We're Raising Dogs, not Puppies

Oh, Puppies :) They are so cute and fun, as well as the starting point of building a well rounded dog. These little ones won't be little for long, so let's be proactive in our relationship to raise them right and into the dog you want!

Working on potty training is a no brainer for folks - everyone gets a puppy and starts working really hard on creating a routine and distinction of what time and where to potty so that they teach this growing little dog how NOT to be an adult dog using the bathroom in the house. Besides potty training, however, lots of people struggle with the blurred line of what is OK to allow behavior wise with their pup and what isn't, because we think "he's just a puppy." It's important to realize that, just like potty training, your puppy won't teach himself what to do - you have to! Puppies don't just "grow out of" puhsy behaviors.

Remember, you are actually raising a dog - not a puppy - so the behaviors you allow now are things you will continue to see as they grow up. Make sure you arn't encouraging things you don't want in an adult dog, like jumping up, nipping or biting, crying for attention, or sleeping in bed. Even things like constantly clobbering (trying to play with) the older dog in the house or chasing the cat should not be seen as endearing behaviors, but opportunities to teach your puppy the proper way to be around animals.

You are creating long standing habits for your young dog by what you do and don't allow - make sure you arn't encouraging things you wouldn't want from them as an adult dog! No puppy excuses! :)

Need help starting your new pup off on the right paw? We can help :)Visit www.taketheleadk9training.com for more information :)

Do you live farther? We have colleagues all over the country and would be happy to give you a referall - just let me know :)

A Message from Victoria

Why so many videos?

I'm sure you've noticed I constantly bombard the world with dog training videos :) I do this for a few reasons.

For one, I love letting my clients see their dogs while they are with me for training. Leaving your dog somewhere for 2-4 weeks can be really hard, so I hope that they find comfort in seeing their dog's daily progress, as well as learning a bit about their training along the way. It is a wonderful way to help people get an idea of who I am, what my programs are like, and what it will be like for their dog to stay with me. If I were going to take my dogs to someone, I would want to know as much as I could and be really curious about the process, so I try to share that glimpse daily for folks who would like to know.

But mostly, I post an obnoxious amount of educational videos and photos because I know dogs are turned into shelters everyday for behavioral issues. I know rescues are bursting at the seams with dogs, struggling for donations for training, and turning away new fosters because they are at max capacity and have no available foster homes. I know there are dogs dying in shelters everyday because they are "unadoptable" due to behavioral issues like jumping up, barking too much, being destructive, or pulling on leash (the majority of shelters are full of dogs with BAD but non-aggressive behaviors). Families that love their dogs are suffering and often at a loss - possibly making a very serious decision of surrendering their dog or worse - because their dog is out of control. The number one reason dogs are surrendered to shelters, not adopted/are returned to the shelter or rescue, and prematurely euthanized are due to behavioral issues.

I share so many videos and stories of the dogs I train, so people can see dog after dog make positive changes in their behavior with a style of training and a lifestyle that is simple, straightforward, and doesn't take months and months for success (or in many cases limited results) in the real world. I can promise you one thing - dogs in most shelters don't have months available to them to stop jumping or pulling on a leash. Moms with napping toddlers don't have months to get their dog to stop barking or knocking over the kids with excitability. Families with dogs that have aggressive behaviors like growling, biting, lunging, or fighting need help now and need to see documentation that dogs and situations like theirs can be helped (sooner than you'd think) and don't have to be given up on. Folks who have tried a training style before that didn't work need to know there are other options. I remember being a person with two fighting dogs, thinking heartbroken that "this is it, this is our life - my dogs are aggressive and one needs to be given away or put down" and then seeing dramatic videos on TV of dogs that fought, not fighting anymore. A trainer helping humans taking back control of their lives and living better with their dogs because of it - empowering people to be the human and leader their dogs need, and to become aware of ourselves to better serve our dogs.

Because of what happened for me and how seeing those changes improved our lives, I constantly want to share this stuff. I want to give other people hope and help their relationship and life with their dog, whether I ever meet you, work with you as a client, or not. I can only hope that the videos and posts I share impact someone who may be at the breaking point of taking their dog to a shelter, or have been told by other trainers and professionals to put their dog to sleep, like I was. I hope that they may feel empowered to try something (such as a new training tool, like a prong collar or quality e-collar in conjunction more balanced training approach) or work with a different dog trainer that might just help save their dog's life. I can only hope that rescues and foster homes are excited to get to work educating adopters and training their foster dogs with balanced methods and tools that will set them up for success and results in the real world. Most of all, I truly hope that someone looking for a new dog will see that rambunctious dog at the shelter and give them a chance, because they are willing to step in and share direction just as much as affection to help that dog, and the millions of others behind bars, be the amazing dogs they are. I hope that people will look at a balanced dog training lifestyle of YES and NO, with training tools that help communicate effectively, not as a last resort, but as an awesome way to begin a relationship with a new dog.

I hope my videos inspire others, who want to help dogs, share their message in such a way to impact their community, too. Education is key to helping humans live better lives with their dogs, and I can only hope that I have had an impact on at least one person, as so many others have inspired me. We all have so much to give, and so many ways to help these dogs and families.

I have a YouTube channel full of free how-to training videos. If you are struggling with your dog, I hope you find them helpful, educational, easy to follow, and fun! Www.youtube.com/taketheleadk9

If you are dealing with serious behavioral issues or are in need of a balanced trainer recommendation because you don't live in the Orlando area - let me know! I have many talented colleagues around the country who I can refer you to.

Let's make 2017 the best year for dogs and families yet! Happy #FosterDogFriday

bullterrier training

Cause and Effect

As animals we are creatures of cause and effect - the world either tells us "yes" based on our actions or "no." Mistakes means consequences, and things that work are successes.

Dogs don't speak English (or any human language) so they speak the language of the world: does this work or not?

For instance, if a dog hassles a porcupine, they get the quills. If a dog puts paws on a hot stove, they burn their feet. If they stick their nose to far into the cat's space, they get a good smack. If a dog eats a lemon or lime, they pucker and find it sour. Most of those actions will not be repeated, because the way of the world issued consequences: if you do this, _______ happens. Dogs arn't dumb and usually get the hint pretty quickly - not needing a human to explain to them verbaly, because cause and effect shared a consequence. And (what's most important!) your dog is mentally fine, not terrified or psychology damaged due to life's correction - trust me, if your dog runs head first into a tree while it's playing and really knocks his noggin pretty good, I promise you he won't be afraid of trees but he will be more aware of where they are and his actions around them.

When it comes to inappropriate behavior with your dog, you must share a consequence if you want them to learn yes and no. Remember, they don't speak English, so you can't explain why taking things off the counter is bad, chewing up your furniture is wrong, barking at every person or dog they see needs to stop. 

Actions create results, and lack of a "no" for certain behaviors is really telling a dog "yes" you can keep doing that. Ignoring problem behaviors does not make them go away, because the dog never learns that they are wrong. As a society of verbal language, we want to talk some sense into our dogs, but they don't speak our language and in the end you are setting yourself up to fail. So, if you're having trouble with your dog and talking and ignoring behaviors arn't working, it's probably time for a new approach - particularly if your dog's behavior is becoming more and more serious, stressful, and harmful to themselves or others.

dog socialization orlando

Set the tone - Early and Often!

Here's a little tid bit that Mako's owners and I talked about during their go home lesson, but relates to anyone with a pushy/easily distracted/bratty dog! If you've been through training with me, this concept is very familiar to you, as it pertains to the mindset your dog has for you and in different situations. 

Setting the tone, early and often!

Pushy and bratty dog behavior stops, and polite respect starts, when you interrupt attitude in its tracks! You are only taken as seriously by your dog as you present yourself in your relationship through your day to day interactions. Improve your relationship by making those moments matter, and move your and your dog's behavior in the right direction! 

Remember, you can't expect your dog to listen under big distractions if you haven't asked them to be respectful without them. Stay consistent in your leadership and discipline, and you will be allowed to be more generous with your praise, because your dog will be more well behaved and respectful of the balance you share :):)

Be as believable in your rules, boundaries, and expectations as you are/have been in your affection and softness and you guys can have a great and respectful relationship. (You will know if you are believable to your dog, based off of their ability to listen, make better choices, and pull their weight in their work!)

orlando dog training

Dear Public, Please leave our dogs alone!

Something about Izzy the Sheepdog has me constantly telling people "NO PETTING!" and standing up to put myself between her and others (and yes, she is super friendly but all of that unearned attention makes it hard for her to focus on training...the last thing I want Izzy to think is that every person she sees is there to pet her). 

One of the hardest things for dog lovers to do is to keep their hands to themselves! We all know that onlookers mean well when they greet our dogs (through direct eye contact, physical touch, or just baby voices galore), but please understand that the reason most people are out and about with their pooch is for some sort of training/working/family venture/behavioral advancing purpose. Many dogs can be nervous of people and new places, so strangers rushing up to every dog they see can make that particular dog uncomfortable as well as potentially get somone bitten. On the flip side, a happy and over-excitable dog is most likely out in public to work on desensitization so that they won't be so wild around distractions like people and dogs (Izzy, for example) and it's hard to create a calm dog when people continue to approach and pet it, all while the handler struggles to keep them under control - the petting you are sharing with my dog is reinforcing the hyper and poor behavior. 

Now, what does that mean for us, as the owners/handlers of the dog? We have to stand up and say "No petting - My dog is in training" and stick to our guns to stand up for our dogs. Your job is to advocate for your dog, and it's so important to do so - if not, your dog may loose trust in your ability to keep them safe OR loose the engagement with you that you're working so hard for. That means not staying quiet, but speaking up for what you are working for!

Dog lovers of the world, please don't take offense to this, but the dogs you see out in public don't need your uninvited attention. They are out and about to be with us - their handler, family, or trainer - not you. No matter how cute or how much someone's dog is looking at you, please don't approach or engage with them without owner consent. Unfortunately, your good intentions are making things harder for the dog and the handler in the long run - I promise, if we want you to pet our dogs we will ask you to! If you have questions about our dog, you can ask us (speak to the handler not the dog ;)) and I we will gladly tell you about our pet if we have the time, because we too love dogs, and that's why we are working hard on training ours! Please respect the work we are doing, and keep your hands to yourself:)

** this goes for letting your dog approach my dog too! **

Dogs that make the most of us!

Did you know that most people who get into dog training typically do so due to problems with their own dog?

Mowgli, our now 10 year old corgi, is the dude behind this whole Take the Lead journey. His willful and smarty pants attitude (in addition to my angsty first years of college that included spoiling the stew out of my cute little puppy and not knowing a thing about meeting the needs of his breed) created an unstable relationship, and ultimately a troubled and pushy dog who would eventually show his true colors when we adopted a second dog (by proceededing to start bloody fight after fight, including a bad one where Jorge was bitten).

The period of time (months and months) following those fights were some of most challenging but life changing moments of our lives. We opened our minds to a new way to live with out dogs that would keep them balanced and happy, while setting boundaries and consequences. These changes moved mountains for the relationship our dogs had with each other and even more so, the relationship our dogs had with us. We actually were able to take back control of our home and not walk on eggshells and live in fear that each moment could end in bloodshed! 

However, our new way of life did not come without hard work, diligence, and follow through! We worked hard everyday (and still do!) to make sure that all of the dogs in our lives, personal or client, are having those boundaries and expectations set daily so that they are the most successful they can be. Mowgli, especially, keeps us on our toes and is a daily testament of providing strong leadership. Everyday he challenges me, and everyday I am reminded if I am doing enough for him by the behaviors he gives in return.

For those of you with dogs like Mowgli, who keep you on your toes, remember that the end game is worth it, but never forget the daily leadership work that it will take from you

Consistency with your dog

Can you imagine taking your dog to someone else's house and having them behave? It's not about magic, it's not about treats, it's not about getting a "good dog" -- it's about consistency. If you guys bust butt and work daily, teach your dog, give direction and fair reward and consequence, and apply it at home, outside, and up the distractions on a daily basis you CAN have a dog who can be an excellent canine citizen in the real world. 

Have you ever wondered why a Service Dog is so well behaved? It's because this dog has been proofed by their handler often for years and now have a dog who's predictable and dependable in the world. Put in the work and you can have great turnover! Down/stay at home, on the sidewalk, at a restaurant, or at a friend's -- proof your dog and focus more on direction than affection for a while, and enjoy your dog all of the time

"Donations for training needed!" said every dog rescue, ever.

The #1 reason dogs are in shelters, returned to rescue, or are hard to adopt out are because of behavioral issues. Typically, the thing standing in the way of adoption, and a life being saved, is training.

The thing standing in the way of training: FUNDING. Animal rescues have such a hard time raising money and gaining support for training -- why?

I'm sure we see it everyday--somone shares a photo or tells a story about a dog in a shelter, that looks sad, sickly, and alone. Many people will rush in with their hearts and donate, share, or even adopt this dog--and that's fantastic! Some folks may just share the photo, or express their sympathies for the dog, but all of their actions come from their heart.

When a rescue has a dog who is sick or injured, more often than not the community will rally together and come up with the funds and support the treatment for this pup--which again, is amazing.

Now, would it surprise you that the majority of dogs in shelters are not in there because they are sick, unhealthy, or neglected/abused? Yes, there are dogs with those ailments in shelters (and it is horribly sad), but most shelter dogs are actually fairly healthy and hardy dogs who would be great candidates for adoption...

Except for one thing--they have a behavioral issue. Whether it's pulling on the leash, jumping too much, too hyper, too strong, too barky, or more serious like aggression, most dogs in shelters are brought in OR never adopted out for behavioral issues. With the exception of aggression, the majority of these behaviors could easily be addressed and improved with balanced training and a dedicated owner. Shoot, balanced training and a dedicated shelter staff could create calmer more polite behaviors in so many dogs. An open mind about training in general could save many many more.

However, so many people overlook behavioral issues as worthy of addressing or seeking help for. Instead of donating to a rescue who needs money for training, most people prefer to put their donations into the more ill and sick dogs. Training, however, is the golden ticket that could make or break a dog getting out of a shelter--a dog who sits nicely and doesn't jump like a looney toon at the gate is more likely to be walked and possibly adopted. Their polite behavior puts them at an advantage to the dog body slamming the gate while barking their head off.

A dog that is on the way in to a shelter for being out of control hyper and crazy could stay in their home if they learned some impulse control with the place command. If they just had some structure, guidance, boundaries, and someone who will tell them "yes" AND "no"--someone who would praise the good, but also correct the bad.

However, so many people give up on their dogs before they seek training. And more than that, so many healthy and could-be-adoptable dogs are lost every day becuase they never learned manners and never had someone teach them right and wrong. The majority of dogs in (and surrendered to) shelters are not adopted because of their behavior. What is disheartening, is that for many dogs, setting some boundaries and teaching them to behave could be so easy. We do it here, everyday.

But, society views medical needs as more of an issue than mental needs, and that HAS to change. They both have an important place in the world. Part of this, I believe, is the visable need of medical care for a dog, and the general understanding that a veterinarian will not treat an animal.without paymenat. Without treatment the dog will not get better, and this is what motivates donations. Professional dog trainers, just like veterinarians, have a livelyhood in animal welfare and too must recieve payment for services - but rescues struggle to pay for this, because the importance of training by donors is much lower in priority (yet the dogs still wil not get better, and will not get adopted). This fact means many rescues go without training and lots of dogs are returned, hard to place, or can't be pulled from a shelter because current dogs in the program are poorly behaved and arn't moving.

So, when you see a rescue asking for donations for training, remember that ultimately that dog is no more adoptable than the one covered in ringworm, heartworm positive, or with a broken leg without financial support.

When you're looking for your next dog, keep in mind that many of these guys in cages are just looking for guidance and structure to know how to live in our human world...and can be great dogs (with training)!!!

If you're thinking about turning in your dog for behavioral issues, look to a professional before you (unintentionally) set your dog into a crowd of dogs that people will overlook for the SAME issue you brought him in for.

If you're raising a puppy from scratch, invest in training just as much as you invest in their medical care as they grow up.

If you are fostering for a rescue, understand that you're doing a great thing, but also have responsibilty to teach this dog how to be a family pet. You must teach them lessons that will make them more adoptable and acclimated to home life for their future family.

If your dog is aggressive or displaying behaviors you are struggling with, get help. If you've met with someone and didn't get results, talk to another professional with a different training style (Ideally a balanced approach that is open to different tools and techniques). Look for videos and testimonials from trainers that show they can (and have) helped people and dogs like yours.

If you can't walk your dog because they are out of control, try some new training tools.

We have to TRY for our dogs. They have no idea how to live in a human world without help, and we can't expect them too without teaching them. Physical well-being and mental well-being are equally important! 

To my friends in animal rescue - don't be afraid to ask for donations for training, but DO be prepared to educate people on its importance! I know you see the value of training on a daily basis because of the behaviors of the dogs in your care, at adoption events, and behind the bars at shelters, but the general public isn't grasping its value because they don't see what you do! Medical care reigns supreme on the donation list because it is (usually) a visible disability for a dog. People understand that doctors won't work for free to save a life, so their donation is important in saving an animal. Let's help the world understand that professional training can cost along the same lines as veterinary care, and that trainers can only help you if they can afford their livelyhood, too! 

I've heard time and again that experienced foster homes for more "challenging" dogs can be few and far between (and at maximum capacity) - with training these dogs could be placed in easier homes, and most likely (hopefully!) even adopted during their time in training! Dog lovers all over the world want to help dogs get adopted - they just need help seeing and understanding the value of dog training. 

The need for training is HUGE, but the support for it is barely tapped in to. Myself, and I'm pretty sure many other dog trainers out there, will do whatever we can to help YOU reach your audience and show them the importance of training! Just like a rescue runs on donations, professional trainers (and other professions in animal care) pay the bills through service to our clients. Without funding we cannot serve - so let's help the general public understand that, too! What can I do to help you reach your audience and teach them about the value of training and your need for their support?

We ALL got into this field (rescue, veterinary care, training, grooming, boarding, daycare, etc) because of our love of animals - let's help the world understand the importance of each field of animal service and particularly the one least donated for, but most needed: TRAINING AND BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION.

It's not a lack of love, passion, or care -- it's a lack of education and understanding :)