube, flickr, photobucket, Vimeo, etc.. and share the links. This is especially helpful if you can video of the animal being playful or affectionate, with other animals, doing tricks etc..

      8. If you have the resources, take the Animal to training courses, get a training certificate. A well-trained, well behaved dog might attract more adopters.  Get the animal his/her Canine Good Citizen Certificate.  Get a professional temperament test done by a certified trainer or behaviorist. No only would a good outcome attract potential adopters but you will know what you are dealing and what steps might need to be taken before adoption or what issues the potential adopter should know about i.e. food or toy aggression.



If you can’t catch the animal(s)

Be cautious, earn trust

  1. Some animals are born never knowing the comfort of a home and some have been on their own for a while. These animals can be very nervous around humans and they might not come right up to you. They might even run away from you.  You should be cautious around any unknown animal but be extra cautious around fearful animals.  They are likely to bite if they feel cornered or threatened.

  2. It may take a while to build up a frightened animal’s trust.  Feed the animal in the same spot every day to keep him/her coming back to the same place.  Don’t look directly at the animal.  Talk in calming happy tones.

  3. Once you earn trust, you might be able to slip a slip leash over his/her head but be extra careful.  Make sure your side is to his/her side.  Use your peripheral vision and try to slowly slip the leash over his/her head.  Once you know the animal will respond well to being leashed/walked, etc.. You will always want to use a slip leash or martingale collar to walk/transport the dog.  Even well-adjusted, friendly dogs, can slip a regular collar. A regular collar should be used to to display ID (rabies, name tag, microchip tag etc..) but use a slip leash or martingale when walking.  Caution – never ever leave a slip leash on animal unattended. He/she can choke him/herself.

    1. Slip leash info:




    2. Purchase:

Humane Traps

Do not trap the animal if you have no place for him/her.  You must be able to take the animal to your home, someone else’s home or to a shelter or rescue.  Always check with the shelter or rescue first. Do not assume they can take the animal.


  1. If the animal is in immediate danger i.e. injured, in a heavy traffic area, being abused,etc.. you might not have time to build enough trust to leash the animal. You might want to try a humane trap.  You can rent one at the Animal Defense League – be sure to get thorough instructions on how to use it. You can purchase a trap at some feed stores (be sure to get the gravity one and not the spring loaded one)

  2. Traps must be checked often – especially during inclement weather.  You are likely to catch other animals (raccoons, possums, feral cats) so be prepared to release often so the animal won’t starve, freeze or die of heat stroke.  Be extra cautious when releasing animals as they could attack.  Guidelines:

  3. If you do catch the intended animal, do NOT open the door of the trap until the animal is in your house.  Be sure to carry the trap by the handle (otherwise, a scared dog or cat might bite your fingers).  Put the trap and animal into your vehicle to take the animal home. Or to a shelter if you have made a prior arrangement.  If you are taking the animal home, you might even consider stopping at your vet to get shots for the animal before going home.  Transport to the vet in the trap.  If the animal is extra frightened, get the animal sedated before he/she gets shots; then put the animal into a carrier or back into the trap before the sedation wares off then transport the animal do your house before opening the crate or trap.  Special Note:   Do not trap an animal if you don’t already have plans for him/her. As stated above, most shelter are always full – even many municipal shelters might not be able to take in an animal without prior notice.  Check with your landlord, etc.. before bringing the pet in.

  4. For more information on humane trapping, see,


  1. If the animal was hard to catch because of fear or aggression, be extra cautious when bringing him or her home. On the first day, you should put the trap in a room in the house and place the trap in a position that allows the animal to feel that he/she can retreat to safety. Leave out food and water, open the trap door, then leave the animal alone. Give him/her some time to adjust.

  2. If the animal is not used to humans, socialization can take weeks or months.  Give the animal plenty of space and time.  Continue to use your peripheral vision to communicate with the animal. Continue to approach the animal with your side to his/her side to make him/her more comfortable.  Also keep low as much as possible (squatting, on your hands and knees, etc..). This will make you appear smaller and less threatening.  Make sure your movements are flowing and purposeful and not quick and jerky.  Do not talk loudly or make loud noises.  Watch where you hands are. Some people are “hand-talkers” and this will frighten a nervous dog.

  3. Do not wear hats or shades around a scared dog.

  4. If you have a dog, he/she will need to go outside the potty, but be aware that if frightened, the dog might try to escape. Also the dog might be too afraid to come back in the house.  Keep the dog on leash until he/she trusts you.  Some dogs – especially ones who have never lived with humans are very shy about going potty on leash.  If this is the case, get a extra long training leash to attach to the slip leash (20 or 30 feet) to give the dog some space. 

  5. You must be extra cautious around any open doors. A frightened animal might try to escape. You might even open up a corralling pen and place it in front of your door.

  6. More info on living with shy dogs:


Vet Care

  1. Be sure that the animal you take into your care gets proper vet care. At the bare minimum you must get the animal spayed/neutered and you must get vaccinations. You will also want to get the animal thoroughly checked for any injuries or underlying medical issues – especially heartworms.  Heartworm treatment is very expensive but very necessary. The Animal Defense Leauge will treat heartworms for $200.00. Most places will charge much more; Once the animal is treated or if the animal does not have heartworms, you must keep the him/her on monthly preventative. The Animal Defense League has reasonable prices for the preventative.

  2.  If you have trouble affording vet care, please see also check out Daisy Cares:

    1. Others:

      1.  Hill Country Animal League:


Rescuing very young puppies and kittens

  1. Before picking up very young puppies and kittens ask yourself if you are able to properly care for them.

    1. They will be totally dependant on you to provide the proper nutrition and to regulate their body temperature.

    2. Depending on how young they are, you might need to stimulate them to help them defecate and urinate

    3. Depending on how young they are, you might have to provide round the clock feedings (at least every 2 to 4 hours)

      1. They might need bottle feeding or dropper feeding. If they have been neglected for a while, they might be so weak that they will need tube feeding

  2. Be aware that if you do pick them up, you might not be able to find a rescue agency to take them in right away and they get can sick and die very quickly without the proper care. 

  3. Before you pick them up, observe the area from a great distance to see if a mother comes back to care for the animals (especially cats). If you know that they you can’t properly care for them, and you can’t find a rescue to take them, then they might be better off with the mother who can provide proper nutrition and warmth. Plus the mother’s milk affords the babies some protections against fatal diseases and other health problems.

  4. DO NOT give regular milk that you purchase at the grocery store. DO NOT give chicken broth or any other human food. Either of these will kill the babies.   Go to your vet or a pet shop and purchase formula specifically made for puppies or kittens.  Contact a local rescue group or shelter or vet for advice.  The babies should also be seen by a vet.

  5. For more information, see 




  6. More information from experienced AAPAW Members:

    1. I’ve actually found that using syringes to feed is much, much easier then using a bottle. Half the time the hole in the nipple is too small, the kitten sucks and sucks and gets little out; or the hole is too big and it drowns the kitten. The kitten can suckle on a syringe just like they do a nipple and get the milk down much easier. I use a brand new 3cc syringe – refill when empty.

    2.  The stimulation should be done before and after feeding. Try using baby wipes (none scented). 


      > Make sure that when they are feeding the kitten, that it is on it’s belly and not on it’s back like a human baby as it can aspirate the milk into it’s lungs. Patting it on the back lightly after feeding will help it burp out any air it may have taken in. Also, if at feeding, there is milk coming out of the nose, this is an indicator that the bottle is dispensing too much milk (the hole in the nipple is to big) and the kitten is at risk of aspirating.


      > Kitten should be kept warm but also given a way to get away from the heat. Basically, the heating pad should be placed under half of the box the kitten is in so that if it over heats, it can move away from it.

  7. It is best to get these little babies to a vet right away. The longer you wait, the sicker they will get and the harder it will be to save them.

  8. Also, although mom is taking care of their needs right now, with 11 pups you should be prepared to supplement feed with formula very soon. The weaker ones will get shoved aside and likely get sick or die in the survival of the fittest struggle. Feed the mama puppy chow (all she can eat) for added calories.


Pit Bulls and Am Staffs:


Before you give away your best friend

One way to keep stray animals off the street to to avoid too having too many animals in need of rescue is to ensure that already adopted pets stay in their homes.   There are many reasons that people give up their fuzzy companions. In most circumstances there are fixes for these issues.  Please see

Info provided to someone whose 2 year old came down with allergies when they got a cat

Before you give away your fuzzy baby, I suggest a few things to consider or try (please forgive me if you have already tried these)


Be 100% sure that the problems are cause by the cat.  Oak allergens are especially high right now and a lot of people are sick.  Other allergens are also in full force because of all the blooming plants.  And besides plants, humans can  be allergic to all sorts of things – perfumes, dust, mold, etc..  And just because your baby didn’t suffer last year doesn’t mean he can’t suffer this year. Humans can develop allergies at any time.


-Try purchasing allergen blocker filters for your HVAC system and still change the filters once a week (although the packaging might say you can keep them in longer)

– establish an allergen free zone in your home. A place where kitty is not allowed.  Kitty can’t go into human baby’s bedroom at all.

– wash your hands after playing with kitty and have your human baby also wash his hands

– wipe the kitty down with a wet cloth every day or more often

– also bathe the kitty at least once a month.  Most people don’t bathe cats because they groom themselves but a lot of people are allergic to cat saliva.  Bathing and wiping down will help with this

– put covers on your furniture and wash the covers often

– Vacuum every day or twice a day and use the bag type of vacuum cleaner instead of the canister. Get a vacuum that has a hepa filter

– Purchase one or several air purifiers

– Non allergic folks should take kitty to a safe area far from human baby and groom the kitty daily – a furminator is great to removing loose fur and undercoat. Can be purchased at pet shops

– Use an allergen blocker cover on the mattress and wash sheets often – every day if necessary.

– Try a netti pot or nasal irrigation at least twice a day – check with your doctor to see if this is okay for young children. Be sure to use the proper mix of saline/salt and water. Just plain water up your nose is quite painful.


If none of the above work:

– People with allergies should have furniture that is not the plush fabric kind where allergens can grow. Having a wood or tile floor instead of carpet is also a great benefit.

– Check with your doctor about safe allergy medication that a young child can use

– There is  a new product popping up in grocery stores.  A gel that you smear under your nose to block allergens from being breathed in.  Don’t know anything it’s efficacy. Check with your doctor.


For more about pets and allergies, please see:

Extenuating Circumstances

Some circumstances are more dire than simply giving up pet for allergies or give away a pet because it’s just too inconvenient to move with him or her.

Please see this document for information on homeless, military, battered women, etc..:



Depending on the size of your vehicle and how much room you have in your vehicle, here are some things should try to keep your in vehicle and have handy in your home

  1. Slip leashes

  2. Dog and/or cat food or something tasty that dogs or cats would like i.e. baby food, canned chicken, etc..

  3. Muzzles – caution – a non panting muzzle should never remain on an animal longer than 10 minutes.  They need to be able to open their mouths and pant or they could die or suffer brain damage from lack of oxygen

    1. If a muzzle must remain on for an extended period of time, use a basket muzzle

  4. Gauze

  5. Crate and/or carrier



Service Providers

Other rescuers have used or have heard good things about these services providers (not an endorsement)

Note: if the the link doesn’t work, copy and paste into your browser’s address window

Additional/Miscellaneous Information

 NO ADVANTIX on nursing moms…

Frontline and Advantage may be ok- but both read DO NOT USE on puppies < 6 weeks.  I believe the label also reads do not use on nursing females.

Capstar is safe

Dawn dish soap is safe!


Pet Care PDF Files and info from US Humane Society





My Reactive Dog

Meet my special little red dog, Matt-Matt. He really is a good boy. He just gets a little over stimulated sometimes and he can be a little reactive on leash at times. His Mom (me) is mostly to blame because I worry about him and of course he picks up on that. Sometimes I hold the leash too tightly. That reduces his movement, affects his body language and can make him more nervous, thus reacting more.

Another issue I have that most humans have is attributing my human emotions onto him: My other 3 dogs enjoy meetups so it’s not fair to keep Matt-Matt away from meetups (in my mind). So because I felt bad about not taking him out, I took him to dog walking meetups even though they stressed him. Of course if he’s stressed, I’m stressed, and if I’m stressed he’s stressed and so on and so forth.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t take their reactive dogs to meetups. But for Matt-Matt’s sake, I should keep him far enough at a distance so the he feels comfortable – far away enough that he doesn’t feel the need to lunge or bark at others.
I’ve been telling people about Karen Pryor and how dogs should take baby steps but I’ve been a hypcrit because I have been tossing pour Matt-Matt direclty into meetups where he is surrounded from all sides by dogs.

I finally realized my mistake when I was reading a book by Turd Rugaas – Barking: the Sound of a language. It wasn’t even the words in the book that got to me. It was a picture on page 31 of the book. Caption: “Standing with your dog at a distance watching other dogs is a good strategy”. The picture shows several dogs in a large field (much like Culebra) with one person standing far away with his dog. The dog standing far way looks very calm and the handler also looks relaxed. At that moment I decided that is what Matt-Matt needed.

I had not driven out to Culebra park before simply because I hate driving (for many reasons) and I have 3 other dogs at home. I like to make my individual trips short so that I can get back to the other dogs. But after looking at the picture, I felt like the long trip (over an hour) would be worth it.

Not only was it worth it, it exceeded my expectations. Matt-Matt was calmer, more relaxed and so was I.
We started at the other end of the field. He did so well that we moved closer than I expected than we could in one day. He never barked, lunged, glared, stared, or even stiffened. I know that Matt-Matt isn’t going to be cured in one day, mind you. Maybe he won’t ever enjoy a close-up meetup with a bunch of dogs. But that’s okay. I want to do what makes him happy, not what makes my other dogs happy; not what makes me happy.
Just like humans, every dog is an individual. Some humans love to go to night clubs, get loud and party with their friends. I prefer a quiet evening at home with the fur kids.

Will your reactive dog be able to move as close as Matt-Matt and I did on Sunday? Maybe not or maybe you could have moved in closer. It depends on the dog. We have to be patient.

If your dog is reactive, I urge you to take the trip at least once, start at the other end of the field, give your dog a bunch of good treats. Maybe even issue some commands. You might be pleasantly suprised.

So what are some general ways you can help your reactive dog:
● Check your own behaviors.

○ Do you hold the leash too tightly? Restricting your dog’s head movement? Do you get nervous for your dog when other dogs/humans come around? Your perceptive doggie is going to feel this and react accordingly

○ Do you punish/scold your dog for aggressing? Yanking your dog harshly and repeatedly on the neck when she aggresses? Do you poke your dog, yell at your dog, kick your dog, hit your dog when she aggresses? This type of behavior tells your dog that when another dog is around, bad things are going to happen to him, thus making his reactiveness worse

● Don’t alter his/her body parts

○ Dogs communicate with other dogs with their ears, their tails and their entire bodies. Altering a dog’s body parts can affect how they communicate. So besides pain, surgical complications, etc.. shortening, cropping, docking ears/tails can have an adverse affect on their relationships with other dogs

■Of course this isn’t going to happen all the time. But if your dog is prone to be reactive, cropping certainly isn’t going to help. Dr Stanly Coren (in his book: How to Speak Dog) speaks of a friend’s dog who had to get his tail docked for a medical necessity. The dog got into a lot more scuffles afterwards. It may not affect how your dog reacts but it is going to affect how other dogs react to your dog. Which isn’t going to help a dog who is already reactive

■Of course there are occasionally medical reasons to do this. Make sure the medical reason is sound and is a last resort. Example: If a dog constantly gets ear infections, you can clean the ears daily or use an ear sock to open up the ears rather than cropping.

● Don’t throw your dog into the lake.

○ This is a figureative way for me to say, don’t set your dog up for failure. Example: Your human child doesn’t know how to swim, you don’t throw him into the lake. This will probably make him afraid of water for the rest of his life rather than teach him how to swim. Instead of throwing your child into the lake, you take baby steps. First you get your child to wade in the water. Then you get her comfortable with putting her head under water. Then maybe you help her float while holding her. Then maybe you let her dog paddle a little….etc.
The same can be said of your dog. If you know that your dog is reactive or nervous around other dogs, tossing your poor baby into a dog park is not only not going to help, it might make your dog’s reactiveness worse
Forcing your dog to meet other dogs when she is nervous or aggressing is also not going to help. Take baby steps, start at a distance far away enough to where your dog feels comfortable. If this is 300 feet away, so be it. There is no rush. Take your time moving up to 250 feet, 200 feet, 198 feet, etc..
Learn about body language and don’t force your dog to do things that might get him into trouble. For instance face to face meetings can cause problems. Holding the leash too tightly, restricting your dog’s movement can cause problems

● Spay/Neuter your dog
So many reasons to get your dog fixed. Including aggression issues. You see it all time. People get a puppy who is sweet and loves everyone but for some strange reason, at about 1 year to 15 months, this normally sweet dog starts reacting to other dogs (and sometimes humans) negatively. One of the factors mostly likely is hormones. It’s never to late to get your dog fixed, but the earlier, the better. Talk to your vet about a how early is acceptable.
Let your dog live with you as a family member.
Dogs are naturally social animals. Isolating a dog outside all day will have a negative affect on her mental state
Do not leave your dog tethered unattended for long periods of time.
So many reasons to not do this – including well documented evidence of aggression.
Exercise your dog but don’t over exercise.
Exercise can release tension and reduce stress but excessive exercise can increase stress. Be extremely careful about riding your bike with your dog or roller blading with you dog. This is fine to do as long as you can recognize your dog’s stress signals. Some dogs are so willing to please that they won’t stop no matter how exhausted they are. You will have to know when to stop. Remember that your bike, roller blades etc. is making the work much easier on you. Your dog will tire long before you do.
You can’t go wrong with 2 calm walks a day. If your dog pulls on the leash, read My Dog Pulls by Turid Rugaas. Excellent information in the book to help with loose leash walking.
Get your dog into training.
Just learning and responding to some basic commands – sit, lay down, etc.. can help your dog in stressful situations
Mental stimulation is just as important as physical stimuation
You can also give your dog food puzzles as a way to help work the brain
Read everything you can from Turid Rugaas. Excellent resource for postive reinforcement and understanding and appreciating natural dog behaviors
Then read everything you can from Karen Pryor:
My favorites thus far – Click to Calm by Pryor/Parsons, Barking: The Sound of a Language by Rugaas, and My Dog Pulls by Rugaas

Related Articles/Links on positive reinforcment, reactive dogs, dog socialization, etc..
San Antonio Big Dawgs – Dog Meetup Group:
Karen Pryor – Clicking with Canines
Introduce your dog to another dog in 10 easy steps – Post on SA Big Dawgs:
Dog Aggression – An enlightening Article – SA Big Dawgs Post:
Fenceline Aggression – SA Big Dawgs Post about Youtube channel Kiko Pup- excellent resource for positive training:
Walking a Reactive Dog:
Pet Care Education Blog:

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