October Classes Starting at #Animal Outfitters #500 Seneca

Thursday October 20th 2016

DogSentials 1 – Puppy Socialization dogs up to 6 months old, 6 weeks $150, 6:30 pm

DogSentials 2 – Basic manners class for dogs 6 months and older, 6 weeks $150, 7:30 pm

To reserve your spot

Call Animal Outfitters at 716.436.4553 or Rita at 716.560.5749

No Stimulus Goes Unconditioned: Thinking out of the NILIF box

Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant Blog post by MUTTS ABOUT TOWN.

Mutt About Town - The blog

10419603_10103916647748397_2792827974898225307_nWhen I first read Kathy Sdao’s book, Plenty in Life is Free, I cried. I cried because her words made sense. I cried because she described the incredible impact, negative and positive, we can have on our dogs’ lives through what we choose to reinforce, and through the contingencies we place on those reinforcers. It’s a daunting responsibility, but one that is so rewarding if done correctly.

As you can probably guess by now, I do not recommend Nothing in Life is Free (NILIF) protocols for my training clients. Sdao explains the pitfalls of NILIF much more eloquently than I ever could, so I will refer you to her book for those details. At times, depending on the severity and urgency of a behavioral problem, I will “close the economy,” meaning I ask owners to feed their dogs a certain portion of their food via training, either via classical…

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Good Dogs Wear Muzzles Too

Essential reading. Thank you Sara!

Paws Abilities

We were walking our dogs outside a rally obedience trial several years ago when my friend froze. “Watch out!” she said sharply, “There’s a muzzled dog across the parking lot!” I looked, and sure enough someone was walking their dog in a comfortably fitted basket muzzle. The dog was on a loose leash with soft, relaxed body language, intent on his owner. I chuckled and went back to watching my own dog. “I don’t know why you’re worried,” I said, “That’s the one dog at this show that I’m the least concerned about.”

Layla wears her basket muzzle if she's going to be off leash around unfamiliar dogs. Layla wears her basket muzzle if she’s going to be off leash around unfamiliar dogs.

Our societal perception of muzzles is shifting, but the prejudice is still present in many communities. The thought is that only “bad” dogs wear muzzles, and if a dog is wearing a muzzle he or she must be a mean animal with horrible…

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Least Intrusive, Minimally Aversive


I have attached a link to the APDT position statement on LIMA.


It is a good read for anyone looking for a dog trainer that uses and teaches ethical training methods.

The question is “What do you want your animal to do?”

A competent trainer will help you attain that goal with respect and compassion for all the learners involved – that is you and your animal.

until next time,


“It’s all in how they’re raised.”


Paws Abilities

“All puppies are blank slates.” “If you do everything right with your puppy, you’ll have a great adult dog.” “If dogs have behavioral issues, we should blame the handle end of the leash.”

These are common misconceptions I hear as a trainer, and they make me so very sad. Behavior is a combination of nature and nurture, and if we could just take a moment to look logically at these myths, we would see just how silly they are.

Photo by Tavallai Photo by Tavallai

Genetics influence behavior. This is part of the reason we have breeds: if you want a dog to work your sheep, you’re going to choose a Border Collie, not a Brittany Spaniel. Even though the two dogs have the same basic size and shape, one is more likely to have the instinctive motor patterns to do the work than the other. Getting a Border Collie whose parents…

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Cesar Millan, I submit

“blind focus on dominance condemns you to a combative, emotionally dull relationship”~ Caen Elegans
Well said.

Science and Dogs

Is it possible, at certain moments we cannot imagine, a horse can add its sufferings together -- the non-stop jerks and jabs that are its daily life -- and turn them into grief?”  Equus: A Play in Two Acts  By Peter Shaffer Equus: A Play in Two Acts
By Peter Shaffer

Cesar, you once wrote: “When I learned how to be calm-submissive to my wife, it improved my marriage 100 percent!” But you are now divorced.

Did your recipe for an “improved” marriage lead to its eventual breakdown? Were you resentful about being submissive? Was your wife looking for a partner and not a prisoner to guard? Did you act out to regain a feeling of control? Did Ilusión grow tired of dominating you into good behavior? I don’t know. I’m pretty sure it didn’t help.

It’s hard to understand why you think we must make our dogs “submissive” Why is it even desirable?

I wouldn’t write “submissive” on my résumé. And I wouldn’t hire someone who did. Coaches don’t brag about their submissive players, military officers don’t want submissive soldiers and managers don’t go out…

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Why I’m Not a “Force Free” Trainer

When I first started to read this I thought: ‘this is semantics’ — reading on I concluded that Sara makes an excellent point.

I recently had a client grill me before joining my class. He understood that my method is reward-based but was very concerned about the use of force, he did not believe in prongs, shock, and other compulsion tools and methods.

I have witnessed that same man yank, scold and even slap his dog in the face with his leash in moments of frustration. Guiding him to be more gentle proved to be very difficult because he did not perceive himself to be using force, after all the dog was on a harness or a martingale collar.

The dog was more responsive to me and every other handler in the class than he was to his owner. The owner concluded that the walk about exercises we were doing to help the dogs come under stimulus control while out in public were not helpful to his dog because the dog was too distracted and would not respond to his cues. The dog did however, respond with minimal latency, when I offered the cues. He could not see that his dog was under stimulus control with a high rate of reward and a gentle attitude. For the dog the handler was like a poisoned cue.

Paws Abilities

Force free. It sounds great, doesn’t it? Of course dog training should be force free! Yet when a recent client asked if I was a force free trainer, I said I wasn’t. My client was taken aback, as many of my blog readers probably are. Let me explain.


I have several issues with the idea of labeling the training that Paws Abilities offers as “force free.” My biggest problem with the label is that it says nothing about what we actually do. Focusing on negatives like this is one of the biggest advertising gimmicks of all time. “No corn, wheat, or soy!” the dog food package proclaims. Yet, reading the label shows that there’s enough barley, rice, and oatmeal in the food that dogs who have issues with carbs are still going to react negatively. “Sugar free – No Sugar Crash!” the 5-hour Energy drink shouts, saying nothing about…

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To the Owner(s) of the GSD residing at…

“I am writing this to you because your dog scared me out of my wits on Saturday morning and he really scared my own dog when he charged at her from across the street.  The man that came after the dog asserted that the dog was ok and I answered that my dog was not.

In an effort to be very clear let me say that I am a professional dog trainer and I work at a local shelter in the behavior department.  I observe and evaluate dog behavior on a daily basis.  My dog lives with other dogs and cats.  She has dog friends as well.  However, she is very fearful in new situations and nervous around unknown dogs.  I take precautions with her like keeping her on a leash during walks and avoiding situations that may frighten her. 

This is what I observed on Saturday:  While I have no doubt that your dog is a great dog and ‘ok’ in other contexts he was not ‘ok’ during our encounter.  He bolted into the street – he could have been hit by a car! His approach was neither friendly nor playful.  He charged.  My dog is fearful of unknown dogs, so when she is approached like that she offer signals like a tucked tail, a crouch, ears back and a lip lick to ask the other dog to slow down or back away.  Your dog ignored her and stood tall over her, sniffing, tail high.  She then snarked at him as a further warning to back away.  Instead, he retaliated with his own snark and continued to stand tall, and put his head over her face.  She lunged and air snapped, another warning to back away.  He did not and they tussled.  If either of them had the intention of harming the other they would have, so my concern isn’t about that.  If my dog was loose she simply would have fled; I did not try to leave because I did not want your dog to give chase or end up in the street again.  As we walk past his house on a regular basis I suspect he may have been protecting his turf.  He is entitled to do that, just as my dog is permitted to ask a rude dog to behave more appropriately.  As I will continue to take my dog on daily walks I am hoping that you will consider managing the situation so that your dog can not get loose and perhaps you can train your dog to respond to a recall.

This is precisely why we have leash laws in Buffalo.  Laws that apparently don’t apply to you and your dog. Why?  I noticed you have a small child in your house.   Why would you NOT want your dog, that child and other people and animals to feel safe, to be safe?  If I was frightened by your dog’s charge can you imagine how someone who does not know dogs the way I do would feel if they were on the receiving end of that charge?

I am very sad for my dog.  This is a set back for her.  Learning to trust strange dogs is not easy for her and now she has had an experience that might make it even more difficult.  How do I show her that that walking down our block is not scary?  I am worried for your dog.  He could have been hit by a car!!!  Most of all I wish that I could just take my dog on a walk and not have to worry about your cluelessness.

I wish I could actually write this in a letter to you and mail it.  I am not comfortable with that.  I can only hope that you got as scared as I did and will take the necessary precautions so that neither of us has to be that scared again.”

Until next time.


Thoughts on Punishment


Denise Fenzi

Punishment is used in training to change behavior.  It is a consequence the dog wishes to avoid.

Let’s use crooked sits as an example.  If your dog performs a crooked sit in heel position, you’ll want to make that behavior less likely next time. How might you use punishment?

You can with-hold (-) something that the dog wants like cookies, toys or praise when your dog sits crooked. You are using -P.

Or you can add (+) some sort of physical discomfort technique for the same purpose (collar correction or other physical manipulation).  Your dog won’t want you to do that in the future so straight sits become more likely (+P).  Or you can verbally harass the dog (mental force) to make him uncomfortable, so next time he will try to avoid that by sitting straight (also +P),

If it makes you feel better you can actually straighten the dog (maybe give a…

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